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Flash repor

Author: Svetoslav Malinov


“USA/NATO seeks world domination through military and political aggression” is one of the persistent disinformation and propaganda narratives in 2021, spread by pro-Kremlin actors in the online media in Bulgaria (1).

It is a complex narrative, which persists in different contexts and back- grounds, accommodating a series of other linked propaganda sub-narratives, e.g.:

  • US/NATO aggression against Russia is part of a decades-long policy to impose US hegemony, part of which are the US-induced wars in Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.
  • From unipolar to multipolar world – After the collapse of the USSR, the world had become unipolar and for decades the US was the sole hegemon, but in recent years, the recovery of Russia and the rise of China and India (and in some articles, Turkey), has led to the formation of a multipolar world in which Russia and China are becoming the centers against the US/NATO/West attempts to maintain US hegemony.
  • The economic and political power of the US/West is declining (also related to the shift from a unipolar to a multipolar world).
  • There is a continuous hybrid/propaganda war against Russia, which covers various claims – from distorted presentation of what is happening in Russia to false claims about preparations for invasion of Ukraine.
  • Ukraine’s and the US’ attempts to stop Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline are unsuccessful and are provoked on the one hand by a desire to prevent economic cooperation between Russia and Europe, and on the other hand serve to create domestic political legitimacy for the Ukrainian government.
  • The guarantees for new security infrastructure in Europe, proposed by Kremlin are reasonable, but the US/NATO will reject them and turn them into a pretext for aggression against Russia.
  • US/NATO actions continuously increase tensions around Ukraine, including “surrounding Ukraine” with military bases, increasing military presence in neighboring countries, and deploying weapons. Russia is forced to react, including by creating defence capabilities and developing military technologies.
  • The US/NATO/West is breaking the promise made to Russia in 1991 that NATO will not expand eastwards.
  • The methods and means for penetration and spread of the “USA/NATO seeks world domination” narrative differ from media to media, depending on the degree of pro-Kremlin bias in the general editorial policy, the type of media – tabloid- or broadsheet-alike web-sites, and how the media supervises the publication of new content. Three groups of media could be outlined – media with clear pro-Kremlin positions, media that balance between pro-Kremlin and neutral opinions and media that do not proliferate pro-Kremlin propaganda. Some of the ways, in which disinformation is penetrating the media are similar among all three groups, but there are two key differences. The first of them refers to the number of published articles that could be attributed to disinformation and propaganda. Even media that try not to proliferate Kremlin’s propaganda could publish individual articles that contains disinformation narratives. The second difference is theintentional use of disinformation techniques, such as appeal to authority, causal oversimplification, misrepresentation of someone’s opinion, etc. These techniques are used only by the first two groups of media and respectively, much more often by the pro-Kremlin media than the ones that balance between pro-Kremlin and neutral positions.

When looking at the group of media, that balance the pro-Kremlin with neutral positions and the group, which tries not to proliferate pro-Kremlin stance, the most widespread way for disinformation and propaganda to penetrate the media is the publication of one-sided article, without editorial comment or presentation of alternative points of view. An example is the statement by the head of Russian foreign intelligence that Russia’s plans to invade Ukraine are “malicious American propaganda” (reported in,,, no-, on 28.11.2021). The same case was observed in Focus News, which in its article “Kremlin: NATO expansion in Ukraine crosses Vladimir Pu- tin’s red line” conveyed without comment the words of the Kremlin spokesman. In some cases, the media outlet published a note stating that the piece was “presented without editorial interference and express solely the opinion of the author” which, however, gives no insight into the alternative points of view. (e.g. “Politika” (Serbia): Verbal case from Racak to Srebrenica, Focus News, 28.07.2021; SCMP: US does not want peace, but world domination, Focus News, 09.05. 2021) In other cases, however, the translation of foreign material presenting only pro-Kremlin positions is not accompanied by this note, which still could allow the careful reader to understand that is being served one-sided information (e.g. “Le Devoir (Canada). Russian-Chinese ties as a guarantee for global strategic balance”, Focus News, 26.05.2021)

