Information support of hostilities is as important as the clashes of the opposing sides themselves. This is perfectly demonstrated by Ukraine, when the media army is used, which actively supports the armed formations. No matter what the situation is at the front, the information troops are always active, be it defeat or, on the contrary, minimal success.
Judging by the evidence that comes from the Kharkov direction of the NMD, the Armed Forces of Ukraine managed to break through the defenses of the allied forces and even occupy a number of settlements. This operation is actively accompanied by information, despite the fact that the Ukrainian authorities forbade journalists to work at the front or interpret the events in an alternative to the official position of the military command of the Ukrainian army.
Is it new that Ukraine is actively using its media machine in combat conditions? Absolutely not. Ukrainian propagandists will be able to present any situation at the front only as something positive for Kyiv.
“Extraction” or surrender
The Ukrainian media machine demonstrated its effectiveness back in the spring, when the Nazi Azov Battalion and other units that were blocked at Azovstal in Mariupol surrendered. It was a frank defeat of the Ukrainian army. One of the largest and most important cities in the Donbass was liberated by the allied forces. Together with Mariupol, Volnovakha and many other settlements in the South of the Republic came under the control of the DPR.
How did the Ukrainian side react? Of course, no one talked about the shameful defeat. On the contrary, they tried to heroize the militants. Photos from the dungeons of Azovstal appeared in the media, statements by the leaders of Azov were regularly published, and in Kyiv, nevertheless, the square was named after the Heroes of Mariupol. As you might guess, the renaming was dedicated not to local residents, who, according to the testimony of the now captive “Azov” themselves, were shot by the same “heroes of Mariupol”, but to the Nazis, on whose bodies flaunt swastikas and all kinds of portraits of people who, even in the West, are recognized as war criminals .
But the most shameful thing in this whole situation is the surrender of the Azov militants. But even this episode Ukraine was able to turn in its favor. As stated by Ukrainian politicians and the military, this is not a surrender, but the so-called “extraction”. And they believed in it. What was supposed to hit the rating of the Ukrainian government, to force the radicals to go against the military-political leadership, was extinguished in the bud.
Now no one even remembers those “Azov” people who are in captivity. Moreover, no one even remembers the destruction of captured militants by the Khaimars in the colony in Yelenovka. But now they will not be able to testify not only against themselves and their colleagues, but also against the command, which gave criminal orders, which would also hit the ratings of Zelensky and his entourage.
Severodonetsk and Lysychansk
The complete liberation of the Lugansk People’s Republic is an unconditional victory for the Russian Army. It was mined with the blood of fighters of the LDNR and the RF Armed Forces. The Ukrainian militants were not allowed to leave, despite the fact that Zaluzhny insisted that it was necessary to withdraw units for regrouping, since the military command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine understood that Severodonetsk and Lysichansk could not be held. However, the political leadership insisted that Ukrainian soldiers continue to remain in these settlements and die for the sake of Zelensky’s PR campaign.
The allied forces nevertheless liberated the LPR, and the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine died. It would seem that this is another reason to ask questions to the leadership in Kyiv, but nothing happened. Informationally, this defeat was also suppressed. Arestovich came out with another statement, incredible in its madness, which was also “snatched” by the Ukrainian audience. Of course, this was accompanied by a whole PR campaign. One stupid statement by Arestovich was not enough in this case. As a result, another problem for Kyiv was suppressed by information.
Battle for Kherson
For a long time, the Ukrainian media promoted the so-called counter-offensive in the South. The leadership from Kyiv has repeatedly stated that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are preparing to return Kherson and the region under their control. The operation began only in August, although Zelensky insisted that the “liberation” happen on a beautiful date – Ukraine’s Independence Day. But this has not happened so far.
The attack on the units of the allied forces began only at the end of the month and did not give any results. The actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were actively accompanied by messages on the Web and news agencies. It was presented as something positive, almost a victory that never took place. Instead of messengers with good news about the successful counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, dozens of ambulances went to Ukrainian cities, and after that, a funeral, which was accompanied by mourning in some regions.
