1 March: Moscow tries to switch off the capital’s broadcasters

At the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, Russia targeted social networks, which in response raised their defences to prevent tracking of users in the occupied territories and blocked Kremlin-controlled media. But since March, the target has been extended to radio and television infrastructures, even though the Russian army is keeping Ukrainian mobile phone networks intact for use due to technical problems with encrypted military communication systems). Europe’s response is not long in coming.

The moment of impact of one of the two Russian missiles that hit the transmission tower
The moment of impact of one of the two Russian missiles that hit the transmission tower

Ukraine is a largely flat country, and in the capital, even if antennas were placed on a skyscraper (the tallest, the 178-metre Klovsky Descent 7A, was inaugurated in 2015), the signal would be absorbed by the ground after a few tens of kilometres, due to the earth’s curvature. A respectable transmission tower is therefore used to extend coverage. Built between 1968 and 1973, during the time of the Soviet Union, it has a diameter at the base of 90 metres and is 380 metres high. It is the tallest in the world (among those made entirely of metal) and the tallest building in Ukraine. (Wikipedia info here).

On GoogleMaps, there are several pictures and with StreetView you can ‘walk’ around the tower, changing perspective.

2 March: BBC responds by dusting off the short waves

The BBC World Service tweet shows the coverage area of the broadcasts on 15735 and 5875 kHz, which can be received in Kyiv and parts of Russia
The BBC World Service tweet shows the coverage area of the broadcasts on 15735 and 5875 kHz, which can be received in Kyiv and parts of Russia

In order to inform the Ukrainian population, the BBC is reactivating two short-wave frequencies that used to broadcast the news of the World Service for four hours a day (broadcasts to Europe had ended in 2008). These are the British transmitters in Woofferton. Built during World War II, and privatised at the end of the Cold War, it is still used by the BBC to broadcast the World Service and leased to other broadcasters (Deutsche Welle, Voice of America, Voice of Vietnam).


ADN-Kronos agency reports on the blocking of media that depend on the Russian government
ADN-Kronos agency reports on the blocking of media that depend on the Russian government

February 26: Social networks react

After Facebook, Meta extends profile protection to Instagram; YouTube blocks some Kremlin-run media (preventing ads and revenue generation) and puts videos at the bottom of the recommendation list. Twitter restricts access to major telecom providers.

February 27: After Facebook, it’s Twitter’s turn. The EU takes the field and shuts down state media

Without making official announcements, activity on Twitter is slowed down, as Netblocks, which does global-scale monitoring of how the Internet works, notes. Users can get around the obstacles by masking their identity by accessing from a VPN network (which by preventing localization ensures privacy). European Union blocks Russia Today and Sputnik: the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, during a press conference in Brussels announces that Russian state-controlled media and their subsidiaries will no longer be allowed to broadcast their lies. YouTube also blocks Russia Today and prevents it from monetizing content globally.

February 28: Foiled by social hacking of Ukrainian public figures

Facebook removes fake accounts activated by Russia and Kyiv to target public figures in Ukraine. Twitter suspends more than a dozen accounts and blocks the sharing of several links.


The day after the beginning of the invasion, the tension rises on social networks: the protection measures are answered with a partial blockade

Russia to restrict Facebook access for censoring its media
Moscow says on Friday, Feb. 25 that it is partially restricting access to Facebook because it would censor Russian media (Reuters)

Facebook protects Users? Putin obscures it

Nick Clegg, President, global affairs of Meta (company that controls Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger), in a Tweet warns users that technicians have implemented security measures to protect the accounts of Ukrainian citizens: they will be able to prevent users who are not part of the friends from downloading or sharing the profile photo or see the posts published. The function “profile block“, was created to protect journalists, activists and people “exposed” in high-risk areas, and has already been used during the American withdrawal from Afghanistan to protect the population from Taliban retaliation. An operations center has also been set up, with experts and native speakers to follow developments in the conflict and act promptly, possibly activating other tools designed for emergency areas.


Why Russia is using the letter Z?
Some of the images of the ‘Z’, which has become the symbol of the invasion: from those painted on military vehicles to recognise them, to the one drawn on the jersey of the Russian gymnast who wears it on the podium to express his support for the military campaign

We had talked about the disinformation travelling over the airwaves, in particular pirate transmissions in the 7 MHz amateur radio band. This was before the start of military operations, and especially in the areas of the Donbas, already in the hands of Russian separatists. But since the beginning of the invasion, the parallel war on the airwaves has spread to social networks and the web. Let us reconstruct the chronology of the escalation.

24 February: Russian authorities’ warning to free voices

On the day of his speech to the nation, in which Putin recognised the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and justified the invasion, the Russian authorities intervened to stem the flow of images and news from Ukraine. The Federal Service for the Supervision of Mass Communication (Roskomnadzor), notes that unverified information is on the rise and gives a warning: it reiterates that only official sources are reliable and recalls that the sanctions amount to five million roubles (over 50 thousand euros) and provide for the seizure of materials.

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