Russia masking invasion policies with humanitarian propaganda: Study

London: Russia is reinventing decades-old propaganda based on supposed humanitarian principles to justify its invasion of Ukraine, according to an analysis by a Russia-NATO expert.

Published in the peer-reviewed journal The International Spectator, the extensive analysis looks into Russia’s official foreign policy statements since the Soviet Union’s collapse provides new insights into President Vladimir Putin’s tactics regarding separatism.

The research identifies attempts by officials to mask a policy change from intervention to invasion towards former Soviet Republics. This shift is apparent from 2008, when Russian forces went into Georgia, according to the study which covers the years after the Soviet Union’s collapse until present day.

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The findings by Vasile Rotaru, from the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration in Romania, demonstrate that the Kremlin has used narratives from the 1990s to claim Russian minorities need protection with military support.

Rotaru, who is also a former research fellow at the NATO Defence College, states that his analysis highlights how Russia has embellished rhetoric used in the years after the USSR as dissolution to legitimise a new more aggressive approach towards secessionist conflicts.

“The narratives post-2008 seek to present themselves as consistent with the past. The aim is inducing the perception that Russia’s strategy towards the secessionist conflictsahas remained the same. That is, supporting the separatist regions militarily with the proclaimed aim of protecting the Russian minority living in those regions.

“By using the arguments that emerged already in the 1990s, the Kremlin suggests the continuity of its strategy towards separatist conflicts.

“However, empirical evidence has shown that since 2008 Moscow has not simply intervened in secessionist territories to put pressure on central governments of other post-Soviet states. It has also not abstained from direct invasion to control the foreign policy of the countries in its neighbourhood,” he adds.

Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine launched on February 24 has triggered international condemnation and fears of a Third World War.

This military action is the latest carried out by Russia in post-Soviet republics, known as ‘the near abroad’, since the dissolution of the Soviet Republic in 1991.

The study findings are based on a review of written documents, and audio and video records by Russian foreign policy-makers.

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