Putin began plotting Ukraine invasion in 2004

The Russian invasion of Ukraine began long before separatists seized control of eastern Ukrainian city buildings.

It began long before an estimated 40,000 Russian troops massed on the Ukrainian border, engaging in “training exercises” as Moscow threatened “consequences” for Ukrainian resistance. It even began long before the mostly bloodless seizure of Crimea in March.

Experts and officials in Ukraine insist it began during the autumn of 2004.

It was then, they say, while Ukrainians and much of the world rejoiced at the power of democracy shown through the Orange Revolution, that Russian President Vladimir Putin, despite a landslide victory earlier in 2004, saw the potential of democratic unrest spreading into his nation. Analysts say he worried.

Shortly after, he began a media campaign demonizing Ukraine, to both Russians and Russian-speaking eastern and southern Ukrainians. Ukraine, long considered an inseparable ally for Russia, was portrayed as dangerous, untrustworthy and a puppet that the United States was using to harm Russia.

Newscasts and newspapers painted Kiev as tragically out of control, a place that in the interest of history and even of love needed to be brought back under the safe control of mother Russia. Even entertainment programming added to a new, negative perception of Ukraine. Television police dramas began to feature Ukrainian villains. Today, an evening of Russian television typically features newscasts and talk shows that depict an America eager to destroy Russia, a Europe on the brink of collapse and an inept and chaotic Ukraine.

Ukrainian media analyst Maksym Savanevsky noted in a Facebook post on the topic that Russian drama shows are “powerful propaganda.” They paint an “image of Russia as a beautiful, rich and happy country. The Ukrainians, as a rule, serve as the underdogs, traitors, blunt,” Savanevsky wrote. The overarching message, he said, is that Ukraine would be better off under Russian rule.

Georgy Satarov, a prominent Putin critic who was an adviser to former Russian President Boris Yeltsin and attended a conference on peace initiatives last week in Kiev, said the strategy is not new. The Soviet Union applied similar demonization tactics to create a strong negative perception of the United States.
There is much more.

The campaign appears to be working.  Putin has strong support for his aggression according to Russian polling.  He has, however, not created prosperity in Russia and his attempts to dominate Ukraine have had a negative effect there too.  The US apparently has done little to counter the propaganda warfare from Russia.  It is as if the Obama administration and the CIA have been sleep walking through recent history with Russia.


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