Russia shifts focus on Bakhmut issue: Ukraine's Deputy Defence Minister explains why Russia deploys psychological operations

Russia is concentrating its significant offensive capabilities on the Bakhmut front and, in parallel, is trying to shift the focus of the battle for Bakhmut in its propaganda media to undermine Ukrainians' confidence in the command's decisions on the defence of the fortress city.

Source: Hanna Maliar, Deputy Defence Minister of Ukraine, on Telegram

Quote from Maliar: "In fact, this is what information and psychological support for military operations look like. The enemy is currently developing three tasks in the mass media:

  • to undermine the trust of our society and the military in the decisions of the Bakhmut command;

  • to discourage and psychologically weaken our army;

  • to provoke our military leadership into erroneous actions;

To do so, they are trying to shift the focus on Bakhmut and level out what is our advantage, i.e., intelligent and competent planning of operations."

Details: The deputy minister noted that the invaders present Bakhmut "as an apocalyptic event" and portray the battles for this city "as a factor that will ultimately affect the course of the war".

Maliar says that Russia believes it is capable of tricking and frightening Ukrainian society, so it will eventually begin to pressure the military and political leadership to stop defensive actions.

The occupiers are spreading three messages for this purpose:

  • that the decision to hold Bakhmut is purely political,

  • that there is no point in holding Bakhmut, as it is almost surrounded,

  • that the heroism of Ukrainian soldiers is exaggerated by Ukrainian propaganda.

At the same time, Russian propagandists endlessly exploit the names of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Ground Forces Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi to undermine their credibility and bring the conflict to the military leadership of the state.

Maliar explained that the fighting in Bakhmut is an active phase of the war. It is as fierce as in other areas in the country’s east, where a full-scale Russian offensive has occurred since January 2023. Ukrainian soldiers are defending Bakhmut as devotedly as any other settlement.

She stressed that the defence of Bakhmut is currently driven by operational and tactical expediency. And the Ukrainian command makes wise and balanced decisions to fulfil the current defence tasks.

These defence tasks include:

  • defending the held borders and positions,

  • preventing Russian forces from advancing deeper into the territory,

  • inflicting significant losses on the Russian army,

  • creating conditions for a counter-offensive.

Quote: "Bakhmut will be defended as long as we need it from the point of view of fulfilling military defence tasks. And our military command, not the Russian psychological operations, will determine how long Bakhmut will be defended," Maliar concluded.

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