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”.
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