“The War” That Won’t Really End

  ”Truth is the first victim of war.” This famous quote, allegedly uttered by U.S. Senator Hiram Warren Johnson in 1917, is confirmed today, 105 years later. Since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict on February 24 this year, information on social platforms has been mixed, and the truth has been wrapped in propaganda and even lies.
  In fact, this “invisible war” started earlier than we thought, and even if the conflict between the two countries comes to an end, the information war about Russia and Ukraine may not end. As Juan Manfredi, a visiting professor at Georgetown University in the United States, said: “Propaganda is also a strategic asset, just like diplomacy and deterrence.”
The soldiers and horses are not moving, the information comes first

  When the ancients fought, “the troops and horses are not moved, the food and grass go first”. In today’s war conflicts, the first thing may be “network information”.
  On June 1, local time, Paul Miki Nakasone, commander of U.S. Cyber ​​Command and director of the National Security Agency, confirmed for the first time when he attended the 14th “Cyber ​​Security Defense Conference” (CyCon) in Tallinn, capital of Estonia, that the United States is in Russia. Cyber ​​experts were dispatched to Ukraine before the conflict broke out and carried out “offensive” cyber activities against Russia.
  ”In December 2021, we went there at the invitation of the Kyiv government and hunted hackers with them. We stayed there for nearly 90 days.” Nakasone revealed in an interview that before Russia launched a “special military operation” against Ukraine, the A team of cyber experts has left Ukraine along with other U.S. troops. And U.S. cyber experts have conducted “a series of full-scale operations, including offensive, defensive and information warfare” against Russia.
  According to Nakasone, the so-called “hunting of hackers” by U.S. cyber experts in Ukraine is part of its “Hunt Forward” operation, one of the latest concepts of cyber warfare proposed by the U.S. military. Since deploying the strategy in 2018, U.S. Cyber ​​Command has sent experts to 16 countries to help it hunt down foreign hackers, Nakasone said. The U.S. side has been improving this “hunting ahead” strategy and has played a “very powerful role” in this Russia-Ukraine conflict. The intelligence it has obtained has helped the West effectively respond to the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
  Of course, in terms of information warfare, Russia also has its own secret skills.
  In mid-January this year, Ukrainian media reported that more than 70 official websites of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior were hacked, resulting in the leakage of many important data. On February 23, the day before Russia launched a “special military operation”, a new type of data-wiping malware called “Hermetic Wiper” was found on hundreds of important computers in Ukraine. do.
  Max Boot, an expert at the Council on Foreign Relations of the United States, reminded everyone that the Soviet Union was also a player in intelligence warfare during World War II and the Cold War. Including the use of “little green men” (referring to armed men wearing green non-active duty clothing) to cover up the behavior of the Russian military.
  An article in Colombia’s “The Spectator” believes that when Russia is dealing with tensions with the West and the escalation of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, dissemination of information that is beneficial to itself is the weapon of choice. Every time the U.S. sends a message that Russia will use force, the Kremlin refutes the U.S. accusation.
  Some European media also used the title of “Kremlin’s Information War” to count dozens of reports published by pro-official Russian media earlier this year, refuting the statement that “Russia has mobilized soldiers to prepare for attacking Ukraine”, and issued “NATO plans to attack Ukraine”. The establishment of military bases in Ukraine to invade Russia, and even 10,000 NATO soldiers have been deployed. The EU’s counter-disinformation team believes that “warnings that Ukraine is preparing for war is a common narrative” in messages released by Russia, and blames the West for escalating tensions in Eastern Europe.
  On the first day of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict broke out, the Spanish newspaper Abbex pointed out that the huge digital media and network army that Russia has painstakingly built in the past 10 years is facing a decisive moment. Today, this complex network of spokespersons, state propaganda, affiliated media inside and outside Russia, columnists, and think tanks is working at full force to speak out for Russia’s interests.

  In terms of information warfare, Russia also has its own secret skills.

