Aid to the

A staged conflict in order to disrupt mobilization

Ukrainians associate the acronym PSYOPS with almost anything they don’t like. But, this time it’s for real. Russian propagandists are spreading a video of two people in military uniforms beating a third. Everything happens in a trench, and the video shows only the men’s backs

“Ukrainian soldiers beat a mobilized soldier from Kherson, accusing him of treason,” the caption reads.

But, at the same time, we hear them speaking:

- Hey, Vasyl? Where’s that bastard from Kherson? - the first man asks.

- Here he is. Listen, you Kherson bastard, so you betrayed Kherson and now you’re hiding here, eh? - the second man replies and starts kicking the third man, who falls on the ground and covers his head with his hands.

- Come on, chat away! Where’s your weapon? - the first man speaks again.

- Where’s your weapon? - repeats the second man. 

- Over there... - replies the third.

- Where… over there? All you people from Kherson are the same! - says the second man.

- What are we going to do with him, Vasyl? - the first man asks.

- Fucking get rid of him! - replies the second.

- But listen! I’m one of you guys! - whines the third.

This is a conflict staged by the russian occupiers. A number of things point to this:

  •  the dialogue doesn’t sound natural; it seems memorized (every word is emphasized), as if some amateurs were speaking their lines in a cheap theatre;
  •  surprisingly good language (except for the absence of the vocative case and a few other minor errors);
  • an atypical choice of words for a native speaker: it’s unusual for someone to order you to speak using the term “chat away” (балакай); in a normal conversation, it would be more like “talk” (кажи);
  • language opposition: two armed and brutal Ukrainian speakers beat a defenseless russian speaker;
  • although politicians have partially deepened the rift in Ukrainian society between the “pro-russian” eastern part of the country plus some regions of the southern part and the “pro-Ukrainian” western part, Kherson and Kherson Region have always been known for their clear pro-Ukrainian position, so such a conflict seems very unlikely;
  • clean uniforms in a dirty trench indicates that this is a fake scenario.


This russian information and psychological operation (PSYOP) is designed to sow discord and distrust in Ukrainian society, to divide and oppose the Ukrainian military on the basis of language and region of origin.

The video intends to persuade the residents of the occupied area of Kherson Region and liberated Kherson residents that Ukraine doesn’t need them, that they’re hated, and that they’ll be better off with russia.

And most importantly, to force Kherson residents to avoid mobilization in any way possible by instigating the fear of revenge for “surrendering Kherson to the russians at the beginning of the war.” This is incredibly cynical given russia’s plans to mobilize residents of the occupied territories, including southern Ukraine. 

Unfortunately, some people thought the video was based on true facts and others had doubts. Avoid falling for such cheap tricks. If you’re unsure, send it to us for clarification before sharing it.

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Sincerely yours, Sova (Owl) small logo 

Сергій Одаренко
Сергій Одаренко
редактор По той бік новин
Halyna Dolynna
Halyna Dolynna
editor of the English texts
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