At a glance.
- When "disinformation" isn't really disinformation.
- Disinformation: forged document claims Ukraine is reselling military aid to African countries.
- Concealing the scale of losses.
When "disinformation" takes the form of threats.
In an informative account of Russian public statements during the run-up to Victory Day, the commemoration on May 9th of Allied victory (specifically Soviet victory, which functionally means Russian victory) in Europe at the close of World War II, Newsweek describes an intensification of Russian official and semi-official statements about its war in Ukraine. From Russian television: "Zelenskyy must be wiped from the face of the earth." From President Putin: any countries that intervene in Russian military operations and create "unacceptable threats for us that are strategic in nature" would be met with a "lightning-fast" response. (Presumably that's the speed of a hypersonic strike weapon, and not, say, a road-bound armored column.) From Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: "NATO is essentially going to war with Russia through a proxy and arming that proxy." From Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov: Russia will consider U.S. and NATO vehicles transporting weapons on Ukrainian territory as "legitimate military targets."
With the exception of Foreign Minister Lavrov's characterization of NATO support for Ukraine as a proxy war against Russia (which while self-serving is not utterly implausible) these statements are more in the nature of threats than they are strict, contrary-to-fact disinformation. Burt they're certainly part of an influence campaign, and may not be intended fully seriously. They are, as the academic commentators Newsweek cites put it, "strategic," and in that sense may be at least first cousin to disinformation.
In any case, Russia appears to be working some kind of result it can claim as victory by May 9th. That outcome seems likely to a race between Russian fires on one side and Ukrainian air defenses, counterfire, and special operations raids on the other.
Disinformation: forged document claims Ukraine is reselling military aid to African countries.
The Atlantic Council offers a debunking of claims in the Kremlin-aligned Telegram channel Rezident that Ukraine planned to sell surplus "armored cars, tanks, submachine guns, rifles, grenades, and bulletproof vests to African countries." All of that materiel, Rezident says, represents equipment Ukrainian forces need at the front, and the story has been amplified in other Telegram accounts as well as various Vkontakte pages. The document being circulated, and which is being represented as an official report from the Ministry of Defense to Ukraine's parliament, is clearly a forgery. It uses Russian orthography, for example, and it refers to organizations that no longer exist. The goal of the disinformation is to insinuate that Ukraine is beset by corruption. Rexident says “While Ukrainian soldiers are dying due to the absence of weaponry, clerks from the Ministry of Defense are selling it under the premise of redundancy,” and adds that the whole (fictitious) scheme amounts to a “cunning scheme of enrichment.”
Concealing the scale of losses.
The British MoD also sees signs that the Russian government is working to minimize public awareness of the size of losses it's sustaining in the invasion of Ukraine. "Russia’s Ministry of Defence has proposed compensation payments for the families of deceased service personnel be overseen by military rather than civilian officials. This likely reflects a desire to hide the true scale of Russia’s losses from the domestic population."