For Russia, Talk of Trump Impeachment Is the Gift that Keeps on Giving

For Russia, Talk of Trump Impeachment Is the Gift that Keeps on Giving

Cynthia Hooper

Security, Americas

Amid a barrage of increasingly sensational Western headlines, Russian journalists can allow the U.S. media to do their work for them.

The Russians are calling it “Ukrainegate.”

“I never thought I’d say it, but CNN is right,” remarked one pundit on Russia 1, the county’s most-watched television station. “The person who wins in this situation is Putin.”

Commentary in Russian media about the impeachment investigation of U.S. President Donald Trump in many ways echoes the language of U.S. coverage. Just a few of the jokes are different.

“Of course, if Trump is impeached, he could probably return here, if you believe the American press,” laughed one Moscow-based moderator.

As a historian who studies contemporary Russia, I have seen the pro-Kremlin Russian political and media establishment grow increasingly skilled at spinning stories to highlight U.S. political weaknesses over the past five years – since conflict between the U.S. and Russia first erupted over Russia’s annexation of a portion of Ukraine.

This latest scandal, revolving around a phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, is a gift for those wishing to advertise U.S. dysfunction without seeming to engage in heavy-handed censorship or promote obviously deceptive propaganda.

One tactic is comedy. In a catchy YouTube feature by the Kremlin-funded English-language media service RT, titled “Ukrainegate: The Next Best Thing,” an enthusiastic young woman with a British accent gives a synopsis of the impeachment investigation. In less than three minutes, she succeeds in mocking both the U.S. and Ukrainian presidents, the U.S. political system, and the ignorance and condescension of the average Democratic operative.

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