Russian state media and diplomats last week tweeted 16,941 times, generating 191,154 retweets and 575,694 likes.
Kremlin-affiliated accounts last week barely mentioned a Russian bomb that killed at least 22 Ukrainians and injured 50 more at a train station on Ukraine’s Independence Day. State media and diplomats posted only four tweets that referenced “Chaplino” or “Chaplyne,” which are variations on the name of the town where the attack took place. The handful of tweets about the incident insisted that Russia struck a military train, with one tweet saying that Kyiv had lied in the past about military trains being full of civilians. Instead of focusing on Russia’s aggression, Moscow-linked accounts asserted Kyiv was celebrating its independence by “carrying out medieval-era punishments” and scattering mines in residential areas. Embassy accounts said that Ukraine’s government was the only threat to the country’s independence, adding that Kyiv’s “Russophobia and glorification of Nazism” was “leading to the destruction of Ukraine.” Others claimed that Ukraine had not been independent since a 2014, when a “coup d état” established external control over the country. RT also mocked UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his trip to Ukraine on its Independence Day, and various accounts criticized a new US aid package, claiming it was making US war contractors rich.
Russian propagandists also accused Ukraine of “nuclear terrorism” as fighting continued around the Zaporizhzhia power plant. Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations claimed that Russia is not using the plant for “military purposes.” Other diplomatic accounts tweeted precise details about the types of bombs used around the plant and where they landed. Russia’s UK Embassy asserted the Ukraine’s “Western patrons” were helping Kyiv commit “nuclear blackmail.” State media also blamed Ukraine when the nuclear plant was briefly disconnected from the national power grid.
Moscow-linked accounts continued to highlight Europe’s struggle to find alternatives to Russian gas. State media accounts showcased European gas prices hitting $3,300 per cubic gallon for the first time since March and warned that prices could increase to $5,000 by the end of the year. Sputnik host George Galloway tweeted a poll asking, “Are you prepared to pay for the Ukraine War through increased energy prices?” Galloway also retweeted a sarcastic post saying that a “single mother shivering in the cold with her baby” would be happy to pay more for gas to help Ukraine. Helena Villar, an RT en Español correspondent, suggested the United States incited the war in Ukraine to sell more gas to Europe at a higher price. Meanwhile, RT en Español said that Russia could leave Europe without gas for a year before it hurt the Russian economy, and RT reported that Moscow and Tehran were working to create a “global gas cartel” to better control prices.
State media also weighed in on US politics. Some accounts attacked President Joe Biden’s decision to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt as an “effort to buy votes” that would “cause inflation to balloon further” and as a “transfer of wealth from the working class” to the “privileged elite.” Others argued it wasn’t enough to alleviate the struggles of those repaying loans. State media accounts also retweeted commentary from fringe and far-right US figures, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Rep. Lauren Boebert, former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, and Tucker Carlson. Radio Sputnik host Lee Stranahan claimed that the “New World Order wants Donald Trump arrested,” which is a reference to a broad conspiracy theory that posits international elites are working to enslave the world.
Monitored Chinese accounts tweeted 18,442 times last week, pulling in 122,559 retweets and 461,394 likes.
“Chongqing,” the city hardest hit by the extraordinary heat affecting many parts of China, was the most frequent key phrase and second most frequent hashtag in tweets from Chinese diplomats and state media last week. “Drought” and “firefighters” were also among the ten most frequent key phrases. The wildfires, which were caused by a record-breaking heatwave, provided an opportunity for diplomats to play to Chinese patriotism by exalting the bravery of those who helped. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying vaunted a “brave, audacious nation,” the deputy consul general in Auckland highlighted the “gratitude and love” the locals showed to the soldiers who were fighting the fires, and a cultural counselor in Pakistan mused that “the army and the people are as inseparable as fish and water.” And while the ambassador to the United States shared images of an American teacher volunteering to fight the fire, the consul general in Osaka contrasted hard-working Chinese firefighters with their Californian colleagues, who he said let fires continue to rage while they were “on vacation.”
Chinese diplomatic and state media also paid substantial attention last week to the flooding in Pakistan. While some, like the ambassador to ASEAN and the consul general in Belfast, extended sympathies to China’s “Pakistani brothers,” the bulk of Chinese content highlighted aid provided by Beijing. The most frequent term in Chinese tweets about Pakistan last week was “tents” as the Chinese Embassy in Pakistan, the consul general in Karachi, officials in Beijing, and state media personalities promoted the various items China was providing to Pakistan.
While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) was in recess last week and did not give its habitual daily press conferences, its spokespeople still put out five short statements over the course of the week, four of which pertained to Taiwan. On Monday, the MFA pushed back briefly against the governor of Indiana’s visit to the island. On Tuesday, it complained in a bit more detail about the visit of a Japanese lawmaker. And on Friday, it formally protested the visit of US Senator Marsha Blackburn. Although Blackburn had already been the target of Chinese state media’s insults, her visit drew only a tiny fraction of the attention that US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s trip drew a few weeks ago. Still, the consul general in Belfast called the US senator from Tennessee “a true fool,” while state media employees portrayed her as attention-seeking, said she was “losing her mind,” and accused her of honoring a “deceased corrupted dictator.”
Chinese diplomats and state media also repeated Taiwan-related talking points they had used in previous weeks. MFA spokesman Zhao Lijian accused the United States of only caring about the island for “hegemony.” The former ambassador to the United Kingdom similarly claimed the United States was the prime destabilizing force in the Taiwan Strait. Hua Chunying amplified Pink Floyd singer Roger Waters’ anti-Western rhetoric once again. And the Global Times continued hyping up the People’s Liberation Army’s confrontational statements about the island. Chinese accounts remained singularly focused on Nancy Pelosi with her name still being mentioned more than 70 times last week.
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