Fact-checked disinformation on the war in Ukraine detected in the EU

European fact-checkers focused a lot of their efforts in the past days and weeks in detecting and tackling disinformation concerning the situation in Ukraine.

At the beginning of the year, as the crisis was growing in intensity, the spread of false news about Ukraine detected in the EU was still very small. Fact-checkers detected a growth in the first half of February, even if the qualitative and quantitative levels of the disinformation was not alarmingly high.

After the military actions against the whole Ukraine started in the morning of 24 February, though, fact-checkers expect the situation to change substantially. At the end of this article, we add a list – which will be periodically updated – of fact-checking articles that the EDMO’s fact-checking network will publish during the crisis.

Disinformation detected before Russian military aggression

In the past few weeks, the EDMO’s fact-checking network has detected a growing circulation of disinformation related to the crisis in Ukraine.

For example, some published news verified in Italy and Spain were, by date of publication of the fact-checking articles:

  • 3 February 2022: A map portraying Russia as surrounded by Nato bases (verified in Spain by Maldita)
  • 3-4 February 2022: A video showing Russian troops invading a Ukrainian city (verified in Spain by Maldita and Newtral)
  • 14 February February 2022: A doctored image of a CNN program stating that Putin will delay the invasion until «there won’t be US weapons to steal» (verified in Italy by Facta)
  • 15 February 2022: A picture of people praying to avert the war in Ukraine (verified in Italy by Facta)
  • 16 February 2022: A picture of an Ukrainian girl with a gun in a bus, ready for the Russians (verified in Italy by Facta)
  • 21 February 2022: An image of a new supersonic Russian missile (verified in Italy by Facta)

Previously, in January, as reported in the EDMO brief on disinformation published in mid-February, some false news were detected especially in the Eastern Europe and in the Iberic peninsula.

The debunked news were, in particular:

  • Germany blocked flights of British planes with military equipment for Ukraine amid soaring tensions with Russia (verified in Poland by Demagog and AFP)
  • A video warning of an imminent nuclear war, supposedly published by the BBC (verified in Portugal by Polígrafo, in Spainby Newtral and Maldita)
  • A video showing the Ukrainian military preparing for a war with Russia (verified in Spain by VerificaRTVE)
  • A video compilation of war images implying that the war between Russia and Ukraine had already started (verified by VerificaRTVE in Spain)
  • A picture of tanks on a train directed to Ukraine (verified in Spain by VerificaRTVE)
  • A video showing a convoy of US tanks in Romania (verified in Romania by AFP)

Not only fact-checking

Alongside the debunking articles, some organisations also published contents with educational material and other analysis useful to understand the circulation of disinformation about the current crisis in Europe. For example:

  • A tutorial on different map tools that anyone can use to investigate disinformation about todays Ukraine-Russia’s crisis (by VerificaRTVE, Spain)
  • A comparison between US and Russia arguments about Ukraine (by VerificaRTVE, Spain)
  • A report on the phenomenon of Russian disinformation, according to experts and verifiers (by Newtral, Spain)

Similar initiatives were taken in the following weeks also by other fact-checking organisations. In particular:

  • Demagog (a fact-checking organisation based in Poland) published on 23 February 2022 an analysis on some of the most prevalent false Russian narratives concerning the Ukraine crisis.

Click here to find live updated fact-checking articles.  

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