We are all familiar with the on-going strife in the Donbas as Putin strives to realize his perverted vision of a new Russian Empire. However, few people realize that there is almost as much effort and money being invested by the Russians in a different kind of war, one being waged in the media and the internet to denigrate Ukraine, its people and its desire to be a free and independent country.
Regrettably, this war has been rather one-sided to date. The truth is that the Russians have spent huge sums of money to flood all the various information channels with their revisionist history, distortions, outright lies and fabrications. They have hired literally thousands of “trolls” to propagate their nonsense and to attack Ukrainian supporters on the various social media networks. The Ukrainian government has been slow to react stifled by a bankrupt economy and a civil service of dubious loyalty and competence. It has been left to dedicated volunteers both in Ukraine and in the diaspora, to try and combat this Russian tide of propaganda.
The Euromaidan activists have in recent months organized a number of media initiatives to counteract the disinformation being spouted by the Russians and their fellow travelers, but it is still overmatched in terms of people and resources compared to what the Russian FSB can muster. In the diaspora, a small number of individuals have taken up the cause but the number is far short of what is required to counter the professional effort that the Russians have put in play. In addition, there is too little co-ordination and cooperation between these individuals and the groups they represent to be effective.
The other problem is that too much of the counter-effort is being focused on the Ukrainian community and too little on the broader public and media in Canada in general. It is here that the Russians are making inroads in molding public perceptions. Part of the problem is that too few reporters and political analysts with the major Canadian newspapers as well as radio and television networks know anything about the history of Ukraine or Eastern Europe in general, and most of what they know has been gained through a biased Russian perspective. As a result, a lot of Russian disinformation and propaganda is taken at face value instead of being recognized for the manipulative fabrication that most of it is.
Some fault must be laid at the door of the Ukrainian Embassy in Ottawa which has been rather anemic at challenging some of the blatantly biased and inaccurate reporting that has come out in recent months. They should be far more active and vociferous in taking the media to task for buying into Russia’s blatant distortions and lies.
One must also take the various Ukrainian organizations to task for not organizing an effective media and research task force to wage the propaganda war in a coordinated, funded and effective manner. So far, most of the initiative has come from individuals and small groups. What is needed is a small group of writers, researchers, web developers and media experts employed on a full time basis to neutralize the well-funded FSB initiatives. If we can raise millions of dollars to provide humanitarian aid for the Ukrainian war effort, then surely we should be able to raise the hundreds of thousands of dollars that would be necessary to create an effective media strike force.
In today’s world, conflicts are won and lost not only on the ground through military battles, but equally as important, on the media battlefields as well. Ukraine needs the support of western governments to win its battles, and those governments require public support for their actions before they decide to assist Ukraine in any tangible manner. It is critically important that the citizens of Canada, the US and Europe are fully aware of the facts and the truth of what is happening currently in Ukraine, hence it is vitally important that we effectively counter the falsehoods that are being put out by the large number of both paid agents as well as ideological Russian sympathizers and apologists in Europe and North America.
The Russians are professionals in this game and we cannot just leave it to a small number of individual volunteers to fight this battle on their own.