5/12/22: Coverage on this blog has ended. For the latest balanced news coverage of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, check out our Ukraine war page.
This blog will feature constant updates on misinformation, fake news, fact-checking, unconfirmed stories, disputed claims and statistics, and examples of propaganda and disinformation relating to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
If you have suggestions of disputed claims or unconfirmed stories to highlight here, email us.
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Russian Police Launch Investigation Into Journalist Who Debunked Pro-Kremlin Accounts of Dead Civilians in Ukraine
May 10, 2022
Journalist Ilya Ber, chief editor of the fact-checking website Provereno, is being investigated by Russian authorities over fact-checks he published about dead Ukrainian civilians.
The investigation reportedly stems from an April 27 Facebook post Ber posted to his personal account, in which he disputed pro-Russian accounts of the deaths of Ukrainian civilians in the city of Bucha. Russian media and officials have called the Bucha deaths staged and ignored blame, but satellite imagery seems to confirm that the corpses were real.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called the probe “deeply troubling” and said it “should be dropped at once.” Russia has taken legal steps to crack down on purportedly false information around the conflict in Ukraine; many critics say the rules suppress free speech.
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Did Russia Warn Hungary About its Invasion of Ukraine?
May 5, 2022
Ukrainian media has circulated claims that Russia had informed Hungary of the upcoming war. But Hungary is dismissing the claims as fake news.
Oleksiy Danilov, head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC), said in a televised interview on Monday that Hungary was warned ahead of time by Russian President Vladimir Putin “that there would be an attack on our country.”
On Tuesday, Hungary’s embassy in Kyiv released a statement saying Danilov’s accusation is “false and unfounded, and incite hatred against the Hungarian people.” The embassy also urged “Mr. Danilov to withdraw his statements.”
Hungary’s Prime Minister has condemned Russia’s invasion but hasn’t criticized Putin directly, and Hungary has also opposed proposed European Union sanctions that would cut off Russian oil and gas shipments to Hungary..
Ukraine Admits “Ghost of Kyiv” was Never Real
May 3, 2022
The “Ghost of Kyiv” was one of the Russia-Ukraine conflict’s early heroes, a Ukrainian fighter pilot who purportedly downed 40 Russian attack planes. But Ukraine has now admitted that the legend is fake.
Ukraine’s Air Force Command said on Facebook that the "Ghost of Kyiv is a superhero-legend whose character was created by Ukrainians!.” The post urges “the Ukrainian community not to neglect the basic rules of information hygiene," and to "check the sources of information, before spreading it". The post also said the legend was a “faster collected image of pilots of the 40th Air Force tactical aviation brigade, who protect the sky of the capital.”
Outlets across the political media spectrum reported on the Ghost of Kyiv legend early in the conflict, but usually with a thread of skepticism or an explanation that the details of the pilot’s purported triumphs couldn’t be independently confirmed. The tall tale was also advanced on social media by Ukraine’s defense ministry and other government accounts and military officials.
Fake Ukraine War Videos Go Viral on TikTok
April 28, 2022
With over 500 million users under the age of 30, social media app TikTok is what many young people use to consume news and information about major world events. It’s also rife with fake videos and content about the Russia-Ukraine war.
Reports across the political spectrum say many viral videos of the conflict on TikTok have turned out to be fake and were built from old videos, video game clips, and staged audio. An analysis from NewsGuard says that new TikTok users could be recommended false content about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine within 40 minutes of joining the platform. According to BBC (Center bias), some of the accounts spreading the fake videos have been viewed tens of millions of times.
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have labeled false or misleading videos about the war, while other platforms, like TikTok and Telegram, have seemingly placed less focus on combating false content. The company says it has recently accelerated efforts to fight misinformation.
Russian Media Paint School Bombing Survival Story as Fake
April 26, 2022
The story of a survivor of an apparent Russian missile strike in Ukraine went viral, but was denounced as fake by Russian state media.
After an airstrike hit a school in Chernihiv where a humanitarian aid drive was taking place, a bloodied 29-year old woman who survived and escaped the wreckage posted a video of her in the aftermath that went viral on Ukrainian social media.
But her story was soon branded as fake by Russian state media and pro-Kremlin accounts on social media, which said her wounds looked phony and that her behavior in the video wasn’t consistent with how a missile strike survivor would be acting. WarOnFakes.com, one of the groups that branded her story as false, has been promoted by the Russian Defense Ministry.
