Intelligence Tradecraft and Cognitive Warfare

Information diversions in the conflict in Ukraine continued

To identify and classify the forms and methods of information warfare in the modern conflict in Ukraine (in the context of the war in Ukraine).

Procedures and methods. The study was carried out using the methods of analysis, synthesis, generalization and interpretation of the results.

Results. The forms and methods of conducting information warfare in Ukraine under the conditions of the war (strategic information operations, special propaganda, fakes and operational games) are identified and classified. with elites) it is shown that in terms of intensity the main place in the information the struggle of the participants in the conflict is occupied by special propaganda, goals and methods which have not changed since the Cold War; strategic information operations, which are operational combinations of foreign intelligence, in this conflict at the present stage, are present only in the form of the so-called incident in Bucha.

It has been established that fakes mass-produced by the Ukrainian party and its Western "sponsors," aim to divert the attention of the Russian side (forces and means of information warfare) from real operational combinations conducted by the CIA and MI-6 (“diversion to unusable an object") theoretical significance.

Information about the latest forms and methods of organizing and conducting information operations in the conditions of the war in Ukraine can be used in the work of state bodies, responsible for organizing a systemic counteraction to information aggression of foreign states, and will also be useful to political scientists, political technologists
and specialists in counteracting destructive political technologies.

The modern world is in a state of increasing turbulence and chaotization of the system of international relations, whose typical features are hybrid wars, trade wars, and color revolutions. At the same time, the aggravation of relations between Russia and the West in this stage is not random, but objective in nature and is due to the very course of the historical process. Variables in this process there are only specific circumstances and formal reasons for the clash between Russia and Ukraine, provoked by the West, which has been preparing this conflict for at least the last 10 years.

The first six months of the war in Ukraine gave a unique experience in the use of various forms and methods of information and psychological warfare in real combat conditions.

It cannot be argued that with the start of the war on Ukraine in the technologies of information wars, something new has appeared; on the contrary, we see a return to the old, long-known methods special propaganda, almost forgotten in the era of the monopoly on the information operations of the special services, conducting their operational
games on OTKS channels (2014–2021).

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Indeed, the beginning of the war did not lead to the progress of information warfare technologies, but, on the contrary, to their regression:

  • strategic information operations and operational intelligence games faded into the background, giving way to simpler and more massive ideological sabotage, provocations, rather simple forms of disinformation and fakes.

This was primarily due to the lack of time for planning and implementing thin multi-pass operational combinations of the type "Skripal case" or "Argentine cocaine" and no less the lack of personnel capable of participating in such operational games.

Assessment of the operational situation

The Russian side, starting the war, hoping to achieve an early signing a peace treaty, only by military forces, signing a peace contract. In this regard, the emphasis was on surprise, on the effect of surprise. In the context of the rapid and victorious advance of the forces deep into the territory of Ukraine, the information operations forces were required to only elementary - to constantly maintain the morale of the advancing armed forces by stuffing slogans and patriotic rhetoric, the most simple and primitive, sufficient for emotional pumping and recharging of fighters and commanders. It was believed that under these conditions for real information operations (war on OTKS channels - operational combinations and games of special services), preparation for which can take from 6 months to a year and a half, there will simply be no time left. So they are not needed.

As for the Ukrainian side, on the whole, it turned out to be ready for the information activities of the allied forces, having competently a system of psychological operations centers built by American specialists, staffed by national personnel who have passed training in US intelligence centers, with leadership directly reporting to the US intelligence services (CIA, DIA) and the British MI-6. At the same time, the centers themselves were directly integrated into the US intelligence network - in the status of regional commands, receiving  orders directly from intelligence centers and having direct access (with known limitations, of course) to intelligence information, mined by the NSA, CIA, DIA, and other US intelligence agencies. As a result, when the war began, the Russian side did not face the "colonial troops" trained by American instructors "European tactics" conducting an information war, but with the intelligence services of the United States, Great Britain, etc., operating "under a false flag" and doing their job hands of Ukrainian nationalists.

Under these conditions, Western intelligence services retained the ability to organize large-scale provocations and carry out, based on them, operational combinations (such as the Bucha incident), but for the first 2-3 months they were also forced to switch their Ukrainian accomplices to solve the tasks of combat coordination (so that they simply do not run away), limiting their combat use to the production of mass propaganda, simple and no less primitive fakes, disinformation, and ideological sabotage. As a result, at the tactical level and here there has been a regression characterized by a descent into the use of crudely made ideological fakes, easily exposed by the other side, once the immediate shock effect they caused has passed.


