Even though the Putinists’ sarcastic comments and angry denials of Western intelligence reports regarding the high likelihood of a Russian invasion of Ukraine could be compiled into a two-volume War and Peace, the attack happened. The war propaganda, which the Kremlin and Lukashenko’s media have been actively engaged in for the past six months, has become a real war.
Vladimir Putin explains his actions as a desire to protect people who are being subjected to «genocide by the Kyiv regime.» As iSANS reported earlier, the topic of «genocide in Donbass» was actively promoted in February by the Kremlin for both internal and external audiences. In search of «evidence,» under the auspices of the Investigative Committee of Russia, the bodies of those killed in eastern Ukraine were even exhumed in 2014. However, since Western politicians did not believe this narrative, Russia attacked simply citing the desire to «demilitarize and denazify.» It is worth noting, however, that loyal henchmen in Russia, «useful idiots» abroad, and Alexander Lukashenko – voluntarily or forcibly – took up the subject of genocide.
At the same time, «Putin’s main ally,» who has not yet recognized the independence of the LDPR, is rushing about as usual, commenting on Belarus’s participation in the Russian-Ukrainian war, however «you can deceive some of the people all the time, and all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.» Even against the background of Lukashenko’s tired attempts to wear two hats, the hand of the Kremlin is seen in today’s reports by Belarusian state media and in the posts of bloggers and Telegram channels «being fed» by Lukashenko’s supporters.
At a meeting with the military on February 24 in the morning, Alexander Lukashenko emphasized that Belarusian troops were not taking part in the «operation in Donbass» and accused the «scoundrels» who were disseminating such information. Then, apparently forgetting about those «bastards,» he declared his readiness to send the military, «if Russia and Belarus need them» (ONT video) and said that Belarus would like to place Iskanders and S-400 Triumphs and other «modern equipment» on its territory, saying that they have already «agreed with Putin» on this matter.
At the same time, he did not at first specify whether Belarusian territory was used to strike at Ukraine, but he did note that everything was calm on the border, though it was warranted «to be afraid of provocateurs and saboteurs and scum in the south, including those bandits and fugitives who are being trained in their camps to fight here, in Belarus, against our people.» During the same meeting, he remembered that he should again try on the guise of a peacemaker, and tried to play Kalinka and Gopak at the same time, inviting Ukraine and Russia to sit down at the negotiating table (but at the same time bending to the Kremlin as usual, saying that points on Ukraine’s demilitarization should be included in the agenda, its entry into NATO should be prevented, and military actions against the LDPR needed to stop, while expressing confidence that Russia is already emerging victorious from the situation).
Those who are undoubtedly enjoying themselves today are Lukashenko’s propagandists, who are not foreign to calls in the style of «Putin, call in the troops» and «this needs to be done again.» The Zheltye slivy Telegram channel, which is closely connected with the Belarusian security forces, quotes Lukashenko, who «is calling for a way to prevent bloodshed and mass slaughter,» and so far is saying nothing regarding Belarusian troops» participation in the «operation,» but does not hide his stormy enthusiasm for the Russian army’s «successes» in moving across Ukrainian territory. The amount of news and the degree of gloating over Ukraine would be the envy of any Kremlin mouthpiece. Here are a few examples:
«Look how ‘the strongest army in Europe’ scurries, running from the Russians, and how a Ukrainian armored vehicle crushes a civilian car.»
A repost of the Russian Ministry of Defense: «Ukrainian army units and servicemen are leaving their positions in droves and are throwing down their weapons. The Russian Armed Forces are not striking Ukrainian cities. Their high-precision weapons are only immobilizing military infrastructure, air defense facilities, military airfields, and Ukrainian aviation.»
A fake news story, posted at 08.19, claimed the following: «The flags are being changed in Mariupol and Kharkiv has also capitulated. At such a pace, by lunchtime Dnieper will again be Dnepropetrovsk.»
Sometimes Zheltye slivy try to be more Kremlin-oriented than the Kremlinites themselves, for example by compiling a «list of Jews»: «The Urgants and Galkins are shooting at the back of the Russian army. But they will never refuse their sky-high fees on Russian television.»
A video of the Russian flag over an administrative building in the city of Kakhovka.
