Russian Media Analysis Report
Issue 2, October 24, 2021 PDF Version
NATO’s relations with Russia were a dominant topic of discussion in Russian media during the reporting period. The conversation covered a range of issues, including the continuing deterioration of diplomatic relations, perception of the new NATO Concept for Deterrence and Defense of the Euro-Atlantic Area, NATO military activities near Russia’s borders, the framing of continuing efforts at Russian-Belarussian defense integration as a response to such activities, and the possibility of separate EU security structures being established. The overall tenor was one of concern about the increase in hostility between NATO and Russia, combined with reassurances that Russia’s nuclear arsenal is sufficient to prevent the outbreak of war.
US and allied policies toward Ukraine
The Russian media extensively discussed US and allied policies toward Ukraine—specifically, the recent visit of Ambassador Victoria Nuland to Moscow, the visit of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to Ukraine and Georgia, and the UK sale of naval systems to Ukraine. Commentators speculated about the reasons for Ambassador Nuland’s visit, and on whether the main reason really was Ukraine, noting that the visit regrettably did not improve the consular crisis between the US and Russia, which only has the potential of getting worse. The coverage of Secretary Austin’s visit to Ukraine noted that US policy on Ukraine favors the status quo despite rhetoric to the contrary. Commentators also discussed UK efforts to improve Ukraine’s naval security as well as the claims that Ukraine’s top military academy has engaged in training members of neo-Nazi organizations.
Information operations and cognitive warfare
Several Russian articles recently reported on US and NATO stances towards information warfare. The first article is a lengthy piece that details the alleged “new forms and methods of ideological aggression” carried out by the United States and its allies. The second article argues that NATO is shifting some attention to “cognitive warfare” and “is clearly interested in using the means of such a war.” A third article addresses unofficial allegations in the US and German media that Russia is to blame for the “Havana Syndrome” which has been plaguing US diplomats abroad.
Military competition in East Asia
A set of recent articles by Russian military commentators have reviewed the state of US-China competition and rivalry in East Asia, the rearmament of the Japanese navy, and the recent Seawolf submarine collision. Noting that the military and political situation in the region has further deteriorated, recent events have largely been framed as part of the broader rise of China and of the US reaction to this development, including alliance building, increasing military offensive and defensive capabilities, and expanding naval reconnaissance.
US hypersonic weapons development
Two articles address recent US developments in the field of hypersonic weapons. The first article discusses the US Army’s announcement of the development of a new mid-range-capability battery called “Typhon,” which will be able to field the hypersonic variant of the SM-6 missile by FY 2024. The second article addresses a recent announcement that the US Space Development Agency has approved the design of a new generation of satellites capable of detecting launches and tracking the flight path of hypersonic missiles.
Incident with the destroyer USS Chafee
Several Russian publications reported on an incident that took place in the Sea of Japan on Friday, October 15. According to the articles, the US destroyer USS Chafee “came close to the territorial waters of Russia andmade an attempt to cross the state border,” prompting the Russian Ministry of Defense to send the destroyerAdmiral Tributs to escort the vessel away. Reportedly, the ships came within 60 yards of each other. TheRussian Ministry of Defense condemned the US action, describing it as a “gross violation” of internationalmaritime law.
Russian foreign policy commentators have assessed relations with Turkey in recent weeks, paying particular attention to the potential for new arms deals. Two articles in BMPD discussed the possibility of selling Russian combat aircraft to Turkey and Turkish interest in acquiring F-16 fighters. An opinion piece in Topwar.ru briefly reviewed the history of Russian-Turkish military relations as well as its recent diplomatic overtures to regional neighbors, suggesting that Turkey is an unreliable partner whose goals of influence expansion must be watched. Also, an article in Voenno-Promyshlenniy Kuryer (VPK) discussed the potential content of Putin and Erdogan meeting in Sochi in late September.
Development of an Arctic alliance
An article in Nezavisimoe Voennoe Obozrenie discussed the development of a new alliance between the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. Reviewing recent agreements for closer cooperation, the piece lamented the drift away from de facto neutrality on the part of Sweden, as well as the potential for this new military alliance to become NATO’s “daughter” alliance for Northern Europe.
Concern about Nordstream pipeline sabotage
An article in topwar.ru raises the possibility that the United States might direct one of its East European allies might try to sabotage the Nordstream-2 pipeline. The author suggests that Poland or Ukraine, both of which have well trained naval special forces, could take such an action. It would be difficult for Russia to prove responsibility for any potential act of sabotage.