How Ukraine outperformed Russia
Last week, the Russian Federation attacked Ukraine. In spite of all its challenges, Ukraine is winning the information war against the Russian Federation.
The country is winning the fight for hearts and minds, including in pockets of Russia where protests have broken out and throughout many other countries.
The early-stage victory in the information domain had tangible benefits for the country. The U.S. and its allies imposed sanctions on Russia. Sanctions have the potential to create numerous problems for the country’s economy.
Moreover, Ukraine’s ability to win the narrative has significant implications for three important constituencies: its own citizens, other countries, and people within Russia.
For example, heroic images of grandmothers getting involved in the battles can mobilize people. Importantly, word spread rapidly through both traditional and social networks and bolstered Ukraine’s cause in the Western world.
Ukraine, Russia, and disinformation
The situation is more complicated when it comes to Russia. As stated earlier, Ukraine seeks to garner support both domestically and abroad in part to raise funds and resources.
The Russian Federation is fighting a different battle from Ukraine on this front. It wants to prevent protests in the country. Moreover, Russia wants to demoralize Ukrainian soldiers.
Unsurprisingly, Russian people are the primary audience for its disinformation campaign including a false pretext for the invasion. As previously mentioned, the secondary audience is the Ukrainian people.
As in the case of most things on the internet, interest even in major conflicts can be fleeting. So while Ukraine may be winning the information war, sustained attention could be integral to its efforts on the ground.
More importantly, if the war drags on, its impact and the human toll will become harder to conceal from the Russian people. And in spite of the high risk, some could raise their voices against the country’s government.
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