The Trolling Counteroffensive
Why the Belgorod incursions matter
It's hard to parse closely what is going on the Ukraine-Russia border. A group of Russian fighters aligned with Kyiv, called the Free Russia Legion, have claimed responsibility for several cross-border attacks into the Belgorod region of Western Russia in recent days. Satellite images showed smoke from explosions rising on the Russian side of the border, a video showed soldier and an armored vehicle with Ukrainian markings a few kilometers in Russian territory, and a military factory was reportedly on fire. The legion says the attacks are continuing. The Kremlin says the attacks have been repelled. Ukraine has denied involvement in the attacks. There aren't independent journalists or international observers there to verify these claims.
But beyond the claims, counterclaims, and fog of war, the attacks appear to be the military equivalent of trolling. By trolling, I mean the common Internet practice of making provocative comments to try to sow negative emotion in others. These attacks -- whatever their scale -- are primarily psychological.
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