DECEMBER 9, 2022
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U.S.-Backed Ukrainian Media Campaign Targets Critics of War with Russia

U.S.-Backed Ukrainian Media Campaign Targets Critics of War with Russia

Ukraine’s American-backed conflict with Russia is unfolding not only in the trenches of the Donbas region but also on the cognitive battlefield, where efforts are focused on winning hearts and minds. With significant funding and direction from the U.S. government, a vast network of media outlets is not only countering Russian propaganda but also supporting strong censorship laws, shutting down dissident voices, disseminating disinformation, and silencing critics of the war, including many American citizens.

Prominent critics such as economist Jeffrey Sachs, commentator Tucker Carlson, journalist Glenn Greenwald, and University of Chicago Professor John Mearsheimer have been labeled as part of a "network of Russian propaganda" by Ukrainian watchdog groups. However, these figures are not Kremlin agents; they have simply challenged the dominant narratives surrounding the war.

Sachs, an esteemed international development expert, has called for a diplomatic solution to the conflict. He even addressed the United Nations in November, advocating for negotiated peace. Mearsheimer, a well-known international relations scholar, has been critical of NATO expansion and predicted that Western militarization of Ukraine could provoke a Russian invasion. Greenwald, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, has condemned war coverage and media dynamics that suppress dissenting voices, stating that calls for censorship of "pro-Russia propaganda" are actually efforts to silence any questioning of the US/EU role in the war.

Despite the lack of evidence linking these critics to Kremlin influence, their comments have led U.S.-backed Ukrainian media groups to brand them as Russian propagandists. U.S. taxpayer dollars have funded outlets like the New Voice of Ukraine, VoxUkraine, Detector Media, the Institute of Mass Information, and the Public Broadcasting Company of Ukraine. Some of this funding comes from the $44.1 billion in civilian-needs foreign aid committed to Ukraine. While this financial support is officially intended to foster independent journalism, counter malign Russian influence, and modernize Ukraine’s media laws, many of these outlets have instead promoted aggressive messages supporting the Ukrainian government’s positions and discrediting its critics.

For example, VoxUkraine has produced videos attacking the credibility of American opposition voices, including Sachs, Mearsheimer, and Greenwald. Detector Media, another influential media watchdog group, frequently brands American war critics as part of a Russian disinformation campaign. These outlets also engage in domestic disputes, with Detector Media broadcasting content that ridicules critics of Ukrainian government actions to shut down opposition media outlets.

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