A report from BBC (Center bias) said the news organization confirmed that the appearance of the woman’s injuries in the days following the attack were consistent with her wounds visible in the initial video she posted.
Viral Videos Mislead About Ukrainian Military Successes
April 22, 2022
Some viral videos purporting to show Ukraine’s military inflicting heavy damage on Russian forces aren’t what they seem.
@ArmedForcesUkr, an unverified Twitter page with over 450,000 followers, posted a video last week allegedly showing Ukrainian military successes against the Russian army.
But journalists from Deutsche Welle (Center bias) determined that at least six of the clips in the video predate Russia’s current invasion of Ukraine and instead show conflicts in other regions. DW reported that one of the clips actually shows Russian snipers fighting in Syria. The @ArmedForcesUkr Twitter account has since been suspended.
Does Big Tech’s Content Moderation Power Help the U.S. Against Russian Propaganda?
April 20, 2022
Columnist and frequent government and media critic Glenn Greenwald (Center bias) wrote this week about a group of former intelligence and national security officials who issued a jointly-signed letter warning that attempts to restrict the power of Facebook, Google, Amazon and other Big Tech companies would jeopardize national security because their content moderation power is purportedly crucial in the fight against Russian disinformation around its invasion of Ukraine and other national security threats.
The former officials argued that “the Russian government is seeking to alter the information landscape by blocking Russian citizens from receiving content that would show the true facts” about the invasion of Ukraine, and calls on lawmakers to “not inadvertently hamper the ability of U.S. technology platforms to counter increasing disinformation and cybersecurity risks, particularly as the West continues to rely on the scale and reach of these firms to push back on the Kremlin.”
In his column, Greenwald argues that the officials and the U.S. government’s true reason for invoking Russia as a way to protect Big Tech’s content moderation power is wanting to “maintain a stranglehold on political discourse in the U.S. and the world more broadly,” and argues that the letter is born out of a fear of how a “new diversity of influence, that diffusion of power, would genuinely threaten the ability of the CIA and the Pentagon and the White House to police political discourse and suppress dissent from their policies and assertions.”
Could Russia be Expelled from the United Nations?
April 18, 2022
As charges of war crimes pile up against Russia, many are calling for the country to be expelled from the United Nations. Is that actually possible?
It's possible, but has never been done. Two countries have effectively been suspended in the past: Cambodia in 1997 and South Africa in 1974. Member nations could vote to remove Russia from the U.N., but that must begin with a recommendation from the U.N. Security Council. And as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, Russia has veto power that could block the other council member nations from making that recommendation. So, removing Russia from the U.N. is technically possible but highly unlikely.
Russian TV Brands Images of Dead Civilians in Ukraine as Fake
April 15, 2022
The world responded with outrage and more sanctions against Russia when evidence that hundreds of civilians had been killed intentionally emerged as Russian forces retreated from the suburbs of Kyiv in recent weeks. But state-controlled media in Russia have consistently labeled the images of the dead as fake.
Russian news anchors, correspondents, and pundits have consistently suggested that the bodies of civilians discovered in Bucha and elsewhere near Kyiv were planted there by Ukraine and its allies to make Russia look bad and to frame Russian troops as war criminals. U.S. news reports suggest that Russia's fake news campaign is severely misleading the Russian public about Russia's actions against Ukrainian civilians. Satellite images and on-the-ground news reports suggest that the bodies of civilians had been in the streets of Bucha for weeks, long before Russia's withdrawal began.
Identify fact-checking sources across the political media spectrum with the AllSides Fact Check Bias Chart.
Did Ukraine Sink Moskva, Russia's Flagship in the Black Sea?
April 14, 2022
Moskva, the Russian Navy's flagship in the Black Sea, sunk Thursday after an explosion severely damaged the ship. What caused it?
Ukrainian military officials said the damage and sinking resulted from a Ukranian missile strike. Russia said a fire detonated ammunition on the ship. Earlier reports about the ship's fate were conflicting; Ukrainian officials first said the vessel capsized and began to sink Thursday morning, while Russia said the vessel was being towed back to port.
According to the Pentagon, an explosion on the Moskva caused a fire on the ship and forced its crew to evacuate, but the cause is unclear.
Hackers Target Ukraine News Broadcasts
April 7, 2022
Since the start of Russia’s invasion began in late February, hackers have repeatedly broken into the social media accounts and broadcasting systems of major Ukrainian news sources and government officials.
