The spread of information via social media platforms has been a powerful tool, but it also allows for misinformation and disinformation. The United States is a perfect example of this, with the endless chatter that continues on certain platforms continuing to split us.
Both sides are using many of these same services in their war on Ukraine. Telegram, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter have made it possible for average Ukrainians and others to post images of the frontlines in ways that were previously impossible. Meanwhile, the Russian and Kyiv governments have used carefully choreographed videos to gain popularity.
You could even argue that social media was essentially used for weaponization.
What is notable just in the past weeks is that it seems Kyiv continues to show the plight it faces as a nation, while also highlighting the bravery of its forces against Russian aggression – whereas Moscow’s efforts seem more directed toward maintaining support for its “special military” operation with its own people.
Ukraine’s Brave Fighting Men & Women
Many videos from frontlines have appeared on social media. Some show the devastation and destruction, while others focus on the losses that Russia has suffered. From the first weeks of the war, videos were posted of destroyed Russian equipment – and of course the now infamous clip of a Russian armored vehicle being towed away by a Ukrainian farmer using his tractor.
This image was so famous that it even received a stamp in the mail earlier this year.
The Ukrainian Post published a stamp dedicated to the Ukrainian Army. The stamp shows a Ukrainian tractor pulled by Russian military equipment with the slogan “Good evening, Ukraine.” It will donate a portion of its proceeds to the Army,” Anton Gerashchenko tweeted (@Gerashchenko_en), last month’s advisor to the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Ukraine.
This week, Ukraine’s military further highlighted how it has continued to employ captured Russian hardware – including a Tu-80U, considered to be one of the most advanced main battle tanks (MBTs) in service on the frontlines today.
Ukrainian Ministry of Defense tweeted a video of the newly captured tank hauling away equipment. Ukrainian soldiers captured a T80U russian tank that was being used to haul a Msta B 152 mm howitzer. This happened in Kharkiv.
This video was viewed more than 250,000 times since Wednesday’s posting.
Moscow Joins Red Square Rally
Moscow, however, hasn’t been quite as prompt to post images from the frontlines. This is likely due in part to the fact the war hasn’t turned out the way the Kremlin expected. Russia was not able to win quickly, and its troops were treated as liberators. Instead, it faced many setbacks on battlefield.
Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin attended a huge rally on Red Square following Friday’s announcement in Moscow in which Ukraine annexed 4 regions. Many thousands have seen videos of the event, with crowds chanting “Russian, Russia, Russia!”
These displays, however, were most likely intended to gain support for the “special army operation” at home. Tens of thousands of Russians who are of conscription age tried to leave the country following Putin’s announcement that 300,000 reservists would be called into service.
Putin held this rally under the Kremlin to get support for war in Ukraine. This was not his first. Many have compared such events to rallies organized by Nazism and other fascist regimes, and continue to doubt whether support for the war in Ukraine is genuine.
Is The World a Believer?
Kyiv already denounced the Moscow “referendums”, which were held in the Ukrainian regions, as unrepresentative of a scam and stated they won’t stop trying to push Russia out the territory that it has seized.
In addition, many western governments also dispute the legitimacy of the referendum – as images also circulated this past week of voters forced to cast ballots at gunpoint. These images were not broadcast by Russian state television or shared via official social media channels.
There are two versions of this war, evidently. But social media allows both sides to be visible, giving everyone around the world access to a complete picture.