: pp. 87-94
Ivan Franko National University of Lviv

The article deals with memes as expressive rhetorical resource in media representations of the Russian-Ukrainian hybrid war and military conflict. It explores textual slogans of Russian propaganda that serve to legitimize external aggression. When these units are mirrored as intertextual material in the Ukrainian counter-discourse, they become critical targets for deconstructing fakes and decontamination of manipulative programs. The network of memetic signs is subordinated to the task of symbolic identification of conflict sides and their objectives. Thematic groups of memes, referring to the scenario of military confrontation, reproduce senses of the main “battles for meaning” and the key narratives of the RussianUkrainian information warfare. The memetic markers give an opportunity to analyze such basic strategies of Russian propaganda as justification of aggression through appeal to historical myths, falsification of the meaning of the conflict and programs aimed at the protection of Ukraine’s sovereignty, concealment of facts about the real perpetrators of aggression and origin of weapons, and spread of the threat formulas for intimidation of potential partners. Іn the counter-discourse of Ukrainian media, fragments of the speech referring to the opposite side in ideological and military confrontation are presented with the accompaniment of figurative and factual means of distancing and rejection. The reconstructive strategies of Ukrainian media in relation to propaganda formulas are based on the use of factual information, in particular personal stories told by witnesses of events, investigative material, statistical data, and documents. The counter-frames, or interpretive frameworks of the Ukrainian mass media, work to substantially deny primary content of the propaganda “source”.

1. Olsen, D. (2018, January 24). How memes are being weaponized for political propaganda. Retrieved April 12, 2019, from [in English].

2. Brodie, R. (2011). Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme. Hay House Inc. [in English].

3. Prosser, M. (2015). Memetics: A Growth Industry in US Military operations. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. Retrieved April 25, 2019, from [in English].

4. Thomas, T. (2016). Russia’s 21 century Information War: Working to Undermine and Destabilize Populations. Defense Strategic Communications, Vol. 1 Retrieved April 17, 2019, from [in English].

5. Novak, M. (2019, January 17). Facebook Deletes Pages That Were Secretly Controlled by a Russian Propaganda Network. Retrieved May 15, 2019, from https://gizmodo. com/facebook-deletes-pages-that-were-secretly-controlled-by-1831830363 [in English].

6. Matiukhina, N., Bugorkova, O. (2015, April 11) Kryza v Ukrayini u slovakh ta vyrazakh [The crisis in Ukraine in words and phrases]. Retrieved February 25, 2018,from politics/2015/04/150411_internet_wars_glossary_rl [in Ukrainian].

7. Doklad Nemtsova o voyne RF na Donbasse. Putin. Voyna. [Putin. War. Report by Nemtsov on the Russian war in Donbas]. Retrieved January 25, 2018, [in Russian].

8. Chayka, I. (2018, June 21). Predateli v Krymu uzhe poplatilis’ za izmenu – sud’ya-pereselenets. [Traitors in Crimea have already paid for treason - a displaced judge]. Retrieved March 22, 2018, from [in Russian].

9. Stepova, O. (2019, February 16). “Navoyevalis’”, ili “Pochemu eti russkiye ubity na Donbasse, gde ikh net” [It’s enough with that, or Why are these Russians killed in Donbas, where they are not]. Retrieved March 27, 2019, from [in Russian].

10. Shevchuk, V. (2018, February 18). Massovaya gibel’ rossiyskikh voyennykh, ili Chto sluchilos’ v Sirii [The mass death of the Russian military, or what happened in Syria]. Retrieved March 22, 2018, from [in Russian].

11. MH17: Rosiys’kyy komandyr HRU “Orion” identyfikovanyy yak Oleh Ivannykov. Travenʹ 26, 2018 Travenʹ 26, 2018 [MH17: The Russian commander of the GRU Orion is identified as Oleg Ivannikov. May 26, 2018] Retrieved May 17, 2019, from rosijskyj-komandyr-gru-orion-identyfikovanyj-yak-oleg-ivannykov/ [in Ukrainian].