As a fluent Russian speaker and keen observer of the Russian political scene, Fink says:
“Mainstream media needs to keep up a pretence of neutrality, and sometimes the ‘both sides’ technique used by sources such as the BBC can give advantages to the aggressor and lessen the focus on the victim. YouTubers have no such issues, and can explore the events from a pro-Ukraine perspective – creating materials that are passionate yet informative, supportive yet engaging”.
“Social media created the environment for toxic disinformation to spread, and its algorithms can actually amplify falsehoods and hate far more than truth and moderate voices. But the phenomenon of NAFO and YouTubers covering the war also suggest that the cure for propaganda is social media.”
Fink offers his top recommendations on the best social media sources to guide you through the war in Ukraine as it reaches a terrible 12-month milestone.[/editorial]
Top 10 YouTube accounts for insights into the Russian war in Ukraine
Amassing thousands of followers, these citizen broadcasters are on the front-line of the information war, and provide a daily update on the war Russia has unleashed on Ukraine.
Some channels focus on debunking Russian fake news, whereas others seek to inform the world about unfolding events. They do this with a mixture of facts and humour, speculation, and footage.
Some of them make a living from their videos, while others fit their media output around regular jobs. Many donate money to the Ukrainian war effort where they can and raise awareness of charities and campaigns raising money to support the Ukrainian army and civil society initiatives.
Anders Puck – @anderspuck
84.4K subscribers | Joined Sep 11, 2007 | 4.2m views
A Military analyst at the Royal Danish Defence College with a specialty in maritime operations and Russia. He also runs the websites Krigskunst.dk and Romeosquared.eu that focus on defence issues and military analyses from a Danish perspective. Anders is appreciated by his audience for his cool analytical interpretations of key events in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, informed by his military background and expertise in military strategy.
Anna from Ukraine – @AnnafromUkraine
43.3K subscribers | Joined Nov 28, 2013 | 3.6m views
Ann has been telling the truth about her beautiful country, Ukraine, since 2013 on YouTube, but it was the advent of war that grew her channel and audience massively. Anna has extraordinary screen presence, but also is a mine of interesting facts about Ukrainian history and culture. That has helped her to build up a devoted audience for her daily war diary, and extraordinary mini documentaries that seek to explore Soviet myths and lies. Ann is, in her own words, “Subjective, emotional but honest.”
Artur Rehi – @arturrehi
580K subscribers | Joined Apr 14, 2012 | 60.3m views
Artur Rehi is an Estonian reserve soldier, who completed conscription in 2018 in the Kuperjanov Infantry battalion as company communications officer. He looks at the war with insight, empathy, and humour. He also explores his family’s traumatic history as victims of Soviet repression and imperialism.
Combat Veteran Reacts – @CombatVeteranReacts
230K subscribers | Joined Mar 9, 2021 | 71.5m views
Combat Veteran Reacts tarted his channel giving his take on military-themed movies, documentaries, video games, and more. But pivoted to analysing combat footage from the Ukrainian war and intercepts of Russian soldiers’ conversations with both their commanders and families. It was in the context of the war that his channel really blew up. Combat Veteran looks at tactics, strategy, history, and technology and casts a critical eye at representations of conflict and war in the media.
Denys Davydov – @DenysDavydov
582K subscribers | Joined Apr 20, 2014 | 196.8m views
Denys Davydov is an airline pilot, but it’s his near daily updates on the Ukrainian war that have really pushed the growth of his channel. His videos have covered every aspect of the war, from the losses of Wagner in Bakhmut, to the attack on the Kerch Bridge and the failures of Russia tactics and equipment. Denys has great engagement and has built an extremely loyal audience.
Jake Broe – @JakeBroe
316K subscribers | Joined Oct 26, 2012 | 55.5m views
Jake is a United States Air Force veteran who served for six years (O-3) as a Nuclear and Missile Operations Officer (13N). As with other YouTubers, Jake’s channel has grown strongly through the war, as he pivoted to providing update videos on the war in Ukraine as well as conversations with engaging podcast guests who are also experts and commentators on the War in Ukraine.
Operator Starsky – @StarskyUA
345K subscribers | Joined Jan 10, 2019 | 29,8m views
Starsky is a Ukrainian National Guardian, blogger, and self-declared ‘war hipster’. His channel is dedicated to the international community of people who support Ukraine in its struggle against Russian aggression. Starsky’s channel is one of the largest on YouTube focused on the war, and Starsky’s humour, humanity and expertise has helped him grow an incredibly loyal audience and following. Starsky is also generous with his time and helps to nurture other channels.
