RT and Sputnik are being banned in the EU, so I guess the question is now moot. I will ask it to be closed

Disclaimer: I am French and only have a fleeting interest in what is happening in Ukraine (besides of course the terrible human aspect). I am interested in my question in expertise in cold-headed media analysis

Russia invaded Ukraine today (2022-02-24) and I had a look at RT (Russia Today) to have a feeling about how this event is reported from the Russian perspective (at least in an internationally-oriented medium).

I could not find anything that would be obvious propaganda and when I read some articles, they sounded more or less like the ones we have at home.

My question: how is RT supporting Russia in the war, through some specific articles that are intended to shape a pro-Rusian perspective?

Following the comments, I took the headlines of RT (2022-02-24 12:13 UTC) and compared to the French ones. My point is that they are not different from French ones (in contrast to the ones internal to Russia, in Russian, see below).


  • Russia responds to Kiev cutting diplomatic ties
  • EU vows ‘strongest, harshest’ sanctions against Russia
  • China comments on Russian operation in Ukraine
  • Belarus responds to claims its troops invaded Ukraine
  • Oil breaches $105 as Russia-Ukraine conflict intensifies
  • Lithuania to declare state of emergency

(I just noticed on the front page "‘War criminals’ go straight to hell, Ukrainian UN ambassador tells Russia")

In contrast to RT, the Russian-speaking internal journals are clearly biased. TV France Monde did a round of them(FR) and mentions that

Force est de constater que peu de journaux parlent en Une de leur site d'une guerre, et préfère citer le Donbass plutôt que l'Ukraine, reprenant la terminologie du président russe.

"Poutine a annoncé l’entrée de troupes dans le Donbass", titre le journal moscovite Kommersant. De même pour le quotidien en ligne Gazeta.ru qui suit "l'opération militaire spéciale de la Russie dans le Donbass". Ce quotidien en ligne souligne que "selon les premières informations, des explosions sont entendues à Kiev, Kharkov, Odessa et d'autres grandes villes du pays, elles viennent des unités militaires des forces armées ukrainiennes".

This translates to the fact that Russian journals only mention Donbass (eastern Ukraine) and claim that the explosions in western Ukraine come from the Ukrainian army.

  • I’m voting to close this question because current events (RT banned in the EU) made it less relevant.
    – WoJ
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 9:53
  • @WoJ If anything the ban just makes it even more relevant to justify the ban. I was actually considering putting a bounty up on this question instead. Plus I think the ban targets the tv channels, not the website~ Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 9:54
  • I'm locking this question at the OP's request - I think this makes more sense than closing it, as it's not off-topic per se.
    – CDJB
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 9:55
  • @DavidMulder I'm inclined to agree with you, perhaps an alternative would be to ask another question regarding the EU's reasoning behind the RT ban?
    – CDJB
    Commented Mar 3, 2022 at 9:57

1 Answer 1


Was looking at the same thing earlier today, and at the moment I would say it's more a case of 'being biased towards Russia' rather than hardcore 'Russian propaganda'.

Before the invasion RT would typically write how Russia was withdrawing troops and the troops in Belarus were just there for a training exercise:

According to Konashenkov, the Russian military has successfully completed its mission during exercises held in regions bordering Ukraine.

Speaking of the joint drills currently underway in Belarus, the official said that those were entering their final stage, too, with foreign countries’ military attaches invited to watch the exercises draw to a close.

Source: https://www.rt.com/russia/549432-ukraine-welcomes-russian-troop-withdrawal/

Contrast this to other media which put this straight away in perspective

The size of the withdrawal remains unclear and it may involve only a fraction of Russia’s forces at the border, which western officials estimate at more than 130,000 troops, at least 60% of the country’s ground forces.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/15/russia-ukraine-border-troops-withdrawal

Similarly RT will blindly parrot/quote Russian messages, but they are typically careful to keep a certain level of journalistic care. A good example of this was today when Russia claimed that ukrainian soldiers were abandoning their posts and leaving their weapons behind. On the one hand western media simply ignored the claim as there was no evidence for it whatsoever. In contrast RT reported a full article about it (and put it in the red header at the top of the website), but technically put everything between quotes and there is one sentence that does point out that no evidence was provided.

Ukrainian soldiers are abandoning their positions in the face of a Russian offensive, Moscow has asserted, while also claiming that its armed forces are not striking cities and pose "no threat" to civilians.

In a statement issued on Thursday morning, defense officials said that “intelligence shows that units of the Ukrainian army and servicemen are leaving their posts en masse, laying down their weapons.” No direct evidence has been presented to substantiate the statement.

According to the release, “Ukrainian Armed Forces positions that have laid down their weapons are not being attacked. The Russian armed forces are not striking Ukrainian cities. There is no threat to the civilian population.” Moscow says a number of military targets, including airfields, defense installations and airplanes have been hit by “high-precision weapons” as part of a “special operation” ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20220224090203/https://www.rt.com/russia/550435-ukrainian-troops-laying-down-weapons/

Levels of journalism

The way I would currently summarize it is like this:

Good journalism tells both sides of the story and tries to share its best judgement on who is and isn't telling the truth.

Bad journalism tells one side of the story, but at least makes it clear that it's someone else's story. This is what English RT does. It seems to put quotes around all claims and occasionally even points out some weaknesses in a story, but it never (or very rarely) tells the other side's story (when Russia is involved).

And then you have the russian version of RT where you will currently on the homepage find (at least) 3 different stories of Ukrainians defecting to Russia (and/or getting killed whilst trying to defect) [1] [2] [3]. You will find stories about civilians getting killed by Ukranian forces, and analysts who will tell you that the west has no real power to affect Russia. There is no checking the truth of those claims, there is no reporting of what Russia is doing... the entire narrative seems to be (I don't speak russian, so I only google translated a bunch of articles) of Russia being a liberating force.


Where do you draw the line of propaganda and where the line of bias? I honestly don't know. Fox News is very strongly biased, but their main news (not the stuff that they call 'opinion') still tries to keep to certain journalistic standards. My feeling is that English RT is somewhat similar for Russia, but an alternative interpretation is that they just tell whatever story is believed to still be palatable to a western audience. After all, most of the western world would quickly dismiss the hardcore Russian narrative of being a liberating force.

  • 1
    Not going to claim this is a good answer, I am not an expert, just someone who has wondered about the same question. Edits that improve this answer are welcome, as are comments that argue why I am wrong :) Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 13:46
  • 1
    "...do you draw the line of propaganda and where the line of bias?" It's not really binary things, so one cannot really draw a line. Propaganda and bias can come in all sorts of quantities. Commented Feb 24, 2022 at 14:17

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