Getting reliable information out of a war zone is almost impossible. Eyewitnesses--soldiers or civilians--are often traumatized and have only witnessed a shred of a huge, chaotic situation. Governments have huge incentives to exaggerate or straight-out lie to improve morale and foreign support--and thus their ability to fight. The stories that reach our ears are often rumors retold dozens of times. Sometimes an essentially true story makes it out, but with just a couple of innocent miscommunications or mistranslations can become very confused.
(One example might be the famous Snake Island story from the first days of the war ("Russian warship, go..."). The soldiers on Snake Island were all reported as casualties, which means either killed, wounded, or captured; it reached the newswires as "killed" but turned out to be "captured.")
This doesn't mean you should just throw up your hands and give up trying to be informed, or believe just any old thing you want. This war could end up involving all of us, so it matters what we read and how we take in the news.
Instead of believing nothing, or whatever you want, remember the following:
1. Big-picture summaries are more likely to be correct than small-scale stories.
2. Don't take emotionally-charged stories or videos totally at face value until they've been vetted by people who are paid to be skeptical.
3. If something sounds like a really huge accusation--developing or using chemical weapons, genocide, etc--it pays to seek out people who are experts on those issues, rather than the same people who comment on everything in in domestic affairs, no matter what channel they're on.
4. Some stories will become more clear over time, or even be debunked--that's normal, and not always because someone was lying or feeding you propaganda. It's a confusing situation! Don't rush to judgement one way or another, or hinge your opinion on a huge war on whether one story is true or false in some detail.
This guide collects links to resources regarding the war in Ukraine, and the background to the conflict, held by Chester Fritz Library and beyond.
Understanding the history of any country, and the course of any current conflict, is incredibly difficult and the following cannot hope to be comprehensive. However, we attempt to bring together serious research and journalism that can help western observers stay informed.
This page has highlight resources; each of the tabs shows more that is available. We will attempt to keep this page up to date as more becomes available.
There are many good options for maps to have open to become familiar with Ukrainian geography, such as Google Earth. The following may be helpful for following particular events.
There are numerous sources for on-the-ground reporting from Ukraine; the following are among the most-followed and best-regarded in English.