Thursday, 11 June 2015

Alleged Russian Soldiers Captured in Ukraine May Have Been Fooled by Social Media

London, UK -- False information posted online may have been the reason behind the apparent capture of Russian special forces in Ukraine, according to one of Kiev’s top advisors on pro-Russian propaganda tactics.

The soldiers were seized in May in the town of Shchastya, near the line of separation. A video was then posted online showing one of the detainees stating his rank and brigade, prompting Moscow to again deny claims that Russia is sending forces into the country.

Dr. Valentyn Petrov, head of the Informational Security Service on the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, revealed the direct influence of social media in an article for Defence IQ, saying:

“Before the capture of two Russian Special Forces officers in Ukraine on 16 May of this year, a message was placed on social media that Ukrainian forces have abandoned their positions. That was not the truth. As a result, Russian command sent a reconnaissance mission that failed.”

He went on to explain that, following Ukraine’s experience, Kiev has two main aims in counteracting the antagonistic use of social media – to identify and block fake accounts, and to identify the most active supporters of terrorists. Ukrainian analysts believe that Russia is currently backing three “strategic informational campaigns” to support separatist efforts.

Petrov was discussing the situation one month ahead of his briefing at the Countering Violent Extremism conference, taking place on 29th June-1st July in London, UK. The event is a special iteration of the long-running Information Operations Global forum, and will explore open source intelligence, social media and strategic communications in its capacity to combat the message of radical militants or those employing similar tactics.

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