Putin’s greatest asset is disinformation against the West

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The US and other Western countries must be aware of Russian disinformation campaigns and ignore them at all costs if they want to help Ukraine win the war, conflict analysts say.

“Simple facts are called into question every day as the Kremlin tries to steer the Western debate,” write analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War in a recent analysis.

The analysts argue that “the idea that the war cannot be won because of Russian dominance is the result of a Russian information offensive. This campaign shows what Russia’s real strategy looks like and how the country hopes to achieve success.”

For years, Russia has manipulated information so that other countries see Russia as a dominant power in Europe and, in recent years, that it is winning in Ukraine.

Russia is trying to demotivate Ukraine’s Western partners, especially the US. According to the ISW analysts, “the Russian strategy that matters most is not Moscow’s war strategy, but rather the Kremlin’s strategy to make us see the world as they want us to see it.”

If Western countries make decisions based on an alternate reality generated by the Kremlin, that could precisely enable Russia “to win in the real world,” the analysts said.

According to the American think tank, Russia is sending the message that “support for Ukraine is a distraction from the ‘real’ problems of the US” and that that support does not help.

“Conflict fatigue” has become a serious problem in the West, especially in the US, where new military aid to Ukraine has been held up for months and has not passed Congress.

There are clear consequences on the battlefield as Ukrainian forces struggle with a lack of ammunition and supplies.

The delay in the US Congress has become such a major problem that it was reported last month that more than 40 percent of Ukrainians are less confident in the West’s support and feel that the West is “tired” of the war in Ukraine.

Increasingly, questions are emerging about whether support for Ukraine is worth it, and whether negotiating peace, even if it means sacrifices for Ukraine, is not the best way forward.

Photo: Roman Chop/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

“Russia is holding hostage important concepts about this war, including concepts such as peace and defense,” the ISW analysts said. “When the Kremlin talks about ‘peace,’ what it really means is the abandonment of the fight by Ukraine and Western countries.”

Ukraine is trying to defend itself on its own territory, but Western countries sometimes interpret Ukrainian requests for weapons and other support as aggressive and “escalating” the conflict.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently refused to donate Taurus cruise missiles, arguing that they could only be used responsibly if German soldiers were sent to Ukraine to help with the operation, something that is not going to happen. He said it’s a “line I don’t want to cross as chancellor,” according to the Associated Press.

Scholz is reluctant to send certain weapons to Ukraine – especially new ones, such as the Leopard 2 main battle tank. The US has also been hesitant to send key systems such as HIMARS, vehicles such as Bradleys and Abrams, aircraft and long-range missiles such as ATACMS. And other Western countries are also still reluctant.

The ISW emphasized that Russia benefits from Western countries refusing to send crucial weapons.

Fphoto: Alexander Welscher/picture alliance via Getty Images.

To combat Russian disinformation, experts suggest that Western countries such as the US and its European allies continue to support Ukraine and do more to counter Russia’s disinformation.

“The United States must more vigorously combat the Kremlin’s attempts to change our own decision-making and will,” the analysts said.

The experts also say that there is much more at stake than what the Kremlin would have Western leaders believe. “Russia cannot defeat Ukraine or the West – and will likely lose – if the West mobilizes its resources to resist the Kremlin,” the analysts write. “If we step up and do more, Russia will lose.”

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The article is in Dutch

Tags: Putins greatest asset disinformation West

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