Authors: Raffaele Riccardo Buccolo and Leonardo Delfanti
Digital Communication Network (DCN) GlobalIntro
Summary of the article
- Sputnik News: Putin’S voice in Balkans and Europe
- It is not true that “Europe is tired of helping Ukraine”
- Aid to Ukraine remains strong for 2023
- Political debate in Poland, discourse analysis
We used a virtual private network (VPN) to carry out this article. After a preliminary analysis, it was discovered that the website Sputnik News Moldova, the subject of the study in this investigation, is not accessible through a European IP address. Therefore, to be exhaustive and to facilitate the analysis proposed here, you can read the original paper in PDF format by clicking on the following link.
To access Sputnik News Moldova’s site, we used a VPN with an IP address in Hong Kong. But, of course, such a choice is random and has no bearing on the political relations between Russia and China, which we wish to discuss elsewhere.
Sputnik News: Putin’S voice in Balkans and Europe
Almost a year after the Russian armed forces invaded Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin’s offensive was divided into several levels; since the time of the Internet Research Agency, the West has started to face increasing pressure from pro-Russian narratives in the internal information landscape. This time we are inside the Romanian-Moldovan information area, 890 kilometres from the southwest border of Russia.
The analysed article, “Poland’s PM has found that the West is tired of helping Ukraine,” was published on 19 January 2023 in Sputnik News’s Romanian-Moldovan language. In the aftermath of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, on 2 March 2022, the European Council decided to suspend Russia’s media-owned licence in the EU because it “engaged in a systematic, international campaign of disinformation, information manipulation and distortion of facts” against the Member States. The sanction concerned the suspension of broadcasting of sections RT English, RT UK, RT Germany, RT France, and RT Spanish in Europe.
Thanks to the effort of the Database of Free Russian Forum, today we have access to an identikit of over 1700 collaborators close to President Vladimir Putin. Among them, also Dmitry Kiselyov, chairman of Rossiya Segodnya editorial group and Deputy Director of the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company. Known by the pseudonym “propagandist boss”, he is often associated with the figure of Vladimir Putin.
To highlight the crucial link between Sputnik News and Putin’s political interests, it is worth analysing the photograph below acquired from the archives of Getty Images.
Sources: Kremlin.ru and GettyImages
Other images can be found on the website of the Russian government, showing the interiors of the editorial staff of the Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency in June 2016. Operated by the Russian government, the media group has Sputnik News among its many subsidiaries.
The image, also published by Politico, shows the interiors of the editorial staff of Sputnik News. In the lower right box, it is possible to notice a picture of Vladimir Putin together with Dmitry Kiselyov and Russia Today Editor in Chief Margaritą Simonian.
The analysis concludes that there is sufficient evidence to strongly assume that this is a picture taken during President Putin’s visit to the editorial staff of Sputnik News. The evidence, as emphasised in both photographs, may be seen in columns and texts in Russian: all the writings, uniform in style and form, show how to orient themselves within the editorial space. In addition, the screens’ design seems to be the same.
It is not true that “Europe is tired of helping Ukraine”
The Word Economic Forum, held in Davos, Switzerland, between 16 and 20 January this year, was for Russia an excellent propaganda opportunity to twist the information shared by world political leaders at the famous Summit.
This is the case of the article entitled “The Davos Forum plans to destroy Russia”, written by Free Russia Forum propagandist-classified Elena Karaeva. The piece is full of anti-European and anti-Western messages aimed at showing a false diplomatic isolation of Ukraine.
Whereas in the article we are analysing, the author claims that the Prime Minister of Poland, Mateusz Morawiecki, stated during an interview with a Polish television station that Europe has tired of sending aid to Ukraine: “Russia is patient, it looks long term… the West, however, is now tired”.
Adjusting the Prime Minister’s words with an anti-Western twist, Sputnik Moldova performs a surgical operation on the text; here is how to juxtapose the declaration in the title, “Europe is tired of war” we arrive at “Europe is tired of helping Ukraine”.
