Germany said that Russia had increased disinformation about Ukraine in Europe

Oleksandra Amru

Russia has significantly strengthened its information influence in Europe. Disinformation campaigns of the Russian Federation, aimed at undermining support for Ukraine, have recently become increasingly large-scale, skillful and invisible.

This was reported by the head of the Department of Culture and Communications of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany Ralf Beste in an interview with the Financial Times.

"Certainly, this is a threat that we must take seriously. Overall, thereʼs an increase in sophistication and impact compared to what weʼve seen before," Beste said.

A typical tactic of Russia in the information war is the distribution of automated disinformation messages created with the help of artificial intelligence through social networks. Human participation in this process is usually minimal. Previously, such messages were of low quality, and it was possible to recognize the trace of artificial intelligence with the naked eye.

At the same time, the Russiansʼ automated information leaks are becoming more and more believable and accurate — such subversive attacks are more effective, and it is more difficult to fight them, the German diplomat claims.

"Thereʼs probably a lot going on that we donʼt even see. More and more conversations are taking place in private channels in Telegram and WhatsApp. Itʼs very difficult to understand whatʼs going on there," says Ralf Beste.

Germany has become one of the Kremlinʼs main targets in the information war against Ukraine, as Berlin is the second largest donor of military aid to Kyiv after the United States. At the same time, some Germans are worried about the impact of giving up Russian gas and supporting Ukraine on the German economy. Beste says that the Russians are "looking for cracks of doubt and trying to widen them."

Besteʼs department has a special group that monitors and combats Russiaʼs information operations abroad. This year, this unit exposed one of the largest attempts to manipulate German public opinion on the social network X (Twitter).

A network of more than 50 000 fake accounts, which published up to 200 000 messages a day, tried to convince Germans that aid to Ukraine undermined German prosperity and created the risk of nuclear war.

The network tried to pass off such statements as opinions published in reputable news outlets such as Der Spiegel and Süddeutsche Zeitung. It also tried to strengthen and spread the already existing anti-Ukrainian views among the German public.

Beste argues that countering such misinformation is increasingly difficult, indicating how far Russia has come from the days of infamous "troll factories" that employed real people to spread fake news, often in clumsy and obvious ways.

  • Last week, it was reported that the Kremlinʼs Doppelgänger bot network (RRN) was spreading pseudo-journalistic articles about the non-involvement of ISIS in the Crocus City Hall attack — Ukraine, the United States and Britain were allegedly behind the attack. Materials are distributed both from fake sites and from sites — clones of some well-known publications, such as: The network uses the pattern of "bots of two levels": some post their own content, others repost it en masse on the X social network in comments to other peopleʼs publications.