Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday threatened that Russia would hit targets in Ukraine “that we have not yet attacked” if Kyiv receives long-range missiles from the United States. The warning capped a week of propaganda meant to deter the United States from sending advanced weaponry to Ukraine. Earlier in the week, former Russian president Dmitri Medvedev said that if U.S.-provided missiles were to hit Russian cities, Moscow would “strike the centres where these criminal decisions are made,” adding that “some of them aren’t in Kiev.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called Ukraine’s demand for U.S. missiles “a provocation.” The Kremlin’s spokesperson said he didn’t trust Ukraine’s pledge to not strike Russia with U.S. weapons as Tass reported that Ukraine’s SBU intelligence agency was planning to hit Russia with long-range missiles. Kremlin-affiliated accounts also highlighted that Western countries are enduring inflation issues while spending billions of dollars on weapons for Ukraine, some of which they argued will end up on the black market. Russian officials also claimed that weapons shipments are meant to stretch out the conflict and that Ukraine was just a U.S. tool being used against Russia.
Russian diplomats and state media also continued to deny responsibility for a global food crisis that experts say was sparked by Moscow’s decision to invade Ukraine. President Putin argued that the global food shortage began with the outbreak of Covid-19, not Russia’s “special military operation.” He blamed the West and Ukraine for exasperating the pandemic’s effects on food supplies. Russian diplomats promised that the Russian Navy would help “ensure safe passage” of food out of Ukraine if Kyiv “demines its territorial waters.” They also claimed the West had “artificially created” the food crisis as part of a “media stunt.” Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted a link to an 11-page document that “debunked” eight myths about the crisis. The paper attempted to rebut accusations that Russia was intentionally destroying Ukrainian agriculture facilities, blocking grain shipments, and weaponizing food supplies to counter Western sanctions.
Kremlin-affiliated accounts also kept up their propaganda push against Western bans on Russian energy exports. Sputnik argued that the EU “shot blindly” with its most recent round of restrictions on Russian oil. RT Arabic asked, “Will Europe’s economy collapse because of Russia’s oil embargo?” State-funded media claimed the EU’s drive to find alternative energy suppliers would cause an energy shortage in Asia and force EU states to rely on gas exporters with weak climate policies. They also asserted that the United States was seeking to capitalize on the crisis by gaining a greater share of Europe’s energy market. At the same time, Russian officials said their oil and gas exports would increase this year, and state media cited an increase in energy sales to China and India. RT also covered Russian gas giant Gazprom’s decision to cut supplies to Denmark, noting Copenhagen’s refusal to pay for gas in rubles.
Russian propagandists remained focused on depicting Russia’s war as a success, Ukraine’s military as full of Nazis, and the West as an obstacle to peace. State media reporters amplified a tweet that cited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s statement that Russian forces occupy around one-fifth of Ukraine. State-backed outlets circulated reports that officials in the Russia-occupied Kherson region wanted to hold a referendum to join the Russian Federation. Diplomats continued to push claims that Ukrainian forces had committed war crimes. Taking the homophobic route, RT Arabic reported that Ukraine had started forming “gay military units.” And, as usual, state media and diplomats asserted that the West was preventing Ukraine from moving forward in peace negotiations.
“Xinjiang” was the third most frequent key phrase and seventh most frequent hashtag in Chinese diplomats and state media’s tweets last week. The consul general in Belfast called democracies’ criticism of the UN high commissioner for human rights’ visit to the region “hysterical,” the Chinese director general for European Affairs described China’s critics as “immoral and hypocritical,” and the Chinese MFA repeated its accusation that “the allegation of genocide in Xinjiang is the lie of the century.”
Chinese accounts also spent much of last week lambasting the United States in response to U.S. pressure over the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang—perhaps to distract from international criticism. Eight of the ten most retweeted tweets from Chinese diplomats and state media last week attacked the United States. The most engaged with tweet for last week came from a Chinese diplomat in St. Petersburg, Russia, who suggested that the U.S. treatment of Native Americans was far worse than the CCP’s treatment of minorities. Many others repeated this theme, including MFA spokesperson Zhao Lijian, Deputy Foreign Minister Hua Chunying, the Chinese ambassador to South Africa, the consul general in Kolkata, as did CGTN and its affiliate T-House. In addition, on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesperson Zhao Lijian responded to various reporters’ questions during the MFA’s daily press conferences with long diatribes against all aspects of U.S. governance.
The consul general in Beirut and Hua Chunying also criticized U.S. interventionism in the Middle East, Zhao Lijian and T-House called the country’s defense of democratic values hypocritical, and both the deputy consul general in Auckland and Zhao Lijian drew attention to racism against American minorities. The former Chinese ambassador to the United Kingdom and the Chinese ambassador to Malta were among several Chinese voices blaming the United States for the state of U.S.-China relations.
Chinese diplomats and state media mostly ignored the 33rd anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. However, the former editor in chief of the Global Times portrayed the pro-democracy protest of 1989 as a “color revolution” and argued that the incident was a “watershed” moment that allowed China to grow “into a new super power.” The spokesperson for the Chinese Mission to the UN also responded to a State Department message commemorating the protests with whataboutism, saying that the United State’s shouldn’t point fingers at others.
“Shanghai” was the most frequent key phrase and fourth most frequent hashtag in Chinese diplomats and state media’s tweets last week. The main narrative across the board was that the city had beaten Covid and that life there was back to normal.
Chinese diplomats and state media continue to push pro-Russian content, such as CGTN video segments minimizing the impact of Western sanctions on the Russian economy and portraying NATO as the main culprit behind the war.
Explore the Hamilton 2.0 Dashboard.