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Newspeak How Russia blurs reality with the help of a newspeak: a legitimate goal

International humanitarian law defines the principles of military action during armed conflicts. The 1977 Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions contains Article 48, which reveals the essence of the basic rules for the conduct of hostilities. It states that “to ensure respect and protection of civilians and civilian objects, Parties of a conflict must always distinguish between civilians and combatants, and between civilian and military objects, and accordingly direct their actions only against military targets”.

Russian propaganda uses the phrase “legitimate target” to refer to objects that, although they may have an indirect connection with support for Ukraine in the war against Russia, are not direct military targets under international law. Thus, the Russians are trying to justify their war crimes in Ukraine. At the same time, the purpose of using this term is to block the feeling of guilt among Russians for the actions of their military.

An example of such a crime is the Russian strike on the night of August 15 at the plant of the Swedish company SKF in Lutsk. The Russian Embassy in Sweden called the plant a “legitimate military target”. SKF responded after the tragedy that its plant in Lutsk produces tapered roller bearings, primarily for the heavy civil automotive industry.

Following British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley's statement that military targets outside Ukraine's borders were part of its self-defense, Russian ex-President Dmytro Medvediev responded that any British official could be considered a “legitimate target”. This is further confirmation that Russia is deliberately blurring the boundaries between civilian and military targets.

We previously wrote about how the Russian government uses the phrase “high-precision weapons” to deny its war crimes.

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