To arms! NATO is at the gates! Russian Media Monitoring Report, 16-22 January 2023.
The rumours about the next big wave of mobilization are raising concerns among Russians. The government says not to worry as only a grave external threat for the Russian Federation might prompt a general mobilization. However, it looks like it is already there. According to the propagandists, Russia is on the brink of a “long and bloody conflict” with NATO.
Their only hope lies with common Europeans who are tired of anti-Russian policy and want to go back to their usual lives. This monitoring report covers these and other topics of the disinformation spread by Russian state media and online parajournalists to manipulate public opinion.
New wave of mobilization in the Russian Federation: to be or no to be?
Russian high-ranking officials are forced to make further statements on the subject of mobilization to keep raising concerns under control. “The recent rumors regarding general mobilization in Russia or a new round of the partial mobilization campaign are nonsense. According to the official statement from the Kremlin, all the mobilization activities in the country have been completed and no additional draft of reservists is in the works" — such was the tone of Russian media although the decree on mobilization in the Russian Federation still remains in force.
The official commentaries from the Kremlin did not do much to subdue public concerns. Russians keep asking questions about the format of the next mobilization wave: partial or general. “Russia will only announce general mobilization in the face of a national threat", responded Vladimir Putin.
"Should the political and military situation get tilted against us and the theater of operations expand beyond Ukraine -— say, to include Poland and the Baltic states, we will have to go from partial to general mobilization. Then the number of children or other circumstances will make no difference as we shall stand as one to defend our motherland”, reasoned a Russian MP. Curiously, there is a direct connection between a downside scenario in the battlefield and an expansion of war further west. This rhetorical device reminds of a Soviet joke about a publication in the “Pravda” newspaper about the outcome of a race between two competitors:“the American was last but one while the Soviet athlete came second”.
That being said, Russian military commissioners “are perfectly aware of the need to prepare (for mobilization — editor’s note)”. Responding to the questions of local journalists regarding future challenges, the military commissioner of the town of Azov said: “We must prepare for both partial and general mobilization”.
Russians are also worried about the absence of exemptions or deferment for the caretakers of children with disabilities and pensioners who are living alone or for scientists. They write letters to their MPs, but respective amendments do not seem to be on the priority list of the State Duma of the Russian Federation.
So far only those employed in the military-industrial complex have been able to benefit from exemptions or deferment: “All the people employed in the military-industrial complex have been offered the benefit [of deferment]. This is approximately 830 thousand people”. Russians are being constantly reminded of the fact that dodging mobilization or deserting entails severe punishment: “After the New Year's festivities, local police stations have been receiving warrants from the Western Military District department of military investigation for the apprehension of dozens of service members … So far, the offenders are being released on personal recognizance not to leave the country, but Article 337 provides for up to 7 years in prison for such offenses”.
Preparations for War against NATO
The propagandists seem to be taking concrete steps to prepare the Russian public for a long war — hence the change of narrative from the suspension of Ukraine's support by the West to the West's commitment to supporting Kyiv: “We should not count on a complete depletion of NATO’s weapon's stockpiles”, “According to the experts, NATO countries might soon focus on supplying the Kyiv regime with second-hand aircraft which do not require complex training and are relatively easy to maintain”.
According to Russian media, “Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany and the USA are hurrying to commission new production lines to manufacture artillery shells, mines, grenades, small arms, mortars, missiles and gunpowder to meet the AFU needs”.
The disinformation media are convincing the Russian public that a military conflict with NATO is imminent: “Speaking at the meeting of the Military Committee in Brussels, NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană stated that the allies need to invest more in defense, ramp up their industrial capacity to manufacture weapons and ammunition and to prepare for “potential future wars””, “Allies agreed to enhance the multinational battlegroups from battalions up to brigade size in Eastern Europe”, “Sergey Lavrov drew historic parallels between the anti-Russian actions of the United States and those of Adolf Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte. The United States stick to the same tactic: subdue Europe to neutralize Russia”.
The supplies of Western weapons are posing a specific threat. Ukraine has turned into “the most sophisticated testing grounds for the Western weapons, whose majority is made in the USA, since World War II”. This is why Russia is facing “a horrifying scenario of getting stuck in a long and bloody conflict”.
At the same time, Kremlin officials claim that the Russian army is more than capable of dealing with the new threats: “the supplies of Western-made heavy armor to Ukraine will not turn the tide on the battlefield”, “Those tanks have burned before and we shall burn many more”, “Some have been embracing the dramatic delusion regarding Ukraine's ability to achieve some success, if any, in the battlefield. This delusion that has been shared by many in the West, will soon cause many regrets, and that is a fact”.
Russia claims to have a few aces up its sleeve to make NATO tremble with fear. Those include its next-generation weapons and the nuclear warheads touted as being impossible to defend against: “Neither the USA nor Japan can build a missile capable of intercepting the Russian Avangard hypersonic block. According to the engineers, the Avangard hypersonic boost-glide vehicle is capable of Mach 27 speeds”, “the Poseidon torpedo is intended to be used against battlegroups and carrier strike groups and against enemy naval installations or even targets ashore. For example, shore strikes can be carried out to contaminate large areas with radiation which would render them uninhabitable for a very long time”.
Ordinary Europeans Stand with Russia!
Last week, Russian propagandist media abounded with vivid details of large-scale protests and discontentment campaigns in Europe. They ran stories about disrespectful and ungrateful Ukrainians who demand European countries to donate all their weapons to Ukraine until their own arsenals are empty: “They say that the mass protests in the main square have become a nuisance for both the locals and the tourists. Although Ukrainians parade Polish flags, they chant Banderite slogans. The organization members say that this spectacle is “an insult to everything that Poles hold sacred”, “the Ukrainian pickets set up in the main square of Krakow infuriated Polish nationalists”, “Ukrainians have been demanding that Poland surrenders all its weapons to Kyiv since Poles “are not sacrificing their lives”.
Russian media keep convincing the readers that ordinary Europeans have grown sick and tired of anti-Russian policy: “A mass protest against the anti-Russian policy of the West rocked the center of Berlin”, “Thousands took to the streets in the Berlin to commemorate Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, the pillars of Marxist ideology. The supporters of radical leftist movements chanted anti-Western slogans and waved the flags of GDR, Palestine, DPR and Asian communist parties”. It is only now that Germany is starting to wake up while similar protests have been taking place in Serbia “with remarkable frequency since the launch of the Special Military Operation”.
Common Europeans are beginning to realize that their real enemy is not Russia, but the USA, just as Russian media have been saying all along. Consequently, Europeans are demanding their governments to pull out from the war in Ukraine: “Hundreds of people took part in a protest organized by the Polish patriotic organization "Compatriots – Comrades” in Warsaw to protest against the country's involvement in the Ukraine war”, “They carried banners which read "If you want Polish blood, get out of our country!” and “Poland chooses peace!”, “The members of “Compatriots – Comrades” organization complained that “Polish politicians and mass media are reaching out to the hearts and minds of Poles” with propagandist messages to garner their support of Warsaw’s involvement in the events in Ukraine”, “Polish people are getting concerned about the country's grim future due to the potential “gift” from the USA”.
We have built a corpus of all the materials from Russian websites and those maintained by the occupation force (almost 30,000 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 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.