A couple of days ago, I noted Russian reports that they had counterattacked the village of Staromaiorske, which was liberated by Ukraine just a few days prior. The news was excitedly spread far and wide among Russian media and their English-language enablers on Twitter and Telegram. Yet a few days later, Ukraine’s hold on the settlement wasn’t just secure—it didn’t even seem to have been threatened much.
Today, the pro-Ukrainian Telegram channel Deep State mocked the Russian effort by sharing video that proved yes, Russia did attempt a counterattack, but the soldiers in the video were fleeing away from the front line.
Whatever attack Russia had mustered, it failed. In the end, a number of Russians lost their lives for a clumsy propaganda effort. And that’s what this war has proven: The country that used Facebook propaganda so effectively to impact the 2020 U.S. presidential election actually really sucks at it.
This isn’t a new topic for me. And I’ll admit upfront: Nothing is as hilariously inept as the effort to invent a failed assassination attempt against Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov. Remember that one?
An intelligence officer was asked to plant three cell phone SIM cards into the pile of “evidence,” and the dumbass literally found three copies of the video game “The SIMS” instead.
And that wasn’t all. The agent was supposed to sign a Nazi card, but with an illegible scrawl. So he signed the postcard “signature illegible.” The pictures of Molotov cocktails they offered up? They were in plastic bottles. I mean, the whole thing was beyond hilarious. And not one supervisor caught those mistakes.
Nothing will ever top that epic fail. Regardless, Russia proves every single day that they really suck at this propaganda game.
Those of you following the war closely have likely heard that Ukraine hit the same building in downtown Moscow twice, on successive days.
The building houses several Russian government offices, including Russia's Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media, which certainly sounds like a propaganda operation.
After the first night’s strike, Russia claimed that the drone attack was “thwarted,” that “one Ukrainian UAV was destroyed in the air by air defense systems,” and “two more drones were suppressed by electronic warfare, and, having lost control, crashed on the territory of the Moscow City non-residential building complex.”
That claim was … plausible, for sure. It certainly seemed weird for Ukraine to target a commercial building, and there was no way to tell if the targeted floor actually housed that propaganda ministry.
Then the next night, Ukraine hit the same building, in the same location. And what did Russia say? They claimed that Ukraine attacked Moscow with three drones, two of them shot down by air defenses, and one of them “suppressed” by electronic warfare causing it to lose control and … crash into the exact same location as the drone that last control the previous night.
At that point, we could come to several conclusions:
Ukraine can precision target locations in Moscow, hundreds of kilometers away from the front lines, and there’s not much Moscow can do about it.
Where are Russia’s air defenses? Ukraine seems to be able to knock down similar Iranian-made drones, despite facing dozens at a time. (To be fair, we have seen videos of drones Russia claimed to have shot down, just not in these two cases.)
Someone in Ukraine has a sense of humor. Seeing Russian claims after the first night, they found the perfect way to expose the lies.
Next up, Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov’s boys are up to their old TikTok ways, playing pretend warrior for the cameras:
The first tip is just how pristine that field is. We’ve all become accustomed to the moonscaped, shell-scarred vistas of eastern Ukraine. It’s totally adorable how they pretend. And of course, the geolocators came in and pinpointed where these buffoons were playing war: Belgorod oblast, Russia, 2 kilometers from the border.
Remember when those Free Russia guys were conducting cross-border raids into Russia right before the Wagner coup attempt? Kadyrov volunteered to “protect” that border. I guess they’ve been sitting up there, bored.
To be fair, we have seen at least one Kadyrovite unit getting their asses beat around Bakhmut. So they’re not all playing at war. But those guys aren’t making bullshit TikTok videos to try and impress people back home.
Let’s now go to Vladimir Putin. We saw this one a couple of days ago, but it’s a good one:
"We were asked to withdraw the troops from Kyiv in order to create conditions for concluding peace,” he told visiting African leaders.
Who asked Russia to do this? Why did Russia comply? What was this magical-pony peace plan that hadn’t been mentioned before until this moment?
This entire sentence is patently ludicrous. But therein lies an important truth:
Russia’s propaganda isn’t geared toward an external audience, which can easily see through most of it. It is designed first and foremost for internal consumption. Putin and his regime need to keep his people passive and under control, and feeding them sweet nothings goes a long way toward that goal.
Rep. Ted Lieu is right. “It is a fallacy and shows weakness that some officials in the US/NATO say we need to give Putin an off-ramp. We do not. Putin controls the media in Russia and can make up whatever he needs,” he said.
We don’t need to give Putin anything. He can fee his domestic audience whatever bullshit nonsense he wants, at any time. It’s the kind of unfettered media control Donald Trump wishes he had.
A humiliating battlefield loss is the only way Russia is ever leaving Ukraine. What Putin says about it afterward to his people is none of our concern.