Armed to The Tweet: Social Media and The War in Ukraine: Shaping Narratives of Self-Understanding and Self-Determination

Publication Date: 
16 September 2023
Appearing in: 
Journal of International Relations and Development

All wars create narratives that give societies the ability to imagine and be imagined. In the ongoing war in Ukraine, such narratives have been a crucial component of self-identification, justification, motivation and defiance in the current battle for Ukraine. Moreover, the war in Ukraine illustrates how social media influences those narratives, and how the war is reported on, experienced and understood. The metanarratives of greater powers, i.e., of the West and Russia on who has the right to control post-soviet space of Eastern Europe, on the enforcing of neutrality or on the possible solutions to the war, do not prioritise the interests of Ukraine. This article explores the narratives of Ukrainian Twitter users, activists, journalists and academics. Data were collected by gathering Twitter posts, at a few points in time shortly after the start of the war, resulting in the collection of over 3,000 Twitter messages. The analysis draws a picture of Ukrainians’ self-understanding and self-determination in this historical moment and seems to act as a response to those who deny Ukraine the agency to define its own vision for its future.

Postcolonialism; Russia’s war against Ukraine; Self-understanding; Self-determination; Twitter; Ukraine