Russian state media and diplomats extensively covered the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan last week, with Afghanistan ranking as the third most mentioned country and “Taliban” as one of the top 10 key phrases by monitored accounts. Notable narratives in last week’s Russian state media coverage of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan emphasized the idea that the U.S. mission was ultimately ineffective, at times drawing parallels with the Vietnam War and accusing the United States of not learning from history. The Russian Foreign Minister was particularly blunt in his assessment, stating that the withdrawal was an admission of “failure.” Some examples suggested that the United States cannot be considered a reliable ally, while others noted Russia’s stated readiness to step in on regional security, particularly with regard to Tajikistan. RT also took the occasion to again question President Biden’s mental fitness. While coverage of the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse primarily consisted of updates on emerging information, some Russian state media commentators described him as a “puppet,” and Russian officials expressed particular concern about the U.S. citizenship of some of those detained in connection with the attack. Haiti ranked as the fourth most mentioned country last week, trailing only Russia, the United States, and Afghanistan. As usual, Russian diplomats and state media also continued to tout Sputnik V. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova accused France of “racism” after the French Secretary of State for European Affairs argued that the EU should not register Russian (and Chinese) vaccines. State media also continued to highlight reported side effects of Western vaccines. Finally, Russian state media weighed in on the row between the EU and Hungary over the country’s anti-LGBTQ law, claiming that the dispute “underpins why European integration will never work.”

For the second consecutive week, Chinese state media and government officials celebrated the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) birthday, as evidenced by the appearance of “CPC” and “Communist Party of China” among the most used key phrases. Aside from the CCP’s centennial and the usual commentary about Xinjiang and the coronavirus, the World Political Parties Summit, which was held shortly after the CCP’s centennial and served as a platform for the party to engage in party-to-party diplomacy across the world, dominated Chinese outputs last week. “World Political Parties Summit” was the eighth most-used key phrase last week, outpacing “vaccines” and “Xi Jinping,” who delivered the keynote address at the summit. Xi used the speech as an opportunity to highlight the CCP’s desire to set the tone for global governance and promote its values on the world stage. Chinese officials also took veiled swipes at the United States, contrasting the United States’ “my country first” mentality with China’s vision of the world as a “global community with a shared future.” Foreign Minister Spokesperson Hua Chunying also emphasized the role that China plays in championing the “common values of humanity,” specifically through the promotion of “tolerance toward the understanding of values by different civilizations.” China also continued its vaccine diplomacy last week, once again highlighting deliveries of Chinese-produced vaccines to developing countries, while largely ignoring concerns over the efficacy of those vaccines.

Last week, Iranian press and government accounts roundly mocked the ongoing U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, calling the mission a failure based on “twenty years of lies.” In its coverage, Press TV published an op-ed from a frequent contributor to Russian state media who called the West’s legacy in Afghanistan “sordid and cruel.” Other posts tried to frame Iran as the responsible actor and regional peacemaker today, while Foreign Minister Zarif told an Afghan delegation gathered in Tehran that included Taliban representatives to “seize the day.” Coverage of the Taliban, however, was mixed in Iranian media. One story warned that they may become the new U.S. proxy in the region. Another covered an armed protest by Afghan women against the Taliban. Still others reassured readers of friendly relations between Iran and the Taliban forces that have occupied the Afghan side of the Iran-Afghanistan border. In other news, Press TV and IRNA provided substantial coverage of the discovery of mass graves at Canadian residential schools that once housed indigenous children, many of whom were forcibly taken from their communities. Some headlines focused on factual details, like the recent handover of certain child welfare responsibilities from the government to indigenous groups. Others attempted simply to score points against Canada, with one flippantly declaring “Dear Canada! Schools are supposed to be children’s second home not their eternal home.” Another lamented that “it also seems one particular name is missing from UN’s child-killer list.” The former article included an image of a school with a coffin for a door, while the latter included a maple leaf outline formed from pictures of dead schoolchildren. In domestic news, as scorching heat led to rolling blackouts across Iran last week while grid operators struggled to meet demand, stories circulated of traitors arrested for sabotage at Iranian power plants. One story claimed that crypto-miners were a major contributor and praised a joint operation between the Energy Ministry and law enforcement to shutdown such operations. Allegations also spread suggesting that key energy officials live overseas or in fancy hotels and are unaffected by the crisis at home.

The views expressed in GMF publications and commentary are the views of the author alone.