Russia has spread false claims that Ukraine is harvesting organs from fallen soldiers and children as Russia tries to drum up support for its invasion, according to a rare new warning from the Canadian intelligence agency foreign electromagnetic.
On Friday, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) tweeted some observations from its intelligence on what it calls Russian-backed disinformation campaigns.
The agency said Russia had made coordinated efforts to create and disseminate false allegations that Ukraine was harvesting organs from fallen soldiers, women and children and using mobile cremators to dispose of evidence.
Russia also “created and amplified false stories and narratives falsely claiming that only military targets were being attacked and that civilian casualties in Ukraine were lower than confirmed and verifiable reports have shown,” the CSE said.
“Similarly, we have seen Russian efforts to promote stories that wrongly categorize protesters and Russian citizens opposed to the invasion as supporting neo-Nazis and genocide.”
‘Russia has not changed its playbook’: expert
The spy agency, which usually only informs the government about the activities of foreign entities that threaten Canada or its allies, said it is sharing some of its findings more widely so Canadians can protect themselves against disinformation in the context of the current crisis.
Former security analyst Stephanie Carvin, now an associate professor at Carleton University, said despite Russia’s revered information operation capabilities, it has so far underperformed and failed to win. a lot of traction in the West.
“I think they’ve been very poor, shockingly poor, actually,” she said.
“I think pre-bunking may have played a serious role in that. But the fact is also that it looks like Russia haven’t changed their playbook, while I think the West did it.”
Still, Carvin warned that, like its military operations, Russia is likely to adapt its information operations strategy.
“All of that could change down the road,” she said.
Warnings about cyberattacks
CSE has issued several warnings to power companies, banks and other critical parts of Canada’s infrastructure and economy to strengthen their defenses against Russia-based cyber threat activity as the Western world responds to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The agency said it shares cyber threat intelligence with key partners in Ukraine and works with the Canadian Armed Forces through intelligence sharing, cyber security and cyber operations.
Carvin said she hopes to see more transparency from Canada’s intelligence agencies.
“You can’t have an intelligence briefing like this every day, but I think a good, timely briefing is important to the Canadian public and makes them aware that these campaigns exist, which may be important in the future – say, in an election,” she said.
“Just because these campaigns are there doesn’t necessarily mean they’re successful and everyone should lose their minds about it. It’s just [a reminder] to keep abreast that these kinds of campaigns exist and that the national security community is watching.”