Fear itself: How nuclear threats play into the Kremlin’s information war on Ukraine | Pro IQRA News

Pro IQRA News Updates.

Pictures and videos online are captivating. Newspaper headlines somehow scream at you that nuclear doomsday has come upon us.

There is absolutely no doubt that Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly threatened to unleash Moscow’s atomic arsenal in Ukraine.

Less clear is how the recent social media hysteria about a Russian train supposedly carrying nuclear equipment to Ukraine, and the Russian Navy’s nuclear drone capability, may be part of a deliberate campaign, said Sean Maloney of the Royal Military College of Canada. intimidate the West.

Maloney, a history professor and student of Soviet Cold War tactics, said Moscow’s efforts to manipulate, obfuscate and weaken public and political resolve in the West should be at the fore when a parliamentary committee meets Thursday to assess Canada’s security posture toward Russia.

Senior defense officials are expected to testify before the panel, including the country’s top military commander and head of the Communications Security Corporation, Canada’s electronic espionage agency.

Maloney said members of the House of Commons Public Safety and National Security Committee would have to “accept the fact that we are in a perpetually hostile relationship with Russia” and that attempts at manipulation should be called into force.

In the military world, it is called information operations.

Maloney said the Soviets were masters at it from the 1950s through the 1980s. Other experts say that the current system in the Kremlin has shown itself to be less adept in this practice – which the war in Ukraine clearly demonstrated.

Drones and Bomber Flights

In addition to reports about the nuclear train and the undersea drone, there were posts on the Internet about the “irregular presence” of Russian strategic bombers in the north of the Kola Peninsula.

Maloney said all of these reports should be taken seriously — but with caution. The fact that three of them emerged within days of each other and under Putin’s nuclear threats, he said, means that they must be evaluated with the identification of who benefits from these narratives and how.

Russian President Vladimir Putin watches the Vostok 2022 military exercise in Russia’s Far East, outside Vladivostok, on September 6, 2022. (Mikhail Klementiev/Sputnik/The Associated Press)

“I think the intent is to exploit the current fear of nuclear war that is building up,” Maloney said. He cited at least five recent cases of Putin or members of his inner circle of overtly threatening to use tactical nuclear weapons to defend illegally annexed Ukrainian territory.

By posting unfiltered and unconfirmed photos, videos and reports on social media, Russia is trying to “support and reinforce this fear by allowing specialists to get that and then,” he said. [spread the material] through the mainstream media.

Maloney said information warfare is a little different from disinformation campaigns. Disinformation uses lies, forged documents, and (sometimes) distorted facts to sow discord and drive stakes in the opponent’s community. Information warfare aims to manage the so-called battlefield using threats, intimidation and misdirection.

People gather in front of a large screen to celebrate the planned merger of the regions of Ukraine into Russia in Sevastopol, Crimea on September 30, 2022. (The Associated Press)

Since its annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia has deployed a vast and complex global network to shape the narrative about the conflict in Ukraine through state and social media, according to a 2015 study by the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War.

“The results of these efforts have been mixed,” the study said.

“Russia has prevented the West from physically interfering in Ukraine, allowing itself time to build up and expand its military involvement in the conflict. It has sowed discord within NATO and created tensions among potential adversaries over how to respond.

“However, it did not fundamentally change popular or elite attitudes about Russia’s actions in Ukraine, nor did it create a favorable information environment for Moscow.”

That was largely a consensus in an online forum held Wednesday by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, which examined lessons learned so far since the start of major hostilities last winter.

Demonstrators march near the White House in support of Ukraine.
Demonstrators march on Pennsylvania Avenue to protest the Russian invasion as they celebrate Ukraine’s Independence Day outside the White House in Washington on August 27, 2022. (José Luis Magana/The Associated Press)

Experts participating in the forum said that the Ukrainians are in control of the battle to shape the online narrative about the war. They added that they did so by exposing the lies and gaps between the rosy assessments made by Russian leaders and the sometimes disastrous conditions on the ground.

Forum experts agreed that Moscow had shown itself to be clumsy, incompetent, and unable to keep pace with dynamic online debate – especially when their public claims were proven false.

They said Russia is trying to shape the narrative in countries like China and India – where attitudes toward war tend to be tepid or neutral – because the West is getting wiser to Moscow’s information and disinformation tactics.

lying layers

“They are good at information processes when they can take something that has an element of truth in it and then they can twist that fact or add layers of lie to that fact, and when they can take that and bring that into the credible discussions that move their way,” said Emily Harding, Senior Fellow at International Security Program at CSIS”.

“They create enough buzz about it so that the mainstream (media) feels they have to report it because people are talking about it.”

She cited the disinformation campaign that was used to influence elections in the United States as an example of Russian success in this area.

“That kind of slow progression, they’re very good,” Harding said.

Maloney said Canadians need civic literacy and critical thinking to deal with the internet’s deluge of shady information about the war.

“The trick is to hack it, pick it up and see exactly what it means,” he said.

“The concern here is if they want us to be afraid, we need to not be afraid, because they are trying to manipulate us into a certain situation where the public pressures the government toward a certain course of action. In that case, it might pressure the Ukrainian government to stop what it is doing or restrict what it is doing. Because it affects Russian targets.”


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