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Tactics and tools How Russian propaganda uses reflection tactics

Reflection is a typical Russian propaganda tactic, used in particular to divert attention. Propagandists make the same accusations against Ukraine / USA / EU / ”collective West” as they bring against Russia. That is, they reflect the actions of the opponent. At the same time, Russian propaganda uses real and far-fetched pretexts for accusations.

An example of the use of reflection tactics is the accusation of the Ukrainian authorities of lying to Ukrainians that there are no losses in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. In practice, the expression “there are no losses in the armed forces of Russia” from the very beginning of the great war became a meme. It was Russia that for a long time did not recognize its losses, and then significantly downplayed them. On the other hand, the Ukrainian authorities have never denied the losses, moreover, they constantly note the price that Ukraine pays every day, although it does not clearly state the number of deaths.

The Russians also used the tactics of reflection to conceal the war crimes of the Russian army. After the liberation of the Kyiv region, it became known about the atrocities of the Russian army in the temporarily occupied territories. In particular, both Ukrainian and world media wrote about the war crimes of Russians in Bucha. Russia denied these accusations, calling them a staged and provocative act by the Ukrainian authorities. Further, during the counter-offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Russians began to spread messages that Ukraine was preparing for “Bucha-2” in the Kharkiv direction and “new Bucha” in the Kherson region. After the publication of information about the numerous sexual crimes of the Russian military in the temporarily occupied territories, Russian propaganda began to accuse the military of the Armed Forces of Ukraine of the same crimes, but did not provide any evidence.

The main purpose of the reflection tactic is to divert attention from the subject of discussion or change the direction of the discussion. In English sources, it is called Whataboutism, as a derivative concept from the expression “what about”.

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