Ukrainian and Russian institutions’ communication strategies

It has been just over a month since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict. Regardless of personal thoughts and opinions, one of the worst and most severe humanitarian crises is emerging. Bombings, casualties and suffering on both sides are now the order of the day and 4 million Ukrainian refugees have been estimated, abandoning their homes and cities in an attempt to save themselves from the war.

Major news organisations release daily bulletins about live updates. Newspapers, radios and televisions have become bearers of chilling news, to which we are sadly becoming accustomed. However, it is worth mentioning the use of another type of media, never before so massively used during a war conflict: social networks. Always considered albums of memories and mirrors of happy life moments, nowadays Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are loaded with content of despair and destruction.

In this article, some tweets, which we never expected to find in the evergreen world of social, are reported and analysed.

TWITTER and UKRAINE: an emotional involvement Memes are awesome, aren’t they? But does it change anything in wartime? Ukraine's official Twitter profile knows a thing or two about that. You only have to read these tweets before the start of the conflict to smile. At the beginning of the year, people joked about a hypothetical Russian invasion. Then it happened. As we all know, accusing a NATO greater expansion into East countries, in the night of February 24th President Vladimir Putin gives orders to begin the special military operation against Ukrainian territory.

So what happens on social media? What do you post when your country is at war?

Perhaps there is no single answer. As a call to arms, the Ministry of Defence posts the “recipe” of how to build a Molotov bomb and instructions to follow to hit the most sensitive points of Russian vehicles. Moreover, it does not fail to address the Russian soldiers, promising money and total amnesty to anyone who gives up their weapons. Also the big multinationals are not spared, since they are asked to stop their economic activities in the Russian territory.

On these platforms it is possible to communicate promptly and in a context of war it is fundamental. Real or fake news use these means to spread like wildfire. Needless to say, supportive shares or negative comments occur even faster. Ukrainian President has been using these platforms so much, that he has been called “the year zero of social communication in wartime”. His tone of voice is specifically conceived in terms media exposure, with the aim of raising the level of the listener’s “emotional engagement”. He wants to be a “primus inter pares” with a strong, but warm tone.

TWITTER and RUSSIA: a manifestation of power But how does the Russian Federation officially behave in the social sphere?

Its communication style is much more formal and calm and its announcements are brief and official. There are no direct references to the war as it happens in the counterpart, the beginning of the conflict is not mentioned at all and most of the content concerns economic measures in response to UE and NATO sanctions.

If in the last month Ukraine has been offering contents only related to the war, on Russian social networks, there is no lack of contents concerning the sufferings caused by the West towards the former Soviet populations and the international relations of Russia with its main allies. The Russian situation regarding social networks is more complicated, since they have been banned as extremist and anti-Russian.

President Putin prefers an austere and elitist tone, to symbolise his power and strength, for instance represented by Grand Kremlin Palace golden stuccoes and by the famous long negotiation table. Using mainly television to reach Russian population, he uses the digital sphere as a tool of soft power to communicate his narrative and vision of reality on an international level.

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