Saturday, September 06, 2014

Why #RussiaInvadedUkraine Matters

By CHRYSTIA FREELAND, NYT, SEPT. 5, 2014

Last week, Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, said he could take Kiev in two weeks. This week, he disavowed a cease-fire, then proposed a peace plan. Now a cease-fire is in effect. These zigzags did their job, leaving the West confused about his intentions, just as the European Union and NATO were meeting to figure out how to counter them.

In the information war, Ukrainians have been striking back. When Russian soldiers openly engaged Ukrainian forces at the end of August, a new hashtag began to trend on Twitter. Invented by a Belorussian and enthusiastically promoted by Ukrainians, #RussiaInvadedUkraine was used nearly a half a million times in the first few days. A week later, it was still being posted hundreds of times an hour.

In this conflict, technologically driven activism has become characteristic. Ukraine’s Maidan revolution began with a post on Facebook, and a “nerd unit,” staffed by volunteers who are crowdsourcing the funding for their drones, is operating in the contested east. What’s new and important about #RussiaInvadedUkraine is its clear language.

(More here.)

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