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Business Insider: Ukrainian info warfare drives Russian military desertions, US general says

by Abbey Fenbert and Martin Fornusek November 2, 2023 8:56 AM 2 min read
Russian soldiers patrol a street on April 11, 2022, in Volnovakha, Donetsk Oblast. (Alexander Nemenov /AFP via Getty Images)
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Ukrainian information warfare has driven 17,000 Russian soldiers off the battlefield, U.S. Army Special Operations Commander Jonathan Braga said, as reported by Business Insider on Nov. 1.

The general said that savvy Ukrainian messaging has convinced thousands of Russian fighters to desert their posts.

"Messaging has played a huge role just in the tactical and operational sense," Braga said at the Association of the US Army's annual conference, held Oct. 9-11.

"We've supported our Ukrainian partners there. You've had 17,000 Russians desert. That's 17,000 soldiers you didn't have to blow up on the battlefield or destroy."

Ukraine has leveraged low morale among Russian troops into successful media campaigns that help increase the desertion rate.

Taking advantage of social media, Ukraine can gather information on enemy equipment and personnel and use it in information operations to target specific units.

Kyiv has been actively encouraging troops of the Russian invading army to desert or even defect to the Ukrainian side.

The Ukrainian military intelligence service launched a hotline in September 2022 to help Russian soldiers willing to surrender.

It marked a 70% increase in traffic in August after a Russian helicopter pilot defected to the Ukrainian side with a fully intact Mi-8 helicopter and subsequently received the hryvnia equivalent of $500,000 (approximately Hr 18.48 million).

Despite reports of low morale among Russian troops, namely in the bloodiest hot spots like Avdiivka, experts point out that this manifests mainly in poor cooperation between and within units rather than in seriously unhinging Russian defensive lines.

Record Russian armor, personnel losses in failed attempt to take Avdiivka by storm
Starting on Oct. 9, Russian forces launched an offensive at the flanks of the city of Avdiivka. It has been an undisputed failure so far.
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