BRIEF: Pro-Kremlin messaging in the Global South
Detector Media • April 28, 2023
Definition: Global South includes low- or middle-income countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.
Methodology: Daily monitoring of media coverage in 36 countries; using machine learning and computer data processing tools for categorizing news stories. The sample includes 11 countries in Asia, Africa, and South America.
Hostility towards NATO, the U.S., and international creditors, combined with the perception of Russia as a superpower, create a favorable environment for pro-Russian messages in local media. Negative characterizations of Ukraine and Ukrainians spread across the analyzed countries, including accusations of corruption, adherence to Nazi ideology, and being a puppet of the West.
Media in the global south portrays Ukraine as a puppet of the West and a victim of a proxy war. At the same time, outlets highlight corruption in Ukraine to discourage military and financial aid.
- Criticism of Ukraine's aspirations to join NATO and the EU centers on potential damage to these organizations. Similar messaging about Ukrainian refugees portrayed them as a burden on Europe.
- Sanctions are portrayed as harmful to everyone but Russia.
- The media frequently discuss Russia’s involvement in sports competitions like the 2024 Olympics. This suggests Russia may be concerned about losing that ability.
- Content portrays Ukraine as not wanting peace. This may help shift blame.
- Conspiracy theories may be helping to foster distrust toward Ukraine. Examples include false claims about money laundering or that the President has fled.
- Russia likely aims to erode the legitimacy of Ukrainian statehood and trust in its political institutions, according to media research organization Detector Media.
- Russia appears to have an “upper hand” in casting the war as unwinnable for Ukraine in the Global South. Similar messaging has targeted Ukraine recently.
Media environment by country
- Brazil: Neutral position, impacted economy due to sanctions, local media blames Ukraine's unwillingness to make peace.
- Ghana: Occasional appearance of Russian narratives through quotes from Russian officials.
- Egypt: Pro-Russian discourse is more powerful, emphasizing sanctions-hit economy stability and Russian army successes.
- India: Neutral stance, maintains relations with the West while cooperating with Russia for economic benefits.
- Indonesia: Neutral stance, discussions on intensifying assistance to Ukraine, and promotion of Zelenskyy's peace formula.
- Kazakhstan: Mixed messages, with significant Russian media references and anti-NATO, anti-Western messages.
- Kenya: Balanced presentation of opinions, with Russian statements often refuted by Ukrainian and Western perspectives.
- Nigeria: Media focuses on domestic security challenges and suggests the West's support for Ukraine exceeds that for Nigeria.
- South Africa: Differentiation between the ruling party's position and opposition stance, naval exercises with Russia and China.
- Turkey: Equal presence of pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian messages, manipulative messages related to conflict escalation, and Russian successes.
- Argentina: Strong anti-NATO stance, media portrays Ukraine as a Western puppet, conflict brings China and Russia closer, NATO as a lone player.
Detector Media is a media watchdog for Ukrainian media. Their website was created and maintained with the financial support of the European Union.