How do Ukrainian people communicate via the Internet in wartime?

The Future Center for Advanced Research and Studies said that the ability to access the Internet during wars is one of the most influential factors in modern military confrontations, especially as it connects citizens and makes them aware of the military operations taking place in the field. , not to mention the possibility of receiving help and relief, “adding that” the use of the Internet in the Russo-Ukrainian war was widely highlighted by the role of social media in broadcasting videos of military operations and the conditions of the civilian population. “

The Future Center for Advanced Research and Studies, according to a presentation by Wafaa Al-Rihani entitled “How do Ukrainians communicate via the Internet in times of war?”, Refers to a group of themes about the use of the Internet that coincide with the outbreak of the war, including “the tactics of isolating communications” and “multiple solutions.” , “amateur services”, and “the role of” social media “.

Wafaa Al-Rihani concluded her presentation by noting that “Russia has blocked some social networking sites within it, such as Facebook and Twitter, but an application such as Telegram is still available for use by Russians because – according to digital media professor Lukot – unlike other social media platforms, it follows moderate policies and does not block them. ” Any Russian or Ukrainian channels.

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The ability to access the internet during wars is one of the influential elements in modern military confrontations, especially as it connects citizens and makes them aware of the military operations taking place in the field, not to mention the possibility of aid and to receive relief.

The use of the Internet in the Russo-Ukrainian war has come about on a large scale through the role of social media in broadcasting videos about military operations and the conditions of the civilian population, in an effort to gain public opinion in the world. to influence, some even considered it “the first war against Tik Tok in the world.”

But the question is, how were the Ukrainians able to communicate with each other, as well as with their governments, and the world via the Internet in wartime, especially in light of the Russian attacks on the communications infrastructure in cities as a result of the war?

In this context, the Economist’s March 2022 podcast, presented by Alok Jha through a meeting with specialized experts, discusses the technologies that helped Ukrainians communicate during the war.

Communication isolation tactics:

Warring parties seek to destroy the enemy’s ability to communicate in war, as a tactic of isolation and preparation for defeat or surrender. In the case of Ukraine, the communications network has been a primary target of Russian traditional and cyber attacks since the beginning of the military intervention in February 2022. Last March, large telecommunications companies in Ukraine announced that they were subject to Russian cyber attacks, restricting their access to the internet limited.

And those attacks led to a search for the consequences of the impact of the Ukrainian communications infrastructure. Here Benjamin Sutherland, a technology and defense writer for The Economist, points out that if residents lose contact with the outside world, they will be more vulnerable to hoaxes and rumors. Lviv, Western Ukraine, said cutting Facebook a attempt is to hide the information.

So he started thinking about how the Internet network architecture will survive in Ukraine, but it depends on the way networks are configured and designed and how it relates to the idea of ​​decentralizing communication infrastructure. Where, “Sutherland”, that in communication systems where the Internet is strictly controlled, the Internet is more centralized, but there are some exceptions, including Russia, where the Internet infrastructure is somewhat free, because it depends on different companies that compete for the service. The same is true for Ukraine, where its communications infrastructure is decentralized, which helps maintain communications and counter cyberattacks.

Multiple solutions:

There appear to be several factors behind the resilience of the Ukrainian Internet infrastructure despite the heaviness of the war with Russia, including Internet service providers working with volunteers in the field of information technology 24 hours a day and in high-risk war situations, in order to avoid any failures. or to correct attacks on communications networks, and also provide The Ukrainian government temporarily provides telecommunications service providers with a range of services that were not previously available to them, so that they can reduce intruders.

Creative solutions have also emerged to address the problems associated with the security of communications, such as the power outage, including, according to “Sutherland,” the use of car batteries by Ukrainians to produce electricity and supply it to homes , which has been learned. by watching videos that have been spread on Facebook. There are also volunteers who collect these batteries and deliver them to the national forces; Where they need more additional power supply.

The most important thing is the use of satellite Internet services “Starlink” of the company “SpaceX”, as the Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, “Mikhailovedorov”, asked “Elon Musk”, CEO of “Tesla”, the manufacturer of electric motors. , for assistance in preventing the occurrence of an accident No deterioration of the Internet in the country, and their service delivery via satellite.

