Zelensky meets Americans where they are with video calls and mass media

We are more than 20 days into the war in Ukraine. Every day brings new examples of how it is, as this Washington Post headline said, “A thoroughly modern war:”
— Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the US Congress via video link on Wednesday. “There has never been a speech” quite like it, Dan Balz wrote.
— Zelensky tossed to a Hollywood-quality video contrasting previously peaceful scenes in Ukraine with the bloody, gory hell of the past three weeks. “It was a very modern advertisement for a very urgent need,” Philip Bump wrote.
— “Facebook and YouTube said Wednesday that they removed uploads of a deepfake video” of Zelensky “that purported to show him yielding to Russia,” CNN’s Rachel Metz reported.
— A senior adviser to Zelensky used Telegram to share a statement that Ukrainian forces are starting to counterstrike Russian invaders.

— A key point from Bump’s story: “Ukraine’s communications infrastructure remains intact, allowing video and photos from the war to quickly make their way to the international community.” Case in point, images from the theater bombing in Mariupol were available within minutes of the blast.

— Images from the satellite company Maxar showed that the Russian word for CHILDREN was spelled out on two sides of the theater before it was bombed.
— To underscore the point, CNN.com led with a story Wednesday night that is based on satellite imagery: “Where some buildings once stood in parts of the country, only scorched structures remain following Russia’s military strikes.”
— “Modern war” means this too: One of the banners on MSNBC Wednesday night said “U.S. TO SUPPLY UKRAINE WITH DEADLY ‘SWITCHBLADE’ DRONES.”

— At one point on Wednesday, one of the banners on CNN said “HACKERS TRY TO BREAK THROUGH PUTIN’S DIGITAL IRON CURTAIN.”

Getting around the digital Iron Curtain

Donie O’Sullivan writes: “Over the past few years, but particularly in the past few weeks, Vladimir Putin has been fortifying a new Iron Curtain — a digital one. For this report on ‘AC360,’ I spoke with hackers and activists in Poland and Ukraine who are working on ways to get around it. One Polish man who has helped build a system to send text messages to Russians with real info about the war told me: ‘We knew that there are people all around the world who would like to do something, but, since they can’t buy a gun and fight against Russia, we decided to let them use their phones instead.’ He is part of the so-called ‘Squad 303,’ online activists who are trying to share the truth, one text at a time.”

>> Some Americans are involved, as well: O’Sullivan spoke with Titan Crawford, a truck salesman in Oregon who has spent hours messaging Russians. He said most of his texts don’t get a response, and some people tell him to go away, but others do engage.

Is Russia targeting journalists?

CNN’s Jennifer Hansler writes: “US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an NPR interview that the US is ‘looking very hard’ at whether Russia is intentionally targeting journalists in Ukraine. At least three journalists have been killed covering the war in Ukraine in the past several days — Pierre Zakrzewski, Oleksandra Kuvshynova and Brent Renaud — and at least two have been severely injured. ‘This is something we’re looking hard at, we’re documenting. Others are looking at this. The deliberate targeting of civilians, journalists and others would constitute a war crime,’ Blinken said.”

Further reading

— A sign of what’s to come? “Putin called pro-Western Russians ‘scum and traitors,’ signaling a fiercer crackdown in the country.” (NYT)
— President Biden explicitly called Putin a “war criminal” on Wednesday, “after weeks of avoiding the term,” Ashley Parker writes. The “seemingly off the cuff” accusation came after Fox reporter Jacqui Heinrich posed a question about it. (WaPo)
— “CNN’s Erin Burnett wept on Wednesday as she interviewed a Ukrainian man whose wife and children were killed last week” in the attack seen around the world through Lynsey Addario’s photos… (Mediaite)
— On the latest episode of CNN’s “Tug of War” podcast, Anderson Cooper talked with Sara Sidner about several topics, including the weaponization of the term “fake news.” It’s a powerful conversation. (CNN)
— Marina Ovsyannikova’s on-air protest “highlighted a quiet but steady stream of resignations from Russia’s tightly controlled state-run TV,” Paul Kirby reports. (BBC)
— The recent muffling of Russian state media was an unprecedented move by social media giants “to stop the spread of misinformation.” And early signs “show it may be working,” according to WaPo’s analysis of traffic data. (WaPo)
— Charlotte Klein’s latest about independent media: “Ukrainian and Russian journalists are raising money to survive.” (Vanity Fair)
— From Jennifer Rubin: “Ukraine shows the press is the enemy of tyrants, not the people.” (WaPo)