MOSCOW (Reuters) - The United States and other Western countries are waging a psychological war on Russia to try to undermine President Vladimir Putin and state institutions, an adviser to Russia’s defence minister said.
The aide, Andrei Ilnitsky, also said in comments widely reported by Russian media that Washington also wanted to alter how Russians think in a “war...for people’s minds”.
Moscow’s ties with Washington are at a post-Cold War low, with U.S. President Joe Biden saying he believes Putin is a killer who deserves to be hit with sanctions for meddling in U.S. politics, charges the Kremlin denies.
Russian authorities have also suggested jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny is a Western puppet on a mission to destabilise Russia, an allegation Navalny has dismissed.
“A new type of warfare... is starting to appear. I call it, for the sake of argument, mental war. It’s when the aim of this warfare is the destruction of the enemy’s understanding of civilizational pillars,” Ilnitsky, who advises Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, told the Spas TV channel.
He said the United States was also using economic and “informational” measures in attempts to undermine Putin, the presidency, the army, the Russian Orthodox Church and youth.
“A war is being waged for people’s minds,” he said.
Ilnitsky said Washington had resorted to such methods because a direct armed confrontation with Russia, a nuclear power, was unrealistic.
Asked whether he agreed Washington was waging a psychological war against Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “A deliberate policy to contain and keep Russia down is being pursued. It is absolutely constant and visible to the naked eye.”
Washington is expected to impose sanctions against Russia soon over alleged Russian meddling in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
Peskov said Russia had never accepted foreign meddling in its affairs and did not meddle in other countries’ affairs.
Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber and Dmitry Antonov; Editing by Timothy Heritage
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