After the October Parliamentary elections in 2012, the newly elected government initiated the relations normalization policy towards Russia, on which Moscow responded with tactical rearrangement of the information propaganda concept – discrediting Georgia, as an aggressor state and “incompetent sovereignty” was removed from the agenda.
The notion of “failed state” – “incompetent sovereignty” appeared in the political science in 1970ies. It is considered that the states with this status cause serious threat to the neighbor countries, thus the interference in their internal affairs is not resolved by international law, but not excluded either.
Russian propaganda machine selected “Georgian people” as the key target of the “soft power” and actively began to justify the 2008 military aggression in Georgia, according to which the Russia was “forced by the West”. However, this justification and toning down of the aggressive rhetoric in the information field did not prevent the growing integration of the occupied territories into the Russian Federation. More importantly, Moscow did not refuse to correct the strategic narrative of communication for the Georgian society, which says:
“The West continues marching against the orthodox civilization. “Spiritual food” of Georgia and Russia, the Orthodox Church needs protection and this is the matter of Russia’s obligation and even dignity. Orthodoxy is a bridge between the Georgian and Russian people, and the USA and its allies in Europe are actively trying to burn it down. Protecting the national identity of “collective Georgian” is only possible under the Russia’s embrace. On this way, Russia defends itself from the West, which periodically forces Russia for the provocation”.
It has been years that the abovementioned strategic narrative has been based on the following concepts:
- The West (USA) cannot protect its allies and its friendship does not deliver security guarantees;
- “Friendship with the West” is dangerous for Georgian people;
- The Euro-Atlantic integration is not the guarantee for the restoration of the Georgia’s territorial integrity;
- Membership in the European institutions is not the guarantee for the material well-being for Georgian people, but on the contrary;
- NATO – organization, which membership will further deteriorate Georgia’s territorial integrity and finally disrupt its statehood;
- Eurasian Union – organization, which membership will resolve the problem of Georgia’s territorial integrity;
- Russia is a strong country / It can protect is allies;
- Eurasian Union – place, where the issue of restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity can be discussed;
- The West cannot protect its allies;
The mere observation on the information environment can clearly show that the Georgian-French deal on air defence systems and Georgia’s recent developments in cooperation with NATO, made changes in Russia’s concept of the strategic narrative. These changes, as new directions can be formulated as follows:
- There is a social order from the society in Georgia to have a dialogue with Russia;
- The Georgian government should take bolder steps and adequately respond to the demands of its own people;
- The West continues to arm Georgia;
- The Georgian side is responsible for the aggravating the situation;
- The two countries should not be doomed to confrontation;
- The status of the alternative energy corridor is not the security guarantee for Georgia;
- You may lose even more;
Context: the dialogue has no alternative
The whole cascade of the Russian information-psychological operations in Georgia is based on Russia’s strategic narrative and its framework conception, which sets in motion already well-managed information and communication channels and their infrastructure within the country, and these channels are periodically tasked with homework:
- “There is a power in Tbilisi that opposes the normalization of relation with Russia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. They are provocateurs” – Igor Karasin
- “Eastern Partnership” is ousting Russia in the “northeast corner of Eurasia” – Andrey Suzdaltsev
- “Eastern Partnership” is considered as a tool for the disintegration of the former Soviet Union – Director of the Center for Strategic and Foreign Policy Studies Arseny Sivitsky
- “Appearance of instruments of NATO in Georgia will increase the degree of tension” – MFA of the Russian Federation
The above mentioned messages, as a “homework”, is already divided into respective directions (themes), more narrow messages, that on its hand is backed by psychological operations:
- So called “Border relocation”
- Military exercises in the separatist South Ossetia and Northern Caucasus;
The target of the synchronized policy of information and psychological operations is the formation of Georgian public opinion so that in the fear of “losing more”, it will agree to the framework conception of the strategic narrative and its concept and context (reconciliation /no alternatives to dialogue).
With this way, Kremlin unequivocally proposes alternative to the Georgian government – every successful step forward to the West will directly mean “loosing even more”.
On this path, the tactical goals, which Kremlin tries to achieve in a short-term perspective, before strategic political decision, are the following:
- Maximally involve the Georgian side and attach it to the current and the most suitable, bilateral format of dialogue;
- By maintaining dialogue, Russian side tries to win time to effectively arrange the following activities;
- In the eyes of people, divide government in supporting and opposing parties for the normalization of relations, by means of information – psychological operations;
- Prevent Georgian government to create unified governmental narrative on the Georgia’s cooperation with the NATO.
There is an impression, that Kremlin has already arranged the relations with the public opinion in Georgia. Now it is important for Kremlin to force the government to obey the will of voters, “social order”, that 1. “Is afraid of losing more”, and 2. “Has a will for dialogue”.
Presumably, the recent statements on Georgia-NATO cooperation will be the reason for changing the content of the so called “mitigated” information operations of Russia. The current Russian narrative and its main concept are expected to be changed with more rigid and aggressive framework conception. The current Russian narrative will be most likely based on new concept, where Georgia is a country, that once again missed its change to normalize relations with Russia; The key target audience of the Russian information-psychological operations will remain the society, that should raise a question: What is a benefit of the two decades of partnership with the West for the Georgian people?