"New stage of dismantling Ukraine" and "not a one-time event": Change in rhetoric of Kremlin’s propagandists regarding missile attacks on Ukraine

After the massive Russian missile attack on Ukraine on October 10 and 11, the “it’s not us” theme earlier spun by Kremlin propagandists turned into “let’s do it again” and “it’s high time.” Russian TV channels were flooded with videos of the aftermath of the strikes and various maps of missile attacks and reports of explosions in Ukrainian cities were circulated across Telegram channels in real-time.

Kremlin propagandists tried to focus on two things — the Crimean Bridge and the cold winter. Recently, we have already refuted the “point” of why the bombing of the Crimean Bridge was not a “pretext” for the Russian shelling of civilian infrastructure across Ukraine. By the way, the narrative of “avenging the Crimean Bridge” did not circulate for too long in the Russian media.  The dominant message was “destruction of infrastructure as a target to deprive Ukrainians of electricity.”

It was this message that the propagandists circulated all week, mixed with the posts about “Europe has no power and heating because of sanctions.”

“A new stage of the ‘special military operation’ starts” 

Petr Akopov, a Russian propagandist, wrote about the “new stage of the ‘special military operation’,” and more specifically about the “new stage of dismantling Ukraine” on October 11, the day after the Russians launched a massive missile and drone attack. In his piece, Akopov urges the Russian authorities not to stop at this point. He calls on them to continue missile strikes until the complete destruction of the civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, despite the humanitarian catastrophe that this devastation implies.

The day before this publication, it was Dmitry Medvedev who called for the “full dismantling of the political regime of Ukraine.” Akopov’s material only explains his “point” in more detail.

Olga Skabeeva, another Russian propaganda pundit expressed a similar “point” in her “60 Minutes” programme, commenting on the massive missile attack on Ukraine. “This is not a one-time event, but a radical change in the tactics of the Russian army during the special operation,” said the propagandist.

Invited guests, “experts,” and commentators also expressed support for the message about “a change in the tactics of the ‘special military operation’.”  

“Missile shelling must be regular”

Propagandists “praised Russia’s skills” and called for “repeated and regular” shelling throughout the week after the massive missile attack on October 10 and 11. They see “critical infrastructure” as their main target.

Russian propagandist Anton Krasovsky also began to spread similar statements.

“Ukraine needs to be deprived of comfort”  

According to propagandists, “Ukraine has adapted to the current war through Western support.”

Here is how one of the Kremlin Telegram channels describes the current situation in Ukraine: “The entire budget is formed at the expense of Western subsidies. Weapons are being provided. There are enough people to mobilize. Preparations for the winter period were underway. So, they can fight for a long time. And now they are facing a prospect of being left without power, water, gas, and sewerage ahead of the winter.”

“Ukraine must be thrown back to the Stone Age”

In support of the previous messages, there were calls to “really throw Ukraine back to the Middle Ages” or the “Stone Age.”

“From Nazis to terrorists”: How the Kremlin justifies its actions today

While previously Russian propagandists considered Ukraine to be for the most part a “country of Nazis and fascists,” now, Ukraine is increasingly being portrayed by the Kremlin media as a “terrorist country”. In August, members of theJust Russia — For Truth parliament faction even submitted a draft law “On Recognition of Ukraine as a Terrorist State and Confiscation of Property Belonging to Its Citizens in Favor of Russia.” Therefore, this “point” is now most often repeated by Russian propagandists and officials, in particular, those commenting on the massive missile and drone attacks on Ukraine.

Center for Strategic Communication and Information Security

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