Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via a video link


  • The study found Poland to be the most targeted of Russian disinformation
  • Ukraine as a failed state is the most used narrative by Russia
  • Russia claims the West controls Ukraine to advance its interest in the region

An independent team of fact-checkers detected over 5,000 false propaganda narratives in different European countries propagated by Russia, with Poland being the most targeted by the disinformation campaign.

In a presentation at the Media Center Ukraine – Ukrinform, Svitlana Slipchenko, project manager for VoxCheck, said that Russia engaged in disrupting the information ecosystem in Germany, Italy, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland.

"All these falsehood messages were grouped into fake news, as a more general phenomenon, a common theme several cases can circulate within. We have identified 325 such fakes. The ones Russia constantly targets for the analyzed countries," Slipchenko said.

She also revealed that of the 325 fakes, VoxCheck was able to monitor and analyze in its "Propaganda diary-2022: The Year of Russian Disinformation in Europe" report 27 key false narratives Russia spread about Ukraine in different media outfits and organizations in Europe.

"Grouping fake news into narratives, Russia constantly uses the most common themes in its rhetoric to prove that Ukraine is a failed state," Slipchenko said.

She added that the "Failed State" trope is the one that Russia has been propagating for years, using this very narrative to justify its armed aggression against Ukraine.

The research showed that of the more than 5,000 recorded "frankly fake or manipulative messages" from Russia, nearly a quarter, or 1,384 cases of disinformation, were spread in the Polish media, while 869 cases were recorded in Hungary, and 787 in the Czech Republic, making these countries the top 3 European countries most vulnerable to the disinformation campaign.

Meanwhile, VoxCheck was able to detect 709 and 592 cases of disinformation in Germany and Slovakia, respectively, while the least amount of propaganda messages was recorded in Italian media, only accounting for 10% of all detected false news.

Among the most popular fake narratives spread in the European media were Ukraine's action in concert with the West forced Russia's hand to start the war, an epidemic of Nazism in Ukraine, and the West controlling Ukraine and using it as a proxy for its political purposes.

VoxCheck also revealed in their study that Russia's disinformation campaign in Europe amid their full-scale military action in Ukraine was heavily dependent on what's happening on the front, diplomatic arena, and the economy.

"At the beginning of the Russian invasion, Kremlin narratives about so-called 'Nazism' and 'fascism' in Ukraine dominated the European information space, as well as the claim that NATO countries posed an external threat to Russia by increasing their military presence in Ukraine and that there had been a civil war in Ukraine since 2014," the report said.

And when an influx of Ukrainian refugees began pouring into Europe as a result of the war, pro-Russian media began spreading falsehoods, claiming that Europe was experiencing "refugee fatigue."

"Pro-Russian media spread fake stories that Europe was tired of refugees from Ukraine, they behaved badly, violated social norms, committed criminal acts, did not want to work, and created problems for other migrants," the report said.

When Ukraine began making headway in the war by defeating the Russian army on some fronts, particularly in the battle for Kherson, Russia started discussing the "inevitable defeat of Ukraine in the war" and that Kyiv could not hold out for more than two months.

Ukraine has access to Western intelligence, training and weapons