How Ukraine Took a Page From the ISIS Playbook

How Ukraine took a Page From the ISIS Playbook

( – The United States’ involvement in Vietnam has been dubbed America’s first living room war because of the images and battle scenes shown on the nightly news. It’s been more than a year since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his war against Ukraine to continue his bid to rebuild what he sees as the glory days of the Soviet Union, and future historians might reasonably call it the world’s first social media war.

Life Imitating Fiction

Unfortunately, waging war is something the human race has become adept at over the millennia, and part of that battle isn’t fought with bullets and bombs but rather in the realm of propaganda. In the right hands, images and catchy slogans can keep the people of a country supportive of the government and their sons and daughters on the front lines.

Relatively recent developments in drone technology and the quality of video taken by miniaturized cameras are being leveraged by both sides in this conflict. Defending Ukrainian troops have been using commercially available drone systems to take footage of military strikes and then upload them to different social media platforms for civilian consumption.

For some, this is reminiscent of one of the tactics used by ISIS during its attempt to build a caliphate in the Middle East nearly a decade ago. The terrorist organization used the tactic to recruit other extremists to its cause and to strike fear into those within its path with images of graphic violence and executions.

Ukraine’s video campaign has been called a “gamification” of the battlefield because the images they share have similarities to an entire genre of popular computer wargames played the world over. One such video, taken from the helmet cam of a soldier in the elite “da Vinci Wolves” battalion near Bakhmut, Ukraine, has many similarities to a first-person shooter game.

Other dramatic footage released by Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) shows aerial footage of the “White Wolves” special forces unit attacking and destroying numerous Russian tanks. In it, one can see a bomb falling away, striking its target, which is then obliterated in a ball of fire.

By releasing these images, the Ukraine military hopes to stir up patriotism by showing the civilian population what their men and women are fighting for — and perhaps inspire others to rise up and defend the homeland. Another aspect of it is the need to keep the flow of weapons and support from Western and NATO nations flowing by showing the decision-makers how their contributions are being put to good use.

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