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Speaking anti-Ukrainian in English: an analysis of Russian narratives about Ukraine forwarded by TASS’s English-language online news-reporting Público Deposited

With Russia’s growing ‘hybrid warfare’ and disinformation campaigns, there is limited research into Russian news agencies and their English-language online publications. The Russian news agency TASS is a critical player in Russia’s international narrative development regarding Ukraine. This paper analyzes the rhetoric TASS uses when covering events in Ukraine in English. By surveying 120 TASS articles, the research identified eight prominent anti-Ukrainian narratives: that Crimea was rightfully reunified with Russia, that Ukraine inhibits the resolution of the Donbas conflict, that Euromaidan was a coup aimed at establishing a Russophobic regime and discriminate against Russian-speakers, that the Ukrainian government officials are nationalist extremists destroying Soviet heritage, that Kyiv caused anti-Russian sanctions, and that the Ukrainian economy needs Russian support. Due to Russia’s dominance in the English-speaking media market covering Ukraine, these narratives represent most of the information available to Western audiences. The paper suggests that Ukrainian media cannot compete for narrative dominance. Additional research should explore the narratives promoted by other English-speaking Russian outlets or review strategies that Ukrainian media institutions can utilize to counter Russian disinformation in the West.

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