Manipulated warfare: a Ukrainian lesson for Taiwan’s cognitive defense

IORG Dokidoki Alert ﹋ No. 22 ﹏ Russian-Ukrainian War Special Report

  • Author = IORG
  • Published = 2022.3.9 12:30


  • Compiling foreign research reports, IORG proposes 3 themes of wartime, manipulative narratives in Ukraine amid the on-going Russian-Ukrainian war. 3 Themes: justify invasion, create confusion, and demoralize defense.
  • Justify invasion: Russia claims that “Ukrainians and Russians are one people”, while China asserts “Both sides of the Taiwan Strait are one dear family”; whereas Russia blames “NATO provocation”, China reproaches “US using Taiwan as a pawn, provoking China for war and profit”.
  • Create confusion: narratives claiming that war is “military exercise”, “staged”, and that news media is “spreading fake information” and “cannot be trusted”. These narratives could compel readers to turn to online chat groups for information, in turn more affected by information manipulation. Similarly, narratives appeared in Taiwan accusing “news media does not report this” or “news media cannot be trusted” regarding the pandemic in 2021.
  • Demoralize defense: narratives claiming that “defending leaders have fled”, “defending forces have surrendered”, and “allies have abandoned the defense”. Similar narratives appeared in Taiwan during the pandemic and the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021.
  • “On War” author Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831): “War is a mere continuation of politics by other means.” The invading country could spread various narratives to influence the defending country before a war. These pre-planted narratives could then be material for wartime propaganda.
  • Although Taiwan has not yet been invaded militarily, IORG has found narratives echoing those in wartime Ukraine, spreading in our information environment. Examples include: “Both sides of the Taiwan Strait are one dear family” (“兩岸一家親”), “President Tsai (of Taiwan) will flee”, “Taiwan colludes with the US and provokes China”, and “Taiwan has no ally and no country will come to Taiwan’s aid”. In the advent of war, these narratives could emerge in volume, attempting to cause confusion and crumble the people’s will to resist.
  • We the Taiwanese people can learn from the Ukrainian people: in the face of an invasion, people’s will to resist is as important as any weapon. Information literacy, built from day-to-day practice, is an important foundation in combating information manipulation and defending democracy.
  • IORG to our reader: to understand the current Russian-Ukrainian war, pay attention to the source, content, and inference of any information presented to you. Read from multiple trustworthy sources. Share verified information. Help people around you to do the same.

Narrative theme

Narratives appearing in Ukraine

Narratives appearing or might appear in Taiwan

A. Justify invasion

A.1 Defending country poses threat to invading country

  • Ukrainian government is Nazi
  • Ukraine government rules with terror
  • Ukraine is conducting genocide in eastern Ukraine
  • Ukraine is making nuclear weapon
  • Ukraine is to launch terrorist attack
  • Taiwan is making bio-weapon of mass destruction DA.4
  • Taiwanese terrorists threatens China or overseas Chinese

A.2 Defending country is historically part of the invading country

  • Ukraine is a product of Russia
  • Crimea is part of Russia
  • Ukrainians and Russians are one people
  • Putin: Modern Ukraine is built by Russia
  • Putin: Ukraine is not an independent country
  • Both sides of the Taiwan Strait are one dear family
  • Taiwan has been part of China since ancient times
  • Taiwan is not an independent country
  • Taiwanese people look forward to reunification with motherland

A.3 Defending country is provoking war

  • Ukraine is ready to attack two Eastern Ukraine “republics” supported and recognized by Russia.
  • Taiwanese separatists launch attacks on China

A.4 Europe and US are provoking war

  • US wants to drag Russia into a military conflict
  • Polish-speaking saboteurs planned to blow up chlorine tanks in Donbas.
  • NATO floods Ukraine with modern weapons to push Kyiv for a military solution in Donbas
  • The West escalates hostilities to sell energy to Europe at higher price
  • Foreign forces use Ukraine as a tool against Russia
  • Ukraine is a puppet regime colony
  • Taiwanese government has secret plots with American companies DA.4
  • US provokes China for war DA.11
  • US uses Taiwan as a pawn against China DA.11 DA.21

B. Create confusion

B.1 There is no war, only drills

  • Russian invasion to Ukraine is a special military operation
  • Air siren alerts are drills
  • China amassing troops in southeast coastal provinces is only a drill
  • Chinese fighter jets entering Taiwanese air space is only a drill

B.2 Defending forces have staged operations

  • Ukrainian shelled a kindergarten
  • Ukrainian tank ran over senior citizen
  • Ukrainian missile destroyed apartment building in Kyiv
  • Ukrainian forces staged events to smear Russia
  • Taiwanese separatists attacked innocent citizens

B.3 Defending and western media outlets cannot be trusted

  • Western media is spreading fake information
  • Western media cannot be trusted DA.7

C. Demoralize defense

C.1 Defending leader or symbolic figure have fled or died

  • The Ukrainian President has fled the country
  • The Taiwnese President will flee to the US DA.4

C.2 Exaggerate defending loss, exaggerate invading advance, control information on invading loss

  • Ukrainian army suffered heavy loses
  • Ukrainian strategic locations seized
  • Ukrainian military key facilities destroyed
  • Russian army barely has any loses
  • Presidential office seized
  • Nuclear power plants seized

C.3 Defending forces have surrendered or defected

  • Ukrainian soldiers surrendered, fled, or defected
  • Taiwanese soldiers surrendered
  • Retired Taiwanese military officers defected

C.4 Allies have abandoned defending country

  • Ukraine has lost all its allies
  • The West is gradually abandoning Ukraine
  • Ukraine has 180 diplomatic allies, no one came to its aid DA.21
  • Taiwan has few diplomatic allies, no one will come to its aid DA.21
  • US will eventually abandon Taiwan DA.11
  • US and Japan are unable to protect Taiwan against China DA.11

Themes of wartime manipulative narratives in Ukraine and Taiwan. Source: IORG.

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