Instead, overcoming the darkness, which Ukrainians already associate with Russia, will also become part of the national epic about the fight for the freedom of Ukraine. We can already talk about this, although neither the war nor the winter and the destruction of the infrastructure have yet stopped.
The Putin regime violates the laws and customs of war in front of the whole world. On November 24, the UN Under-Secretary General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, at a meeting of the UN Security Council convened at the request of Ukraine, said: “I emphasize: attacks on the civilian population and civilian infrastructure are prohibited by international humanitarian law, as well as attacks on military facilities that can be expected to cause harm to the civilian population… the UN strongly condemns these attacks and demands that Russia immediately stop these actions. Any breaches of the laws shall be subject to liability.”
The Centre for Strategic Communication gathered statements from politicians and propagandists who “explain” these strikes of Russia. Among the goals voiced — to kick out 10-15 million Ukrainians to Europe, among the motives — only a victory will save Russia from The Hague Tribunal. Some even expect that the darkness will prevent the “kh*khols” who have learnt English from working remotely for Western companies and donating to the army.
Already a month after the beginning of the war, on March 22, one of the propagandists posing as a writer, Zakhar Prilepin, reposted in his telegram a message from the group “For the Union of Russia, Belarus, and Novorossia.” The post was called “The Collapse of the Ukrainian Power System.” In particular, it said: “Without electricity, there is no modern civilization, which means that the plunge of Ukraine into the darkness is at the will of the allied command of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the AFN.” As you can see, the idea of a blackout appeared already in the first months, as soon as the failure of the blitzkrieg became apparent.
However, Putin publicly presented Russia’s new tactics only in September, after the failure of his troops in Kharkiv region. Russian TV propaganda with obscene joy began to praise the blows to the infrastructure and the blackout. It gave the Russians a sweet sense of revenge and satisfaction for defeats at the front.
On September 16, Putin pronounced words that can be concluded: it is about Russia’s new strategy, and terrorism will continue: “More recently, Russia’s armed forces have struck there with a couple of sensitive blows. Well, let’s assume these were pre-emptive strikes. If the situation continues to develop this way, the answer will be more serious.”
On October 19, Member of the State Duma Andrey Lugovoy, who was identified by the ECHR as one of the murderers and the direct perpetrator of the poisoning of Aleksandr Litvinenko, wrote in his telegram that Ukrainians would be blackmailed in the winter to force them to surrender to the Kremlin regime. “We demonstrate that we will finish off the energy structure so that no one has a chance to think that the winter will be comfortable. They have to decide who they are with.”
On November 10, he said that the blows should sow “chaos and panic.” “As I said earlier, it is necessary to continue targeting the energy infrastructure of Ukraine and Kyiv, sowing chaos and panic in the rear of the enemy. And thus, in the winter period, we will exhaust the criminal regime of Zelenskyy and the troops he left on the banks of the Dnipro River.”
On November 12, Russia’s former “president” Dmitry Medvedev also tried to intimidate Ukraine, prophesying new punishments: “… Russia, for reasons obvious to all reasonable people, has not yet used its entire arsenal of possible weapons of destruction. And it did not strike all possible enemy targets located in settlements. And not just out of our human kindness. All in good time.”
On November 16, the already mentioned Zakhar Prilepin, as if he were an anti-hero terrorist from some Hollywood film, began to apologize and explain the perverse logic of Russia: we will not stop and will advance towards Kyiv and bring “darkness, panic, and sorrow” because you do not give up.
“This shelling is an attempt to induce the Kyiv authorities to negotiations. Russia, as if apologizing, being ashamed of itself, says: well, please, sit down with us at the negotiating table, you will still fix everything tomorrow, but now you see that we can destroy everything. Dear citizens of Ukraine,” the Kremlin as if says, “well, tell your Führer to agree to the negotiations. … He will not, of course. You will still be brought to the next inevitable stage by our masters. A blow to the power system, plus the most powerful counterattack with the concurrent liberation of some city on the way to Kyiv, while Kyiv is in darkness, panic, and sorrow.”
