Ukrainian Tech Workers, Sanctions and Ecommerce, Cultural Warfare, More: Ukraine Update, May 23, 2022


Washington Post: Inside Ukraine’s new start-up life: Hallways, closets, bunkers. “Nearly three months into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the country’s once booming tech community is trying to rebound back to life. As the war continues, tech founders and their employees have settled into new routines, working amid bombs, gunshots and air raid sirens. They build Power Points, take meetings and write emails and pitch decks from apartment hallways, bedroom closets and underground bunkers, trying to meet work deadlines regardless of the circumstances.”

The Guardian: Cosmopolitan no more: Russians feel sting of cultural and economic rift. “Three months into the war, Russia has become the most sanctioned country in the world, and almost 1,000 foreign brands – the majority of them voluntarily – have curtailed their operations there, according to records kept by the Yale School of Management. The exodus of companies continued this week with McDonald’s officially announcing it would leave Russia after three decades.”

Associated Press: New Twitter policy aims to pierce fog of war misinformation. “Starting Thursday, the platform will no longer automatically recommend or emphasize posts that make misleading claims about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including material that mischaracterizes conditions in conflict zones or makes false allegations of war crimes or atrocities against civilians.”


Search Engine Journal: How To Optimize YouTube Videos To Help Ukraine. “Optimize YouTube videos to #standwithukraine by incorporating video SEO best practices. Find tips for keyword research, custom thumbnails, and more.”


14 East: Cultural Warfare Continues Through Classical Music with Russia, Ukraine War. “The dirt scuffs up against the soles of Kharkiv-based violinist Vira Lytovchenko’s shoes as she walks across her basement floor to a lonely chair to practice. After the Russian invasion of Ukraine, musicians across Ukraine have been forced to adapt while the rest of the world embarks on cultural warfare — the use of the arts as a cultural weapon.”

The Diplomat: How the War in Ukraine is Accelerating India’s Desire for Tech Autonomy. “In India, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stipulated a loss of trust in both Russian and Western sources of technology as well as a new alertness over any major technological dependence on one partner country. New Delhi’s reinforced belief in self-reliance, or Atmanirbhar Bharat, might in the short run compromise its economic growth, but India’s domestic consensus for technological strategic autonomy is here to stay.”

Yale News: Zelenskyy calls on universities to help rebuild Ukraine’s higher ed system. “On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with presidents, chancellors, and provosts from America’s leading research universities — including Yale President Peter Salovey — to discuss his vision for rebuilding Ukraine’s higher education system, and how educators can help in the days and months ahead. The event, which was held over Zoom, was organized by the Association of American Universities (AAU).”


Gizmodo: This Russian Botnet Is Capable of Manipulating Social Media Trends on a ‘Massive Scale,’ Report Claims. “A new report claims that a subcontractor working for Russia’s intelligence service has a botnet capable of manipulating trends on social media platforms on a ‘massive scale.’ The report, published Thursday by the cybersecurity firm Nisos, alleges that the Moscow-based firm 0day Technologies can spread disinformation at a frightening rate using a customizable suite that is tied to a malicious network. The company has previously worked with the Federal Security Service, one of Russia’s primary intelligence agencies.”

Bleeping Computer: Russian Sberbank says it’s facing massive waves of DDoS attacks. “Russia’s banking and financial services company Sberbank is being targeted in a wave of unprecedented hacker attacks. Earlier this month, the bank fought off the largest distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack in its history. Sergei Lebed, vice president and director of cybersecurity at Sberbank, told the audience participating at the Positive Hack Days conference that thousands of internet users have been attacking the organization over the past months.”

Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group: Russia uses abducted Ukrainians for propaganda video claiming Ukraine is bombing ‘liberated’ Melitopol. “Almost a month after Russian soldiers seized Ihor Artyomenko from his home in occupied Melitopol, he and five other abducted Ukrainians have appeared in a Russian propaganda video. It is near certain that the men gave their supposed ‘confessions’ under torture or other forms of duress, with the video yet another extraordinary attempt by Russia to try against all evidence, to blame the Ukrainian Armed Forces for its bombing and shelling of civilians.”


Vox EU: Russia’s e-commerce trade in the aftermath of the 2022 invasion: Evidence from high-frequency data. “Whether economic sanctions against Russia have real effects has been increasingly called into question. This column suggests that changes in e-commerce can demonstrate whether and how the 2022 Western sanctions contributed to de-linking Russia from the West. An analysis of trends in cross-border international online retail based on digitally recorded daily transactions data from 2,288 international and Russian companies shows substantial declines in Russia’s e-commerce transactions. About five weeks after the war started, revenues from e-commerce imports to Russia had fallen by half, with no signs of compensation by Russian retailers in the sample studied.”

Diálogo Americas: Russia Leads the Way in Disinformation Campaigns, Study Finds. “Russia is the leading promoter of disinformation, according to a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) that analyzed public Twitter datasets. Iran, China, and Venezuela also ranked high in the March 30 report, Understanding Global Disinformation and Information Operations. The study analyzed Twitter messages sent by state actors of various countries between October 2018 and March 2021. The think tank’s researchers analyzed the activities and content of Twitter-banned accounts within 90 days of an account previous tweet.”

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