I had beers today with a few Ukrainian warriors.
The conversation turned to propaganda, and how effectively Russia advertised photos and videos of Ukrainian casualties.
One of them told me a story of a Russian column of military vehicles getting obliterated by Ukrainian artillery. He said it was a massacre. Easily a hundred dead, and dozens of vehicles. Guys took pictures.
He told me that later the SBU (Ukraine’s FBI) came to the unit to collect all electronic personal devices. He is certain that someone in the SBU made a lot of money by “selling” the pictures to Russia and guaranteeing their censorship.
He says this was a common practice.
The story rings true — both the self-serving corruption on the Ukrainian side, and Russia’s willing to hide at any cost signs of their own weakness. In my essays about Russian propaganda, I’ve repeatedly pointed out that Russia absolutely cannot countenance sign of their own weakness. It’s a recurring theme in history. Russian journalists reporting casualties and investigating rapidly expanding cemeteries have been violently assaulted, or vanished (here, here). There have been stories about mobile crematoriums burning Russia’s dead.