Perun – @PerunAU
363K subscribers | Joined Mar 23, 2012 | 39.3m views
Perun is an Australian covering the military industrial complex and national military investment strategy. Since the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine, hew has been covering lessons from the conflict and how they may inform the future investment decisions that other nations may or should make.
Silicon Curtain – @SiliconCurtain
17.9K subscribers | Joined Mar 21, 2022 | 1.08m views
Silicon Curtain is a channel that was created in response to the war in Ukraine and is run by Jonathan Fink. A fluent Russian speaker, he uses his knowledge of the Russian mindset and history to analyse the unfolding war and longer-term prospects for Ukrainian victory and peace. The format of this channel is different, as it’s based on a weekly dissection of the news as well as interviews with experts – historians, academics, journalists and military experts. The channel is young but has attracted as guests some of the most high profile experts in the world on Ukraine and Russia, and the long interview format covers stories in a way that is not seen on mainstream media. In only a year, the channel has grown rapidly to become one of the largest collections of Ukrainian experts and voices on the web in English – a powerful resource to make the case for an independent and strong Ukraine.
Vlad Vexler – @VladVexler & @VladVexlerChat
Vlad’s channel was created to address the cultural, artistic & political challenges we all face as a democratic society. But because of his dual Russian and British heritage, he has made a series of hugely popular and informative videos about Russia’s war of imperial aggression against Ukraine. Vlad is a philosopher, and in his academic life focuses on concepts of freedom. He’s also writing a book about Isaiah Berlin and is a musicologist. Vlad’s audience are fiercely loyal, and hugely appreciative of his expertise on the Russian mindset and history.
Top 10 Podcasts for insights into the Russian war in Ukraine
Search within Podcast apps, or visit the websites (links provided)
Explaining Ukraine – UkraineWorld
UkraineWorld is an English-language multimedia project about Ukraine run by Internews Ukraine. Its team produces articles, podcasts, video explainers, analyses, and books about Ukraine in English. It has also cultivated a network of over 300 international journalists and experts focusing on Ukraine in order to bring together key actors focused on Ukrainian issues.
In Moscow’s Shadows – Mark Galeotti
Dr. Mark Galeotti has been researching Russian history and security issues since the late 1980s.
Educated at Cambridge University and the LSE, he is the director of the consultancy firm Mayak Intelligence. He is also an Honorary Professor at UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies, Ernest Bevin Associate Fellow in Euro-Atlantic Geopolitics with the Council on Geostrategy and a Senior Associate Fellow at RUSI, as well as a senior non-resident fellow at the Institute of International Relations Prague and an Associate Fellow of the Middle East Institute’s Frontier Europe programme. Previously he has been a Jean Monnet Fellow at the European University Institute, Head of the Centre for European Security at the Institute of International Relations Prague, Professor of Global Affairs at New York University, head of the History department at Keele University in the UK, an adviser at the British Foreign Office and a visiting professor at MGIMO (Moscow), Charles University (Prague) and Rutgers (Newark), as well as a visiting fellow with the ECFR. His books include The Weaponisation of Everything (Yale University Press, 2022), A Short History of Russia (HarperCollins, 2020/Ebury, 2021), We Need To Talk About Putin (Ebury, 2019) and The Vory: Russia’s super mafia (Yale University Press, 2018), and several Osprey books. He is a regular contributor to Jane’s Intelligence Review and The Spectator Coffee House blog, and is a columnist for Raam op Rusland, Intellinews Business New Europe and the Moscow Times.
Kremlin File – Olga Lautman & Monique Camarra
Hosted by renowned researcher Olga Lautman and political activist Monique Camarra, KREMLIN FILE takes audiences on a riveting journey through the rise of Putin and the spread of authoritarianism across the globe and into the Trump White House. Featuring interviews with Masha Gessen, Yuri Felshtinsky, Bill Browder, and Craig Unger, Season One dives head first into Putin’s Russia and their ongoing active measures campaign around the world.
Silicon Curtain – Jonathan Fink
Silicon Curtain is a channel that was created in response to the war in Ukraine and is run by Jonathan Fink. A fluent Russian speaker, he uses his knowledge of the Russian mindset and history to analyse the unfolding war and longer-term prospects for Ukrainian victory and peace. The format of this channel is different, as it’s based on a weekly dissection of the news as well as interviews with experts – historians, academics, journalists, and military experts. The channel is young but has attracted as guests some of the most high-profile experts in the world on Ukraine and Russia, and the long interview format covers stories in a way that is not seen on mainstream media. In only a year, the channel has grown rapidly to become one of the largest collections of Ukrainian experts and voices on the web in English – a powerful resource to make the case for an independent and strong Ukraine.
