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Being friends while still being at war: Turkish cyberspace commandos are still being trained in Ukraine

Turkey’s cyberspace troops are the best indicator of how sincere Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in his friendship with Russia: even though the Kremlin and Turkey have “buried the hatchet,” Turkish cyberspace commandos are still in Ukraine and are being trained against Russia.

This is NATO’s project against Russia and Erdogan has no say in it. Organizers of this training process have found arguments for it: Russia is still the key enemy for Turkey and NATO and though no longer open, the conflict is still there. So, this is part of a hybrid war.

Now the Turkish cyberspace troops (whom in Kiev they term as volunteers’ mission) have been divided into small specialized groups.

One group is being taught to feed the Turks with anti-Russian theses. For example, they may present a terror act allegedly committed by Kurds as Russia’s attempt to provoke Kurdish activity in Turkey or they may turn any Russian criticism concerning Turkey into a proof of the Russians’ hatred for the Turks.

Another group is instructed to keep track of what Russian political and public figures say about Turkey and to signal any changes in Russia’s policy.

There is also a group ensuring “wanted” coverage in Turkish mass media and cyberspace.

Finally, individual tasks for Turkish cyberspace commandos in Ukraine are meant to form a big anti-Russian network.

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In other words, those Turks are being taught the art of “using a smile as a cover for hitting hard.” Those troops are also developing theses for Russian audiences. For example, Ukraine’s Information Policy Ministry is already planning to spread an article alleging that Russia cannot be efficient in Syria without Turkey’ support. So, now any Russian and Syrian success in Syria will be ascribed to Turkey, while the failures will “prove” the inability or even the reluctance of the Russian-Syrian troops to be efficient. The authors of this project (who may well be from Washington rather than Kiev) expect this strategy to force the Russians to respect Turkey as a key force in the Syrian conflict and to show them that they better not be at odds with the Turks.

This project was started long before the shooting of the Russian plane in Turkey and has quite long-term goals.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has a number of such units and their activities will serve as a practical example for the Turkish “volunteers.”

So, Russian tourists should not be surprised if very soon they find almost Russian free newspapers in hotels and other sites: the Russia-NATO cold war is back. Simply today the battlefield is the minds and hearts of people.

Vitaly Ponomar, specially for EADaily

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