One of Russia’s largest state-owned weapons producers is set to release a children’s book aimed at preschoolers about a little tank that learns about the “adventures” of Russian weapon systems in “foreign lands.”
The book, entitled, “Adventures of the Little Tank,” follows a toy that was accidentally left in a museum full of Russian weapon platforms produced by the defense company, Uralvagonzavod. It follows the little tank as it meets the full-sized machines and hears tales of the things they’ve done throughout the world. Among the vehicles the little tank meets are the Soviet World War II era T-34 as well as a modern Armata tank. Each tank tells a story to the little “adventurer” about its exploits in combat and is accompanied by exercises such as pages to color or word searches.
According to the company, Russian author Svetlana Lavrova “tells pre-school children about awe-inspiring combat vehicles in an accessible and absorbing way.” They added that the book is intended to instill patriotism in Russian children while encouraging them to pursue interests in engineering.
Uralvagonzavod has been developing and producing combat vehicles for the Russian state for eighty years, and this isn’t their first attempt at spreading their message of Russia’s combat escapades to children. Another book aimed at teenagers has already been released, though it drew less concern because of its target audience’s older age. It is styled more like an encyclopedia that features a wide variety of combat vehicles and provides information regarding each one.
This move has been compared to another Russian company’s recent decision to sell cots shaped like the Buk missile launcher system that shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 with 298 people on board. The cot went on sale in October and garnered quite a bit of criticism in both international and domestic media.
Russia rejected the results of a Dutch led investigation that concluded that Russian forces fired the missile that killed everyone on board the flight and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov refused to apologize for the incident, suggesting that the investigators were unable to concretely establish who fired the weapon.
CaroBus, the company that produces and sells the bed, responded to criticisms by changing the bed’s name to “Defender.” It also released a statement that read, “We draw your attention to the fact that this is a defensive weapon, not an offensive one. It has been guarding the peace in the skies since 1980.”
It may be more difficult for Uralvagonzavod to argue that their “little tank” and his lessons about Russian military operations in “foreign lands” is meant to emphasize peace. Russia is obviously not the first or only nation accused of targeting children with military propaganda. Governments have always aimed to persuade their citizens into supporting war efforts when necessary, and those efforts have often extended to children. However, war propaganda is traditionally reserved for times of war, and Russian involvement in Syria’s civil strife notwithstanding, Russia is not currently entangled in a fight that might warrant such an effort. Instead, this move may indicate a shift in Russian perceptions about the world at large, and an anticipation of wars to come.
This perceptual prophecy could be self-fulfilling as tensions rise between Russia and NATO in the years to come.
Image courtesy of Reuters