Russia ‘will likely lose’ its war in Ukraine if the US can keep from falling prey to Moscow’s information game, conflict analysts say

  • The US must resist Russian disinformation tactics and help Ukraine, leading war watchers argue.
  • Russia aims to influence the international community into believing it is dominant, fueling blind spots in the West.
  • Experts suggest persistent support for Ukraine and stopping Russia from shaping perception.

The US must be aware of and avoid Russian disinformation operations at all costs if it wants to maintain its Western values and help Ukraine win the war, conflict analysts argue.

“Basic facts are in question daily as the Kremlin floods the Western debate with its narratives,” analysts at the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said in a March 27 report.

The analysts said that “the notion that the war is unwinnable because of Russia’s dominance is a Russian information operation, which gives us a glimpse of the Kremlin’s real strategy and only real hope of success.”

For years, Russia has manipulated information enough to cause other countries to perceive Russia as a dominant force in Europe and, more recently, that it is winning in Ukraine.

Because Russia needs to sideline Ukraine’s Western partners, the US in particular, the ISW analysts wrote, “the Russian strategy that matters most, therefore, is not Moscow’s warfighting strategy, but rather the Kremlin’s strategy to cause us to see the world as it wishes us to see it and make decisions in that Kremlin-generated alternative reality that will allow Russia to win in the real world.”

ISW asserts that the Kremlin is pushing the narrative that “supporting Ukraine is a distraction from ‘real’ US problems” and is simply not worth the effort, and it’s having an effect. Conflict fatigue has become a serious issue in the West, especially the US as support funding for Ukraine’s war effort has been held up and unable to pass in Congress for months.

There have been obvious impacts on the battlefield as well as Ukrainian forces grapple with a lack of ammunition and supplies.

The delay in Congress has become such a noticeable problem that last month, it was reported that over 40 percent of Ukrainians are less confident in Western support and felt as though the West is “tired” of Ukraine.

And questions have more frequently arisen if support for Ukraine is worth it, if negotiating for peace, even if it means sacrifices for Ukraine, isn’t the best way forward.

Ukrainian soldiers fire with the Archer Artillery System on Russian position on December 16, 2023, in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.

Ukrainian soldiers fire with the Archer Artillery System on Russian position on December 16, 2023, in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.

Roman Chop/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

“Russia is hijacking and substituting key concepts of Western debate about this war, such as notions of peace and defense, contributing to Western category errors about both,” ISW experts said. “When the Kremlin “signals peace,” it actually signals a demand for Ukrainian and Western surrender.”

Ukraine has been is tasked with defending itself since Russia invaded, yet Western countries have at times misconstrued Ukraine’s defense and weapons requests as aggressive and “escalating” the conflict.

Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz recently refused to donate Taurus cruise missiles, arguing they could only be used responsibly if German soldiers were sent to Ukraine to help operate them, which is something that isn’t going to happen. He said it is a “line that I as chancellor do not want to cross,” per Associated Press reporting.

Scholz has been reluctant to send arms to Ukraine — especially new ones — like the Leopard 2 battle tank. The US has also dithered on key systems, such as HIMARS, armor like Bradleys and Abrams, aircraft, and long-range missiles like ATACMS. And other nations have at times done the same.

ISW emphasized that Russia is benefitting from Western countries that continuously withhold crucial weapons from Ukraine that can significantly incapacitate it.

A Leopard 2A6 tank is seen in a forested training site in Lithuania.

Lithuania has been helping Ukraine to repair its Leopard 2 tanks after they were damaged in the war against Russia.

Alexander Welscher/picture alliance via Getty Images

To combat Russian disinformation, ISW experts suggest that Western countries like the US and its European allies maintain persistence in helping Ukraine’s cause and thwart Russia’s role in shaping the West’s perception of providing aid and supporting Ukraine.

“The United States must defy the Kremlin’s efforts to alter our own decision making and will,” ISW analysts said.

The experts also said there’s far more at stake if Russia wins than what the Kremlin might have influenced Western leaders to think.

“If Russia wins in Ukraine, it will mean the Kremlin managed to undermine the Western will and ability to reason from the ground truths and its interests,” they wrote. “Helping Ukraine win and defeating the premises Russia is trying to enforce should be the main effort of the United States and the free world if it wants to remain free.”

“Russia cannot defeat Ukraine or the West  and will likely lose if the West mobilizes its resources to resist the Kremlin,” the analysts wrote. “If we lean in and surge, Russia loses.”

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