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The Three Wars

If you haven’t seen the news lately or heard from your friends, family, or coworkers, you’re hearing about it now. On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine under the direction of President Putin. Like every war before, there are two sides -- the military war, and the economic war. However, with social media now being the prominent source of information everywhere, governments can’t hide what is going on in the war as well as they used to; which leaves us to introduce the third side of war -- the information war.

Warning: This article has a lot of information on the war in Ukraine and might be overwhelming and upsetting.


The Military War

In the military war, it is all about machine power; the biggest tanks, the biggest army, the biggest missiles, the biggest nukes. Russia has shown its strength in this aspect. However, they underestimated the bravery

and ferocity of the Ukrainian citizens.

Currently, Russia and the U.S. are rivaling for the largest arsenal, with Russia in the lead. Although Russia has not used their nuclear weapons as of yet, they have bombed several places, leaving thousands of the men, women, and children of Ukraine dead. The real number of casualties may be much higher, but there is no solid number as families are still counting the deaths of their loved ones.

While Russia has bombed many places in the last 22 days, there are a few places more notable than others; the major one being Babi Yar, a Holocaust memorial site. At this site, in

1941, nearly 33,000 Jews were killed in just two days. When asked to comment, the president of Ukraine, President Zelenskyy said, “What is the point of saying ‘never again’ for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar?” (Babyn Yar is the Ukrainian variant of the site’s name). On March 1, 2022, a bomb was dropped on Babi Yar, killing five, at least.

Despite Russia agreeing to a 12-hour pause in hostility to allow refugees to escape, during this time they bombed and attacked several buildings in Mariupol, including a maternity and children’s hospital. According to the preliminary data, at least 17 people were injured, including mothers and staff. Many commented on this devastating incident, including President Zelenskyy and the United Nations, who said that the bombing of a hospital is a tragedy, and in any war, should never happen. As of Sunday evening, March 13, 2022, officials said that nearly 2,200 people died in the city; in 24 hours.


The Ukrainian citizens, however, are powerful within themselves. Many videos have been shared online where citizens are standing up to the Russian soldiers, testing the morals and limits of their attackers. While the attack is awful, devastating, and may seem bleak, the citizens of Ukraine have not lost hope -- and are standing up for their home.

This information is only a small part of the military aspect of the war. Many have died from bombings and misinformation.


The Economic War

The economic war is all about statistics -- and more importantly, money. Governments in countries all around the world have implemented sanctions on Russia, to weaken their economy. An economic sanction refers to commercial and financial penalties placed on, in this case, a country by other countries. This limits trade, which reduces the flow of goods and money in and out of the target country.

Countries included in placing sanctions on Russia are the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, Switzerland, South Korea, Austria, and the European Union. These countries have banned imports and exports on Russia, banned Russian ships from ports, frozen assets, seized property of wealthy Russian individuals, and the list goes on.

Countries, however, aren’t the only ones who can put sanctions in place. Many corporations have set their own sanctions in Russia. Corporations include Nestle, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Ferrari, TikTok, Netflix, Microsoft, Ikea, and banks such as American Express.

This is only a handful of companies that have limited access in Russia, but there are many more. To see more, click the link indicated in the citations at the bottom of this article. The limitations set by companies may not seem all that important or impactful, but in some cases, this can do more damage than sanctions set by other countries. For example, many banks have shut down in Russia, meaning there’s no access to money. Citizens rushed to get cash out in anticipation of this crisis, because the reality is, everyone relies heavily on banks for their money. Most transactions are done through credit and debit cards, and almost no one keeps all of their money with them, no matter what country you are in.

These sanctions set in place by countries and companies are crippling Russia’s economy. While Russia is attacking Ukraine through military strength, everyone else is attacking Russia economically, and there is no telling how detrimental the impact will be on Russia in the near future.


The Information War

Then there is the informational war. Before social media became popular, information could be more contained, and the governments could control what was said to the general public. Now, information is spread quickly through social media, especially through Tik Tok. Information on the war in Ukraine is spreading like wildfire -- whether it’s true or not.

In the age of technology, information is everywhere, and nearly any information is easily accessible to anyone. People share what they hear (usually without verifying its accuracy); they share their stories, and they share what is important to them. The people of Ukraine are no exception; while some are standing in the streets and fighting, others are fighting in a different way -- social media. Many Ukrainians, as they are fleeing their country, have posted videos on TikTok, updating their followers whenever they can.


Many on TikTok, whether or not they are in Ukraine, are spreading the information they know about what’s happening, to try and help the citizens as much as they can. However, not everyone is spreading true information. Some on social media unintentionally spread misinformation, but some are doing so deliberately. Russia, though TikTok has banned them from posting videos, has still been finding ways to do so. TikTok banned Russia on the premise of the False Information law, passed by Russia itself on March 4, 2022. The war of information is all about control of information, and Russia doesn’t want truthful information about what’s happening to be spread.

No matter the information spread, it is still evident that TikTok is the main platform to find information; which is why on Thursday, March 10, the White House briefed 30 top TikTok stars over a zoom meeting on what was happening in Ukraine. The Washington Post posted on Instagram about the meeting, and in their copy said: “National Security Council staffers and White House press secretary Jen Psaki briefed the influencers about the United States’ strategic goals in the region and answered questions on distributing aid to Ukrainians, working with NATO and how the United States would react to a Russian use of nuclear weapons.”

Social media is an unknown variable in the war on information; it can’t be controlled. Or, at least, not as much as the governments would like. This is such an important factor because this is the main flow of information from the war to citizens in a multitude of countries.


This three-sided war is tough for the countries involved and very dangerous. There are more factors to consider than ever before. Russia’s war on Ukraine is devastating, but it is important for the correct information to be spread so all the facts are out in the open; so is the case for any topic. All sources for this article have been checked for accuracy and linked down below if you would like to read more.


Written by Alix Moreland


"Sunflowers for Ukraine"

Photo credit Emilie Brinser


*Disclaimer: This article does not in any way reflect the views of Greenwood High School or the Paw Print journalism club.*


Sources

Live updates on the events unfolding in Ukraine: https://nypost.com/2022/03/12/russia-ukraine-news-live-updates-and-coverage/


Military War Sources

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/10/russia-invasion-of-ukraine-list-of-key-events-from-day-15

https://www.cnn.com/2022/03/09/europe/russia-invasion-ukraine-evacuations-03-09-intl/index.html

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/babi-yar-ukraine-massacre-holocaust-180979687/

https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/nuclear-weapons-by-country

https://thehill.com/policy/international/europe/598029-mariupol-officials-say-nearly-2200-people-have-died-in-24-hours?rl=1


Economic War Sources

https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/what-are-economic-sanctions

https://graphics.reuters.com/UKRAINE-CRISIS/SANCTIONS/byvrjenzmve/

https://www.wired.com/story/gadget-lab-podcast-540/


Information War Sources

https://variety.com/2022/digital/news/tiktok-russia-suspends-video-fake-news-law-1235197409/

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/04/world/europe/russia-censorship-media-crackdown.html

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/infinite-scroll/watching-the-worlds-first-tiktok-war

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/11/diana-totok-ukraine-escape-tiktok

**A lot of initial information on the information war part of this article came from the Washington Post’s Instagram page or videos seen from refugees on TikTok. More research was done after the initial information was found.


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