Bad Poles and Good Wagnerites. Russian Media Monitoring Report, 24-30 April 2023.

Russian media are convinced that the Ukrainian counteroffensive is going to flop. They reported that Russia would capture the entire city of Bakhmut within days. The propagandists blasted the Poles for Russophobia and lack of diplomatic etiquette and threatened with decisive response.

Russian media also claimed “nearly complete Polonization” of Ukrainians and even came up with a fake story on the association of churches in Ukraine led by the Vatican-financed Uniates.

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


Follow the trending topics of Russian disinformation on our interactive dashboard“Disinformation about the War in Ukraine”

SVO to Bring Water for the People of Donbas

Russian media keep convincing their audiences that Bakhmut is about to fall. Although such forecasts have continued for many months, the propagandist media exhibit remarkable confidence saying that “the “musicians” need to cover a tiny built-up stretch of 1.5 km to eradicate the AFU defenses of Bakhmut”.

According to the disinformation media, “The armed forces of Russia have cut the AFU supply lines in Artyomovsk (Bakhmuteditor’s note). Ukrainian troops are still able to use the westward road, but they lose some of their reserves with every run”. Those reports follow the lines of the stories covered in one of our earlier disinformation monitoring reports.

The facts presented on propagandist media are often contradictory. Some report that the city is being stormed only by the mercenaries: “It is worth noting that the offensive operations in Bakhmut are being carried our exclusively by the members of the assault units of Wagner PMC”. Others, however, also report on the involvement of the regular army: “Russian airborne troops contained the AFU on the north and south outskirts of the city”.

The Russians claim to be ready for the Ukrainian counteroffensive which, they say, is destined to fail. One of the reasons for such confidence is the increased activity of the Russian air force and the tactics of the Russian army: “The new tactics of the Russian army have created a huge problem for the AFU”. To raise the Russians’ morale, the disinformation media reported on “the new displays of bravery of the Russian troops who are carrying out missions in the area of the special military operation”.

Russian public figures have already dubbed the counteroffensive “the attack of the West”: “According to the statement of Russian senator Aleksey Pushkov, ... the counteroffensive announced by Ukraine appears to be a joint operation of the West with Ukrainian branding”, “The West is going all in with the so-called “Ukrainian counteroffensive”, but one thing is as clear as day: this is their operation from A to Z”. If Ukraine succeeds, the media will lament that it was all NATO because Ukrainians “cannot tell the muzzle of a gun from its butt”.

Russian media also revealed a new objective of the SMO (the term used in Russia to refer to the war in Ukraine — editor’s note): restoring water supply in Donbas: “the supply of water to the cities of our republics directly depends on the SMO progress. The military are doing their absolute best to advance the day when the people of Donbas will all have access to clean water”. It is hard to say what prevented the occupation government from doing it before: all they did was to complain about the mess left by the Ukrainian authorities: “For the last nine years we have only been able to repair select elements of the water supply system which are badly in need of overhaul. The government of Ukraine let them rot for all those years!

For more details about the real problems caused by the dewatering of Donbas read our articles here and here.


Once again, Poland has become the focus of Russian propaganda.

The propagandist media claimed that the Poles are “throwing Ukraine under the bus”: “Poland has decided to pull the plug on supporting Ukraine because of the competition in the grain market”.

At the same time, Russian media claim that Poland is eying Ukrainian territories: “Imperial hallucinations are hurling the Polish society into the turmoil of painful historic withdrawal. Warsaw elites are dreaming about exacting geopolitical revenge on Russia by bringing the outcomes of Pereyaslav Rada into question among other things. Considering today's circumstances, the arrogant Poland seems to feel that the time to annex the remnants of Ukraine is either now or never”.

This idea was reiterated by the Deputy Head of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmytro Medvedev: “In his recent statement, Medvedev remarked that the government of Poland had returned to the idea of restoring the union between Poland and Ukraine to bring back the glory of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth which had ruled from sea to sea”.

However, it was the bailiff actions following the judgment of the District Court in Warsaw which had ordered the Russian Federation to hand over the property in Warsaw occupied by the Russian embassy that truly enraged the propagandists. It was said that the building, which had been ordered to hand over, housed a school and the quarters of Russian diplomats. Now, the building is empty and needs repair.

Russia followed with a swift response: “Warsaw took a brazen step which goes beyond all standards of civilized interstate communication. Such arrogance will not be left without our harsh reaction and severe consequences for the Polish government and Polish interests in Russia”, “Warsaw does not deserve diplomatic relations with Russia”. Russian media dished out threats saying “Russian Federation shall not be intimidated and will bring its wrath upon Poland sooner or later. Warsaw's steps to take its anti-Russian provocations to a new level usher in an escalation in the whole of Eastern Europe”.

To make the offense sound personal, the disinformation media used their favorite tool — comments of foreign media readers: “The readers of Die Welt strongly denounced the taking over of the Russian school in Warsaw and called it “petty revenge”.

Also in the News:

The propagandists moaned about the termination of Russian media’s darling Tucker known for his anti-Ukrainian views who had been fired unceremoniously from Fox News: “According to earlier reports, Tucker Carlson, who had never hesitated to criticize the US President Joe Biden, departed Fox News”. The propagandists explained the move to fire the controversial TV presenter with his critical position on Joe Biden's policy: “Carlson often criticized the US administration and president Joe Biden in particular”, “He never hesitated to say that the 2020 presidential election in the United States was rigged, and those public statements sealed his fate”.

Russian propagandists loved to quote Carlson who was convinced that the US and Russia are better off as friends, not enemies: “According to Carlson, the careless actions of American politicians may seriously strain the relations between Washington and Moscow”.

He was portrayed as a brave whistle-blower who exposed the crimes committed by the US: “At the end of March, he said that the statements of the president and the White House officials on the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 explosions may become the most ridiculous lies of the American government of the year”.

Russian media also claimed that a new church union in Ukraine is in the works, and that Rome is using its resources to make it happen: “What seemed to be absolutely impossible is now taking shape: the establishment of a single church of the Ukrainian Uniates and Orthodox Christians is on the agenda. The Uniates backed up by the Pope’s blessing and resources will surely take the lead in the process while the UOC will have to play second fiddle”, “The process will be further facilitated by the proposed switch to the Latin alphabet being promoted by both the right-wing nationalists and the pro-Western liberals. The move will provide an impetus for the creeping Polonization of today's Ukraine”.

The propagandists expressed dissatisfaction with the growth of global defense spending: “According to the recent assessment by SIPRI, worldwide schizophrenia is at an all-time high”, “Global defense spending grew up to USD 2.224 trillion in 2022 reaching the highest level over the last eight years”. They emphasized that it was Europe and Ukraine in particular that had upped their defense spending: “Europe's defense spending grew 13% last year. However, it was nothing compared to the “nezalezhna” which spent a record-breaking 640% more than the previous year”.


The Methodology

We have built a comprehensive corpus of all the materials from Russian websites and those maintained by the occupation force (approximately 34,000 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 contain 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.


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