US says Russia created websites to spread misinformation long before war in Ukraine

The United States alleged on March 23 that Russia had developed websites to spread disinformation long before the invasion of Ukraine began. In a tweet, the US State Department mentioned: “Long before its unprovoked war in Ukraine, the Kremlin created websites that posed as independent news sites, but in fact disseminated disinformation.”

Meanwhile, chastising Russia for spreading misinformation, the UK warned on Tuesday that it has enough military systems to defend both UK national security and NATO commitments. “Update on Russia’s latest attempt to spread disinformation: The UK has provided over 4,000 NLAWs to the Ukrainian Armed Forces to continue their resistance against Russian aggression. The UK has enough systems weapons to defend both UK national security and uphold our commitments to @NATO. This includes a wide range of different systems,” the UK MoD tweeted.

Moreover, just days after Russia invaded Ukraine, several social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, reported the downing of coordinated networks of accounts spreading disinformation. These networks, which were made up of stolen accounts or made-up profiles with fake names and AI-generated profile pictures, shared startlingly identical anti-Ukrainian talking points, implying they were run by sources centralized linked to Russia and Belarus.

US and UK crack down on propaganda channels and websites

According to reports, the UK and US are cracking down on channels and websites spreading false and misleading stories allegedly backed by Russian intelligence services. Sanctions against the notorious Russian troll factory, Internet Research Agency (IRA), were announced last week, according to several media outlets.

Additionally, according to reports, two other alleged disinformation websites, New Eastern Outlook and Oriental Review, were also targeted. The St Petersburg-based IRA was previously arrested for paying Russian-based bloggers £500 a month to flood the internet with pro-Putin remarks on chat rooms, social media platforms and sections of comments from Western publications.

However, it has been suggested that Russian intelligence is pushing news and analysis websites around the world that support Putin’s vision of the invasion of Ukraine, which he described as a ” special military operation”. The US Treasury has imposed sanctions on the three outlets mentioned by the UK authorities. Meanwhile, the UK’s media regulator, the Office of Communications, or Ofcom, recently revoked Russian public news network RT’s license to broadcast in the country. However, disinformation tactics have targeted the Ukrainian government, including a fake video of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asking his soldiers to lay down their arms that leaked online last week.

Image: AP

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