A new security report from Meta, parent company of Facebook, details how a Belarus-aligned hacking group has tried to hijack Facebook accounts of Ukrainian military officials and government entities to spread fake reports that the Ukrainian army is surrendering. Hackers have also targeted major news sources like Media Group Ukraine; a live broadcast was reportedly hacked last month to display a message that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had announced a surrender to Russia. While the hacks have apparently done little to influence public opinion in Ukraine, experts interviewed by the New York Times (Lean Left bias) say the goal could be "to erode confidence in Ukrainian institutions and show that the government and news media cannot be relied upon for information or to keep hackers out of their systems."
As Social Media Platforms Move to Curb Russia-Ukraine Disinformation, Telegram is an Exception
April 6, 2022
Many social media companies are focused on combatting misinformation and fake news on their platforms, especially amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Telegram, a free cloud-based app that allows users to send and receive messages, calls, photos, videos, audio and other files, is not.
The platform doesn't moderate or remove Russian fake news or disinformation, including "deepfake videos" purporting to show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It is consistently one of the most popular apps in both Ukraine and Russia, and co-founder Pavel Durov, who is from Russia, has committed to protecting information about Ukrainian users. Durov has also frequently detailed the high bar for removing content from Telegram.
News sources across the spectrum are offering tips for how to identify Russia-Ukraine disinformation online.
Russia's Claims of Staged Killings in Bucha Contradicted by Satellite Images
April 5, 2022
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claims that footage of dead civilians in Bucha, Ukraine was "staged" to hurt Russia's public image. But satellite images covered across the political media spectrum contradict that position.
According to the BBC (Center bias) and other sources, satellite images from March 19 show bodies lying in the streets of Bucha. Footage of the same corpses has gone viral in recent days as Russian troops withdrew from the city, which is a suburb of Kyiv. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of genocide over the dead civilians and mass graves in Bucha, and the footage sparked outrage from other leaders across the world. Lavrov and other Russian officials claim that the bodies in the footage didn't show signs of having been dead for as long as reports suggest.
Russia also says that "not a single local resident has suffered from any violent action" while Bucha was under Russian control, a statement that's been contradicted by eyewitness accounts reported by media on left and right.
Russian Spy Agency Accused of Faking Videos to Allege Ukrainian War Crimes
April 1, 2022
According to independent Russian news sources, a video appearing to show a Ukranian woman accusing Ukraine-allied troops of war crimes is a fake created by Russia's security service.
On March 24, Russian state-controlled news outlets published a video interview with a refugee from Mariupol who said members of the Azov Battalion, a part of Ukraine's National Guard, "boasted about brutalising people, killing them. Even innocent ordinary people who were hiding from the bombings and didn’t know how to survive." One Russian state-run news source shared the video on Telegram, and said it showed how "neo-Nazis" in Ukraine were "proud of brutally killing city residents." The independent Russian news outlet Mediazona later reported that Russia's spy agency, FSB, instructed state-owned media outlets to share the video interview under the condition that they do not say where it came from.
The Azov Battalion has previously been accused of human rights abuses and has enlisted neo-Nazi members in the past, facts that Russian President Vladimir Putin has moved to exploit while painting Ukraine as the aggressors in the conflict.
Is the US Training Ukrainian Soldiers in Poland?
March 31, 2022
President Joe Biden said Monday that U.S. troops stationed in Poland are training Ukrainian forces to defend against Russia's invasion. The statement was then contradicted by other U.S. officials. So, what's actually happening?
On Monday, Biden implied that he talked to U.S. troops "about helping train the Ukrainian troops that are in Poland." A Pentagon spokesperson then said U.S. troops were "liasing" with Ukrainian forces in Poland, "not training in the classic sense that many people think of training," and the head of U.S. European Command said he doesn't think the U.S. is "currently training military forces from Ukraine in Poland." The White House communications director said she couldn't add further detail, "except to say that there is regular interaction" between U.S. and Ukrainian troops. One report from CNN moved to clarify Biden's comment, and focused on anonymous sources who said that U.S. troops in Poland are instructing Ukrainians on how to use weapons that the West sent to Ukraine.
Are Ukrainian Troops Torturing Russian Prisoners of War?
March 30, 2022
Ukrainian authorities are reportedly investigating viral video footage which purportedly shows Ukrainian soldiers shooting Russian prisoners of war in the legs.
