HomeAnalysisFalse narratives blur Ukraine war

False narratives blur Ukraine war

Jonathan Chando
THIS week I will start by mentioning that the Russian military took Lysychansk last Saturday, after the fall of neighbouring Sieverodonetsk, the previous week.

This means Russia has now completely liberated the Luhansk Oblast (province), previously occupied by Ukrainian forces since 2014. The liberation of Luhansk Oblast from Ukrainian Nazis fulfils part of Russia’s objectives of the Special Military Operation (SMO) as accentuated by President Vladimir Putin on February 24, 2022.

Footage from the city showed residents celebrating the arrival of the Russians, saying they lived in hell under the Ukrainian armed forces, something the Western media does not want its audience to know.

Most civilians said they had refused to evacuate when ordered to, by the Ukrainian military because they love the Russians.

The Russians will now move to secure the remainder of the Donetsk Oblast, which includes Odessa, thus giving them the land bridge to Crimea as well as enhancing their link with Transnistria, a pro-Russian enclave which broke away from Moldova.

In this article, I will discuss military warfare and how there are great misconceptions, false narratives and disinformation orchestrated by the Western intelligence analysts, echoed by their media and government leaders about how the Russian military is weak, disorganised, demoralised and poorly equipped.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the unprecedented levels of propaganda beclouding the ongoing Ukraine crisis are the incessant claims, from the beginning, of the alleged strategic, tactical, and logistical ineptitude of the Russian military.

Having studied military strategy and tactics, as an officer cadet, trained both by the Chinese, and the British militaries, and engaged in combat operations as an officer, I will make an analysis from a military perspective.

General Sun Tzu, one of the most decorated Chinese military strategists and author of The Art of War, an influential work of military strategy, which has influenced both West and East Asian philosophy and military thinking, articulated in one of his many maxims as follows:

“If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

Tzu’s maxim resonates with the prevailing western misconceptions, and the different military philosophies obtaining in the Ukrainian war theatre.

At the start of the Russian SMO in Ukraine, we were inundated with Western intelligence narratives on how the Russians had planned to invade and take Kiev in three days but failed due to the professional resistance of the Ukrainian military.

We were bombarded with so-called intelligence on how the Russians were ill-prepared and had defective vehicles and no food nor logistical backup. From my knowledge and experience on military strategy and tactics, I could see Sun Tzu’s theme unfolding in Ukraine as I quoted it above.

The Western intelligence has little or no information about the Russian doctrine or its military strategy in Ukraine. Otherwise, they are deliberately creating false narratives as part of their futile disinformation campaign.

The theme of the bumbling Russians was clearly pre-conceived, coordinated and commenced in earnest within the first 24 hours of hostilities.

It has also become apparent, to me at least, that it has emanated almost exclusively from the CIA/MI6 analyst/think-tank complex.

Western intelligence using CIA/MI6 fronts like Oryx, Bellingcat, and ISW have pumped out this narrative so relentlessly without any evidence, that it has now been ubiquitously enshrined as “received wisdom”, even to the point of entering into the body of assumptions embraced by many who I expected to be more discerning.

Instead, the Western media continue to spin their wheels in a comic book-like fantasy, attempting repeatedly to pit a supposed all good protagonist against a supposed all evil enemy.

Western disinformation has given rise to countless evidence-free myths, from the #FakeNews downing of two IL-76 jumbo transports packed with Russian paratroopers, to hundreds of armoured vehicles allegedly abandoned for mechanical failure, lack of fuel, or other logistical failures.

What many may not have noticed was that the so publicised 60km column of the Russian military vehicles that had approached Kiev at the start of the SMO disappeared without trace nor knowledge of Western satellite scrutiny.

The Russians simply scrambled/jammed the US/UK/Nato satellite systems and repositioned their units unobserved.

Even Nato could not explain the disappearance of the column, which they had alleged to have largely broken down. Apart from China, Russia has unmatched electronic warfare (EW) capability and recently Nato complained of Russia having jammed the communication systems of their surveillance jets over the Black Sea.

Retired Col. Laurie Buckhout, a former U.S. Army electronic warfare chief reiterated that jamming “can blind and deafen an aircraft very quickly and very dangerously, especially if you lose GPS and radar and you’re a jet flying at 600 mile/hour”.