As a result, in the confrontation between Russia and the United States in the information sphere
(where the Ukrainian side is used by American intelligence as a springboard and counterparty) with the beginning of the NMD, the following restructuring of the entire structures of special events held by our countries - they lined up in four tiers:

  • - strategic information operations (Bucha, with an eye on the international tribunal)
  • - special propaganda (decomposition of the enemy, discrediting its leaders, undermining political stability);
  • - fakes (creating excitement and panic in order to divert forces and resources enemy to an unusable object);
  • - operational games (with oligarchs who are ready for personal salvation on All; t. peace negotiations).

At the top of this pyramid are still strategic information operations - operational combinations that can give strategic effect in the medium and long term. Previously, in the “after Crimea” period (from 2016 to 2021), this type of operation was dominant: they include both the “Skripal case” and the “Doping scandal with WADA", and "the Argentine cocaine case", and "the capture of the so-called Wagnerites in Belarus in 2020”, and even the so-called. the case "about the poisoning of Navalny." But with the onset of war, their number dropped sharply, and today we can only indicate one example of such an operation around the Bucha incident, and to several incidents that may also be considered by the United States as "hooks" for new operational combinations: "shelling by Russian troops of the Zaporizhzhya NPP” (the risk of a nuclear catastrophe), “Russia is a sponsor of international terrorism," “a missile attack on a shopping center in Kremenchug”2, “Russian use of chemical weapons in Donbas” etc. According to its goals and step-by-step scheme, the “Incident in Bucha” is completely repeats the “Skripal Case” and the recent US operation against Belarus, connected with the escape to Poland of air traffic controller O. Galegov, who gave testimony in the Ryanair case. The purpose of such operations is to press charges against the leadership of the enemy country in the commission of military or other crimes (usually against humanity), terrorism, genocide, the use of WMD (and in the case of the Ryanair landing, air piracy) and placing him on the bench of an international tribunal (following the example of S. Milosevic).

The second tier of this pyramid in the warzone is occupied by special propaganda - measures aimed at disintegrating the enemy, discrediting his leaders, undermining political stability within the belligerent state; these methods account for at least 80% of the total volume of reconnaissance, sabotage, and subversive activities in the information space, carried out by both sides in the warzone and beyond (by us - in support of the war, by the Ukrainians - against). The forms and methods of special propaganda used in this armed conflict do not differ from those methods that were taught back in Soviet military academies; the only difference modern special propaganda from the propaganda of the Soviet period - channels communication and bringing the control action to the target audiences (primarily through social networks and instant messengers), which allow special propagandists to act pointwise, targeted, selectively. The third tier is occupied by fakes - a specific form of disinformation, which in this conflict is used massively with the aim of planting fear, panic, hype, spreading rumors, inciting hatred and - for the first time - with the aim of diverting enemy forces and means to an unusable object.

This is especially evident in the example of Ukrainian propaganda. Since the beginning of the CBO, the Ukrainian side has put the production of fakes on conveyor: they began to be mass-produced, of very low quality, trying to crush Russian counter-propaganda with an avalanche of resonant revelations, insiders, compromising evidence and slander. At the same time, the quality of fakes, apparently, did not think - they were hastily created by representatives of a wide variety of social groups: from employees of centers for special psychological operations to volunteers. However, even in cases where there were high-quality fakes, they specially added all sorts of inconsistencies that allow the enemy to notice them (i.e., "peck" on them, as bait), reveal and publicly expose. As a result, almost all the forces and means of Russian departments that understand at least something in information operations. In addition, it turned out to expose such rudely made fakes are easy, these revelations look impressive, they give good statistics of “victories”, which the management really likes.

Apparently, this was the main goal of the mass fake attack: as soon as all the frames switched to capturing and exposing fakes, there was no one to deal with real information operations, such as the Bucha incident. CBO revealed another purpose of fakes - hidden control adversary, motivating him to deliberately replicate fakes through its own communication channels (media under its control, social networks, instant messengers). It turned out that fakes:

  • – provide repetition, replication and dissemination of Ukrainian propaganda by playing fakes on Russian television and in electronic media;
  • – create channels for bringing disinformation and harmful ideological attitudes to a wide Russian audience (thanks to them in the Russian media and especially on television (talk shows); as a result, it turns out that the odious fake, which was seen on the networks by two dozen people (and even that is not interesting), gets on the screens of Russian television in some program like “Antifake”5 and spread to a multi-million Russian audience, and this is done voluntarily, free of charge, without any coercion from the Ukrainian side);
  • - form the “follower effect” (occurs if the enemy is addicted to exposing the fakes slipped to him, forgetting that a sequence of commands can be encoded in fakes that control the subconscious of a person directly, imperceptibly to his consciousness; they impose on him with the help of stuffing fakes, each time modifying him
    consciousness with new "injections" of harmful information and "leading" it, like a wolf on red flags, to those conclusions and assessments that are beneficial to Ukraine; thus fakes become a tool of neurolinguistic programming);
  • - create an OSINT channel (obtaining intelligence information from open sources by removing information from the enemy in the form of a response from the so-called pro-Kremlin speakers included in the ideological pool, in open areas - federal talk shows; many of them receive the so-called. "temniki", who voiced to the best of their talents - as usually close enough to the original text to judge about plans, moods, self-confidence / lack of confidence and, most importantly, about what they are really afraid of “out there”, in decision-making centers).

Indeed, due to the specifics of the functioning of the administrative apparatus and its craving for “demonstrating results” to a higher leadership, and on an "accumulative basis", Ukrainian fakes (specially made with defects - so that they are relatively easy to notice and expose) are picked up by Russian structures responsible for the counter-ideological struggle, are moving into the channels of the central television, where they are first repeated verbatim, i.e. replicated, and then, as a rule, through the lips of extremely doubtful looking, shabby life "experts" (or people who call themselves as such) are trying to refute.

In this case, the audience remembers the fake itself (since it comes first and it also creates first impression, which is then extremely difficult to interrupt) and not at all remembers the comment of the invited "speakers" or "experts". Then the same fake is picked up by new media, and they are already getting those audiences which did not cover TV channels and their resources on the Internet. Thus, it turns out that most of the work to ensure the success of the ideological sabotage carried out by the enemy to spread fakes

We, the Russian side, are doing it for the Ukrainians, without realizing it ourselves. It is we who often provide them with our media as communication channels. Fakes to the Russian audience, voluntarily and without coercion. This mechanism for spreading fakes is actually not new and corresponds to the basic principle of special information reconnaissance operations: the enemy needs to be stimulated only once; everything else he must do himself - with his own hands "fill up" his own secret operation, reveal his agents, and be at the same time absolutely sure that he is doing everything right, because he has no other choice.

On the fourth - the lowest in intensity, but not in value - tier of information warfare against Russia are operational games conducted by foreign intelligence services (CIA and MI6, but not only) with Russian oligarchs, bankers, heads of state corporations - with those whose interests are mainly in the West and who are afraid of losing its assets in London, Geneva, and elsewhere. This is an influential stratum, influencing political decision-making. In addition, their capital is not national but part of the world's transnational capital, inextricably linked with it by many links. The first "call" for this categories of citizens began arrests of their yachts; Obviously, this was just the beginning. Foreign intelligence services need connections with the oligarchs primarily for organization of a violent change of power in the Russian Federation - to implement a coup d'état according to the Venezuelan scenario (a repetition of the so-called "Venezuelan precedent" in Russian conditions), or according to the scenario of a hybrid color revolution in Belarus in 2020 (which itself is a further stage development of the “Venezuelan precedent” technology), or to finance mass protests from within according to the scenario of elections to the Moscow City Duma in 2019 (which also had internal sources of funding). The beginning of the war in Ukraine created the conditions both for the implementation of classical intelligence approaches to these oligarchs and for their subsequent blackmail.


Thus, with the beginning of the war, the classic methods of special propaganda (known from the Cold War) and primitive fakes with gross “assembly” defects came to the fore, displacing more subtle tools for organizing ideological sabotage - operational combinations and operational games of special services. The same, according to our observations, was noted among the Western "partners" of the Kyiv regime - they also were in a hurry to discredit the reputation of the Russian Federation and its Armed Forces as soon as possible and in a primitive way, as if they feared that the NMD would tomorrow will run out, and they will not have time to jump into the “last propaganda car”.

Throughout the entire 6 months of the war, Russian information operations specialists did not leave the feeling that Western propaganda done in a hurry, on the go, and, sometimes, by random people. This can be seen in the fakes that happened to be exposed in the framework of the project “Vbrosam.net”. Meanwhile, 6 months after the start of the war, many tasks for denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine has not yet been fully resolved, and over time we should expect the return of strategic information operations to the battlefield, such as the Argentine cocaine case, the Ryanair case and the notorious "case of the Skripals", adapted to the new theater of the military actions.

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