Navigation and useful materials
In the international arena, Russia is actively trying to promote the idea of the need for peaceful negotiations for a diplomatic settlement of the conflict. In isolation from the context of Russian aggression, the statement about the decisive role of diplomacy in achieving peace looks attractive. Therefore, the efforts of Russian propaganda are aimed at concealing the context that forces to look differently at the Kremlin’s “peacefulness.”
In Mariupol, as in all recently occupied territories, since 2023, there have been cases of recruiting the Ukrainians for the war against Ukraine. Meanwhile, the Kremlin, through the mouth of former President Medvedev, voices its delusions about seizing Kyiv and Lviv. It orders its own “fighters for peace” to conduct active propaganda against Europe’s assistance to Ukraine. However, what peace are we talking about when the Kremlin seizes territories and makes their inhabitants fight like its slaves.
Ukraine already tried to solve the problem peacefully, when it did not open fire in response to the seizure of Crimea. And only after the occupation of Crimea continued with hybrid (under the guise of an uprising of locals) aggression in the east, Ukraine was forced to start defending its territorial integrity.
As Russian military expert Kostantin Sivkov accidentally said in the studio of Solovyov’s propaganda show, it was the regular Russian army that “acted to encircle Ilovaisk and Debaltseve in 2014 and 2015.” Later, “for the sake of peace,” Russia imposed “peace agreements,” which, as the Kremlin ideologist Vladislav Surkov later admitted, it did not plan to implement. In February 2022, the masks were finally off after the transition to the third stage of aggression — a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
During the “peace,” since 2014, Russia has used the local population to form the so-called 1st and 2nd army corps of the “people’s militia” in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Taking advantage of the economic ruin in the region, which it created, Russia recruited the Ukrainians. In several years, at the necessary moment, these citizens of Ukraine, brainwashed with propaganda, were sent to conquer new Ukrainian territories for Russia with a new mobilization reserve.
The aggressor did not hide that it dreamed that the attack on Ukraine would look like a civil, Ukrainian-Ukrainian war. Allegedly, some Ukrainians quarrelled with others, and the Russians, with the help of “SMO,” only supported the “good” Ukrainians — those who, as a result, decided to stop being Ukrainians and dissolve in the “Russian world.”
According to estimates, the army corps of the so-called “LDPR” included about 30,000-35,000 militants and up to 20,000 of other forces — together more than 50,000. Most of them were citizens of Ukraine. In 2022, after the illegal annexation, they were officially included in the ranks of the Russian Armed Forces.
More than 20,000 servicemen betrayed Ukraine and remained on the Crimean Peninsula to serve Russia. Declaring Crimea its own 9 years ago, the Russian administration conducted illegal conscription campaigns and recruiting of contract soldiers to its military formations here.
Simultaneously with the invasion in 2022, mass forced mobilization began to the “rifle regiments of the mobilization reserve” (light infantry) in the previously occupied districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Even university students were taken. The Kremlin was not frightened by the huge losses of residents of the occupied region. According to its sinister logic, the more people die, the more Donbas will hate Ukraine and will be tied to Russia with a bloody pledge.
So, not having received a decent response in 2014, the Kremlin did not stop. And it significantly replenished its mobilization reserve at the expense of Crimea and temporarily occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts. The crime remained unpunished. Even, on the contrary — it was encouraged.
Instead of peace, Putinism has reprogrammed people, imposing a cultic worldview in which the enemies are all around, and they need to be fought. Today, many countries are aware of the toxic and destructive effects of Russian propaganda; scientists from all over the world are studying it. But the people of Ukraine, especially in the eastern and southern regions, have experienced a powerful information attack all the years of independence, when it was invisible to the rest of the world. Earlier, the “scary legend” about Bandera Nazis had been pushed by the KGB into the USSR for decades to keep the Ukrainians in a state of a subjugated nation. No surprising that it did manage to deceive many with the fictional threat and conspiracy theories about the devious elites of the West.
And after the aggression continued in 2022, more than 100,000 Ukrainian citizens from Donbas joined the war against their own country.
Russian imperialism mercilessly threw them into battle unprepared. This is evidenced by the slipups of the Russian propagandists themselves. One of them, Alexander Sladkov, wrote: “In February 2022, a full mobilization began in Donbas, during which rifle regiments of DPR men were assembled from the very first day, and officers were also appointed there. The regiments with the mobilized were formed not at the training grounds, but immediately on the front line and after 3 days, they were already in battle. They have been successfully fighting the NATO proxy army for a year now. No rotations and no retreats were organized to re-form after heavy losses.”
