For various reasons, denying that Russia is committing genocide against the Ukrainian nation appears to be popular lately. From the echelons of the crippled United Nations to the International Criminal Court and even the corridors of Ukraine’s Office of the President.

 But just because proving the lesser international war crimes and crimes against humanity (both monstrous building blocks of genocide) is easier, is it right?

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 It seems comparable to filing a misdemeanor manslaughter charge against a psychopathic serial killer because it is easier and faster to do.

 It is true that, unlike war crimes and crimes against humanity, proving genocide is more difficult. The 1948 Genocide Convention requires proof of the aggressor’s “intent” to commit genocide. Without “intent” only the monstrous building blocks of genocide remain.

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 Some genocide-naysayers may assert the virtual impossibility of ever securing formal Russian documents, or high-level witness accounts outlining the Kremlin’s genocidal intent. Fair enough.

 But, what if Russia’s decades-long and ongoing information warfare (IW) could provide this much-needed proof of intent?

 A few months ago, this topic and the need to develop a methodology of categorization to this end was addressed at an expert conference at the Academy of Ukraine’s Security Services. The need was echoed by representatives of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council. Important linkages exist between genocide and IW. If allowed to be overlooked, it may lead the Kremlin to getting away with genocide.

ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 24, 2024
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ISW Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 24, 2024

Latest from the Institute for the Study of War.

 Today, the scene in Ukraine is horrific, particularly as it pertains to its little children. It has been concluded by a recent Yale study that all levels of Russia’s government are involved in the abduction, deportation, and destruction of Ukraine’s children. Hundreds have been killed, thousands maimed and disfigured, countless raped, many remain missing.

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 The perceptions and ideas that lead individuals to commit such heinous acts are not born overnight. Informational and psychological operations are phased, occur in stages, and require careful planning and assessment; active measures, and active agents.

 Those individuals employed to psychologically condition a populace to want to eliminate a specified group are no less guilty than those who actually pull the trigger, rape, torture, maim or facilitate forced deportation. The spin doctors must stand trial too. The Nuremberg and recent Rwanda tribunals exemplify this.

 Take the Nuremberg case of Mrs. Erna Patri. One day Patri, a German mother of two and a homemaker, proudly executed a group of little Jewish children. First, she offered them “safe haven” from the Nazis, then lured them into the woods, lined them up, and standing behind them, shot every single one of them in the back of their little heads - executing them all.

 After the war, when asked how she could have engaged in such an incomprehensible act of cruelty against innocents, she replied:

“I am unable to grasp at this time how in those days that I was in such a state as to conduct myself so brutally and reprehensibly—shooting Jewish children. However earlier, I had been so conditioned to fascism and the racial laws, which established a view towards the Jewish people. As was told to me, I had to destroy the Jews. It was from this mindset that I came to commit such a brutal act.”

The Patri case exposes that the intent to commit genocide is purposefully fomented by a special kind of centralized psychological conditioning. To effectuate policies aimed at the destruction of a targeted group, in whole or in part, distrust, fear and hate must be masterfully brewed inside individual hearts and minds.

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In Russia’s centralized information ecosystem, nothing gets televised or published without authorization. Drop by drop, image by image, word by word, troll by troll, Russia’s IW appears designed to create ideas about Ukraine that would eventually lead to the commission, support of and/or ambivalence towards Russia’s destruction of the Ukrainian nation-state.

It is useful to consider Russia’s IW approach and escalation particularly as it pertains to children and the denial of the right of Ukrainians and their state to exist, albeit briefly here.

In 2014, a Russian fake news story accused Ukrainians of crucifying one of their own - a little Ukrainian boy - for speaking Russian. The story resulted in the following:

 -       In Russia, citizens were infuriated by the story demanding an invasion to save children in Ukraine.

-       Ukrainians were disgusted by the blatant lie and overwhelmed by the need to defend themselves against yet another dehumanizing Kremlin fake about the Ukrainian people.

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-       The international community, highly protective of the freedom of journalism, expressed “deep concern” and had a hard time believing “a country like Russia” would employ such atrocious fake news to justify a brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Eight years later, in the autumn of 2022, Anton Krasovsky’s open call to drown and burn Ukrainian children on an official Russian television channel, led to the following:

-       In Russia, the target audience welcomed his call to destroy the dangerous little “Ukrainian Nazis.” The Investigative Committee of Russia (ICR) headed by Bastrykin, did not see any criminal nature in Krasovsky’s words. Krasovsky reacted to the ICR as follows: "...it is obvious that colleagues from the ICR have done their job.” The propagandist did not retract his words nor offer an apology to Ukrainian children or their parents. He merely apologized to those who may have been shocked or upset by his words.

-       Ukrainians were horrified by the blatant genocidal call to even further destroy their nation. Although lessened by Moscow’s blatant terror, the need to disprove to the world that Ukrainians are not Nazis remains - particularly in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

-       The international community reiterated its “deep concern” and Ramstein & Copenhagen states continue contemplating the provision of additional humanitarian and defense support to millions of Ukrainians. Importantly they are starting to grasp the threat Moscow’s IW poses to their own national security.

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 By the end of June 2022, over 307,000 children had been forcibly transferred to the Russian Federation. Tens of thousands of these precious little children have been found. Systematically abducted from their homes, many orphaned or forcibly removed from their parents, Russia is forcing them into “de-Ukrainianization” brainwashing camps as far away as Siberia. These acts reek of genocide.

 Importantly, the duty to prevent genocide is very real and to this end, a theoretically and juridically sound methodology aimed at analyzing Russia’s IW within the framework of incitement to commit genocide must be created. Those individuals who know how to do this should be promptly organized and supported.

 From justifying its invasion of Ukraine to save little children, to calling for them to be drowned and burned, to abducting little Ukrainian humans to quite literally fill Russia’s anti-Ukrainian Slavic gene pool; the numbing and escalating effects of the Kremlin’s informational warfare are astounding.

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 And its spin doctors and programmers keep on going… 

The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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