June 19, 2024

Specialists of the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) indicate that the Kremlin will use the Hamas attack on Israel to promote narratives about the reduction of US and Western support and attention to Ukraine.

Source: the ISW

Details: Analysts note that the Kremlin has already used and will likely continue to use Hamas attacks on Israel to promote information operations aimed at reducing US and Western support and attention to Ukraine.

The Kremlin stepped up several information operations after the Hamas attacks in Israel on 7 October, primarily accusing the West of neglecting conflicts in the Middle East in favour of supporting Ukraine.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, said that the United States and its allies should be “busy” with work on a “Palestinian-Israeli settlement” and not “interfere” in Russia’s affairs and provide military aid to Ukraine.

The Russian Foreign Ministry accused the West of blocking the efforts of the necessary “quartet” of Russia, the United States, the European Union and the United Nations, which led to the escalation of violence, placing responsibility for the current hostilities on the West.

Russian propagandist Sergey Mardan said that Russia would benefit from the escalation, as the world “will turn its attention away from Ukraine for a while and will once again focus on putting out the eternal fire in the Middle East.”

Experts say these Kremlin narratives are aimed at Western audiences to drive a wedge into military support for Ukraine, attempt to demoralise Ukrainian society by claiming Ukraine will lose international support, and are intended to reassure Russian domestic audiences that the international community will ignore the war effort of Ukraine.

The report also notes that several key sources in the Russian news space shifted the focus of their daily coverage to the situation in Israel on 7 October, which could affect the information environment surrounding the war in Ukraine in the coming days or weeks.

Many of the Russian military bloggers focused mainly on the Hamas attacks in Israel on 7 October, and some contributed to the Kremlin’s information operations, claiming that the West’s attention had shifted from Ukraine to Israel.

Such attention to Israel even prompted one Russian “military officer” to urge others not to “forget” about the war in Ukraine.

“The ISW cannot forecast at this time how the source environment will change as the Hamas attacks in Israel unfold,” experts added.

ISW Key Takeaways for 7 October:

  • The Kremlin is already using, and will likely continue to use, Hamas attacks in Israel to promote information operations aimed at reducing US and Western support and attention to Ukraine.

  • Several key sources in the Russian news space shifted the focus of their daily coverage to the situation in Israel on 7 October, which may affect the information environment surrounding the war in Ukraine in the coming days or weeks.

  • Ukrainian troops continued offensive operations near Bakhmut and in western Zaporizhzhia Oblast on 7 October and reportedly advanced on both fronts.

  • On the night of 6-7 October, Russian troops launched a series of missile strikes on the rear areas of Ukraine and the port infrastructure.

  • The Russian government approved a law temporarily limiting the number of border crossing points through which Ukrainian citizens can enter Russia from third countries, primarily Belarus and the Baltic states, likely in response to ongoing concerns about the security of Russian border regions and possible Ukrainian infiltration attempts.

  • Belarusian officials are using international partnerships to try to legitimise Belarus’ role in the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children.

  • Alexandr Khodakovsky, the commander of the Russian “Vostok” battalion, said that Russian “patriotic” communities remain vulnerable to division due to the inability of the Russian authorities to consolidate society, especially after the 24 June mutiny of the Wagnerites.

  • Russia’s Defence Ministry announced the production of the Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on 7 October, backing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims of a successful missile test on 5 October as part of an ongoing information operation to scare the public into nuclear war.

  • Russian troops conducted offensive operations along the Kupiansk-Svatove-Kreminna line, near Bakhmut, along the Avdiivka-Donetsk line, in the west of Donetsk Oblast, in the border zone between the western part of Donetsk Oblast and the eastern part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, as well as in the west of Zaporizhzhia Oblast and, reportedly advanced in some areas on 7 October.

  • As the report writes, Ukrainian partisans killed the United Russia party official in occupied Kherson Oblast.

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