People around the world are watching Russia’s incursion into Ukraine in real-time. Citizens of Ukraine are uploading harrowing scenes of missiles dropping from the sky in the capital city of Kyiv.
In 2022, almost everyone has a smartphone with advanced photo and video capability, leading to an unprecedented amount of footage of the conflict.
Nowhere to Hide
Moscow has confirmed it is targeting military facilities, including airfields and anti-aircraft systems, but even without the word of the Kremlin, the attacks are clearly evidenced by civilians’ videos on social media.
One such video shows a large air assault operation with Mi-8 helicopters in Hostomel, Kyiv, Thursday.
The General Staff of the Ukranian Armed Forces claims five Russian aircraft and one of the helicopters has been gunned down. The Russian military denies the claims, but video footage on Twitter shows what appears to be a helicopter falling out of the sky.
Ground troops also entered the Kyiv region from the Belarusian border through the “Vilcha” checkpoint Thursday, which was closed a few hours before. Reporters became aware of this from a video uploaded to Twitter Thursday.
The Court of Public Opinion
Social media has also given rise to an explosion of citizen journalism that has the ability to change public opinion.
Footage of missiles reigning down on the capital and nearby towns will have a cultural impact that could make the decision by Russia to occupy parts of Ukraine less popular than it already is in the West.
One video showing a young child crying amidst the chaos in a residential area near Kyiv gives people a first-hand look into the devastation of war.
Another video uploaded to Twitter shows a Ukrainian father saying goodbye to his family while he stays behind to fight the Russians.
Similar videos of Ukrainian soldiers addressing their family and loved ones are being posted almost every minute.
Fueling the Fire
While advancement in the technology of social media and smartphones has given news outlets and citizens all over the globe greater insight into the invasion, the advancement of weaponry is the fuel for the content.
Russia has been modernizing its arsenal for decades. In 2021, the country had an estimated 4,500 nuclear warheads at its disposal. So far, the Russian military has only rolled out its MiG-29 fighter jets outfitted with a range of air-to-surface missiles and precision munitions, tanks, and Mi-8 helicopters. In addition to its outright military might, Russia’s GRU military has also used cyberwarfare – carrying out a series of cyberattacks on Ukraine in the last two months.
During the operation of the Russian army in Ukraine, about 100 missiles of great destructive power have been launched, which have paralyzed 10 military airports of the Ukrainian Air Force, according to MSN.
In Kyiv, the Ukrainian military is using anti-aircraft stinger missiles to fend off the assault by Russian fighter jets. The missiles were a gift from the Latvian government, arriving just days before Russian forces bombarded the capital. The armaments have proved crucial in the Ukrainian defense effort so far, successfully targeting many of Russia’s aircraft.
The Power to Change History is (Literally) in Our Hands
The latest step up in Russian aggression in Ukraine is showing what war in the age of instant worldwide communication and near-daily technological breakthroughs looks like. And while an end to the conflict still seems far away, the instantaneous footage and reports being seen and disseminated by citizens on both sides could play a key role in de-escalating it.