Putin’s attempt to undermine Ukraine by ‘welcoming’ those who would evade mobilization

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Analysis & Opinion, Politics

Article by: Vitalii Usenko

Russia has launched its latest information and psychological warfare campaign, this time to torpedo mobilization in Ukraine, as can be seen by intensified activity on social networks and mass media.

ITAR-TASS reports that Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said on January 26th that Moscow might extend the period of stay on Russian territory for Ukrainians of conscription age. Russia’s Federal Migration Service said on Wednesday, January 28 it has extended the period of stay in Russia for Ukrainian citizens of the recruitment age for more than 90 days.  “Being guided by humanitarian considerations, Russia’s Federal Migration Service has taken a decision to extend terms of stay for the abovementioned categories of Ukrainian citizens,” the press service of the Federal Migration Service said. According to the service’s statistics, more than 2.430 million Ukrainian citizens are currently staying in Russia, of whom 1.172 million are men of recruitment age.

The Security Bureau of Ukraine (SBU) believes that the mobilization of social networks, particularly Russia’s answer to Facebook, Vkontakte, is a strategy prepared by Russia’s own security service, the FSB. “This is another 5th column” said SBU advisor, Markian Lubkivskiy.

In search engines such as Google (even in the Ukrainian service) and the Russian search engine, Yandex (Ukrainian service also), when you type mobilization, the top news will include articles about huge issues with mobilization in Ukraine, stories that men are refusing to join up, articles on how to evade mobilization, and even messages of ‘gratitude to President Putin from Ukrainian conscripts, for providing the opportunity to stay in Russia to avoid mobilization.’ Even a special source on how to avoid mobilization, called Anti-mobilization, appeared on the internet. Legal advice how to avoid mobilization in Ukrainian army on legal grounds and free of “charge” [without bribes] appeared in Internet. Mig News (Ukraine), announced it in the Ukrainian TV Channel News One on January 14 – 15, 2015. Next day a series of articles appeared in respected Ukrainian mass media about corruption during mobilization in Ukrainian army including bribes to avoid mobilization, poor supplies of the Ukrainian army, no clear and adequate social guarantees to participants of anti-terrorist operation.

Some other Ukrainian TV channels, for example channel ZIK of Lviv, have actively joined the anti-mobilization campaign in their program, ‘Direct Speech: Mobilization and Connected Issues”, with their outspoken critical review of mobilization and national leadership. During the program, the actions of Russian backed terrorists in the DNR and LNR were similarly compared to actions during the Maidan in Lviv, when government buildings were seized.  But at the same time, ZIK contrarily published on its internet page an investigation into Russia using provocations and propaganda to try and wreck mobilization in Ukraine.

Unfortunately, Ukraine doesn’t seem fully prepared to challenge Russia’s informational and psychological warfare, leaving this task mostly to volunteers on social networks. The newly-created Ministry of Information Policy, which most Ukrainian journalists nicknamed the Ministry of Propaganda, has proven itself to be quite useless. It has prepared no concept, no policy and therefore no groups to coordinate counter-action against Russian informational and psychological warfare. Meanwhile, volunteer groups with scarce resources work as they can and as resources allow.

This could result in the public mood of Ukrainians being adversely influenced, by not counteracting Russian informational and psychological warfare, not implementing much-needed reforms, including the top-level governance of Ukraine. Some Ukrainians do not see reforms, changes in governance, the deterioration of Ukraine’s economic-freedom ranking; do not see well-developed social security benefits for Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) fighters and their psychological rehabilitation after returning from war. With no clear definition of what the ATO actually is (i.e. Is it war or not?), this can lead to confusion. Now that the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) has recognized Russia as a country aggressor, and made the first step in procedure of recognition the so-called People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk as terrorist organizations, more clarity has appeared. The Ukrainian Parliament urged foreign Parliaments and international organizations to also recognize Russia as a country aggressor and the so-called People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk as terrorist organizations. 271 MP’s voted for this Parliamentary resolution.

The Kremlin is easily exploiting these sentiments, gaps in policy, and somewhat slow response of the Ukrainian government to propaganda challenges.

Russian informational and psychological warfare methods and tools are designed to exploit any and all possible weaknesses and vulnerabilities in Ukraine. Unfortunately, there is still not enough attention being shown at government and NGO level to the information space that is required. Information and psychological warfare is a key exponent of war, and the sooner more attention is given to it, the better. If this aggression is not countered efficiently, Russia will certainly take advantage of it.

