Despite obvious and tangible defeats in international politics and economics, Russia continues to increase the information component of the hybrid war against the West.
Based on the mechanisms of secret intervention that were developed in the Soviet era, and also using the potential of modern media, social networks and cyber technologies, the Kremlin deliberately inflates separatist sentiments in regions sensitive to the US, Europe and their strategic partners.
The “Information Resistance” group continues to monitor the main information trends, messages that Russian propaganda uses and media loyal to it for achieving these goals.
In October, in accordance with the instructions received from the AP of the Russian Federation, the main attention of Russian propaganda “media” in the international information area is focused on such key topics:
Referendums in Catalonia and Kurdistan;
The results of the elections in Germany;
Development of the situation around the DPRK;
The implementation of the UN peacekeeping contingent to the east of Ukraine.
It should be noted that special attention of the Kremlin media to the use of referendums in their own purposes in Catalonia and Kurdistan to justify the fact of Russia’s occupation of the Ukrainian peninsula Crimea.
The following trends are noted, which the Kremlin uses to create a discussion in the West in its own interests:
What is more important – the protection of the integrity of the state or the right of a nation to self-determination;
Why Europe reacts so strongly to the “self-determination” of the Crimea, although there are several similar problems in the European Union;
Are European countries able to provide the same “painless and bloodless” “separation” of their own regions, as was done in the Crimea?
In order to fully realize how far the pro-Russian propagandists are ready to go and what goals they are actually driving, it is worth paying attention to a few eloquent messages from the Russian information space. For example, a journalist from the Russian Federation (he cooperated with Radio Liberty, and was the chief editor of the propaganda channel NTV), who appears in social networks as Roman Super, argues that the “media” broadcast exclusively those messages in which the leader believes. “Putin is sincerely convinced that Russia is surrounded by enemies. Therefore, all resources are now cast on foreign policy. What is happening in Russia itself – the President cares less. He believes that during the years of his rule the system has risen on the right track and works great “, he said. “The TV does not invent anything and honestly broadcasts Putin’s paranoia: Westie, ukrops, Obama jerk, Gayrope, Saakashvili loony – these are all real phobias of Putin, his real agenda, which he lives and experiences with the TV. This is his fuel for every day, “- says the representative of the Russian propaganda machine.
So, what will the main focus of the Russian propaganda campaign be for the coming weeks, and how will Putin’s propaganda army use these trends to benefit its policy?
“Referendums” in Catalonia / Kurdistan and the occupation of the Crimea
The Kremlin actively undertook to exploit the results of the referendum in Catalonia as an information occasion. At the same time, both the Russian propaganda information resources and the possibilities of social networks were used as a media tool. As reported by the IR group early, the pro-Russian media increased activity by 2000% in favor of the Catalan referendum.
The official reaction of the Russian authorities was demonstratively restrained. Putin called the referendum the internal affair of Spain. Deputy Foreign Minister of RF Alexei Meshkov, said that in Russia they want “that Spain remains a united and prosperous state”.
At the same time, the general tone for the propagandists was set by the replica of spokesperson of Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova in Facebook: “I watch and read what is happening in Catalonia. And will Europe tell us something about the referendum in the Crimea and respect for human rights? All these Euro summits, extending sanctions against Russia, after the events in Spain and the reaction to them of Brussels will be similar to “The Parable of the Blind” by Brueghel”.
Against the backdrop of this message, the pro-Russian media “from the bottom” intensively formed a negative opinion on the realities of democracy in the “decaying” Europe:
« Turning now to Crimea, Kosovo and Catalonia, the Crimean referendum, long on its Russian population’s minds, became a matter of life or death when a Western managed coup brought anti-Russian Nazis to power in Ukraine, while the Kosovo referendum enabled Albanians, a non-Slav people whose language is unrelated to any other, to no longer be ruled by Slavs.
The Catalan case is different from that of both Albanians and Crimeans. The area known as Catalonia was long contested between France and Spain, and Catalonians, like most Europeans, have an acute sense of history, which contributes to their determination to achieve independence».
«Democracy can be a wonderful thing because it’s a full expression of the will of the people, but it can also have its consequences. When there’s an attempt to block democracy, as in the case of Catalan, Spain will be left with two bad choices: allow the vote to count and recognize Catalan’s independence, or refuse to accept the voters and hold the Catalans in Spain against their will. It remains to be seen how this will play out and how it will affect others with similar claims to independence».