Like Zheltye slivy, Telegram channels’ infamous propagandists Grigory Azarenok and Lyudmila Gladkaya serve in part the Kremlin’s interests, for example, by exposing the fake news stories of the Ukrainian government with the help of the Russian Defense Ministry and by quoting Maria Zakharova.
Public figures who at one time were supposed to represent the interests of the regime in the civilized world – for example, at conferences abroad, when they were still invited there – also joined in with the Kremlin’s rhetoric or are carefully preparing the ground for justifying Alexander Lukashenko’s possible future actions.
Historian Vadim Gigin: «In recent years, Ukraine has proved through its actions that it is a source of military threat in the region… We were simply left with no choice. With a package of sanctions being introduced, the West, together with Ukraine, launched a propaganda campaign to increase military hysteria… But at the same time, as Lukashenko said, there is «no emergency.» On Russia’s end, everything is very clear and well thought out. The Union State is now more effective than ever.»
Pro-government political scientist Pyotr Petrovsky echoes Putin and Peskov, arguing that Belarus must also contribute to the «denazification of Ukraine,» otherwise there will be «a concentration of Banderites and gangs that fled from Ukraine’s «left side» to Podolia, Volyn, and Polesie.» The war «arrived on its own» and there must be a military response, sums up the «analyst.»
Oleg Gaidukevich, head of the pro-regime Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus (and who withdrew his candidacy for the 2020 presidential elections because he «did not want to be a prostitute» and was afraid even of being Lukashenko’s «formal» opponent) accused the Ukrainian government of what was happening in country and approved of «Russia’s special operation to protect the Donbass.»
Although Lukashenko’s henchmen remain cautious when talking about Belarus’s participation in the Russian invasion, this does not mean that Lukashenko’s regime remains completely neutral. In addition to the avalanche of video evidence of the presence of Russian equipment and the military in areas close to the Belarusian-Ukrainian border, there have been very disturbing reports from the Ukrainian side:
«From Belarus, separate detachments of 2-3 tanks appeared, 2-3 infantry fighting vehicles, and 50 military personnel who were attempting to enter our country were met with a rebuff and immediately retreated. That is, this was a quick entrance-exit. We cannot say that they are advancing, and the military forces are monitoring the situation there. Now a line of defense is being deployed,» said Oleksii Arestovich, adviser to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, at a press briefing.
According to the Ukrainian State Border Service, Russian materiel made a breakthrough in the Kyiv region through the Vilcha checkpoint (on the Belarusian side – Aleksandrovka) that was closed earlier. Also, a military helicopter without identifying marks fired at the bridge in front of the Slavutich checkpoint on the Belarusian-Ukrainian border.
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valery Zaluzhny said that 4 ballistic missiles were fired from Belarusian territory.
«Important information about the Russian invasion! The invaders’ troops coming from Belarus entered the Chernobyl nuclear power plant zone. The National Guardsmen guarding the repository of unsafe radioactive waste are putting up stubborn resistance,» wrote Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. He stressed that «if the nuclear waste storage facility is destroyed by enemy artillery strikes, then radioactive dust could cover the territories of Ukraine, Belarus, and EU countries.»
In turn, the Ministry of Defense of Belarus denied reports of the involvement of Belarusian troops in the «special military operation in the Donbass,» calling them «fake.»
The Belarusian regime and state media can continue to push the narrative about the «threat coming from the West,» justifying the need to deploy troops there «to protect the western border.» They can slander the Polish leadership, which «can use the situation to its advantage,» and warn about possible provocations, but everyone understands that the «party line» will change in an instant when Putin «presses» Lukashenko. Pro-government bloggers and Telegram channels are now savoring the «imaginary defeat of the Ukrainian troops and the surrender of the army», exercising their wit, ridiculing the Ukrainian authorities, and ascribing to Lukashenko the role of a peacemaker while supporting Russia’s position. Soon, however, they need to explain to the whole world why the Belarusians still plunged a knife into the back of the Ukrainians, whom Lukashenko also called brothers, and why Belarusian soldiers have planted their foot on foreign soil, given that Alexander Lukashenko from the very beginning of his political career swore to his fellow citizens that he would never allow this.
Материал доступен на русском языке: Пропаганда войны стала войной