back to article Someone is sending propaganda texts to Ukrainian soldiers

An ongoing campaign of propaganda-texting Ukrainian solders has, unsurprisingly, been attributed to Russian forces equipped with cell site simulators (IMSI-catchers). The “fake texts” started lighting up the soldiers' mobes while a TV journalist, Julia Kirienko, was sheltering with them, according to Associated Press. Another …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Welcome to the 21st century

    In the early middle ages people used catapults loaded with cut off heads.

    In WW1 they used dirigibles and leaflets.

    In WW2 they used planes and leaflets.

    During the many Cold War proxy conflicts they used radio.

    Now they use cell towers.

    Same goal, just different technology.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I reckon it's North Korea or Iran.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Actually, this is not new - I think Norks tried to use it in the past too. It has been used in all the conflicts around Africa and the Middle East as well.

    2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Well, the phone shown is a lenovo, so it must be China

  3. The Nazz Silver badge

    I doubt it's the BBC

    a) They're too busy with their own propaganda on their "news" website, and

    b) The soldiers are unlikely to have shelled out for the licence.

    Back on topic, kudos for the strategy.

    1. paulf Silver badge

      Re: I doubt it's the BBC

      Sigh. It's a good job the BBC has lots of TV channels and Radio stations otherwise they'd struggle to find enough air time for all the left wing clap trap they get accused of broadcasting because they're normally so busy putting out all that right wing propaganda.

      Apologies if I've missed an implicit </sarcasm> - it's been a long week and I'm waiting for beer o'clock.

  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    "Sinister text messages reveal high-tech front in Ukraine war"

    How childish.

    Meanwhile, sinister statements reveal low-tech front in Ukraine itself:

    Ukrainian general calls for destruction of Jews

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: "Sinister text messages reveal high-tech front in Ukraine war"

      So far, I see two people have chosen to downvote DAM's comment about the Ukrainian general calling for the destruction of all Jews.

      Was this because the Jewish Chronicle is considered an unreliable source? Because the downvoters approve of calls for the destruction of Jews? Or just the vague belief that it's in poor taste to mention such matters?

      1. CustardGannet

        Re: "Sinister text messages reveal high-tech front in Ukraine war"

        I suspect the downvotes are people who can't work out whether DAM is agreeing with the general or not, just because he doesn't describe the general as an "anti-semitic scumbag" or similar. So they assume that DAM must also be anti-semitic, because outrage is a commentard's default setting.

        (Reminds me of when I saw the Bloodhound Gang in Leeds, shortly after two Leeds United players (Woodgate & Bowyer) were charged with beating the crap out of an Asian lad, & the singer's opening line was :

        "Hello Leeds !

        Good to see so many of you here - I thought you'd all be out beating up Asians !

        I can see you're not sure whether to applaud that joke or not..." )

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: "Sinister text messages reveal high-tech front in Ukraine war"

          Maybe the downvotes are just because DAM's comment is offtopic and it reads like he's arguing that because an ukrainian general called for the death of jews then any action on the russian front is justified

      2. Sandtitz Silver badge

        Re: "Sinister text messages reveal high-tech front in Ukraine war"

        "So far, I see two people have chosen to downvote DAM's comment about the Ukrainian general calling for the destruction of all Jews."

        I concur with MiguelC's observations, the comment is offtopic. Whenever Ukraine does something naughty is it okay to post random crazy quotes of Zhirinovsky?

        The general seems to be a retired general with no position in government of military. I'm not familiar with the situation of Jews in Ukraine but antisemites are found in every country in every level. AFAIK Ukraine hasn't criminalized Jews in the same way as Russia quite recently criminalized Jehovah's Witnesses as an extremist organization.

  5. 0laf Silver badge


    Low cost, negligible risk, potentially significant reduction in enemy's effectiveness.

    Sound tactic I'd say.

    1. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: Clever

      I agree, it's smart, but I suspect the real value comes if they can harvest the device identifiers, cross match to other data sets and start to attribute a name to them. They could keep that information close, or they could use it for far more targeted messaging to the recipient by name, referencing their current location, or similar. An effort intensive approach better suited to selected individuals, but impersonalised spam-aganda will have far less effect than "Hey, Yuri Plodotsov, don't keep hiding out in Adiivka. We know where you are, and you don't want to be killed for a few yards of soil...."

      The other thing is that if they can harvest the data (and analyse for actual significance and accuracy) then this could be used for locating enemy forces and having an idea of their strength. Not carrying any mobiles into the field would fox this, but outside of the organised militaries of the major powers, not carrying your own mobile probably means no communications at all - and in that situation, what would you do?

      1. S4qFBxkFFg

        Re: Clever

        I'd assume this is already being done.

        If not, someone in the GRU (or whatever Russian TLA is responsible) should be getting fired.

