Social media platforms are undoubtedly inundated with content about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
Yet aside from startling videos and images, a full-scale information war is unfolding on the digital front, with only one “initiator-in-chief” — the United States.
Under the hegemony of Western discourse, Washington is clearly not interested in spreading facts or truth. The following are common U.S. tactics employed to mislead the global public on the Ukrainian crisis.
First, stir up unrest and encourage hostility.
At the end of last year, when tensions on the Russia-Ukraine border were ratcheting up, the United States chose to fan the flames of discord.
From the White House to paparazzi in the U.S. tabloid press, self-proclaimed intelligence reports and spicy hearsay kept emerging, scattering “the fog of war.”
They preached words from an anonymous source that behind the conflict lies an intention of regime change and highlighted intelligence accusing Russia of “fabricating a pretext for invasion.” Early in January, the State Department officials called on U.S. civilians to evacuate Kiev.
Moreover, disclosure of a military offensive, time schedules and other details reached the public, all done by the United States to pump up conflict-related conspiracies.
This suffering “could have easily been avoided if the Biden Admin and NATO had simply acknowledged Russia’s legitimate security concerns regarding Ukraine becoming a member of NATO,” former U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard tweeted.
However, the United States had taken steps that worsened tensions, including sloppiness in dealing with Russia-proposed drafts on security guarantees and cold-shouldering Moscow at the latter’s request for dialogue, which consequently raised tensions.
Second, rely on double standards.
Double standards were once again on display in the Ukraine crisis.
While the United States is busy clamoring for sanctions on Russia over “violations of international law,” it remains silent when asked about its own crimes, including promoting the Monroe Doctrine in Latin America, bombing Yugoslavia with no legal basis and its invasions of Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Where are U.S. repentance and due responsibility?
The United States has been touting its neoliberal tenets, like eliminating national boundaries in culture and sports and the inviolability of private property. But since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Russia’s assets were frozen overseas and artists and athletes excluded and persecuted. Nor did Russian cats, trees and the ballet Swan Lake escape punishment.
While paying lip service to Ukrainian civilians, the United States turned a deaf ear to the suffering of people in the Middle East and Africa. For two decades, the United States battered Afghanistan, and despite its troop withdrawal last year, the aggressor is still withholding billions of dollars of life-saving money from the Afghan people.
Third, let the rumors fly.
In the era of social media, information can outrun a bullet, while the power of a story can surpass that of a tank. This is what the U.S. propaganda machine has taken to heart and put into practice.
When heartbreaking scenes add up to in-person storytelling, along with emotional words to strike a chord with the audience, a catchy narrative is born. But what about the reality?
U.S. media labeled a viral video clip showing a weeping Ukrainian father saying goodbye to his daughter a “horrific glimpse into how the Eastern European conflict is tearing families apart.” But the video was later verified as recorded before the conflict. The father actually chose to remain behind in Donetsk to defend the region against the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Another much-shared footage is about a mysterious Ukrainian fighter pilot dubbed “the Ghost of Kiev” shooting down a Russian aircraft. However, the video was also fake, originating from a digital combat simulator game.
On Feb. 5, 2003, in a UN Security Council meeting on Iraq, then U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell presented a test tube containing washing powder, claiming that it was evidence that Iraq was developing chemical weapons.
In early 2021, with financial support from the United States, the White Helmets, also known as the Syria Civil Defense, faked videos of false-flag airstrikes and chemical attacks on civilians, putting a target on the back of the Syrian government.
For some U.S. politicians and media outlets, the truth means nothing as long as they can fabricate public opinion.
Fourth, censor, suspense, and silent.
In January 2021, U.S. tech giants, including Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, suspended former President Donald Trump’s accounts, citing possible incitement of violence. Two years later, the focus is Russia.
The European Union took two Russian mainstream media outlets — Sputnik and Russia Today — off the air across Europe. The social media company Meta cut off Russian user access to Facebook and Instagram but temporarily allowed users in some countries to post violent anti-Russia content. Youtube, Netflix and Google have blocked Russian channels.
Any voice slightly favoring Russia soon becomes silenced. Multiple residents in eastern Ukraine found their accounts banned by social media platforms right after they posted Russia-related content. French film director and reporter Anne-Laure Bonnel told CNews Channel that Ukrainian army shelling caused civilian deaths in Donbass. Her documentary “Donbas” was later removed from Youtube, and Le Figaro newspaper deleted her article on the life of the Donbass people.
The United States also selectively ignored different voices from other countries. Anti-American and anti-NATO demonstrations were launched in Bulgaria, Turkey and other countries. Serbian football fans raised giant banners in a stadium criticizing the decades of military interventions by the United States and NATO. Don’t expect to see these stories in the U.S. media.
Fifth, bring in the performance art.
Most countries are reluctant to take sides in the conflict, preferring a diplomatic solution to end the fighting.
However, the United States is attempting to drum up support to denounce Russia. The country first wooed NATO member states and the Group of Seven to blame Moscow for the conflict and mobilized European nations to showcase “performance art.”
Stuffed animal toys, Ukrainian flags and slogans were on display by delegations at the emergency session of the United Nations General Assembly on March 2. When Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov addressed the UN Human Rights Council, dozens of diplomats walked out of the room. The conference hall, which was supposed to be a solemn place for countries to exchange ideas on major global issues, has become a political stage for the United States to ignite confrontation.