The war in Ukraine:- – Putin's most effective weapon

The war in Ukraine:- – Putin's most effective weapon

Ukraine has been subjected to systematic attacks by Russian forces, and now the fighting extends over a large area of ​​the country.

Russian missile attacks have hit Ukraine's infrastructure hard, especially the country's energy facilities. Therefore, many Ukrainians remained without electricity on a regular basis throughout the cold winter months.

However, there are many experts who believe that the most important and effective weapon of Russia is propaganda.

-It is the most perfect tool out there. You don't need to do any kind of military action; you're changing a country from within in ways that are difficult to detect and measure, says National Defense College Intelligence Director Tom Rosyth.

That Russia spends so many resources on propaganda is a sign of its success. Roseth believes that automation, or artificial intelligence, is widespread.

– A decisive turning point

Controlling the Russian intelligence services is one thing, but they have generally become good at using them. They have managed to shift the balance, create doubt and encourage polarizing views. They demonstrated this during the 2016 US elections, and they are in a better position now, says Tom Rosyth.

Russian “interference” in the European Union

Recently, it became known that Belgium, which has been leading EU cooperation for the past six months, will investigate allegations regarding Russian payments to representatives of the European Parliament before the elections in June.

On Tuesday 23 April, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Timur Ivanov was arrested by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB). Experts believe that this may be Putin's warning to the country's defense minister. Video: Associated Press, Reuters. Reporter: Marti Nelloken Helseth / Dagbladet TV.
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Belgian prosecutors have opened a case related to what is referred to as Russian “interference” in the upcoming elections. This comes after accusations that the actors were offered money to spread Russian propaganda, according to Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

De Croo said that several members of the European Parliament had been contacted and offered money to boost Russian propaganda.

– Our intelligence services say that Moscow's goal is very clear. De Croo said it was about electing more Russia-friendly representatives to reinforce the Russian version of what is happening.

Ukraine has waited a long time to receive an aid package from the United States amounting to about 61 billion dollars. President Joe Biden's proposal was introduced before Christmas, but has been stuck in Congress because Republicans have demanded that the law also include tougher measures to limit migration at the border with Mexico.

Putin's worst nightmare

Putin's worst nightmare

There is no doubt that Vladimir Putin and Russia have spread disinformation, half-truths, and outright lies as an important part of the war in Ukraine.

Ukraine transplants organs from its living soldiers, Ukraine must be protected from the Nazis in Kiev, and weapons end up being delivered to Ukraine into the hands of terrorists.

– A long series of Putin's lies

These are just some of the statements from belligerent President Vladimir Putin, his Kremlin entourage and Russia's troll factories.

Putin has repeatedly claimed that Ukraine does not exist, that undermining Russia is merely a Western ideological construct, and that Moscow must protect its people and its “Russian” country.

They perform complex and diverse digital and physical operations to make people change or adjust their perception. Everything from recruitment with financial incentives to coercion and pressure. From cheap cyber operations to very complex operations where they approach the target in different ways, says Tom Roseth.

The expert: Tom Roseth, senior intelligence instructor at the Norwegian Defense Academy.  Photo: Norwegian Defense Academy

The expert: Tom Roseth, senior intelligence instructor at the Norwegian Defense Academy. Photo: Norwegian Defense Academy
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It is believed that the most important thing is that the weighting has changed. Now there is a Russian information advantage in the war compared to what the Ukrainian and Western advantages were earlier in the war.

Repeats Russian propaganda

Russia appears to have regained the initiative in creating the narrative, and is actively influencing people's attitudes toward the war.

– This goes right back to the MAGA narratives, and Marjorie Taylor Greene, an American Republican politician on the far right of the party, is just repeating Russian propaganda. This shows that they work very well. The same applies to the growing perception in Europe that there is corruption in Ukraine or that Russia will win in the end anyway, Roseth says.

