“It’s all drugs, not patriotism”: Russian Propagandists Explain Why Ukrainians Just Won't Give Up. Russian Media Monitoring Report, 29 May-4 June 2023.

As the wave of Russian disinformation about the blowing up of the Kakhovska HPP is rising, our analysts are already tracking it for our next week’s report.
Meanwhile, this media monitoring report is focused on how Russian propagandists explain the persistence of Ukraine’s defenders to their Russian audiences. Admitting that Ukrainians are forced to fight off the invaders is out of question.


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

Without much else to say, the official propagandists have dusted off the old fake about American-made stimulants and drugs. According to Russian media, such substances help Ukrainian fighters overcome panic, stay focused and even ignore injuries. They also claim that the US recruits Syrian nationals to man the Ukrainian counteroffensive. On top of it all, the propagandist media condemn the Russians who fled the country and go on a crusade against the English language. This monitoring report covers these and other topics of the disinformation spread by Russian state media and online parajournalists to manipulate public opinion.

They Have All Been Dosed!

The AFU counteroffensive remains the focus of Russian propaganda. The disinformation media are convinced that Ukraine's military effort will be a flash in the pan.

According to their claims, it will fail for many reasons including the lack of equipment and ammunition: “Russian army has all the necessary resources while the AFU supplies are running dry”, “The Western support of Ukraine has always been too little, too late”.

It is claimed that Kyiv is unable to mobilize enough manpower to deliver on its promises. According to the disinformation media, Ukraine intends to enlist the Interpol assistance to track draft dodgers among the Ukrainian refugees in Europe who are eligible for military service: “If being away from Ukraine becomes a crime, the Interpol will assist Kyiv in tracking down draft dodgers in Europe. All the Ukrainian men who do not have a “spare” passport are likely to be immediately deported by Western authorities”.

The so-called military reporters say that although Kyiv is capable of waging a limited offensive, those capabilities are declining rapidly: “They are able to make a push, but can they make it stick? One year from now the situation is going to be completely different”.

This is why the propagandists insist that the Russian army should prepare to hold off the first (and, probably, the only) wave of the counteroffensive and rely on Russia’s vast resources: “The Russian military have to endure the first strike“, “The Russian army's first lines of defense need to survive the massive strike of the first few hours of the counteroffensive until reinforcements arrive from the rear and prevent the enemy from overrunning the positions”.

The disinformation media continue to produce fakes about the Ukrainian army. This time, Russian media claimed that the Ukrainian military use drugs to deal with panic: “The United States has provided the AFU thugs with American-made psychotropic drugs to control panic attacks”. According to the propagandists, the drugs also decrease fatigue: “The Ukrainian thugs snort energy-boosting drugs which make fatigue disappear in a couple of hours”. They also claimed that Ukraine “has been running military pharmaceutical programs and developing psychoactive drugs for combat use for years”.

According to Russian propaganda, it is the drugs that turn Ukrainians into modern-day berserkers: “The substances made the soldiers imperceptible to small arms bullet strikes. “A bullet knocks him off his feet, but he gets up and carries on walking like there is no pain — so powerful are the drugs”.

This is Russian propaganda at its finest: since Russian media cannot admit the fact the Ukraine is winning in the battlefield, they have to produce all kinds of ridiculous fakes to explain it. Those fakes about wonder drugs were nothing but new: during the 2004 Orange Revolution pro-Russian media figures told stories about “laced oranges” which even became a period meme.

You Are Not Welcome Back Home

There has been a lively debate about the “traitors of Russia” and how to punish them on Russian media.

For example, this is what Deputy Head of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmytro Medvedev calls those who left the country. “Enjoy your new home — just try not to choke on your own bile. There will come a time when you will cry over your favorite red wine remembering your glorious motherland and the life you used to have” — such were Medvedev's words about those who fled Russia. He warned there would be no return to the “merry European past” since Russia had evolved into a completely different country: "Only those misfits who forgot about the deaths of our fellow citizens may be dreaming about reuniting with the happy European family. Those who pretend to ignore the deaths of the peaceful civilians and defenders of Russia”.

Dmytro Medvedev compares the war against Ukraine to the “Great Patriotic War” and promises severe punishment for everyone who defies Russia's policy: “Any political leader who might dare challenge the discourse of the country's development which has existed since 24 February 2022 will be condemned as a traitor”. To mobilize Russians, the propagandists often compare the war against Ukraine to the Second World War. By doing so they try to unite the society around Russia’s leadership.

