The latest in the New Voices on Eurasia Series, introducing the DC policy community to the best “up and coming” scholars on Eurasia.
Pro-Kremlin Propaganda’s Failure in Ukraine: Evidence and Lessons Learned
Before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, how susceptible were Ukrainians to pro-Kremlin disinformation? Were certain groups of Ukrainians, such as those who relied on Russian state media for news, more susceptible? Drawing on original research and the work of others, Professor Aaron Erlich provides evidence that Ukrainians have proved quite capable of distinguishing the false narratives propagated by pro-Kremlin disinformation from accurate news. Erlich argues that widespread loyalties to Ukraine combined with recent institutional reforms have contributed to these capabilities. Moreover, Ukrainians with a propensity for critical thinking were particularly resistant to disinformation, suggesting that behavioral “nudges” to induce citizens to think more critically may help fight Russian propaganda. Although Russian language media enjoyed a large Ukrainian audience until recently, the evidence indicates that concerns about Ukrainians’ susceptibility to pro-Kremlin propaganda were overstated and misplaced.
Aaron Erlich is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at McGill University, where he is affiliated with The Centre for Democratic Citizenship and The Centre on Population Dynamics. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Washington–Seattle in 2016. Prior to academia, he worked for the NGO sector in the Caucasus and Kenya. Professor Erlich’s research addresses how information shapes political behavior, focusing on emerging democracies. He is also interested in advancing quantitative methods to measure the effect of information. Professor Erlich has conducted many large-scale studies in Eastern Europe, sub- Saharan Africa, and North America.
Thursday, January 19, 2023, 4 – 5 PM EST (online & in-person)