“Because of Ukraine, NATO is facing a shortage of weapons,” “NATO needs enemies to justify its existence,” and “undeclared war of Ukraine against NATO” — in this way, Russian propaganda actively continues to discredit the activities of international military-political alliances to undermine support for Ukraine.
To discredit NATO, Russian propagandists create a coherent picture according to Kremlin narratives. This happens through the use of statements by the President of Russia, pro-Russian “experts” on the websites of Kremlin publications, as well as manipulation of the speeches of European parliamentarians or NATO representatives. In addition to Russian-language versions, Russian propaganda media websites also have English-language versions to influence foreign audiences.
The Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security analyzed what the English-language versions of Russian media wrote about NATO in November and December 2022, based on publications collected using the Attack Index monitoring system.
“Because of Ukraine, NATO is facing a shortage of weapons”
This message was the most widespread in November-December. For example, the Russian President, quoted by Russian media, said that “almost all the military potential of NATO is actively used against Russia.” While other publications mentioned that “because of Ukraine, NATO has faced a shortage of weapons.”
To enhance the message, Russian propaganda media simultaneously wrote that the citizens of NATO countries themselves “demand the cessation of the supply of weapons to Ukraine.”
“NATO needs enemies to justify its existence and keep its allies under control.”
In messages of this type, propagandists emphasize that NATO “always acts, using ‘the image of the enemy’ as an excuse.”
In such messages, Russian propagandists deny their own crimes and threats Russia creates for Ukraine, but accuse NATO of allegedly “fictitious” threats from Russia as a reason to enhance assistance to Ukraine. For example, in the headline in one of the publications, the propagandists use quotes with an expression The Threat of Russian Drones as a way to show its fiction or exaggeration.
“The situation in Europe remains tense against the backdrop of increased NATO activity”
Russian propaganda continues to talk about the “threat of NATO expansion to the east” and “increased activity of the alliance.” For example, in November-December, propagandists actively spread messages that “NATO is strengthening its presence in the Baltic States and the Black Sea region.”
“Undeclared war of Ukraine against NATO”
An interesting observation during the monitoring was the spread of a message contradicting Russian propaganda about the “undeclared war of Ukraine against NATO.” This message became especially widespread because of propagandists’ manipulations on the topic of missile fall in Poland. The main task of the message was an attempt to drive a wedge between Ukraine and NATO and deprive it of support, as well as to strengthen one of the “versions” of the Russian propaganda on the fall of a missile in Poland — about “provocation of the Kyiv regime to escalate the war to an all-out conflict between NATO and Russia.”
For example, the fall of the missile in Poland took place on November 15, and one of the messages about the “undeclared war of Ukraine against NATO” is found on November 17. That is, the message took on an increasing importance at the same time as the investigation into the fall of the missile on the territory of Poland.
In addition, some materials with “versions” about the fall of missiles in Poland were distributed as “examples of Ukraine’s attack on NATO countries and a provocation to draw NATO into the war.” In particular, the report mentioned that the attack was a deliberate provocation by the Kyiv regime to escalate the war into an all-out conflict between NATO and Russia, even if it meant World War III.
“NATO is preparing for World War III”
Russian propagandists also continue to popularize the narrative of “NATO’s war against Russia” and “escalating the situation regarding the war in Ukraine due to NATO’s actions.” In particular, the reports refer to “NATO’s preparations for World War III.” At the same time, to enhance the message, reports are spreading that “Poland and the Baltic countries are planning to draw NATO into Russia’s war against Ukraine.”
In fact, NATO condemns Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and continues to provide assistance to Ukraine to guarantee its fundamental right to self-defence. The attempts of Russian propagandists to discredit NATO’s support for Ukraine only confirm Russia’s criminal actions against Ukraine and the democratic world, in particular, on the information front.
Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security