Russian militias’ online propaganda is getting more violent
The Wagner and Rusich groups are glorifying atrocities against POWs
Over the weekend, two videos posted by Russian forces of Ukrainian soldiers being beheaded began to circulate on social media. On the 8th and 9th April, numerous pictures of decapitated soldiers, their heads mounted on sticks, were also posted by Wagner Group personnel. This is just the latest in a series of war crimes committed by Russian forces, including Wagner, during the invasion of Ukraine.
Notably, Rusich, a paramilitary formation with a large neo-Nazi membership and links to the Wagner Group, responded via its Telegram channel to the circulation of the gruesome videos. A picture of one of the beheadings was accompanied by the caption: “You’ll be surprised at how many of these sorts of videos will be emerging soon”. The screenshot was posted at a time when Rusich had been spotted as operationally active on the front line in Ukraine, suggesting they might have the potential to act on such provocative statements.
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Regardless of when these videos were filmed originally, the succession in which they have been released — alongside other imagery depicting atrocities committed against prisoners of war — could indicate the start of a more aggressive, terror-based information warfare campaign emanating from Russia. The invasion of Ukraine has been plagued by war crimes committed by Russian forces, including “attacks on civilians and energy-related infrastructure, wilful killings, unlawful confinement, torture, rape and other sexual violence, as well as unlawful transfers and deportations of children,” per a UN report published in March of this year.
Wagner and Rusich have built up a pronounced reputation for not just committing but celebrating such atrocities. Their practice of publicising war crimes goes as far back as 2017, when Syrian Army soldier Hamidi Bouta was violently murdered on video by Wagner personnel using sledgehammers. Indeed, the weapon has also been used to execute traitors in the group’s ranks, to the point where it has now become a proudly adopted Wagner symbol. In September 2022 Rusich publicly advised its fighters, again via Telegram, to not report the capture of Ukrainian soldiers, and called for their torture and murder.
The desire to glorify and incite atrocities towards Ukrainian prisoners of war, seen through these recent gory videos, is part of a broader attempt to normalise such acts, appealing to the organisational culture of brutality within Wagner and Rusich. However, the influence of this very public violence extends beyond the membership of these organisations, and towards altering the behaviour of other military personnel and the segments of Russian society who follow (and support) their activities.
This speaks to a wider pattern of online engagement, as seen by Rusich urging its followers to gather and share intelligence on Nato member states. That’s not to mention raising funds from their supporters for military equipment and attracting foreign fighters — apparently from countries including Norway, Poland and Italy — through the use of transnational influence. This has also been replicated to some degree by Wagner’s own fundraising efforts.
It is clear that certain elements of Russian forces see publicising and glorifying atrocities as a propaganda tool. Given the increasing frequency and brutality of these videos, it’s likely that we will only see more of them in the near future, as Russia’s extremist militias exert ever more influence over the direction, and the tone, of Putin’s war.
People here were holding up Putin as some sort of standard bearer against Woke. This is the reality of what Putin represents. And right at Europe’s doorstep.
I don’t remember anybody holding putin up as a standard bearer for anything.
I remember writing a lot of stuff about why escalation might be a very bad idea, but you know, I just dont fancy ww3 is all.
Well, making the Baltic into a NATO lake, and coopting two of the best armies in Europe into the Alliance certainly isn’t a minus.
Hi Mr logan. It’s been a while, yes I suppose so. I’m still not sure about it all. None of this is helping normal people anywhere.
Certainly, Putin’s invasion has not been helping “normal people” anywhere.
Bait. The us hasn’t really helped either, but you don’t like getting into that.
I have no problem getting into anything.
It was Yanukovich’s desire to join the EU that started it all. Once Putin nixed the deal (his right, you’ll argue, since you don’t consider Ukraine a sovereign state) the rest was inevitable.
I have no problem getting into anything
Are you sure about that? Aside from the serial flagging, bots and idle threats? I’m not up for it today. Maybe next time.
Can’t stand history, I guess…
Next time. Go get your sh*t together so you are ready. You might do better next time then.
Nice to see you don’t even try to refute anything I say with evidence. Sort of like Russia’s Bakhmut offensive.
Oh god there’s always one, there is no definition of normal, especially on here, people that just want to go about their day to day lives without the prospect of war, inflation, energy shortages, bank debacles, you know that kind of stuff, those type of people. I’m one of those.