Electronic warfare has three basic elements: probe, attack and protect. First, intelligence is gathered by locating enemy electronic signals. On attack, “white noise” jamming disables and degrades enemy systems, including radio and cell phone communications, air defence and artillery radars.

Then there is spoofing, which confuses and deceives. When it works, munitions miss their targets. And Russia has the edge on these capabilities over all Nato militaries.

On November 15, 2021, Russia tested an anti-satellite weapon (ASAT) system by destroying one of its inactive satellites at an altitude of about 300 miles above the earth’s surface. The US and NATO are yet to develop such a missile.

One of the more inexplicable narratives included in this disinformation package has been the allegation that Russian troops are poorly trained conscripts, who are thrown into the meat grinder with antique weapons, little ammo, and so little food they are literally starving.

These tall tales are then woven back into the main strand of the narrative: the Russian army is a disorganised mob of demoralised “orcs” whose only real talent is plundering household appliances, raping young women, and randomly gunning down old folks on the streets.

Attached to this constant refrain are repeated comparisons to the allegedly incomparable professionalism, organisation, training, and weaponry of US/Nato forces.

The implication is that any company of Western soldiers would be a match for an entire battalion of Russians.

This unrelenting narrative, in my observation, must have as its aim the persuasion of the public and policymakers in Nato countries that Western militaries are so vastly superior to their Russian counterparts that no one should have reservations about making war against them.

This is despite the numerous reports from Western mercenaries and foreign legion volunteers who managed to escape back to their home countries after brief and terrifying “tours of duty” in Ukraine, all of whom relate similar accounts.

They talk about encountering overwhelming firepower for the first time in their military careers, and they soberly warn anyone else thinking of embarking on a “safari” to kill Russians that it was “nothing like Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan or Syria” and they feel very lucky to have made it out alive.

Never mind the fact that, to my knowledge, there are few if any conscripts among the Russian forces in Ukraine, and few if any reports of demoralised, under-supplied Russian battalions in any theatre of the SMO.

To the contrary, every indication I have seen suggests that Russian morale is sky high, both among the soldiers doing the fighting and the Russian public at home.

Inevitably there have been Russian casualties.

The numbers are pale in comparison to the Western propaganda mill fantasies of 100 000 total Russian casualties, including 35 000 – 50 000 KIAs, which, were it true, would be unmistakably reflected both in the morale of the army itself and the public at home – and it clearly is not.

Putin’s approval ratings at home currently stand at plus 83% compared to Joe Biden’s is 39%, and Boris Johnson’s 24% as of June 2022.

The manufactured narrative is inconsistent with Ukrainian appeals for massive replenishment of lost heavy weaponry, and repeated mobilisation of territorial guard troops and expansion of the conscript window to include 18 – 60-year-olds and even women, as a result of heavy personnel and equipment losses to the Russians.

To the contrary, Russian troops rotate out and back-in to the battlefield, rested and refitted.

Ukraine has no personnel to rotate. Russia has not ordered a general mobilisation and has about the same number of soldiers in the theatre that they started with (175 000 – 200 000).

I submit that one of the unforeseen by-products of this war is that, even as the Nato-trained and equipped Ukrainian army has been devastated, the Russian army has been transformed into the single most experienced army on the planet.

This is not what US/Nato strategists intended to achieve.

But it does explain why we now see them doubling-down on efforts to prolong this war, both to (hopefully) degrade Russian capabilities, and to buy time for themselves to determine what to do next.

So laughable are some false theories being peddled of how Putin is terminally ill with cancer, how former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, former CIA officer, Daniel Hoffman and other Western intelligence analysts allege that President Putin would be deposed or killed by members of his inner circle.

This buttresses Sun Tsu’s maxim that the US/Nato do not know their enemy.

From my observation, Putin will be in power well after all current Western leaders are gone and Russia and the world will be stronger without Nato.

However, I will leave the reader to judge the facts of the matter in terms of Russian military ineptitude and massive logistical failures as dictated by the final outcome of the war in Ukraine.

Clearly this war is not about Ukraine but a US/Nato offensive against Russia.

In the next article I will discuss economic warfare in the context of the Ukraine crisis, its global economic consequences, and the possible regeneration of a multipolar world order.

  • Chando is a lawyer, political analyst and commentator on International Law and Politics.

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