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Analysis of Russian media coverage of Ukraine in August 2014

Категорія: English » Media Research

Analysis of Russian media coverage of situation in Ukraine in a 01-28 August 2014 period: TOO MANY MONSTERS

translation of the MediaSapiens publication at http://osvita.mediasapiens.ua/material/34106  (Telekritika project)

Petr Burkovskiy

Confrontation with the West may become the September’s main line for ideological excuse of intervention in Ukraine. The pro-Kyiv voice will be interpreted as a proof of West’s perfidy and secret desire “to ruin the great Russia”. Thus, the military support to separatists would not look like the war against Ukraine but rather the war against the “everlasting enemies” of Russia. 

The virtual politics world created by the committed propaganda and system censorship would never allow casting doubt over the indisputability of the sources of “information”. If a source regularly used in the past is any longer reputed as reliable or ideologically correct, it should be replaced, driven back by specially created substitutes and, eventually, forgotten.

The feature of the information war against Ukraine is the use of intra-Ukrainian sources since the Russians consider the war against Ukraine to be an “internal matter of Ukraine”. Ask Putin to be sure. And even the undisguised invasion does not change anything. Because this case has its explanation by “talking heads” of “DPR[1]”: Russian soldiers and officers “took leaves” to protect Donbas.

Recent months the Kremlin has had a job to create a multitude of sources to “inform” the audience about developments in Ukraine from organizations like “DPR” and “LPR[2]” (it sounds good in Russian: no worse than PRC or at least DPRK) and up to certain personages. They also satisfy both the domestic use by “Pervyi”, NTV and “Russia” and the international use by “Mir” and Russia Today, and even the references by the country’s top leaders and diplomats at UN Security Council.

 However, sooner or later, this mechanism would glitch since the sources work given the local context but without understanding the intra-Russian situation. So when they go beyond all bounds, they are substituted.

For instance, despite the “embarrassment” with the Malaysia Airlines Flight shoot-down, Igor Girkin (Strelkov) was still “in command of Donetsk defence” announcing new “crimes of junta and chasteners”.

For example, August 1, “Russia” — with reference to Strelkov — reported that Ukrainian forces are getting ready to use the “Tocka-U” ballistic missiles to destroy the sewage treatment facilities of Donetsk and Luhansk and to blow-up the stocks of chlorine and ammonia. The Russia’s audience would never know that in June-July the operation of water supply systems of these cities was constantly interrupted due to electricity supply shortages as a result of deliberate blow-ups of power supply lines and substations by separatists. It came out later that “Russia” and Girkin interpreted creatively the CNN’s information about the probable use of this weapon.


On July 29, Barbara Starr, an American journalist for CNN in Pentagon, reported about the use of ballistic missiles by Ukrainian army. “According to available information, the satellites of US intelligence service recorded the Ukrainian forces launching the short-range ground-to-ground ballistic missiles to the separatist-controlled territory,” as reported live.


“Russia”, “Vesti”, 04.08.2014

MFA of RF: Kyiv drawing up missile complexes “Tochka-U” to Donetsk


Apparently, the lives of civilians, military and militants are any longer of interest of Kyiv authorities. They want the war continues. This is the statement by MFA of RF as transmitted by ITAR-TASS.

“Ukrainian army keeps drawing up missile complexes “Tochka-U” to Donetsk as well as “Smerch” and “Uragan,” - noted MFA of RF. – How many other lives would be taken by this weaponry?”

“However, the lives of civilians, military and militants are any longer of interest of Kyiv authorities, - underlines the statement. – Kyiv wants the war continuation. They have already introduced the new 1.5% tax for army support.”


The same day, Lifenews “of the royal household” give the sync of Strelkov that Dnipropetrovsk paratroopers torture and kill the captives while the “militants” share the last bread with the captives.

But August 9, Strelkov-Girkin reports that the Ukrainian army has closed in on Donetsk. This statement reminds strongly the month-old calls on Russia to bring the troops the day before the get-away from Slaviansk. It seemed that the Kremlin dimed the “DPR” that time.

 And almost immediately this Girkin’s statement is overwhelmed by disclaimers, and in three days there is the news that he is “wounded” and leaves the position of “DPR Minister of Defence”. And a few days later Girkin is forced to resign, he is decorated with big enchilada of “DPR” and gets “promoted”, virtually, to exile: to form the army of “Novorossiya”.


