The Crimean Tatar Resource Center (CRC) traced the trends in the spread of fakes about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the territory of the temporarily occupied Crimea.
This was discussed at the press conference “Fakes about NATO in the occupied Crimea” at the Ukraine-Ukrinform Media Center.
“Russia has been intimidating the population of the peninsula for years, identifying the Alliance with fascism and saying that it wants to trample on Ukraine. If in the 1990-2000s Russia intimidated the citizens of Ukraine with the threat of NATO with the help of bribed politicians, then starting from 2014, the Russian authorities began to openly call NATO an enemy and accuse him of threats and unfriendly actions,” said Eskender Bariev, Chairman of the Board of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, Head of the Department for Legal Affairs and Foreign Affairs of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People.
He recalled that back in 2006, the Verkhovna Rada of the ARC adopted an illegal decision to declare the peninsula a “territory without NATO.” Unfortunately, the central authorities of Ukraine did not show an adequate response to this anti-NATO propaganda.
With the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the narratives of this propaganda changed several times, which was tracked by the experts of the CRC.
This was told during the online inclusion of the manager of the KRC Sergey Parkhomenko. He stressed that in April-May, Russian propagandists actively justified the invasion of Ukraine by saying that Ukraine, having joined NATO, would try to return Crimea by military means. In the summer, they began to circulate “horror stories” that NATO was unleashing a third world war and “inciting Ukraine” to attack Crimea. In July, in general, propagandists began to spin messages that Russia was already “at war with NATO”, and not with Ukraine.
“Obviously, in the Russian Federation they seriously began to form a public opinion that Russia is at war with the Alliance. However, despite the Kremlin’s hysteria, Ukraine will definitely return Crimea, regardless of whether it is a member of the Alliance or not,” he added.
Beata Patashova, Project Manager from Russia and Eastern European partner countries of the Public Diplomacy Division of NATO Headquarters, who also took part in the event remotely, noted the high stability of Ukrainian citizens to disinformation, despite the fact that since 2014, Ukrainians have been the main target Russian propaganda.
“Ukraine is fighting Russian aggression on the ground, in the air, at sea, as well as in the information and cyberspace,” she stressed.
Patashova noted that NATO’s approach to countering disinformation consists of a quick reaction, selectivity (sometimes the refutation of fakes can, on the contrary, contribute to their spread), carefully monitoring the information space to identify disinformation and its analysis, and cooperation with partners. She also spoke about the synchronicity in the spread of fakes about NATO by Russian and Chinese propagandists, noticed during the Alliance summit in Madrid.
Representatives of the press conference also spoke about the main sources of distribution of Russian fakes. Sergei Parkhomenko noted the special role in this of the regional branches of the all-Russian media like “Ria-Novosti”, “Komsomolskaya Pravda” and others. Of the social networks, Rospropagandists prefer Telegram – both official media channels and local publics.
Eskander Bariev said that scanned materials from local print media are sent to the CRC from the occupied peninsula. In addition, in April, in Simferopol, the invaders created an exhibition with fake anti-NATO information.
According to Parkhomenko, disinformation poses the greatest threat to people aged 14-25. And he considers the imposition of Russian propaganda at the level of schools and educational institutions the biggest danger.