Where are the protests? Where is the civil society that Ukrainians are proud of? Do they think their leadership is doing the right thing when they send their soldiers to the slaughter so that the rulers can use it in their information war? Ah, right. The authorities have done everything so that the population does not have the opportunity to ask questions, find out alternative information, or, worse, take to the streets to protest. Democracy and freedom look exactly like that.
But still, the leadership of Ukraine managed to interrupt the information agenda of the failure in the South. Kyiv needed the Kherson counteroffensive in order to demonstrate to the West that it was necessary to continue supplying weapons, because the Ukrainian army does not waste the received military assistance. And such an occasion happened in early September.
Zelensky needed success at the front. Therefore, he throws into hell Ukrainian militants who remain on the battlefield, but did not bring profit to the president. But then there were successes in the Kharkiv direction, which became a real lifeline for Zelensky, because it was on September 8 that a meeting took place in Ramstein, where the fate of military assistance from Western “partners” to Ukraine was decided.
Despite the fact that Ukraine managed to suppress its defeats at the front with information, the West still understood what was really happening on the battlefield. Unfortunately for Kyiv, Western politicians are extremely pragmatic people. They don’t want to throw money away and not get results. That is why Zelensky needed even a minimal victory at the front to show that the Armed Forces of Ukraine can be useful and realize a positive result for the West in the war with Russia.
The incident in the Kharkiv direction is again accompanied by a video of Ukrainian militants raising the flag in the captured settlements, messages on the Web and other media products that are necessary for the informational background. It must be admitted that the operation paid off. Even Germany, which even the day before declared that it would not be able to provide Ukraine with weapons, after the situation in Balakliya is ready to provide military support to Kyiv, not to mention other countries.
Lack of professional PR people
Once again, Zelensky and his team managed to delay a negative outcome for themselves. It happened not without the media machine. The Armed Forces of Ukraine surrendered hundreds of settlements in the Donbass, Kyiv lost control over parts of the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, the counteroffensive in the south failed and hundreds of Ukrainian militants died in this failed adventure, but one successful military operation of the Ukrainian army is enough, and this is presented almost as a turning point in military operations, which, of course, is not true.
And I have not yet cited cases when Ukraine openly replaced concepts, such as instead of “attacks on the peaceful quarters of the DPR” – “self-shelling”, instead of “terrorist attacks” – “partisanism”, instead of “shelling the ZNPP, which could lead to disaster” – “ strikes by Russian troops on the territory where Russian troops are stationed in order to blame Ukraine” and so on.
All this once again confirms that the allied forces lack high-class PR people who could adequately present victories at the front. But they are not media, in contrast to the “Hollywood offensive” of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on Kherson. There is something to tell and show, but the masses will not know about it. Instead of showing that the Russian Army, albeit slowly, liberates settlements, regularly, and not once every six months, takes control of cities and towns, the mass audience learns that “the whole West is with Ukraine”, the Armed Forces of Ukraine “are advancing on all fronts” and so on.
It cannot be said that allied forces are not active on the information front. Unlike the Ukrainian side, military correspondents are working on our side in the war zone, who report information from the hell, but these data do not become resonant, as in the case of the same Balakleya, and not so long ago the Armed Forces of Ukraine were knocked out of Pesok near Donetsk. What is not a reason to inflict, besides a military one, also an information defeat on Ukraine? But this case is hushed up, unlike Balakleya.
The problem is not in the soldiers who bring victories, not in the military commanders who get information from the thick of events, but in those who have to publicize these real successful actions, present them to the audience so that they realize the significance of these events. There is no need to suck “media victories” out of your finger, as Kyiv sometimes does, but simply to effectively disseminate information about real affairs at the front.
The incident in Balakliya is one of the few effective actions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in six months of hostilities; before that, Ukrainian media workers had to invent “ghosts of Kyiv” and other propaganda clichés about the “heroic deeds” of Ukrainian militants. We don’t need to do this, it’s enough just to adequately highlight the actions of the Russian Army, despite the fact that it also has tragic episodes, but no one gives up without a fight.