An interesting signal can be considered the statement by the first president of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev. At the presentation of his own book, “I remain an optimist,” he stated the following: “I will not talk about Spanish Catalonia. I will not, because we have many of our “Catalonia”, with which we still have a lot to understand”. It is not entirely clear what exactly the former leader of the USSR had in mind. Perhaps, he tried again to raise the favorite topic of the supporters of the return of the Soviet Union that the ex-republics had left the USSR “illegally.” Or that among the subjects of the present Russian Federation there are many potential separatists who in time will want to separate from the “great and mighty” country. In any case, the “Catalan” information guide can be used by Russians in different ways.
Traditionally, for the broadcasting of “necessary” messages, the Russian propaganda actively uses so-called experts. For example, the head of the department of international relations and foreign policy of Russia in Moscow State Institute for International Relations, doctor of political sciences Boris Martynov on air of radio Sputnik expressed the opinion that Madrid was clearly not ready for such a development of the situation in Catalonia.
“The situation is very revealing, it follows a certain pattern. Let us recall, for example, the referendum on Brexit in the UK, let’s recall the recent factual, we can say, failure of Angela Merkel in the elections in Germany. This indicates a certain template, which stands for the surprisingly low quality of the ruling elite in the West, which indicates that the ruling circles refuse to see reality, live in a world of their illusions”, – Martynov said in an interview to agency RIA Novosti .
The so-called Euro sceptics joined to this choir. The referendum on the independence of Catalonia will lead to the domino effect in other European countries, the leader of the Belgian Eurosceptic party Flemish interest Thomas van Griken told newspaper Izvestia.
“I support the referendum in Spain and I support the independence of Catalonia. I am sure that it will lead to the domino effect in other European countries. The events in Spain will give impetus to all the separatist regions in Europe and intensify the work of the Eurosceptic parties”, – he said.
The Kremlin also uses the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan as a reference point for the information war both against Western countries and against Turkey. Ukraine is also here as a target.
For reference: September 25, a referendum on independence was held in Iraqi Kurdistan. According to the highest independent commission on elections and referendum of Kurdistan, 92.7% of voters voted for independence from Iraq. The authorities of Iraq declared the referendum illegitimate and stressed that they would not hold talks with the regional government of the autonomy following the results of the voting. The neighbors of Iraqi Kurdistan – Turkey and Iran, as well as the United States and the United Nations – spoke against the vote.
“In Catalonia, in Kurdistan, in the Crimea and in Donbass, referendums were held in similar conditions of political tension … There was political instability. In the same Catalonia, there was a restless atmosphere; protest actions took place (in Crimea – Ed.) There were “green men”, (in Donbass-Ed.) Activists and so on. In Kurdistan there were armed groups of Kurds everywhere, including in disputed territories. Therefore – a lot in common, but, of course, there is a significant difference, “- writes the Russian RIA Novosti.
The Russian mass media continue to speculate on this issue: “Baghdad began blockading Iraqi Kurdistan, banning financial operations and international flights with the region. Iran and Turkey are ready to join the sanctions, which threaten to freeze the oil transit. But the authorities in the region call any attempt at economic pressure “collective punishment of the Kurds” and count on Russia’s help in organizing an alternative route for the export of their oil”, – Gazeta.ru writes.
Meanwhile, even before the referendum in Kurdistan, the mass media repeatedly reported about the support of the Russian Federation of Kurdish autonomy. In particular, Russia took the first place in investments in Iraqi Kurdistan, ahead of all other countries. According to sources, Rosneft intends to invest about four billion dollars in Kurdistan, thus overtaking the US and Turkey.
Russia vs. Germany
Putin’s propagandists, shaking the public situation in Germany, are exaggerating in the information space almost all the “pain points” of Angela Merkel, using the results of the last elections.
At the same time, the general vector of rhetoric in Russian sources is extremely negative for the Germany, and very positive for Moscow.
