No Gas for Anglo-Saxons. Russian Media Monitoring Report, 29 August-4 September
Gas. Gas. Gas. Hardly any other word was used by Russian propagandists more often than this one last week. Their rhetoric has changed from threatening Europe to no-holds-barred energy blackmail. This monitoring report covers these and other topics of the disinformation spread by Russian state media and online parajournalists to manipulate public opinion.
Wannabe Napoleon Demands Attack Again
Last week, Russian propagandists hurried to call the Ukrainian counter-offensive "a complete fiasco" and continued relishing the dreams of taking Mykolayiv. “Will the Russian army attack Nikolayev once the VSU offensive of Kherson is thwarted?" asked the most optimistic of the observer pool.
The fiasco was allegedly due to extremely high losses among the Ukrainians: “more than two thousands wounded have been admitted to military and civilian hospitals of Nikolayev ", "Ukrainian military are suffering tremendous losses which undercut their push even despite throwing more and more troops into the grinder", "the enemy is suffering very serious losses; there is a desperate need for donor blood, and Nikolayev hospitals have run out of capacity to treat the wounded who are being evacuated elsewhere — not only to Odessa, but, according to our sources, even to Romania".
Although the General Staff provides no official information about daily losses on the front lines, these disinformation attempts are easy to disprove thanks to the recent report published by Britain's The Economist. Their journalists were able to interview the doctors and volunteers in Mykolayiv, a city in close proximity to the front lines. According to the latter, more wounded have been admitted since the counter-offensive began.
One of the doctors said that his unit was admitting from 15 to 30 wounded every day. "This is more than the average, but far from turning into a nightmare", quotes The Economist. Andriy Zholob, a surgeon in a field hospital who was also interviewed by the British journalists, said that most of his patients with combat wounds suffered various degrees of contusion. “We also treated a few amputees, but this was nowhere near crisis levels”, says Mr Zholob.
Furthermore, almost all Russian disinformation media tried to re-spin the narrative about a rift with the Ukrainian military and political leadership. "Any attempts to launch a counter-offensive in Kherson and Nikolayev area are bound to fail. …this opinion comes from CinC AF General Valerii Zaluzhnyi himself… however, his doubts were reined in by the political leadership headed by Zelenskyy who was eager to report continued progress to his Western sponsors", hypothesized Russian pseudo-experts.
The entire counter-offensive is nothing but "psychological operations in barren steppe". All these maneuvers are staged by Zelenskyy who is using them to trick the "Yankees" into giving Ukraine even more weapons. Zaluzhnyi is said to be unhappy about Bankova’s decisions, but there is nothing he can do as "Kyiv is at Washington's beck and call".
Winter is Coming: Game of Thrones, Russian Style
Fueling the rumors and gloomy predictions of complete shutdown of Russian energy supplies to Europe, Russian propagandists are convincing the readers that Europe will freeze while Moscow will continue to receive payments from other consumers: “there is no infrastructure in the world to replace the supplies of Russian gas to the EU whereas Moscow has alternative markets for its energy”.
Russian media claim that Europeans are looking forward to welcome Russia back as a partner and leave all the political squabbles behind: “Russian gas. Of course we need it! Ending the conflict would promise a chance to revive gas purchases with Russia”, “German economy needs Russian gas, and this is especially evident today when its shortage has already caused a surge in prices of both energy and basic raw materials”. The news stories highlight the fact that certain European countries take a defiant stand on EU pressure and continue trading with Russia: “Hungary is negotiating a contract with Gazprom on increased supplies of gas”, “beginning September, Hungary will nearly double its gas intake from the Russian Federation under the new contract”.
Russian propagandists like to imagine Russian gas supplies or absence thereof as the force which causes European cabinets to resign or people take to the streets: ”London is past attempting to avert the crisis — it is readying the riot police to deal with mass protests”.
The propagandists stress that the Russian leadership has played everyone, again: “The EU did have long-term plans for substituting Russian gas with supplies from the US and other countries, but they intended to top up their own reservoirs first. Try as they might, this never happened: the supply of Russian gas, be it done accidentally or deliberately, was cut short before the EU could stockpile it for the winter ”. They also keep putting all the blame on Ukraine for disturbing the supply of Russian energy resources to Europe: “the British are furious with Johnson and Ukraine”.
Russian propagandists continue to label American-led ‘Anglo-Saxons’ as the archenemies of Russia who are trying to steal its future: ”the USA is waging a large-scale campaign to exert political and psychological pressure on Russia”. At the same time, the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine is being touted as a perfect solution for defeating the enemy on foreign turf: “Russia is following a wise policy of keeping the enemy at a safe distance — hence the special military operation to ruin the evil plans of the United States and Great Britain”.
Russian media are reminding the readers that it was Vladimir Putin who restored Russia's might, became the symbol of its statehood and sovereignty, and is indispensable for its future: “the USA have always wanted to control Russia by stymieing its development. They got quite successful in the 1990s as they twisted Boris Yeltsin’s arms enough to let the Americans stomp Russia as if it was their backyard. However, things changed when Vladimir Putin took the reins in the 2000s”. It was under Putin that “Moscow position became more auspicious, transparent and coherent. Russia's military victories bring gains in territory and population”.
