Over the last several weeks, Russian aggression toward Ukraine has escalated dramatically. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Feb. 21 that Russia would recognize the sovereignty of two breakaway regions in Ukraine’s east, Donetsk and Luhansk, whose years-long effort to secede from Ukraine has been engineered by Russia. Russian troops have entered eastern Ukraine as supposed “peacekeepers,” and the Russian military has taken up positions along a broad stretch of Ukraine’s border.
Along with the military dimensions of the crisis, there’s also the question of how various actors are using information to provoke or defuse violence. Russia has been spreading disinformation about supposed violence against ethnic Russians in Ukraine. The United States and its Western partners, meanwhile, have been releasing intelligence about Russia’s plans—and about Russian disinformation—at a rapid and maybe even unprecedented clip.
So today on Arbiters of Truth, our series on the online information ecosystem, we’re bringing you an episode about the role of truth and falsehoods in the Russian attack on Ukraine. Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Olga Lautman, a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis—who has been tracking Russian disinformation in Ukraine—and Shane Harris, a reporter at the Washington Post—who has been reporting on the crisis.