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Media and the Ukraine Crisis

Hybrid Media Practices and Narratives of Conflict


Edited By Mervi Pantti

How are media and communications transforming armed conflicts? How are conflicts made visible in the media in different national and transnational settings? How does the media serve as a means by which
various actors manage and communicate conflict?

These are some of the questions addressed in this book. Using a variety of disciplinary perspectives and analytical approaches, contributors discuss the complex, multi-level Ukraine conflict as it is imagined and enacted in and through various media. Covering a wide range of media forms and content, including television news, newspapers, PR campaigns, and social media content, they offer new, empirically grounded insight into the ways in which traditional mass media and new media forms are involved in narrating and shaping conflict.

This book is suitable for students of conflict and media courses in journalism, media and communication, politics, security, and Russian and Eastern European studies.

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Chapter Two: Open Source Warfare: The Role of User-Generated Content in the Ukrainian Conflict Media Strategy


Open Source Warfare

The Role of User-Generated Content in the Ukrainian Conflict Media Strategy


In the current geopolitical landscape, Russia finds itself in a liminal position. Certainly, it is a strong nation, flush with natural resources, a huge population and an army of sufficient strength to influence, and sometimes even annex, portions of neighbouring countries. Yet, it is not the militaristic superpower it once was. Although obviously comfortable threatening the borders of Georgia or Ukraine, Russia also understands that a war against a true behemoth such as the US or China would be, at best, unadvisable. This status, according to Snegovaya (2015), has rekindled Russian interest in the Cold War tactic of “reflexive control” of global information flows. Timothy L. Thomas (2004) noted that this approach, by which Russia aims to disturb and ultimately paralyse the decision-making processes of its potential adversaries, reaches back to the 1960s, reemerging periodically during times of conflict and crisis (p. 238). Aiming to provoke a state of nihilistic apathy, reflexive control is an “information warfare weapon” in which contradictory and noncommittal accounts of current events are proffered by official and unofficial Russian bodies (p. 238).

Such tactics, according to Snegovaya (2015), have become particularly useful tools throughout Russia’s recent involvement in Ukraine. Not strong enough to truly sway or coerce world opinion in its favour, the current Russian information regime instead works to sow doubt through disinformation, leaving institutions such as NATO and the...

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