Syria’s state-run news agency involves in Russia’s propaganda on Ukraine

SANA's official website covers the updates on the Russian invasion of Ukraine - 1 September 2022 (SANA)

SANA's official website covers the updates on the Russian invasion of Ukraine - 1 September 2022 (SANA)

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Since the beginning of the Russian war on Ukraine on 24 February, the Syrian regime has sided with Moscow, choosing to support the Russian position with the various means it has against the Ukrainian side, supported by Europe and the United States on the other hand.

The Syrian regime dealt with the Russian invasion as its war as well, not just as an ally, and it was not limited to political and diplomatic positions. Since the beginning of the invasion, the Syrian state-run news agency (SANA) has allocated one of the fixed news windows on its official website, similar to the channel Russia Today (RT), to cover the war news continuously, under the name “Moment by moment.. developments of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine.”

SANA continues to broadcast and publish news of the Russian invasion, in line with the Russian position in dealing with the event, at a time when the official coverage of SANA on some local issues is absent or delayed.

Raed Jabr, a Russian affairs expert, doubted in an interview with Enab Baladi that Russia had directly asked the Syrian regime to deal with the media in this way with regard to the invasion, considering this to be the nature of the official Syrian media in dealing with files.

‘Joint enemy’

The Syrian regime seeks to exaggerate the idea of ​​the alliance and the common enemy, which is something it uses forcefully, in parallel with the political positions it adopts, which are in the same context, such as recognizing the independence of two “republics” from Ukraine and exchanging diplomatic missions with them, against the background of what is happening in Ukraine and the world, according to Jabr.

On 23 August, during a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow, Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad announced the exchange of diplomatic missions within days with the Russian-backed “republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbass region, southeast of Ukraine.

Mekdad indicated that the regime’s earlier recognition of their independence came from what he described as “historical principles and facts.”

The expert and journalist Jabr said that the regime’s media steps are symbolic messages for Russia and are not practical or of great political importance.

The effect of these steps is to say that the regime stands with Russia in one trench, what Moscow uses to tell the world that it is not completely isolated and that there are countries that stand with it, such as Syria, North Korea, and Venezuela, which are at the same time limited countries that previously recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Valueless

SANA and the Syrian regime’s media coverage of the Russian invasion does not have importance or value at the international and even internal levels, but the regime presents this paper in a symbolic, propaganda, and media manner, even if the content is unbalanced and unreliable.

On 29 June, the Syrian regime recognized the “independence and sovereignty” of the “Luhansk People’s Republic” and the “Donetsk People’s Republic” “as an embodiment of the common will and desire to establish relations in all fields,” SANA quoted a source in the Syrian Foreign Ministry.

This recognition was followed by a mutual severing of diplomatic relations between the regime and Ukraine, which the latter had originally started in 2018, when the regime’s embassy on its territory was closed, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 20 July, during which it announced cutting ties with Ukraine, hours after the announcement of the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, terminated diplomatic relations with the regime due to its recognition of the independence of the two regions.

The two regions were controlled by Russia with the support of separatist forces in Ukraine during its recent invasion of Ukraine and are not recognized by the UN, but Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized them as independent republics on 21 February (before the invasion), in a move considered by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, in violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

“Free gifts”

The head of the opposition’s Syrian Journalists Association (SJA), Samir Matar, described the signals provided by SANA in its coverage of the invasion as “compliance and free gifts to express full voluntary loyalty to the Russian side,” given that the regime understands what is required of it by the affiliate role that it has placed itself in through its relationship with Moscow.

Matar told Enab Baladi that “the regime is in a weak position and is unable to provide what Russia might want from it without costs.”

The head of SJA also ruled out that the official Syrian coverage of the Russian invasion would be preceded by a Russian request. For the Russians, it is obvious that the regime’s media should stand in the service of their propaganda machine since the regime will, of course, not take a position against the Russian administration.

In the context of the “propaganda” that Moscow runs locally and tries to promote as much as possible externally, Russia is interested in perpetuating in its society and abroad the theory of international American-Western conspiracy against it, Matar said, adding that it leads a position that is not isolated but has international extensions as well, and multiple countries are involved in it to confront these “conspiracies.”

The aim is, according to Matar, to remove Russia from the image of the aggressor State that violates international stability.

Matar refers to the (pariah) regime’s indifference to the impression formed around it by the International Community regarding its handling of the Russian invasion of Ukraine after it was able to bring Syria to its current situation.

 

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