This website allows Westerners to talk to Russians about the war in Ukraine

Squad303 pulls from a database containing more than 20 million cellphone numbers.


With the Kremlin restricting access to online platforms like Twitter and Instagram in recent days, people in Russia are quickly losing access to information about the war in Ukraine that doesn’t come from the government. Enter Squad303, a website created by a group of Polish programmers to help people from around the world establish a dialogue with their Russian counterparts.

Spotted by The Wall Street Journal, the website randomly generates a number or email address for you to contact. It pulls from a database that contains 20 million cellphone numbers and approximately 140 million email addresses. Since the Squad303 went online on March 6th, its creators told The Journal that individuals from around the world have sent nearly 7 million text messages and 2 million emails in Russian, along with countless images and videos from the conflict.

“Our aim was to break through Putin’s digital wall of censorship and make sure that Russian people are not totally cut off from the world and the reality of what Russia is doing in Ukraine,” a spokesperson for told the outlet.

The website is named after the Royal Air Force’s famous 303 Fighter Squadron. It was one 16 units made up of Polish airmen that flew for the RAF during World War II. The 303 played a pivotal role in the Battle of Britain, shooting down the largest number of Luftwaffe aircraft during the months-long campaign. In another historical allusion, the creators of Squad303 compared their project to Radio Free Europe, which began as a US-funded effort to broadcast news, information and analysis to Soviet satellite states during the Cold War.

Using the website, The Journal was able to talk to a 25-year-old law student from Moscow. They told the outlet they opposed the war but said they didn’t plan to protest against it for fear of retribution from the government. “Am I supposed to risk my education, my future?” the student said. “I know Putin is killing people in Ukraine, but it is not my fault, I am not killing anyone, and I am not supporting any wars.”

Even engaging in conversations like the one above is risky for Russians. Videos have recently emerged allegedly showing Russian police stopping commuters to screen the messages on their phones for signs of dissent. Visit The Journal to read more about the effort.

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