Russia Wants Alaska and Hawaii. Russian Media Monitoring Report, 14-20 November 2022

Last week's publications on Russian media were largely focused on geopolitics: from NATO’s potential aggression in the Arctic to Ukraine’s role in scenarios for control over Europe. Since the Russians are honestly afraid of unity among European nations, they are desperately trying to convince the domestic reader that other countries support Kyiv only to advance their own anti-Russian agenda.

Russian propagandists also raved about future victories in the battlefield and prepared to defend Lukashenko from a joint NATO force led by Tikhanovska. This monitoring report covers these and other topics of the disinformation spread by Russian state media and online parajournalists to manipulate public opinion.

Ode to Russian Army

Russian media have been trying to support the myth about Russian army’s progress in Ukraine. The language of a large number of the reports on military operations is very similar to epic literature: “the Russian soldiers fought like lions for nearly every building in the settlement. According to him, the AFU had fortified all the buildings and even the water wells in Opytnoye and defended them fiercely, but it was all in vain”, “We are all exhilarated by the progress — our aim is true, we shall not fail! The enemy has a number of well-fortified areas in this sector. They have a lot of reconnaissance assets. We are moving slowly, but carefully”, “the AFU have so many dead that further resistance in the trenches without being able to hurt us is becoming suicidal”, or the propagandists claim that the situation is just about to change in total favor of the Russian troops: “Although it is too early to speculate about a large-scale offensive as most of our reserves are still on their way, the change is in the air — you can feel it in the tone of the messages from the front lines and in the reports from our military correspondents”.

They also keep spreading messages about the exhaustion of Ukrainian troops: “the Ukrainian offensive has been losing steam causing the troops to resort to mobile defense and even passive defense in some areas”. Notably, Russian media once again circulated fake reports on executions in the AFU for failure to follow orders: “According to the Ministry of Defense, the militants of one of the nationalist battalions brought five AFU reservists, who has refused to obey the orders of the superior command, in front of the formation and carried out a demonstrative execution of”,“the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) have been setting up courts marshal to execute deserters and sentence those who refuse to follow orders”.

Russian media avoid talking about any problems in the Russian army and instead dwell on the excellent training of the newly mobilized troops and volunteers who are able to master the essential military skills in just a few days: “The five-lesson “Warrior” tactical course teaches how to handle weapons, use the equipment, administer first aid, navigate the terrain and complete certain tasks as part of reconnaissance and sabotage groups”

At the same time the propagandists are preparing the public to future “gestures of good will”: “the fate of the Kinburn Spit is entirely defined by our the commanders. The decision to defend or withdraw is theirs. Even if our army withdraws from the spit, it won't be very difficult to retake it in spring

“Making Alaska Russian again”

Last week, the stories on “peace-loving” Russian propagandist media claimed that NATO was planning to capture a sizable chunk of Russian territory: “The first half of November brought a series of alarming signals due to NATO’s increased activity in the Far North. The USA made it clear that territorial claims against Russia in the Arctic were on the table”. Interestingly, the Russians oppose historical claims: “Any attempt to make territorial claims against Moscow and re-writing history are inherently counter-productive and will have consequences, the diplomat stated”.

While opposing any historical claims, Russian media are reviving the dream of “making Alaska Russian again”: “We don’t owe them anything. Not an inch of our land. That being said, Alaska is rightfully ours. They must give it back! I know for a fact that Alaska is Russian. To the best of my knowledge, they violated the contract by not paying the Tsar of Russia. Therefore, they must return Alaska — it would be a lot more fair this way” while some “experts” call for spreading the Russian realm as far as Hawaii: “So, why don't the Americans give us Alaska, California and Hawaii where our people set foot just some 200 years ago — and let's not forget that Alaska and a large part of California near San Fransisco used to be Russian, all thanks to Baranov”.

Russian media keep inventing stories about the West’s plans to invade Belarus: “The emissaries of the Kyiv regime have already appealed to international authorities to declare Belorussia“an occupied territory. This appeal falls in line with EU plans quite perfectly”, “However, a full-scale intervention requires political and ideological justification. This is where the rogue Belorussian opposition comes into play. The recent spike in Tikhanovskaya’s media activity is clearly intended to justify a Western invasion into Belorussia”.

The propagandists claim that Russian’s enemies intend to unseat Lukashenko and bring the anti-Russian opposition to power: “Alongside the claims of Russian “occupation” there have been more and more frequent mentions of a “national liberation movement” in Belorussia and the training of militants to overthrow "the regime", "in early November, Tikhanovskaya's advisor Franak Vechyorko stated that guerilla operation "Pobeda" was being carried out in Belorussia with increased focus on the war with the Russian occupiers who still remain in the territory while the full-scale invasion was being prepared in Ukraine and "NATO" countries: “This is what they speak about quite openly in Tikhanovskaya’s headquarters, in Ukraine, in Poland and in the Baltic states.

AFU as Bone of Contention for Berlin and Warsaw

Russian propagandists have increasingly been using the term “the former territory of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic” while referring to Ukraine. Russian media present their own dreams about the split of Ukraine as an accomplished fact and even use Baba Vanga’s prophecies to add credibility to their version: “The Big Brother will invade the foreign land. He will crush his enemies and take what is rightfully his. Western foes will also come and take what they owned for centuries”.

Russian propagandists are portraying Poland as the main “Western foe” to claim Ukraine’s western territories: “They just want to seize the western regions [of the former Ukrainian Soviet Republic]”, “[Kyiv] is courting Poland for its own gain. A perfect moment for Poland to play along and agree to protect Ukraine by sending troops to Lvoskaya oblast in the west [of the former Ukrainian Soviet Republic] and declare military control of that territory which will be a de facto occupation! Hungary should watch and learn!”, “The former Ukrainian Soviet Republic will be Warsaw’s big geopolitical prize”.

However, it wasn’t all about Poland. Ironically, Russian media seem to have grown respect for the AFU which they now consider to be able to secure a new geopolitical order on the continent: “Now that, due to a shooting conflict, the armed forces of the Kyiv regime have become a crucial military and political asset, securing control over them has become a top priority for Berlin and Warsaw. The country to train the military of the former Ukrainian Soviet Republic, today's lieutenants and tomorrow’s generals and army commanders, will have a joker to bring a decisive victory in the game”, “The territory of the former Ukrainian Soviet Republic has always been a bone of geopolitical contention for Poland and Germany. The conflict being waged by the Kyiv regime is only fueling the ambitions of politicians in Berlin and Warsaw, which reach far beyond the eastern territories. No wonder that the Germans and the Poles are now arguing about who will train the future army of the Kyiv regime”.

According to Russian propaganda, both Poland and Germany have their own reasons to secure control over Ukraine: for example, the former wants to create a buffer zone between Russia and Europe: “Poland is set to torpedo the European project of building a common area from Lisbon to Vladivostok by fragmenting the Eurasia in the according to the playbook from Washington and London”, while the latter is preparing a springboard for a new attack on Russia: “During World War I when Berlin staged a coup in Kyiv and brought hetman Skoropadskiy to power, one of the scenarios was to turn the city into a springboard for the future attack on Moscow in order to establish a Russian state under German protectorate. Only time will tell if Berlin has the courage to re-enact this century-old plan today”.

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

russian propaganda eng russo-ukrainian war

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