Ukrainian Propaganda

Don't let yourself be pushed into war

March 6, 2022

So within a few days or weeks Russia will most likely have forcefully taken over Ukraine and for most of us we can do very little about it but watch what will either go down in the history books as a massive crime committed by the Russian government that they won't face serious punishment for (although their citizens will), or we are witnessing the prologue of world war three where we will see nuclear weapons used for the first time against countries/alliances capable of retaliating with equal force. Either way this will be a tragedy, but although the world has changed quite a bit in the past week, however my personal life (as an American writing this in his pajamas) has yet to be changed by it, sure prices of some things have and may go up, but that is a phenomenon that has become all to familiar for us Americans through the last year for reasons completely independent of Russia.

The most concerning thing about this war, as it pertains to things that directly can or do affect me as someone living in the west, is the amount of Ukrainian propaganda we are getting here. Many of the crazy stories that we should have never believed have proven to be fake, and the more credible sounding ones have proven to be exaggerated at best. I'll be honest, the stories are entertaining, I've been entertained by them, but the stories are propaganda designed to manipulate us. Now, don't go out suggesting that I'm pro-Putin or anything like that, it is possible to be against the Russian invasion but also recognize that the reaction that people are having due to the propaganda that people don't recognize as such is not natural.

I hope it is already clear to you why this sort of propaganda is dangerous. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is being propped up as an international hero in this conflict, if he were to be assassinated don't you think that people would compare his killing to that of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand which sparked the first world war? Would people not try to justify this as reason to jump into another? Is Russia's invasion of Ukraine not dissimilar to Germany's invasion of Poland which was one of the major events that pushed Europe into a second world war? Are people not already drawing that comparison possibly with the hidden motive of justifying getting into another? I'm no historian, but it doesn't take one to see these dangerous parallels. Don't let yourself and those around you be manipulated by propaganda.

The fact that we have this propaganda in the first place is puzzling. As far as I understand, Ukrainian internet is mostly provided by Russian companies, shouldn't the Russian government ordered those companies to turn their internet off so that Ukrainians wouldn't be able to communicate effectively? The fact that we are getting Ukrainian propaganda at all from the internet suggests at least one of four things:

  • Russian leadership is incompetent and overlooked this
  • Russian leadership wants the west to see this propaganda
  • This propaganda is not coming from Ukraine
  • My understanding of Ukrainian internet infrastructure is flawed as I am not an expert
  • Anyone suggesting the first of these things should be dismissed as a spreader of propaganda, the next two would of course classify as conspiracy theories which many people would have easily dismissed in times past, but of course the last few years have proved the difference between the truth and a conspiracy theory to be three to six months so really we can't throw those options out.

    The most important thing for those of us wishing to follow the conflict is to make sure that you are verifying that your information is factual and that you are viewing it through a contextual lens. Understanding of the context is probably most important and hardest to come by, I am not an expert on modern military operations and I'd be willing to bet that you aren't either, but in the past week I have found a few people more qualified than I am contextualizing things for us on the internet. For example, reports have come in that Russia has suffered much more casualties than Ukraine has, this is to be expected for an attacking force, in fact we should expect to see a lot more Russian casualties as they enter cities as military commanders should expect a 70% casualty rate when attacking an urban environment, stack on top of that the fact that historically the Russian military has been accepting of large casualties and the numbers that we are seeing (which still may or may not be real) should not be surprising. Another example of the importance of context would be in the speed of Russia's invasion many people, myself included, expected them to be able to take Kiev much faster, partially because the fall of Afghanistan is fresh in our minds but also because we lack Ukrainian context. Ukraine is a huge country and it takes a lot of time to cross it, the initial advances of Russian troops were also twice as fast as military experts would have expected them to be. There is of course now the incredibly long Russian convoy north of Kiev that hasn't been making much progress and I have seen multiple explanations as to why that may be, failures due to lack of maintenance on the equipment and logistics planning are probable but those reports could also be propaganda trying to paint the Russian army as weaker than it is, we do know that the Ukrainians have blown up several bridges in that area making the Russian advance much harder and the Ukrainians have supposedly ambushed the front of the convoy creating a roadblock of broken Russian equipment, but again we really can't know that for sure.

    The war and propaganda are interesting and in a strange way fun to watch but the most important thing for those of us living in countries generally unaffected by it is to not let yourself get emotionally attached. The propaganda authors are trying to rile us up for war when war should be the last thing we ever want, especially the type that this one has the potential to become. That being said, western culture could definitely use the sort of re-prioritization of values that would come from a world war but that is still not a price worth paying. Ultimately my prediction for the remainder of the Ukraine conflict is that NATO will selfishly but wisely continue to do almost nothing, Ukraine will continue to hold the line as long as they can but Russia will ultimately win this war the same way they won World War II, standing in puddles of their own blood. Is that the outcome I really want? No, but I'm a realist and I have no influence over the outcome of the war, the influence I do have is what I've used here to encourage you to have a level head when thinking of this conflict and to keep your focus on the things in your life which matter most.