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Ukraine Crisis

“Humanity is being replaced on a daily basis”—Inside Russia’s propaganda machine

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Russia's propaganda machine.
PHOTO: SUNDAY TIMES

An expert on Russian propaganda says the Kremlin is using two main strategies to legitimise atrocities in Ukraine

Adam Servera, an analyst from the Kremlin watch program, has told Ticker NEWS of the two main strategies Russia is using to control its population with propaganda.

The first strategy involves support for Russia’s aggression, which has been displayed since the start of the war. Servera points to Russian accusations of Nazism in Ukraine as an obvious example of this.

He says when you look at the diversity of ethnic groups defending the nation you can see how ridiculous this assertion is.

“You can just see It’s a Kremlin tabulation, and sort of this … parallel universe,” says Servera.

The second strategy may be less familiar to Western eyes. Its main focus is to distract the population from the war.

This type of propaganda is targeted at both older and younger generations, and is spread amongst the population via music videos, and on social media platforms such as TikTok.

Servera says this propaganda usually emphasises Russian imperialism and Soviet sentiment.

A recent example is of a viral online song, Wellerman by Nathan Evans, which has had the original lyrics altered to reflect Russian nationalist messages.

“It refers to a great state, strong spirit, rich nature and white plains, which I personally find very funny because Putin’s regime has done its best to devastate Russian nature.”

Adam servera

The video clip features women dressed in traditional Russian World War One nurse outfits who dance in a ‘Z’ shaped formation. This refers to the notorious Z symbol which has been used by Russians to support the war in Ukraine.

“The Kremlin’s propaganda obviously has no limits. Humanity is being replaced on a daily basis by the virality of the content that is supposed to justify and legitimise the atrocities that Russia is committing in Ukraine,” says Servera.

Do Russian people believe Kremlin propaganda?

Servera says it is difficult to know for sure whether Russian citizens believe the propaganda they are fed because of the climate of repression in the nation.

But official reports from the Kremlin reveal most Russians see the war as part of a historical struggle against Nazism.

Russian war supporters expect “a decisive victory over fascism” says Servera.

According to Meduza, which is a Russian platform not tied to the government, President Putin’s media team has concluded there are no good prospects for ending the war.

There is no way “to both meet public expectation and preserve Putin’s popularity,” says Servera.

200,000 people pack a Moscow stadium to support the war in Ukraine. PHOTO: ABC NEWS

This point was raised by Australian journalist Peter Greste on Ticker NEWS. He says Russian propaganda was “going to make things more difficult for Russia to back down, not easier.”

However, despite this speculation there is still no way of knowing for sure how Russian citizens really feel.

“Various sociological surveys have been published on Russian attitudes towards the war, many of which show overwhelming support for Putin’s aggression.”

“However many experts point out that given the strong influence of propaganda and repression in the country, these polls are unlikely to reflect reality,” says Servera.

Will Russian propaganda finish with Putin?

Servara doesn’t believe Russian propaganda will finish when Putin eventually relinquishes power.

He says Russia has a long history of oppressions that stretches beyond the reign of Putin.

“My grandfather in 1945 saw Russian or Kremlin tanks invading Slavic countries. My father saw them in 1968. And I now heard them when we were being evacuated from Kyiv.”

Adam Servara

According to Servara, change will not be achieved by simply overthrowing the leader. Instead, there has to be an evolution of the entire governmental mechanism.

“It’s very hard to see a change coming anytime soon” he says.

Bryan Hoadley contributed to this article.

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Ukraine Crisis

Finland and Sweden submit applications to join NATO

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Finland and Sweden have officially submitted their applications to join NATO

Finland and Sweden have handed in applications to join NATO.

It ends decades of political neutrality for both nations, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Chief of NATO says the applications are quote an “historic step”.

If their bid is successful, it will bring the alliance’s membership to 32.

While Russia strongly opposes the move, there are also members within NATO’s own ranks voicing their concerns.

Dubbed the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the NATO alliance was founded in 1949

It follows one rule: an attack on one, is an attack on all.

It sought to counter Russian expansion in Europe after World War Two.

But following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many of its former Eastern European allies joined the alliance, something that has raised concerns in Moscow.

Finland and Sweden need the support of all member states to join. If they’re successful, it will take the alliance to 32 members.

NATO members must spend 2 per cent of their GDP on defence. Finland already meets this target and Sweden says it will do so “as soon as possible”.

The two countries will also bring a range of military might.

Finland has over 19-thousand active troops, and Sweden has over 14-and-a-half thousand.

There are 220 tanks, and over 200 combat aircraft.

Russia believes NATO has been verging on its door stop and is warning both nations against joining.

Turkey’s President is also voicing concerns, saying the two Scandinavian nations should not send delegations to convince him of their bids.

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Ukraine Crisis

Russian government slammed on state media by former Kremlin official

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The Russian government has been slammed for its war in Ukraine by former members of the Kremlin

Russia’s mainstream media outlets offer a view of the Ukraine war that is unlike anything seen from the outside world.

Firstly, they don’t even call it a war – instead they call it a special military operation.

Now, three months into a war, the Russian government has come under fire, copping criticism in is a very rare occurrence on live television within the country.

A former senior Russian officer has warned on state television that the situation will get worse, and called for it to end.

“Let’s not drink ‘information tranquilizers,’ because sometimes information is spread about some moral or psychological breakdown of Ukraine’s armed forces, as if they are nearing a crisis of morale or a fracture,”

retired Col. Mikhail Khodarenok said on Monday’s edition of Rossiya One’s 60 Minutes show.

“None of this is close to reality.”

He openly criticised his country’s actions in Ukraine, and admitted that Russia knows the entire world is against it.

His comments are expected to Vladimir Putin as it directly contradicts with his objectives.

The Former Government Official did receive some pushback from the show’s presenter a short time after those comments.

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Ukraine Crisis

Azovstal evacuations – Fighters arrive in Russian-controlled territory

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The buses carrying the Ukrainian soldiers who had been defending the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol have begun arriving in Russian-controlled territory

A convoy of at least seven buses has been seen leaving the besieged city, arriving at a former penal colony near Donetsk.

Neither Russian nor Ukrainian officials have confirmed the arrivals, but a news agency in Russia says its nation’s Investigative Committee plans to question the soldiers.

Moscow says it will be investigating “Ukrainian regime crimes”.

But now the soldiers have been evacuated, what happens from here?

The exact details of any deal made between Russia and Ukraine remain under wraps, but Kyiv has previously indicated its forces will be exchanged for Russian prisoners-of-war.

Moscow is yet to confirm this publicly, with the Kremlin avoiding questions on the prisoners’ status or possible transfer.

Ukrainian officials will be likely holding their breath, with individuals including a senior Russian MP accusing the Ukrainian soldiers of being “Nazis and war criminals”.

The MP has requested their exchange be banned all together, as Russia’s Supreme Court will decide whether to uphold a request to designate the group many of the fighters belong to as a terrorist organisation.

But, despite all of this, Ukraine says it was left with just one option – to save lives.

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