There are millions of Russians concerned about the lives of the Ukrainian people. Many are talking in despair about how their friends in Russia are now deleting them from social media due to their disagreement for the war in Ukraine. And in this situation, both sides are taking the help of strategic communication what we call propaganda. Therefore, the role of media is very crucial in this information war.
Due to the nationalist madness, a lot of Russian people believe in President Putin’s propaganda. Besides the Russian media is also spreading the ideology that says Russia’s “operation” is necessary to liberate oppressed Russians in Ukraine. Similarly, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also doing everything he can to save his nation. But the ask for the No-Fly Zone was too much. There is no disagreement that Ukrainians are suffering, No-Fly Zone signals another bloody war that will be devastating.
On the other hand, some believe that the Americans are waging biological warfare from laboratories in Ukraine and Georgia. Who knows if they really are since they have never kept their promises to Russia about the expansion of NATO?
In this whole situation, a lot of brave Russians take to the streets to shout against Putin’s aggression. But many have been arrested for demonstrating against the invasion. And in this whole scenario, media has a very important role to play other than spreading propaganda from Russia, Ukraine, the EU, or the US.
Information War Between Russia and The World
The information war is an old strategy to prevent common people to see each other’s perspectives. And in the case of the Russia-Ukraine war, different realities are deepening. Today the EU is putting bans on Russian media in Europe and the Ukrainian government is calling for a boycott of all Russian writers, the fundamental values are put to the test.
We get to understand that censorship is not a good way of gaining freedom. Rather, here freedom is killed. And it is happening under the auspices of the EU and the western world, the freedom of expression is on the cross.
We understand that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is an unprovoked and illegal war of aggression. As a result, it is facing condemnation, massive sanctions, and security policy instruments from the western world. This type of rapid sanctions has never been used by the European countries since World War II. The President of the European Commission took a very quick decision that Russian, state-controlled media will now be prevented from operating in Europe.
According to the president of the European Commission, “They will no longer be allowed to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war.” Ursula Von Der Leyen also confirmed that they will prevent toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe by putting a ban on Russian media.
Media Propaganda in Russia-Ukraine War
It is to believe that Russia Today, Sputnik News, and some other similar media are working as propaganda machines for the Russian government. The news from these media entities is a parallel reality. They are desperately putting conspiracy theories and erroneous allegations to justify their illegal warfare. We can say that it is useful to see how Russia justifies its actions to its own people. Moreover, in this situation, this is the only source of information for common Russians. To them, Russia’s invasion appears to be a humanitarian intervention.
This is not about Russia only; it is the case for the US as well. Whenever they have invaded any nation, American media has also propagated those as humanitarian intervention or war on terror. To invade any sovereign nation, the narrative the invaders use is quite similar. We have also seen the Bosnian war in the 90s which is also similar to the Ukraine situation.
A media ban is nevertheless a serious tool but the EU should not forget that this is also ignorance, which will put a lot of people’s life at stake. Isn’t the EU putting the threshold for censorship sky-high? Let’s not forget that the war of communication can only be won with facts, not prohibitions. Arguments can save lives, not weapons. And cultural exchange can also be a good tool, not isolation. On the other hand, this type of sanctions should also be equally applied for all the invaders not only for their enemies. Because it doesn’t take much time for an ally to become an enemy. Therefore, the EU or the western world should set a standard for crimes like the Ukraine invasion.
The Media Propaganda from the Russian Government
The media propaganda from the Russian government is also similar to the EU: a total ban on the free press. Recently Russia introduced a new media law that makes it a criminal offense to spread “false news”. Anyone who refers to the “operation” in Ukraine as a war can be punished with up to 15 years in prison. Due to the legal hurdles, western journalists are now being pulled out of Russia. On the other hand, media that are opposing the Russian invasion are censoring themselves. Moreover, the Russian government is also blocking western media such as the. The world is also expecting that the Putin regime will shut down the internet to prevent spreading news.
When it comes to Russian state media, they are not in any suitable situation for challenging the narrative of most Europeans. And this is much more dangerous since the state media is the only source of news for many Russians.
Ukraine’s Narrative of its Invasion
Propaganda has many names when it comes to military strategy. And to win a war and public opinion, propaganda is essential in modern warfare. During my research, I bumped up with some of the other words that go with the propaganda.
Psychological warfare. Strategic communication. Cyber and information operations. Attitude change. Psychological politics. Indoctrination. Counter messaging. Information confrontation. Impact.
These are the dear child of Propaganda with politically current names. Right now, these are terms of the media propaganda in the Russia-Ukraine war being used and we have never seen it so clearly as right now.
The narrative from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is very sympathetic and he is clear in his communication. Because of his communication, NATO countries are sending sharp weapons to Ukraine. In the last two weeks, public opinion has completely changed European security policy.
Now, Zelensky is the army commander, and he is agitating for NATO to be his army as well. In the beginning, Ukraine asked for weapons, but now they are asking for a no-fly zone. But what does it mean? It simply means World War III.
Role of Social Media in Breeding Propaganda
The internet and social media are full of information now. The people of Ukraine and its ally countries are sharing professionally designed photos and memes. Many of those graphics are politically cited. Many even claim that World War III is already underway indicating NATO to move on from denial to active participation. Some graphical contents have put slogans saying there are no Russian victims because 69 percent of Russians support Putin.
On the 26th of February, Business Insider published news about some Instagram war accounts spreading misinformation. Those accounts are just meme accounts and now they are using fake Ukraine footage to gain more followers. But those are being used as media propaganda in the Russia-Ukraine war.
The misinformation works in favor of dehumanizing the opponent to increase the fighting spirit among Ukrainians. In another word, those slogans and misinformation do not take into account the growing opposition in Russia to the war. Even they don’t consider the tens of thousands of brave Russians are imprisoned because they have demonstrated against the invasion.
There is No Truth in War
For centuries, we have encountered that there is no truth in war, all parties use their communication strategically. And the responsibility of the press is therefore crucial. So, the media should not report propaganda from both sides, rather they should tell what is happening. It has a moral obligation to follow up on allegations, analyze the situation and talk about what is happening.
What is happening in Ukraine, is heartbreaking. The sanctions and boycotts must punish the Putin regime and state institutions, but every country should also think about ordinary Russians who do not have any connection to the invasion.
In order to keep a balance western countries and Russia should not put ban the flow of information. Besides, social media jockers should not spread misinformation to propagate the situation. The proper information flow is the opportunity to understand each other and it is a sure recipe for increased contradictions. Therefore, the medicine against propaganda is a free press, not censorship.