Another issue is Ukrainian citizens who work abroad, especially ones who work or live in Russia. Statistically it is not clear as to exactly how many Ukrainian citizens are now working abroad. Some Ukrainians do not have official status in countries where they work and live, it is a challenge to get reliable statistics. Figures vary from 2 million to 7 million. The major destination country in 2013 was Russia (43,2%), other major regions from where people are going to find work, are regions of Western Ukraine – 10,8% of the workforce. We can infer from previous statistics that almost half of the expatriate population now work in Russia.

Even so, despite all of Russia’s propaganda efforts, “the plan of mobilization has been fulfilled,” according to Andriy Taranov, Deputy Head of the Ukrainian President’s Administration.

Lidia Wolanskyj’s comment in her Facebook post, serves as an excellent conclusion: “Russia appears to be flying this up the pole to see who salutes, as so far it’s merely words. Its aggression in the last week or so has also been aimed at undermining Ukraine’s efforts to mobilize. That aggression should have hardened the resolve of Ukrainian men to defend their country, but heavy losses and talk of lack of equipment and poor leadership are not helping at all.”

Written by:  Dr. Vitalii Usenko, MD, MBA, expert of the Center of Military-Political Studies in the sphere of psychology of communications.

Edited by: Lidia Wolanskyj

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  • Michel Cloarec

    After one year of desinformations from Russia. I doubt if there are Ukrainians at heart who want to escape from mobilization. If there are, then they have nothing to do in the Ukrainian army. Nonetheless Ukraine must give the soldiers the right status and benefits like any other European country do !
    So Putin dog barking is another kremlin´s propaganda as they have been doing all the time and not only against Ukraine ! LET HIM BARK ! It is his speciality !

    • Vitalii Usenko

      Yes, this is typical psychological war campaign. But Riane shall not be relaxed and should make really active steps and measures as well as investment into the information security

    • disqus60

      I suggest its time for the American people to send a convoy or 100 to support Ukraine.. I am almost ashamed that Canada has, but America , the richest and most giving nation, hasn’t. If anyone will support it, I’ll launch it.

      • Milton Devonair

        I would bet there are a lot of different people supporting Ukraine from the US.
        A more open way would be for Ukraine to offer some sort of “trainers” program to attract US military veterans. our disgusting traitorous president is cutting the US military all the time, so there are a lot of American veterans being pushed out, not counting the ones not working or hardly working.

        These guys are good as their training is different than the apes of russian army.

        • StumpedNoMore2

          There are to many earmarks and special interests in Congress. In the past ten years or so, there have been so much in fighting from both side that nothing gets done. George Washington warned the American people are political parties. Ukraine just needs to get the aids from the bill that was passed in Congress. Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014” (S.2828)

          • Milton Devonair

            Unfortunately, not enough Americans have hurt enough for any change to happen. We need a lot more people to be a lot more hurt before they decide to pay attention.

          • StumpedNoMore2

            Unfortunately, you are right. The shelling of Mariupol did not even make the headlines but stupid deflate-gate made it on the front page. The Russian propagandists and trolls have been flooding Western media sites with their lies and it is having some affect. I hope to see more Ukrainian tell their side of the story and flood Western media to counteract the Russian ones.

            I am sick of going to every Western media sites just to read the propaganda that are coming from the Kremlin. The only way is just to continue to roast these trolls where ever I find them. It is not about me but those who have lost their lives.

          • LorCanada

            Well said, StumpedNoMore2. I feel the same way, can’t really do an awful lot but still try to do something to counter the hacksters and their endless misinformation dished out by Pootie’s propaganda machine(s).

          • Doug Retter

            Signed into law on December 18th and Obama will not act. He’s is a worthless traitor to oiut country and the world. He golfs while people die.

          • StumpedNoMore2

            He is too reactive in his approach. Now, I am not saying he should be proactive like W. but his approach so far has not stopped Putin’s aggression toward Ukraine yet. There should be a balance.

          • Doug Retter

            Obama hates white people. Period. He supports Muslim terrorism around the world, (over $750 million (USD) under the guise of helping “freedom fighters”. Obama is a Muslim, according to the pastor at the church he attended 22 years in Chicago. He is also a communist, raised and mentored by communists; the only president who whose mother has pornographic pictures posted online. Obama knows exactly what he is doing. Anything here not clear?

