The West fears that Russia is about to attack Ukraine. But the Russians ain’t seeing it this way on TV – Henry’s Club

If you’re watching state TV in Moscow, you see videos of soldiers and tanks, barbed wire and snipers targeting, but it’s not Russia’s military that is ready to attack – it’s NATO.

Welcome to Russia’s mirror-image depiction of the showdown over Ukraine. In the country’s alternative media landscape, NATO forces are executing a plan that has been in the works for years: encircle Russia, topple President Vladimir Putin, and take control of Russia’s energy resources.

In Moscow’s view, repeated in nearly every newscast and talk show, Ukraine is a failed state controlled by the utterly “puppet master”—the United States. Europe is a vulnerable and divided collection of lap dogs taking orders from Washington. Even as frightening as America is, it is vulnerable and divided, torn by political division and racial unrest.

but wait. How can those powers be a threat – and vulnerable at the same time? This is one of the puzzles of Russian state propaganda. Thinking about things is not what they are trying to encourage. Rather, they are trying to raise the blood pressure of their audience – and to scare them terribly.

The leading political news show of Russian state TV, Dmitry Kiselyov’s “Vesti Nedeli” (“News of the Week”), opened last sunday Kiselyov said: “Instead of responding to the peaceful initiative of the Kremlin, they are burying us with accusations and new threats.”
Any sign of disagreement between Europe and the US or NATO is headline news in Russia, and Kiselev’s comments have been illustrated by one of the show’s top stories. Germany’s naval chief that Putin “deserves respect” And that Crimea—a Ukrainian territory occupied by Moscow—is “gone forever.” The report ended on a satisfied note that the officer had to resign.

Ukraine may not be caught in a full-blown invasion for now, but there is already an all-out war of words in the Russian media.

The US government’s statements have been dismissed as comments by the “Ministry of Information” and Dmitry Peskov has accused Washington of “information frenzy,” “lies” and “fake” because of Putin. (The word “fake” is now a Russian word with the same pronunciation as in English.)

And Russia’s state TV map shows Russia’s ally Belarus surrounded by NATO forces, with Western media reports showing Ukraine surrounded on three sides by Russian troops.

Allegations of possible Russian attacks on Ukraine have been dismissed as a “quasi-mythical threat from Russia” or “Russophobia” from the “Anglo-Saxons”.

The tension is not high because of Russia, the Kremlin says – it is because of NATO.

In a striking piece of mirror-image propaganda, Russian TV has resumed broadcasts with a translation of comments by Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson, whose anti-NATO and anti-US President Joe Biden aligns neatly with the Kremlin’s line. Huh. “She [Carlson] Must be on your show!” a guest on a Russian talk show told the anchor.

The state media attack seems to be having an effect. A December poll by the non-governmental polling and sociological research organization Levada-Center showed that Half the blame US and NATO For the tension, while only 3% to 4% blame Russia.

The survey found that more than half of Russians believed the crisis in Ukraine would not escalate into a war between Russia and Ukraine, with more than a third (39%) saying they thought war was “inevitable” or “inevitable”. “Very likely.” “A quarter said it’s possible they think a war between Russia and NATO”

In another survey by Levada-Center, also from December, more than half (56%) said Relations between Russia and NATO have seriously deterioratedHighest result since the start of conflict with Ukraine in 2014. And more than half (56%) say they are worried there will be a world war.
Many Russians think they are being dragged into war by the West, According to a focus group organized by PaheliAn online magazine on Russian affairs.

“Russia will have to answer… We are being pinched from all sides; they are cutting us off. What are we expected to do? Give up?” A focus group respondent said.

Meanwhile, Levada-Center pollsters say Russians are “mentally exhausted” by the topic of Ukraine, which, they say, “appears to be imposed by major media outlets.”

As a result, viewers do not analyze the news or double-check what they hear from TV show hosts.

Certainly, the Russian media landscape is changing, as the younger generation goes online to seek information. But most alternative news outlets in Russia have been shut down or marginalized – and the parallel reality of the Kremlin dominates the airwaves.

Jill Dougherty is a former CNN foreign affairs correspondent and Moscow bureau chief with expertise in Russia and the former Soviet Union.