What Are the Americans Doing in Kherson? Monitoring of Russian Mass Media for July 18th-25th
Russian disinformers devoted every third piece of news to the war and its consequences for Russia. The central topic of the news is the confrontation with the West, while Russians prefer to write less and less about the economy, sanctions, and hostilities. However, the successes of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the south do not allow the propagandists to relax and force them to invent new absurd explanations for the delays of the “special operation”. For example, last week the Russian media stated that the failures in the Kherson region take place due to the fact that the Russian Armed Forces are directly fighting the Americans. We analyzed almost 22,000 news items from Russian state media and manipulative websites that purposefully spread Russian disinformation, and we continue to review what the enemy is telling its own population about the attack on Ukraine.
Confusion in Kherson
In general, we register another decrease in the number of news about hostilities in the Russian mass media. But it is noticeable that the Russians are very worried about the advance of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Kherson region. “The situation is extremely serious”, Russian media report. It will not be easy to defeat the Ukrainians. Ukrainian soldiers are “well trained”, they are full of weapons. The Armed Forces of Ukraine are “Russian soldiers in spirit”, although they are slightly corrupted by the “ideas of Ukrainianism”. Our army is provided with “methodological assistance from NATO and the Pentagon itself in the organization of hostilities”. Our drones “in conjunction with American satellites […] pose a rather serious threat”. And for that matter, as reported by Russian propagandist journalists, the USA is fighting against the Russian Armed Forces in the southern direction: “it is not Ukrainian nationalists who are behind the shelling of the Antonivka bridge. These are concrete actions of the Americans. American specialists who arrived in Ukraine are shooting at the bridge”.
In connection with the declared “operational pause”, Russian propagandists did not mention much about the fighting in the east of Ukraine. Instead, they decided to focus on the topic of “restoration” of the newly occupied territories. In Mariupol, “the problem of urban water supply is almost solved”, and medicines are allegedly brought to the occupied part of the Kharkiv region. But propagandists are most proud of Russification and cultural genocide: “In the Kharkiv region, the first two schools were awarded Russian accreditation… the transfer of institutions to the Russian education system is important for the liberated territory of the region… The development of the region without the development of our children is impossible”.
Biden is a loser
Russian media try to refute claims about Russia’s isolation, so many write about the diplomatic “successes” of their country’s leadership. They are trying to portray the Russian Federation as a superpower that will beat the USA in the international arena, and in every way prove that “the USA is losing its status as a world hegemon”. Thus, last week a lot was written that “the US and Europe are gradually losing Africa, their presence there is declining. The states of the Black Continent do not look towards the United States, they appeal to the Eurasian direction: Russia, China, and partly India”.
They did not forget about the “failures” of Joseph Biden in the international arena: “«disdainful rebuff» to the host of the White House is given not only by the leaders of Russia, Iran, or Turkey, but also by the aforementioned Saudi prince, and even by the ex-prime minister of Israel”. They convinced that the Arab world supports the head of the Russian Federation, despite Biden’s pressure: “Riyadh has demonstrated that it will maintain «warm relations» with Russian President Vladimir Putin, regardless of what other countries think about this”.
Joy at the resignation of Mario Draghi
Last week, Russian journalists savoured reports from Europe about the resignation of Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who “following Boris Johnson, reiterated his resignation”.
Russian media try to hint that Draghi’s resignation is mainly related to the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine, since Draghi’s actions negatively affect the level of his support: “just a year ago, this indicator for Draghi exceeded 70 percent, and since the beginning of the crisis of this year, it has been rapidly falling down with an increase in anti-rating”.
In particular, it was said that Draghi’s resignation will negatively affect the position of Europeans who support Kyiv: “a new season of political chaos at a critical time as the EU struggles to maintain a united front against Russia and revive its economy”.
