The first thing that the Russian occupation forces did in Sloviansk, Donetsk region, in 2014, was to switch off Ukrainian TV broadcasts and turn on Russia’s special propaganda. The spearhead unit of the invaders left the town on the fourth day after the broadcasting tower had been destroyed.
That is, the unit was tasked not with the alleged protection of Russian speakers from some mythical «fascists» – it was to deprive the local population of access to information and hook them up on the aggressor’s military propaganda. And the latter was set to complete the mission of conveying to people the narratives about the Kyiv «junta» and «fascists.»
Special wartime propaganda is the Kremlin’s main weapon. The objective of the ongoing invasion is to disconnect Ukrainians from information and hook them on Moscow’s TV needle. After that, it’s easier for the invaders to create some kind of «people’s militia» from among the locals and pull out their own troops.
Information autocracies have learned to commit crimes in plain sight and at the same time avoid responsibility. With the help of special wartime propaganda, one can blame the victim or sow doubt that the crime was ever committed in the first place.
The opposite is also true, though. To stop the aggressor, it is enough to disconnect its population from special propaganda and offer truthful information. Those unwilling to consume this feed will be force-fed as part of the all-Russian “de-Nazification” campaign.
This is the cheapest way to prevent a nuclear war – to launch Russian versions of top news channels and broadcast them across Russia for free via satellite and online. Also, some entertainment features could be added, to draw more Russians to their screens even if they’re hesitant.
The Kremlin, in turn, will block the Internet and put jammers on satellites. In fact, they are already doing this to limit the flow of truthful information. But even throwing USB flash drives with the “right kind” of news from air balloons all over Russia would be cheaper than waging an actual war