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Info War, Moskva - The-Go-F*ck-Yourself War Ship

Serge AApr 20, 2022 (0)

The world watched as the supposedly amazing Russian warship embarrassingly went to the bottom of the Black Sea. This came as a surprise to all of us in Ukraine. There is a common misconception that since Ukrainians are on sight, we get major news fast. As a matter of fact, to be totally frank, sometimes we get news from CNN. Our media then takes information said or published by western media and completely revamps it into an animal of its own. Recently, NYT published an article that read something like the following: Putin's plans are grandiose and do include his army taking every possible corner of Ukraine by moving towards the west forward direction into Dnipro. Ukrainian media, taking words out of context, extract the following information: Dnipro is Putin's next target and he plans to take the city in the near future. People threw fits. All Telegram channels published the same bloody news - as a matter of fact they published this piece of news in exactly the same words, meaning someone wrote it once and then it was republished everywhere else. But if one were to investigate the original wording of the article closer, one would see that statements made in this article are speculative at that time. The author referenced some unknown officials, representatives of the Pentagon - without giving their names as well as unknown sources - none of whom were specifically mentioned in the article. It was easy not to take this article seriously, especially when you see the facts, not speculations. The facts that were included in this article were dubious at best. As an example, it was implied that the city of Izum was in the Donbas Region, while it is in fact in Kharkiv Region and west is a geographical location, while forward could imply towards a specific subjective point. To the Russian army forward means south, to encircle the Ukrainian United Troops. It is easier to judge by facts, not by speculations. So, speculations make people extremely nervous and especially when you consider the immense amount of disinformation and lies the Russians used as a way of an attack. To put it in words of Dnipro mayor Boris Filatov, “war is a path of lies”.

Borys Filatov



As one may already understand, if Ukrainian independent media sources can take a periodic speculative article that intentionally doesn't state sources out of proportion, just imagine what they can do with other information. Couple this with an extensive and already expansive informational attack on the part of the Russian government, you get a general public that is extremely sensitive to information. During the first days of war, what seemed like major news was largely taken well by the public, but after the Ukrainian people have undergone several iterations of the same news from different sources stating absolutely different ideas about the same topics, people either turned into complete and utter alarmists or skeptics to the full extent of this word - ala everything you hear and see are lies.


There is another factor that we all must consider when releasing information to the public that is aimed at the Russian - Ukrainian war. If you are not on sight in Ukraine, the acuteness of occurrences, which seem simply as information, is really not so for the Ukrainian people. As a matter of fact, some people have moved out of Dnipro simply based on the above-mentioned NYT article. This means leaving everything that they had ever known or owned behind - even loved ones. Svetlana, originally a Donetsk resident who already once before found herself a refugee, left her mother in Dnipro, took her son and settled in a hotel around Lviv. All this simply happened in a heap of panic. Recently, a rocket strike targeted Lviv, which is in the west of Ukraine some 60 miles from the Polish border killing 6 people. On a personal phone call with me, Svetlana said “if this is what is happening in Lviv, I can only imagine what is going on in Dnipro”. At the same time as Lviv was being attacked post the elimination of the Russian war ship Moskva by the Ukrainian Military Forces, Dnipro was as quiet as it had ever been. There were attacks around Dnipro Region, but they hit an old shed for example and a small piece of railway tracks. Mind you, Dnipro (city) residents hadn't even heard the explosions. The point here is once again, matters are not what they seem, when you're far away. What seems like an innocent periodic article can become a destructive force for the people whose lives are at stake. 


 Ukrainians are also somewhat starved for official tactical information. Americans remember the Iraq conflict. Information wasn't regularly and openly released to the civilian public and righteously so. Most of the information concerning military activity at war is confidential. Ukraine's policy on war-time information is no different, righteously so as well. But, that leaves the general population confused and feeling alone. One major difference is that US civilians did not have the war at their doorstep. The US troops did an amazing job, but they were all overseas. People of course saw and heard horrific war stories from veterans but they have never heard a cruise missile explode over the roof of their house while being shot down by the anti-aircraft defence system five times in a row, daily. Things are different when you are off site. As John Kirby, a spokesperson for the Pentagon once mentioned in a news channel interview while being grilled by a news anchor about sending military assistance to Ukraine, mentioned that some information cannot be disclosed by the US government about military assistance and some information the Ukrainians do not want us to expose. “The Defense Department doesn't earmark the weapons it sends for particular units…”

Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby



Together, these two factors do not facilitate transparency for the civilian population. To put it bluntly, there is shooting, shelling, planes and rockets in the air, you know that your country is being attacked by savage soldiers who murder, rape and torture, but mostly, you haven't the slightest clue about what's going on and who to believe. The Ukrainian government walks this informational fringe called on a need to know basis. Or sometimes, the rhetorics could sound like - we know, everything will be ok, but we just can't tell you right now. After this, NYT publishes that Putin's plans include an attack on Dnipro and people leave everything behind and plow into already refugee ridden parts of the country.


 When Moskva went down, there were reports floating around that a Russian ship went down in the deep Black Sea waters. Some reports were saying that there was a fire, some even said that the Russians accidentally bombed themselves. As soon as pictures started emerging, many Ukrainians instantly thought that they were fakes. Because this green coloured smoke and what looks like fires is what we first saw.

As one can inevitably see, there is nothing to see. It was later discovered that this is a picture from a night vision optical device of the Moskva ship being lit on fire. But at that time nobody had official confirmation. Some people were happy, some were already sad regarding the number of fake news they are being exposed to. Furthermore, the next day more pictures started emerging - just regular day time snapshots and people still didn't believe it. A President's Office spokesperson, Aleksiy Arestovich, announced that same evening, that the Russians must be more careful while smoking on duty on a military ship with a sly smile of course.

Aleksiy Arestovich


But, still that wasn't confirmation. On the third day after the sinking, the Ukrainian people started receiving official statements that this was in fact the Ukrainian National Forces who eliminated the Russian warship that infamously threatened the border patrol police only to be told to go F themselves. The author of this phrase was freed from Russian capture, he was given a medal of honour for his bravery. The Ukrainian government even dedicated a post stamp to commemorate this occasion. Now stamp collectors all over the world are eager to get their hands on one. We must keep in mind that information can be a weapon. People producing information are responsible for its clarity and transparency. People who have the opportunity to deliver information must understand their fiduciary responsibility towards their audience. 


 The Ukrainian people lived through so many emotional ups and downs regarding the sinking of the battle ship that when the elimination of it was finally confirmed, the Ukrainians didn't know what to make of this. But, it can only be estimated that the hit on Moskva was made to have a physiological impact on the Russians. Its name - Moskva literally means Moscow, the capital of Russia. When Moscow went down in flames, it reflected the dream of every Ukrainian hiding in a bomb shelter shivering. It reflected itself as the product of all Ukrainian suffering. It also sent a metamorphic message to the Russians. Your capital can go down, just as your ship, without a warning. 

Serge A is of Ukrainian descent, grew up in Brooklyn and is volunteering in Ukraine as a legally armed member of a Territorial Defense Group. He was a columnist for the newspaper at Pace University which he attended as an undergrad. 


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