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How russia undermines Ukraine from the inside

How russia undermines Ukraine from the inside

The more russia gets involved in the war with Ukraine, the more sophisticated russian propaganda works. With no success on the battlefield, it becomes increasingly difficult to prove to the average russian that the “special operation” is going according to plan. Therefore, the main focus of attention of the kremlin’s political technologists shifts to the internal destabilization of Ukraine according to the principle “the more quarrels inside Ukraine, the less hatred for russia.”

In the Ukrainian-speaking, russian-speaking and foreign-language segments of the Internet, there are more and more signs of an aggressive russian information and psychological special operation, which instills in the consciousness of Ukrainians the narrative that the Ukrainian government is primarily to blame for the war. The information chain involves manipulation through controlled Ukrainian and foreign “leaders of public opinion” and its further viral distribution in social networks by pro-russian bloggers and “useful idiots”. The real problems of Ukraine are taken as the basis of disinformation publications, which are hypertrophied and processed in the desired direction of the kremlin.

Thus, russian propaganda sees the following as the main lines of division of Ukrainian society.

Firstly, it is a comparison of the situation in Kyiv and the regions. They said that the Ukrainian authorities collect all Western aid and are safe in Kyiv under the protection of Western air defense systems, while the main russian strikes are directed at defenseless cities. In order to “confirm” such a narrative and to irritate the residents of small towns, russia intensified air missile strikes on them. By spreading such fakes, propagandists want to cause panic among Ukrainians and discredit the Ukrainian authorities.

Secondly, the thesis that “the Ukrainian army is provided mainly by volunteers” is promoted in the mass consciousness, and Western financial and military aid is stolen by the authorities and military leadership. And although recent surveys and actual evidence refute this thesis, a certain part of society supports it and spreads it in their environment.

Thirdly, the topic of corruption and misappropriation of budget funds is gaining momentum as a reason for dispersal. The steps taken by the government and law enforcement agencies to combat corruption, the arrests of high-ranking bribe-takers are interpreted by russian propaganda as a manifestation of chaos and corruption in all branches of government. They are trying to inculcate in the minds of Ukrainians the thesis that all military commissars are bribe-takers, and territorial recruitment centers are illegal. For this, russian agitprop deliberately exaggerates the scale of mobilization and reproduces dubious videos with the “horror” of violent conscription on the streets of cities. The purpose of such actions is to disrupt the pace of mobilization, to block the sending of conscripts to the front by outraged relatives, and in the long run, to encourage Ukrainians to protest and sabotage actions. The last fake from this series was the alleged appeal of the Minister of Defense of Ukraine O. Reznikov to the Canadian government with a request to mobilize 30 thousand members of the Ukrainian diaspora for the war in Ukraine.

Fourth, after the failure of fakes about biolaboratories, combat mosquitoes and “dirty” bombs, the russians began to spread nonsense about the alleged sale of organs of wounded soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the European black market. Another delusion was based on the statement of the secretary of the russian security council, m.patrushev, and was widely reproduced by propaganda resources as proof of the “crime of the authorities of the President of Ukraine for the deliberate destruction of “pure-blooded Ukrainians.” Obviously, such information sabotage is aimed at undermining trust in the country’s leadership and artificially polarizing society.

What are russian PR technologists counting on?

In the near term, the kremlin plans to provoke an internal Ukrainian crisis in order to disrupt the pace of counteroffensive operations in the fall and winter. They are trying to shift public opinion to unconstructive criticism of the military command and the search for “culprits”. According to the russian scenario, this will stop the offensive actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and “freeze” the conflict until the spring of next year, when all the attention of the world community will be drawn to the elections in the USA and the Biden administration will slow down the support programs for Ukraine. Also, the kremlin clearly expects that the prolongation of the war will encourage the collective West to put pressure on Kyiv regarding negotiations on the acceptance of russia’s “peace” proposals.

❗️The main tasks of russian propaganda at the current stage are to destroy the internal unity of Ukrainian society and undermine trust between Ukraine and its partners. However, russian disinformation has significantly lost its role since 2014, as many previously unknown mechanisms of influence have been discovered. Starting from 2022, active countering of russian propaganda significantly reduced the artificial amplification of certain narratives by pro-russian bloggers and bots and adapted Ukrainian social networks to the informational challenges of the kremlin. At the same time, truthful coverage of events in Ukraine and prompt refutation of russian narratives remains relevant.

  • 8 August, 2023

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