        • Michel Cloarec

          Hello !
          It seems that NAF is out of order

          • Milton Devonair

            What’s NAF?

          • Michel Cloarec

            Novorossia Air Force Or should I say ex-NAF

          • Milton Devonair

            Got it. can you tell one of the flying apes by the amount of vodka bottles being tossed from one of their flying machines? Or their indiscrimate strafing of residential neighborhoods?

      • Doug Retter

        Absolutely. The weapons have been authorized, the law has been signed and Obama is sitting on them. Obama is as evil as Putin. He is an embarrassment to the US.

  • MyThousandthName

    Everybody wanna be on top
    I don’t think they know what that means
    Once you get there then you can’t stop
    See Putin’s rich and famous
    Joggling to stay rich and famous
    Blood & pain is what they built their name with
    Ukraine stand up and never quit

    I’m Mozart composing my many symphonies
    I’m here to expose the kremlin’s atrocities
    From Georgia to Ukraine so many
    They should seek peace not enemies
    There’s a way out — Possibilities
    Stop all the lies, propaganda, the negativity
    Ukraine’s future bright so much positivity
    We’ll cheer you on give you that energies
    Let freedom ring let it set you free

  • Czech Friend

    You really are facing very evil enemy, Ukraine but that will make your country that much stronger in the end. Remember, Putin is a cowardly rat that bites and hides back in the shadows.

    You must adopt the same kind of mindset.

    Let him “win” for a while but then attack him hard when he doesn’t expect it. But most of all, don’t die for nothing, protect your soldiers’ lives and civilians but whenever you can inflict damage and death on Russians who are invading your lands. And document it thoroughly. This is where it starts hurting for the Kremlin mafia.

  • Dirk Smith

    I would call this one a tie. Who in God’s name would want to live in third-world russia with all economic benefits quickly evaporating away and soon the pogroms against Ukrainians will begin in fascist russia, especially as it begins imploding.

    • Doug Retter

      Putin is desperate. He will try any idiotic plan at this stage of the game. He is losing. Desperation is a sign of losing!!!

  • Milton Devonair

    At the Kyiv post’s website, why are there scripts/trackers from russia?
    yandex.ru and adriver.ru

    • Vitalii Usenko

      Thank you Milton. Yes the elements of yandex.ry and adriver.ru found in Kyiv Post site code. But I am sure they use it for advertising purposes. Owner of Kyiv Post is Mohammad Zahoor since July 28, 2009. Zahoor owns the ISTIL Group (http://www.istilgroup.com/eng/owner) and is a native of Pakistan and a former steel mill owner in Donetsk. Zahoor publishes the newspaper through his Public Media company. In an
      interview with the Kyiv Post published on Aug. 6, 2009, Zahoor pledged
      to revive the newspaper and adhere to its tradition of editorial
      independence. Here is the article in Kyiv Post about him: Richest Expats: Mohammad Zahoor – http://www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/richest-expats-mohammad-zahoor-85493.html

      • Milton Devonair

        yandex.ru is headquartered in moscow. Not a lot of trust by me for things in russia, especially internet, for me to let them run scripts on my computer.

  • Murf

    Let them go and stay there.

    • Doug Retter

      No one is going anywhere, Murf. Would you move to a gulag in order to be “safe!”

      • Murf

        I can understand not wanting to fight a war. That said, anybody that runs to Russia needs to loose his citizen ship. After all we are not talking about a war on the other side of the planet. it is in their back yard.
        UA is better off with out then the tratorious cowards

  • Michel Cloarec

    I am waiting for the reactions after this news :mc

    “Ukrainian military spokesman confirms destruction of militant planes and helicopters

    Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko has reported 27 January that Ukrainian military forces have destroyed around a dozen military airplanes and helicopters in the possession of militants in east Ukraine.

    “We haven’t shot the aircraft down. Planes and helicopters have been destroyed while on the ground on the territory of an east Ukrainian airfield which has been seized by militants. The operation was carried out in order to prevent militant forces from using these aircraft. Everything we have identified has been neutralized. If we identify further militant aircraft we will neutralize it also,” Lysenko commented during his daily press briefing in Kyiv

    • LorCanada

      Now that’s what we want to hear! I hadn’t thought of the rebels using aircraft but they won’t after this, at least for a while.

  • Kruton

    The cowards run the brave stay.