Washington Post Reveals Russia’s Disinformation Campaign To Undermine Zelensky

To no one’s surprise, it was recently uncovered that in 2023, the Kremlin launched a disinformation campaign to undermine Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and create unrest, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

The task force, led by Kremlin’s First Deputy Chief of Staff Sergei Kiriyenko, aimed to spread false information through Ukrainian social media on platforms such as X, Facebook and Telegram. Moscow called the campaign “information psychological operations.”

According to the Post, which reviewed over 100 documents obtained by a European intelligence service, the strategy involved discrediting military and political figures, dividing elites, demoralizing the military, and confusing the populace. Tactics included the creation of fake accounts and mirror sites of Western media to propagate their messages.

“We need to strengthen the conflict between Zaluzhny and Zelensky, along the lines of ‘he intends to fire him,’” the Post quoted a 2023 document written by a Kremlin political strategist, referring to President Zelensky and his top military commander, General Valery Zaluzhny. 

The seeds the Russian sowed may or may not have bore fruit, Zelensky replaced Zaluzhny with Oleksandr Syrskyi on February 8, “saying only that change was needed,” the Post wrote at the time.

The disinformation campaign aimed to make Zelensky appear “hysterical and weak,” and to spread claims that he “fears that he will be pushed aside; therefore he is getting rid of the dangerous ones.”

Apart from the military shakeup, which everyone says is a risky move for Zelensky two years into their defense against the Russian invasion, the campaign may have also affected the president’s approval rating, but only barely, it’s down 5% to 65% — still largely better than Western standards.

The worst isn’t over however, an unidentified senior European security official told the Post: “Russia survived and they are preparing a new campaign which consists of three main directions: first, pressure on the front line; second, attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure; and thirdly, this destabilization campaign.”

Separately, French officials have uncovered what appears to be a setup for a mass disinformation campaign in France, Germany, Poland and other European countries. 

The French foreign-disinformation watchdog Viginum discovered a Russian-created network of 193 websites it codenames “Portal Kombat,” The Economist reports. The websites, which were created at different periods — some years ago, while some in 2022, are designed to disseminate “deceptive or false” information about the war in Ukraine.

“The underlying objective is to undermine support for Ukraine in Europe. According to the French authorities, the network is controlled by a single Russian organisation,” the outlet wrote.

Information for this story was found via The Washington Post, The Economist, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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