Kremlin’s ‘Russification’ campaign in Ukraine burning back into Russia itself – ISW

The Kremlin’s campaign of “Russification” in Ukraine is burning back into Russia itself as it continues to empower and amplify overtly nationalist voices and ideologies, the Institute for the Study of the War (ISW) has reported.

“The Kremlin’s campaign of ‘Russification’ in Ukraine is burning back into Russia itself as it continues to empower and amplify overtly nationalist voices and ideologies,” it is noted in the ISW report for April 12.

According to the analysts, “the war in Ukraine has empowered the most virulent voices in the information space to consolidate their ideology and project it both towards the Ukrainian people and towards non-Slavic minorities in Russia itself. This dynamic will likely escalate as the war continues and will outlive Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, pervading the Russian domestic space for years to come.”

Russia is waging a campaign of deliberate “Russification” of Ukraine, aimed at destroying Ukrainian identity through a variety of military, social, economic, legal, bureaucratic and administrative measures. “The ideologies that underpin the basis of this ‘Russification’ also form the rhetorical backbone of the pro-war information space, which frequently mirrors its militarism with staunch Russian nationalism and intense xenophobia that is directed both at Ukraine and Ukrainian identity as well as at domestic minorities within Russia itself,” the institute stressed.

It is noteworthy that simultaneously with the pressure on the non-Russian population inside the country, the Russian authorities are militarily relying more and more on this part of Russian society. “These domestic-facing ramifications of “Russification” ironically continue to place the onus of the war effort on the communities that it marginalizes,” the ISW said. In this context, ISW cites an example when representatives of the authorities called on the military to specifically recruit migrants from Central Asia and the Caucasus who have received Russian citizenship, since these migrants have a constitutional duty to protect the country that accepted them.

Specialists of the Institute also pay attention to the tendency of glorification of the brutality of war. “The Russian nationalist community continues to glorify atrocities and advocate for the expansion of brutality. Russian milbloggers responded to widely circulated footage of a Russian soldier beheading a Ukrainian prisoner of war,” the analysts say.

According to the institute, the Telegram channel associated with the Wagner PMC tried to justify the beheading, saying that both sides were committing cruel acts, and stated that this beheading would not be the last violent execution during the war.

“Russian forces’ continued use of such violent tactics and its support in the Russian information space undermines professionalism and discipline in the Russian military,” the ISW summed up.


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