Along with the discussion of the current situation at the front, where the emphasis is placed on the war not with Ukraine, but with the “collective West”, the second most relevant topic of conversation in the propagandists’ programs is the Shanghai cooperation forum in Samarkand, in which Putin participated. Propagandists claim that the mentioned forum is the best proof that a large part of the world supports Russia and that talking about the country’s isolation is simply ridiculous.
Russian “holy war”
Kremlin propagandists Olga Skabeyeva, Margarita Simonyan and Solovyov are forced to admit in their broadcasts that the Russian army has made mistakes in its actions. At the same time, in order not to humiliate the armed forces in the eyes of the public, it is emphasized that Russia alone is at war with the entire NATO bloc.
The current successes of the Ukrainian army are said to be relatively small and short-lived, and the Russian army will regain the lost territories in the near future. At the same time, Solovyov expressed dissatisfaction that such losses were even possible and called for an assessment of whether any betrayal or sabotage had taken place. The propagandist also called for the restoration of wartime rural courts in order to quickly deal with traitors and deserters.
Propaganda broadcasters, especially “60 Minutes” host Skabeeva, also expressed their displeasure that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was allowed to come to the liberated Izyumsk and participate in the Ukrainian flag-raising ceremony. Skabeeva is said to have come to a very peculiar conclusion – she does not touch Zelensky because she wants him to stand before a fair trial.
In order to reassure the public about the Russian losses at the front, almost all programs included stories of so-called war correspondents and interviews with the commander of the special unit “Ahmet” Apti Alaudinov, in which it was emphasized that the Russians had stabilized the front line and that large reserve forces had arrived, thus Ukrainians will not have any success in the near future. At the same time, military experts are forced to admit that the initiative is currently on the side of the Ukrainians and the Russians are forced to defend themselves, waiting to see which side will strike next. Also, the propagandists’ messages are dominated by false statements that there are almost no Ukrainians in the armed forces of Ukraine and that almost every third soldier is a mercenary of a NATO country. In addition, with their characteristic xenophobia, ideologues emphasize that the majority of mercenaries are black.
Regarding the successful attacks of the Ukrainian armed forces on Russian military facilities in the occupied Kherson region, Hristo Grozev, the leading expert of the international journalistic research center “Bellingcat”, says: “Russian state media have to make difficult decisions on whether to acknowledge/report the successful Ukrainian strikes on targets in the occupied territories. For now, they have chosen to make it public (it’s hard to hide it anyway) but portray the attacks as if they were targeting civilian infrastructure.”
In order to mobilize the public, which feels a certain panic after the losses of the Russian army, all Kremlin ideologues and so-called military experts emphasize that this is a “holy war” comparable to the Great Patriotic War, and the future existence and survival of the Russian state depends on its outcome. It is claimed that if the war is lost, the Russian ethnos will be destroyed and wiped off the face of the earth. This is exactly the American plan, which is being implemented by the hands of Ukraine.
Solovyov, in order to make the audience understand exactly what is happening at the front, states that the Russian soldiers say that they are at war with the Germans, that is, the enemy is equated with the fascists, that is, the Germans. Therefore, the sentiment of the Second World War, when the entire Russian society heroically fought against the hated “fritzes”, is brought up to date.
The level of aggression is also evidenced by hate speech directed against Moldova, because its leadership supports Ukraine.
Such civil infrastructures are not carried at all
A whole host of propagandists and various experts also expressed their excitement over the Russian missile strikes on the Ukrainian city of Kryvyi Rih, firing on a hydroelectric dam, which resulted in massive flooding in the city. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi said of the incident: “Your attacks, Russian missile strikes on the Kriviyrich dam, an object that has no military value whatsoever, were actually an attack on hundreds of thousands of peaceful citizens.”
Meanwhile, the Russian military claims that during the war there is no such concept as “civilian infrastructure”, therefore all infrastructure objects are a legitimate target. In propaganda broadcasts, there are also constant calls to return Ukraine to the Stone Age by cutting off the electricity and water supply. Quite cynically, it is claimed that Russia will offer to move to the civilian population for whom this would cause huge problems, while those who will remain in Ukraine will be Zelensky’s headache.