See the interview with Douglas Murray ‘The gullible Right has fallen for Putin” that took place a year ago
What are you saying I’m the gullible right? As I said, putins not really my bag, but it’s quite beside the point, I’ll add it to my names to be proud of list though. I’ve got loads already. But thanks.
“Useful” or rather “Useless Idiots,” to borrow the Soviet phrase.
Very original Mr logan, I haven’t heard that one before.
The pearls that drop from my lips are of infinite value.
Because pro-Russian trolls can’t think of any responses.
I’m extremely anti-woke, and consider the Putin regime to be utterly depraved.
All of them are depraved. Putin, biden and xi being my main candidates for a nutter label.
spot on ! It is obvious that numerous UnHerd publications and interviews (like the one with Mearsheimer) attempted to justify the tyrant – on the grounds of Nato expansion, the religious background but, foremost, as stronghold in the war against ‘woke’.
Well, if ‘woke’ is perceived as an existential threat, then the fact that the largest country in the world is dominated by the thugs with particular taste for atrocities must be reassuring indeed.
Ukrainian nazis have been killing and torturing Russian POWs since the beginning of the operation, and openly boasting about it. Who can forget the Ukrainian medical officer in Mariupol instructing his people to castrate all Russian prisoners? Sauce for the goose.
Just the natural outcome of Putin’s “Generation Z.”
Russians have been doing the same thing over and over again for well over a year–and expecting a different result.
The only result, however, is a deep psychosis.
If Russia was ever “normalno,” it certainly is not now. With well over a 100,000 battlefield deaths, and at least a million casualties a certainty before year’s ends, no nation can face the fact that it has all been for nothing.
But now these psychotics cannot inflict pain on anyone else, so soon they will see self harm as the only way forward.
And for Russians, “self harm” usually involves the deaths of millions of their own people.
Comment into moderation just after three o’clock. Are the moderators real people? I am probably old enough to be their father.
And some folks wonder why Ukraine will never give in and why their troops fight harder.
The added issue is the ex-convicts who joined/pressed ganged have an agreement they are released back into society after completing their tour of duty. How many actually complete that not known but some will have to or it’d lead to mutinous reaction. Thus an unwelcome prospect for law abiding Russians. These ex convict will have been even more brutalised by their service.
This site is doing its thing with paragraphs again. Does that happen to anyone else? They are there when the comment is submitted, but not when it goes up, so that I have to edit it to put them in again.
Anyway, did anyone ask you whether you wanted a further 832-mile land border with Russia, beginning nearer to Saint Petersburg than Saint Petersburg was to Moscow? As Finland joined NATO, in Bakhmut NATO has was being defeated by a private company that was largely staffed by dregs who were not allowed in their country’s conscript Army.
In Ukraine, where it was casually admitted in December that British troops had been for a year and thus since long before the Russian invasion, the split between the Russian State and the Wagner Group is now taking shape in earnest. Having taken possession of the vast salt mines at Soledar, and now also of Bakhmut, will Yevgeny Prigozhin give up control of that territory, which also has gypsum? Remember, this is not the Russian Army, but a private military company.
These men’s statues will one day be torn down, because their statues will have been put up. As the French and French-backed non-governmental organisations are expelled from Mali, Wagner Group arms and ammunition, up to and including four Mil Mi-17 helicopters, have arrived there. A base has been built near the airport of the capital, Bamako, a city of 2.8 million. The Group has also taken over the former French bases at Gossi, Kidal, Tessalit and Timbuktu.
Africa has been Wagner country for quite some time. The Group provided bodyguards to several candidates in the 2018 Presidential Election in Madagascar, even including the winner who had been favoured by China and the United States, thereby guaranteeing the Russian takeover of Kraoma, Madagascar’s national chromite producer. The Wagner Group had also been guarding the chrome mines themselves. Its involvement in Mozambique has been extensive. Its participation in the never-ending Libyan Civil War remains so. Ignore anyone who tells you that that war is over.
More than anywhere else, however, the Wagner Group’s African operations have been, and continue to be, in the Central African Republic. Again, that is in the French sphere of influence, although the Group originally went in there, in 2018, to fill the security vacuum that had been left by the French military withdrawal, in 2016, following the loss of three quarters of the country’s territory to rebel control. By all accounts, it is guarding the diamond mines in regime-controlled and rebel-controlled areas alike, as it also takes a great interest in the diamonds, gold, uranium, and thus government of Sudan.
