Research (Insikt)

Russia Seeks to Exploit Western "War Fatigue" to Win in Ukraine

Posted: 29th February 2024
By: Insikt Group®


New research from Recorded Future’s Insikt Group examines Russia's strategic approach towards the Ukraine conflict and how it interacts with Western perceptions and policies. The Kremlin believes that Western countries are experiencing "war fatigue", making continued economic and military support for Ukraine increasingly unpopular. Despite this, Russia recognizes that the West has the capacity to continue supporting Ukraine and aims to influence Western elections in 2024 and exploit political concerns related to continued support to Ukraine. Russia evaluates Western "war fatigue" as part of a Soviet-era computational analysis (called Correlation of Forces and Means [COFM]), which is very likely reinforced by Western political statements, economic data, and public sentiment, and uses this information in its strategy of "information confrontation" to further its goals.

Russia's publicly stated objectives in Ukraine include so-called "de-Nazification", "demilitarization", and preventing Ukraine from joining NATO. The lack of clarity in defining some of these goals, particularly "de-Nazification" and "demilitarization", allows Russia to claim success at a politically convenient time. Currently, Russia seems to be succeeding in its goal of keeping Ukraine out of NATO by seizing territory, a strategy similar to its approach with Georgia in 2008.


A depiction of the strategic conundrum Russia very likely seeks to exploit associated with the Kremlin’s strategy of “reflexive control”. “Strategic defeat” of Russia is associated with US President Joseph Biden’s stated goal against Russia in Ukraine. (Source: Insikt Group)

The Kremlin judges that Russians can endure hardships better than Western citizens and believes Western societies are more likely to pressure their governments to end conflicts and return to normalcy. Russia is capitalizing on this by spreading narratives and exploiting Western information about the economic impact on Western nations of their governments' involvement in conflicts like those in Ukraine, Israel, or the Red Sea. These narratives also highlight the potential for direct conflict with Russia.

Concerning Russia’s perception of Western “war fatigue” and its impact on Western nations, Moscow believes that Western national leadership will select the least painful option, anchored in the Kremlin’s concept of “Reflexive Control”. In this, Moscow believes the impacts of “war fatigue”, if great enough, could drive the West to reduce or suspend support to Ukraine to alleviate domestic social, political, and economic instability and risk exacerbating the aforementioned pain points.

To increase credibility with Western audiences, Russian media outlets seeking to influence these audiences are increasingly citing Western sources, including media outlets, government officials, and academic institutions. This approach is intended to counter Western accusations of Russian mis- or disinformation about the war in Ukraine.

Addressing Russian influence and exploitation of "war fatigue" will require Western nations to adapt their information strategies and domestic economic policies. Countering Russian influence operations calls for careful use of information control measures and accurate application of terms like misinformation and disinformation. In terms of economic policy, alleviating domestic economic strains, such as those caused by rising food and energy prices, could reduce public fatigue over support for Ukraine and weaken Russian influence efforts.

To read the entire analysis, click here to download the report as a PDF.