Another way through which disinformation penetrates the media – intentionally or non-intentionally, is the existence of a regular column called “Review of the main topics in the [Russian/Western/World] press” (e.g. in Focus News), which again becomes a platform for presenting one-sided opinion selected from the media of the respective countries. Considered collectively, these reviews of the foreign press provide a balanced picture by republishing articles from both pro-Kremlin and pro-Western sources. But in fact, doing so facilitates the uncritical dissemination of pro-Kremlin disinformation coming from both Russian and foreign sources.

Last but not least, there are also cases, when a neutral and fact-based article includes individual messages, that are at the center of widespread disinformation narratives. For example, in a relatively balanced analysis of the policy and processes of “de-dollarization” of the Russian economy, statements such as “this is a political declaration, protest, mockery and contempt for American hegemony” creep in. (“What is the impact of Russia’s acceleration of ‘de-dollarization’?”,, 29.06.2021)

Regarding the number of published articles, the top-10 sources, spreading the narrative for “US/NATO world domination through aggressive means”, account for more than 75% of all articles, and cover both media with clear pro-Kremlin positions and media that balance between pro-Kremlin and neutral opinions. However, the former dominates clearly with much higher number of articles, incl. majority of them applying combination of disinformation techniques (e.g., News Front,

In terms of propaganda techniques, used by the above two groups of media, “appeal to authority” is used in two different ways – when a pro-Russian “authority/leader” is referred to, and when a statement of a pro-western figure is used out of context. In the former case, these are either official Russian authorities and opinion leaders (e.g. Alexander Dugin) or foreign journalists, public figures, and policy-makers that share clear pro-Kremlin views (e.g. Serbian and Chinese journalists and policy makers, Joe Lombardo, coordinator of the Unit- ed National Antiwar Coalition in the USA, the American journalist Peter Suciu, former Italian diplomat Marco Carnelos, etc.) Often, the “appeal to authority” is mixed with “misrepresentation of the opinion”, which is taken out of context. In such cases, the authors usually refer to one or more world-recognized scientists or policy makers (e.g. Zbigniew Brzezinski, Mikhail Gorbachev, Arthur Schelsinger, etc.) or to an official representative of an American/Western military or civil authorities (e.g. an article about the shift from unipolar to multipolar world, dominated by Russia and China, cites out of context a sentence of the US Army General Marc Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said that the world is “three-polar already”, and the article made the conclusion, that this marks the end of the American hegemony).

Another often used disinformation technique refers to “denying statements”, i.e. a statement of a Western politician of opinion leader is quoted and then claimed to be untrue, citing disputed facts. For example, the article “NATO threatens Russia with the use of weapons” (, 27.10.2021) says that “The state- ment of the German minister, however, does not reflect the real events in the international arena. It is the Western military bloc that is spoiling relations with Russia, going beyond normal diplomatic relations. Take, for example, the recent reduction of Russian representatives in the NATO mission. The Russians have been accused of espionage, but of course the West has provided no hard evidence. More precisely, it has not provided any evidence.”

Last but not least, the articles spreading the Kremlin narrative “US/NATO seeks world domination through aggressive means” very rarely address Bulgaria but when it is mentioned, usually its “fraternal” position towards Russia is confirmed (incl. in official statements of senior Bulgarian politicians) and the need to maintain a position against NATO troops/bases in the country.



(1) Data based on monitoring of 150 online media web-sites for the period 1 Jan to 31 Dec 2021, incl. traditional media outlets and web-sites, publishing regularly news and media articles. Data is collected through Sensika ( media monitoring and analysis system, based on complex Boolean search with pre-de- fined combinations of key words and phrases. Results have been additionally filered and verified by manual review of all content items. Final datasets contains 276 articles from 44 media web-sites.