As Russian troops closed in on Kyiv and battered the Ukrainian capital with missile strikes on Friday, rumors spread by Russian state media said that President Volodymyr Zelensky had fled the country.
That evening, as he has been doing for weeks, Zelensky sought to debunk the Russian disinformation narrative directly. In a defiant video posted on social media, he filmed himself by the Bankova, Ukraine’s equivalent to the White House, flanked by the prime minister and other top officials. “We’re all here. We are in Kyiv. We defend Ukraine,” he said. “Our military are here, our citizens and society are here. We are all here defending our independence, our state, and this is how it’s going to be.”
Amid the Russian invasion of their country, the Ukrainian government has treated the information battlefield as a real front line. In Ukrainian, English and Russian, top officials have relentlessly put out their own information on social media, provided regular updates, shot down rumors, and warned of what they say are new false Russian narratives before they can fully take off.