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Russia spreading disinformation on war in Ukraine  

TV Asahi’s weekday evening news show “Super J Channel” aired an eight-minute report on Russia’s attempts to spread disinformation on its aggression in Ukraine. The program took up remarks by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov denying Russian troops’ involvement in a rocket attack on a train station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk last week that is believed to have killed more than 50 civilians. Lavrov insisted that the footage of the attack was fake news. A Russian representative to the United Nations and a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson also insisted that the Western media has been spreading fake news about civilian casualties in the city of Bucha in the Kyiv region.   

 

The program highlighted the recent exchange of harsh words on Twitter between U.S. Ambassador to Japan Emanuel and Russian Ambassador to Japan Galuzin over the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In response to Ambassador Emanuel’s tweet on April 1, “As Russian forces brazenly attack humanitarian convoys and steal food & medicine, international support is needed more than ever,” Ambassador Galuzin tweeted on April 6, “What is truly brazen is the constant compulsive lying of Washington and NATO officials regarding what has been actually happening in Ukraine throughout the last 8 years.” Ambassador Emanuel responded by tweeting on the following day, “Sanctions must be biting your budget and you had to cut your cable service. So let me assist you,” embedding links to foreign media’s YouTube videos on the atrocities against Ukrainian civilians. The network said it is unusual for such an exchange of harsh words to take place on the official Twitter accounts of the U.S. and Russian envoys.  

 

According to the program, multiple social media accounts that were set up in Japan are suspected of being used to shape pro-Russian public opinion. According to a Japanese internet security company, there are at least 20 such accounts that have tens of thousands of followers each. The company suspects that the Russian authorities are involved in these accounts because although they posted opinions against vaccines and other issues and did not mention President Putin or Ukraine before the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, they suddenly began posting items defending Russia after Feb. 24. An analyst at the company speculates that pro-Russian groups set up these accounts as part of their long-term strategy to wage information warfare in Japan.   

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