Ian Garner

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A mourner attends the funeral of a family of three in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv on April 22. Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

On April 1, images of civilian corpses in Bucha, a suburb of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, began to spread on Western social media. By the following day, investigations by journalists, intelligence specialists, and disinformation experts had confirmed that the victims were almost certainly killed by the Russian forces that had occupied the town for a month before the Ukrainian army drove them out.

Russian state and social media, however, have presented an entirely different—and fundamentally mendacious—story. The creation of confusion and a false narrative around Bucha suggests that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime has no hesitation about twisting even the most abhorrent acts to throw oil on the fire.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives a speech during the Victory Day military parade at Red Square in Moscow on May 9, 2018. Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

The Russian and Ukrainian presidents have a long history of engaging in bouts of discursive jousting. However, what was once dismissed as trolling has now turned into a serious battle over the legacy of World War II, a conflict in which approximately 7 million Ukrainians and 14 million Russians perished and whose rhetorical and symbolic presence today seems inescapable. In the middle of a horrifying new war, Russia and Ukraine are competing over who owns the heritage of World War II: For Russia, memory of the “Great Patriotic War”, as Russians call it, provides a justification for its aggression in Ukraine; for Ukraine, it provides ways to resist the invader and to create new, unifying national myths.…  Seguir leyendo »

Pedestrians cross a street in front of a billboard displaying the symbol “Z” in the colors of the ribbon of Saint George and a slogan reading, “We don’t give up on our people,” in St. Petersburg, Russia, on March 7. AFP via Getty Images

Just a week into the Russia-Ukraine war, Russia is underperforming both on the battlefield and in the propaganda sphere. Any hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin may have had of military and popular opposition melting away have evaporated. His Ukrainian opponents have proven adept at manipulating and spreading historical narratives via social media to strengthen unity at home and sow discontent among a Russian population split on the worthiness of war.

Ukraine’s propaganda efforts have focused on painting contrasts between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Putin. Zelensky has recorded a series of apparently ad hoc videos from besieged Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, depicting himself and his cabinet members on site even as Russian forces advance.…  Seguir leyendo »