The video divided Ukrainian leaders. Some, such as Ukrainian armed forces Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi, accused Russia of "filming and distributing staged videos" to try to distort Ukraine's treatment of prisoners. Others, including an adviser to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, pledged an investigation and reminded "all our military, civilians and defence forces that abusing prisoners of war is a war crime." The head of the U.N. Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine said she was "very concerned" and confirmed that the U.N. would investigate the footage.
An investigation by BBC Reality Check (Center bias) suggests that the video was filmed south east of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, and highlights how the captors in the video have accents consistent with eastern Ukraine. The BBC stopped short of suggesting that the video was real or fake, but quoted several experts who said there wasn't yet enough evidence of the video being phony.
Biden Implies US Troops Heading to Ukraine; White House Corrects
March 29, 2022
When speaking to U.S. troops in Poland about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last Friday, President Joe Biden said troops would witness the bravery of the Ukrainian people "when you’re there."
The comment is at odds with the White House's consistent position that U.S. troops will not be deployed to Ukraine. A White House spokesperson told a journalist after the comments that "The President has been clear we are not sending U.S. troops to Ukraine and there is no change in that position." The Kyiv Independent (Center bias), an English-language news organization in Ukraine, said Biden's remark was an “apparent gaffe.”
Ukraine Recommends AI-Powered Program That Detects Russia Misinformation
March 27, 2022
A new AI-powered program called the “Perevirka” (Verification) bot has been recommended by the Center for Countering Disinformation at the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to help Ukrainian citizens recognize fake news and misinformation being spreading by Russia.
If a readeris unsure about the information featured in an article related to Putin's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, they can send the link where it will be swiftly analyzed by a team of independent fact-checkers and professional journalists using aritificial intelligence tools. The answer will reportedly come within a few minutes, according to multiple sources.
Did Putin Pledge to Stop Strikes on Civilians in Ukraine?
March 23, 2022
French President Emmanuel Macron said Russian President Vladimir Putin committed to stopping strikes on civilians in Ukraine during a Feb. 28 phone call, but reports across the political spectrum say that strikes have continued.
According to PolitiFact (Lean Left bias) and other sources, there's no public record of exactly what was said between Macron and Putin during the call. According to a statement from Macron's office, "President Putin confirmed that he was willing to commit to" stopping all strikes and attacks on civilians and residential areas; preserving all civilian infrastructure; and securing main roads, especially south of Kyiv. The Kremlin's summary of the call claims that "the Russian Armed Forces do not threaten civilians and do not target civilian facilities," and alleges that "the threat is posed by Ukrainian nationalists who are using civilians as human shields." Neither summary included a detailed trancript.
U.S. intelligence reportedly suggests that Russia is deliberately targeting hospitals and places of shelter.
Pro-Kremlin Tabloid Publishes — Then Deletes — Report of 10,000 Dead Russian Soliders in Ukraine
March 22, 2022
A pro-Putin tabloid in Russia reported that nearly 10,000 Russian soldiers have died fighting in Ukraine, before quickly removing the figure from its website without explanation or clarification.
According to a report from Newsweek (Center bias), Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda published a story on Sunday citing Russian Defense Ministry officials who said that 9,861 Russian troops had been killed and 16,153 had been injured. The officials' comments were in response to casualty numbers reported by Ukraine, which said that closer to 15,000 Russians had been killed. The article was then changed with the number deleted, and no other Russian sources published similar figures. An archived version of the story is still available.
Russia hasn't issued a public dealth toll for its troops in Ukraine since early March, when it said that 498 Russian soldiers had been killed and 1,500 wounded. According to American intelligence estimates reported last week by the New York Times (Lean Left bias), over 7,000 Russian troops have died — more than the number of American troops killed over two decades in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelesnkyy said last week that 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed during the invasion.
Did Kamala Harris Imply That Ukraine is Part of NATO?
March 21, 2022
Vice President Kamala Harris is taking criticism for a statement that appeared to imply that Ukraine is part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
On March 15, Harris tweeted that "The United States stands firmly with the Ukrainian people in defense of the NATO Alliance." Ukraine is not part of NATO. Its desire to join the alliance — combined with Russia's stern opposition to the move — is one of the "security concerns" Russian President Vladimir Putin cites while trying to justify his invasion of the country. The tweet included a quote from a speech Harris gave at the Democratic National Committee winter meeting. The transcript of the speech listed on the White House website includes an "and" between "people" and "in" that Harris did not use in her speech. Harris's original tweet was deleted and reposted to say "The United States stands firmly with the Ukrainian people and in defense of the NATO Alliance."
