The majority of the fighting between Russia and Ukraine has occurred in Ukraine.
But recently, Russia received a wake-up call showing how vulnerable the country is to attacks inside its borders.
It happened when Ukraine carried out coordinated drone strikes that hit Moscow.
These weren’t just drone attacks targeting the city. Rather, the attacks were aimed at the homes of senior Russian intelligence officials.
A fleet of at least six drones attacked residential apartments in Moscow’s southeastern neighborhoods that contained some of Moscow’s wealthiest homes.
Many residents of the area were shocked by the attacks because it was the first-time residential areas were targeted since Russia invaded Ukraine.
At first, reports suggested the areas hit were targeted at random.
But it was later revealed that the targets were carefully selected as a means of psychological warfare against Russia.
The targets were all residences of Russian intelligence officials.
In addition, one of the buildings that was hit in the attack was the home of a Russian military contractor.
The contractor provides military services to Russia and is known to play a crucial role in Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service.
The targeting of these buildings and residences was meant to send a message to Russian officials that no one is safe.
And though this was a physical drone attack, it was also a clear case of psychological warfare.
What is psychological warfare?:
All countries employ psychological warfare, which is the tactical use of threats or attacks designed to intimidate, demoralize, or influence the behavior of the enemy.
It can be used to overcome the enemy’s will to fight. Or, it can sustain the morale of the good guys who are fighting against evil.
Psychological warfare can also influence the attitudes of other countries who are watching the war from the outside.
Now, here are a few of the most common ways psychological warfare is conducted.
During World War I, German troops were inundated with leaflets which told the troops their efforts were pointless.
The leaflets promised German troops rations if they surrendered, and many soldiers took the offer.
As simple as it sounds, leaflets are still used today.
They can easily be dropped by planes and filled with a variety of messages to convince the enemy that they are better off surrendering.
During World War II, the U.S. used ghost armies.
After D-Day, the U.S. set up artificial equipment (such as inflatable tanks and trucks) to trick the enemy.
In addition to the physical deception, the ghost armies used fake radio communications and military sounds played on loudspeakers.
The idea was to fool German forces into thinking that the U.S. had a much larger army than they did.
And it worked like a charm.
Some German forces were convinced that the U.S. forces were up to thirty times larger than they were.
While many uses of psychological warfare are designed to fool the enemy, sometimes it can be used to wear down the enemy.
This was the case when the U.S. invaded Panama.
In 1989, the U.S. ousted the drug-dealing dictator Manuel Noriega.
The U.S. forces had little trouble overtaking Panamanian forces. But as the U.S. went after Noriega, he fled to the Vatican City embassy.
The U.S. didn’t want to enter the embassy, so they had to wait him out.
To annoy Noriega, the U.S. military blasted hard rock music at full volume at the embassy.
Eventually, with nerves worn to a nub, Noriega surrendered.
These days, psychological warfare is a standard part of military planning.
Whenever the U.S. is involved in a conflict, they will be conducting psychological warfare at the same time.
But militaries aren’t the only ones involved in this type of warfare.
Small psychological skirmishes happen between groups, and even between individuals.
So, it’s vital that you know how to spot someone trying to manipulate you, lie to you, or try to elicit information from you.
These are skills every spy needs to know to stay safe on missions in hostile territory.