The joy of bombing
After weeks of having to gloss over set-backs on the frontlines in Ukraine, Russian state outlets have found a perverse joy in showcasing indiscriminate drone and missile strikes against Ukrainian civilian infrastructure. When Russia attacks, it is ‘rightful self-defence’, but when Ukraine strikes, it is ‘terror and war crimes’.
It has been almost eight months since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The war has gone through different phases on the battlefield: from Kremlin self-confidence and certainty of a quick victory to Putin ruling out mobilisation and dismissing public anxiety of being dragged into the quagmire, and now to a grinding war eating conscripts used as cannon fodder. Mobilisation was announced and is not popular. Lately, we witnessed an explosion on the symbolic Kerch bridge to Crimea. Even Kremlin censorship and State-controlled outlets cannot suppress the tide of reports and testimonies with horrific reports of soldiers retreating at the frontlines or hundreds of thousands queuing at the border crossings and departing Russia to avoid mobilisation.
Do your job – ensure public support
Task number 1 for Russian state outlets (some call them media – but that is unfair toward the many independent journalists and credible media outlets) is to play their part in ensuring the Kremlin’s grip on society and control of the situation. Just consult the thinking behind the ‘Gerasimov Doctrine’: in times of modern conflict, all – ALL – entities at the disposal of the state must be loyal and engaged in the conflict. Not only a whole-of-government approach but an all-state effort. Further, with Russian censorship laws in place, state outlets are now even more tuned to playing their part.
Massive attack: coverage of bombardments
While Ukrainian citizens have suffered through months of Russian shelling, they have nonetheless stood up to defend their country. Russian ground forces are on the defensive and the Kremlin has resorted to hurling missiles and kamikaze drones from a safe distance towards cities and civilian targets all over Ukraine.
This week has seen continued manipulation of news regarding these drone and missile strikes. The mainstream outlets highlight the goal of making targets of all of Ukraine’s infrastructure and energy systems. A peculiar smile often appears on the faces of TV hosts presenting the strikes, as if they derive a perverse joy from inflicting pain on their neighbouring country.
At the same time that outlets report that the ‘good and rightful’ strikes on Ukraine are ‘only targets of a strategic or military nature’, Ukrainian strikes on Russian targets are labelled as ‘terrorism’.