According to the ministry of defence (MoD), Russia has been “systematically” using disinformation as a “major element of its strategy”.
This includes “narrative laundering”, where Moscow promotes information from proxies or unverified social media sources, and it then enters more mainstream or state-run media.
The MoD explained: “This aims to cloud the source of the information, making it easier for the Russian state to distance itself from the message.
“It then promotes misleading fragments of the narrative, while masking its vested interest.”
The UK officials suggested that these twisted narratives are presented to the public in “orchestrated and opportunistic ways”.
“Their current priorities almost certainly include discrediting the Ukrainian government and reducing international support for Ukraine,” the MoD explained.
This is not the first time Russia has been accused of promoting deliberately misleading information in the months since Vladimir Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Putin made it illegal for the media to spread what his regime thinks of as false information about the war last March. Meanwhile, Moscow is allegedly trying to keep the real number of casualties its ranks have faced under wraps.
Then, there’s the split narratives over what areas Russia has or hasn’t conquered – in January, Russia said it had captured Soledar, which Ukraine denied – and speculation over whether the Kremlin’s videos of Putin visiting various warzones are even real.
Dmitry Muratov, the editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta and the recipient of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, also said in March that Russia was still portraying itself as a peaceful nation, forced to act by its enemies, Ukraine and the West.
He added that the state-controlled media in Russia promotes dangerous warfare as though it’s “pet food” on TV.
He told the BBC: “They announce: ‘We’ve got this missile, that missile, another kind of missile.’
“Why do they say this? So that people here are ready.”
He added that people in Russia have been “irradiated by propaganda”, but warned that “everyone is susceptible to it, not just Russians”.