A screen from the video, where Zakhar Prilepin, as a terrorist and “deputy battalion commander of the DPR,” in 2017, demonstrably scrunches up the sign of peace and orders to open fire from the anti-aircraft gun.
In a post, dated November 24, Prilepin tried to come up with a new excuse for terror against Ukrainians in the style of a shaman of some evil tribe, who cannot stand that someone behaves differently from how he, the shaman, imagined: “… He’ll get what he deserves because it is the law of this world. If you make funny faces in front of a thunderstorm, near a volcano, or near the sky in general for a long time, it will one day unfold and hit you on the forehead with an inexorable finger.”
On November 17, Putin’s spokesman Peskov already tried to present terrorism in a verbal wrapper. Saying that the lack of light and heat in many regions of Ukraine are the consequences of the actions of the Kyiv authorities, which refuse to surrender.
On November 24, Peskov repeated that Ukrainians are being made to suffer to make the Ukrainian authorities comply with the requirements of the Kremlin regime because the Ukrainian authorities “have every opportunity to settle the situation in such a way as to meet the requirements of the Russian side and, accordingly, to stop all possible suffering of the population.”
On November 22, Solovyov shared a message from ZERGULIO in his telegram channel calling for the continuation of the strikes. “Well, I, on the contrary, hope that Russia will continue to strike the Ukrainian energy infrastructure facilities. More, without bread. Good morning.”
On November 25, Russia’s ambassador to the UK, Andrey Kelin, in an interview with the BBC, answering the host’s question: “The more the infrastructure collapses, the colder people get, the more determined they become in Ukraine — do you understand this?” said: “They can stop all this tomorrow if they want to.” And with this, he once again confirmed the terrorist motive of the Putin regime.
Propagandist Tigran Keosayan, husband of Margarita Simonyan, explained the blows in the NTV programme at the end of November that Ukrainians already had time to leave Ukraine. He also called for acts of terror against some Ukrainians, mentioning the Stalinist killer Sudoplatov.
Tigran Keosayan calls for the continuation of terror against Ukrainians on the NTV channel
“Unfortunately, civilians always suffer in war, there’s no getting away from it. The question is, what do these peaceful people say — what is their opinion, what is their message? Peaceful people had a lot of time, I think, to decide and move abroad, or to Russia. As they say about war — it dictates a clear method. We’ve lived for exactly 7 months in the lie that we’re brothers, we’re close, we don’t want unnecessary sacrifices. I want to remind you about the words of Putin on the 24th, he was frank: even with national battalions, my dear Ukrainian military brothers, you should surrender, do not die, go away! That confidence dissipated like a fog. And then there was military expediency. This is great. I think that it is time to renew the glorious traditions of Sudoplatov, all those wonderful people who did not let the Nazis, Banderites live. And it’s very good… It’s terrible in terms of fact, but in terms of spirit, no bastard with blood on his hands will be able to live, probably, even till court… Because there are other laws and rules at the front.”
It is necessary to pay special attention to the fact that along with the strikes, the Russians launched a mass information and psychological operation to shift the emphasis in the perception of attacks by people. The idea was to shift the blame and irritation for the lack of light from the Russians to the Ukrainian authorities or power engineers, who allegedly did something wrong. For example, in Odesa, there was a fake spreading about the sale of electricity abroad, on which someone profit.