Musk did indeed respond, sending a truck full of Starlink dishes, a satellite Internet delivery system, especially in remote areas or without communications infrastructure; The dish automatically connects itself to the nearest “Starlink” satellite in the air, which has more than 2,000 satellites.

Although the “Starlink” service is not available for use by millions of Ukrainians in the short and medium term, it works mainly in the essential Ukrainian institutions, such as hospitals, government headquarters and security services, with the possibility of keeping these technologies in mind. in the hands of Russian forces, which SpaceX itself had warned him.

Amateur services:

The case not only stopped at solutions to keep the internet as a means of communication for Ukrainians and state institutions, but radio services also emerged, especially with the presence of 15,000 amateur radio operators in Ukraine, which is known as the practice of communication between amateurs using wireless radios. In the race, the Ukrainian government prevented these devices from being used for intelligence and military purposes; It can use certain technologies that adapt radio waves to carry internet signals, and there is also an emergency broadcasting system, which is one of the traditional tasks of radio, as the waves propagate over long distances and on difficult roads.

In this context, the presenter of the Economist blog “Alok” points out that there are many radio stations in Europe that publish news and entertainment, including the “BBC” and “Radio Free America”, and there is also “Radio Free Europe” which was active in the countries of the former Soviet Union, which arose during the Second World War to counter Soviet propaganda against the Western camp before and during the Cold War.

Here, Jimmy Fly, President and CEO of Radio Free Europe, refers to his role in covering the Russo-Ukrainian war, as he said that there was a great development in the nature of the content provided by that radio , as modern technology has been relied upon to reach a greater number of European countries, following radio since its inception in specific regions, such as Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

Fly gave an example of the extent of radio neutrality and noted that since 1968, when the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia, then known as the “Prague Spring”, it has been trying to follow the extreme levels of impartiality. , given the confusion. of information at this time, as it came from different sources on the ground and reflects different directions.

The spokesman also said that the current Russo-Ukrainian war is further evidence of the important role played by Radio Free Europe, which helps citizens obtain real information that enables them to make decisions about the effects of the war on them. .

Despite the tremendous developments in the field of media and communication, which have made individuals obtain information from various sources away from the radio, “Fly” says that radio is still one of the main ways in which people receive news; A number of developments may have taken place with him to keep up with the nature of the current era, including that more emphasis has been placed on shortwave broadcasting, as other options for broadcasting via medium-range radio – for example – are not strong enough and clear enough.

On the other hand, radio organizations such as the BBC have announced the suspension of their journalists’ work in Russia “to preserve their safety.” Radio Free Europe has announced, as “Fly”, that citizens within Russia can access the radio through wave services. The short radio station, which in recent years has been able to reach more regions in Europe.

The role of “Social Media”:

In the past, traditional media was the most trusted source of access to information, but now it is being supplanted by social media in the provision of content. In the Russo-Ukrainian war, the influence of “social media” was evident, as Ukrainians use it to share information, send and receive messages about what is happening in the country, and it is also used to make requests for help, distress, to coordinate, and alerts.

But Tanya Lokote – a professor of digital media at Dublin City University in Ireland – sees additional roles for social media as the photos, videos and websites shared by individuals, intelligence agencies, whether Russian or Ukrainian, help them of providing information, despite her emphasizing the danger of misinformation or the lack of zeal on the part of some individuals to publish information, which negatively affects them.

However, Lukot points out that incorrect information is not verifiable due to geographical distance or language barrier, but in the case of Ukraine it is part of Europe and what has happened there are repercussions on the whole continent, so the effect of uncertainty is reduced due to lack to geographical distance and language difference She also regarded the Ukrainians as a conscious people with the ability to gather and present information well.

On the other hand, Russia has blocked some social networking sites within it, such as “Facebook” and “Twitter”, but an application such as “Telegram” is still available for use by Russians, because – according to Alcote – unlike other social networks media platforms, it follows moderate policies and does not block any Russian or Ukrainian channels, and therefore the Russian state can use the information it wants to obtain and broadcast as well as it in propaganda.

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