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The defense of Bakhmut: what PsyOps the enemy uses and what is going on in reality

Hanna Maliar
Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine

The enemy continues to focus its largest offensive capabilities on the Bakhmut axis. Deputy Minister of Defense Hanna Maliar wrote this on Facebook.

At the same time, they are also focusing all their media efforts on the battle for Bakhmut.

Actually, this is what the informational and psychological support of battlefield warfare looks like.

The enemy is currently working to achieve three goals through the media:

  • undermining the trust our society and military have in the decisions made by the command with respect to Bakhmut;
  • demotivating and psychologically weakening our troops;
  • provoking our military leaders to make mistakes.

To do that, they are trying to shift the focus on the subject of Bakhmut and neutralize our advantage, which is smart and competent operation planning.

Shifting the focus means to regard Bakhmut as an apocalyptic event, as if this battle divides reality into "before" and "after."

This psychological trick is used to force the ideas and narratives the enemy needs onto people.

When the public considers the hostilities in Bakhmut to be the factor that has the ultimate influence on the course of the war, this helps the enemy impose its preferred scenario of our actions on our media field.

According to the plan devised by the enemy, the scared society, excessively agitated by the approaching "end," should put pressure on the military and political leadership to stop the defensive actions.

This is a PsyOp in its purest form, aimed at meddling with military decision making.

The messages the enemy is using regarding Bakhmut are:

  • allegedly, the decision to hold Bakhmut is a political one;
  • allegedly, there’s no sense in holding Bakhmut since almost everybody is encircled there;
  • allegedly, the heroism of Ukrainian troops has been inflated by Ukrainian propaganda.

The two names that are constantly used in Russian PsyOps on Bakhmut are:

  • President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskiy;
  • Ground Force Commander Oleksandr Syrskyi.

The aim is to undermine public trust in them and instigate a conflict within the military leadership of the country. Meanwhile, the Russian fake stories don’t mention that military decisions are never made by just one person. There’s military command led by the Commander-in-Chief and head of the General Staff. Furthermore, the Headquarters of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief meet constantly to make operational decisions with the participation of members of all defense and security agencies that are currently at war.

So what is actually going on, and how should the information on the battle for Bakhmut be perceived?

This is an active phase of the war, the same as on other axes in the east, where the enemy’s full-blown offensive has been ongoing since January 2023.

We are invested in the defense of Bakhmut as much as in any other city or village. The use of our capabilities is defined not by political expediency but by the amount of resources needed to fend off the enemy and attain military objectives on this axis.

The defense of Bakhmut is currently determined by operational and tactical expediency, and decisions are made competently and considerately and are aimed at attaining current defense objectives.

What defense objectives can there be in Bakhmut?

  • holding the lines and positions;
  • preventing the enemy from advancing into Ukrainian territory;
  • inflicting significant losses on the enemy;
  • shaping the battlefield for the future counteroffensive.

Bakhmut will be held for as long as we need it from the perspective of attaining the defense objectives.

And it’s for our military command, not Russian PsyOps, to decide how long the defense of Bakhmut will last.

And lastly, the worst information for the enemy is that the battle for Bakhmut is not an apocalypse. It’s another heroic page in the story of the mighty Ukrainian army fighting off the Russian Federation.

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