The main focus of the Russian propaganda is on such moments:
The results of elections for the right-wing radical party “Alternative for Germany”;
How much radicals can influence on Germany’s relations with Europe and the world;
Whether Merkel really received significant support from voters and why the number of politicians who insist on lifting sanctions from Russia in order to improve and prioritize bilateral relations is increasing?
“The growing Islamization of Germany poses an urgent challenge for its public and state order; cultural identity and internal peace,” Gauland said during the press conference held less than a week before the German parliamentary elections scheduled for September 24
“As for the relations with the United States, [after the election in Germany] almost nothing will change. Germany is not sovereign here under Trump or any other president. Only when AfD enters the government the relations with the United States and Russia will be balanced,” …. “I think there are forces which are not interested in settlement in Ukraine. There are people, who profit from turmoil and warfare. Germany should for sure apply a harder approach to Kiev. Russia cannot bring about peace alone. And I do not believe that Russia is interested in instability near its border,” Birkle said, member of the party “Alternative for Germany” (AfD).
“I don’t think people vote for the AfD because they want concrete policies. I think it is more linked to the idea that the AfD is channeling discontent, channeling the feeling that the parliament is not really representing all of Germany, and that there is just a part of the German population that simply doesn’t feel represented in the German parliament”, – said member of the party “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) Nils Diederich.
“We are sharply criticizing the development of the European Union and oppose Germany’s further membership of the European Union. In general, the AfD promotes that Germany should open to the [countries of the] East and balance relations with Russia,” said member of the party “Alternative for Germany” (AfD) André Poggenburg.
Some politicians, like the head of the State Duma’s international affairs committee Alexei Pushkov, say that “Merkel’s policy towards refugees has exhausted itself”.
Against the backdrop of the debate about the elections, the so-called euro sceptics have become active. “We sharply criticize the development of the European Union and oppose the further membership of Germany in the European Union. In general, AfD helps Germany to open the countries of the East and balance relations with Russia, “said Andre Poggenburg, member of the party “Alternative for Germany” (AfD).
Russia’s support for the DPRK
As for the situation around the DPRK, Russian propaganda focuses on strengthening the world’s political and economic weight of China and trying to resist strengthening China, worsening relations between Russia and the United States.
“The current situation proves that Korea has chosen the right path, while developing the economy and nuclear power … Despite the brutal sanctions of the United States and its satellites, the national economy is growing … .In July, Bloomberg reported that North Korea’s economy grew by about 3.9 percent in 2016 to about $ 28.5 billion, which is the fastest pace in 17 years”.
«Seoul touts graphite bomb capable of knocking out N. Korean power grid».
«The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier along with a guided-missile cruiser and a nuclear-powered submarine are on their way to the Korean Peninsula to prepare for a potential war with North Korea, while Pyongyang reportedly plans new missiles tests».
«The North Korean foreign minister says Pyongyang has every right to take countermeasures against US aggression, including shooting down warplanes, even if they are not in North Korean airspace».
«Moscow has repeated its call on the international community to consider the Russia-China “double freeze” plan on the settlement of the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, which has been rejected by Washington».
«Speaking at the CIA Ethos & Profession of Intelligence conference, Yong Suk Lee, Deputy Assistant Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency’s newly-created Korea Mission Center, said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is a “very rational actor” who doesn’t want war with the US».
“It is essential to resolve the region’s problems through direct dialogue involving all sides without advancing any preconditions (for such talks),” Putin wrote“. Provocations, pressure, and bellicose and offensive rhetoric is the road to nowhere”.
«China Warns Trump: We Will Back North Korea If The US Strikes First».
In general, the Kremlin began to use resonant information reasons for creation of new information trends. It must be said that one of them was aggravation of relations between the DPRK on the one hand, and China and the US on the other.
Moreover, the Kremlin positions itself as the “main” negotiator with the DPRK and is nurturing the idea of taking the place of a negotiator in probable negotiations between the DPRK and its “opponents”. Apparently, in this way Moscow is again trying to get the role of a “peacemaker” in this dialogue, by the type of supposedly “negotiator” in the negotiations between the terrorists “LDNR” and Ukraine.