  Some Russian media have tried to portray Ukraine as a ruthless country, such as videos of Ukrainian border guards killing migrants arriving from Belarus on social networks in December, but the Ukrainian government has said the images are fake.
  In the intelligence war, the media of all relevant parties also began to change from “tearing each other” to blocking each other. For example, Ukraine shut down Russian websites in 2015, and Ukrainians are basically unable to see information directly from Russia. Before the Russian-Ukrainian war, Germany announced that it would ban the German-language program of “Russia Today”, citing “lack of appropriate licenses, and its content is Kremlin propaganda”. In retaliation, Russia closed the “Deutsche Welle” Moscow bureau and banned its broadcasts.
  It is not difficult to see that before the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the information war of relevant stakeholders was already in full swing.
Wartime “live broadcast” with rumors flying

  As of June 14, Russia has been conducting “special military operations” in Ukraine for more than 110 days. Relying on the world’s major social media, this conflict has been “live broadcast” to the world in countless “first-perspective” ways, but many of them may not be the truth.
  On February 24, local time, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the launch of a “special military operation”. According to a number of foreign media reports on the same day, explosions were heard in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, Kharkov, the second largest city, and the southern port city of Odessa.
  At the same time, various fake videos have emerged one after another.
  On the first day of the war between Russia and Ukraine, there was a video circulating on social platforms: more than a dozen fighter planes roared across the city at a low altitude, and the alarm sounded loudly. Some netizens said that this was the Russian Air Force attacking Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine; at the same time, a number of videos showing scenes of explosions in the city appeared on Weibo, Twitter, telegram and other platforms.
  ”The Pai Ming Cha” pointed out that whether it was “fighter jets flying low over the city” or “serial explosions near high-rise buildings in the city”, they did not represent the scene in the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Although the images of these videos are real, the context in which the images are interpreted has been artificially tampered with. In this Russia-Ukraine conflict, there have been numerous cases of misappropriating videos or pictures of military exercises, wars, explosions and other events in other places to Ukraine. What’s more, for the sake of attracting attention, some military-themed games such as “War Thunder” and “Armed Raid 3” were cut into clips to make them fake.

  In Ukraine, where the conflict occurred, there were rumors circulating on the Internet that “Ukrainian old man smoking a pipe and listening to vinyl in the ruins”, “Positioning in the studio of Ukrainian war correspondents”, “Protesters broke into the live broadcast room of Ukrainian TV station and demanded Zelensky surrender”, “Ukrainian use Fake corpses posed for photos of victims of Russian bombing”, “Ukrainian army self-destructing chariots blocked the advance of Russian army”, “Ukrainian army worked overtime in the rain to arrange the scene of the inspection incident”, “Donbas railway station attack was self-directed and performed by Ukraine”… these In the video and photos, it is difficult for ordinary people to tell the difference for a while.
  And the proportion of rumors about Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is not small.
  On February 26, the third day of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Volodin, chairman of the Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament), said on social platforms that Zelensky left the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv, on February 25. To this end, Zelensky posted a video of himself on the streets of Kyiv on Telegram that day.
  By April, another video of Zelensky confessing to drug use was circulating on the Internet. In fact, this video was taken from an exclusive interview with Zelensky by the Ukrainian “Pravda” in January 2019, in which Zelensky’s original words were that he “doesn’t take drugs and like coffee”. The intercepted video was circulated from Russian social platforms in late March, and the voice in it has been edited.
  In May, the video of “Ukrainian villagers angry at Zelensky” became popular again. In fact, the so-called old man on the Internet “persuading Zelensky not to believe in NATO and the Yankees” is completely false. This video comes from Zelensky’s inspection of a small town in the Donbas region in October 2019. The old man expressed at that time. Desire for peace and support for the Kyiv authorities. Because the conversation between Zelensky and the old man in the video was in Ukrainian and interspersed with Russian words, many people could not understand. This also gave the rumour-mongers an opportunity, not only to make a statement, but also to make a distorted interpretation.
  By the beginning of June, a video about “face-to-face talks between Putin and Zelensky through the mediation of Macron and Merkel” was widely circulated in the circle of friends. In fact, the video footage originated from the talks between the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine hosted by Macron at the Elysee Palace in December 2019.
  In addition to Zelensky, there are a lot of rumors about Putin.
  On the third day of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, a video of Putin’s speech circulated on the Internet. The subtitles showed that Putin said that if NATO provoked a provocation in the Black Sea, it would “use nuclear weapons to fight back.” In fact, this video clip was intercepted from Putin’s speech delivered in the early morning of February 24. The clip on the Internet was calling for Ukrainians to lay down their weapons and surrender, and did not involve NATO. Likewise, for most melon eaters who do not understand Russian, the randomly translated subtitles are obviously rumors.
  In May, a video of Putin having trouble speaking while he was speaking again circulated on Chinese-language networks, prompting speculation that he might be ill. In fact, this video was derived from Putin’s speech at the Legislative Council meeting on April 27, and the producers edited the details of the pauses and tone changes in his speech together, creating a kind of “multiple pauses, gasps, Lack of articulation and lack of breath”.
  It is worth mentioning that in the information war of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, China was also dragged into the water, and some rumors were related to China.
  On June 11, it was rumored that Zelensky attended the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore by video. The Chinese delegation refused to listen to his speech and walked out of the venue. Zelensky himself called on the international community to support Taiwan authorities before China launched an attack. In fact, the Chinese delegation did not leave the venue when Zelensky delivered his video speech, which was also confirmed by a spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. And Zelensky himself did not mention “China” or “Taiwan” at all at the dialogue meeting.
  The rumors about the Chinese delegation don’t stop there.
  On May 23, Zelensky delivered a speech at the Davos Forum via video link. On the same day, CNN quoted US Republican Congressman Michael McCaul as saying that at the end of Zelensky’s speech, the audience stood up to applaud, but the Chinese delegation refused to applaud and left the venue.
  This time, the Chinese delegation made a solemn statement on the online news. When Zelensky gave a speech, the Chinese delegation was in talks with the director of the International Energy Agency. In fact, McCall himself mistakenly identified the members of the Vietnamese delegation sitting behind him as members of the Chinese delegation, and directed and acted an “Oolong Incident”.
Why the White House held a meeting of Internet celebrities

