I was watching this ridiculous piece of “scholarship” on Russia and I was struck by the speaker’s claim about a supposed “ideological manual” for Russian media. Here is the one I found in a filing cabinet at the Times (and the Guardian):
1. Don’t say “but isn’t it normal for Great Powers to object to foreign military build-ups on their borders”?
2. Don’t ask – “did the EU discuss the proposed Association agreement with Ukraine with Russia considering this would have had a major affect on their economy and had a security dimension post-Lisbon”?
3. Don’t mention the huge amount of objective evidence that confirms that a) there is a majority of ethnic Russians in Crimea and b) that there are many people in Eastern Ukraine who either wanted autonomy within Ukraine or who wanted to be part of Russia. (Instead exaggerate the role of Russian intervention)
4. Play down the problems with far-right paramilitary battalions in Ukraine. Never mention that one of these blocked Zelensky from implementing Minsk in 2019.
5. Never ask why this whole theory of imperial Russia was never part of scholarship on Russia prior to the “Invasion”. Pump the imperial narrative as much as you can because it covers the Western role in provoking Russia.
6. Talk up how Kiev is a bastion of European liberal values. Do not discuss the more authoritarian aspects of the government in Kiev – banning political parties and opposition media for example.
7. Never ask something like “why are we so in favour of decentralisation in the West e.g. Wales has its own government and language, but supported Kiev when they denied this kind of arrangement for the provinces in the East”?
8. When talking about the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact don’t press the research fellow too hard. She probably won’t choose to mention that Stalin had been trying to make an alliance with France and Britain before he made an alliance with Germany. She probably knows this, but prefers just to insult Russians.
9. When speakers make the claim that in Russia’s ultimatum they demanded that NATO “leave” the Baltics don’t challenge them and get them to admit that membership of NATO was not in question – just force posture.