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In the Battle of Propaganda, Ukraine’s Most Effective Strategy is Taking the Offensive

Ukraine Soldier (Credits: Brookings Institution)

“Don’t become a vegetable!”

That’s the warning Ukrainian researcher Oksana Moroz issues to her fellow citizens and the West. According to Moroz, Russian information warfare is so effective that it leaves people bewildered and passive, likening them to vegetables.

Moroz highlights Ukraine’s heavy reliance on social media for news consumption as a serious vulnerability. She notes that approximately 62% of Ukrainians get all their news from social networks, providing fertile ground for Russian disinformation to spread and undermine Ukraine.

Seizing the Initiative in Ukraine (Credits: CSIS)

Russia’s strategy in Ukraine involves leveraging social media to weaken Ukrainian resolve. Moroz has developed online educational materials to combat this, reaching nearly 9 million Ukrainians. She believes that educating people about Russian disinformation empowers them to resist.

Moroz identifies several tactics used by Russian information warfare:

Social Media Monitoring: Russian specialists closely monitor social media to identify contentious topics in Ukraine.

Identification of Contentious Issues: Once identified, Russia amplifies existing tensions or creates new controversies.

Rumor Mill Construction: Propagandists craft rumors to deepen societal divisions.

Indiscriminate Support for All Sides: Bots are deployed to support all sides of a discussion, causing chaos and confusion.

Ukraine Soldiers (Credits: Al Jazeera)

Dissemination of False Information: Fake news is strategically injected into social media conversations to exaggerate existing problems and provoke emotional responses.

Russian propaganda focuses on three main themes: betrayal narrative, corruption allegations, and discrediting leadership. These efforts spill beyond Ukraine’s borders, influencing foreign media coverage as well.

Moroz advocates for a proactive approach to counter Russian manipulation, emphasizing the importance of disseminating counter-narratives that expose Russian propaganda tactics. She believes that helping the public recognize and resist manipulation is crucial for Ukraine and the West.

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