Western Criticism of Ukraine’s Counteroffensive and the Next Phase of Russian Propaganda Influence

On Monday, August 28th, UCMC held a press briefing with its Hybrid Warfare Analytical Group, joined by guest speaker Mykhailo Samus, a military expert and the head of the New Geopolitics.

The event aimed to examine how Western governments and media have criticized the Ukrainian counteroffensive, the recent narratives of Russian propaganda, and to offer strategies for navigating these challenges.

If you want to watch the event in full, click here for more (Ukrainian)

Expert Panel:
Mykhailo Samus, Military expert and Head of the New Geopolitics Research Network; Marianna Prysiazhniuk, Head of HWAG, UCMC; Volodymyr Solovian, Senior Analyst, HWAG, UCMC

Prysiazhniuk, Head of HWAG, told how, in recent months, propagandists reacted emotionally, if not, hysterically to the (then) long-awaited counteroffensive, resorting to some of the most extreme rhetoric and incessant attacks on Ukrainian military and political leadership. 

She explained that Russian propaganda has significantly amplified its messaging in recent months, both within Russia and on the international stage. They have accomplished this by manipulating foreign languages and foreign media outlets to disseminate its disinformation.

Additionally, they have recently exploited the ‘Lukashenko factor,‘ wherein the self-proclaimed president of Belarus has intensified his disinformation efforts to deflect attention from Russia’s numerous government failures. As part of their daily narrative, propagandists have incited F-16-related hysteria and consistently portrayed the counteroffensive as a failure.

Samus tells how these narratives are set to change.

“Now we are seeing how the Ukrainian army is undoubtedly moving forward and achieving their operational objectives,” Samus, Head of the New Geopolitics Research Network said of the Ukrainian army’s recent success.

He explained that moving forward, Russia will shift its focus from spreading disinformation about the ‘failure’ of the Ukrainian counterattack to concentrating on their own operations. This strategy aims to obscure the success of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), particularly if the AFU advances in two additional directions in Ukraine’s southern oblasts—a possibility Samus does not rule out.

“The Russians have adapted reasonably well over the past few months,” he added, “and we sense growing concern from NATO.” NATO is currently expecting battlefield success, particularly with the upcoming presidential elections in the United States, making Ukraine a top priority,”  tells Samus.

Hybrid warfare possesses distinctive characteristics, with the enemy seeking to exploit vulnerabilities in various aspects of our lives. Senior Analyst at HWAG, Solovian, questioned Samus on whether Western media should be trusted, given its tendency to deviate from reality and engage in manipulation…

“Many Western institutions, universities, and intelligence services lack a deep understanding of Ukraine. They didn’t make any past investments in Ukraine, and their understanding of the current situation is therefore limited. They claim to be experts because having read Dostoevsky, thus understanding Russia and Russians. This approach falls short of comprehending the situation. It just doesn’t work like this”

Mykhailo Samus, Military expert and Head of the New Geopolitics Research Network;