Canada has become home to almost 1.4 million Ukrainian Canadians, the third-largest Ukrainian population after Ukraine itself and Russia. As you may have seen recently, there were many peaceful protests throughout Canada in support of Ukraine. So, what is really happening there? Why did Russia decide to invade Ukraine?
It’s necessary to mention that it also happened in 2014, when the Crimean Island, Donetsk, and Luhansk provinces were occupied. There is an ongoing conflict there, with people dying every day. Approximately 14,000 people died in Ukrainian-Russian conflict before the full-scale invasion on February 24th. On that day, missile attacks targeted the military bases and other strategic locations. Since then, civilian homes and hospitals were also targeted. Frankly, the mental state of most Ukrainians right now is terror, but even those without military experience have unified to defend their homeland.
Armed force is not the only instrument of the war of the Russian Federation against Ukraine. This is also an informational war. While most of the world has access to truthful information, almost all TV channels in Russia broadcast propaganda against Ukraine and its supporters. This propaganda affects the views of people not just in Russia but also Russians and Russian supporters around the world.
Even though we live in a progressive country and have access to trustworthy news, we can be affected by deceiving information. Younger demographics that tend to harvest information from social media are especially vulnerable to misinformation. Unlike social media, international news platforms like New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and others are managed by individuals outside of the Russian influence are a reliable source of information as they are filtered, fact checked, and reviewed before being released.
Currently, Russia can inject fake news to create panic and to “divide and conquer.” The Russian Federation goes above and beyond to influence public opinion by staging deceiving scenes with actors to manipulate the masses. In the recent Facebook report, Russia is the largest disinformation disseminator and has the largest number of fake accounts and bots.
TikTok is also used as a channel thanks to its global audience. For example, the recent videos of Russia dislocating its tanks from the border was a staged act of “compliance” from international pressure.
Knowing the truth is the first step to stopping the spread of misinformation. So, how do you identify and tackle pro-Russian fake news?
- Look at the owner and location of the account. Unfortunately, freedom of speech in Russia has become almost impossible. All media organizations located on the Russian territory are compliant with their laws and can be prosecuted “for disinformation of civilians.”
- Check the source, and review where it came from. If a friend shared it, where did they get it?
- If it seems illogical (ie: Ukrainian aggression against its own citizens’ oppression of rights) it probably is. News like this frequently presents Russian troops as salvation for Russian Ukrainians on Ukrainian territories.
- Share the news from your Ukrainian friends, and show support.
This war has done enough damage to families and friends that are on different sides of the border. Many of my Ukrainian and Russian friends are equally dear to me, and it is important to remember that it is a political war and not a hate war based on nationality.