Attack on minds: how the Kremlin wages psychological warfare

Russia is at war with Ukraine on all possible fronts. Information warfare is as dangerous as physical warfare on the front lines. However, it is even more insidious — because it affects not only Ukrainians in the occupied territories, but throughout the country.

By attacking Ukrainians with information, the Kremlin seeks, among other things, to split and polarize society.

“The purpose of the information aspect of Russia’s hybrid war is to sow distrust among citizens, between institutions and the state as a whole. The Kremlin is trying to divide Ukrainian society because that makes it easier to impose its own ideas,” explains Ihor Solovey, head of the Centre for Strategic Communication.

The Kremlin is most afraid of Ukraine’s chosen democratic path to become a free European country, says journalist Anhelina Kariakina. And to sow fear, it uses trivial but effective psychological attacks.

“Putin has publicly tasked his diplomats to keep the West in suspense. The Russian army faces the same task. Military maneuvers and redeployments near the borders with Ukraine are designed to exert moral and psychological influence, sow panic and fear in Ukrainian society,” says Maria Sahaidak, expert at the Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security.

Military psychologist and veteran of the war in Donbas Andrii Kozinchuk is convinced that it is beneficial for the Kremlin to keep Ukraine in tension because tense people are easier to manipulate.

He also stresses the importance of verifying sources. To protect ourselves from enemy attacks, it is important to be aware of what information we are surrounded by and to follow the basic rules of its consumption.

Thus, the best thing we can do in this information war is to strengthen ties within the country so as not to be an easy target for Kremlin propaganda. Increase resistance to lies, teach Ukrainians to recognize fakes and false news, trust only proven and reliable sources.

See the methods of information warfare used by the Kremlin and how to protect yourself from these attacks in the video.

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Non-governmental organization, Ukraine Crisis Media Center (UCMC), has been working to address the issue of Russian disinformation since the beginning of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine in 2014. Based on vast practical experience of revealing the cases of deliberate disinformation, the UCMC team has learned that even when obvious fakes are exposed to facts, they usually do not change the judgment of the core of the targeted audience.