However, on November 29, RT leader Simonyan herself explained why it was necessary to continue bombing civilian infrastructure. Everything is simple: so that Putinists do not end up in The Hague. It was said that although some of the elites are afraid to violate international humanitarian law, it is necessary because otherwise “everyone will end up behind bars”:
“They are preparing to take our Crimea. Well, we’re doing the only thing we can do in this situation. We bomb — we bomb every day. We bomb the infrastructure. God knows we didn’t want that. You and I didn’t want that. I know perfectly well that the authorities did not want this. We are kind, polite, and even gentle in something, we are soft, kind, trusting, gentle… Do we have to be like that? Now, when we see how every day in Ukraine the infrastructure is destroyed, which helps to fight, to kill our people, already in our territories, I am surprised by the people, ours, whom I know enough, unfortunately, in particular, in very high circles, who are afraid of it and are afraid to call things by their names. What, then, will some people think ‘there’? So, for them: we don’t care what they will think “there.” People who are afraid of abstract The Hague — look, you have to be afraid of losing, you have to be afraid of being disgraced, you have to be afraid of betraying your people. If we lose in Ukraine, The Hague, whether hypothetical or specific, awaits even a yard man who sweeps the pavement behind the Kremlin wall. What is it to us that another district of Kyiv will be left with or without light? We cannot even imagine the scale of the catastrophe that will engulf Russia if we lose.” “We cannot just freeze out of fear for The Hague.”
“There simply won’t be any Hague if that happens. The whole world will be in shambles,” added another information criminal, Vladimir Solovyov, who hardly wants to end up on the bench himself.
On November 30, another propagandist, Skabeyeva, repeated the same opinion about The Hague and all Russians, who will be responsible. “God forbid. We don’t even allow the thought, we don’t even speak of it out loud. But suddenly, suppose something happens, and our country will not be able to win. Then it must be assumed that claims will be presented to everyone without exception! Regardless of whether the person is in Russia or not… Just those who are abroad will probably be arrested immediately. It doesn’t matter if it’s an accessory to Putin’s regime or just a passer-by. We will all be guilty! What is at stake, in the literal sense of the word, is the existence of the country, and the existence of every citizen of the Russian Federation, and our future life, as carefree as possible… Without Hague tribunals, launched criminal cases, compensations, reparations, so that nothing of it happens, the hostilities need to be so active, we need to pressure them so much that they will be asking us for a truce or peace.”
It seems that, through these calls of propagandists, the regime is trying to intimidate its subjects with collective responsibility, and therefore bind them with circular bail, encouraging the military to continue the dead-end adventure into which they were dragged, to ensure there is more blood on the hands of “partially mobilized” Russians.
This is not the first time that the Kremlin has resorted to the disruption of living conditions as a method of punishment or influence on its enemy — both external and internal. For example, the complete seizure of food supplies from Ukrainian peasants, accused of sabotaging grain harvests and “bourgeois nationalism,” led to the Holodomor of 1932-1933.
There are also earlier examples from Russian history that were reflected in fiction. In the story Hadzhi-Murat, Leo Tolstoy described the strategy of conquering the Chechens in the middle of the 19th century, which consisted in depriving the highlanders of resources — cutting down the forest and destroying food.
These methods are not just terrorist, they can qualify as genocide. In fact, the genocidal rhetoric of Russian propaganda fully betrays the true goals and essence of the war unleashed by Putin.
In a show on Russian television, propagandist Sergey Mardan claimed that Ukraine should not exist, and Russia, as an empire, was born for war, has always been at war and will continue waging war, particularly “against barbarians, like now.” And that’s why the Russians need to rewire their own brains for war.
“I will not hide what I consider reasonable, correct and most importantly rational — I emphasize that I am a rational person — for everyone — for us, for the citizens of the former Ukrainian SSR, and for Europeans, I will tell you more, even for Poles it would be better if there were no Ukraine.
… This is the time that we are living in. It seems, on the one hand, that it is impossible and senseless to rejoice about war. But on the other hand, there is a strange feeling that Russia with 30 years of peace is something very strange, very impossible. What we are in now is the usual state. Many historical analogies and examples arise. How many people in Russian history wore military uniforms, were in the military, fought — and you understand that… probably someone will say that this is the Russian curse, while others will say that it is not. Apparently, an empire of this size — and Russia in its essence, according to its structure, was and is and can only be an empire — an empire is always a military state. A military state has to fight from time to time. It has to bring to submission or to appease the surrounding barbarians. But now the barbarians found themselves on the western borders. A difficult, hard campaign is going on with the barbarians. Those who studied ancient history know that the great Rome had difficult, hard campaigns with barbarians. Many have this expectation, I wish the war would end soon, it’s blood, destruction, and humanity has gone a long way, endless evolution to live in a state of eternal peace.’ At what point did we believe in this nonsense? To be honest, I can’t understand. …It would make good sense to reconfigure, to rewire our own brains to a different historical rhythm, in which we have been for 1,200 years, still are, and most likely will remain.”
