When it comes to news out of Ukraine, what the West hears about the progress of the war and what they hear in Ukraine is pretty similar. Or at least it is in places not actively engaged in conflict—people there have more immediate concerns.
In the U.S., the subset of information that we get through most media outlets is shorn of a lot of the detail on troop movements, small actions, and the triumphs—or loss—of individual soldiers. Back in Ukraine, they are facing those dreaded “lists of names” where those killed in action get reported. Scrolling through those lists for relatives and friends has been a sad ritual in every war going back at least 200 years. It’s one of the horrors that the world could definitely do without. It’s made much worse when those lists also contain the names of civilians, including children, who were unfortunate enough to find themselves targets of a Russian missile or subjects of an atrocity in an occupied area.
The U.S. also doesn’t get all that much of something else that shows up in Ukrainian speeches and broadcasts—which is complaints about the U.S. There is definitely plenty of praise for all Western nations that are contributing to help Ukraine in its struggle against an unprovoked invasion, but there is also a special appreciation for countries that seem to be going above and beyond. Poland taking in over 2.5 million refugees is definitely seen. So are those Czech tanks. Some smaller nations are regarded as punching above their weight when it comes to contributing to the cause, while wealthier nations, including the U.S., are seen as doing less than they could. All of that is understandable, and it’s not an attitude that anyone is hiding. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pretty open on these points both in his nightly address to Ukraine and when talking to world leaders.
But the views being given to the folks on the other side of the conflict are definitely not the same as what we’re hearing. They’re also not anywhere close to the truth.
Earlier today a Kremlin spokesperson made what seemed to be an astounding admission by saying, “We have suffered significant losses, this is a huge tragedy for us.” There have been a few such admissions in the past, but Moscow has quickly walked them back. What most people are hearing in Russia is much closer to this transcript between a Russian soldier and his wife.
Wife: “Well they say losses are small. … Not even 1,000. That’s what they say.”
Everyday Russians have been systematically cut off from alternative sources of news, and are being fed a stream of messages that include: Russia is achieving its goals in Ukraine, Russian losses are small, the Ukrainian military is weak, and Russia is saving civilians from Ukrainian nationalists who are slaughtering them or using them as human shields. All of those messages generate a sneer when we hear them, but they’re the only thing most Russians are getting.
But there may be something worse than Russian state media.
Before you see it, first take a look at this. This is a fake commercial from the film Starship Troopers. It’s a film that uses science fiction tropes superficially to warn about (and poke fun at) the dangers of fascism. It’s easy for someone casually looking in to see the film as glorifying these ideas … which is exactly the point.
And now, here’s another ad. One with an incredibly similar vibe. Only this one is sickeningly real.
It’s not that there’s really an “information war.” In the U.S., we may be faced with Russia supporters like Tucker Carlson, and with alt-whatever writers who believe that the only bad imperialism is western imperialism. But in Russia these are the only messages they’re seeing. It doesn’t matter if their statements seem ludicrous, the lies seem obvious, and the form seems outrageous. It’s all they’re getting.
Thursday, Apr 7, 2022 · 9:32:30 PM +00:00
Ukraine still seems to be grinding out progress along the M03 highway southeast of Kharkiv.
This remains a critical part of that battle in the east, as it takes Ukrainian forces one step closer to the cross roads at Volokhiv Yar, where they would be able to threaten the salient supporting the advance through Izyum.
Thursday, Apr 7, 2022 · 9:55:41 PM +00:00
And speaking of damn lies, here’s the patriarch of the Russian orthodox church denying that there is such a thing as Ukraine or the Ukrainian people.
Thursday, Apr 7, 2022 · 9:59:31 PM +00:00
For now, you’ll have to go to Telegram to see this video of Ukrainian guards raising the Ukrainian flag at a station along the Belarus border. But I’ll look for another source.
Thursday, Apr 7, 2022 · 10:23:57 PM +00:00
I’m not anxious to see the details of this, but it may also be our obligation to bear witness.
Friday, Apr 8, 2022 · 12:13:10 AM +00:00
The Defense Department has put out this handy guide to how much the U.S. has shipped to Ukraine in the last 43 days.
Friday, Apr 8, 2022 · 12:27:31 AM +00:00
Despite it all, someone’s sense of humor is intact.
Friday, Apr 8, 2022 · 12:42:37 AM +00:00
@War_Mapper’s overall update for today doesn’t show much change, but that doesn’t mean nothing happened.
Russian forces have made little progress in closing that gap, while Ukrainian forces have pushed down from Kharkiv and are closer to threatening the whole salient.
But there is also some horrible news in this post from this area over at Telegram. I won’t post the whole translation, but the beginning is bad enough.
“In a village in the Izyum region, the Russian occupiers tortured and set fire to three people.”
This reportedly happened in Husarivka, a village now under Ukrainian control. More details may be available soon.
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