The Coverage of the Zapad 2017 Military Exercise in the Russian Media Scape


  • Vladimir Sazonov
  • Aleksandr Gontšarenko




The authors have analysed several articles published in different Russian media outlets in 2017, mainly focusing on the topics related to the Russian- Belarusian joint military exercise Zapad 2017 that took place in September 2017. The analysed articles derive mainly from four different Russian media outlets – Baltnews.ee, Komsomolskaya Pravda, RuBaltic.ru, and TV Zvezda. These media outlets covered different topics and subjects that were widespread and popular with regard to fears raised in Baltic countries in relation to the Russian-Belarusian military exercise Zapad 2017. Russian news portals Baltnews.ee and RuBaltic.ru are local Kremlin-controlled media channels whose target audience is the Russian-speaking population of the Baltic region. Komsomolskaya Pravda is a widely circulated Russian daily newspaper, targeting not only the people living in Russia, but also all Russian-speaking people outside Russia, incl. the Baltic countries, Ukraine, Central Asia, Belarus, etc. The most distinctive among the chosen media outlets is TV Zvezda, because it is run by the Russian Ministry of Defence and its coverage mostly focuses on military topics. Although the target audiences and objectives of these four media outlets diff er to some degree, they all share the same objective - spreading and amplifying various fears and panic in the West in general, and among the Baltic countries in particular, with regard to Russia’s military might, its armed forces, and weaponry, especially before, during and after the Zapad 2017 military exercise. Most of the analysed articles carried quite negative tonality towards NATO, the West and the Baltic countries. Often, the Baltic countries, NATO and the West were ridiculed and portrayed as paranoid alarmists who exaggerate the Russian threat to the Baltic States. Russian media also used sarcastic and ironic tonality to humiliate and discredit the military and political elite of NATO and the Baltic countries. These channels used different topics and subjects to propagate their agenda, e.g. the Baltic countries were portrayed as the weakest link in the North Atlantic Alliance or that Russia is not dangerous at all and the military exercises serve only a defensive function, therefore the Baltic countries are simply paranoid because the Russian military threat is non-existent. There were also many other topics and issues that these Russian channels covered and put into circulation.


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