In the original speech, recorded on 19 January, Prime Minister Morawiecki says, “Russia is patient, it looks long-term, it tries to tighten its grip on Ukraine, and the West is tired, it would like to live in a normal world.”
It follows that the Sputnik News editorial staff appropriately constructed the article’s title to mislead the inhabitants of Romania, Moldova and the more than 4 million Romanian citizens who emigrated to the rest of the world.
Indeed, the PM intervened to support the supply of Tank-Leopard 2 that Germany is expected to send to Ukraine. Through his intervention, he urged the German nation to accelerate its mobilisation. The agreement for closer and more lasting security cooperation in Eastern Europe was signed on 25 January 2023.
Aid to Ukraine remains strong for 2023
The leader of Poland never referred to Europe as a community tired of helping Ukraine. This commitment has been confirmed for the year 2023.
Today, the policies of welcoming and retaining Ukrainian refugees occupy a very important place on the Polish political agenda. No wonder the neighbouring country of Ukraine and Belarus often fall victim to pro-Russian propaganda.
Just two days before the article by Sputnik Moldova, the European Commission announces the allocation of 18 billion euros for all of 2023, as well as the payment of the first instalment of 3 billion euros in aid for Ukraine. That means that the EU’s support for Kyiv is stable, solid and structured, as shown by the many active programmes across the European Union.
Political debate in Poland, discourse analysis
Strong evidence also comes from the European Investment Bank, where only last month, Polish Vice President Teresa Czerwińska declared: “As the bank of the European Union, our responsibility is to support Eastern Partnership countries at this extremely challenging time for the region. Since the first days following Russia’s invasion, we have worked closely with our Ukrainian partners, as well as with the European Commission and others, to mobilise immediate financing for Ukraine’s most urgent needs, and then to prioritise the implementation of existing projects that can best enhance or rebuild the country’s critical infrastructure. This support will need to continue over the coming year.”
Looking at the Polish government table, we can say that the positive signals about support for the war in Ukraine also come from various departments. For example, at the Davos Forum, Polish Finance Minister Magdalena Rzeczkowska confirmed in an extensive interview with Bloomberg that “the economy is in a good position to continue the financial aid towards Ukraine.”
Zbiniew Rau, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, shares similar ideas. From a quick analysis of the last 15 tweets he published, it is clear that more than 10 of these address the conflict in Ukraine in terms of proximity, help and cooperation.
Even though Poland is in 21st position in over 40 European economies, since the beginning of the conflict, it has sent large amounts of aid across borders: the following infographic published by AlJazeera shows detailed financial, humanitarian and military assistance requested since the start of the crisis. The total amount of 3 billion euros or 0.5 of the Polish GDP is bigger than the support sent by France, Norway and Italy.
Analysing the critical discourse analysis carried out by the Polish PM over the last two months, it appears that the intention to support the ally’s war effort has never ceased. Contrary to what Sputnik News implies, this continuity is in no case intermittent. In fact, there has always been a strong positive feeling since the invasion of Ukraine.
Before Davos Forum, Polish PM Mateusz Morawieck said his mind “is occupied with the events in Ukraine all the time.” At the same time, opportunities and support for Zalesky and the entire Ukrainian people can be found in numerous speeches; this is the case of last January 6, orthodox Christmas, which was an opportunity to renew support to the million Ukrainian refugees welcomed by Poland since the beginning of the conflict.
At the same time, the Polish government had strongly condemned the Russian Federation’s military interventions in Ukraine, particularly when violence spilt on civilians.
The bond between the two peoples is so strong that on the day of Polish independence, Mateusz Morawieck did not exist to thank Ukraine for the battle “for Polish and European security”.
All these reasons, combined with a critical geographical position in the security and defence of NATO and the EU, and not only its ancestral antagonism with Russia, make Poland a key Ukraine strategic partner in the conflict. It is, therefore, false and misleading to say that “Poland’s PM has found that the West is tired of helping Ukraine”.
This publication has been funded by the European Union under the project FENCE “Building resilience for safeguarding political debates in EU Southeast frontiers”, Agreement number LC-01682257. The publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.