The Weird Russian Rumor About Brits Eating Squirrels After Food Shortages

The war in Ukraine has impacted the global food supply and played a role in soaring food prices and the recent record-breaking inflation, per The Federal Reserve. However, things thankfully aren't quite as bad as one Russian propagandist would have her viewers believe. 

Olga Skabayeva, the host of Russia's 60 Minutes, had a wild story to tell viewers about the conditions in what she called, "once-Great Britain," per Insider. "Today it was revealed that some restaurants in once-Great Britain will be serving squirrels. In view of the fact that there are plenty of animals in the parks, so why not eat them, bearing in mind the food shortage in the U.K.," Skabayeva claimed to TV watchers. 

The premise of the host's outrageous claim was that due to the U.K.'s financial support to Ukraine, the country was facing food shortages and could no longer afford to feed its citizens. The story seems to have been based on a proposal from a conservation group to serve grey squirrels in local restaurants as a way to cull the invasive species without creating unnecessary waste. 

The group's proposal appeared in Daily Mail and was part of a campaign designed to educate the public about the environmental damage caused by grey squirrels, "We want people to help control the grey squirrel, so are offering training." stated Kerrie Hosegood, the Acting Manager of the Exmoor Squirrel Project.

More bizarre Russian rumors about the goings-on in Europe

The fabrication about squirrel eating isn't the only tall tale that's been dreamed up. In December, when many Europeans were worried about increased oil and gas prices, the narrative was greatly exaggerated to Russian citizens.

In 2022, Russian government-backed conservative news channel RT released a Christmas-themed ad depicting a dystopian-looking Europe celebrating while essential groceries were hard to find that holiday season. According to The New York Post, The commercial showed a family thrust into poverty in the wake of the shunning of Russian oil. Due to power shortages, the family is forced to power their Christmas lights by hooking their pet hamster's wheel up to a homemade generator. As the ad continues and the family's economic situation gets more dire, they are eventually forced to cook and eat their hamster, a turn of events similar to Russia's most recent piece of British-aimed propaganda. 

Though bizarre, the rodent eating claims coming out of Russia are far from the only instances of harmful propaganda. Shortly after the beginning of Russia's invasion, propagandists released a deepfake of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy telling Ukrainian troops to stop the fight against invading Russian soldiers, per Time. While stories about squirrel and hamster stew may seem strange, it's clear that dubious claims such as these have a darker side.