By Madeline Roache, Sophia Tewa, Alex Cadier, Chine Labbe, Virginia Padovese, Roberta Schmid, Edward O’Reilly, Marie Richter, Karin König, McKenzie Sadeghi, Chiara Vercellone, Zack Fishman, Natalie Adams, Valerie Pavilonis, Shayeza Walid, Kelsey Griffin, Coalter Palmer, Andie Slomka, Louise Vallée, Akshata Kapoor, Eva Maitland, Macrina Wang and Kathryn Palmer.
Last updated: Sep. 20, 2023
Months before Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, false narratives about Ukraine and its allies, many promoted by the Kremlin’s disinformation apparatus, were already proliferating online. From false claims of Ukrainian genocide directed at Russian-speaking Ukrainians, to assertions that Nazi ideology is driving Ukraine’s political leadership, these claims and dozens of others have been used to justify Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
NewsGuard has debunked more than 130 false narratives related to the Russia-Ukraine war, and identified more than 350 sites spreading those myths. While most myths disavow Russia’s alleged atrocities and other abuses in Ukraine or demonize Ukrainians, NewsGuard has also debunked some pro-Ukrainian and anti-Russian myths, ranging from manipulated images of the mythical Ghost of Kyiv to misleading footage of alleged Russian attacks.
Tracking 397 Top Russia-Ukraine Disinformation Sites
- English-language websites: 206
- French-language websites: 54
- German-language websites: 41
- Italian-language websites: 41
- Other: 55
To date, NewsGuard’s team has identified and is tracking 397 domains, some with a history of publishing false, pro-Russia propaganda and disinformation — that have promoted false claims about the Russian-Ukraine conflict.
These websites include official Russian state media sources of the kind that some of the digital platforms have temporarily sanctioned since the onset of the Russian invasion. But many websites that are not official propaganda arms of the Russian government and are not being sanctioned by the platforms also promote false claims supporting the government of Vladimir Putin. These sources include anonymous websites, foundations, and research websites with uncertain funding—at least some of which may have undisclosed links to the Russian government.
Some of the most influential websites known to share pro-Russia propaganda and disinformation are funded by the Russian government. See NewsGuard’s Nutrition Labels for some of these outlets, including RT, TASS, and Sputnik News.
NewsGuard’s team is monitoring these and the dozens of other sites that we have identified as spreading Russia-Ukraine disinformation narratives.
Russia employs a multi-layered strategy to introduce, amplify, and spread false and distorted narratives across the world — relying on a mix of official state media sources, anonymous websites and accounts, and other methods to distribute propaganda that advances the Kremlin’s interests and undermines its adversaries. Its government-funded and operated websites use digital platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and TikTok to launch and promote false narratives. NewsGuard has been tracking these sources and methods since 2018. and licenses its data about Russian propaganda efforts to the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Cyber Command, and other government and defense entities.
In 2020, the U.S. Department of State’s Global Engagement Center, citing NewsGuard’s reporting and data, outlined key components of these efforts in its report, “Pillars of Russia’s Disinformation and Propaganda Ecosystem.”
Researchers, platforms, advertisers, government agencies, or other institutions interested in accessing the full list of domains or want details about our fact-checks of false narratives can contact us here.