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Frederic B. Hill, a former foreign correspondent of The Baltimore Sun, later conducted wargaming exercises on national security issues for the Department of State. He is co-editor of a forthcoming biography about former U.S. Sen. Charles Mathias of Maryland.

Reporting from within Russia documents the extent to which the people of Russia have no idea of the scale of the barbaric, inhumane consequences of Vladimir Putin regime’s attack on the people and communities of Ukraine.

Polls even by anti-Putin organizations show that perhaps the only successful aspect of Putin’s merciless war has been the regime’s dictatorial grip on news and information throughout the vast nation.

Putin’s army has been blocked, outfought and basically humiliated by the brave, undermanned and determined fighters of Ukraine — backed by so far solid support in weapons and diplomatic action by the U.S., Europe and most of the democratic free world.

Many questions remain about the outcome of the war as it grinds on into a cold winter — with Putin turning to carpet-bombing and ballistic missiles on Ukraine’s hospitals, schools, apartment buildings and infrastructure in a desperate attempt to break the will of the Ukrainian people and army.

Those questions range from doubts about the continuity of support from the West, especially the supply of weapons and the readiness of European nations to withstand energy cutbacks. They include questions about Putin’s occasional threats of use of nuclear weapons.

But there is one weapon that the U.S. and European nations need to deploy if they are to sustain the courageous and competent Ukrainian resistance: counter Russian propaganda.

The West must get telltale evidence of the grim reality of Putin’s inhumane actions in Ukraine to the Russian people — now fed mostly bald-faced lies such as claims of success and bravery of Russian invaders fighting “Nazis” in Ukraine in “a special military operation.”

As many as 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or injured in Ukraine since Putin’s invasion on Feb. 24, 2022. Thousands of young Russian men have fled the country after Putin announced a draft in desperation. Russia has been forced to buy  drones from Iran to supplement its mediocre industrial capacity.

The only real success of Putin’s war, the first major aggression in Europe since World War II, has been his ability to distort the reality of the war and hide Russia’s failures from his own people.

News reports there highlight only Russian successes — amazingly few. They are full of propaganda that twist the truth and cover up Russian setbacks. Exhibitions in Moscow show triumphant videos of Russia declaring regions of eastern Ukraine part of Russia — parts retaken weeks later by Ukraine’s army.

Russia’s economy has been hit hard by international sanctions — and its economy is not vibrant or diverse. The Russian people must understand that due in part to Putin’s economic failures after decades of rule, Russia’s economy remains the 12th largest in the world — smaller than Canada’s.

But beyond the truth about Russia’s poor standard of living, more telling information needs to confront the people of Russia: accurate portrayal of the barbaric conduct and meager results of Putin’s war.

Send the following into the cities and towns of Russia:

Photos of the bombings of Ukrainian hospitals, schools and residences by Russian missiles; photos of dead children and elderly Ukrainians.

Photos and news accounts of the now documented murders and other war crimes committed by Russian soldiers in places such as Bucha.

Photos of dead Russian soldiers whose bodies were  left behind by Russian military officers after withdrawals from regions they captured earlier — Kherson, Kharkiv, etc; also photos of shattered Russian tanks.

Accounts of growing criticism of Putin’s war from countries that tried to be neutral. Even leaders of China and India have criticized Putin’s threats of nuclear weapons.

How such material gets to the citizens of Russia cannot be a major obstacle in the technologically fluid 21st century. Despite the brutal repression of free speech in Russia, there are opposition groups in the country to which photos and news accounts of the reality of Ukraine can be sent — for them to disseminate. Ukraine is now using drones to invite Russian soldiers to surrender, and those efforts could be expanded significantly. Some unknown groups are posting coded invitations to listen to Radio Free Europe on telephone posts in Russian cities.

If the West wants to see an end to this war — to find a resolution that returns all Russian occupied territory to Ukraine, and leaves Putin some kind of off-ramp to change course — the truth about the war has to be delivered to the people of Russia.

History tells. Mikhail Gorbachev withdrew Soviet military forces from Afghanistan in 1988 for many reasons. But perhaps the most powerful was the growing anger and protests of Russian mothers to the spiraling numbers of sons and daughters coming back from the war — dead.