Russian Propagandists Keep Fingers Crossed for Texas People's Republic. Russian Media Monitoring Report, 22-28 January 2024

Last week, Russian propaganda claimed that Kyiv had deliberately shot down a Russian Il-76 military transport aircraft near Belgorod allegedly carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war. According to one of the versions offered by the propagandists, it was an attack orchestrated by the Ukrainian authorities to discourage Ukrainians from surrendering to Russian forces.

Читати українською


Considerable media coverage was also drawn to the possibility of a civil war sparking in the USA. Such conclusions were made after a recent conflict between the federal authorities and the state of Texas. According to Russian media, Texas is headed for a break-up with Washington. There was a lot of debate on the Ukrainian president’s decree “On the Territories of the Russian Federation Historically Inhabited by Ukrainians”: Russian media launched an information campaign centered around the key point that Ukraine is a chauvinistic state that encroaches on Russia’s internationally recognized borders.

This monitoring report covers these and other topics of the disinformation spread by Russian state media and online parajournalists to manipulate public opinion.

The Il-76 crash

Last week's biggest news was the crash of an IL-76 military transport aircraft in Belgorod oblast on January 24. Russian propaganda hurried to blame Ukraine and claimed that the plane had been carrying Ukrainian POWs being moved by Russia on arrangements with Kyiv.

Moscow accused the Ukrainian leadership of a cruel and atrocious violation of the customs of war. The propagandists argued that Ukraine had been aware of the plane’s route and that it had indeed been carrying Ukrainian military personnel: "It is clear as day that Zelensky’s criminal regime, nurtured by the United States and its NATO satellites poses a significant threat — not only to Russia, but also to Ukraine itself, its ordinary citizens, and the entire world”.

According to the disinformers, the plane was shot down with American or German weapons: “The missile that brought down the aircraft was most likely fired from either an American Patriot or a German-made IRIS-T system”. Russian media kept accusing the West of encouraging the so-called war crimes allegedly committed by Ukrainians.

The propaganda machine immediately began to produce theories to explain why Kyiv had shot down the plane. According to one of them, Zelensky wanted to send a clear signal to Ukrainians that they must fight to the death: “One of Kiev's intentions was to intimidate the Ukrainian military who were considering surrendering”. Another theory claimed that the incident had stemmed from the conflict between Zelensky and Zaluzhny: “According to Dmitri Medvedev, the destruction of the Il-76 airplane was the result of “the internal political struggle of neo-Nazi elites in Kiev”.

On January 30, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Andriy Yusov reported that the situation with the downing of the plane was still unclear: “Apart from Russia”s statement on the presence of our prisoners on board, there has been no evidence to that effect, and this has been all we can infer from so far”. According to Yusov, there is a possibility that the plane was carrying both ammunition and prisoners who were used as human shields. That being said, Russia’s reaction and the circumstances of the disaster were dubious. There was no attempt to declare a ceasefire over Belgorod nor did the Russian Federation send a prior warning about the transit of prisoners across the airspace.

Texas People’s Republic

Last week, the U.S. federal government and the authorities of individual states got locked in a bitter dispute over the migration issue. The state of Texas fired the first shot by issuing the decision to block the Mexican border with barbed wire and floating barriers. This did not land well with the federal government which accused Texas of inhumane treatment. The U.S. Border Patrol sent units to remove the wire on the Texas-Mexico border, but the members of the local law enforcement prevented the federal agents from accessing the area. Eventually, both sides took the matter to the Supreme Court which ruled in favor of the White House.

After that, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a member of the Republican Party, disobeyed the court ruling on the premises that undocumented migration qualifies as an “invasion” which empowers Texas to ignore the federal laws.

Russian propaganda did not ignore the conflict and declared that a civil war in the United States was just around the corner: “The south has rebelled: the United States is headed for a constitutional crisis”, “A rebellion in the United States: the emergence of Texas People's Republic and the collapse of federal government are imminent. It should be noted that the collapse of the United States is one of Russia’s favorite topics which has been explored for many years.

The disinformers reported that the federal government was sending troops to Texas while the locals were preparing for a confrontation that could escalate into an armed conflict: “At least 400 Humvee jeeps, 72 M2 Bradley armored fighting vehicles, 48 M109 self-propelled howitzers, and up to thirty Abrams main battle tanks — such is the arsenal of one of the most armed states in the union. Biden should think very, very carefully before punishing the region’s authorities for insubordination”.

Some media resources even claimed that Texas was preparing for a referendum on exit: “The Texas Nationalist Movement (TNM, also known as Texit) has announced that it collected the necessary signatures required to add the “TEXIT” question asking if Texas should leave the U.S. to the primary ballot. The movement’s decision has already garnered tremendous support in Texas”.

