So, to be able to make the point that the united states, allegedly abandons its allies or um, will leave those that its supported in a lurch out to dry um is certainly something that can undermine the ukrainian democratic project as well as u.s ukraine relations. I also think there is a self interested motivation in this comparison, and that is to draw attention away from the fact that russia had a very similar experience in afghanistan. Of course, uh at the end of the soviet period and that war was uh, was lost and ended in defeat for russia, and you dont hear russia talking about that very much either, and so i think its twofold there, but the main uh. The main purpose is, of course, to to undermine that u.s ukraine relationship and the comparisons dont really make sense. If you look at um the length of the military engagement, the amount of lives lost, the amount of money spent, theres really no comparison, and, additionally, the the purpose of the war. The reason that the united states got involved in it to begin with is very different than what is going on in ukraine, which is uh the the undermining of ukrainian sovereignty, the seizure of crimea, the war in the donbass all instigated by russia, which the united states Is trying to help its democratic ally uh withstand very, very different situation than in afghanistan, which was harboring terrorists, and then we can have an argument about why the united states continued to be involved involved after so long.
But i dont believe theres really any comparison to be made there, always in favor of reaching people in the language that they speak on a daily basis in their homes. I think a good example of how this can work is canada or switzerland, where theres many multilingual people, multilingual kind of governments that work well together, and i think ukraine can certainly be an example of a multilingual environment like that as well. Estonia is another example where, although you have to learn estonian language for citizenship, the government has recently started investing in russian language media in order to reach the russian speaking population. I think thats really important not only to combat disinformation but to make sure that the population who might otherwise be disadvantaged or disenfranchised is getting communication from the government that they feel like theyre, being heard from the government, and i think and the idea that the zolensky Administration has been investing in more russian language. Communications with people in ukraines east is a good investment and id like to see it ramped up even further to kind of fill um the vacuum that has been created by the sanctions on some uh pro russian, russian speaking, midwich owned tv channels and other media outlets. Over the past several years, theres a theres, a couple of of narratives that russia uses in order to weaken the u.s ukraine relationship um, and i think its important to underline that they are all based somewhat in in grievances that exist or a reality on the ground.
That exists uh either in that u.s ukraine relationship or in ukraine itself. So um we see this narrative of ukraine being a corrupt country coming up over and over again, not only in russian language media, but in u.s media as well. We saw this in the lead up to the 2020 election here in the united states, with allegations of corruption by hunter biden related to burisma, and we know those came from russia. Of course, ukraine has a corruption problem thats one of president zolenskys main hopes for his administration to fight against corruption, and so by using that kernel of truth that real corruption problem, um and amplifying it and blowing it out of proportion. Um russia intends to undermine u.s confidence in ukraine, as well as ukrainians, own confidence in their own government, which is unfortunate and its a very potent narrative. We also see some narratives about the west and western political institutions being tired of ukraine having ukraine fatigue, which certainly, i think, is visible. Sometimes, when the eu is re, upping its sanctions when um the u.s congress is debating how much money to give ukraine for uh purchasing weapons or for supporting ukrainian democracy. These are always matters of debate um, and i think russia likes to use those as an indication to the ukrainian public that the west and that the united states doesnt support ukraine as as much as we might otherwise and thats unfortunate. Of course, um. We also see narratives about the far right spreading in uh in the united states, the far right in ukraine, so certain um, far right.
Political movements that are distasteful to americans that have very little uh political clout in ukraine are blown out of proportion uh to to seem like they might be um these proto fascist, proto, neo, nazi movements in ukraine and yes, there. There are far right figures in ukraine. There are individuals and that the state department has declared uh. You know unsavory groups to say the least and put them on on far right watch lists, but the amount of influence that they have over ukrainian politics is negligible. Russia would like americans and those in american policy making to think that theyre theyre more overblown than they actually are and in reality i think the folks making the policy at the white house at the state department recognize that vulnerability, but understand that it doesnt represent. All of ukraine, just like corruption, doesnt, represent all of ukraine. In fact, we know ukraine is a vibrant, uh and and democratic society that is pushing to reform and thats the ukraine, that you know, people who actually have experience in the country know and love, and and certainly the narrative that we try to uh to push back At with russia, we, unfortunately in the united states, i think, have underestimated the relevance of disinformation and the um the potency of disinformation. I think we look at it as something that happens on the internet and not something that affects peoples real lives, but as weve seen in ukraine and as weve seen in the u.
s capitol on january 6th and recently we just had another bomb threat at the u.s Capitol because of someone who listens to disinformation, narratives disinformation affects us in real life too, whether its about people who arent taking the coven vaccine or people who are causing these public safety threats at public buildings or beyond. People who are deciding now to take medicine meant for for livestock and animals instead of the cove vaccine, and i think, in terms of our response, we have absolutely not done enough on on any level weve not seen enough recognition from consecutive administrations, both the trump administration. Certainly, which used disinformation and the biden administration, which is trying to clean up after what the trump administration did, but also get some of its own programs going to fight kovid to you know, end the war in afghanistan theyre overwhelmed and i think in some ways not Seeing the connections between disinformation and the many crises president biden likes to call them cascading crises that we see right now. So when we, when we have migration at the border – and we see um some people in the united states, saying oh, its its migrants from uh central america and south america who are bringing kovid and the delta variant to the united states, obviously thats false um, but Its connected to disinformation, as are our problems with uh people who are anti vaccination, as our many of the problems were dealing with in foreign policy, from afghanistan to ukraine right now, um, and so i would love to see a more robust strategy come from the biden Administration that not only encompasses foreign policy, it not only encompasses social media regulation, but it also looks at the very human elements of disinformation.
What makes disinformation appeal to people? What makes people uh engage with it online. What makes them change from just reading that disinformation to actually acting upon it, whether its taking medicine meant for animals instead of the covert vaccine, showing up to a protest that sort of thing and right now we have parts of the u.s government that are dealing with That we have parts of civil society and the media that are dealing with it, but we dont have a unified strategy or a unified understanding of how it works and whats worse. Many of our own politicians, particularly on the fringes of the political spectrum, are using this information, so were not in a very good state.