PR Analysis of Russia’s Syrian Campaign: There Is No Way Back Any More
636 views   /  23 Oct 2015
By Sergei Novikov
Engaging in the war against ISIL, Russia burnt bridges. There is no way back any more.
In 2015, the Russian military planned to hold more than 4,000 drills and is intensively upgrading its combat fists, unveils new weapons and recovering from the perestroika-caused collapse of the military sector.
The newest Su-34s were deployed in Syria. Russia is expected to make mincemeat of ISIL and wipe the terrorists off the face of the Earth. But what if all these weapons are not that devastating? Will people start to consider all the drills and newest weapons as the acts of plain saber-rattling and muscle-flexing? The image of the Russian military superiority is at stake in Syria.
The airstrikes were augmented by a salvo of cruise missiles from the Caspian Sea. Missiles smashing the enemy after flying over two neutral countries – sounds more than just impressive, doesn’t’ it? Those cruise missiles carried not only death to ISIL terrorists, but also a clear message to Russia’s potential foes such as the US and its NATO allies – and they all got it.
For the first time in almost 30 years, Russia is waging war abroad – the previous experience of this kind was the Afghan campaign initiated by a couple of hotheads in the Kremlin. That war brought Russia nothing but coffins with their sons in them – and no one clearly understands for what purpose those poor men lost their lives in the mountains of Afghanistan.
So considering this bitter experience, Vladimir Putin decided not to get into the same trap and ruled out any ground operation. This is a very clever move. Otherwise Russians probably would have started protesting against a land campaign, and the government’s approval rating would have collapsed, combined with the poor economy.
Russia’s Message to the World
The campaign also gives a clear message to the world: pick your side! Now Russia is battling the undisputable global evil, and the picture is black and white: you either choose to back Russia in its fight or you decide to put a spoke in its wheel by speculating about “moderate Syrian opposition” and arming various rebel factions, complaining about “Assad tyranny” etc.
The closest recipient of this message is Europe, not the US. The US is an ocean away from the ISIL threat and the refugee crisis – the problems Europe is currently facing. So in the eyes’ of Europe Russia may get a veneer of the savior – both from the terrorist threat, and also from the immigration inflow that Europeans dislike. The correlation is direct: since refugees are fleeing from ISIL, then the annihilation of the terrorist group will gradually scale down the crisis. This is something that Europeans want.
So 71 percent of the British “support Vladimir Putin’s bombing campaign in Syria”, an Express poll revealed.
In their turn, 46 percent of Americans have reacted to Moscow’s involvement saying that it showed Russia “strong and shrewd” and 53 percent said Putin had the upper hand in Syria versus 22 percent that supported Obama, according to a Fox News survey.
Stop Listening to Poroshenko’s Lies
And finally there goes the Ukrainian crisis that has been dominating global media headlines since the early 2014. The Western public opinion labeled Russia as an aggressor, and now Moscow kills two birds with one stone: first, the Syrian campaign has put the Ukrainian crisis to the back burner and second, Russia is currently restoring its image as the protector of the world.
By the way, now people can see what happens if Russia really goes to war –Western media should take back their allegations of Russian armies in Donbass and stop believing Poroshenko when he tells about Russian military planes flying over Ukraine.
As for the information warfare… To put it in a nutshell, it continues. Western media claim that Russia is targeting Syrian opposition forces, but their accusations are not that strong because they have to bear in mind the public endorsement of the campaign.
Russia has only three sources that spread info about its war in Syria to the world: the Defense Ministry’s social networks (being consistently run in English and provided with videos, good job!), RT and the news website Sputnik. Only three of them… Too few to inculcate the Russian point of view.
— Минобороны России (@mod_russia) October 19, 2015
And the lie machine has been already put in motion: first, reports about civilian deaths had emerged before planes took off to deliver their first airstrikes, and Twitter was quickly flooded with fake three-year-old videos of “downed Russian bomber” and English hashtags such as “Russia_is_killing_children” in Arabic tweets. Seems like someone was diligently preparing this propaganda.
Thus, Russia painted itself into a corner and now must stick to the principle “No retreat, no surrender” – otherwise its image will incur irreparable losses. But if Russia wins, and it has no other alternative, it will win a slew of points.
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