It is no wonder that Russian propaganda broadcasts mockingly talk about the discovery of mass graves in the liberated Izjumsk and the testimonies of torture and atrocities that took place there. The propagandists emphasize that this is all staged, just like the crimes discovered in the Ukrainian city of Buch. Meanwhile, the international journalistic research center “Bellingcat”, which is engaged in documenting war crimes and collecting evidence, states that there are indisputable and proven evidences of war crimes committed by the Russians in Izjumsk.
It should be noted that the US “Institute for the Study of War” (ISW) in its September 18 assessment of the Russian claim that the front line has been stabilized and that huge reserves have arrived, writes: “It seems that Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasingly relying on irregular, poorly trained” ad hoc” volunteer units, rather than trying to rebuild undermined or destroyed conventional units of the Russian ground forces. (..) Russian forces are also increasingly recruiting prisoners, involving Cossack units, deploying Russian security services such as the Russian Federal Security Service and the Rosguard, as well as covertly mobilizing men from the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The continued focus on creating irregular units has drawn some criticism from retired Russian officers, who call for the formation of conventional divisions rather than volunteer battalions. Professional soldiers are likely to face behavioral problems among conscripted prisoners because especially , given the predominance of inmates convicted of violent crimes, drugs and rape. All of these groups have different levels of military training, decentralized command structures, and different perceptions of war and motivations for fighting, which make conflict and poor unit coordination possible. The only thing they have in common is completely inadequate training and preparation for warfare.”
Putin’s failures in Asia
Propagandists praise the Shanghai Cooperation Forum held in Samarkand, where Putin met with leaders of several Asian countries, including Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping. The public is told that the countries represented at the forum, which unite 40% of the world’s population, fully support Russia in its invasion of Ukraine, and this is a clear confirmation that Russia is definitely not in international isolation. The Shanghai Cooperation Forum proves that Putin’s much-touted multipolar world without US hegemony has emerged. Asian countries represent the free world and its leader is Putin’s Russia. There is a lot of talk about the fact that the successful cooperation between Russia, India and China is the biggest “nightmare” of the Western world, because it threatens the existing world order.
Contrary to these propaganda stories, Russian opposition journalists and political scientists, such as Andrei Piontkovsky, point out that Putin was treated like a loser by state leaders in Samarkand. This is clearly evidenced by the fact that before bilateral meetings, Putin had to wait a long time for the arrival of the leaders of other countries, which would have been unthinkable before. A certain attitude is also evidenced by the fact that when Putin arrived in Samarkand, he was not greeted by the President of Uzbekistan, but by the Prime Minister, at the plane’s gangway. Also, Putin spent a large part of the time of the forum justifying the war started in Ukraine and was forced to listen to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that today’s world is not an era of war, but of diplomacy.
It should be noted that no significant agreements, neither economic nor military, were signed during the Shanghai Forum. Influential portal “Politico” writes: “Xi issued a carefully worded statement: “In the face of a changing world, changing times and historical changes, China is ready to work with Russia to demonstrate the responsibility of major powers and leading powers to increase stability and positive energy in a chaotic world. This is a far cry from the “no-holds-barred” partnership announced just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Xi also said China will resolutely support Kazakhstan in defending its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. It should be noted that the President of Kazakhstan Tokayev already announced in June that he does not recognize such quasi-state formations as the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.
Piontkovsky, giving his assessment of Putin’s participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Forum, said that the Russian leader had gone to meet his new hosts. And the leaders of the big Asian countries have clearly made Putin understand that it is they who are conducting the parade. The European Foreign Affairs Council emphasizes that the Uzbek organizers of the forum have made it clear that they do not want the summit to turn into an anti-Western meeting, while Kazakh officials have repeatedly stated that they will not support Russia’s war against Ukraine. The leaders of the two countries have also avoided discussing global geopolitical problems, preferring to talk about regional projects in which Russia does not play an important role. Rather, they include infrastructure investments by China and Turkey that will effectively allow Central Asian countries to bypass Russia and diversify their export routes.