Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

Discourse Report: How Twitter is Talking about Ukraine

~ 5 minutes read

In a speech on Wednesday evening ET, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said he had “decided to conduct a special military operation” in Ukraine. Shortly after, air strikes were reported across the country.

Since then, many have participated in online discussions about what is happening and how to proceed – topics related to the situation in Ukraine reached over 29.4 million mentions on Twitter during the 24 hours following Putin’s speech. We dove into the online conversation to highlight some of the key areas of discussion around the Russian involvement in Ukraine. We hope that this breakdown of how different conversations have unfolded on Twitter will help you contextualize this event and how people around the world are talking about it.

NOTE: THIS STORY IS STILL UNFOLDING AND THIS IS NOT A FULL ACCOUNT OF WHAT IS HAPPENING.​

The Conversation

The largest cluster of conversation focused on the struggles the Ukrainian people are facing and the West’s support for Ukraine. People also condemned Russia for its actions. These areas of conversations had a total of 21.5M mentions on Twitter.

Some suggested the elites of the world would benefit from a new Cold War, while others posited that the development in Ukraine is the beginning of a rebuilding of the Soviet Union (163K total mentions). 

Another cluster of conversation (2.1M total mentions) commended Ukraine’s response to the invasion and shared information about recent developments in the conflict

Some critiqued Biden’s leadership and his response to this crisis, while others applauded his actions (2.14M total mentions). Still others suggested that the West should impose even harder sanctions on Russia by removing the country from SWIFT, an international banking system (404K total mentions). 

A major area of critique was the lack of energy independence in the West, making Western countries dependent on Russia to fulfill their energy needs. This power imbalance could be resolved by investing in new nuclear plants. These areas of conversation had a total of 706K mentions on Twitter (NOTE: this figure also includes tweets about nuclear weapons and the risk of nuclear war).

Debates surrounding the reactions from various public actors were also frequent, including Lauren Witzke’s comments about Putin, the meme/political cartoon shared by Ukraine’s official Twitter account at the onset of the attacks, among others (393K total mentions).

People also talked about the situation in Ukraine in relation to other regions in the world, including a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan (360K total mentions) and other countries that have been attacked in recent history or are occupied (306K total mentions).

Takeaways

The developing situation in Ukraine continues to be clouded by uncertainty and a lack of information, and so people are discussing the crisis in many different contexts. Overwhelmingly, people express concern for the developments taking place in Ukraine and the impact it will have on Ukrainians lives and the world at large. Some are worrying that it will lead to a significant destabilization of Europe and a sharp increase in energy and gas prices across the world. Others comment on the response to the conflict, with voices both supporting and critiquing the steps taken by US, NATO, and European leaders. 

The events in Ukraine will have a wide-ranging impact on many issues important to our daily lives, which worries people across the political spectrum. None of these concerns are unimportant, but based on our distinct values and worldviews we will reach different conclusions about what issue is most pressing to us, and that’s ok. We don’t have to agree on every aspect of an issue to recognize our joint humanity in worrying about the impact this conflict will have on human lives.

Further Reading                                                                                    

If you want to see how different news outlets across the ideological spectrum discuss the developments in Ukraine, here are a few suggested pieces:

New York Times (Left)

The Washington Post (Lean Left)

The Washington Times (Lean Right)

Newsmax (Right)

For a discussion about how the Russian invasion of Ukraine may impact gas prices, see Wall Street Journal

For commentary about various actors’ motivations in this conflict, see this video from Triggernometry.

What do you think? Give us feedback by emailing info@narrativesproject.com. If you’re enjoying our analyses, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook for more.

Sofia Sedergren-Booker February 25, 2022