“Vesti FM”, 09.08.2014

The head of “Donetsk People’s Republic” militants Igor Strelkov has reported Donetsk to be encircled. He alleges that Ukrainian army seized Krasny Luch town of Luhansk oblast. Consequently, Donetsk and Horlivka got isolated as reported by RIA Novosti. It was reported previously that Dontesk was shelled.


Lifenews.ru, 10.08.2014

Ukrainian army failed to encircle Donetsk

The militants regained control over Krasny Luch settlement not far from the Donetsk-Luhansk road.

The attempt of Ukrainian army to cut-off the “DPR” militant group and close in on Donetsk failed. The South-East army did not allow the Ukrainian forces to break through their defence near Krasny Luch and other settlements to the east of Donetsk. According to information of “DPR” headquarters, the militants attacked Ukrainian army with artillery to defend their positions.


“1 Channel”, “Novosti”, 17.08.2014, 21:00

Newsanchor: Ms Irada Zeinalova

People learned to survive under the shell-fire in Horlivka. But the shelling of “Stirol” plant won’t leave any chance to the town to survive. This is a dangerous facility, the Ukraine’s largest chemical company producing ammonia and mineral fertilizers. The tanks with finished products and chemical components are, as a matter of fact, weapons of mass annihilation. Despite this threat, both the “Stirol” territory and residential areas are under gunfire. None of the high consequence facilities of the plant was damaged so far.

The “Stirol” accident would result in the leakage of "blood poison” (mononytrochlorbenzol) stored at Horlivka State Chemical Plant storing. The minimum effective area, given the wind rose, river basins and Azov Sea water area, is at least 300 km. And I do not understand why this fact is suppressed by Ukrainian media,’ – says Pavel Brykov, “Stirol” press-secretary.

Instead of dismissed minister of defence of Donetsk Igor Strelkov, the Armed forces of militants will be led by his successor, native of Donetsk, Vladimir Kononov who has become known for successful defence of Shakhtersk.

It seems that the Kremlin came to conclusion that Girkin was carried away by making his own military and political assets exploiting the “Ukrainian threat” and taking credits for all war successes though they were in 99% ensured by the direct involvement of regular Russian troops subordinate to the Minister of Defence Sergey Shoygu and Commander in Chief Vladimir Putin.

The substitutes of Girkin have never pushed any claims to Russia. The main task of new sources-and-penguins: to describe the outstanding war performance in dry and colored way. It is worth noting that even the headliners of Donetsk “parade” were Ukrainian army prisoners but not the speeches of “DPR” leaders or city defence heads.


Lifenews.ru, 28.08.2014

The “DPR” army command has never made secret of that – as mentioned by Aleksandr Zakharchenko, head of government of self-proclaimed republic, for the LifeNews interview

“Today we are often asked: how could it come that the DPR army consisting of fragmented semi-guerilla units has become a strong military structure… We have never made secret that there are many Russians among us, if it was not for them it would have been much more difficult and complicated for us to make war, — said Zakharchenko. — We had about three-four thousands of them in our ranks.”

August 24, the DPR” head of government told in Donetsk LifeNews about the creation of united army. Due to making of the unique command center and consolidation of all militant groups, on August 24, the self-defence forces launched a counteroffensive and encircled two large groups of Armed Forces and National Guard of Ukraine, and the next day that blocked another attack group of enemy’s forces.


Lifenews.ru, 28.08.2014

The self-defense forces are trying to encircle an important part of the front where about a thousand of soldiers of Armed Forces of Ukraine are based.


Lifenews.ru , 28.08.2014

According to the commander, the forces attacked Ilovaisk from three sides: from Kuteynikovo, from Zelene, and from the village of Pokrovka. Militants were armed with anti-tank guns RPG-7 and SPG-9 and successfully repelled the enemy's attacks. The Ukrainian infantry was three or four times as much.


Speaking about the direct involvement of Russian servicemen in the war with Ukraine, the Russian media were suppressing this topic. Instead, the audience was told how the "militants" with their bare hands seized dozens of tanks, infantry combat vehicles (BMP) and guns abandoned by "Ukrainian soldiers", and made effective units of them. One may get intrigued how with a two-day interval LifeNews and "Russia" cite almost the same figures of the seized Ukrainian army equipment. But the LifeNews journalists say that this is the result of two-day battles, and according to the “Russia” reporters this is due to the two-month actions. However, it is unclear how the abandoned equipment is made effective in such a short period time if the region's industry and infrastructure are destroyed.