The deleted and reposted tweets have been covered and fact-checked by The Dispatch Fact Check (Center bias), the Post Millennial (Lean Right bias) and others.
Was Ukraine the Biggest Donor to Hillary Clinton's 2016 Campaign?
March 18, 2022
On Feb. 19, just days before Russia invaded Ukraine, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) stated at a rally that "Ukraine was the No. 1 donor to Hillary Clinton when she was running for president."
Greene's claim is false. Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign did not report any donations from the Ukrainian government or Ukrainian nationals, and those donations would have been illegal. Paloma Partners, a Connecticut-based hedge fund, was the biggest donor to Clinton's 2016 campaign, giving $21.6 million. Between 2009 and 2013, the Clinton Foundation received up to $8.6 million from a Ukraine-based foundation started by a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, according to the Wall Street Journal (Center bias).
How Official Russian Statements Conflict With Reality in Ukraine
March 17, 2022
As Russia's invasion of Ukraine continues, statements from Russian government officials continue to clash with the reality on the ground.
After an attack on a hospital in Ukraine last week, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that "All the women in labor, all the nurses, in general, all the staff was driven out of there." Meanwhile, photos circulated widely in the news and on social media of pregnant women and injured patients. In announcing what he called a "special military operation" on Feb. 24 that would purportedly be limited to the Donbas region, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia doesn't "plan to impose ourselves on anyone." But over the course of the invasion, Russia forces have advanced far beyond Donbas and into major cities across Ukraine. On March 10, Lavrov said that "Russia has no plans to attack other countries. We have not even attacked Ukraine." Sources across the spectrum have reported on videos and pictures showing Russian missile strikes and mortar fire hitting civilian areas in Ukraine.
As Russian leaders continue to push false narratives about the conflict in Ukraine, authorities in Russia are moving to crack down on voices who denounce the invasion.
Is Russia Using 'Butterfly Mines' in Ukraine?
March 16, 2022
Various social media posts allege that Russia is using so-called butterfly mines as part of its invasion of Ukraine. Is it true?
Dean Gloster, a writer with over 150,000 followers on Twitter, said that Russia placed butterfly mines "outside Mariupol to kill and injure fleeing civilians". A Feb. 26 report from a Ukrainian news outlet alleged that "Russian invaders are using internationally-banned butterfly mines" in Kharkiv. Officially called PFM-1, butterfly mines are Russian-produced scatterable anti-personnel land mines. They've gained a reputation for maiming civilians and are considered especially insidious because they can easily be mistaken for a toy with their bright green color and unassuming appearance. They are banned by most countries.
According to German news outlet Deutsche Welle (Center bias), there is no hard evidence of the mines being used in Ukraine. The outlet reports that all images of the mines circulating on social media are outdated and not from Ukraine.
How Some Russians Are Breaking Through Russian Propaganda
March 15, 2022: As the Kremlin continues to weaponize online media platforms in Russia, some citizens are finding ways to break through the wall of propaganda.
The Russian state media has maintained tight control over the media narrative covering its "special military operation" of Ukraine, which is being painted as a country full of Nazis that are committing war atrocities against the Russian people.
Some of those people, however, are not completely sold on this narrative and are finding new ways to seek truthful information. Some Russians are hiding their internet activities with VPNs (virtual private networks), which enables them to access blocked media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. According to Top10VPN, the demand for VPNs in Russia increased by more than 2,000% on Sunday — right before the Kremlin disabled Russian's access to Instagram.
Activists from other countries are also trying to poke holes in Kremlin propoganda by sending messages to ordinary Russian citizens through reviews on apps like Tinder and Google Maps, according to a report from NPR (Lean Left bias).
Ukraine Government Cofirms Number of Military Casulaties for First Time
March 14, 2022: After weeks of declining to publicize the number of Ukrainian soldiers killed during Russia's invasion, Ukraine's government has confirmed military casualty counts for the first time.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelesnkyy said over the weekend that 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers had died during the invasion. As for Russia, one U.S. official estimated that between 3,500 and 6,000 Russian troops died in the first two weeks of the invasion. Ukraine has claimed that over 12,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. Russia's last casualty report in early March said it had lost 498 troops and killed roughly 2,800 Ukrainian soldiers.
