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Russia's dangerous propaganda behind the Iron Curtain
Kremlin propaganda takes a dangerous turn as Russians are isolated from the world
It is day 11 of Russia’s unprovoked brutal assault on Ukraine, with Russian forces increasing their operations of decimating cities and killing mass civilians. Meanwhile, Russian propaganda for domestic consumption has taken a dangerous turn. Russia attempted to sell the war domestically as a ‘demilitarization’ and ‘denazification’ special operation, but almost immediately, images of their assault were trickling back into Russian social media. A small percent of Russian protesters took to the streets across Russian cities and launched a “no war” slogan. The predictable arrests followed but the Kremlin realized they had a bigger problem. They couldn’t keep out the images and videos of women, children, and elderly hiding in basements, the humanitarian crisis unfolding, Russia’s intentional targeting of civilian homes, schools, hospitals, and the reports of heavy losses of Russian forces. In an attempt to gain control of the information space, the Kremlin quickly scrambled to shut down the last two independent Russian media outlets (Dzohd and Ekho Moskvy), Western outlets (BBC, Voice of America, and Radio Free Europe), while banning social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter. Russia’s State Duma immediately delivered a new law signed by Putin that criminalized using the words war and sharing '“fakes” of Russia’s military operations. The penalty for anyone straying from the official Kremlin narrative is up to 15 years in prison.
Shortly after these measures were put into place, the propaganda took a more dark and dangerous turn. Russian state news outlets started using ‘nazi’ in almost all of their headlines when reporting on their version of events in Ukraine. Then came the baseless reports of Ukraine having a nuclear program and making a “dirty bomb” with ‘evidence’ of the US supplying plutonium. Of course, all of this is a lie, but as Putin threatens the West with his nuclear weapons, his state media develops a pretext for the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Since the start of Russia’s assault, their military quickly seized Chernobyl nuclear plant and, days later, intentionally fired at Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant ( Europe’s largest), setting it on fire, occupying it, and taking staff hostage. Last night, the narrative in Russian state media began building on Ukraine’s ‘nuclear program’ with seven back-to-back headlines attempting to make the case. Again, I repeat this is a dangerous lie but a strategic one for whatever military operations Russia has planned.
Apparently, the nuclear narrative wasn’t enough because today they shifted to Ukraine’s biological program. Another lie! Major General Igor Konashenkov, the Russian Ministry of Defense spokesman, told reporters that the Russian ‘special military operation’ destroyed dangerous pathogens of plague, anthrax, tularemia, cholera, and other deadly diseases on the day of their assault. "We have received documentation from employees of Ukrainian biological laboratories on the emergency destruction of especially dangerous pathogens of plague, anthrax, tularemia, cholera, and other deadly diseases on February 24," Konashenkov said. Russia for years has been putting out disinformation of this secret lab and if Ukraine had this secret bioweapon lab, it would be hard to believe that the Russian military would have destroyed it on the first day of their assault, considering their plan to capture main cities within a few days failed. Also, if this lab did exist then Russia would have used that as the main pretext for launching their brutal assault in Ukraine, and the destruction of these pathogens would have been reported in every Russian media outlet on Feb 24th.
Their projection and disinformation continue with accusations of ethnic cleansing being carried out by Ukrainians with this headline in RIA Novosti appearing today, “Ukrainian radicals are carrying out ethnic cleansing, breaking into houses and apartments.” Hard to believe that as the West sees countless images of apartment buildings being destroyed, villages being destroyed, Russian soldiers looting and breaking into homes, and firing at unarmed civilians, it is Ukrainians carrying out the ethnic cleansing against Ukrainians. But nothing is supposed to be logical in Russian media or in their disinformation campaigns.
Putin is getting more cornered and paranoid, as his strategic operations fail with barely any military goals accomplished. Reports have emerged of disarray within his intel community, and the collapse of the Russian economy looms. Despite all efforts, Putin will not be able to stop the truth from trickling in and the videos and images will make their way back into the Russian information space, along with the high death toll of the Russian military. This combination makes Putin even more desperate and dangerous, with no way to back down. We see this in Putin’s assault shifting to destroying all cities across Ukraine and specifically aiming for high civilian casualties. Their propaganda gives foresight to their plans and needs to be monitored more than ever.