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The Impact of Russian Anti-Western Conspiracy Theories on the Status-Related Conflict in Ukraine: The Case of Flight MH17


  • Mölder Holger

    (TalTech Law School, Tallinn University of Technology Akadeemia tee 3, Tallinn 12618, Estonia)

  • Sazonov Vladimir

    (Ancient Middle Eastern Studies, University of Tartu Ülikooli 18, Tartu 50090, Estonia)


The Russian Federation has a wide arsenal of tools at its disposal for conducting information warfare to achieve its strategic objectives in the ongoing status conflict with the West. The active exploitation of conspiracy theories has thrived since pro-Kremlin forces started armed conflict against Ukraine in 2013–2014. This article focuses on the crash of Flight MH17, widely used by the Russian media to fabricate various conspiracy theories which make out that the West and Ukraine are responsible for the disaster. This study examines several Russian outlets and TV channels and concludes that the Russian media often used falsified stories and emotional rhetoric in narratives they spread about the crash of Flight MH17. The narratives used to create these conspiracy theories claim that the incident was a Western provocation attempting to generate hostility towards Russia. In disseminating these kinds of conspiracy theories, the pro-Kremlin media created distrust against the West and the Ukrainian government among a larger audience and produced discomfort and disorientation about Western and Ukrainian news.

Suggested Citation

  • Mölder Holger & Sazonov Vladimir, 2019. "The Impact of Russian Anti-Western Conspiracy Theories on the Status-Related Conflict in Ukraine: The Case of Flight MH17," TalTech Journal of European Studies, Sciendo, vol. 9(3), pages 96-115, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:vrs:bjeust:v:9:y:2019:i:3:p:96-115:n:6
    DOI: 10.1515/bjes-2019-0024

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Shinar, Chaim, 2018. "Conspiracy Narratives in Russian Politics: from Stalin to Putin," European Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(4), pages 648-660, October.
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