Russia targets CAF members in disinformation campaign

Russia is targeting the Canadian military in its disinformation campaign about the war in Ukraine, sharing doctored photos of troops engaged in combat, says the Communications Security Establishment (CSE).

In a series of tweets published on Wednesday, the government agency said the Kremlin actively supports efforts to promote non-state pro-Russian voices on social media “that have an influence on millions of viewers”.

As part of these tactics, the CSE said, Russia is spreading “false narratives” about Canada’s involvement in the conflict through controlled media designed to appear legitimate.

“This included false accounts of the presence of Canadian Forces members in the Donbas regions, which coincided with news of the arrival of Canadian Forces members in Ukraine to secure the Canadian Embassy in Kyiv,” it read. in a tweet.

“These outlets have been asked to include doctored images of Canadian Forces members on the front lines and false allegations that the Canadian Forces are committing war crimes.”

CSE said the latest observations were drawn from its classified reports on the matter. The agency’s mandate is to inform the government of the activities of foreign entities that threaten Canada or its allies, including through disinformation.

Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, anti-LGBTQ+ materials, anti-immigrant comments, anti-globalist sentiment and QAnon content are also being pushed onto communications platforms by the Kremlin in an effort to ‘manipulate’ global audiences, according to the agency.

National Defense Minister Anita Anand was asked if the latest CSE report raises the threat level for military personnel deployed in Europe.

“The threat level, of course, is one that we constantly monitor, and we will continue to do so. At this time, we are convinced that this is a mission that should be undertaken in the interest humanitarian aid, in the interest of helping our Polish allies and in the interest of the wider NATO alliance as refugees flee Ukraine,” Anand said after the latest announcement of sending up to 150 members of the Canadian Armed Forces to Poland to manage refugee resettlement efforts.

The Liberals provided $10 million over five years in their spring budget to develop and implement whole-of-government measures designed to fight misinformation and protect Canadian democracy.

CSE and Canada’s other cybersecurity agencies have issued a series of warnings about Russian disinformation tactics before and since its February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

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