Home News Deepfake video of US officials exposed after Russia reports on Ukraine attacks

Deepfake video of US officials exposed after Russia reports on Ukraine attacks


U.S. officials said Ukraine may use US weapons In a limited attack inside Russia, deepfake videos of U.S. spokespeople discussing the policy appeared online.

The faked video, based on real footage, shows U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller appearing to suggest that the Russian city of Belgorod, just 25 miles north of the Ukrainian-Russian border, is a legitimate target for such an attack.

The 49-second video, which shows obvious signs of being doctored, still feels authentic, highlighting the growing threat of misinformation, especially so-called deepfakes powered by artificial intelligence.

U.S. officials said they did not know the source of the video, but they were particularly concerned that Russia could use such tactics to manipulate public opinion about the war in Ukraine and even manipulate American political discourse.

The video claims that Miller said in response to a reporter’s question at the State Department that Belgorod “is basically free of civilians,” and that the question was also made up. “Now there are military targets almost everywhere, and we see the same situation beginning to occur in surrounding areas.”

“Russia needs to understand that this is unacceptable,” Miller added in the video, which went viral on Telegram channels, attracted attention from Belgorod residents and prompted a response from Russian government officials.

The claims made in the video about Belgorod are completely false. Although Belgorod has been the target of some attacks in Ukraine and schools have switched to online teaching, its 340,000 residents have not yet been evacuated.

False claims that civilians have fled and that the city is largely a military zone might suggest that Western countries are willing to support indiscriminate attacks there, but this is not the case.

President Biden gave Ukrainian officials what he called limited permission to use U.S. weapons to strike in self-defense inside Russia, a policy shift in response to Russia deploying missiles, glide bombs and artillery shells along its border to attack the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and surrounding areas.

The video also showed Miller appearing to respond to a reporter’s argument – also manipulated – that other countries were “allowing their weapons to strike deep inside Russia,” which was not accurate, even though some Western leaders have said their weapons could be used to strike Russian border targets that threaten Ukraine.

“So, whatever our allies decide to do, we’re going to support them and maybe help some of the people who are undecided about this to make the right choice,” Mr. Miller said.

Miller, who accompanied Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on a trip to Moldova and the Czech Republic this week, condemned the video in a statement.

“The Kremlin has made the spread of disinformation a core strategy for misleading citizens both inside and outside Russia,” he said. “It is hard to think of a more convincing sign than using outright lies to justify its decisions, let alone to people around the world.”

Several Russian media outlets and websites mentioned or circulated the video, but none of them mentioned the inaccurate lip sync or the color change of Miller’s shirt and tie midway through.

Indeed, combating Russian disinformation was a core theme of Mr. Blinken’s recent trips abroad. In Moldova and the Czech Republic, he spoke publicly about such attacks orchestrated by pro-Russian propagandists in European countries. In many cases, these actors used networks on social media platforms to spread lies, including through fake accounts.

Blinken and foreign ministers from other NATO members met in Prague on Friday to discuss how to counter Russian disinformation and other types of “hybrid attacks” aimed at undermining governance and democratic institutions in the United States and European allies.

“I can tell you that in our meeting today, virtually all of our allies are concerned about the escalation of Russian hybrid attacks,” Blinken said at a news conference Friday afternoon. “We know what they are doing, and we will respond individually and collectively as needed.”

exist First stop on the journeyIn Chisinau, Moldova, U.S. officials and their counterparts discussed online propaganda aimed at undermining President Maia Sandu, who has been pushing for Moldova’s accession to the European Union and is up for re-election in October.

Blinken and Czech Republic Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky signed a memorandum of understanding in Prague on Thursday to combat “foreign information manipulation,” the State Department said.

Participants in this trip are James P. RubinHe served in Miller’s position in the Clinton administration and is currently the State Department’s special envoy for disinformation and coordinator of the Global Engagement Center.

Mr Miller’s false claims were repeated verbatim on the Telegram channel of the Russian Human Rights Council, a state body nominally advising President Vladimir Putin. The council’s account then shared Angry response Its chairman is Valery Fadeev.

“Washington deliberately turned a blind eye to Kiev’s obvious crimes against humanity,” Fadeev wrote. “I don’t particularly expect the State Department to pass this information on to the cynics, but the truth is ours anyway.”

In a post condemning Miller’s “lies,” Fadeev suggested that the United States did not understand that Belgorod civilians were in danger. He said that at least 175 civilians had been killed and another 800 injured in the Belgorod region since February 2022.

Russian state news agency TASS Published an article The Human Rights Council issued the statement on Thursday following Mr. Fadeev’s comments. As of Friday evening, the Human Rights Council had not issued a statement on its Telegram channel acknowledging that the video was fake.

The Insider, an independent Russian media outlet with a special unit to expose fake news, noted that the video was also available on the Russian social network VK, which is currently controlled by businessmen close to Putin, as well as on sites run by pro-war propagandist Alexander Kotz.

Life in Belgorod is far from normal: schools are held only online, and air raid sirens sound frequently. Explosions are often heard, buildings are damaged, and civilians are killed. A series of explosions on December 30, 2023, which Moscow blames Ukraine for, killed 25 people and injured at least 100. The day before the explosions, Russia launched air strikes on various Ukrainian cities, killing 57 people and injuring 160.

Some areas near the border have been evacuated, and many small towns and villages within the border area regular Ukrainian drone and artillery attacks. In late April, Belgorod Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said Ukrainian attacks had killed at least 120 civilians, including 11 children. Another 651 people had been injured since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, he said.

Julian E. Barnes I contributed to coverage from Washington.

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