The U.S. supported Ukraine’s fight against Russian invaders by providing weapons to the country and imposing harsh sanctions on Russia. The conflict continues to spiral into chaos despite U.S. assistance. Russia continues to bomb major cities and many people are fleeing their homes. This is the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
Fox News spoke to geopolitics experts that said the U.S. should devote more resources for psychological warfare. This would ensure that American troops are not in danger.
Psychological operations (or “psyops”) are tactics that aim to change how people see events and information. The U.S. was able to use this technique against the Soviet Union in the Cold War, but it has fallen behind over the years and prefers to focus on hard power.
Russia has, in turn, perfected the art of disinformation against Americans to deepen political and racial divisions while distracting Washington.
Rebekah Koffler (a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer who was raised in the Soviet Union) believes that Pysops could be a “potential mitigation factor” in the conflict.
She stated that “we need to raise awareness among the Russian population about what is going on.”
She argued that the net result of these actions has been an Iron Curtain placed on Russia in information domain. This situation does not serve U.S. interest because Russians must be more inclined to Western views than Russian views.
Koffler stated that those “Western views” include telling the truth about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “killing brethren Slavics people in Ukraine” and why the Russians shouldn’t be standing for it.
The Kremlin has taken steps to restrict social media in Russia and other outlets. It is effectively changing the narrative about its invasion of Ukraine, calling it a “special army operation” instead of a war.
Russia’s strategy is reminiscent of Soviet-era “reflexive control”, where information is passed to an opponent, causing it react in a favor of the initiator.
According to Ivana Stradner (an adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a psyops expert), the U.S. could provide more information to Russian citizens about virtual proxy networks (VPNs).
According to Stradner, the U.S. and its Western allies should work with disillusioned Russians to promote a new narrative to Russians back home. She clarified that this does not have to include “the typical democracy promotion” as the U.S. has tried elsewhere in the world.
Stradner stated that Russia’s corruption problem would appeal to a wider audience, especially the younger generation, because it has a negative impact on every aspect of everyday life.
“We must start from where are at the moment.” Stradner stated that right now, the most important thing is to give alternative views to the Russians about the war and discuss corruption in the country. “Every single young Russian is affected by corruption.”
“The number one thing to do is to give Russians other views on the war and talk about corruption within the country.”
Ivana Stradner is an adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Stradner warned that the Kremlin’s information warfare won’t stop when the conflict in Ukraine is over. Stradner urged social media platforms to take a more proactive approach in combating disinformation. Continue polarizing US?
She stated that Russia could continue to polarize American society and she would not rule out this possibility. “So, we may actually see new protests and different unrest before the 2022 election.”
Koffler said that psyop tactics should be used diligently against Russia to prevent the Kremlin from overacting.
She spoke of the 1983 mistakenly shot-down South Korean aircraft by the Soviets. This was at a time in which the U.S. was conducting major psyop operations against the Kremlin.
“The flip side to (psyops), is that you might unintentionally cause your opponent to overreact. This is why you need to be extremely precise. That requires deep understanding of your opponent,” she stated.
Koffler stated, “I hope President Biden realizes right now that Ukraine’s not Putin’s last or first step.” “And so, right now is the moment to wake up and connect all our instruments and synchronize them.”