Another fantasy in the same direction is "youthification" of "DPR army" due to the growing influx of 'volunteers' of 18-30 year old. Gubarev was instructed to announce that.


Lifenews.ru, 24.08.2014 11:26

New tactics applied by the militants during the offensive has brought successful results. After continued battles in August when small units made attacks, these units were reorganized into larger detachments: three infantry brigades. Moreover, as reported by the DPR headquarters, there was a separate volunteer regiment formed of Ukrainian servicemen that joined the militant side.

“Over the last two days, based on the chastisers’ military equipment and weaponry seized as a result counteroffensive there were formed: two tank battalions, three multiple launcher rocket system battalions, two howitzer battalions, three battalions of various caliber cannon artillery and eight mortar batteries making part of the newly formed of units,“ — states the communication.


"Russia" TV Channel, "Vesti", 27.08.2014,

August 21, the hackers of KiberBerkut group posted disclosures about the actual losses of the Ukrainian army during the military operation in the Eastern Ukraine. During the period from June 20 to August 15, according to the military reports, the militants seized from the Ukrainian Army: 65 tanks T-64, 69 infantry combat vehicles (BMP), 39 armored vehicles (BTR), 24 "Grad" complexes and a lot of other weaponry.


Lifenews.ru, 26.08.2014

People’s governor of Donbas Pavel Gubarev told that volunteers became “much younger” lately: at first people over 40 joined the militants, and now the average age of volunteers to the DPR army is 18-30. So the militants won’t rest on the achievements of the last days counteroffering.

That is to say that the Russia citizens were being convinced during the August that:

  1. Ukrainian army does not withstand the pressure of “militants” and “arms” them with the numerous war equipment left.
  2. “DPR” and “LPR” protect their territory with their own forces without any assistance from the outside, and the Ukrainian side is supported by mercenaries – fascists from Europe and NATO.
  3. Ukrainian army and volunteers destroy cities, kill and torture the captives while the “militants” feed them with borsch and exchange for their comrade-in-arms.
  4. Russia, that is Vladimir Putin, wishes only to remedy the humanitarian situation in Donbas and promote the peace alongside with the appeasable Europeans.

The user of such information will have an impression that Russia does not need to interfere: the “militants” will cope with “junta” on their own. So, with the beginning of undisguised invasion into Priazovye and towards Donetsk and Luhansk, the Kremlin propagandists have encountered another task: how to explain the necessity to declare war against Ukraine if all the events were “internal matter of Ukraine”? Why did the Russian army go to Priazovye if the “humanitarian disaster” is in the invested Luhansk and Donetsk?

The initial answer is: the new offensive is developed by “militants” on their own since the Ukrainian army is almost destroyed and can only carry out sabotages against its own people, in this case, against Mariupol.

Most likely, this explanation would be used in early September. Propagandists in Russia believe that they can force Ukraine to peace as was the case for Georgia. Since in both cases the final word rested with the United States that were not going to deal with Russia seriously for the former Soviet republics especially for Ukraine taken-over by the "neo-Nazis."


TV Centre”, “Sobytia. 25th hour”,  27.08.2014.

The President of Centre for System Analysis and Forecasting Rostyslav Ischenko discussed with the host of “Sobytia. 25th hour” Aleksey Frolov the results of last Minsk Summit “Customs Union – Ukraine – EU”.

As we assumed earlier, the Putin’s team is preparing the ground for “humanitarian intervention”. Because of Boeing shoot-down, it was decided to make a pause and even to show the readiness to negotiations with Kyiv, planning the new attack meanwhile. The Mariupol attack was supposed to create a new pretext to remind Russians about the “evil grin” of “Kyiv junta” and return the audience to the need to “free Donbas” including by means of war and new round of tension with the West.

This is for the confrontation with the West to be the main line for ideological excuse of intervention in Ukraine in September. The pro-Kyiv voice will be interpreted as a proof of West’s perfidy and secret desire “to ruin great Russia”. Thus, the military support to separatists would not look like the war against Ukraine, but rather the war against the “everlasting enemies” of Russia.

However, the propagandists have nothing in case of a sudden failure of military actions and the increased loss of Russian servicemen. Nothing but another change of décor and sources. The goals will remain the same.

[1] DPR is Donetsk People’s Republic

[2] LPR is Luhansk People’s Republic