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Сonspiracy theories How conspiracy theorists explain events in Ukraine and the world: the theory of “false flag operations”

Propagandists try to explain current events using conspiracy theories, distorting the original meaning of certain terms. An example of this is the “false flag operations” theory.

Its original definition is used to describe operations that the enemy is falsely accused of committing in order to initiate or revive hostilities. Such operations have indeed occurred throughout history, especially during World Wars I and II, and historians use the term “operations under false flag” in professional literature. Conspiracy theorists have distorted its meaning by using it to describe almost every event in the world. For example, conspiracy theorists argue that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States were allegedly carried out by the American government, and not by terrorists, in order to begin and justify their “War on Terror”, including the invasion of Iraq.

Russian propagandists used the “false flag operations” theory to launch their full-scale invasion of Ukraine. A few days before February 24, 2022, Russian state media claimed that Ukraine was allegedly preparing an attack on Russian territories in order to start a war against Russia. After Russia attacked Ukraine, conspiracy theorists and propagandists claim that Russia was allegedly framed and the invasion was allegedly staged. Like, it was not Russia that attacked Ukraine, but the West that attacked Russia in Ukraine.

By using the theory of “false flag operations”, Russia wants to erase the sense of reality and make people doubt everything that is happening around them. In addition, in this way they are trying to shift responsibility for military aggression onto others in order to reinforce the image of “Victim Russia” cultivated by propagandists. This theory is an example of how Russian propaganda distorts the meaning of terms to obscure the information space.

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