Vladimir Putin has been pushing a strong anti-West rhetoric ever since he invaded Ukraine
The Kremlin has successfully deployed a new tactic to turn the Russian public against supposed “traitors”, according to the UK.
The UK’s ministry of defence (MoD) claimed in its latest daily update that Moscow is “using the ‘foreign agent’ designation” to manipulate public opinion.
He – and his senior officials – have blamed the West for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, claiming that Moscow had to intervene because Kyiv was getting too close to Europe and the US.
The MoD claimed this method was clearly working, based on polling released on September 26 by the Russian state-owned Russian Public Opinion Research Centre.
The poll claimed 61% of respondents said they considered ”‘foreign agents’ to be ‘traitors’ who ‘disseminate lies’ about Russia”.
Moscow has maintained a tight grip on the narrative surrounding the Ukraine war since it began last year.
For instance, senior officials have only rarely acknowledged that it is a war, mainly referring to it as a “special military operation” instead.
Putin has only publicly called the Ukraine invasion a war a handful of times.
UK intelligence has previously claimed that the Kremlin is clamping down on the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) which allow internet users to mask their whereabouts and bypass state censorship.
Moscow supposedly launched a public information campaign back in July to “scare citizens” into avoiding VPNs by claiming they were putting their own personal data at risk by using them.
The MoD speculated at the time that this meant Russians could not access objective international news sources which might report about the war in Ukraine.
And, as the intelligence officers claimed in their most recent update, Russia has “broadened the foreign agent legislation since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”
It added: “The measures significantly narrow the information space within Russia, making it increasingly difficult to articulate any viewpoint, including dissenting about the war, which deviates from the official line.”
Latest Defence Intelligence update on the situation in Ukraine – 03 October 2023.
Find out more about Defence Intelligence's use of language: https://t.co/mgo9GCY8PO
🇺🇦 #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 pic.twitter.com/LPSex5LLJd
— Ministry of Defence 🇬🇧 (@DefenceHQ) October 3, 2023
Protecting the public from the reality of the war has become increasingly important to the Kremlin in recent months, as Kyiv has started to target Russian land more frequently with missile attacks.
Moscow has also been cracking down on potential dissent in occupied Ukraine, with a decree published last month declaring a ban on public gatherings.
Russian state media reported in September that there would also be “military censorship on mail, internet communications and phone conversations” in the Donetsk People’s Republic.
The move was announced amid intense fighting between the Ukrainian and Russian forces along the borders of Donetsk, which was illegally annexed by Moscow last year.