Peacekeeping “multimove game” for Ukraine
It is important for Putin to return the position of the politician-conciliator in the world information flow and to consolidate the priority position on the UN and OSCE platform. Under external pressure, Putin began talking about the possibility of implementation UN peacekeepers in the territory of the LDNR captured by Russian troops. At the same time, he wants to use the UN mission to freeze the war in the east of Ukraine and makes every effort to create the appropriate information background for the implementation of his own plan: at least to preserve the status quo in the Donbass, as a maximum to force the world community to dialogue with terrorists “LDNR”.
“The American expert said about the winning policy of the head of the Russian state Vladimir Putin regarding Donbass. Director of the Center for Military and Political Analysis at the Hudson Institute in Washington, Richard Weitz said that the decision to place the UN peacekeeping mission on the contact line in the Donbass put “checkmate” to Kiev.
The expert claims that the Ukrainian authorities are now in a desperate situation. Weitz explained that if Kiev gives the permission for the deployment of peacekeepers in the Donbass, it will be forced to negotiate with Donetsk and Lugansk, which it avoided all this time. If Kiev refuses to the mission, the leader of the country Poroshenko will immediately fall in the eyes of the world community and will be deprived of support. “
“When, 10 days ago, by order of Putin, our Foreign Ministry proposed a resolution to the UN Security Council, where it was about deploying an armed mission on the line of demarcation between the DNR and the LDR and the Ukrainian military, the BBC hastily christened the idea of stillborn. But in the choir singing a song about the treachery of the Kremlin, the voice of German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who supported Moscow’s initiative, stood out: “This proposal shows that Russia has made changes in its policy that we should not miss.”
The minister even spoke in favor of a partial lifting of sanctions against Russia, if a truce is established in Ukraine with the help of an armed peacekeeping mission of the UN. It seems that on the eve of the election, Chancellor Merkel would have been some kind of positive in her foreign policy … However, the reporter of The Independent, who was on the front line near Avdeevka, assesses the attitude of the fighters of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to deploying peacekeepers in the zone of demarcation as “sharply negative”. There, a pause in military operations is used to regroup and prepare for a “war to the victorious”. Yes, and official Kiev automatically bristled at the Kremlin’s offer, and this is supported by the current elder brother, the United States. “
However, even before the substantive discussion of this project began, Ukraine hastened to declare its categorical unwillingness to work on our proposals. Without introducing any counter-projects to the UN Security Council, Kiev frankly undertook to turn everything upside down. Ukraine declares the allegedly pursued Russia’s goal to “freeze” the current status quo in the Donbass, restrict the OSCE’s activities in Ukraine and the like. They require the deployment of UN peacekeepers throughout the Donbass, primarily along the border with Russia.
One gets the impression that Kiev assigns a completely different role to the UN “blue helmets”. In fact, they almost attribute the role of “occupation forces” to “putting things in order” in the southeast of Ukraine, establishing an international protectorate there.
The approach of individual Ukrainian politicians to the UN mission in Donbass is unacceptable to anyone who really wants peace, said Russia’s plenipotentiary in the contact group for the regulation in the Donbass, Boris Gryzlov.
“Some politicians in Ukraine for some reason consider the contingent of the UN mission as some kind of advanced detachment, after which the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the so-called volunteer and police formations, should come to Donbass. I think that this approach is unacceptable for the Donbass, UN itself and for all who really want peace on this territory”, – he told to RIA Novosti.
The Russian Federation deliberately supports separatist sentiments around the world, using both mechanisms of undercover intervention, developed in the Soviet times, as well as new ones using media, social networks and cyber technologies.
Moscow has taken a course to form a “blurring” of the issue of the occupation of the territory of Ukraine against the backdrop of “referendums” in Spain and Iraq, developing the thesis “they can, and why we cannot?” Kremlin is trying to leave at the door the armed aggression of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine. At the same time, its key area is the UN peacekeeping contingent in Ukraine, but on the conditions of the Kremlin.
The main trends of Russia in recent weeks are:
навязывание аудитории представлений референдуме в Каталонии, как об очередном шаге к дроблению и «феодализации» Европейского союза;
Imposing to an audience of submissions to the referendum in Catalonia, as a next step to fragmentation and “feudalization” of the European Union;
Demonstration of the attractiveness of the Russian market for German businessmen and politicians with an aim to forming messages on their side to lift Russia’s economic sanctions;
Russia is trying to be the peacekeeping state in the international community, turning -off the image of the aggressor state.