Russia Pits the EU vs the US. Russian Media Monitoring Report, 21-27 November 2022

Last week, the fake news spread by Russian media said that the Ukrainian government's mobilization campaign was solely focused on the country's Russian-speaking regions — such was the Kyiv regime's attempt to quell the resistance, the propagandists claimed.

Russian media also presented the “real” motives of the recent raids in Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra ranging from satanists in the Ukrainian government to Washington's schemes. They also gave vivid details of Europe’s hatred for the USA. This monitoring report covers these and other topics of the disinformation spread by Russian state media and online parajournalists to manipulate public opinion.

Follow the trending topics of Russian disinformation on our interactive dashboard “Disinformation about the War in Ukraine”

Draft for Russian Speakers Only

Russian propagandists continue to distribute fake news about the discrimination of Russian-speaking regions in Ukraine. Earlier, Russian media spread disinformation about the alleged blackouts in Odessa due to re-routing energy to “the more patriotic regions and cities” such as Lviv.

Last week, Kremlin's media minions convinced their audiences that Ukraine had launched a mass mobilization campaign in the “Russian-speaking regions”: “That being said, the draft plans for Western regions are practically non-existent”. Trashy Russian media even claimed that they had their own trusted sources in the AFU which leaked those shocking facts: “According to our confidential sources in the AFU, the total, outright mobilization has only been exercised in Nikolayevskaya, Dnepropetrovskaya and Cherkasskaya oblasts of Ukraine where most people speak Russian", said a speaker on RIA “Novosti", “Mass mobilization has been underway in the Russian-speaking Nikolayevskaya, Dnepropetrovskaya and Cherkasskaya oblasts as well as in the part of Zaporozhskaya oblast which is controlled by Kyiv. Russian speakers prevail by some 15-20% in those regions. However, there is no mobilization in Western Ukraine where Russian speakers only account for 3-4% of the population”.

Russian media came up with a straightforward explanation for such phenomenon: “the AFU intend to mobilize people eligible for military service in Kherson and on the right bank of the Dnieper. Our sources in the AFU have said that this decision is based on the assumption that Kherson oblast became a safe haven for draft dodgers from all over Ukraine during the period when anyone could enter the region”.

Not only are the disinformation media trying to convince their audiences that Kyiv is intentionally reducing the number of Russia’s potential supporters — they also claim that the non-existent mobilization in Western Ukraine is indicative of a dwindling level of patriotism in the Ukrainian society: “Ukraine's mobilization campaign has demonstrated a simple fact: those who shout the loudest about patriotism are the least motivated to fight. This is especially true about the Galicians”, “the number of deserters among the so-called “patriots of Ukraine” is quite shocking”.

To explain Russian army’s inability to win in the battlefield — in particular, their inability to capture Bakhmut — the propagandists spread fakes about NATO troops and private military companies fighting in Ukraine: “US Marine Corps colonel (retired) Andrew ‘Andy’ Milburn, the founder of Mozart Group, was earlier sighted in Artemovsk”, “Up until recently, the organization consisted of several dozens retired officers from Western countries who trained the AFU. However, our sources have noted that the current number of American “Mozarts” may have grown considerably as the mercenaries of this private military company are directly involved in the action around Bakhmut”.

Curiously, the Russian Prosecutor’s office has not offered any official opinion on the involvement of NATO troops in the war in Ukraine. Unlike Russian media which have already rendered their verdict, the investigative committee of Russia only announced that it would “verify information on the alleged involvement of NATO mercenaries in the hostilities on Kyiv’s side as part of a criminal investigation”.

Europe vs the USA

Last week's news on Russian propagandist media brimmed with reports on economic tensions between the EU and the US. In particular, such was Russian media's interpretation of the material published by Politico: “The authors point out the rift with high-ranking EU politicians since more and more European officials have come to the conclusion that the US is taking advantage of the current situation”.

Kremlin is betting on cooling relations and a split in the anti-Russian coalition. This is why Russian disinformation media are actively spreading messages about the West's imminent decision to pull the plug on Ukraine. Russian media state that “Europe has finally woken up to the stark reality”, “Olaf Scholz and Emmanuel Macron have come to an agreement on a number of vital issues: the growing concerns regarding America’s unfair competitive practices and Europe’s potential response”.

Along such messages Russian media were happy to report that "the organizers of the recent anti-American protests in Leipzig said their cause had attracted more than six thousand people”, “the protesters chanted mostly anti-NATO and anti-American slogans: “Americans kill nations!”, “NATO bases must go!”, “Money to the youth, no money to NATO!”".

While covering the protests, they published numerous articles about Europeans boycotting anti-Russian sanctions which, they claimed, basically threw EU citizens under the bus: “Another anti-Russian sanctions protest took place in Vienna. The protesters wanted a non-aligned Austria and peace with Russia”, “In October, thousands of people in various parts of the former German Democratic Republic took to the streets protesting against Berlin's energy policy, anti-Russian sanctions and the position of the authorities of the Federal Republic of Germany regarding the conflict in Ukraine. They demanded to halt arms supplies to the Kyiv regime and commence talks on a peaceful resolution of the crisis”.

As usual, Russian propagandists portrayed the USA as a war hawk state committed to prolonging the war for its own profit: “US president Joe Biden is using the climate agenda as a pretext for prolonging the conflict in Ukraine for America’s financial gain”, “since the Kyiv regime depends on American funding entirely, it will only agree to peace talks with Russia after a blessing from the United States”, “Erdoğan’s associate accused the USA of prolonging the confrontation in Ukraine”.

“Desatanization” of Kyiv

The recent news about the raids in Kyiv-Pechersk Lavtra set Russian propagandist media on fire. This event caused the propagandists to blow the dust off the recently revised objective of Russia’s so-called special military operation (SMO) to “desatanize” Ukraine: “one of the objectives of the SMO is a complete eradication of all forms of satanism (shaitans, banderites and Nazi)”. The propagandists seem to be competing for the most vivid description of Ukraine — here are some of the most colourful versions: “This is a place where Christian faith has been forgotten in favor of numerous sects — from Runvira to Constantinople “patriarchate”, from UGCC to “OCU-HCU”. This is where lack of faith and accusations have replaced confidence and trust. This is where petty devils dance on the ruins of what used to be holy”.

The propagandists claim that the Ukrainian government is oppressing all orthodox Christians while in fact it is only trying to eradicate Moscow Patriarchate agents of influence in Ukraine: “No doubt that Kyiv regime has much bigger plans. Those fanatics are set to destroy Orthodoxy. This is a good reason for all Orthodox people in Ukraine who have held on to their faith in God and their good conscience to disobey this government and do what needs to be done while waiting for the Russians to come”, “they do not respect nor consider the Orthodox church their home. Without any doubt, the true Orthodox faith in Ukraine is constantly reminding Vladimir Zelenskiy and his team that they are nothing but a bunch of filthy scumbags”. According to Russian media, Orthodox Christians only belong to the Russian Orthodox church, and it seems that they truly believe it.

Some disinformation media even said that the raids on the facilities operated by UOC (Moscow Patriarchate) were orchestrated by the USA which intends to “break the spiritual ties between the Ukrainians and the Russians, strip them of any national identity, and this is why Orthodox faith has become their primary target”.

The Methodology

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

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