This document is published as part of ICIT’s Contributor Series, where ICIT publishes original content from national security and cybersecurity contributors from around the world in support of ICIT’s mission. 

This document is published under ICIT’s Center for Cyber Influence Operations Studies (CCIOS) initiative.

Paper and abstract by Ms. Jamila Mammadova, Research Assistant at the Henry Jackson Society

Since 2014, Ukraine has served as a perfect example of how a pyramid of state power and control proved ineffective in countering alternative communication networks available to the separatists in the east of the country. The war between the Kyiv government and the separatists in the Donbass region illustrated the capacity of the information and communication technologists to disseminate propaganda and to moralize the war itself.

This paper, entitled “Where the East Meets the West: How Western Internet and Modern Communications Technology Helped Soviet-style Propaganda in Donbass,” argues that the skillful manipulation of the narratives and images through social media, accompanied by systematic cyber-attacks against critical sectors of the Ukrainian economy by the so-called “guerrilla hackers” portrayed the Kyiv government as being out of touch with the reality and incapable to protect its citizens. It contributed to the delegitimization of the Ukrainian leadership, which was already failing to win the hearts and minds of the Russian-speaking population across the country as a result of the long-term conflict in Donbass.

Download this paper here.