AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s something that’s been shoved into the light in the western world as Russia wages war on Ukraine: misinformation and propaganda from the Russian government.

In a South by Southwest panel Tuesday, journalist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa and Peter Pomerantsev with the Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University discussed dictatorship and disinformation attached to it.

Right now the most glaring example, especially for Pomerantsev, who was born in Kyiv when it was part of the Soviet Union, is what’s happening right now in Ukraine at the hands of Vladimir Putin.

“I don’t think we’ve quite drawn the dots in our head and realized the systemic and global nature of this crisis,” Pomerantsev said during the panel. “This is a competition, and we may even use the word ‘political war.'”

Russian state media has spread misinformation about the location of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in an apparent attempt to erode resistance, reported the narrative Ukraine was actually the aggressor of the war and showed overwhelming victory in Ukraine, when in fact experts said Ukrainian fighters have held their ground.

And it’s not just traditional broadcast and print media, from TikTok to Twitter to Telegram, propagandized headlines and messages are confusing millions about the reality of how this battle is unfolding on the ground.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian leaders have turned to social media to show resistance. Zelenskyy has been active on Twitter, showing himself on the streets of Kyiv, ready to fight. A Twitter exchange with Elon Musk even resulted in broadband internet service help for the country.

“The Ukrainians may be completely outgunned by traditional military, but they are winning the propaganda war,” Sarah Oates, a professor at the University of Maryland who studies Russian propaganda, told the Associated Press last week.

But that propoganda may be less obvious than you think. Pomerantsev pointed to the lack of information about the future of the country, and Putin’s focus instead on restoring the Soviet Union — a focus on the past.

“One of Putin’s great propaganda tricks has been to remove any talk of the future, really now for the last 10 years,” Pomerantsev said. “The future is dangerous for him. The future means reforms; the future means anticorruption. “

Pomerantsev said as we move forward in the western world there needs to be a deep look at the relationship between information and democracy and between technology and democracy.

But in the mean time: “Today, it’s very simple. Arm Ukraine,” Pomerantsev ended his remarks.