All Relatively Quiet on Russia’s Western Front: A Digest of Russian Propaganda for June 1

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Moscow boasts of a “new tactics in Ukraine” and creates a fund for 1 trillion roubles to “rebuild the Donbas.” The Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security has collected the main fakes and narratives of the Russian propaganda of June 1.

  1. Lukashenko’s long-range “special operation”
  2. How Russia “stopped losing people” at war
  3. How much will Ukraine’s scorched earth cost Russians?
  4. HIMARS vs. Smerch and Uragan

Lukashenko’s long-range “special operation”

Belarusian state TV channel ONT showed the film “Roads Home.” It tells a story of an alleged “special operation” by the KGB to return Belarusian truckers from Ukraine, where they were allegedly held captive.

To evacuate the Belarusians, the “heroic” KGB involved Ukrainian security forces, including the SBU. This was done using money, personal interest and “compromising materials.”

Lukashenko personally approved the “special operation” by the KGB. On May 31, he awarded its participants. 

On June 1, Ambassador of Ukraine to Belarus Ihor Kizim commented: “The film is not about ‘liberation,’ but about ‘terrible and ruthless’ Ukrainians, the allegedly ‘sell-out’ SBU and how ‘bad’ things are in Ukraine.” Anti-Ukrainian clichés are easy to spot in the film, as are manipulations, half-truths, double standards, etc.

IN REALITY, everything happened as follows. Ukrainian truckers negotiated with the Russians on the mutual exchange of drivers who ended up in Russia (Ukrainian ones) and Ukraine (Russian ones). It was agreed that the place of exchange would be a border crossing in Brest. The bus with Ukrainians would arrive there through Belarus, and the one with Russian would arrive from Ukraine through Poland. And here the Belarusian “special operation” began. When the Russians crossed the border and found themselves in Belarus, its border guards did not release the Ukrainians and set a condition that they would be released only “in exchange for their people.” They were put in a separate car with security. That is, they were effectively taken hostage. It doesn’t matter whether they came up with this idea by themselves or together with Russians.

“Is this film worth putting another portion of anti-Ukrainian propaganda into the information space of Belarus, once again unsuccessfully trying to make Ukrainians into the enemy for Belarusian society? Though if it is done for awards…” said Kizim.

How Russia “stopped losing people” at war

Moscow is still hiding losses in Ukraine. But ordinary Russians still have questions. They got their answer from the chair of the State Duma Committee on Defence, Kartapolov.

IN REALITY, one fact alone is enough to show that it is a lie: it was Kartapolov who came up with the law on lifting age restrictions for first-time army contracts. The law was passed as a matter of urgency in three (!) readings at once. Such laws are not adopted when there is “no significant change.”

More than two months have passed since March 25, when the Russian Defence Ministry declared 1,351 dead in Ukraine for the second and last time. According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as of March 25, the total losses of Russians amounted to 16,100 people.

As of June 1, there are already 30,700 of them. That is, during the time of “no significant changes,” as the Russian general claimed, the number of those KIA grew by 14600 people. And if we believed the official data of Russia’s MoD as of March 25, the insignificant changes would’ve amounted to 29349 people as of June 1.

According to the calculations by Mediazone (through open publications in the media and social media), there were 2227 reports about occupiers’ deaths that appeared after March 25. This is what Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” looks like as interpreted by the Russian propaganda.

How much will Ukraine’s scorched earth cost Russians?

“Now the special operation in Ukraine is carried out in accordance with all guiding documents, combat statutes, instructions on the use of different types of troops and types of the Armed Forces. And this tactic gives tangible results,” explains Kartapolov. 

And what was it before, continuous guerrilla warfare led by the chief of the General Staff of Russia’s Armed Forces himself, Gerasimov? At least now the generals managed to find instructions dating back to World War II somewhere deep in dusty archives.

IN REALITY, the main tactic of the Russian army is “scorched earth.” The occupiers are destroying towns and infrastructure without sparing people, territories or buildings.

And this tactic is confirmed by the figures of material losses, calculated not only by Ukraine (over USD 600 billion), but by Russia itself.

Russia’s Vice PM Khusnullin said that “a fund of 1 trillion roubles is established to rebuild the Donbas.”

Earlier, by the way, the same target program was created for the occupied Crimea, which did not even need to be rebuilt. Today, 550 of the 900 planned infrastructure facilities on the peninsula are either unfinished or construction hasn’t even started.

We have already written how Moscow decided to come up with its own lend-lease program calling it “patronage over the liberated territories.” Of course, nobody asked the residents of the Russian regions which were supposed to become the “patrons.” But they should. Consider the examples:

– Novosibirsk region is the “patron” of the Bilovodskyi rayon of “LPR.” At the same time, the budget deficit of the Novosibirsk region for 2022 is 15.9 billion roubles.

– Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug is the “patron” of Makiivka. The Okrug budget deficit is 33.5 billion roubles.

– Samara region is the “patron” of Snizhne. The budget deficit of the region is 6 billion roubles.

And there is also a semi-voluntary (but mostly forced) “patronage” over various half-ruined enterprises. So, ordinary Russians had better stock up on basics. And not because of sanctions (which will show their true impact later), but because the “rebuilding” (more like embezzlement) will take place exclusively at their cost.

HIMARS vs. Smerch and Uragan

And finally, here is how the tactics of Ukraine’s Armed Forces differ from those of the occupation army with its “scorched earth.” On June 1, it was officially reported that Ukraine would receive HIMARS M142 MLRS from the United States.  

Infographic showing the whole arsenal of M270A1 and M142 HIMARS MLRS

The main advantage of M142 HIMARS over post-Soviet MLRS is about accuracy and speed. For example, the Russians would need 16 Smerch missiles or 12 Uragan missiles to cover a large area with unguided cluster munitions, hoping they will hit the target. The GMLRS missile, though, works like this: one shot — one hit, after which there are 5 more (in the case of HIMARS) or 11 more missiles (in the case of MLRS) in the container to hit the required number of targets.

IN REALITY, this is a classic of any offensive operation preceded by fire. Another thing is that its order may be different.

Classic WW2 instructions are what Russia is doing now: just dropping unguided bombs on everything along the front.

The West, on the other hand, carries out highly accurate, effective strikes on specific targets.

Thus, in addition to purely military advantages, there are also humanitarian ones. The temporarily occupied Ukrainian land will not become scorched earth when it is cleared of occupiers. And that’s good. We still need to live on this land.

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