Pavlo Lysianskyi, director of the Institute of Strategic Research and Security, provided stunning data that in the first 2 months of the war alone, a quarter — 23,000 people — out of more than 100,000 residents of the temporarily occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, mobilized by the Kremlin, died. In his opinion, illegal mobilization has signs of a crime against humanity.
Putinism follows the archaic practices of old Muscovy. Over the centuries, it captured all the new countries and peoples and forced them to fight for the further expansion of the empire. The Russian authorities have always despised people, used them as consumables.
Notably, the attack on Ukraine in the media field was accompanied by a propaganda campaign, which emphasized that in addition to the army of Donbas, the Chechens also make up the “allied troops.” For a long time, Kadyrov and Kadyrovites were almost the main conquerors of Ukraine in the news.
According to the imperial logic, a previously conquered nation brings, like prey, the next one to Moscow. In addition, the old crime of genocide against Chechnya, with hundreds of thousands of civilians killed, seems to be nullified by the fact that today, Chechens are fighting for Moscow.
Since 2023, the rashists began conducting mobilization in the destroyed Mariupol.
According to the advisor to the mayor of the city, Petro Andriushchenko, the first mobilized person was an employee of the occupied municipal enterprise “Avtodor.” One of the colleges, where teachers were given Russian passports, received a mobilization order.
So, the invaders first force to take the Russian passport, and then mobilize the “new citizens” because Putin needs more cannon fodder. As reported by the National Resistance Center, in early January, even lists of schoolchildren were collected in the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts for military registration.
The captured Ukrainian soldiers are going to be used for “the final solution of the Ukrainian question.” Putin’s statements that Ukrainians and Russians are one people in practice mean one thing: anyone in Ukraine, for example, who considers themselves a patriot, speaks Ukrainian, is treated by the occupiers as a Nazi who must be terrorized, tortured, intimidated, expelled, or killed. An independent UN report shows that Russian atrocities are systematic and can be considered a crime against humanity.
The Kremlin cynically violates the Geneva Convention, which prohibits the parties from mobilizing and recruiting civilians into their army in the occupied territory. Article 51 states: “The Occupying Power may not compel protected persons to serve in its armed or auxiliary forces. No pressure or propaganda which aims at securing voluntary enlistment is permitted.” Putinism does exactly the opposite.
However, its unlimited and comprehensive lies are clearly seen in the propaganda scenes and conversations that Putin acted out during his trip to the occupied Mariupol. Allegedly, the Ukrainian army shelled residential buildings, so the whole city was destroyed. The falsehood of this statement is obvious, at least because of the fact that the city was bombed by Russian aviation.
According to Ukraine, more than 2 million people lived in the temporarily occupied territories of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts before the full-scale invasion. Occupation statistics indicate another 2.3 million in Crimea at the time of its seizure. All these Ukrainian citizens have become a mobilization reserve for committing one of the greatest crimes of the 21st century — attempts to erase Ukraine, the Ukrainian people, and its culture under the slogan of “denazification.”
In 2022, Russia seized the territories where several million more people lived. Approximately half of them were liberated as part of the counter-offensive. Putinism seeks to use the rest as another mobilization reserve for the next attack against Ukraine. All Russia needs now is a political consolidation of the status quo at the front and the time to prepare, negotiated by peace talks or a truce.
Let us remind you that Russia has created a totalitarian system of brainwashing and militarization of the younger generation through the “Youth Army,” as well as through a centralized system of children’s education, which is designed to educate children in the cult of the Russian war. This system works even more actively in the occupied territory than in Russia itself. Based on the fact that, according to Putin’s confessions, he is determined to wage a long war — many of these Ukrainian children could eventually end up on the front line against the Ukrainian army.
A media version of the material can be found on the Obozrevatel website.
It is possible to stop this bloody domino only by liberating the occupied territories and the people who live on them.
If Putinism is not punished for the murder and seizure of the territories of independent countries, it will continue to prepare a new aggression. And although the occasional remarks of Russian officials about the seizure of Europe or, for example, Turkey, can be perceived as scandalous insults, these are all symptoms of a progressive imperial disease that repeatedly led to bloody wars.
Without punishment, open or hybrid warfare will flare up in the world, and Russia will continue to destabilize democracies. This will continue until Putinism is condemned as German Nazism was. This is the time of the best preconditions to stop the evil.
Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security