The night before, President Volodymyr Zelensky put into effect the NSDC decision of February 2, 2021. It provided for sanctions against the TV channels NewsOne, ZIK, and 112 Ukraine, as well as people’s deputy Taras Kozak for a period of 5 years. Not just a ban on broadcasting or a revocation of a license, but sanctions—that is, total pressure. Cancellation of all permits, blocking of assets, suspension of all economic obligations, prohibition of flights and transportation on the territory of Ukraine.
The last point is especially funny—apparently, the private plane Gulfstream G450, on which Medvedchuk's business partner Taras Kozak made over two hundred flights, will stay on the ground in near future. Some of the channels are already broadcasting only the stripes of the tuning television signal from the very morning.
The sanctions, as expected, had the effect of an exploding bomb. The party Opposition Platform—For Life initiates the Zelensky’s impeachment, Rabinovich sings "Rise up, our country wide and great" and summons the "fascist devil" from the rostrum of the Verkhovna Rada.
As expected, rhetoric about the offensive on freedom of speech in Ukraine by the Russian Federation has followed—it is always interesting to hear about freedom from Moscow, where the airport and metro were blocked and hundreds of people were detained to condemn Navalny.
In Ukraine itself, there is traditionally no consensus on sanctions, just as there is no consensus on any events within the country. But the majority of politicians have already spoken out—from Hrytsenko and Tyahnybok, who emerged from oblivion, to Razumkov, who is already clearly committed to the elections. The social sentiment barometer fluctuates wildly. At its one pole, there is extreme approval and even criticism of the authorities for the fact that this has not been done before. On the other pole, there are doubts about legality and cautious neutrality with an eye to the pro-Russian electorate.
The first question is legality. Here it is needed to understand the following: NSDC is a coordinating body in Ukraine, as it is written in the Constitution. But the presidential decree is challenged only in the Supreme Court. Everyone remembers the epic with the Constitutional Court and the attempts to recognize the decision to dissolve the Rada and hold early elections illegal? It suddenly turns out that it is not so easy to go and appeal in court.
Moreover, the law on sanctions clearly states the point that allows to apply restrictions to legal entities and citizens of Ukraine. Clause 1 of Article 3:
"The basis for the sanctions application is also the commission of the acts specified in paragraph 1, if the legal entity is under the control of foreigners or entities that carry out terrorist activities."
The legal basis is shaky, because it is not that easy to link the flights of Medvedchuk or Kozak to Moscow, the rhetoric of the channels, and direct control, but it exists. Although, while the trial is going on, re-registration and the creation of a mechanism for evading sanctions, the information network will definitely suffer financial damage.
And as the case with Dubinsky showed, alternative channels like YouTube or the media in the form of a website on the hosting are also brought down in a matter of days. And if the United States imposed sanctions against a former member of the ruling party, clearly calling him a person connected with the interests of the Russian Federation, what will prevent them from continuing to purge the Opposition Platform—For Life?
The second question: Ukraine has clearly intensified the fight against Russian information influence. This can be seen even without any special insider information from law enforcement agencies—just from open sources.
For example, a recent report by the Department of Strategic Communications of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that several Telegram channels, that are positioned as Ukrainian, are in fact administered from the Russian Federation.
The SBU large-scale operation against the network of Telegram channels supervised by the GRU of the Russian Federation from the territory of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic is also indicative.
The Center for Cybersecurity at the NSDC, back in the summer of 2020, detected coordinated actions to attack critical infrastructure. Projects that clearly go beyond the retention of territories in separate districts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions are the channel Dnipro live or an attack on state structures on the eve of Independence Day.
Far more clearly Moscow can show that its aggressive plans towards Ukraine have not changed. Therefore, it would be strange against this background to leave alone the agents of Russian Federation influence, who, under the guise of "journalistic standards", speak about external management, IMF bondage, criminal tariffs, and the Washington regional committee. Obviously working for the weakening, and in the long term—the destruction of the Ukrainian statehood.
The third and most important question: is it possible to implement the mechanism of sanctions in the legal field and whether everything will not end up in a zilch? Such events happened differently in the past. For example, the Communist Party of Ukraine peacefully bites the dust, and its electorate was scattered into parties and small groups of a pro-Russian orientation. Despite 8.5% in the Kharkiv and 9.2% in the Mykolaiv region.
But the fight against Russian social networks and Yandex has moved to the gray zone of VPNs, pads and cut advertising budgets with an unclear result.
But in any case, this must be done. Leaving the instrument of information warfare with the pro-Russian parties funded by the Kremlin is unsafe. Over the past week, we have had two dead from sniper fire—in the 92nd separate mechanized brigade and in the 503rd battalion of the Marines. The confrontation continues, and the enemy is actively conducting information operations and cyber attacks against Ukraine. Most likely, this step will have consequences, but it is impossible not to take it and continue not to show up in the information war.
In the meantime, the US Embassy in Ukraine supported the actions of the Ukrainian authorities, although the Opposition Platform—For Life and threatened to appeal to the West.
Despite the fact that three years have passed since the interview of former NATO Secretary General Rasmussen, his words are still relevant today:
"If Ukraine stops the war, then Ukraine simply will not exist. If Putin ends the war, then there will be no more war. Anyone who loves freedom should support Ukraine."