Odessa: A major fire broke out in the coastal city of Odessa in Ukraine after a Russian missile attack, Reuters reported. Video: X.
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Russian President Vladimir Putin has a long tradition of looking away from the facts and defining his “reality,” in much the same way as was practiced in the Soviet era.

The effect is to grab a slice of the truth and then blow it up. It is true that corruption exists in Ukraine, but it is a bigger problem in Russia. Russian victory depends on Western support for the war, and is by no means predetermined. And even though there's some truth to it, it's eventually harder to deny, Roseth says.

Shortly after the war began, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his government began spreading false rumors that Ukraine, in cooperation with the United States, had laboratories to develop biological weapons.

Many reports indicate that China and Russia have worked together on propaganda. When Russia launched a large-scale attack on Ukraine in 2022, it was alleged that the United States had laboratories developing biological weapons, and that Russia attacked Ukraine to destroy them.

This has been carefully examined, and A number of others who investigated the claims wrote that this was false.

However, Russia and China have repeated this, and more recently, at their summit in Moscow in March 2023, Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping continued to spread rumors that the United States was engaged in biological activity, the American newspaper wrote. The hill.

Cooperation with China

Regarding the question of whether Russia and China cooperate in the field of propaganda, Tom Roseth answers the following:

– Yes, I think so, but I'm not sure how coordinated they are. The Chinese support Russia with satellite images and geographic data, and are already cooperating in the field of missile defense. They also conduct military exercises where they train together, and there is a wide range of security and defense policies that are striking, he tells Dagbladet.

Cooperation: Many experts believe that President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are cooperating in media operations targeting other countries.  Photography: Sergey Gunayev/Pool/AFP/NTP.

Cooperation: Many experts believe that President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are cooperating in media operations targeting other countries. Photography: Sergey Gunayev/Pool/AFP/NTP.
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The intelligence services have lagged a bit when it comes to cooperation, as there is some suspicion on the part of the Russian Federal Security Service towards the Chinese intelligence service.

-But we know they share some intelligence. When they cooperate on intelligence, they are also likely to cooperate on information operations, Roseth says.

It is believed that both countries face the task of influencing Western societies.

– The Russians have already shown the Chinese how to carry out naval operations against a superpower like the United States, and they have likely done so in information operations as well, Roseth says.

In its annual threat assessment for 2023, the U.S. intelligence community estimates that “efforts by Russia, China, and other countries to advance authoritarianism and spread disinformation are helping to fuel greater competition between democratic and authoritarian forms of government.”

Dividing Western alliances

Regarding Russia's use of disinformation, the assessment stated the following:

“Russia poses one of the most serious foreign influence threats to the United States because it uses its intelligence services, proxies, and extensive tools of influence to try to divide Western alliances and increase its influence in the world.”

Ukraine is now awaiting artillery and air defense ammunition from the US aid package, and Norway and a number of other countries have or are in the process of increasing their support for the country.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Sture (AFP) and Finance Minister Trygve Slagsvold Vidum (SP) call a press conference on Norway's support for Ukraine. Video: NTB
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Propaganda in the war between Russia and Ukraine played a role, and may have a decisive impact on how the war ends.

– It is very important because it is about supporting Western weapons and supporting the war. If there is doubt about the purpose and meaning of supporting the war, that it is useless and that Russia is a great power that will win in the end anyway, then support for the war weakens, which forces Ukraine to lose the war. end. It's about winning over people's feelings and attitudes, which is very important, Roseth says.

– Could this force Ukraine to lose or return to the negotiating table?

– Certainly, and this enhances the possibility of Russia's success. In a military operation, one must ask oneself what will be crucial to winning the war. Whether it is winning on the battlefield, which seems difficult in this war, or influencing Ukrainian public opinion.

Russia has tried to achieve this by striking civilian targets and infrastructure, but the Ukrainians do not appear to be giving in yet.

– The Russians wonder where the opportunity lies, because it is the influence on Western support. If they can shift political support and public opinion, they get the effect they want, Tom Roseth tells Dagbladet.

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Jabori Obasanjo

Jabori Obasanjo

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