Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Russia is afraid of Western psychic attacks

By Lauren Wolfe

03 Jan 2023 · 4 min read

Editor's Note

Here’s an aspect of the Kremlin’s thinking on the war in Ukraine we haven’t yet considered: FP examines the role that widespread belief in mysticism and superstition may be having on Russian leaders.

There are plenty of reasons these days to wonder if Russian President Vladimir Putin and his cronies are off their rockers. But a recently leaked memo from the Kremlin reveals that those in charge of the Russian government are farther down the rabbit hole than most of us realized.

The memo, published by the Insider, a Russian news outlet in exile, outlines how the Russian Federal Guard Service (FSO), which protects high-ranking officials such as Putin, would handle the invasion of Ukraine — or any other war — spilling over onto the country’s own soil. It focuses on psychological preparedness, ensuring that FSO officers would have the “moral and psychological support” needed to resist what the memo calls a potential “massive ideological attack.” But the Russians aren’t simply worried about the usual wartime propaganda, like sneaky radio broadcasts or underground newspapers. Instead, the Kremlin is mounting preparations for what it calls the “psychological infection of personnel” by an enemy who would manipulate them through hypnosis—as well as through unknown mystical and psychic powers. The memo warns of “psi-generators” and “hypnotic abilities” used by foreign personnel.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content