what can change the conversation with the Russians about the war

Family ties of Ukrainian citizens in Russia can become an important tool in countering Russian propaganda.

The publication writes about it The Washington Postwhich published the results of a survey of Ukrainians conducted by Gradus Research, Ukrinform reports.

According to the study, 48% of respondents reported having at least one relative in the Russian Federation, and most of them – 59% – discussed the war with their relatives, mainly via WhatsApp, Telegram, and through video and voice calls. Moreover, during the first two weeks of a full-scale war, communication mostly stopped, and after about seven weeks after the Russian invasion, 46% of talk about the war resumed.

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As noted, about 74% of respondents with their closest relatives spoke about the bombing and shelling of Ukrainian cities by Russia, and 67% – about the killings of civilians. Less discussed topics such as looting (41%), torture and rape (38%), the use of banned weapons by Russia, such as cluster bombs (27%).

In many conversations, the topic of false statements by Russia justifying the invasion was raised. In particular, 52% of respondents discussed the claim that Ukraine’s leaders are supposedly “Nazis”, 36% said that Russia is “liberating” certain areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and 30% – that Ukraine is “carrying out genocide” against ethnic Russians. Statements that Ukraine allegedly develops nuclear weapons received less attention (20%), the researchers state.

At the same time, at the request of the researchers to evaluate how much the relatives of the respondents believed Russian propaganda at the beginning of communication, on a scale from 1 to 10, the average rating was 8.

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As expected, respondents noted a greater influence of propaganda on older relatives and those who receive information from Russian television, rather than from the Internet or other sources. At the same time, according to respondents, relatives from Moscow and St. Petersburg are no less likely to trust propaganda than relatives from smaller Russian cities and rural areas.

As for whether interacting with Ukrainians prompts their Russian relatives to rethink the veracity of pro-Kremlin information, assessments are mixed. On the one hand, 54% of respondents claim that their conversations did not affect their relatives’ belief in Russian propaganda, and 8% of respondents stated that relatives believed in propaganda even more because of these discussions. On the other hand, 22% believe that these conversations made them believe Russian propaganda less, and 16% said that relatives began to believe it much less.

However, respondents who were still in contact with Russian relatives at the time of the survey are more optimistic: only 37% of them say that these conversations had no effect, and 4% – that the conversations strengthened the beliefs of their relatives. At the same time, 59% report that Russian relatives have little or much less faith in government propaganda.

However, the majority of respondents say they relied more on facts (59%) than on logic (48%) or emotions (26%) to influence their relatives’ beliefs about the war. And yet, evidence and logic are often ineffective against “alternative” facts, expressed by someone, placed in a separate information bubble, the researchers state.

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“Consequently, family ties among Ukrainian citizens may be an underestimated tool in Ukraine’s information warfare. Research shows that such methods of persuasion make people receptive to new points of view precisely because they rely less on facts and logic and more on emotional ties and are connected with gestures, tone and facial expressions. Such techniques can help Ukrainians resist the influence of Russian propaganda, one conversation after another, as they continue to convey the truth about the war to their Russian relatives, “the authors of the publication conclude.

The survey was conducted by the Gradus Research research company from April 15 to April 17 using a self-filled questionnaire in a mobile application. The survey included a sample of 1,880 respondents, a response rate of 43%, and a margin of error of 2.1%.

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