This is the propaganda I watch and listen to on Youtube.
Content warning: all of these channels discuss and often show extreme forms of violence. Not just because they discuss war, but also because almost all Russians are terrorists and criminals or supporters of terrorists and criminals, and because Russia wants to genocide Ukraine into the history books, and the results are particularly ugly.
Tactics and strategy
Perun Gamer turned commentator. Clearly has some sort of academic past and some sort of public speaking past, but he doesn’t want to reveal too much about himself. You will have to judge him strictly on the content.
Anders Puck Nielsen Former officer aboard a Danish patrol boat, he returned to his old school to become a lecturer there. Posts every 10 days or so.
Österreiches bundesheer (in English: Austrian army) Every week or so, among their regular content, a lieutenant-colonel explains how the war is progressing. (Update 2-6-2022: ab heute auch auf englisch.)
UATV English Daily war news, often quoting regional managers.
Operator Starsky A PR officer of a National Guard brigade attached to Kyiv presents all kinds of mostly background information, mostly about the hostilities around Kyiv. He is also popular on English-language Youtube-talkshows.
I stand with Ukraine – Nataliya’s channel Miscellaneous, but I mostly watch this channel for the translations of interviews with Russian prisoners of war by Volodymyr Zolkin. (Update 9 June 2022 – the translated interviews are no longer available, because the original interviewer started monetizing them.)
Insights from Ukraine and Russia Once per day, sometimes once per two days, this channel presents two short translations of intercepted phone calls of Russian soldiers.
Ukraine Leaks Battle videos from body cams and drone cams.
Olga Reznikova A Ukrainian vlogger who got overtaken by the war, fled the country (taking her kids and her parents along), and returned last week.
The Enforcer Daily live show (long) and daily review of the clips you saw at UATV and Ukraine Leaks.
Animarchy Long-form essays, mostly about the weapons- and soldiers-side of war.
Niki Proshin How the war affects Russia.
1420 Russian vox pops. I am going to quote a little dialog I particularly liked:
Interviewer: “Which mythical creature do you like best?”
Young man: “Centaurs.”
Interviewer: “Don’t you like orcs?”
Young man: “No, I hate them.”
Young man: “They rape and kill and loot washing machines.”
(Explanation: Ukrainians call Russians ‘orcs’. Russian soldiers loot a lot. There have been cases where Ukrainians retrieved stolen washing machines from Russian trenches.)
What is true?
Propaganda does not necessarily mean lying, it may simply mean choosing to highlight what one side finds important – and in fact that is how I have interpreted the term when categorising the Youtube channels above. This is why, for example, I added certain Russian vloggers to the pro-Russian side, even though they appear to be no great fans of the war.
Still, lying is a valid tactic in a war and therefore I assume that most of the time I do not really know what is going on.
I use some heuristics though to determine for myself what I believe is the truth (until proven otherwise):
– Time. I find that after weeks or months, belligerents find it easier to admit that something was the case.
– ‘Innocent’ sources. Russian newspapers for instance will publish biographies of fallen local soldiers. The sum of these biographies tend to be wildly at odds with official mortality figures.
– Comparison. If both sides say X, I tend to believe X is true. This is a tricky one, because each side may have their own reasons to spread the same falsehood. For that reason, I try not to use this heuristic.
– A history of speaking the truth.
In my experience Ukrainians hold back information (they tend to go: “we cannot really determine these things until after the war”), whereas Russians outright lie. I assume the Russians do not believe that we don’t realise they are lying – rather I assume they are trying to sow confusion.
As a result, I tend to believe the Ukrainians. I realise this is also a form of laziness, but so far it has not tripped me up.