In one look.
- Themes in Russian influence operations.
- Disinformation in war crimes.
- Delete unwanted news.
- Censorship also poses difficulties for censors.
Themes in Russian influence operations.
Russian television names the enemies of the Kremlin, reports the Daily Beast, and among those enemies are the United States, the United Kingdom and, in particular, Poland, all of which have a stake in weakening Russia and dismembering Ukraine. . Thus, Russia presents itself as a kind of guarantor of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, undoubtedly the Donbass and the Crimea. He presents the detachment from these regions as a matter of local self-determination, a right he considers sacred, according to the television, anyway. There was also a lot of noise on Russian television about how easily Russian nuclear forces could destroy the United States. All it would take, one expert explained, was two nuclear missiles on each coast, and the United States would be destroyed, or at least rendered prostrate. “The mushroom cloud would be seen even from Mexico,” an expert told viewers, according to Newsweek, which seems like an odd standard, since you can see truck exhaust in San Diego from Mexico, but let’s not quibble. . The sentiments expressed are both confident and nihilistic. A question for the experts: how confident are you that strategic rocket forces would be able to perform better than the military? Not wishing to take the threat of nuclear war lightly, as the consequences would be a catastrophe beyond history, but one would think that Russia’s combat performance so far might induce some reservations about the capability Russian forces to operate as announced.
The theme of the fight against the Nazis is also pushed by Russian puppets in occupied Ukrainian districts. A prominent lawmaker from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Yelena Shishkina, who chairs the unrecognized parliamentary committee on criminal and administrative legislation, has said that the unrecognized government of her unrecognized republic will try Ukrainian President Zelenskyy as a war criminal, if it should ever fall into their hands, Newsweek reports. “Perpetrators of military crimes are not only those who hold guns in their hands and pull the trigger. They are also generals, who give orders, and presidents too,” Ms Shishkina said, as they affixed their signature “under the order to send neo-Nazis into the Donbass to kill civilians here.”
Suppressio veri: Russian desertions and refusal to fight.
Suppression of the truth can serve the interests of misinformation just as easily as lying and misrepresentation. The need to silence unwanted news seems to be at work in Russia during its current war against Ukraine.
The Wall Street Journal reports see documents describing Russia’s problem with combat denials, that is, with soldiers deployed during the invasion of Ukraine who refused to follow orders or attempted to desert their units . Many, but not all, refusals have come from members of the National Guard, a force designed to maintain order rather than take and hold ground. For many soldiers, it’s a business decision: a lawyer representing some of them said, according to the Journal, that “many soldiers who refuse orders to go to Ukraine think it’s easier to risking a criminal case than risking their lives to fight.”
Russian prosecutions for desertion and refusal to fight were surprisingly light, usually amounting to dismissal from service. The Journal writes:Since Russia has not declared war on Ukraine, there are also few legal grounds for criminal prosecution of those who refuse to serve overseas.We doubt that the lenient sentences handed down so far stem from a legalistic adherence to the law of the black letter, as one might find, for example, in the United States. In Russia, the law serves politics to a much greater extent than it does in the West. Nor, we can assume, does it represent respect for selective conscientious objection. Rather, the reluctance to prosecute and punish severely appears to be related to uncertainty about how to handle cases without drawing attention to the magnitude of the problem. Hundreds of soldiers are credibly said to have refused orders, and that’s a small but significant fraction of the forces deployed.
Foreign Affairs sees a broader “human problem” in the Russian military. It’s hard to motivate troops to fight when you’ve accustomed them to systematic hazing, mistreatment, and occasional brutality.
Censorship as friction for censors.
The Russian government apparently buys VPN services, not to topple them, but rather for its own use. Top10VPN reports that since the invasion of Ukraine, “236 official contracts for VPN technology worth more than $9.8 million have been made public since the invasion of Ukraine. Institutions and state-owned enterprises under the Public Procurement Law based in Moscow spent more than any other region, totaling 196 million rubles ($2.4 million).” The users are either government agencies or established corporations, and they purchase VPN services to maintain access to sources of information that Kremlin-imposed censorship has otherwise made inaccessible. Their goal is “to circumvent increasingly punitive digital restrictions, state officials and corporations may have turned to VPN software to retain access to international news outlets, local financial publications and social media platforms”. Thus, global censorship has induced noticeable frictions in the operation of the censorship regime itself.