  In Russia’s view, the rumours about Russia originate from Ukraine and the Western world.
  As early as March 1, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zakharova accused NATO of playing a “behind-the-scenes” role: “False information is now flooding cyberspace, and the intelligence agencies are behind it. This is a huge Confrontation, led and orchestrated by NATO.”

On May 24, Kharkiv, Ukraine, the subway resumed operation. Many of the passengers are swiping their mobile phones to read various information.

  On March 2, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that in order to prevent Ukraine’s information attack against Russia, the Russian military has launched a military operation against the technical facilities of the Ukrainian National Security Service in Kyiv and the Ukrainian Army’s 72nd Information and Psychological Operations. The center has carried out precision strikes, and the TV tower broadcasting equipment has been basically paralyzed.
  According to Russian media, the 72nd Information and Psychological Operations Center is a military unit of the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces, specializing in electronic warfare and psychological warfare missions against the Donbas region and Russia. Partially false information”.
  Meanwhile, the White House and the Kremlin have raced to start recruiting social media influencers with large followings to post about the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
  According to foreign media, since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Internet celebrities including @Viktoriya Fomina (1.8 million followers), Fentazi90 (1.2 million followers), Roldozzer (1.4 million followers) and Kirill Felix (1.4 million followers) have started to spread their names in Russian institutions. under the guidance of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. It is reported that these activities were carried out on the social communication platform Telegram. Russian authorities guide influencers on what to post, where to shoot, what hashtags to use and when to post. Because the video content and soundtrack released by these Internet celebrities are relatively similar, they have attracted the attention of the outside world.
  The United States is not to be outdone when it comes to competing for “Internet public opinion positions”.
  On March 10, local time, the White House of the United States convened 30 “top-notch influencers” on the country’s social media to participate in a telephone briefing to report on Russia’s special military operations in Ukraine.
  Joan Donovan, director of research at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard University, said the government’s open “embracing of social platforms” is worrying because the nature of these platforms is not the same as that of news organizations. Since the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, social media has been flooded with relevant content, but in many cases, it is difficult for ordinary people to distinguish the authenticity from the fake. “People think they’re seeing the latest thing, but what they’re seeing may be days or even years ago.”

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