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ISW: Russian information operations and narratives

20 Jan, 2024
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ISW: Russian information operations and narratives

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Russian officials are intensifying efforts to misrepresent French support for Ukraine as escalatory in an effort to constrain ongoing and future French security assistance to Ukraine. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) summoned French Ambassador to Russia Pierre Levy on January 19 to discuss a Russian strike on Kharkiv on January 16 that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) alleged killed and wounded “French mercenaries.”

Russian MFA Spokesperson Maria Zakharova claimed that the Russian MFA presented Levy with evidence about ”French mercenaries” serving in Ukraine and alleged that this represents an escalation with Russia and makes France an accomplice to Ukrainian ”war crimes.”

The Russian Embassy in France also condemned recent French security assistance to Ukraine and suggested that France is placing support for Ukraine above the lives of civilians.

Russian officials likely intensified information operations aimed at France in reaction to France’s January 18 announcement that it launched a coalition to expand Ukrainian artillery capabilities and will send up to 72 Caesar artillery systems to Ukraine in 2024 as well as French President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement on January 16 that he would finalize a bilateral security agreement with Ukraine in February 2024 and that France would send 40 SCALP missiles and ”several hundred” bombs to Ukraine in the coming weeks.

Likely Kremlin-affiliated actors continue efforts to accuse the West of mistreating Russians and Russian-speakers abroad. The German-based Association for the Prevention of Discrimination and Isolation of Russian Germans and Russian-speaking Fellow Citizens in Germany (VADAR) called on January 19 for the German Ministry of Defense (MoD) and German intelligence agencies to disclose information about Germany’s policy towards its Russian-speaking population.

VADAR made the calls in response to an article published by German outlet BILD on January 16 about a reported German MoD document detailing a hypothetical Russian attack against NATO.

Russian actors routinely allege mistreatment of ethnic Russian and Russian-speaking populations in the West in an effort to justify Russia’s overall objectives to weaken and dismantle Western alliances.

The Kremlin has repeatedly used appeals to ”compatriots abroad,” which includes both ethnic Russians and Russian speakers, as a pretext for escalation with neighboring countries and to justify the objectives of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The Odessa Journal

The Odessa Journal

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