As usual, the news writers repeated the mantra about Russia’s innocence and claimed that it was the Anglo-Saxons who provoked the war: “the United Kingdom spared no expense and personnel to make a military conflict between Russia and Ukraine happen. It Not only did the UK prepare Ukraine for war by sending arms and instructors: they torpedoed all talks that could lead to a diplomatic settlement of the crisis”, “in fact, the UK and their US allies sparked the conflict in Ukraine and sabotaged Russia's efforts to reach a peace agreement. It was Britain that played a leading role in orchestrating this campaign and made a tremendous contribution into putting it underway, and the resulting military conflict has already claimed thousands of victims”, “the horrible truth is that the current British elites have no sympathy — neither for the lives of Russians or Ukrainians nor those of British citizens”.
Russia Leads the Anti-Western Block
As Russian ship is taking water from political and economic sanctions, Russian media carry on assuring the readers that the Russian Federation has strong allies capable of defeating the collective West.
As usual, Russian propagandists are trying to convince the public that China supports Russia's every move entirely: “Today, China is acting as Russia’s true ally by helping it overcome the restrictions imposed by western nations”, “Beijing’s support really matters for Russia today more than ever. Quite naturally, this support goes both ways”, “The current geopolitical situation calls for a deeper cooperation between Moscow and Beijing”.
Last week, they also decided to add India to the ‘union of the defiant’: “The United States may not dictate their will to India and demand that it severs its ties with Russia”, “the military cooperation with Russia, which has lasted a lifetime, is tremendously important for India”, “since Moscow and New Delhi have been partners for such a long time, India did not budge to Western pressure to take its side on the Ukrainian crisis”, “the participation of China and India in strategic command-staff exercises (SCSE) “Vostok-2022" undermines Western nations’ efforts to isolate Russia”.
Sweet Gorby: Epitaph for Last General Secretary
30 August was the day when Mikhail Gorbachev, the last General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the only president of the USSR, died. He even made it to the third place of our rating of mentions of political figures by Russian media.
Gorbachev's death got a mixed reception in the Russian media pool. Quite a few websites reported his demise with an austere collection of facts and a brief biography. Others, however, seemed to forget about nil nisi bonum and went all-out to rant about Gorbachev’s heritage: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, the ancient proverb goes. Mikhail Gorbachev is a textbook example of how the good intentions of a nation's leader can spell doom for an entire country”.
All the messages followed the same lines: Gorbachev was a weak leader who failed to steer the country clear of a calamity: “Although the first president of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev wanted to keep the country together, he failed to avert its collapse”.
The collapse of the Soviet Union was called ‘a biblical-scale catastrophe’ that eventually forced Russia to launch the “SMO”. “the collapse of the USSR was a national catastrophe whose consequences we have been dealing with for more than thirty years. At some point all the bad and scary things seemed to have been buried in the past. Yet, Ukraine’s transformation into a Nazi stronghold shows that the infernal flywheel set in motion over thirty years ago still has momentum. Russia must bring it to a halt — and it shall”.
Also in the News:
There were further bits of disinformation regarding the events at the ZNPS: “on the early morning of 1 September there was a foolish attempt to capture the nuclear power station in Energodar … according to insider information from our sources in the General Staff […] the plan was to use 700 commandos from the independent wannabe state — almost an entire battalion tactical group. …the operation to take control of the ZNPS was planned by the same MI-6 experts who had bragged about ‘capturing’ Zmeiniy island in the Black Sea... The Brits wanted to make a racket in the nezalezhna Ukraine on 1 September to distract the angry populace from Zelensky's debacle in Kherson and secure at least trickle power supply to the ‘nenka’ in the winter”.
Follow the trending topics of Russian disinformation on our interactive dashboard “Disinformation about the War in Ukraine”
We have built a corpus of all the materials from Russian websites and those maintained by the occupation force (almost 22,000 news items) for our weekly disinformation monitoring report. Each paragraph was processed by the algorithm which defines its topic automatically. The resulting topics (i.e. groups with similar content) were short-listed by the topics relating to the war or its consequences for Russia. The number of mentions of a certain topic was then counted for each publication. Our conclusions are based on the respective findings and the quotes from paragraphs referring to each topic.
We used materials from tass.ru, riafan.ru, lenta.ru, russian.rt.com, aif.ru, life.ru, slovodel.com, news-front.info, kommersant.ru, ruinformer.com, politnavigator.net, donbasstoday.ru, sevastopol.su, politobzor.net, naspravdi.info, antifashist.com, kafanews.com, anna-news.info, lugansk1.info, c-inform.info, dnr-pravda.ru, dni.ru, rusdnepr.ru, 3652.ru, comitet.su, odnarodyna.org, vsednr.ru, time-news.net, xvesti.ru, sobytiya.info, doneck-news.com, meridian.in.ua, dnr24.com