Sometimes Russian propagandists announce what seems like crazy targets for their shelling. For example, to force another 10-15 million Ukrainians to leave for Europe. Propagandist Sergey Mikheyev said the following. “Let’s conclude a humanitarian agreement with the Americans. Let them send a hundred ships here, and we will take them (Ukrainians) there from Odesa. Hello, America. There used to be philosophical steamships, and these will be humanitarian ones. Ukrainian gentlemen, think about it…. And now, on a more serious note. Indeed, we need to ensure that Ukraine is forced to send 10-15 million refugees to Europe. And let Europe solve these problems; it is rich, it will solve them. This is absolutely the right thing to do. And strikes on the infrastructure, which are supposed to disorganize the life of the entire Ukrainian state, are also a format for conducting a special military operation, a war. This will save the lives of civilians and the military.”
Sergey Mikheyev calls for the expulsion of 10-15 million Ukrainians from Ukraine on the state TV channel Rossiya 1
Mikheyev and the likes propose to solve the “Ukrainian problem” in the same way as the Russian Empire solved the “Circassian question” in the second half of the 19th century — mass expulsion from the homeland.
They depict Ukrainians as some wild tribe which accidentally came into possession of the fruits of the Soviet civilization and illegally claimed them. For instance, propagandist Anatoly Kuzichev said on First Channel that Ukrainians did not work in the USSR. “What is this Ukrainian energy system if not Soviet heritage? Did the Ukrainians build it? No. This is decommunization.”
One of propaganda social media channels offered a similar racist justification for the missile terror: “Mass missile strikes are necessary for a complete degradation of Ukrainian society, which still has inner resources and means to donate to the army. If there is no power, they will not be work on outsource for Western call centres. Cutting off the opportunity to work on outsource for the khokhols who learned English is one of the goals of the special military operation.”
Propagandist Sergey Markov announced the shelling of the Ukrainian infrastructure on December 5 “humanitarian strikes with missiles of good” (although the official phrasing “strikes of retribution” sounds just as cynical). Markov hopes for a very specific result of the “missile-humanitarian mission”:
A large-scale humanitarian missile strike on Ukraine has now started. Probably on the energy system. This strike aims to stop the strikes of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the energy system and infrastructure of the Donbas and to stop the terrorist attacks carried out by the Kyiv regime on the territory of Russia. We can say that now 100 Russian missiles are in the sky with almost humanitarian goals. That’s what it should be called. Humanitarian strike. Missiles of good… A strike on Kyiv today may have cool consequences. Tonight and tomorrow, the temperatures in Kyiv will drop to -8. If the water supply stops, the water there can freeze and pipes and various fixtures will begin to burst. This can disable the water supply for the whole winter. After that, the sewage system will begin to burst. This will make Kyiv unfit for life in winter and spring.”
Thus, terror against civilians, typical of Russian militarism, has been a major part of this war. It is becoming more and more obvious to the world.
On November 23, the European Parliament adopted a historic resolution recognizing Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.
At the NATO summit on November 29, it was said that Putin is trying to turn winter into a weapon, “forcing Ukrainians to freeze or flee the country… and to divide all of us who support them,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. He added that the Alliance will continue to support Ukraine “as long as it takes” and emphasized that it will not back down.
On November 30, at the Berlin Security Conference, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated: “We will continue to support Ukraine for as long as necessary: economically, financially, with humanitarian aid, through the current reconstruction of destroyed energy infrastructure and with armaments.”
The “coming out” of Kremlin terrorism in 2022 led to drastic changes. The open destruction of civilian infrastructure only unites Ukrainians and increases international aid to our country.
No one in the world wants to be the next victim of Russian aggression.
Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security