President Vladimir Putin’s annual foreign policy speech, delivered last Thursday (27), made it clear that now the international target of Russian war propaganda is the conservative right – in particular, congressmen from the US Republican Party.
Putin tries to artificially associate the image of the Kremlin with values such as family, religion and conservatism. Its purpose is not to promote these values or support the countries that practice them, but to undermine international support for Ukraine to try to win the war.
Currently, Western financial and military aid is the focal point. balance of the Ukrainian strategy, which already exceeds US$ 60 billions from the United States alone. Without her, Kyiv would hardly have been able to resist further Russian advances and launch a counter-offensive that has a consistent chance of succeeding.
In the speech, Putin also signaled a possible de-escalation of nuclear tension in Ukraine, stating who would not have intended to detonate nuclear bombs on the battlefield.
He was careful to say that his battle is not against the West (or the United States itself), but against “ western elites”. According to him, there would be two Wests, one supposedly similar to Russia – traditional and follower of Christian values - and the other aggressive, neoliberal and cosmopolitan, which would act in the service of an elite and not of the people.
This speech was carefully crafted to captivate Republicans and supporters of former President Donald Trump. The “enemy” described by Putin is very similar to what Trump called the “Deep State”. The concept would designate a group of public servants and businessmen who would have acted in an orchestrated way against the interests of the former American president.
The speech was prepared now because on November 8, Americans will go to the polls to elect deputies and senators. If Republicans gain a majority in Congress, in theory, US support for Ukraine could cool down.
Congressman Kevin McCarthy, leader of the Republican minority in the House of Representatives, the equivalent of Brazil’s House of Representatives , said in October that a Republican Congress would not sign a “blank check” for Kyiv.
However, the statement comes at a time when 73% of Americans favor continued assistance to Ukraine, according to this month’s Reuters/Ipsos poll. For this reason, political analysts differ on whether American support for the war could be different if the Republicans gain a majority in Congress.
But what does this have to do with Brazil?
The relationship is indirect, as Itamaraty has been trying to maintain a balanced posture in relation to the war in Ukraine.
By directing its propaganda – information war, in fact – to the conservatives Americans, Putin may also end up influencing public opinion in some countries in the so-called Global South, the group of developing countries that includes Brazil.
Supporters of President Jair Bolsonaro, for example, may be wrongly induced to think that Brazil and Russia are similar countries, for supposedly sharing similar values - such as appreciation for family, religion, private property, among others.
But this is pure propaganda, and the countries are very different, starting with the government regimes. Brazil, despite having flaws such as extreme legal insecurity and corruption, is a democracy. Russia has been de facto led by Putin for 22 years. There are individual freedoms there, as long as those freedoms do not conflict with the interests of the government.
By invading Ukraine this year, Putin created 7.7 million refugees – the vast majority women and children. , as men cannot leave the country due to martial law. In other words, families were separated by the millions. Not to mention the more than 6,000 civilian deaths, according to very conservative UN estimates. Mass graves with hundreds of civilian bodies are still found today in each of the cities that came under Russian rule, including Bucha and region, Mariupol and Izyum.
The families of
a thousand Russian conscripts had to say goodbye to their children, fathers and husbands, sent in some cases by force to the battlefield – the biggest indication of this is that tens of thousands of men left Russia when the “ partial mobilization.”
Perhaps these are the Christian values that Putin wants to share with the Global South. The Russian Orthodox Church probably sees the issue differently, but it is controlled by the Kremlin.
In other words, Putin does not seem to want to promote Christian values, but to unite as many allies as possible under banners with strong appeal. conservative, such as fighting gender politics and gay parades.
In fact, painting enemies and imaginary flags seems to be in Russia’s operations manual. Putin ally and Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov said last week that now one of the goals of the war is to rid Ukraine of Satanism. This sounds as unrealistic as Russian propaganda that brainwashed its soldiers into believing they were hunting Nazis in Ukraine.
In terms of respect for property, invading authorities of Zaporizhzhia – one of the four Ukrainian provinces partially occupied by Russia – determined that property and property of Ukrainians that have been abandoned will be turned over to Russians.
Putin also nods to the right conservative Global South with an idea of a multipolar world – in which Moscow would oppose the world order marked by American hegemony. In other words, he tries to form an anti-Western global coalition.
“I am convinced that sooner or later the new centers of the multipolar world order and the West will have to start a conversation between equals” , Putin said.
Speech has undeniable power. But what does that really mean? Countries that are on the periphery of global decisions, like Brazil, will start to have a voice, right?
Not necessarily, in fact, far from it. Putin isn’t talking about equality between countries, he’s talking about his desire to restore Russia’s superpower status – if possible by retaking the territories that formed tsarist, imperial Russia. He appears to base Russian foreign policy on his own interpretation of history.
The Russian president published an essay last year insinuating that Russia would be entitled to protect ethnic Russians living in countries such as Ukraine, Moldova , Poland, Slovakia, as well as ex-Soviet Asian republics. Just to remind you, World War II had part of its genesis in the same way, with Hitler claiming the right to send troops to Czechoslovakia in order to protect ethnic Germans.
The reader sees some relation of the days of today with the Munich Pact of 1938 (when the UK, France and Italy handed over a part of Czechoslovakia to Germany trying to avoid a war)?
Well, this week I’m going to pre-empt a comment thread on Wargames reviews. Some reader might argue that multipolarism is a reaction to the “predatory” expansion of NATO (Western military alliance).
Another reader, more susceptible to Russian propaganda, might say that this is the moment for Brazil defend itself against the United States by allying itself with Moscow. If this reader identifies with the right, he will speak of globalism. If he is sympathetic to the left, he will use the term imperialism. These are the buzzwords for an old maxim that has delighted populist governments around the world for years: “If everything goes wrong here, let’s blame America.”
I appreciate this eventual challenge and tell these readers – most of them companions of more than a year of debates in the Wargames comment boxes – that the purpose of this analysis is not to compare the excesses of Russia and the United States.
We could make a huge list of at least morally questionable actions by Washington, such as the second invasion of Iraq in search of weapons of mass destruction, or the imposition of elections and culture on dozens of nations around the world. We could debate countless revolutions or destabilization of elections provoked by the White House and the Kremlin throughout history.
But what would we gain by resorting to nihilism and trying to justify abominable actions of today with such questionable practices of the past? ?
The idea of this column is to analyze Putin’s speech and propaganda in the most pragmatic way possible. And also to especially warn the right-wing conservative reader not to fall for the siren song. The war is also propaganda and in this context it is always healthy to remember that Russia was the first to resort to violence, in 24 February this year.