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Can a traditional ground war work in the age of social media? We asked a UK professor what Ukraine is showing us

Ukraine
Carolyn Kaster/AP
/
AP
A pedestrian uses as smart phone to photograph a sign that reads "President ZELENSKY WAY" in front of the Embassy of Russian Federation, Monday, March 7, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ground invasion of Ukraine is an old school strategy being employed in a new world — one that’s highly connected, economically and digitally, and able to marshal modernized methods of retaliation.

UK history professor Dr. Karen Petrone says social media and real-time communications are already having a major impact.

"Ukraine's ability to give information to the rest of the world about the atrocities that Russia is committing has put almost the entire rest of the world firmly in Ukraine's camp, and the money and the weapons are pouring in from places that had been reluctant to supply Ukraine before."
Dr. Karen Petrone, University of Kentucky professor of history

Add to that mix failures of planning by the Russians, a galvanizing leader in Ukraine's President Zelensky, and an unexpectedly fierce determination on the part of Ukrainians, and Petrone says it could result in what was unthinkable just weeks ago.

"I think there is a possibility that the Ukrainians could beat the Russians militarily," she says.

But, Petrone immediately cautions, that outcome could provoke an even more dire threat from Putin, if he is backed into a corner and resorts to what she describes as “atrocity producing” tactics.