Russian Official Accounts and State-Sponsored Media Penetrate the Debate, by Spreading Targeted Narratives

Official accounts of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Russian Embassy in the UK, and RT are impacting the digital conversation disproportionately

Constella’s team of intelligence analysts created a custom, proprietary dashboard available through our Dome Platform, visualizing selected dimensions of the digital public conversation related to the Ukraine crisis to identify fast-moving global trends emerging from the online debate and to better understand the narratives and critical players driving the digital conversation. Each week, Constella Intelligence will share notable findings from its dashboard on the Constella Intelligence blog. Below are key insights from June 21st to June 27th, 2022, from the digital public conversation related to Ukraine. Over the period analyzed, the dashboard captured 6,099,506 results produced by 1,229,305 users interacting in English.

KEY INSIGHTS – JUNE 21ST TO 27TH, 2022

Disinformation narratives are spread across three communities expressing discontent towards economic, sociopolitical, and current war-related issues. These communities comprise nearly 35% of the users in the debate. Russian official accounts and state-sponsored media deeply penetrate one of these three communities.

The US Discontent community grew by nearly 50% in volume from the previous period, now producing 19.6% of users in the debate (up from 13.2%). Along with the International Discontent community (10.1%) and the UK Discontent community (4.6%), influential actors, highly shared media, and relevant narratives emerging from these communities propagate several unsubstantiated claims and, in some cases, erroneous information. Themes of conversation are concentrated in Ukrainian Citizens Impact and Economy—focusing heavily on global and domestic economic challenges and the negative impact at the citizen level.

As in previous periods of analysis, the US Discontent community has established itself as a sustained sector of the digital conversation and is primarily driven by conservative American political and media figures distributing a wide range of alt-media content. Key actors include Donald Trump Jr., Congresswomen Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene, political influencer Charlie Kirk, and others. Among the most widely shared domains in this community are alt-media sites, including the Washington Examiner, Zero Hedge, The New York Times, and Breitbart. Economic issues are a central narrative, with influential profiles claiming American children receive less attention than the war in Ukraine. The conflict is also dubbed a “scam”, citing Zelensky’s numerous photographs and meetings with figures from the film and music industries.

The second-largest community is notable for the presence of the official accounts of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Russian Embassy in the UK, and Russian state-sponsored media, Russia Today (RT) (20th, 21st, and 29th most relevant accounts in their community, respectively). It is notable that the appearance of the official page of the Russian president, en.kremlin.ru, is the 8th most widely shared domain. Encrypted messaging channel, Telegram is also highly relevant in this community. Reports of US Special Forces and the CIA’s activities in supporting Ukraine on the ground are spread widely, reframed in many cases to criticize the US and NATO, amid wider speculation.

Jonathan Nelson headshot

Jonathan Nelson

Director, Risk Intelligence

COMMUNITIES DETECTED – JUNE 21ST TO 27TH, 2022

1. US Discontent (19.6% of users): This community is led by independent American journalists, patriotic citizens, and Republican politicians such as Senator Marsha Blackburn, Congresswomen Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert and Donald Trump Jr. Their publications blame Joe Biden for high fuel prices and the closure of the Keystone pipeline.

2. Ukraine Support (19.2% of users): Ukrainian media and independent journalists lead this community. Zelensky’s messages thanking the EU for considering Ukraine’s membership achieve notable impact. Similarly, the Ukraine Minister of Defense’s praise of the US for new weapons also go viral. Images of the deadly Russian strike on a mall in Kremenchuk are shared, and the media report on the murder of Ukrainian photojournalist Maks Levin.

3. International Discontent (10.1% of users): This community is led by journalists, opinion leaders, and independent communicators. Users criticize the EU’s consideration of Ukraine entry following Zelensky’s ban on several opposition parties. Some profiles call out the hypocrisy of NATO and the US, citing the economic damage inflicted on Afghanistan throughout that conflict. Several narratives hold members of the G7 responsible for the international economic deterioration and users claim that members of the CIA and NATO have already been active on Ukrainian territory for several months.

4. US Support (9.1% of users): Community led by the account of Joe Biden, author Stephen King, the writer and artist Dennis Detwiller, the actor Ben Stiller, and the renowned chef José Andrés. Biden’s statements blaming Putin for inflation and fuel prices go viral.

5. International Media (5.9% of users): This community consists of news covered by international media. The most prominent and shared news is that CIA agents continue to operate on Ukrainian soil, directing US military intelligence operations. Reports highlight Russia’s default on debt payments for the first time in a century, the Russian attack on a mall in Kremenchuk, and Ukraine receiving candidate status for the EU.

6. European and International Institutions’ Representatives (5.9% of users): This community is led by Ukrainian President Zelensky, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, the Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom and Canada, Boris Johnson, Justin Trudeau, and the official account of Pontiff Francis. The exchange of gratitude between Zelensky and von der Leyen went viral after Ukraine obtained EU candidate status. Zelensky also thanks Biden for sending a new defense package. The Pontiff shares his grief over the fate of Ukrainian victims while Prime Ministers Johnson and Trudeau, ahead of the G7 meeting, reaffirm their commitment and support for Ukraine.

7. UK Discontent (4.6% of users): English public profiles, academics, and journalists lead this community. Messages focus on the possibility of Britain leaving the European Convention on Human Rights due to the government’s new bill of rights. News about an alleged company operated by the leader of the Conservatives with business in Russia since the beginning of the invasion is widely spread.

APPENDIX – JUNE 21ST TO 27TH, 2022

In the first iteration of this dashboard, we captured results related to the following 3 dimensions: Countries, Key Figures, Themes

  • Selected countries currently in the dashboard include: The United States, Ukraine, Russia, China, Poland, Belarus.
  • Selected Key Figures currently in the dashboard include: Vladimir Putin, Volodymyr Zelensky, Joe Biden, Boris Johnson, Ursula Von der Leyen, Josep Borrell, Xi Jinping, Olaf Scholz. Any mentions to these key figures are captured in the dashboard and can be visualized across multiple dimensions of analysis.
  • Selected themes currently in the dashboard include: Ukraine Citizens Impact, Economy, Cyberattacks, Migration Movements

Interested in seeing our Ukraine dashboard in action? Request a demo with one of our geopolitical intelligence experts.

Constella's Ukraine dashboard - Communities Module Preview

Communities GIF Ukraine dashboard

To see our full dashboard in action, Request a Demo with one of our geopolitical intelligence experts.

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