Between imaginary threats and hysteria: How Russia dominates Western headlines


Russia’s actions, both imaginary and real, recently became front page news, as the western MSM reported on Vladimir Putin’s plans to nuke Europe or about Russian warships in the English Channel. One UK magazine even dedicated an entire issue to Putin.

However, the Spectator, a British conservative weekly with a total circulation of about 71,700 copies, did not just engage in a Russia-bashing exercise so characteristic of the UK tabloids lately, when it came out with a cover featuring the Russian president.

The cover of the magazine, one of the oldest continuously published magazines in English, plays on an iconic Soviet WWII poster, but instead of Mother Russia calling on its sons to go to arms against the Nazi invaders it features the Russian president apparently leading an army of broadcasting dishes headed by RT at a media offensive. “Putin vs the world: He’s winning, in propaganda and on the ground,” the cover proclaims.

The issue itself contains two long articles that that partly contradict each other. A piece by Paul Wood elaborates on a usual western Russophobic fear – the possibility of Russia invading the Baltic States and plunging the continent into a war. It thoroughly describes fears of the Baltic States as well as those of Sweden, Norway and Poland concerning potential “Russian threat.”

The article refers to a number of sources ranging from Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite’s statements, in which she called Russian Iskander missiles deployment in Kaliningrad region an “open demonstration of power and aggression against not [just] the Baltic states but against European capitals.”

Though in fact, the Russian missiles were deployed to the Kaliningrad region as part of an exercise that came as a response to the NATO drills across the border.

Then it goes on to describe what it calls “a future history novel” called 2017: War with Russia by a retired British general, Richard Shirreff and mentions a study by the Rand Corporation, which says that “a Russian invasion of Estonia and-Latvia would be complete in as little as 36 hours.”

The article is also constantly interspersed with horror stories about the “old KGB headquarters in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius” and claims that “one-third of [Lithuania’s] population killed or deported to Siberia during the-Soviet occupation.”


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