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Russian info space in disarray following unexpected cross-border Belgorod raid – ISW

Russian info space in disarray following unexpected cross-border Belgorod raid – ISW
The US-based think tank Institute for the Study of War says the Russian information space reacted with panic and division to the surprise cross-border raid into Russia, showcasing the disarray and incoherence within Russian commentary circles. The degree of “panic, factionalism, and incoherency” is similar to that of Russian commentators when they experience significant informational shocks.

The Russian information space responded [to the raid into Belgorod Oblast by elements of the all-Russian pro-Ukrainian Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) and Freedom of Russia Legion (LSR)] with a similar degree of panic, factionalism, and incoherency as it tends to display when it experiences significant informational shocks.

Some milbloggers fixated on the fact that the RDK and LSR are comprised of mostly Russians and labeled them traitors to Russia, baselessly accusing them of working under the GUR.

Several milbloggers additionally speculated that the attack was a purposeful information operation intended to distract from the recent Russian capture of Bakhmut and to instill panic in the Russian information space in advance of a potential Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Former Russian officer and ardent nationalist milblogger Igor Girkin remarked that he has long warned that such cross-border raids may be part of a wider Ukrainian counteroffensive strategy.[17]

Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin took advantage of the incident to accuse the Russian government and its bureaucratic inertia of contributing to the attack and criticized the Russian MoD for being unable to strengthen Russian borders and defend Russia.[18]

The first observed line of Russian defensive fortifications notably runs 2km in front of Gora Podol, and the suggestion that RDK forces managed to penetrate the defensive line emphasizes the weakness of such fortifications at least when not fully manned by well-prepared and well-equipped soldiers.

While the majority of milbloggers responded with relatively varied concern, anxiety, and anger, the information space did not coalesce around one coherent response, which indicates first and foremost that the attack took Russian commentators by surprise.

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