The U.N.'s latest civilian casualty count says 579 have been killed, including 42 children, and 1,002 civilians have been injured.
Some Kremlin-Backed Media Outlets Starting To Question Putin's War on Ukraine
March 13, 2022: Cracks in Russia's media propaganda machine are starting to reveal themselves as Putin's invasion of Ukraine enters its fourth week.
Fortune (Center bias) reported Friday that guests on the prime-time television talk show "An Evening With Vladimir Solovyov" were "openly criticizing" Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile on the Russian Ministry of Defense’s television channel, Zvezda, one of Putin's army officers "dramatically" revealed that "our youth are dying."
To help combat the Russia's disinformation campaign, the White House gathered a group of TikTok influencers on a Zoom call Thursday afternoon to discuss how Putin's invasion of Ukraine is unfolding as well as the U.S. and NATO's strategic goals.
Fraudsters Use News Logos, Branding to Push Fake Russia-Ukraine News
March 11, 2022: People advancing false or misleading information about Russia's invasion of Ukraine have at times used the logos of major news organizations to give the phony content an air of authority.
CNN (Left bias) reported this week that "a series of phony screenshots" supposedly depicting CNN's reporting were actually fabrications that "have spread widely on social media platforms over the past week." A fake story about actor Steven Seagal joining Russian troops to fight Ukraine — an article that was shared and then deleted by prominent podcaster Joe Rogan — featured CNN's logo at the top. A Russian official at the U.N. criticized U.S. media for alleged "lies and fakes" about Americans dying in Ukraine, but the stories he based his allegations on were fraudulent articles made to look as though CNN published them.
Digitally-altering content to make it look like it came from an authoritative source is relatively easy, but separating that content from real news reporting is not. Stay up-to-date with tips for spotting fake news and different types of media bias.
Hackers Say They Hijacked Russian State TV, Broadcasted War Footage to Combat Propaganda
March 10, 2022: Anonymous, a collective of cyberhackers, says it hacked Russian government-controlled TV broadcasts in the country to broadcast footage of Vladimir Putin's attacks on the country and combat the Russian government's attempts to portray the invasion as a benign "special military operation." Videos purporting to show the hacked brodcast have gone viral on Twitter.
The hacking group said in a tweet that it "is officially in cyber war against the Russian government." The collective also claims to have shut down Russia's space agency last week so Putin "no longer has control over spy satellites," a claim Russia's government denied. Russian government-controlled media, such as the television channel RT, have been criticized for misleading the Russian public about the invasion, and framing Russia as having been forced to launch a limited "military operation" in Ukraine due to Western aggression.
The lower chamber of Russia’s parliament approved a new "fake news" law last week that threatens to punish people who publish "false information" about the war. Those found guilty would reportedly face a fine of around $14,000 or a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
Conflicting Reports on Number of Russian, Ukrainian Soldiers Killed
March 9, 2022: Different governments continue to report conflicting casualty counts from Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.
The director of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency told lawmakers Tuesday that the best estimate is between 2,000 and 4,000 Russian fatalities, but said he had low confidence in that number. Ukraine's government said this week that over 12,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. Russia hasn't offered an updated number after saying last week that 498 of its troops had died, and that its forces had killed over 2,800 Ukrainian troops. Ukraine hasn't given an official count of how many of its soldiers have been lost.
Influencers Share Fake Information, Phony Videos About Russia's Invasion
March 8, 2022: Robert O’Neill, the former Navy SEAL who purportedly killed Osama bin Laden, tweeted a video on Sunday claiming to show a "crisis actor" in Ukraine pretending to be dead during a newscast. O'Neill's tweet reads, "Wait one damn minute… I think we got a live one!" However, the video he shared was a combination of two separate newscasts, and the footage wasn't from the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The audio was from an NBC News broadcast on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but the footage was from a climate protest in Austria where people staged a “die in” and covered themselves with body bags. O'Neill's video was removed by Twitter, but not before it was retweeted nearly 7,000 times. The video remains viewable in posts from other users.
O'Neill, who has 476,000 followers on Twitter, joins podcaster Joe Rogan and other media personalities with large influences in sharing false or misleading information on the conflict.
Examining TikTok's Role in Spreading Fake News on Russia-Ukraine Conflict
March 7, 2022: TikTok, the video-focused social media platform with over 1 billion users worldwide, has become a hotbed for viral videos of the Russia-Ukraine conflict — some of which are fake or misleading.
