Snyder identifies a new style of rhetoric: implausible deniability. “According to Russian propaganda, Ukrainian society was full of nationalists but not a nation; the Ukrainian state was repressive but did not exist; Russians were forced to speak Ukrainian though there was no such language.”

Russian TV told wild lies. It invented a fake atrocity story of a child crucified by Ukrainian neo-Nazis—while blaming upon Ukrainians the actual atrocity of the shooting down of a Malaysian civilian airliner by a Russian ground-to-air missile.

But Russia’s most important weapon in its war on factuality was less old-fashioned official mendacity than the creation of an alternative reality (or more exactly, many contradictory alternatives, all of them Putin-serving). “Russia generated tropes targeted at what cyberwar professionals called ‘susceptibilities’: what people seem likely to believe given their utterances and behavior. It was possible to claim that Ukraine was a Jewish construction (for one audience) and also that Ukraine was a facist construction (for another audience),” Snyder writes.