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Stratcom and the IMI develop a glossary of terms about Russia's war on Ukraine

14.04.2023, 16:42

The Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security partnered with the Institute of Mass Information to develop recommendations and advice on how to use terms relating to the events and occurrences of the Russo-Ukrainian war.

Ukrainian crisisYou can also find other versions, such as “the Ukraine crisis,” “Ukrainian war” or “the war in Ukraine.” This phrasing downplays the role of the aggressor (Russia), shifts the blame for the problem to Ukraine (“there is something wrong with Ukraine”) and denies Ukraine agency (Ukraine is merely a territory where the hostilities are going on).

Correct terms: Russian invasion (aggression, attack) of Ukraine, Russian-Ukrainian war, Russo-Ukrainian war.
Disputed territoriesThe territories of Ukraine seized and controlled by Russia have never been the subject of international dispute. The inviolability of Ukraine’s borders was recognized by the international community (including Russia) along with its independence in 1991. Currently, the absolute majority of countries still recognize the territorial integrity of our country.

Correct terms: temporarily occupied territories; illegally annexed territories.
ReferendumsThe staged performances organized by the Russian occupiers in 2014 and 2022 only imitate referendums, but cannot actually be considered as such. These are acts of propaganda that are unlawful and violent towards the occupied population that do not meet any standards of free expression of will, and their announced results are falsified.

Correct terms: Pseudo-referendums, fake referendums
Accession of territoriesThe Kremlin's decisions regarding Russia's expansion at the expense of Ukrainian territories are illegal, null and void in terms of law. From the point of view of international law and of Ukrainian legislation, the status of these territories as an integral part of Ukraine remains unchanged. At the same time, attempts at establishing Russian administrations on the occupied territories and including them into the jurisdiction of Russian law is a separate type of crime, adding to the aggression and the occupation.

Correct terms: illegal annexation, attempted annexation of Ukrainian territory.
DPR, LPR, Republic of CrimeaIn the occupied territories of Ukraine, Russia has created unlawful administrative entities that are neither republics nor subjects of the Russian Federation. Legally, there are only the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine and the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, temporarily occupied by Russia. It is best to avoid the acronyms LPR and DPR to denote territories, only using them to refer to the Russian occupation entities. When mentioning these entities, it is best to put their names in quotation marks and to specify that they are “so-called”: for example, the leaders of the so-called “DPR”, militias of the so-called “LPR”. 
“ORDLO”Before the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, this term was used to denote the territories of eastern Ukraine that have been occupied since 2014. Now the area under occupation has expanded significantly, so the concept has lost its relevance. “ORDLO” can be mentioned in the context of events prior to 2022. Currently, for Ukraine, there is no difference between Horlivka, occupied in 2014, and Volnovakha, occupied in 2022. The issue of reverting to the old demarcation line and legalizing it somehow is not on the table.

Correct terms: previously occupied territories of Donetsk
and Luhansk regions; old occupied territories.
(Russian) authoritiesIn the annexed territories of Ukraine, Russia is mimicking the restoration of normal life, civilian authorities coming back to power, albeit Russian now. However, the entire administration appointed and authorized by the occupiers is illegal, and its representatives are collaborators, not officials. It is important not to equate the Russian occupation structures with the legitimate authorities on the territory controlled by Ukraine.

Correct term: Russian occupation administration.
Evacuation of civiliansUkraine evacuates its civilian population for the duration of hostilities in order to prevent their suffering in the combat zone. Instead, the Russian Federation treats Ukrainian citizens in its occupied territory as hostages and human workforce, as spoils of war. Arbitrary displacement of the population, including children, by the occupying party is a war crime.

Correct terms: deportation; forced displacement; kidnapping
Ukrainian nationalistsThe Defence Forces of Ukraine are regular, disciplined and centrally controlled army units. The political beliefs or party affiliation of individual soldiers is not what determines their performance and behaviour on the battlefield. To apply political spectrum labels to all Ukrainian soldiers is to distort reality and humiliate the defenders of Ukraine.

Correct terms: Ukrainian military, defenders of Ukraine, Defence Forces of Ukraine.
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