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‘Belittle, Ridicule, and Dehumanize’

Section 5 from “Old Wine in a New Bottle: Russia’s Modernization of Traditional Soviet Information Warfare and Active Policies Against Ukraine and Ukrainians”.

by Taras Kuzio, the Department of Political Science, National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, Kyiv, Ukraine

The EU Disinformation Review describes Russia’s information warfare against Ukraine as ‘Belittle, Ridicule, and Dehumanize’. The Ukrainian authorities are portrayed as cynical modern heirs to 20th-century Nazism. Russian rhetoric surrounding military and political confrontations has been accompanied by denigration of Ukraine and Ukrainians, such as poking fun at the size of Ukraine’s navy during the crisis in the Sea of Azov in late 2018. State TV Pervy Kanal host and Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Pyotr Tolstoy, a long-time Russian chauvinist on Ukraine, told his audience: ‘This week, we learned two important things. The first. Ukraine, it turns out, has a navy. More precisely — it used to have a navy, but lost a third of it, but more on that later … ’. On Rossiya 1 channel, Dmitry Kiselyov said the same:

Our border guards coped brilliantly with the task. As a result, everyone is alive, and now almost a third of the active Ukrainian fleet is kept under arrest in (the Russian port of) Kerch. Ridiculous. Although it did create a lot of noise.72

There are countless other examples of dehumanizing and degrading com- mentary on Ukraine and Ukrainians. These include Ukrainians stealing food from pigeons in order to survive, trade in human organs, and how Ukrainians are pressured to reject relatives who live in Russ