This morning, the Russian military launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
We are currently witnessing an increased movement in the information space – both in Poland and in other Western countries – proliferation of Russian narratives regarding the causes and course of the current crisis. These narratives serve Russian strategic goals, which include the permanent destruction of sovereign Ukraine, but also dismantling of the security architecture in Europe, which directly threatens the security of Poland and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
In light of the above, we urge you to be especially cautious and responsible about what information or opinions you provide or share, both on social media and in private conversations.
With this in mind, we have prepared a list of reliable sources of information on the situation in and around Ukraine, which we recommend using. You can find it at the end of this document. The list is edited by us in real time.
Below, you will also find an overview of the main narratives currently being spread in the information space by both overt and covert Russian sources. These narratives seek to disrupt our perception of reality and assessment of the situation. Their goal is to create such social conditions – including in Poland, Europe and the world – in which it will be more difficult for us to defend our security and support Ukraine’s sovereignty.
These narratives are often supported with old or fabricated audiovisual materials are used to obscure the situation (the fog of war), to prove the success of the Russian army or the alleged atrocities by the Ukrainian army.
The Russians are spreading the narrative that Ukraine is incapable of armed resistance, that its army is disintegrating, and that individual cities are surrendering in the face of the Russian invasion. Reports from the front are being broadcast on Russian and pro-separatist channels. They emphasize the alleged desertions of Ukrainian soldiers, their diminished morale, and the ineffectiveness of their equipment. This is part of a psychological operation to aid military operations. The goal is to paint a false picture of Ukraine’s capitulating forces and to cast doubt on Ukraine’s defensive capabilities.
The Russians are spreading rumors that their forces have entered Ukraine to maintain peace and protect civilians on the territory of separatist republics, or that they are carrying out precision strikes solely against military targets. This is not true – Russian forces have launched attacks on the entire territory of Ukraine, including the western and northern parts of the country, and have shelled or bombed numerous civilian targets, resulting in the first civilian casualties.
We have been observing increased anti-Ukrainian activity in the Polish information space, particularly on social media, for several days already. The goal of such activity is to incite conflict between Poland and Ukraine and to instill aversion to Ukrainians, particularly in light of potential increased immigration as a result of the Russian invasion. The primary tool is the use of painful themes and events from Polish-Ukrainian past. Official Russian propaganda and politicians, on the other hand, constantly label the legal government in Kiev as “fascist” or deny Ukrainians the ability or right to self-determination.
There have been narratives claiming that certain NATO countries will not choose to impose sanctions on Russia because, for example, they respect the Russian point of view or have good relations with Russia. Another narrative contends that sanctions are meaningless and not posing any threats to Russia. This is not true – this week, the governments of all European Union member states unanimously decided to impose sanctions on Russia, and yesterday, the US President and the German Chancellor took action that resulted in the suspension of the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Further Western sanctions have the potential to exert enormous pressure on Russia’s economy, society, and political elite.
In recent days, the Polish infosphere has seen an increase of narratives accusing Ukrainian authorities, the United Kingdom, and the United States of inciting the conflict. In these narratives, Ukraine is portrayed as a puppet state in relation to the United States, and the dirty actions of the West have supposedly caused the war in which innocent Ukrainians will lose their lives.
The narrative identified in the Polish information space paints a false picture of a corrupt Ukrainian government, which has led to an economic and demographic crisis as a result of a streak of severe political and strategic errors. An outcome of which is the Russian intervention to protect the Russian people.
The condescending portrayal of Ukraine as a “rebellious younger sister” – an allegory that appears frequently in communication messages – that should return “to the Russian family” is an integral part of the so-called Russkiy mir (Russian world).
A narrative spread through Russian state media and related channels, consists of reports of alleged Ukrainian attacks on Russian targets. In reality, those were provocations by Russian forces impersonating the Ukrainian military – the so-called false flag operations. All of these were very quickly debunked by OSINT analysis.
Official accounts of the administration and the Ukrainian military:
Ukrainian media and journalists:
Accounts that provide coverage of events: