Trashy videos and mobilization scandals, along with anonymous telegram channels about the distribution of summonses, may turn out to be one of the tools of the Russian information and psychological warfare, whose conductors are in Moscow.
And who benefits from distributing it?
Shocking and scandalous videos of people in Ukrainian military uniforms dragging a “mobilized” man out of his house or detaining and dragging him down the street while women scream in Ukrainian are being widely circulated on the Ukrainian segment of the Internet, but they may not actually have been filmed in Ukraine, at least not on the territory controlled by our state.
Of course, there may be people in domestic territorial recruiting centers who do not understand the extent of their powers. There may also be pests who intentionally discredit the state through such actions. However, in the context of Russian information and psychological operations aimed at weakening Ukraine’s defense capabilities and disrupting mobilization, one should ask not “can’t this happen here” but, above all, “who benefits from filming and disseminating this?”
Let’s face it, it’s absolutely no problem for Russians to shoot a half-minute video of two masked men dragging a third man to outrageous shouts in Ukrainian. Any Donbas separatist will sing a nightingale if necessary and without an accent, not to mention residents of the occupied Kherson or Melitopol regions and Ukrainians deported to Russia. It is not difficult for Russian propagandists to get a Ukrainian military pixel.
There is ample video evidence on the Internet to confirm that many of the impressive images of Ukrainian military losses were edited. For example, a video in which the lying and bloody bodies of Ukrainian soldiers in pixels, allegedly killed by Russians, suddenly stand up after a shout in Russian “Cut, guys!”.
The Russians realize that more than six months of unsuccessful battles for Bakhmut alone do not allow them to easily win on the battlefield, so the bet on defeating Ukraine is focused on undermining Ukraine from within. A provocative video that discredits the Ukrainian state and army in the eyes of its own people and Western partners, and panic with summonses, may, along with power outages, “tire” Ukrainians of the war and force them to agree to peace on Russia’s terms.
One of the tools used to spread panic and “fatigue” among Ukrainians was anonymous telegram channels “Where they hand out summonses”, which reported that in your city they “hand out” almost at every turn.
At first glance, such groups seem to be created and filled with concerned Ukrainians who only want to warn other men about the risk of joining the army. However, many signs indicate that such anonymous telegram channels may have ears from the Russian Olgino bot farm or other centers of Russian Internet sabotage.
The strategic goal of such groups is to sow panic, fear, depression, and distrust of their state among Ukrainian men. In particular, to spread slogans that at first glance seem to be perceptible to the “ordinary citizen”, but on the other hand are extremely useful to the enemy. For example: “why are the sons of MPs not fighting?”, “who stole weapons for the army?”, etc. At the same time, reasoned posts about pervasive corruption in the army and comments by “ordinary participants” such as “Jew Zelensky is organizing a ‘grave’ and wants to exterminate Ukrainians in the war” are also being shared. In other words, in addition to information about the locations of the subpoenas, rhetoric criticizing the actions of the Ukrainian state and clearly visible attempts to influence the political outlook of the members of such groups are being spread. And you think about it after reading it.
But it is also naive to think that the FSB would miss the opportunity to take advantage of the existing problems with mobilization and incitement of anti-state sentiment among Ukrainians. Anything that can weaken Ukraine’s defense and disorganize society is undoubtedly not without the involvement of Russian special services.
Of course, the administrators of such groups are not so stupid as to openly spread the “ukrofascist” thesis. On the contrary, the groups even collect aid for the Armed Forces. To the accounts of no-names. We even managed to raise 50 thousand hryvnias. Administrators of anonymous TG channels often post patriotic content and write about the successes of the Armed Forces, but at the same time publish “legal advice” on how Ukrainians can avoid joining the Armed Forces. “We are patriots, but we are spreading panic and disrupting mobilization” is the motto of anonymous telegram channels about the distribution of summonses.
And among the information about the locations of the distribution of subpoenas, they also periodically publish dubious links to TV channels with naked girls and online casinos. To relieve stress and earn extra money, so to speak.
The tactics of anti-war and various pacifist campaigns are not new to the Russian special services. Moscow actively used the same approach against the United States in the form of protests against the Vietnam War. At the time, the Kremlin needed to weaken the American desire to fight in order to establish communism in South Vietnam itself. It is still unknown where the anti-war demonstrations were dominated by the influence of the pacifist hippie movement, and where paid communist activists acted under the guise of pacifists;
It is difficult for the Russians to defeat the Ukrainian Armed Forces on the battlefield, but it may be easier and even cheaper to use information, psychological and political intrigue. At the very least, it would be even more foolish for the Russian special services to ignore and not use the public outcry associated with the mobilization than to expect to take Kyiv in three days.
Valeriy Maidaniuk, political scientist.