As Russia Invades Ukraine, War Unfolds on Social Media

From TikTok to Twitter, social media has been flooded with posts from soldiers, presidents and people on the ground as Russia barrels into Ukraine.

As Russia invaded Ukraine Thursday by air, land and sea, social media exploded with a barrage of posts from presidents around the world, soldiers on the ground and a Soviet disinformation campaign full of false reports designed to justify their act of war.

Russian president Vladimir Putin and media pundit Vladimir Solovyov falsely claimed Ukraine struck first, and an invasion was necessary to "de-Nazify" the country. 

“Today is the day on which the righteous de-Nazification of Ukraine begins. A most important day, a day which decides the course of our history,” Solovyov said on his YouTube channel, Solovyov LIVE.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish, and far-right parties in the country earned a combined 2% of the vote in 2019 parliamentary elections, The Week reported.

Media technology sites issued warnings Thursday about pro-Russian posts that included footage from video games and old military exercises as fake examples of Ukraine attacking Russia on Wednesday night.

"There are even two examples of videos on Twitter today that are actually from war-themed video games, something Russian state media has previously tried to do on multiple occasions," wrote Gizmodo on Thursday.

But social media was also full of real posts from journalists, politicians and Ukraine residents showing harrowing images of Kyiv, the capital and biggest city of Ukraine, under siege and Russian troops taking control of the country's airports.

A NewsNation journalist donned a flak jacket during a live broadcast from a balcony in Kyiv, as air raid sirens blared in the background.

President Zelenskyy posted updates to his Twitter account, including a warning that Russian troops were trying to take Chernobyl, site of the worst nuclear power plant disaster in world history. The area remains contaminated by radioactive fallout.

Later in the day, Ukrainian presidential office advisor Mykhailo Podolyak told Reuters the Chernobyl nuclear power plant had in fact been captured by Russian forces. "It is impossible to say the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally pointless attack by the Russians," he said.

"This is one of the most serious threats in Europe today," Podolyak said. 

From a balcony in Kyiv, Maks Chmerkovskiy broke down in tears as he posted video to Instagram. The "Dancing with the Stars" contestant pleaded with Russian forces to stand down, saying he was "about to go into a bomb shelter because s***'s going down."

The dancer and choreographer was born in Odessa, but immigrated with his parents to the U.S. in 1994. 

In the series of videos he posted to Instagram, he wrote, "I'm in Kyiv, contrary to what I probably should've done a while ago … and not that no one saw this coming, but everybody was hoping that the finality of this situation would be averted, that there wasn't going to be these kind of aggressive measures," he said.

"I'm uneasy, I'm very scared but I do know, at the very least, I have a chance. I have a passport and a way out. A lot of people here do not, and it's f***ing nonsense," he said.

Ukraine soldiers were seen in TikTok videos preparing to deploy.

As night fell in Ukraine, frightened residents sought shelter in subway stations as water supplies were brought in.

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