The rise of Russia’s internet troll farms and global propaganda offensive created a rather amusing paradox. Upon learning about how the Russian government began paying people to troll social networks, first in Russian, then in English, beginning roughly after 2011, I thought it was somewhat curious that the Russian government would rather spend money paying people to shout down those who complain about domestic problems rather than just take that same money and spend it on fixing the problems. In other words, instead of just fixing the goddamned roads or post offices, they’d rather pay thousands of students to pile on any Russian who comments about the problems with the roads or post office, telling them to go to the West if they hate Russia so much. In 2014, Russia’s domestic and foreign-language media famously received a massive budget increase, dispelling any doubt that the regime is more inclined to cover up or distract from its problems rather than solve them.
As foolish as this path is, Russia has the resources to pull this off, at least for a couple years. This won’t save the Russian regime, and in fact it will probably make the fall even worse, but Russia’s got some cushioning in the form of large foreign currency reserves, natural resources for export, and manpower. What if Russia didn’t have all those things, however? What if Russia were much smaller, engaged in a war with a much more powerful opponent, and its army was in shambles from the get-go? Well in that case it would be simply madness to piss away what little resources the country had to wage a propaganda war with a far better provisioned opponent. What country would do such a thing?
Here’s a quote found in the article and on the site in question:
“Last year we were able to create a powerful army that protects us courageously in the territory of Donbas. Now it’s time to fight back the Russian invaders on the information front.”
Uh…No, no you didn’t create a powerful army. In the immortal words of colonial marine private Hudson, “Hey, maybe you haven’t been keeping up on current events, but we just got our asses kicked, pal!” Did these people not just see what happened in Debaltseve last week?
As if the internet troll army weren’t a stupid enough idea, Ukraine’s ministry of information actually plans to do battle with Russia’s TV empire as well, wasting what little resources the struggling nation has on such projects as a state-owned channel aimed at foreign audiences called Ukraine Tomorrow. Yeah, I got it. That would be amusing were in not for the fact that almost half the fucking country is in ruins, another part has been annexed, and what’s left is facing dire economic straits with no sign of relief.
Russia can afford to dabble in fantasy for at least another year or so. Ukraine simply cannot. Attempting to wage this propaganda war is essentially playing Dungeons & Dragons while the house is on fire. When you add to this some recent idiotic laws such as the banning of Russian films and the arrest of journalists, including a sports reporter, for treason, it seems that Ukraine’s leadership is driving the country to become exactly that which they claim to oppose. One way or another, directly and indirectly, they are transforming Ukraine into Little Russia.