Just when you think Putin’s duplicity is at rock bottom, he pulls another stunt. First, Putin declared no intention to attack Ukraine. When he attacked, he claimed no war. At war, he claims to be stopping Nazis, or American biological weapons. Caught targeting hospitals, refugees, and children, he claims Ukraine did it. Now, he pushes “false flag attacks” – likely in Moldova, maybe elsewhere.
In short, Putin knows no narrative limits, or appears ready to push the envelope on disinformation. Smart money says he will stay conventional, avoiding chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons – since those trigger a major response, possibly internal collapse. But lies? He is all for them.
The leading lie – pushed in Ukraine, inside Russia, and to the world – is that his unconscionable military attack on a neighboring country is somehow legitimized by something, by anything. The lie has taken various forms, each short-lived, followed by another.
The second leading lie is that he is winning, complete with a cascade of unspoken counterpoints, including high casualty numbers, falling combat power, morale, brigade strength, arrested territorial gains, need to regroup, loss of flag officers, heavy equipment, ships, and persistent, effective opposition.
A third leading lie is that the war’s pace is under Putin’s control, somehow tracking a masterplan that is other than bogged down, blundering, costly, and increasingly hard to defend at home. The confident look is increasingly at odds with reality, and that divergence – words from reality – is widening.
But the latest lie – and this one may multiply – is so-called “false flag” attacks, which effectively do great damage and then blame it on others. As Putin gets desperate, he appears intent on squaring the circle by striking at Ukraine’s neighbors – although not yet a NATO country – and then blaming Ukraine.
Looking at a map, Russia seems intent on inciting as much anti-Ukraine sentiment as possible, and one way is to create havoc, then blame Ukraine. Military experts are preparing for possible “false flag” attacks, for example, on Moldova, a non-NATO country, and possibly others.
Already, Russia has shut off gas to Poland and Bulgaria. While not a direct or “false flag” military attack on NATO, this significantly raises tensions, and is intended to create anti-Ukraine-support sentiment.
Notably, that move is one Biden – and those minimizing Europe’s dependence on Russia – said would never happen. In May of 2021, Biden waived sanctions on Russia tied to the Nord Stream II pipeline, effectively signaling no worries. Even leading Democrats balked, but to no avail.
In the end, a “false flag” attack by Russia on Moldova, seeking to blame Ukraine – would be serious. More serious would be a “false flag” attack on a NATO country – a bad gambit.
Putin has a history of staging “blame someone else” attacks and then using the pretext to push added attacks, counterattacks, or a political destabilization agenda. The Soviet Union – and Nazi Germany – were famous for the tactic, although it is old as warfighting.
“False flag” attacks are not unique to Putin, but they are uniquely pernicious and destructive, a brutal escalation of “war by misinformation.” While an attack on Moldova – or any neighbor – would be serious, a “false flag” attack on any NATO nation would raise stakes markedly.
To date, that has been a step too far – even for Putin. But then, Ukraine was a step too far, before, it was not. Duplicity is like that, and Putin’s duplicity deepens. Lies beget lies, and his appear to be dark and depthless. Let’s hope they are also limited – by NATO’s borders.
We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...
Support AMAC Action. Our 501 (C)(4) advances initiatives on Capitol Hill, in the state legislatures, and at the local level to protect American values, free speech, the exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, and the rule of law.Donate Now