There has lately been an operation to take down cryptocurrencies, not that I am any fan of those, after the adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender in the CAR had posed a threat to the CFA franc, itself pegged to the euro and so on. The CAR is a front line in the Great Game as it is being played in the present age. There are anything up to 2000 Wagner Group personnel there, if not more, and it has a firm grip on a number of government institutions, including the General Staff, such that it supervises or directly commands most of the units of the Armed Forces, including at least one EU-trained battalion. Known as Black Russians, hundreds of Centrafricans, former UPC rebels who surrendered, are now fighting for the Wagner Group in Ukraine, or are awaiting deployment there from Russia.
All this, and Soledar and Bakhmut, too. Shades of the British and Dutch East India Companies. Or of the Crusader military orders, one of which still exists as a sovereign entity 924 years after its foundation, even without the territory that the Wagner Group is coming to control. We have no side between that and Svoboda, Pravy Sektor, the National Corps, C14, the Azov Battalion, the Aidar Battalion, the Donbas Battalion, the Dnipro-1 Battalion, the Dnipro-2 Battalion, the Kraken Regiment, or any of the rest of those.
Why does the link in your post say you were banned from twitter? It’s a bit of a weird link.
It would help the less informed among us if you posted sources for your stuff instead of a weird link about yourself.
The only link is to an article on Ukraine. It is by me, but it is not about me. Though I say so myself, it is worth reading, 11 months later, for how much of it has come true. All of it will. Soon enough, everyone will be pretending to have said these things all along.
‘not that I am any fan of those’
Is a link to a weird page:
Still not sure I’m buying what you’re selling.
You promoting your shit blog? It has no sources for any of the information. You got this all figured out and you are going to tell us all I told you so? Wow I wish I could see 11 months into the future.
I can be both a blessing and a curse.
It can or I can? Bit ominous sounding if it is I. You aren’t going to curse me are you? I don’t fancy that.
Well, making the Baltic into a NATO lake, and coopting two of the best armies in Europe into the Alliance certainly isn’t a minus.
But RE: your article of 11 months ago, do I assume you predicted:
1) the Russian withdrawal from Kyiv?
2) Europe’s energy independence from Russia?
3) the survival of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure?
4) the fall of Kherson?
5) the recovery of all of Kharkiv oblast?
6) the exodus of half a million Russian draft dodgers overseas?
7) the exhaustion of all of Russia’s nuclear-capable cruise missiles?
8) the recovery by Moscow of just 30 sq miles of territory during its entire grand winter offensive?
9) the use of 70 year-old tanks in Russia’s main armour fleet?
If so, I congratulate you !!
I certainly wouldn’t have predicted any of Putin’s most shameful failures on 24 Feb 2022.
Quite prescient on your part…
On another post people are saying this guy has posted ccp propaganda, thought id give him a hard time, see if he could back his post up.
Again, thanks for presenting no evidence!
The calling card of a feckless troll.
No retard I was talking about david lindsay, not you Mr logan, don’t flatter yourself, he’s posted some right weird stuff on other articles.
Are you by any chance the political blogger David Lindsay who served a jail sentence for harassment?
Thanks. He sounds like he needs putting in the nutter category.
I guess if Russians can’t take Bakhmut, Mali is a good second choice.
It must be horrible to be a Russian just now.
You are so right.
The other day, I watched the ‘hearings’ of the new law on military draft in the Douma comittee. You should have seen how the chair henpecked a young MP who dared to express his surprise about the haste – that prevented MPs from having even a quick look at the 59-page draft law. ‘What are you being alected for? To sabotage our work?” he exclaimed indignantly, earning a standing ovation.
After all, maybe Stalin’s selection experiment has suceeded in creating a breed where servility, cruelty, indifference and mediocracy are dominant. The healthy shoots that sprouted in ninetees-early 20s have been uprooted or scattered across the world. Currently, the nation is being thrown back decades
It started earlier than that, IMHO.
It was Stalin’s elevation of the very lowest of the peasantry into responsible positions in the NKVD, Army, and bureaucracy that made people like Putin inevitable. Instead of making it through hard work, they rose solely because of loyalty.
Those incompetents/loyalists Patrushev, Gerasimov, Shoigu, and, of course, Vova himself, are their direct heirs.
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