It can be confusing to hear arguments that are in favour of the invasion, as they may sound very similar to arguments opposing it. The following gives an overview on what arguments may be used that can hide the actual intention as implicit assumptions are made that are not automatically understood by all sides.
Different assumptions, different implications
Simply speaking, many invasion opposing arguments may also be used a pro invasion arguments, just with a slight twist. This page raises awareness that many statements can be used in different ways and may have another meaning than actually assumed.
Russia has strongly tightened the censorship by making any statement against the official line, such as calling the war a war and not a “special military operation”, punishable. Statements against the war can be punished by prison time.
Therefore, in official statements, an anti-war attitude can be hidden in sentences such as “Putin explained, but everyone should think for themselves”. Or if someone “overquotes” just sources of public statements and never expresses any statement (or a tendency of “let’s not believe everything”). This is as tricky to spot as hidden pro-war arguments.
The following gives a few ideas of how a hidden meaning may be contained.
No one wants war
In the pro-invasion mindset, war is not good either. The hope is for the war to end fast (because Ukraine should just give up), claim that it’s a tragedy (that such a step [of denazification and demilitarization] had to be taken) and that Russians want to be with Ukrainians again (after they have been liberated, denazified).
We don’t wanna have repercussions
Statements can include that the collaboration should be kept or that it should be focused on what we do (such as research). This can be interpreted in both ways: on one hand such sentences can very well appear in an invasion opposing statement, outlining the importance of international relationships and therefore indirectly opposing the invasion. It can also be used to keep good relationships up; in the end, nobody wants to cut ties. The argument is simply that the invasion was a necessary step, no international relation should therefore be harmed.
This motivation cannot be underestimated: telling the listeners what they want to hear in order to get what you want. And example is the union of Rectorates that tells on one hand to keep up the international relationship in order to continue for Russian Universities to succeed (statement) while on the other hand are strongly in favor of the war (statement, further discussion)
Let’s think for ourselves
This is probably the most anti-war line: it implicitly calls for not believing the state propaganda and walks a fine border between anti-war and yet an undeniably “legal” statement.
So what is what?
Keeping this in mind can be crucial to determine the actual position on the war of statements and a general rule of thumb is that if Russia’s invasion and fighting isn’t explicitly opposed, it is most likely a pro-invasion statement, especially if the speaker was free to speak (such as in private messages). This may be a bit trickier in the heavily censored country of Russia where slightly more has to be read between the lines and a completely neutral stance can indicate an anti-invasion position.
Summary: the above mentioned statements alone do not indicate the actual position on the invasion.
Examples of statements
Explanation for the war
There are no justified reason for the full invasion of Ukraine (Why Russia invades Ukraine) and the UN called for the immediate retreat of the Russian troops. Supporters of the war however will bring up a reason – mostly the “genocide” in the Donbass, the conflict in the Donbass or NATOs threat to Russia’s security – to justify the war.
Examples of what can be used for pro-invasion (as well as against) include:
- “Many years of confrontation in Ukraine [Donbass] accompanied by the death and deprivation of civilians led to an acute military conflict.”
- “This decision of Russia is to finally end the eight-year confrontation between Ukraine and Donbass…”
- “Our country is going through difficult times today.” – Depending on context, this may means that it was a necessary step.
- “Vladimir Putin explained the reasons for this difficult steps” – Depending on context – without additional statements that one may needs to think for itself or similar – this is usually also used as pro-invasion, as “difficult [but needed] steps” can be implied. It is, like many statements here, not clear.
- “the war was unavoidable” – arguing that if Russia had not attacked, it would itself have been the target of aggression
- “The tragedy in the Donbass […]”
- “This should have never happened” – means that it should have never been necessary for Russia to intervene in order to “denazify” or “liberate” Ukraine
- Words like “demilitarization”, “denazification”, “liberation [of Ukrainian people]”
Anti-invasion statements that are not used in favor of the invasion usually include:
- Words like “unjustified”, “aggression”, “invasion”
- “War that Russia started”
- In general, putting the blame on Russia
Ending the war
As the pro-invasion also want to avoid war in the sense that Ukraine should have simply given up in the first place, some statements can also sound similar.
Pro-invasion statements can include:
- “This war should end as soon as possible” – by Ukraine surrendering in order to allow for the denazification.
- “ceasefire and diplomacy” – note that this does not include a retreat of Russian troops. Most often this means that they should discuss and Ukraine should give up some parts.
Anti-invasion statements clearly put the blame of the war on Russia. They may include:
- “immediate retreat of Russian forces”
- “[to request that] Russian forces stop fighting”