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The Propaganda War

March 3, 2022 – Russia has stepped up its propaganda war over its invasion of Ukraine with the release of a 30-minute “education” video aimed at children entitled “a lesson about world peace”. Hosted by 12-year-old singing prodigy Sofia Khomenko, who in 2017 sang live on TV about her love for Russia, the Ministry of Education video dodged any mention of war. Instead, it concentrated on reinforcing President Vladimir Putin’s reasons for his “special operation” in Ukraine, to protect Russia’s kinfolk from Nazis, and on spiking the evils of Western propaganda.

March 11, 2022 – Former Defense Secretary Dr Liam Fox talks to Sky News about Russia’s tactics during the war in Ukraine.

April 14, 2022 – In Russia, the story of the war in Ukraine has been told in an entirely different way than in the Western world. Russian TV channels are not allowed to report independently on the conflict and are obliged to toe the Kremlin’s line.

April 21, 2022 – The letter ‘Z’ now signifies loyalty to the Russian president. Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak caused controversy in March 2022 when he accepted a bronze medal at a World Cup event, all while sporting a taped-on letter “Z” on his uniform. The Z symbol had already been appearing all over Russia, as a sign of support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine and loyalty to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The letter popped up on merchandise, in highly organized flash mobs that often involved children, at pro-war rallies, and in internet memes. The symbol was originally spotted on Russian tanks and trucks building up at Ukraine’s border in late February, along with other letters like V and O.

Questions about what the symbols meant began circulating online, and once the invasion began on February 24, most analysts agreed the markings were likely for tactical purposes. But as intrigue around them grew, the Russian Defense Ministry seized on the opportunity to claim that the letters carry extra meaning. They began generating memes that incorporated the Z and V into propaganda slogans. Those letters don’t appear in Russia’s Cyrillic alphabet, so some of the memes Latinize them: most common are ones that begin with the word “for” — spelled “Зa” in Russian, but Latinized to “Za” for the memes. Another way Putin’s regime has turned Z into a propaganda meme has been by connecting it with the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

The “Great Patriotic War” maintains a significant presence in Russian culture — the anniversary of Germany’s defeat is celebrated each year on May 9, or “Victory Day,” and World War II imagery is heavily associated with Russian patriotism and national pride. Z memes that incorporate old photos of Soviet soldiers — and the recognizable orange and black stripes of the Ribbon of St. George — are an attempt to equate the current war in Ukraine with World War II. The Z has spread beyond Russia, too. It’s now seen in pro-Russian demonstrations worldwide and is banned in a growing list of countries. The Z’s evolution from tactical markings on invasion vehicles to a global pro-war symbol demonstrates the effectiveness of the Putin regime’s propaganda strategies.

June 25, 2022 – Ukraine – and the Kremlin’s special media operation that has Russian journalists under control.

July 5, 2022 – WARNING: This story contains graphic images | When it comes to pushing propaganda about the war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladamir Putin has help from a group of Westerners with long histories of peddling disinformation, including John Mark Dougan and Canadian Eva Bartlett.

October 19, 2022 – The University of Leicester’s professor Paul Baines makes a comparison between Ukrainian and Russian propaganda efforts.

December 11, 2022 – President Vladimir Putin’s promise of a swift invasion of Ukraine hasn’t gone to plan, forcing his propaganda machine to change its tone. CBC’s Terence McKenna, with help from Russian 1420 YouTuber Daniil Orain, examines how that shift in messaging is reverberating across the country’s rural areas.

January 26, 2023 – As Russia’s offensive against Ukraine continues, the online fight for hearts and minds remains a key battleground. Ukraine is reliant on international support, with recent pledges of billions of pounds in military aid – including armored vehicles, and air defense systems – vital for its defense. Dr Colin Alexander, a senior lecturer in political communications, at Nottingham Trent University, provides his verdict on who is winning the propaganda war.

February 15, 2023 – Five minutes of assorted Russian propaganda that they watch daily. On the one hand, it helps to understand their way of thinking. On the other hand, this content may be harmful to your mental health. Please consult your doctor first.

February 23, 2023 – On the eve of the first anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the propaganda war being waged by President Putin has become more extreme. Russian citizens are being repeatedly told that Ukraine is being run by LGBT Nazis and President Vlodomyr Zelensky is a drug addict and a sexual pervert. Independent Russian journalists forced to flee the country have found sanctuary in neighboring Latvia where they are now broadcasting factual news about the war into their former homeland via YouTube.

On Foreign Correspondent, reporter Eric Campbell, also on Russia’s banned list, travels to Latvia to meet the journalists who have taken great risks to fight the propaganda war. In the capital Riga, Eric interviews Latvian President Egils Levits, one of Ukraine’s most ardent supporters. His government is allowing NATO troops to train in his country amidst fears Latvia too could suffer the same fate as Ukraine.

February 23, 2023 – As the war in Ukraine enters its second year, the Kremlin is ramping up propaganda to justify the invasion. State TV programs are now portraying the conflict as a fight against gay activists and Satanists. But in neighboring Latvia, exiled Russian journalists are fighting back.

February 24, 2023 – The war in Ukraine is a military one. But there’s another frontline, too: Media. Ukraine is fighting the Russian propaganda machine with a grassroots strategy — and getting a boost from President Zelenskyy’s olive green T-shirt. The Russian war of aggression on Ukraine is among the first to be played out in real time on social media. TikTok “reporters” – known as “war-tokers” — are reporting from the front lines. Videos of influencers discussing the war are going viral. Instagram posts justifying the invasion of Ukraine are being produced by troll factories. Russia is spreading targeted disinformation. With one aim: To systematically devalue news. Internally, Russian disinformation’s goal is to convince its own population that the Russian regime wants to rid Ukraine of Nazis.

Ukraine has organized an informational counterattack: Mobilizing its own population emotionally, in order to strengthen resistance against the aggressor. Externally, it seeks large-scale military support from the West to defend itself. In the propaganda battle over Ukraine, spin doctors are particularly important. On the Ukrainian side, they are often influencers like Oleksiy Arestovych. On the Russian side, propagandist Vladimir Solovyov, with his daily talk shows on TV and the Internet, is supposed to “sell” the war to his countrymen and women. The film examines the new front lines of virtual warfare. It provides insights into how populism plays out on social networks. But it also shows how classic TV is experiencing a resurrection — as an effective propaganda machine.