Iranian Superweapons and Mobilization vs NATO Russian Media Monitoring Report, 19-25 September

Last week, Russian media justified Putin’s decision on “partial mobilization” and continued explaining its necessity to the populace. According to their version, Russia was forced to do it by none other than NATO.

They sung praises to Iranian weapons and claimed that AFU offensive was going awry. As usual, the USA was accused of nuclear warmongering while Ukraine was portrayed as a nuisance to Western nations.

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

Blindsided by Mobilization

Russia's “partial mobilization” was a total surprise to the average Russian citizen who had been fed nothing but the news on the glorified crusade of Z-force for over 200 days. It was so unexpected that Russian propagandist media had to make a radical switch from victorious reports to calls to arms.

As soon as mobilization was announced, news writers started claiming that Russia's fate was at stake offering vivid evidence of how the West was trying to split and destroy it: “On the morning of 21 September President Putin addressed the nation. He said that Western nations are openly planning to split our country into smaller regions at odds with one another”, “those Western hawks intend to weaken, divide and, ultimately, destroy our motherland”, “the President warned about the imminent implementation of Western plans to split Russia into a multitude of smaller regions and territorial formations locked in a deadly feud — exactly what they did to the Soviet Union in 1991”. According to Russian media, Russia has two options: mobilization or defeat, but taking a defeating blow from Ukraine means state collapse: “Should we lose to Ukraine, our fate will be sealed as more blows will follow to make sure that Russia never raises from its knees”.

The propagandists tried to convince the readers that the recently declared mobilization was able to turn the tides of war and lead to a complete victory of the Russian Federation: “Crimean spring” showed that Russia is dead serious, there is no turning back”, “when our troops approach Odessa, they are likely to secure certain parts of Bessarabia, too”.

Russian citizens were enticed into taking part in the hostilities with various financial ”incentives”. Regional administrations of the Russian Federations were engaged in the awareness-raising campaign and ordered to lure recruits with promises of extra payments: “The administration of Kursk oblast will provide a single payment of 100,000 rubles to mobilized residents with 30,000 rubles to be paid to those joining the mobilization reserve being formed in the region” , “Aksyonov ordered to pay 200,000 rubles to each mobilized man in the region”, “Crimean authorities intend to provide plots of land to all the participants of the special military operation drafted from the republic”, “The first units of Russians drafted under the partial mobilization plans […] will be offered additional incentives from the Russian Federation subjects — direct payments as well as various privileges and benefits”.

To avoid rattling the cage, the propagandists claimed that “only about 1% of the men registered with the enlistment office will be mobilized”, to convince Russian people that mobilization will not affect their daily lives and that the war will be fought by somebody else.

Certain Russian politicians made racist statements suggesting a stronger bias on drafting descendants from Central Asia who are treated with contempt by many Russians: “Member of Human Rights Council under the President of the Russian Federation Kirill Kabanov said that proposals were being drafted for mandatory military service by natives of Central Asia who had been Russian citizens for less than ten years. The new rules would apply to descendants from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Should they refuse to join the Russian military, Mr Kabanov proposed to deprive such nationals of their citizenship with the same procedure applied to their family members”.

Heroic Defenders of Lyman and Iranian Wonder Weapons

It has been a few weeks since Russian propagandists first told the story of impregnable city of Lyman controlled by Russian defenders: “...The fierce battle for Liman rages on. Russian forces hit hard with thermobaric rockets. Over 600 Ukrainian soldiers have been confirmed dead with many wounded. Some of the AFU allow themselves to be captured”, “AFU are burning up all their reserves in a desperate attempt of keeping up the pace of the Kharkiv offensive and seizing Kupyansk and Liman to enter the operational space of Luhansk People's Republic. The Russian military command is committing reserves to hamper the Ukrainian advance and win time for building a continuous defense line and stabilize the front”.

Despite all the optimism, things aren’t going very well for the occupants to say the least. According to the Institute for the Study of War, the Lyman pocket may soon collapse.

The propagandists have been trying to soothe the public with cheerful forecasts and downplaying the AFU strength: “Although the enemy still has plenty of bite, this will hardly continue for more than a week or so. A lack of a rapid breakthrough would kill all hopes for the AFU campaign in 2022 and pave way for Ukraine's agonizing defeat in 2023”.

The Russians are being told that the situation in the battlefield is bound to change very soon since “the supplies of American and European arms and equipment to the AFU are dwindling with weapons being replaced by consumer goods. [...] NATO has run out of reserves”. There have been more and more reports about new superweapons coming from Iran: “According to military experts, the accuracy of the new Iranian ballistic missile with satellite guidance is comparable to HIMARS while the outstanding mobility of the platform allows “shoot and scoot” tactics. These weapons can become a real game-changer in the Ukrainian theater of operations”.

More Nuclear Saber-Rattling

Russian propagandists claim that blood-thirsty Americans are forcing the world into a nuclear arms race: “Over the last few years the USA invaded seven countries. They bombed uncooperative governments into submission and have been occupying Syrian oil fields in blatant violation of international law. So far they have been untouchable. As a result, more and more nations are seeking ways to add nuclear weapons to their arsenals in an attempt to deter the aggressor”.

The US allies are just as crazy. Should a nuclear war break out, it will be through their entire fault, not Russia’s: “Deputy Prime Minister of Poland Jarosław Kaczyński, who has a reputation of a town crazy at home, said that Poland is ready to host American nuclear weapons”, “Ukraine is trying to plunge the entire world into a nuclear winter”.

Russia has nothing else to do but to threaten the Americans in return: “The “Sarmat” inter-continental ballistic missile is light years ahead of the Soviet-era “Voevoda”... This means that the “Sarmat” is capable of striking targets in the USA over a variety of trajectories including those over the South Pole which allow it to evade the existing ballistic missile defenses deployed by the United States”.

Also in the News:

Russian media claimed that “Ukraine has long stuck in the teeth of the United Nations diplomats”. According to their stories, Western nations have lost interest in continuing support for Kyiv: “Ukraine is a troubled state which has been drawing increased attention and tremendous financial resources for waging a proxy war with Russia. The West had no idea how large a hole Ukraine would be burning in their pocket”.

They also claimed that Poland is aggressively pitting Russia and Ukraine against each other: “Both Russia and Ukraine are Poland's potential enemies. As long as Kyiv and Moscow are at odds, Warsaw is happy”. Furthermore, they alleged that “the crafty Poles want a part of Ukraine in exchange for their weapons: “the scandalous Warsaw will surely ask a hefty price for its help as certain local politicians are already reminding their voters that both Lviv and Volyn region used to belong to Poland. The current Ukrainian government doesn’t seem to mind surrendering territories as long as Western weapons keep flowing”.

Time and time again did they scare the readers with stories about American biolabs and bioweapons: “the USA have been conducting black ops on Ukrainian soil to bolster their military biological potential”, “Russia brought undeniable evidence of American biological warfare activity in Ukraine to Geneva”, “the United States is building military laboratories close to Russian borders, collecting strains of pathogens that occur in certain territories, and conducting human tests of dangerous substances thereby increasing its military biological capability”. They also said that “the American biolabs which operate in Ukraine have a strong bias towards biological warfare”, “there have been reports that on 24 February some extremely hazardous pathogens such as the causative agents of plague, anthrax, cholera and other fatal diseases were urgently destroyed as part a cover-up operation”.

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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