Russia's Belgorod and Kursk oblasts have announced the formation of territorial defense units, the Institute for the Study of War said in its latest report, exposing many civilians to the prospect of all-out war "under the absurd premise of the threat of a Ukrainian ground assault on Russia’s border regions." The Russian propaganda machine has continued to frame the war against Ukraine as simply a "special military operation" and not a war.
The U.S.-based think tank previously reported that Kremlin propagandists have started propounding similar implausible theories about a Ukrainian ground threat to Russian territory. Moscow officials even plastered advertisements for the special military operation throughout the city, which ISW has previously observed only in remote cities and settlements during the summer of 2022 amidst Russia’s volunteer recruitment campaigns.
"These information conditions are likely insufficient to convince the Russian population at large of the necessity for additional mobilization given the underwhelming response to volunteer recruitment advertisement efforts over the summer," the ISW found.