Russians using relatives of Ukrainian POWs to split society, call to protest, spark discontent — ISW

Ukrainian prisoners who returned to Ukraine
Ukrainian prisoners who returned to Ukraine

The Russians are trying to use relatives of Ukrainian prisoners of war to foment internal discontent in Ukraine, according to the latest report by the U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War released on March 16.

The Russian agencies are likely to be acting as part of the Maidan-3 information campaign.

Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets said on March 16 that unknown Russian citizens were calling relatives of Ukrainian prisoners of war, claiming that Moscow was ready to return the captives but that the Ukrainian government was allegedly preventing this.

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The Russians are also calling on relatives to protest in this regard. Lubinets noted that Ukraine has never stopped exchanging prisoners of war.

The ISW suggests that these Russian information operations are likely part of the Maidan-3 information campaign, which was previously reported by Ukraine’s SBU security service.

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The analysts believe that the Russians want to stir up enmity between the civilian population and the military and political leadership of Ukraine.

Russia has experience in successfully using such operations. Earlier, Russians corresponded via cell phones with the Ukrainian population to incite violent protests in Ukraine, ISW writes.

The last prisoner exchange took place on Feb. 8. Ukraine returned 49 soldiers of the National Guard of Ukraine, 25 border guards, 26 soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, including 11 territorial defense fighters.

Lubinets reported earlier that 2,800 bodies and fragments of Ukrainian soldiers had been identified in Ukraine.

The SBU reported that the Russian special operation "Maidan-3" would culminate in March-May 2024.

A representative of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence (HUR), Andriy Chernyak, told the media on Nov. 28, 2023, that, according to Ukrainian intel, Russia had allocated approximately $250,000 for the Maidan-3 information operation aimed at inciting hatred, exacerbating contradictions in Ukraine, and spreading fear and panic.

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