Kremlin forces bloggers to lie more about AFU counteroffensive: ISW analysts point out what it can lead to

Maryna LisnychukLife
Kremlin forces bloggers to lie more about AFU counteroffensive - ISW

Segments of Russia's pro-war media space have begun to coalesce around the Kremlin's narrative attempt to portray Ukraine's counteroffensive as a failure, exaggerating the AFU's losses and reporting less of its own than before. Some bloggers are shaping their portrayal of events on the front in fear of punishment from the authorities similar to the arrest of terrorist Igor Girkin.

However, the Kremlin's ability to create a coherent narrative about the war in the Russian media space remains uncertain and further Russian failures or significant Ukrainian success could undermine its progress completely. This was pointed out by analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

It is noted that prominent Russian bloggers are inaccurately portraying the AFU's counteroffensive operations as a series of "unsuccessful" attacks across the contact line more often. They have been widely sharing footage from July 29, claiming that it shows a single Russian tank "defeating an entire Ukrainian company with armored vehicles" as if it had happened recently. However, it was established that the footage was filmed back on June 7 and they show Russian Armed Forces artillery units hitting the Ukrainian convoy, no consequences were seen there.

"Russian sources are sharing old footage to support claims that Ukrainian forces are suffering significant losses in armored vehicles and the increase in video footage on July 29 indicates that they are deliberately doing so to support the Kremlin's version," ISW stressed.

It recalled how Russian dictator Vladimir Putin recently said that Ukrainian forces "lost 39 units of armored vehicles" during several days of fighting in the western Zaporizhzhia region, which is a notable intonation in his exaggeration of Ukrainian losses during the AFU counteroffensive.

Analysts have previously said that the Kremlin is likely changing its policy on war coverage to downplay the potential for a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive and promote itself as an effective military leader.

Russian bloggers continue to report localized offensives by the Ukrainian Armed Forces and some problems with Russian defensive operations against this backdrop, but the broader operational presentation of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the pro-war Russian media space is consistent with the Kremlin's likely change in its presentation.

Kremlin forces bloggers to lie more about AFU counteroffensive: ISW analysts point out what it can lead to

Experts say some propagandists may be shaping their portrayal of a broader Ukrainian counteroffensive in fear of the Kremlin's punishment following the arrest of a prominent critic of Russian authorities terrorist Igor Girkin (Strelkov). A Russian insider, citing sources in the Russian president's administration, said on July 28 that the Kremlin recently urged affiliated bloggers to reduce their coverage of the war in Ukraine in general and publish more "positive content on topics of Russian national pride."

"We have not noticed pro-Kremlin bloggers cutting coverage of the war back, although they have started to insist that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has failed more. The arrest of prominent critics of the war against Ukraine, such as Girkin, along with efforts by the Russian Defense Ministry to consolidate control over Russian informational space may encourage affiliated bloggers to align their portrayal of the war with more serious statements by the Kremlin than before" ISW expressed its belief.

They believe that the Kremlin's ability to create a more coherent narrative about the war in Russian infospace remains uncertain and subsequent failures of the Russian Armed Forces or significant success of the AFU on the frontline could undermine propagandists' progress in this effort.

Today, segments of Russian informational space continue to complain about the systemic problems associated with the war and many bloggers are likely to change course on their portrayal of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the event of significant Ukrainian successes.

"The community of pro-war Russian bloggers is still very reactive and motivated by vivid themes of outrage. Many are likely to abandon their attempts to join the Kremlin's reporting on the war in the event that polemics about Russia's failure provoke renewed intense anger towards the "leadership" of the Russian military. A coherently expanded and unquestioned Kremlin narrative on the tactical and operational situation in Ukraine would make it difficult to report on the realities of the battlefield, especially in the absence of more detailed reporting from the Ukrainian side," ISW stated.

As OBOZREVATEL previously reported, the arrest of terrorists Igor Girkin (Strelkov) and Pavel Gubarev in Russia spooked the collaborators in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. They began to flee en masse.

The secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, expressed his belief that Girkin's arrest is evidence of a strong fright in Moscow. It is indicative and is a warning to anyone who dares to criticize the authorities.

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