Hostile Narrative Brief: War in Ukraine

February 24, 2023 marked one year since the start of the unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. These events have been accompanied by attempts to undermine support among Ukraine’s allies by spreading disinformation, conspiracy theories and generally, hostile narratives towards Ukraine exploiting socially contentious issues. To better track these hostile narratives, the Prague Security Studies Institute researchers joined the International Republican Institute’s Beacon Project in their series of reports monitoring the online media space of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, among other Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries.

These Hostile Narrative Briefs have used media monitoring tools such as Pulsar, CrowdTangle, APIs and Python packages to filter and collect articles or posts that mention at least one of the select contentious topics for analysis. The primary topics of Ukrainian refugees, sanctions, energy security, and NATO were selected based on local expert knowledge, opinion research, and more than six years of monitoring the CEE media space as having a higher potential to resonate with the general public. Together with local analysts from the CEE, keywords that represent general references to the topics were combined with those that are more likely to be used in framing them in a way that could erode support for Ukraine, and are therefore deemed potentially hostile. You can find more about the concept and methodology in the Beacon Project’s report covering 8 countries: Ukraine, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania, Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania and Poland. 

This project involved a big report on the One Year of Aggression, analyzing the hostile narratives about Ukraine spreading in the CEE information space in the time period of 15 February 2022 - 14 February 2023. Beside the main topics of refugees, sanctions, energy security and NATO/military support, the report also touches upon pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives such as denazification of Ukraine, secret biolabs and fear-mongering about nuclear escalation of the war. It was carried out in collaboration with local analysts to provide the most relevant details with sections covering countries that have been assessed to have a High, Medium, and Low risk. As should always be the case in these discussions, the first perspective on the topic is given by a local Ukrainian analyst.


You can find past reports on the Beacon Project's website.