War Propaganda Unfolded: Comparative Effectiveness of Propaganda and Counterpropaganda in Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Anton Oleinik, Volodymyr Paniotto


This article proposes an approach to assessing propaganda effectiveness inspired by the concepts of forward and backward propagation. The propaganda process has several stages: the formulation of a message by an actor vested in power, its transmission by a propagandist, its reception by a member of the target group, and the latter’s reaction to the message. Through content analysis using a quadrilingual dictionary and binary logistic regression, war-related messages of the political leaders of Ukraine, Russia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France were tracked through these stages in the first 15 months of Russia’s large-scale invasion. Corpora of political, media, and mass discourses about the war inform this study (140.5 million words). It has been shown that the effectiveness of Russian propaganda has been growing since February 2022, while the effectiveness of the Ukrainian counterpropaganda has been declining. However, the relative ineffectiveness of Ukrainian propaganda is matched by the country population’s growing national consciousness.


content analysis, political discourse, media discourse, mass discourse, digital media

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