International law and foreign policy analyst Iliya Kusa claims that his country receives global support, thanks to how unconvincing Putin’s propaganda tactics are when claiming that Russians are fighting ‘nazis’ in Ukraine. After nearly two months of continuous heavy shelling and horrific war atrocities, the Russian regime keeps on presenting the same argument about the presence of far-right extremism in Ukraine to justify the war.
This week, the Foreign Ministry claimed that even neo-nazis from other countries, including Britain, are arriving in Ukraine to fight against the Russian army, echoeing Putin’s claims that he intended to “denazify” and “demilitarise” the country with the invasion.
Mr Kusa, who is also a member of the think tank Ukrainian Institute for the Future, suggested that these arguments are “ridiculous” and “far-fetched”.
He argued: “This kind of framing and new analysis is being used exclusively for an internal audience, to explain to Russians first of all why Russia needed to go to war with Ukraine, and secondly why Ukrainians are their enemies.”
The Russian propaganda system, according to the expert, seeks to “dehumanise” Ukrainians, and “if you need to dehumanise your enemy, you need to explain why they are not like us”.
But Mr Kusa stressed: “This framing is only useful for internal audiences – it doesn’t have any impact on Europeans or Americans, or any other audience.”
He noted: “I know there is a negative perception of ‘Azov’ military regiment because some of their soldiers have links with far-right organisations.
“But that’s mainly because of Russian propaganda since 2015.
“Far-right movements exist in Ukraine, as in many countries in the world, but they are marginalised and don’t have any political or other power inside Ukraine as Russia portrays them to have.”
Elaborating on why Putin’s regime used this framing of the war, the analyst explained it consists of an important element of the Russian identity which links back to the Second World War.
He said: “The current Russian political system was built by Putin and is centred around Putin’s figure as the leader.
“It is a political myth that Putin himself has built about an issue that is sensitive for them, and which they are trying to recycle in order to mobilise their supporters and maintain the regime’s power.”
And added: “It is very much based on the nostalgic feelings about the Second World War and about this kind of ‘just’ war that the Soviet Union pursued during that time.”