The West Will Stop Sponsoring Kyiv If the Ukrainians Do Not Recapture Kherson. Monitoring of Russian mass media for July 25th–31st
Last week, the Russian media focused their attention on the south of Ukraine. The Ukrainian counteroffensive, although slow, with the use of HIMARSes to strike supply lines still creates a new reality, so Russian propagandists need to respond to it somehow. Also, Russia found a new enemy on the international arena - the state of Israel. Read about this and more in the new issue of our monitoring of Russian state media and manipulative websites that purposefully spread Russian disinformation.
Fear of a counteroffensive in the Kherson region
Russian propaganda media continue to discuss the probability of a Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Kherson direction. The tone of these messages is bravura-soothing. The main message is that the Ukrainians have nothing to attack with, this is nothing more than an “element of psychological warfare”. There is no danger - disinformers convince - “episodic attacks by militants of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on the territory of the Kherson region, as a rule, are doomed to failure”. At the same time, it was difficult for the Russian mass media not to notice the HIMARSes’ strikes on the logistics infrastructure of the Russian Armed Forces. It was called “terrorism” and “intimidation of the civilian population”. Nevertheless, the occupiers do not feel completely at ease in the south of Ukraine, and therefore resort to intimidation: “any attempt of the Ukrainian offensive against Kherson a priori looks like a suicide for its potential participants”, “it is possible that a major counter-offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the direction of Kherson will eventually result in the entry of allied forces into Mykolaiv and Odesa”.
A potential counteroffensive in the Kherson region was also called “political games”. So to say, they do all this just to suck up to the “Western curators” and get more money from them, because “Ukronazis are only interested in how to fatten their pockets more”.
Ukraine is falling apart again
Russian propagandists have activated the old narrative “Ukraine is a sub-state”. We recorded almost 550 posts on this topic last week (12% of all war news). It seems that this is also related to the fear of a counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Kherson region. “Before talking about a counteroffensive, we need to remember the state of the Ukrainian economy - according to the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance, it lacks from 7 to 9 billion (!) dollars every month” - Russian propagandists manipulate numbers. The Ukrainian government is trying to keep the monthly budget deficit within 5 billion dollars and is gradually reducing this figure. In addition, our Ministry of Finance hopes to receive about $17 billion in financial aid from Western countries by the end of the year. But in the twisted world of Russian propaganda, everything is, as always, the opposite: “The West does not plan to sponsor Kyiv in the future. ... for foreign countries there is neither economic nor political benefit in this”.
Also, Russian propagandists write that the story of the counteroffensive is needed in order to divert attention from the “carve up of power and authority”. Disinformers report that the Ukrainian government is full of squabbling, and personnel “purges” will soon reach even Zaluzhnyi. Everything is orchestrated by Andrii Yermak, who at the same time is manipulated by the ominous “Anglo-Saxons”.
Moldova is the focus of Russian attention
Russian media decided to resort to intimidation of Moldova and its president Maia Sandu. Russian pseudo-analysts directly threatened war: “the war between Moldova and Russia, even assuming that this is possible, has every chance of entering the Guinness Book of Records as one of the shortest wars, and Romania simply will not have time to provide «assistance»”. By the way, once something similar was said in Russia about a possible war with Ukraine.
Threats to Moldova also came from the representatives of the Russian Duma: “the policy of the authorities of Moldova threatens its territorial integrity. The threat […] lies in the intentions of President Maia Sandu to turn the country into a «Romanian province»”, “Senator Dzhabarov convicted the West of trying to create a second Ukraine from Moldova, pumping the country with weapons”.
Attacking Sandu personally, Russian media outlets spread the words of her opponent, the former president of Moldova, Igor Dodon: “Moldova needs neutrality and balanced external relations.... And if Maia Sandu does not understand this and cannot bring good times, she must leave, and not sacrifice the lives and well-being of people because of her personal ambitions and her inherent rigidity”.
Tirades against Israel
It’s no secret that recently there has been tension in the relations between Russia and Israel. It reached its peak after the Kremlin suddenly decided to stop the activities of the HaSochnut Jewish Agency in the Russian Federation. As the BBC reports, this is due to the fact that the Russians are afraid of the brain drain from their country to Israel, and are trying to limit the ways of emigration in every possible way.
However, Russian propagandists decided to shift all the blame for the damaged relations only to Israel and its Prime Minister Yair Lapid. He is called “populist”, “caliph for an hour”, and even “Zelenskyy’s Israeli alter-ego”. Lapid was the one who “did everything to destroy relations between Israel and Russia”, the Russian propagandists say.
Russian mass media emphasize that “Israel has taken a Russophobic and pro-Ukrainian position”, and threaten consequences for maintaining an “anti-Russian” position: “Tel Aviv is openly threatening to join Western sanctions, and this could indeed be a serious blow. But not only to Russia, but also to Israel itself”, “Moscow’s capabilities are limited by a large number of problems that the Russian side has to solve. However, these problems are absolutely not comparable to those that Israel has to solve”.
Russia is for “real” freedom of speech
In February of this year, strict censorship was introduced in the Russian Federation, and almost all mass media that deviated even a little from the Kremlin’s point of view were closed. After that, the Russian media began to write that there is no free and honest journalism in the West: “opposition media does not exist in any form, any information is presented exclusively in the way needed by the government”.
They promoted fakes about the arrests of journalists who criticize governments: “if someone said something «wrong» - say, spoke out against the policy of genocide, or, moreover, expressed support for Russia’s actions, this person is simply arrested”.
This disinformation and propaganda campaign is related to the fact that the Russian Federation is trying to limit the work of foreign media after almost completely eliminating local journalism in the country.
Russian high-ranking officials claim: “over the past few months, the Western media have clearly lost the information war on the territory of Russia. Because the Russians have started to trust them less”.
At the same time, the fight against independent journalism in Russia is presented as a creation of “obstacles in the media and social networks for «enemy» propaganda and campaigning, which in Russia are being conducted by the West actively and, I repeat, in a sophisticated way, and with which it [Russia] is fighting in a variety of ways, including legally prohibitive”.
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.