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Moscow began a hybrid war in Ukraine weeks before any battalions entered the country. Ukrainian officials say that Russia stepped up a destabilization campaign involving cyberattacks, economic disruption and new tactics. The new misinformation methods, such as a deluge of emailed bomb threats and texts to residents informing them that ATMs are down, can cause panic. While they may sow immediate doubt and confusion, they can be easily disproved.
A U.S. official cautioned on Friday that Russia plans to discourage Ukrainian soldiers with false reports about the widespread surrender of Ukrainian troops. Throughout the month U.S. intelligence has warned of several propaganda and panic-causing misinformation strategies that could have a longer-lasting impact. Officials accused the financial blog Zero Hedge of publishing propaganda articles created by Russia-controlled media. They also released declassified intelligence showing Moscow planned to use false video as justification for attack, including scenes of a staged, false explosion with corpses, actors depicting mourners and images of destroyed buildings and military equipment. It appears that no videos have been released.