Ukrainians Are Winning the Information War Against Russia

Ukrainians Are Winning the Information War Against Russia

While Russia has closed down independent media in an effort to control its propaganda, Ukrainians have publicized the conflict and garnered international support.

Russia’s information operations and propaganda do not appear to be successfully influencing public opinion around the world about its invasion of Ukraine.

“Outside of Russia there's little to no evidence that their information ops are working,” an unnamed senior Department of Defense official said on Thursday. “In fact, we've seen quite the opposite. Ukrainians are doing a good job staying ahead of the information ops.”

Russia has closed or stifled most independent media operations within Russia. It has also arrested protestors and others raising questions about the war in Ukraine.

That has created an environment where many Russians have publicly supported the war.

“In Russia, anecdotally, we see their narratives having more of an effect,” the unnamed official said. “But then again, they've shut down the independent media. The only thing available to most Russians now is state media, and so you would expect that those narratives would be more widely consumed, and even more widely believed.”

One instance came when Russia accused Ukraine of a strike in the Donbas region. In reality, it was Russia that carried out the attack.

“You're seeing it mostly in that Donbas area,” the defense official said. “Interestingly enough, in the Russian state media, if you look at the narratives coming out of there, they don't talk a lot about anything else in Ukraine. A lot of their coverage is of the Donbas area and the accusations of Ukrainian terrorism and that kind of thing. But you're not seeing a lot in Russian state-run media about things elsewhere in Ukraine and how they're going.”

The official also credited the Ukrainians and global media outlets for helping to publicize information about what is happening during the war. Ukrainian government sources, media outlets, and private citizens have all helped distribute information about the conflict to the rest of the world.

“(Ukrainians are) doing a good job communicating to their own people, not to mention the world, and using social media to great effect,” the defense official said. “So we just haven't seen the Russians have much success in the information ops thing.”

Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.

Image: Reuters.