Russian propagandists are already declaring that the result of the elections in Italy “will become a new shock for Europe”, will be crowned with victory of “another anti-establishment party in the elections”, and will lead to the formation of a government “which will be dominated by parties that are much more in solidarity with Russian President Vladimir Putin and more hostile to the European Union”. Polish nationalists seek expansion
It is obvious that Poland took one of the main places in the list of enemy states of the Russian Federation. It is regularly mentioned in a negative context, portrayed as an ultra-nationalist country and occasionally called for denazification to stop the use of slogans like “Poland should be Polish”.
Last week, Russian mass media reported on the negative attitude of Poles towards Ukrainians.
“There are protests in Poland against the Ukrainianization of the country. The protesters demand to remove the flags of Ukraine from public transport, as well as move away from the «orders of the Brussels Eurocrats»”, “Polish citizens continue to express dissatisfaction with the total Ukrainization of their country. The local population is actively posting videos on the Web, in which they do not hide their indignation at the privileged position of Ukrainian refugees”.
They also wrote that the Poles are beginning to expel Ukrainian refugees abroad:
“The Poles voiced the slogans «Ukrainians, get out to Ukraine!», «We don’t want to make Ukropolia out of Poland, and we won’t let our government do it», «Poland does not have a common future with Ukraine»”.
The Russians were once again reminded that Poland wants to seize Ukrainian lands. Last week, fictions about claims to Lithuanian sovereignty were added to this: “Now Poland is sure that the Lithuanian lands are its regions, even if they are lost”. Expansionism has always been characteristic of the Poles, Russian pseudo-historians claim, distorting the truth: “«It laid claim to the German colonies, landed troops in Madagascar, in Argentina. But when these subtropical processes ended in failure, Poland turned its attention to closer states», the expert explained”.
The Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán, is virtually the only European who receives compliments from Russian mass media, because he takes “by no means a pro-Russian, but an exclusively rational position”.
The disinformers claim that “in the current realities, the leadership of the European Union simply has no other choice but to listen to politicians like Viktor Orbán”, and add: “Orbán’s position is a clear confirmation that the understanding of the world which Russia is trying to convey to the West is becoming obvious to politicians in Europe, although not all of them admit it”.
Naked, hungry, but healthy
Western companies continue to leave the Russian Federation, but this is “only for the better”, Russian disinformation media assure. “Let them leave, making way for our producer”, the Russians say, commenting on the closure of Zara and H&M stores. Russian economists do not miss KitKat and Nesquik sweets either: “I think that other brands will appear that will be similar in recipe. Of course, Western companies will take the recipe away with them. I do not rule out that new products from domestic manufacturers may become healthier, not so harmful. In addition, the Russians will be able to get rid of the intrusive advertising of sweets. Foreign manufacturers love to overindulge it”.
The withdrawal of Western companies from the Russian Federation means a loss of jobs and an increase in unemployment. But there is no need to panic, after all “some disorientation in trade has now been replaced by stabilization”, and Putin personally supervises the situation on the labour market.
They also wrote:
They spawned fakes about biolabs: “Two new American biological laboratories were discovered by allied forces in Rubizhne and Sievierodonetsk. The Ukronazis were in such a hurry to get out of these settlements that they did not follow the instructions of the American hosts - to remove or destroy the contents of the «biological collections», which contained dangerous causative agents and pathogens. The only thing they managed to do was to mine both laboratories”, “in biolaboratories in Ukraine, the Americans are creating biological weapons of selective action aimed at Slavs and Asians”.
We searched all materials from the Russian and occupation sites, that have been used to traditional monitoring disinformation.
The algorithm is automatically determining topics was applied to each paragraph. Among these topics (groups of similar materials) were those related to the invasion. Then we received data for each material on the site regarding mentions of a particular topic. Conclusions were built on these data and examples of paragraphs on the topic.
Sites: regnum.ru, life.ru, kommersant.ru, naspravdi.info, lenta.ru, pravda.ru, antifashist.com, c-inform.info, kafanews.com, dni.ru, sevastopol.su, newc.info, vz.ru, ruinformer.com, sobytiya.info, meridian.in.ua, newsland.com, xvesti.ru, odnarodyna.org, nefakt.info, pravdanews.info, ukraina.ru, aif.ru.