Politics | History

Russian “What About?” Trolls Are Fueling Putin’s Invasion

A “whataboutism” campaign is infiltrating our sphere.

Sean Kernan
5 min readMar 9, 2022

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Information is as dangerous as any tank.

Win the hearts and minds of the people, and you can win any war.

For example, go to any major social media post or news article about the invasion of Ukraine — and you’ll often see these comments:

“How is this different than the Iraq invasion?”

“What about Palestine?”

“What about Afghanistan?”

These comments churn up flame wars. People argue in long ugly threads.

Meanwhile, the original article was about an elderly Ukrainian couple being killed by a tank.

What people don’t realize is that many of these “what about” comments are by Kremlin trolls.

They’re deploying the whataboutism fallacy, which was popularized by the Soviet Union.

A whataboutism is a flawed argument that accuses hypocrisy without addressing an initial claim.

Any criticism of the Soviet Union (Afghanistan, martial law in Poland, imprisonment of dissidents, censorship) was met with a ‘What about…’ (apartheid South Africa, jailed trade unionists, the Contras in Nicaragua, and so forth).”

The Kremlin is doing anything they can to create distractions, spread blame, and create a “both sides are at fault” effect.

Sure, the US had a bogus invasion in Iraq — and we criticized it relentlessly.

But what does that have to do with Russian artillery bombing maternity wards?

“People only care about this war because they are bombing white people.”

Sure, there may be some racism involved. But there is far, far more to the outcry.

And it explains the rampant Kremlin whataboutisms.

Why is there so much focus on this invasion?

The war has a clear and simple plot with two nations fighting. There is an obvious good and bad guy.

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Sean Kernan

Former financial analyst turned writer. Always on the hunt for a good story. That guy from Quora. Writing out of Tampa, Florida.