To turn soldiers and officers of their army into people who are ready to kill the enemy, special measures are taken that are aimed at dehumanizing the enemy – depriving him of human qualities. The aggressor carries out such actions in advance, in modern conditions – without stopping exclusively at the combat zone.
With the beginning of Russia's undeclared war against Ukraine in the Donbas in the spring of 2014, the process of dehumanization of opponents began. Frankly speaking, it has entered a new orbit, because the disdainful attitude towards Ukrainians has been inherent in Russian politicians and the media since the early 90s. Ukrainian servicemen and soldiers of volunteer battalions almost immediately after the outbreak of hostilities began to be called "Dill" (an analogy with a plant), in response, members of pro-Russian illegal armed formations and mercenaries received the nickname "colorades" (by the color of the "St. George ribbon" and by analogy with harmful insects). However, mass dehumanization of the enemy in the modern world looks ineffective without personalized sensitive topics. It can be effective only if there is a catalyst that can affect the maximum number of military personnel and potential participants in military operations. Russia has no moral reservations in this sense.
The first and Second World Wars gave numerous examples of the use of such technologies. The poem "kill him (kill the German)", written by the Soviet poet Konstantin Simonov in the summer of 1942, is one of the examples of such dehumanization. Nazi Germany acted on an even larger scale, promoting racial theory and misogynistic views first on the scale of Germany, and since 1939 – on the scale of Europe.
Although the hybrid war continues for the eighth year, the use of dehumanization Technologies is still being recorded. The latest large-scale example of dehumanization by Russian propagandists was recorded in the spring of this year. In early April 2021, the Russian media and the ORDLO media reported the death of a 5-year-old boy Vladyslav Shykhov in the village of Olexandrivske as a result of a grenade explosion allegedly dropped by a Ukrainian UAV. The corresponding message began to be actively replicated in the Russian media, the boy's grandmother even appeared on the Rossiya-1 TV channel. However, she did not mention lethal vehicles, but only spoke about the circumstances of the boy's death. The OSCE SMM concluded through a telephone survey that the child was the victim of an unidentified explosive device that it found in its own yard.
Dehumanization can be called one of the key elements of Modern Warfare, but it would be a mistake to assume that such operations are carried out exclusively in theaters of military operations. In the frontline zone, the most terrible and absurd rumors are launched. In the summer of 2014, the information RAM of Russian propaganda was the story of the "crucified boy" - a widely replicated television story about the demonstrative execution of a small boy by the Ukrainian military. The absurdity of the accusations gradually turned this statement into an illustration of the Kremlin's cynicism, but in July 2014, at the height of hostilities in the eastern regions of Ukraine, its customers could well get the desired effect.
Both in 2014 and in 2021, the spread of absurd rumors about the death of young boys as a result of war crimes was supposed to be a catalyst for the mobilization of both the population of ORDLO and public opinion inside Russia. In the spring of 2021, this did not happen due to the refusal of the Russian leadership to further escalate tensions, but the very fact of using such operations is a powerful signal of preparation for military operations.
Dehumanization of the enemy is a real "Molotov cocktail" of hybrid warfare, which causes public opinion to flare up and destroy the enemy's ranks with this flame. We must be ready to resist the dehumanization of Ukraine and its citizens, promoting a positive image of the country abroad and implementing transformations within the state. There are no other effective ways.