Briefs

Lithuania: 2-9 January 2017

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Pro-Kremlin media furthers the narrative of a “new world order” and equates the current political situation in the United States with the 1917 Russian Revolution.

Event: On 9 January, rubaltic.ru—a pro-Kremlin website in Kaliningrad, Russia—published an article titled “2017 is the beginning of a new phase of history.” It argued that the United States has failed in its role as a global leader and that its efforts to establish a world order according to the U.S. standards of “democracy” have come to nothing. The story predicts that 2017 will see a fundamental geopolitical transformation as the United States undergoes developments similar to the Russian Revolution of 1917, which led to the abolition of the monarchy and the rise of communism.

The false fact or narrative: The article claims the United States “discredited itself “ during the Obama administration when it behaved like “a mindless policeman.” It said “the U.S. plunged itself into the civil war in Ukraine and Yemen” and “sanctioned anti-Russian hysteria in Europe,” concluding that ”today even the most faithful ‘vassal’ of the State Department—Kiev, Vilnius and Warsaw—are hardly ready to unconditionally entrust their destiny to Washington.” Finally, it insists that President-elect Donald Trump supports a multipolar structure in the international order and that he can partner with the Putin government, at least in the Middle East.

Reality on the ground: During the 2016 presidential campaign and after Trump‘s victory, the Kremlin repeatedly expressed the hope that bilateral relations would improve and that Washington would lift its economic sanctions against Russia. The article marks no mention of Russia’s role in fostering instability throughout the world—especially with regard to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea, its invasion of eastern Ukraine and its support of the Assad dictatorship in Syria.

Techniques: 
  • Creating a context; 
  • signaling; 
  • testing the reaction; 
  • spreading confusion and fear.

Audience: Russian-speaking segments of society in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and the West.

Impact and analysis: The Kremlin aims to build a “multi-vector” world order in which Russia has a global role and U.S. influence is diminished. The article paints a hostile image of the United States and the outgoing Obama administration. At the same time, it predicts improved bilateral ties following the departure of Barack Obama, without referring to progress on ending the wars in Ukraine and Syria.