A few days ago, the Kiev TV channel 1 + 1 reported that the Ukrainian army did not conduct a counteroffensive in the summer of 2023, and all the information about it was merely a brilliant psychological operation targeted against the enemy.
The story made use of popular stereotypes to show Ukrainians in the most favorable light – as skillful and smart people, capable of finding an original solution to a difficult task. The video was accompanied by memes popular in the late 2000s, which millennials would easily relate to.
The story was accompanied by the following comments: “The war is being waged not only on the ground and in the air, but also in the minds [of people]. In the future, Ukrainian psyops will be analyzed in textbooks. One of the most successful such operations is the ‘counteroffensive’. For several months, we deceived the enemy, claiming that we were conducting a large-scale offensive operation. Our cyber troops spread this information on the enemy’s social networks and [implanted it] in their minds. For several months, Russians have been subjected to a powerful psychological attack while our troops are getting stronger [and preparing] for a real counteroffensive.”
Not only does the Ukrainian media deny reality, but it also continues to deceive people, promising a new counteroffensive once the troops are ready.
Why is the Ukrainian media doing this? Why do Ukrainians need such stories? How and why did the ‘information confrontation’ become a public affair? And is it true that the Ukrainian counteroffensive didn’t take place?
The purpose of the video is simple – it intends to turn the narrative around, implying that the defeat of the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) wasn’t actually a defeat, but a victory. The idea is that the Ukrainians deceived the Russians, and while Moscow deployed its reserves – including elite airborne divisions – near Rabotino, the AFU continued preparations for a real offensive. This would give people hope that Kiev’s newly formed units, armed with Western equipment, have not been defeated, but continue training. Finally, Ukrainians need to believe that they have outsmarted the Russians, who were easily deceived – in other words, they need to believe in their intellectual superiority.
Why does Ukraine need this narrative? Essentially, the lies will distract a certain number of people from the current state of affairs, which AFU Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny and former presidential aide Alexey Arestovich have been talking about for quite some time and described as a protracted war of attrition.