The war is a tragedy for all Ukrainians, but it's a nightmare for Russian soldiers too. Putin says Russia isn't involved, but young Russian men are going home in coffins. Their lives are nothing more than a policy instrument; their deaths are not acknowledged.
Russian people may have been proud of their almost-bloodless occupation of Crimea, and may even feel righteous in opposing the "fascist junta" in Kyiv. But when their young men die, feelings change. Already, a group called the Union of Committees of Soldier's Mothers is making noise about it.
There is an opportunity here. If sanctions can't convince Putin to stop, maybe his own people can.
Ukraine needs a communications strategy that reaches every wife, parent, sibling, and friend of Russian soldiers. It should tell them what is happening on this side of the border in a way they can't dismiss or ignore.
Tap into Russian social media. The networks are already in place. When Russian solders are captured, let their friends and family know. Treat them well, post regular updates, and mix in news about what Putin is doing. The target audience will pay attention. They'll also get information about how the Russian military is on Ukrainian soil killing Ukrainians and Putin's cover-up of Russian deaths. If only a few people start asking questions, it could make a difference.
Does Ukraine have the communications savvy to pull it off? I don't know.