Kremlin’s information war against Ukraine: ends and means

Ukraine: The Unseen Attacks – Information War

Ukrainian experts on countering Russian propaganda

“One thing is clear: you cannot beat propaganda with propaganda,” said the former Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine Tatiana Popova. “By doing so, you yourself will lose people’s trust and question all the facts.”.

“This is what Russia wants,” she firmly believes.

Popova, who currently works for the Ukrainian non-profit organization Information Security, told Voice of America about her involvement in Ukraine’s efforts to counter Russian propaganda during the year and a half she was minister. It was thanks in part to her that the Ukrainian armed forces created an accreditation program for journalists covering the conflict in eastern Ukraine..

Popova was one of the initiators of replacing television towers and transmitters in Donbass so that residents of a region occupied by pro-Russian forces and turned into a conflict zone do not receive “news” only from pro-Kremlin channels, but have access to a wider range of information and analysis..

Like many media experts in Europe, Popova is concerned that Russia is turning free speech against the West and is using democratic media tools such as Twitter as a weapon in hybrid warfare..

According to Popova, in just a few years since the ouster of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted from power as a result of anti-government protests in 2014, Russian propagandists have learned a lot..

Facebook last week reported that a controversial Russian company had posted ads on social media targeting American voters totaling $ 100,000. Anti-immigrant ads reach 70 million Facebook users – a large potential audience at a relatively low cost.

The US government is currently investigating whether the Russian state news agency Sputnik violated the law on registration of foreign agents, acting as an instrument of Kremlin propaganda in America. Moscow responded to reports of this investigation by threatening to respond to “outrageous actions of the American side”.

Kremlin's information war against Ukraine: ends and means

“The pressure of the American authorities on the Russian news agency is an obvious violation of international obligations in the field of freedom of expression and media activities,” said Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova last week..

Oleksiy Garan, a Ukrainian political scientist and professor at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, rejects such claims. “Russia is using democracy to undermine democracy,” he said. “They are using the democratic rules of the game in Europe and the United States to destabilize democracy.”.

According to Garan, the Kremlin’s information war has three main goals: “The first is internal political, because Putin needs to justify his actions and raise his ratings in Russia. And I would say that propaganda is effective because the Kremlin dominates Russian television. “.

“In Ukraine, Russia is trying to form a vision of the situation with the help of pro-Russian puppets on television and in social networks. They choose some kind of marginal news or come up with fake news and then try to spread it to get it into the mainstream news. Finally, another target is the West, where Russia wants to split and undermine transatlantic relations. They continue the old Soviet strategy using digital tools “.

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