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Saturday 21.07.2018 | Name days: Meldra, Meldris, Melisa

Experts: crisis in Ukraine is Russia’s previously planned hybrid war

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe crisis in Ukraine is Russia’s previously planned hybrid war, in which armed clashes are accompanied by an intensive information campaign, as concluded in the report by NATO StratCom COE.

This report analyses Russia’s information campaign against Ukraine from the NATO summit in Vilnius (November 28-29, 2013) until the annexation of Crimea in March 16th, 2014.

Over the course of the year, Russia has made conclusions from multiple allied operations and has worked actively in order to adapt its military planning to modern-age reality of conflicts. These conclusions had been tested in the war with Georgia in 2008.

Russia’s employed term in regard to countrymen who live in foreign countries should be viewed especially cautiously, because Russia uses it in order to legitimize the country’s actions to ‘protect its countrymen from any threats to their rights and physical welfare’. This term also defines the Russian world – a united Russian information system outside of the Russian Federation.

On important factor in the information campaign against Ukraine has been the take-over of mass media by the Russian government.

From the very beginning of the crisis in Ukraine Russian television channels were actively used for forming opinions about the situation in Ukraine.

The information campaign is controlled directly by the Russian President’s administration. This campaign also includes government-controlled ‘trolling’ on the internet, which is a growing and under-researched phenomenon. This phenomenon is also used in strengthening Russia’s propaganda.

Russian propaganda employs several dominant themes: contrasting Russian Orthodox society with perverse Europe, positioning Ukraine as a part of Eurasian ideology, Russian world that unites East Slavs, Russia’s natural status of a superpower, describing Ukraine as a pseudo-nation that is unable to maintain its own country, references to the Great Patriotic War in order to increase hate towards Nazism and calling Euromaidan protesters neo-Nazis and fascists who threaten Russians living in Ukraine.

The annexation of Crimea can be considered an attempt for Russia’s new form of hybrid war that involves asymmetric warfare with an intensive information campaign, cyberwar and use of Special Forces units.

Authors of the report conclude that Russia has prepared itself well for this new type of war in Ukraine. The basic principles behind the scenario that was realized in Crimea nearly one year prior to the crisis in Ukraine are clearly stated in the report compiled by Russian Commander General Valery Gerasimov. The conflict in Ukraine shows that NATO and EU have to adapt to this new reality, where information has advantage over military power.

Russia’s propaganda is mainly based on historic memory. Russia understands its audience well, including its countrymen living abroad. This allows them to base everything on historic memory: Russian Empire, WW II, horrors committed by Nazis, USSR and its collapse, as concluded in the report.

The crisis in Ukraine is a result of long-term planning of Russia’s strategy. Considering Russia’s information campaign in Ukraine, it is clear that timely uncovering of such elements and their analysis in Russia’s propaganda. StratCom also notes that documents of Russia’s state policy also contain such signs.

In the context of the crisis in Ukraine, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite says it is very hard to combat channels that broadcast Russia’s hateful propaganda and even harder to secure quality information sources for the Russian community.

Although Russia’s information campaign has successfully affected the opinion of its target audience, it has also caused a counter-reaction in western Ukraine, Kyiv, NATO, EU and USA.

SratCom notes that it is necessary to continue to analyse the crisis in Ukraine from the perspective of information war, because the events in eastern Ukraine differ from the scenario in Crimea.

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