Most individuals in free countries understand that for generations, Russian press has been an arm of the Kremlin. The Pravda news outlet was a popular method for Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to share propaganda, and the media company is still in operation today. While the Soviet Union has been dissolved for at least three generations, many foreign affairs experts around the world are saying that Putin has been utilizing Russian media to share a one-sided view of happenings in Ukraine.
With Russian citizens protesting in the streets of over fifty cities, and now rumors abound that Russian citizens are fleeing the country, Russia may be losing another, highly important war on its on soil – the information war.
Experts say there is evidence that Vladimir Putin is no longer able to “completely control the narrative surrounding his invasion of Ukraine.” Rebekah Koeffler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer who wrote about Putin and his regime, has appeared on a number of media outlets dispelling any idea that Putin might be suffering from mental health issues. She also says that “signs indicate that there is definitely trouble” where controlling the narrative is concerned.
Koeffler says that “Russia will crack down further and possibly ban broadcasts by Western media” in an effort to squash any information getting to the Russian people.
Russian censors warned media outlets across the country this week that if they did not share “trustworthy” information about the invasion, they would be taken off air. This warning was followed with a “forced closure” of two independent news outlets, Dozhd Television and RT America.
One of the top editors at Dozhd Television, Tikhon Dzyadko posted via Telegram on Wednesday night that “he was fleeing the country over fear for his life.” He added, it is “obvious that the personal safety of some of us is now under threat.”
The British Broadcasting Company, BBC, claims that Russian citizens are now flocking to its broadcasts in search of “factual information” regarding the Russian invasion in Ukraine. The BBC says that it has seen an increase in viewership by about 10.7 on a Russian language news website. In an effort to stem any Russian crackdown on its ability to disseminate factual information to the people of Russia, the BBC has established shortwave radio service in the country.
Any reports that Putin is considering cracking down on the dissemination of information that doesn’t fit his narrative only adds to the idea that “Putin is losing control.” Always viewed by the world as cold, calculating and in total control, foreign affairs officials, military leaders, and even leaders of other countries (including France’s Emmanuel Macron) are hinting that Putin is displaying traits of someone who is paranoid and possibly suffering from mental decline.
These experts point to changes in Putin’s demeanor in recent videos. They say that Putin’s personality seems more forceful than ever. Macron even said after a two-hour chat with Putin that “the worst is yet to come,” and that Putin is “making a major mistake.”
Since the invasion, reports of thousands of Russian citizens being arrested have increased; now major news outlets say that many citizens are fleeing the country. Major celebrities in the country have shown disagreement with the Ukrainian invasion.
One area where pundits say disinformation is evident is in the number of reported troops dead. On Wednesday, Russian news outlet RIA reported Russian troop losses at 498 dead and 1,597 injured. However, the British Ministry of Defense says that this is closer to the number lost on day 2 of the invasion. They added that the number on day eight would be “considerably higher” than that initial report.
Dan Hoffman, a former CIA officer who has worked with Moscow in the past, says that Putin’s time as a KGB agent has prepared him for how to disseminate information with a spin. “Putin offers a sliver of the truth, the rest is lies.”