      2. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Clever

        Carrying a mobile into a warzone as a soldier is absurdly stupid because it has been possible to do this for a long time. It's also been just as possible to detect where the device is and drop something that goes "bang" on the mobile, hence why militaries have been using burst transmissions and frequency hopping radios for what, sixty years?

        Any NATO country ought to have access to basic communications equipment, even if it's by having hand me down's from countries that are upgrading. It's a bit absurd that the UK's Army/Air cadets (military sponsored version of scouts) appear to have better equipment courtesy of these sort of hand me downs than the Ukrainian armies front line equipment if they are relying on mobiles.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Clever

        Effective use of comsec by the Ukrainians would certainly be helpful to their cause. Each with a mobe seems unaware they're illuminating their position for anyone to determine. Effective RF fingerprinting of the IMSI as to uniqueness and accurate location detail could result kinetic removal.

  6. Archtech Silver badge

    Biased much?

    "This is the kind of thing that pops up on Ukrainian soldiers' smartphones when they're at the front".

    This is the kind of sentence that makes me wonder if it was simply transcribed from a Kiev junta press release; or whether the writer actually thinks of the place where the Ukrainian soldiers are as "the front".

    In case anyone is unaware or has forgotten, "the front" is what the Kiev people call the de-facto border between the DNR and LPR and the rest of Ukraine. It is the line where the combined armed might of Ukraine - once a substantial part of the USSR - was stopped dead in its attempts to exterminate the civilian populations of the DNR and LPR or drive them from their homes en masse. (Essentially the same project as ISIS has been undertaking in Iraq and Syria, and very probably planned and driven by the same people).

    Those civilian populations are citizens of Ukraine, who until 2014 paid taxes and fulfilled all their other civic obligations. When the Kiev junta sent armoured columns to "punish" them for the crime of objecting to the violent illegal coup d'etat that drove out the President for whom they had voted, the Donbass civilians astonishingly took up arms and, after a tough struggle, drove the Ukrainian armed forces and the amateur Nazi "brigades" and "regiments" assisting them into wholesale retreat.

    It's hard to find words suitable to describe a "government" that sends the full strength of its armed forces against a segment of its own civilian population, shelling and bombing cities, towns and villages mercilessly. That's not a "front": it's an attempted, but hopelessly bungled, genocide.

    1. Count Ludwig

      Re: Biased much?

      Well, that's a view. I think you're wrong. My view is that Yanukovych, while he may have been voted in, quickly showed himself to be totally corrupt, cynically so to the point of stupidity, and was correctly and legally thrown out by parliament. I also take the view that "civilian populations" did not rise up, but that Russia paid or persuaded some bods to "call for help" and not only supplied them, but also crossed the border, so that the Ukranian army was / is fighting people armed and trained by Russia, and very likely also fighting Russias operating in Ukraine.

      While I have the floor, my view is that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a Russian-backed rebel with a missile provided by Russia.

      I don't know what the civilian population really feel, but in my view accusations of attempted genocide and nazism by Ukraine are not accurate here, whereas accusations of manipulative power-play by Russia are.

      There is conflicting evidence, deliberately so in some cases, but I believe it supports my view, not yours.

      1. JohnG Silver badge

        Re: Biased much?

        "I also take the view that "civilian populations" did not rise up, but that Russia paid or persuaded some bods...."

        So, in your world, these folk at Kramatorsk, meeting Ukrainian army tanks and personnel carriers aren't unarmed civilian residents but highly trained Russian agents in disguise....

        "I don't know what the civilian population really feel,..."

        I have family in Donbas. The majority of the people in Donbas didn't like seeing the elected government replaced by hardline nationalists, aided and allied with far right parties and their private militias. The latter openly talk of cleansing Donbas and have largely been given free rein since Maidan.

        "...but in my view accusations of attempted genocide and nazism by Ukraine are not accurate here, whereas accusations of manipulative power-play by Russia are."

        Here's some video of this year's Victory Day memorial procession in Kiev - sure, no nazis in Ukraine:

        Then there's the Austrian who was arrested in Poland as he tried to re-enter Ukraine - he is wanted in Austria for war crimes committed in Donetsk, whilst fighting for one of the far right volunteer units.

    2. sebt
      Thumb Down

      Re: Biased much?

      Ironic that an early-occurring phrase in a comment entitled "Biased much?" is "Kiev junta". That was the point at which I stopped reading.

    3. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: Biased much? @Archtech

      "Kiev junta"


      Porosenko won the fair election and is not part of the military, nor is military running the government in Ukraine. That would be the definition of junta. Even Russia has recognized the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2014.

      And while we're discussing legalities, I'd like to hear your view on the legality of Russia's annexation of Crimea.

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