Talks of the crisis in Ukraine often bring to mind images of soldiers at the ready, tanks standing by, air support fueled and ready to strike; however, these are not Russia’s most valuable forms of attack. What has been a successful strategy employed by Putin is his ability to spread his propaganda and create alarm through informational warfare. He has been using a variety of sites such as Russia Today and associated blogs to play into his plan to put those receiving their updates through western media on high alert. This has led to false assumptions and erroneous information, just as Putin intended.
Myth 1. Ukraine is a country divided
It is a common assumption that the country is made up of Russian parts and Ukrainian parts, and these two demographics are completely split and unable to get along with one another. Political maps and linguistic maps have been shown to further demonstrate this split. This division is not unlike any other democratic country. Political lines are drawn, just as our country is split between Republicans and Democrats; however, this does not mean that the country does not consider themselves a cohesive unit and will not pull together in times of crisis. The same holds true for the divisions when it comes to linguistics, which tend to split along the same lines as the political divides. Even though the differences exist, the majority of the current interim leaders as well as past Presidents have been native Russian speakers.
Where divisions do exist in the country, they have been exploited and exaggerated. Countries will always have those extremists who do believe it is best to break away from the majority. However, for the majority, a strong united country will stand together when facing a threatening foreign power.
Myth 2. The interim government currently in Ukraine is unstable and corrupt
In truth, the former Ukrainian President’s own party turned against him and impeached him for corruption. The majority of the current Parliament is comprised of the same members that were seated before the change took place. The claim that the interim government lacks experience does not hold true due to the fact that the interim President and Prime Minister are both experienced politicians and former cabinet ministers.
Statements condemning Russian actions have been made by former Ukrainian Presidents. This same belief is representative of all of the leaders of Ukraine. They want to stand united and allow EU to help in the matter of warding off any Russian aggression.
Myth 3. Vladimir Putin has the advantage
The misconception that Putin is playing a good game and holding the advantage over his rivals is clearly not the truth. Economic sanctions by other countries have not even been put into effect and this still can be seen through the examples of the stock market’s fall and the necessity for the Russian government to boost the Ruble costing them approximately $10 billion. Even with Russia’s large economic reserve, it cannot sustain this type of assistance for more than a couple of months. The Russian elites, those providing the most support, have their money invested in western vacation homes, banks and schools. These luxuries will be quickly eliminated with the enforcement of economic sanctions against the country.
Myth 4. Russia’s military would be the clear victor over Ukraine
While Russia’s military is larger than that of Ukraine, it does not have its full military available to be used in this conflict. Troops are needed elsewhere in areas such as Georgia and Chechnya. Also, the majority of the Russian military are undertrained draftees. Ukraine, on the other hand, has a smaller yet better trained military force. They are also defending their homeland, which adds extra motivational incentive. Not to mention, one would hope they would have the support and assistance of the NATO forces.
Regardless of who appears to have the upper hand or who the clear winner would be, if war were to break out, the results would be extremely costly in regards to both blood and treasure.