The Role of Digital Technology in the Ukraine War 

Digital Technology in the Ukraine War

The whole world has been holding its breath as the conflict between the Russian superpower, and the NATO-allied Ukraine boils on. As the conflict continues, the role of digital technology in the Ukraine War is reveals itself to be more central than ever. 

Ukraine is heavily backed by NATO forces, and this makes the Russian Ukrainian conflict that of two major  technologically advanced powers with a large digital presence. This digital habitation is an inherent infrastructure both on a personal and material level, making it a target and one that both sides are happy to exploit. 

Infowars, a battle for hearts and minds 

It is hard to discern the truth in a conflict where propaganda is as much a weapon as bullets and rockets, and war is as much a digital conflict as a physical one for most of the world. Some say that Russia is taking it slow on purpose and biding its time for a long-term but complete victory, while others are saying that the Russian army is incompetent and cannot advance past the Ukrainian resistance. 

Casualty counts are as elusive as it gets, with Russian media so far reporting just over 1.2 thousand casualties, while western outlets go as far as 15 thousand, and the impartial viewer is left with only more questions to be investigated on their own. 

The story on both sides is weaved in favor of whoever is listening, with Russians thinking they are fighting a war for justice against Ukrainian racist operation, while Ukrainians see themselves as freedom the David to a Russian Goliath in a battle for survival. 

Whatever the case, the social media revolution and information manipulation are more central to the Ukrainian conflict than we know. 

Throughout history, public support has been as essential to war efforts as supplies, munitions, and manpower. Favor towards war dictates how much of an appetite a nation has for fighting before they can’t take it anymore, and the nation with a more noble cause can outlast the other in the war for people’s hearts. That is the power of the media, and in this modern-day, it is being used to the absolute maximum. 

Tech Giants Storming the Fields 

Tech giants have an absurd amount of data collected on every single one of us that isn’t living under a rock. This fact is no different with the soldiers of the Russian army who hold smartphones of their own. You best believe that tech giants are able to participate in large global conflicts, whether they admit it or not. 

Smartphone location clusters can be used to identify locations where soldiers and combat groups might be amassing. Traffic data is being used to identify where army columns are on the move and where they are going, while social media posts by soldiers on the ground – even though it is forbidden – can be used to identify the exact locations of combatants. 

Ukrainian soldiers have been using facial recognition powered by Clearview AI’s powerful face search engine to identify both suspects in border crossings and the identities of dead soldiers and inform their families. Footage of what appears to be Russian war crimes is circulating across the world while Russian media deems it staged or fake news. 

With such tactics and strategies being employed so directly, it is more blatant than ever how digital technology in the Ukraine war is indeed a tactical weapon of massive strategic application. 

War for the Cybersphere 

Even before the guns started firing, the impact of digital technology in the Ukraine war was evident in the sheer emphasis that Russia placed on cyber warfare and the NATO-Ukrainian response. 

As soon as the first planes were launched, hackers came out to play, and they had a field day like never seen before. 

In its latest report on cyber activity during the conflict, the State Service Special Communication and Information Protection of Ukraine (SSSCIP) reported 65 major cyberattacks targeting critical Ukrainian infrastructure between March 23 and March 29 alone. This number is five times higher than the previous week. 

In turn, Ukraine has mustered an army of thousands of hackers along with a list of high-value Russian targets and set them loose foaming at the mouth in what could be the first instance of ethical hacking in wars that we have seen. This resulted in massive data pools being lost forever, no ransom needed, major digital infrastructures being crippled, and assets being lost. 

Modern war is fought with modern weapons and on modern battlefields, and those battlefields are no longer exclusively physical. The Russia Ukraine digital conflict affects the battlefield both immediately and indirectly, and no army worth its salt can go without making use of every possible avenue for an advantage in the war on the ground. 


The Ukrainian-Russian conflict is being fought on more than one front. The cybersphere is as much a theatre of war as the Ukrainian wheat fields as propaganda campaigns blur the truth, hackers are unleashed to cause as much infrastructural damage as possible, and tech giants like Google find themselves at the edge of the conflict with their massive data analytics capabilities.  

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