As Russia enters Ukraine, a massive media and cyber campaign accompanies troops spinning events to tell the story of the righteousness of President Vladimir Putin’s quest to rid Ukraine of Nazis; an irony made in sharp relief, seeing that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is Jewish.
At the same time, American media covers the U.S. side of the story, with networks carrying the official statements of President Joseph Biden and his efforts to rally the world against Russia; something that is not going as well as many hoped for.
Watching the post-mortem coverage following Mr. Biden’s appearance, where he took questions for the first time in a while, what I found most profound was the sense of disappointment by Ukrainians that the U.S. failed to come to impose maximum sanctions as a show of resolve in their moment of need. Instead, they heard Mr. Biden talk about imposing some sanctions then waiting thirty days to see how they are working, before evaluating the next, in a long-term series of slow-motion responses.
There’s no time. Ukraine will be overrun by a vastly superior military force in a few days, and I believe a ruthless Stalinist-type purge will begin, punishing anyone who resisted Mr. Putin as a Nazi sympathizer. Not my choice of words; that’s right from Putin’s 5:00am Moscow time television announcement. The bottom line is that many Ukrainians have begun to speak about their country in the past tense.
But, could it be that the first stage of failure for Mr. Putin’s adventurism is already meeting resistance? Not from governments, but from ordinary people.
Enter the amazing ability of social media to reveal points of hope. In this case, the activity of a Telegram chat stream called “Ukrainian Freedom News.” It’s the brainchild of Joe Lindsley, an American in Lviv, who is translating items from Ukraine and Russia to English, to share with more people on the internet. You can get to it by opening Telegram on your computer or your mobile device, and typing in the name of the chat feed. The pinned page says,
“We Are In a Massive Information War, in addition to the actual Invasion. Help us resist and find the truth before Russia totally controls the narrative—please share our Channel!
Update: In so much of the international news we hear only negative stories from Ukraine right now. Some media report ’50 deaths’ but they don’t say half of them were Russian. One news anchor called this a cold war: It’s not: an invasion is happening.
In our news war room, our team is culling through Ukrainian Telegram where citizens rapidly share the truth. This is the magic of Ukrainian civil society at work.”
Inside the stream you will find something remarkable, the stories of Russians protesting the war, complete with videos of the demonstrations. The caption for one states,
“A rally gathered in the center of Moscow early. People are chanting: “No to war!”
We are hearing reports now that Moscow police have ended this protest. In Ukraine you can protest: that’s the foundation of modern Ukraine since the Euromaidan Revolution. Many Ukrainians on social media have urged the Russian people to stay in the streets today for Ukrainian freedom and their own.
To do so will likely require withstanding violence just like the Ukrainians did in 2014.”
Additional entries in the chat stream detail more protests that have begun in Russia, as people became aware of the invasion.
“Russian people all over the country trying to say “Putin stop the war with Ukraine”
Such cities as:
“That’s what we need now from the Russian society, because The Putin is also their fault”: Ukrainians have been echoing this sentiment on social media all day.
But Russian police have been breaking up these protests all day.
There’s even a report of a demonstration in London,
The daughter of Putin’s adviser Maria Yumasheva took to London to rally against the war on Ukraine.”
Russian celebrities are weighting in as well,
“Russian Celebrities, Intellectuals call on Putin to end the war!
The appeal was signed by writers Boris Akunin, Dmitry Bykov, Dmitry Glukhovsky, Vladimir Sorokin, playwright Ivan Vyrypaev, directors Vladimir Mirzoev, Andrey Khrzhanovsky and Ilya Khrzhanovsky, journalist, Nobel Prize winner Dmitry Muratov, journalist Leonid Parfyonov, publisher Irina Prokhorova, actress Chulpan Khamatova.
In addition, a huge number of Russian celebrities called for stopping Putin’s aggression: Yuri Dud, Zemfira, Maxim Galkin, Wylsacom, Liya Akhedzhakova, Garik Kharlamov and many others.
An open letter by Russian scientists and science journalists against the war with Ukraine was signed by more than 370 people.”
Will this groundswell grow the way other European popular resistance movements have in Europe? Maybe, maybe not. But if you want to see it unvarnished, this is a good source for you to keep track of things.
More entries talk about Ukrainians rallying to join the territorial guard, include videos of Russian troops arriving, stories of battles claiming both Russian and Ukrainian victories, as well as counts of the dead.
In a speech right now, President Zelenskiy said 137 Ukrainian servicemembers were killed today.
In other entries, there are reports about confusion among invading Russian troops.
“The Russians just abandoned their equipment and ran away
… in the Okhtyrka district of the Sumy region. It’s a place with deep Cossack and Hutsul roots. We are hearing reports of confused Russian soldiers who didn’t know they would be invading Ukraine, somehow.”
And while the U.S. is cautions, the feed reports that French are not so meek when it comes to responding to Mr. Putin’s threats,
“France to Russia: We Have Nuclear Weapons Too
Sounding sterner than Washington officials, French Prime Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, “Putin should know that France also has nuclear weapons” even as President Macron speaks with Putin.”
I encourage you to not rely solely on processed news, but take advantage of the internet to make sure you are getting more of the story of what else is going on. But remember, this is the raw internet with all its real, fake, clickbait, and cyberwarfare content coming to you raw. So, exercise caution accordingly.