The Power Vertical – Brian Whitmore
Kremlin coverage for Kremlin watchers. Host, Brian Whitmore is a nonresident senior fellow at The Atlantic Council in Washington D.C. and Russia and Eurasia specialist and assistant professor of practice in the McDowell Center at The University of Texas at Arlington. He is also the author of The Power Vertical Blog and host of The Power Vertical Podcast, both of which focus on Russian affairs. From 2018-20 he was Russia program director at the Center for European Policy Analysis. Prior to joining CEPA, he was Senior Russia Analyst for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He also worked as a foreign correspondent for The Boston Globe in Moscow and Prague and as a graduate lecturer in the Department of Government and International Studies at the University of South Carolina, and as a visiting lecturer in the History faculty at Mechnikov National University in Odesa, Ukraine and the International Relations faculty at St. Petersburg State University in Russia. Whitmore has testified before the United States Congress and the European Parliament. He has also briefed officials in the US, Canadian, and various European governments as well as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Russian affairs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Foreign Policy, Newsweek, and elsewhere. He has appeared as a guest commentator on CNN, the BBC World Service, NPR and various other media. Whitmore has a Master of Arts in Political Science from Villanova University and a Bachelor of Arts in Politics from St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
The Russia File – Wilson Centre
The Russia File is a blog of the Kennan Institute offering insights into Russia’s politics, history, culture, and society, and its relationship with the surrounding region and the United States.
Ukraine War Diaries – Sky News
Well informed stories from expert reporters at Sky News. Some of the best coverage of the war in mainstream media.
Ukraine: The Latest – Telegraph
Stories from expert reporters on the ground in Ukraine.
Ukrainecast – BBC Radio
Varied and informative set of podcasts on the war from the BBC.
War on Truth – BBC Sounds
What’s fake, what’s real? Stories from the information war over Ukraine. BBC disinformation reporter Marianna Spring speaks to people caught up in the battle for the truth.
For more expert opinion on Ukraine’s struggle please visit: https://www.youtube.com/@SiliconCurtain
About Silicon Curtain
The Podcast and YouTube channel was launched shortly after Russia’s full-scale invasion to support Ukraine. It features some of the world’s most eminent experts on Russia and Ukraine and has one of the largest collections of Ukrainian experts in English on the internet. The channel was created to tackle Russian disinformation narratives and techniques, and raise awareness of Ukraine’s struggle in the West: https://www.youtube.com/@SiliconCurtain
The creator of the channel, Jonathan Fink, has the advantage of being a fluent Russian speaker and studied Russian history and literature at university. Unlike some of the pundits creating material about Russia, he actually lived and studied in the country for a period of around three years. He is able to review a range of media sources outside of the usual Western ones.
It’s recently featured guests from academia and strong Ukrainian voices, including Fiona Hill, David Satter, Mark Galeotti, Luke Harding, Eugen Fedchenko, and others. The channel features journalists, academics, and historians, and published 4-5 new videos per week:
- Fiona Hill (https://youtu.be/maBUKuJmQ4M)
- Jade McGlynn (https://youtu.be/uc_ak2c4XX0)
- Peter Pomerantsev (https://youtu.be/bIFrJXly9QY)
- Edward Lucas (https://youtu.be/Qcfyu_dwHEo)
- Owen Matthews (https://youtu.be/1XbmVAaseGM)
- Luke Harding (https://youtu.be/YRgCJ4HqIbo)
- Yuri Felshtinsky (https://youtu.be/_Jhj4Z32e_Q)
- Ian Garner (https://youtu.be/j9l4PYBD0_o)
As well as military experts, including:
- Sir Richard Shirreff (https://youtu.be/UMi1Y3iF710)
- Ben Hodges (https://youtu.be/gpzfEVhdNp0)
- John Spencer (https://youtu.be/2lmAOWfQvdE)
- Sean McFate (https://youtu.be/RguD5PRfNWw)
- Verified ways to help Ukraine and the Ukrainian Army
- Ukraine’s largest online education platform to launch course on disinformation (we helped create it)
- Ukrainian Institute launches first-ever English-language online course about Ukraine
- Ukraine creates free online courses of Ukrainian language for foreigners
- First English-language course about Crimea dispels Russian imperial narratives on peninsula’s history