Russia’s campaign of disinformation

Sir, – An American senator once said that the first casualty of war is the truth. The UK, together with our European, US and wider Nato allies, has been working to prevent war and to address the persistent campaign of lies and disinformation emanating from Moscow, which could be used by Russia to justify an invasion of Ukraine. We have identified more than 40 different stories promoting completely unfounded claims and potential pretexts for invasion disseminated by Kremlin-controlled media since the beginning of February alone. The head of Russia Today only last weekend dared to claim “that Russia has no choice but to intervene before Ukraine builds concentration camps and starts gassing people”. These disgraceful stories have to be seen alongside intelligence reporting which exposes the detailed nature of Russian plans to engineer a pretext to invade Ukraine.

A US intelligence report released on February 4th describes Russian plans to stage and film a fabricated attack by the Ukrainian military on Russian territory or against Russian-speaking people, complete with footage of bodies, destroyed locations, faked Ukrainian military equipment, drones and actors playing Russian-speaking mourners.

This is an example of what our foreign secretary has described as “clear and shocking evidence of Russia’s unprovoked aggression and underhand activity to destabilise Ukraine”. Having worked at Nato in the middle of the last decade, it reminds me of the extensive false information propagated by Russia to undermine Nato’s deterrence efforts in the Baltic states.

There are no credible reports of any ethnic Russians or Russian speakers being under threat from the Ukrainian government. By contrast, there are many credible reports of Ukrainians in illegally annexed Crimea and in the Russian-occupied Donbas region of the Ukraine facing suppression of their culture and national identity and who live in an environment of repression and fear.


Responsible allies do not release intelligence lightly. The fact that we have done so is a measure of how concerned we are about these risks and the wider public importance of refuting these dangerous lies.

We cannot predict what disinformation will be deployed next, and none of us knows what turn this crisis will take. The UK government will strive to keep open the window of opportunity for diplomacy. But Russia must end its campaign of aggression against Ukraine and its campaign of disinformation towards us all. – Yours, etc,


British Ambassador

to Ireland,

Dublin 4.