One of Moscow’s greatest propaganda successes has been its ability to convince even its opponents in Kyiv and Western capitals to speak of what Russia is doing in Ukraine as “a hybrid war,” as if by adding that adjective Vladimir Putin’s actions were somehow less appalling and illegal, Yury Feltshtinsky says.
But it is time to stop being fooled, the Russian-American historian says, and instead, to recognize that what is going on there is “simply a war,” one in which there are Russian army units and agents of the GRU and FSB involved and in which “half of all Russian correspondents [in Ukraine] are operating as part of the agent network of the Russian special services.”
“Propaganda,” he points out, “is part of ordinary war, not ‘hybrid’ but the most ordinary. Did the Soviet Union in World War II conduct a ‘hybrid’ war or an ordinary one against Germany? The most ordinary. Was propaganda involved? And how” (nv.ua/opinion/felshtinsky/rossiyskie-tanki-lekarstvo-ot-propagandy-kremlya-58624.html).
“If a Russian special forces soldier is being hidden by a priest in the basement of a church, you can be sure that this priest is an agent of Soviet [sic] intelligence,” he says. “If a 70-year-old constantly shouts before the cameras the word ‘referendum,’ don’t be too lazy to look in his or her biography. I’m certain,” Felshtinsky says, “you will find there much of interest.”
Russian aggression and war against Ukraine has been going on for more than a year, and yet Ukrainians are still discussing “whether to ban Russian television or not and what to do with Russian journalists in Ukraine,” the historian says. “What is there to discuss?” They should have been expelled within 24 hours of Moscow’s Anschluss of Crimea.
“If it should somehow happen that a normal person would fall under this general rule,” he continues, that individual “would understand and forgive” Ukrainians because “if he were normal, he would feel guilty before them because his country had begun unprovoked aggression” against Ukraine.
Ukraine must oppose Russian propaganda in as tough manner as possible, Felshtinsky says. Fortunately, it has all the help it needs from Moscow: “Putin and the Russian army” are providing it because the Russian tanks there are not Ukrainian ones, and their presence on Ukrainian territory is “the best means of struggle against Russian propaganda.”
Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia