War of Words: The Ukraine-Russia War

As the Russia-Ukraine War enters its second month, The Policy Circle hosted a conversation with three experts to explore how the power of words, messaging, and disinformation are shaping the war in Ukraine.

The Policy Circle’s Executive Director, Stacy Blakeley, sat down with Dr. Kimberly Kagan, the president and founder of the Institute for the Study of War, former Department of of State spokesperson and senior fellow at Hudson Institute, Heather Nauert, and Kateryna Stepanenko, a Ukrainian analyst who studies Russia for the Institute for the Study of War.

During the conversation, we discussed the information war that takes place alongside the conventional war, including:

  • Why the words chosen by the executive branch to describe the war matter, and how those words shape U.S. policy, as well as the responses by other countries (starting at 3:03)
  • How President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s effective messaging, including his use of social media, helped him rally the West (starting at 10:20)
  • Russia’s propaganda machine and disinformation campaigns (starting at 16:20)
  • The threat that Russia will use weapons of mass destruction (starting at 31:00)
  • The false narrative that the U.S. has biological or chemical weapons programs in Ukraine (starting at 34:48)
  • Americans’ distrust of mainstream media and the challenges of covering an ongoing war (starting at 39:00)
  • Ways for you to access reliable and factual information about the war (starting at 44:10)
  • America’s role in ending the war and holding Russia accountable (starting at 47:40)


To gain more insight on the war, read our Ukraine-Russia War Policy Brief.  It provides historical context, timelines, maps, and details on the ongoing war. It also includes a resources section to help you identify ways you can provide aid to the people of Ukraine.