The Chinese-owned social network is popular for its quick videos, and Russia's invasion of Ukraine has led to content about the conflict spreading rapidly on the platform. However, many that are based on out-of-context clips or false information remain live on the platform despite their false or misleading nature.
According to a review by The New York Times (Lean Left bias), some TikTok videos of the conflict, "including of Ukrainians livestreaming from their bunkers," are legitimate but many others are unverified, and might use audio or images taken out of context from different conflicts or even video games. The Times highlights how popular TikTok videos with the hashtag #Ukrainewar are garnering as many as 1 million likes each, while the most popular Instagram posts with the #Ukrainewar hashtag are getting tens of thousands of views — much less engagement despite Instagram being similarly popular in the U.S.
How Is Russia Spreading Disinformation About Ukraine?
March 6, 2022: Russian officials are spreading disinformation online to change perception of war.
Russian officials are quickly moving to control the narrative of the Ukraine war by spreading hacking campaigns online and instructing teachers to deliberately spread disinformation to their students. Democratic nations such as the U.S. and other European nations have been able to keep their citizens accurately informed by pressuring social media platforms to clamp down on Russian disinformation.
However, Russia's disinformation campaign has been much effective in other countries such as China. According to The New York Times (Lean Left bias), China’s state media has excluded an array of key stories including "the international condemnation of Russia," "Ukraine’s success in the battle for public opinion" and the ongoing antiwar protests in Russia. This has led to many Chinese people adopting the Russian media's language, labeling the Ukrainian people as "extremists and neo-Nazis."
Exactly How Much Oil Does the U.S. Import from Russia?
March 4, 2022: Biased media are offering different impressions of how much Russian oil the U.S. imports.
Fox News's (Right bias) Maria Bartiromo said last week that the U.S. doubled oil imports from Russia in the last year. According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. increased its total oil imports from Russia by about 28% in the first 11 months of 2021. If just looking at crude oil separate from refined products like gasoline and kerosene, the U.S. more than doubled its crude oil imports from Russia, to about 208,000 barrels a day in the first 11 months of 2021, from 76,000 barrels a day in 2020. Most of the oil imported from Russia is refined, not crude. Russia accounted for 3% of U.S. oil imports in 2021, up from 1% in 2020.
How Many Russian and Ukrainian Troops Have Been Killed?
March 3, 2022: Casulaty counts from the Russia-Ukraine war are conflicting.
Moscow gave its first official casualty count Tuesday, saying that 498 Russian troops have been killed in Ukraine and 1,597 more sustained wounds. Russia also said more than 2,870 Ukrainian troops have been killed, roughly 3,700 more have been wounded, and 572 others have been captured by the Russians. Ukraine said this week that nearly 9,000 Russian troops have been killed since the invasion began. Ukraine has not provided an exact number for how many of its troops have died.
Did the U.S. Help Build Biolabs in Ukraine That Russia is Now Targeting?
March 2, 2022: According to FactCheck.org (Center bias), claims that the U.S. helped create “bioweapons labs” in Ukraine that are being targeted by Russian forces are misleading and based on a misinterpretation of a 2005 pact between the U.S. Department of Defense and Ukraine’s Ministry of Health to ensure that labs studying disease in Ukraine could not be used to develop biological weapons.
When seaching sources across the political spectrum, AllSides found no reports suggesting that the claim has merit.
Concerns About Misinformation, Fake News Heightened Amid Russian Attacks on Ukraine
February 28, 2022: Several false or misleading stories about the Russia-Ukraine conflict have already gone viral. Twitter is among the large tech companies planning to label links to Russian state media to help users identify trustworthy news sources.
- Reports across the news and social media of defiant Ukrainian troops killed by Russia's navy were contradicted when the Ukrainian navy declared the soldiers "alive and well."
- A video purporting to show a Ukrainian girl confronting a Russian soldier has generated millions of views on social media, but is actually a 10-year-old video of a Palestinian girl confronting an Israeli solder.
- There is little to no evidence of the existence and purported trimuphs of the 'Ghost of Kyiv,' an anonymous Ukrainian fighter pilot rumored to have downed multiple Russian warplanes.
- Podcaster Joe Rogan shared and later deleted a fake CNN report stating that actor Steven Seagal has joined Russian special forces.
This blog is curated and updated by AllSides's balanced news team. See more fact checks on our Fact Checking page.