HWAG Team reports findings: Two-Dimensional Kremlin Hysteria: Unraveling Russian Narratives Surrounding the NATO Summit

The recent NATO Summit held in Vilnius on July 11–12 stirred up a series of long prepared Russian state propaganda campaigns aimed at discrediting Ukraine’s NATO membership bid, exposing a long event, and cultivating a negative image of Ukraine.

Our analysts, Marianna Prysiazhniuk and Anastasia Tsvion Hybrid at HWAG examined and revealed 10 of the main narratives disseminated through media, official statements, and anonymous communication channels, such as Telegram. 

10 Main Narratives in the Russian Information Field:

1. NATO seeks to initiate a major European war using Cold War methods.

2. The Vilnius Summit revealed divisions within NATO.

3. Europe is losing autonomy to NATO.

4. NATO poses a security threat to Russia.

5. NATO supports “Kyiv Nazis.”

6. NATO’s support for Ukraine depletes its own arsenal.

7. Putin emerges victorious in the context of the NATO summit.

8. Ukraine is left to its own devices, facing an “end” due to betrayal by Erdoğan.

9. NATO is fueling conflict in Transnistria.

10. Personal attacks on politicians, particularly targeting President Zelenskyy.

Two Main Tracks:

1. Official Track: Primarily based on statements from Russian ministries, diplomats, and foreign officials and media, this track aims to shape favorable perceptions of NATO, Ukraine, and Russia for both foreign and Russian audiences. It aims to evoke specific emotional responses while constructing narratives primarily through Ukraine’s portrayal as the central actor.

2. Personalized Track: Formed through materials from top propagandists, anonymous social media channels, and personal statements of officials on platforms like Telegram and TV shows, this track targets Ukrainian and Russian domestic audiences. It aims to provoke strong emotional reactions and revolves around personalities, often focusing on Volodymyr Zelenskyy, using emotive language and humor.

Our analysts demonstrated how, in terms of manipulative potential, the most dangerous narratives from Russian state propaganda were: Ukraine was left to its own devices (Erdoğan set Ukraine up), therefore being the “end” of Ukraine; Europe is losing its autonomy to NATO; and, the standard narrative, NATO is a threat to Russia’s security.

See here for the detailed analysis