How Ukrainians use social media to confront Russians

How Ukrainians use social media to confront Russians

Molotov cocktail tutorials on Twitter, tank driving lessons on TikTok, barricade tips on Facebook: social networks have become unexpected allies of civilians fighting against the Russian invasion.

President Volodymyr Zelensky was the first to set the tone. Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, the man has been constantly using social networks. To rally public opinion on his side, and also to call on his fellow citizens to resist. It was Facebook that he decided to declare two days after the Russian invasion, on February 26, in a selfie video: “I’m here. We’re not going to lay down our arms and we’ll defend our country.”. On Facebook and Twitter on the eve of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine called on the citizens of the country “make Molotov cocktails and neutralize the occupier.”

A powerful communication tool, these social networks have also become valuable tools for organizing, in extreme cases, the defense and resistance of the Ukrainian people against Russian invasion. Demonstration.

  • Molotov cocktail recipes

The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine has not satisfied the call on social networks for the production of Molotov cocktails. To make it known to civilians as soon as possible, the ministry has circulated the recipe for making this homemade incendiary weapon: “1/3 gasoline, 1/3 motor oil, bottle 2/3 full…”can be read in the treatise of the General Staff.

  • Management tank attack»

The ministry also explained to citizens how to use these Molotov cocktails wisely, pointing out which vulnerabilities in various Russian vehicles and tanks to aim for.

A textbook also transmitted by the official account of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with a very clear message: “Vulnerabilities of enemy equipment. Defeat the invader! Let’s win together!”

“The end of the war is in everyone’s hands! Destroy! Drive the enemy out of your home, out of your country.”calls for another treatise from the official account of the General Staff.

  • Create obstacles out of trees, build barricades out of burning tires…

To stop the advance of Russian armored columns, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine also gave advice through their Twitter and Facebook accounts to villagers and peasants.

“How to get rid of the “Russian devil””says this infographic. “Cut down trees to block the road (…), if they come, burn the forests and your land (…) shoot through the wheels of vehicles”we can also read.

In a Facebook post, the state road network agency continues to urge Ukrainians “Burn trees, build barricades, burn tires!”. “Use EVERYTHING at your fingertips! The occupier must understand that he is not expected here and that he will be resisted on every street, on every road! (…) Together to victory! The occupier will be destroyed!”continues the message.

  • Restoring and driving a tank

Even more comically, a TikTok video of a young blonde showing how to start an abandoned tank on a snowy road went viral on social media. ‘Influencer’, introduced as Ukrainian for the first time, gives advice “driving an abandoned or captured tank or vehicle” for Russians, is actually a Russian influencer.

She also expresses herself in this language. According to local media reports, Nastya Tuman, a former taxi driver and a native of Volgondonsk (southwest Russia), now works as a mechanic and car influencer. By closely monitoring his TikTok and Instagram account, we understand that his video is also the result of a compilation of several videos originally posted in February 2021.

Several videos of influencer Nastya Tuman were filmed on an abandoned tank in February 2021. Screenshot/Tik Tok/Mist Nation

“If you find an abandoned tank on the street, don’t forget to record it live so you know how to start it, she kicks off in her newly shared video. We turn on the main button, then two generators, then a thermostatic enricher and a starter. Everything is fine, the engine is running! Circuit breakers… one, two, three, four!”she continues, bringing the tips of her flawless polished nails closer as she flicks the circuit breakers. “And now the headlights and heated rear window! Depress the clutch and shift into first gear.

The girl even deceived the Ukrainian army by introducing her on Twitter as a “Ukrainian girl.” before deleting your tweet. Nevertheless, his advice clearly seemed useful to the Ukrainians…

  • Survival kit and geolocation of bomb shelters

Tips for preparing a survival kit or backpack were also widely circulated on social media in the weeks leading up to the Russian invasion.

In particular, this concerns a video by young Ukrainian influencer Nastya Bezpalko, 19, made at the end of December 2021, showing how to prepare a survival backpack, which has been viewed more than 500,000 times.

A still from a video by Ukrainian influencer Nastya Bezpalko. Screenshot/TikTok.

On January 25, another Ukrainian Twitter user shared a list of things to put in a backpack for survival, as well as a list of anti-bomb shelters in Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine.

  • Dismantling of road signs

On Saturday, the Ukrainian national road network posted another piece of advice on its Facebook page on how to counter the Russians: “We are dismantling road signs on all the roads of the country (…) The enemy’s communications are scanty, they do not orient themselves in the area. Let’s help them go straight to hell.

The photo accompanying the post shows how the state agency has already replaced official signs with others with unambiguous messages: “Fuck you…”; “Yes, you went to Russia” (as in the original).

  • Website listing dead or captured Russian soldiers

On Sunday, Ukrainian authorities also launched a website allowing relatives of dead Russian soldiers to find them. A charitable initiative, but which also allows you to make the losses of the adversary very real, and play on the morale of the enemy.

Named, after a code long used in Russia to identify fallen soldiers, the site offers a search form and also publishes videos of captured soldiers. It has since been censored by Russia on its territory.

These calls for resistance clearly work hand in hand with the communications war that the Russians and Ukrainians are involved in in this conflict. It is a matter for Zelensky’s Ukraine to show the courage of the people who do not allow themselves to be impressed by the Russian giant, despite the imbalance of military means. Encourage your own citizens and, above all, discourage the Russian enemy.

It was from this angle that Kira Rudik, a member of parliament, posted several photos of herself holding a Kalashnikov assault rifle on her Instagram account. “Our women will protect our land just like men”, she wrote in the caption to one of them. She has since also posted a photo of a Russian soldier being captured by a Ukrainian soldier: the last “politely explain to the tenants that it is not necessary to come to our house“, she writes

There are also viral videos on Twitter demonstrating the courage of the people of Ukraine, here in the process attempt to fight off tanks with bare hands ; there in the group prevent them from crossing your village ; where again this peasant, in the process of “hijacking” a Russian tank with his tractor, also participates in this formidable communication war.

But this strategy is not without risk. Witness two so-called “acts of bravery” that quickly turned out to be a hoax, such as the ghost of the “hero” pilot of Kyiv or the 13 sailors of Snake Island.