The propagandists suggest that the conflict plays straight into the hands of Biden who allegedly wants to cancel the presidential election: "There has been speculation in the press about the possibility of imposing martial law in the U.S. and canceling or postponing the presidential election”.

Furthermore, Olga Skabeeva, a prominent propagandist and TV presenter of the “60 Minutes” program is cherishing the dream of Texas People’s Republic.

Ukraine encroached on Russian territories

On January 22, the President of Ukraine signed the decree “On the territories of the Russian Federation historically inhabited by Ukrainians”.

Russian propaganda immediately claimed that Ukraine was seeking to annex Russian territories thus accusing Kyiv of aggression and chauvinism supported by the West.

The Deputy Head of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev said that the Ukrainian president’s decree formalized Kyiv’s claims on six regions of Russia: “He signed a decree on territorial claims to Russia regarding lands “historically inhabited by Ukrainians”. I am struggling to comment on such a ridiculous thing because Ukrainians are Russians and Malorossiya is part of Russia”.

The so-called political analyst Serhiy Markov, who is known for his pro-Kremlin views, said that Zelensky’s decree is based on Washington’s plans to spread Kyiv’s control over certain regions of Russia to enable “forced Ukrainization”. “These plans are not Zelensky's creation. His cannot care less for his home city of Krivoy Rog — let alone other parts of Ukraine. Those plans are part of the bigger schemes drafted by Washington warhawks. They want to divide Russia into a number of small sovereign states after defeating it. Some of the regions have already been promised to other countries, and it is those regions that are slated for forced Ukrainianization”.

In actual fact, the document signed by Zelensky instructs the government to develop an action plan to preserve the national identity of Ukrainians in Russia — in particular, those living on the lands historically inhabited by Ukrainians. One of the points of this plan is to create a center for collecting information about crimes against Ukrainians in Russia, forced Russification, political repression, and deportations. Among other tasks, the plan highlights the need to preserve the historical memory of these events.

The text of the decree has no mention of Ukraine’s desire to establish sovereignty over any internationally recognized Russian territories or the annexation of the lands of the Kuban region as well as Rostov, Belgorod, Kursk, and Bryansk oblasts to Ukraine.

The Problems

As the so-called presidential election campaign is gathering speed in Russia, Russians are being convinced about the country’s achievements under Putin’s rule. At the same time, the media can no longer keep quiet about certain problems.


Our previous monitoring reporting mentioned the concerns of Russians about drug shortages, and this trend continued last week. In addition to the shortages, there were reports of a significant rise in the price of medicines: “These days you don't want to be sick because aspirin prices have risen 30% while No-spa ones have grown 28% over a year. Dying is an equally bad idea: gravediggers’ services in the Russian Federation have become almost 20% more expensive, and standard wooden coffins have skyrocketed by 37%”.

The news are so worrying that the media are publishing articles discussing ways to bring medicines on your own: “Russia has serious restrictions on the import of foreign medicines. Although the regulations for prescription drugs are especially strict, the rest of the rules can also be a challenge. Here are some tips on bringing medicines from abroad from the head of the quality department of NC Logisti pharmaceutical logistics operator”.


Inflation is hitting Russians hard. Agricultural products are also becoming more expensive leaving ordinary Russians wondering why this is happening in a country considered to be one of the largest agricultural exporters in the world. Now they are being told how domestic producers are contributing to inflation: “The agricultural industry has also contributed to inflation as the cost of electricity, consumables, logistics and staff salaries in connection with greenhouse operation have increased. In addition to that, December marked an increase in tire prices as manufacturer are forced to pay more for natural rubber”.

The propagandists insist that inflation has been caused by rising wages and benefits as well as higher social protection expenditure. However, few admit that the increase in wages is due to the shortage of labor caused by the military mobilization. Businesses are competing for workers amid labor force shrinkage. Similarly, the increase in social payments and benefits partly reflects compensations to the wounded and the families of the dead.


Russian media also mentioned demographic problems: “According to the World Health Organization, the so-called static population (i.e. when the number of births is equal to the number of deaths) would be achieved if there were 2.1 children for every woman. In Russia, this figure is now less than one and a half according to the Federal Service for State Statistics. The birth rate has been falling for several years and this trend is unlikely to reverse in the near future. This is a consequence of the country’s tumultuous history in the recent decades. Instead of solving the problem, the Russian authorities have unleashed a major war that is only making things worse. The falling birth rate has been compounded by a large number of deaths and injuries, waves of emigration, and a decrease in the inflow of migrants which is a direct consequence of the war against Ukraine.


The Methodology

To monitor the information published on disinformation websites, we analyzed approximately 500,000 news reports collected from ~ 1,000 Russian websites. The data for the analysis was collected and provided by SemanticForce.

Each paragraph was processed using an 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.

logo NDI eng

russian propaganda eng russo-ukrainian war

Знак гривні
Знак гривні