Dmytro Medvedev has been earning frequent mentions in our monitoring reports. He is notorious for making radical statements. For example, he has been threatening the world with nuclear weapons, calling on European countries to rip Ukraine apart, and forecasting a civil war in the USA and the collapse of the EU. Russian propagandist media are always eager to broadcast his statements spreading his madness all around.

Russian media have been running stories on the hardships of the “departed” now living abroad to convince they would be better off in Russia: “The famous actors and musicians who left Russia after the beginning of the special military operation are facing all sorts of problems abroad: from financial to domestic. This is what they themselves admit on social media and in interviews”.

Russia also seems to have gone on a crusade against the English language. At the beginning of 2023, Putin signed the law banning the use of foreign words in situations when the Russian language is used as the official language with the exception of words without original Russian equivalents. Local authorities have also joined the “deanglication” efforts. For example, “The members of Krasnodar city duma supported the ban on signage in foreign languages”.

The propagandists claim that Russia is not the only country which pursues such a policy: even India is gradually abandoning English.

At least this is what the Speaker of the State Duma of the Russian Federation Vyacheslav Volodin said in a recent interview: “One day, I went to India on official business. Despite all the preparations on our side, there was a problem with interpreting. It turned out that Indian officials had switched to Hindi, their native tongue, which is used for official communication. Being unaware of the fact, we had instead arranged for an English interpreter”.

However, the propagandist conveniently overlooked the fact that both English and Hindi are official languages in India.

This was not the first time Volodin made derisive remarks about the English language. Earlier, he had arrogantly called English a dead language and said that learning Chinese makes a lot more sense.

Also in the News:

The news that the Parliament of Latvia had voted the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs as President-elect of Latvia caused an outburst of anger on Russian media: “Ungodliness takes a win at the presidential election in Latvia. Shame on Edgars Rinkēvičs!”. The propagandists even suggest changing the national anthem of Latvia: “Perhaps, they might as well change the words of the national anthem of Latvia to “…, where the Latvian gays are singing…”.

Russian propagandists argue that Russia should not place any high hopes with the collective West since “All the internal processes and policies in European countries will be “standardized”” and that the West will have to “reap the fruits of its efforts” — sooner or later.

They also claimed that the “old world” is falling apart and that the hegemony of the West is finally disappearing, but it will not go down without a fight.

Russian political analysts insist that “France bears a substantial part of responsibility for the conflict in Ukraine. They did nothing to prevent it, and their current actions are only adding fuel to the fire”.

According to the Kremlin representatives, France is not a neutral country such as Brazil, China or the African countries since it is a de-facto party in the war and Ukraine’s ally. Such was the response to the proposal of the President of France Emmanuel Macron to host a peace summit on Ukraine in Paris.

In addition to that, the propagandists are actively blaming the United States for rocking the Syrian boat saying that the US is recruiting Syrian fighters to reinforce the Ukrainian troops during the counteroffensive: “Having wasted a substantial amount of the war chest on supporting the Zelenskiy regime in the conflict with Russia, Washington has resorted to recruiting Syrian militants to take part in the Ukrainian counteroffensive”. They also argue that the United States is interested in reigniting the war in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, “unfreezing” the conflict in Transnistria and provoking violence in Africa “to distract the Russian army and force it into dispersing its assets”.


The Methodology

We have built a comprehensive corpus of all the materials from Russian websites and those maintained by the occupation force (approximately 34,000 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 contain quotes from paragraphs referring to each topic.

We used materials from lenta.ru, tass.ru, riafan.ru, russian.rt.com, regnum.ru, iz.ru, life.ru, trmzk.ru, vz.ru, donbasstoday.ru, novosibirsk-news.net, ura.news, newizv.ru, news-front.info, aif.ru, slovodel.com, nakanune.ru, kommersant.ru, ruinformer.com, rosbalt.ru, polit.info, sevastopol.su, ng.ru, expert.ru, dni.ru, kafanews.com, antifashist.com, dnr-pravda.ru, naspravdi.info, kerch.fm, anna-news.info, dan-news.info, tehnowar.ru, aurora.network, gorlovka-pravda.com, lugansk1.info, c-inform.info, 3652.ru, politnavigator.net, rusdnepr.ru, politobzor.net, doneck-news.com, mir-lug.info, odnarodyna.org, vsednr.ru, nefakt.info, novosti.icu, time-news.net, xvesti.ru, comitet.su, sobytiya.info, denis-pushilin.ru, dnr24.com, meridian.in.ua.


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