10 principles of war propaganda: how Russian media use them

10 basic principles of war propaganda

  1. we do not want war
  2. the opponent is solely responsible for the war
  3. the enemy’s leader is evil and resembles the devil
  4. we are defending a noble cause and not personal interests
  5. the enemy deliberately causes atrocities, and if we make mistakes, it is not intentional
  6. the enemy uses prohibited weapons
  7. suffer very few losses; the enemy’s losses are enormous
  8. artists and intellectuals support our cause
  9. our cause is sacred
  10. everyone who questions our propaganda is a traitor and helps the enemy

Propaganda principles used in World War I, in 1990s, and now

Ten principles of war propaganda that state leaders effectively used in the First World War, during the wars in the 1990s, and now.

In today’s world, where there are more and more wars, Ukraine, Syria, the Middle East, Yemen, Mali, and Central Africa… Understanding the ten war propaganda principles and how they function is essential. We highlight them in this video and explain how dictatorial regimes still use them today.

In her work “Basic Principles of War Propaganda,” Belgian historian Anna Morelli identifies 10 key points.

Anne Morelli was inspired by British pacifist Arthur Ponsonby’s lessons on essential war propaganda techniques that he produced during the First World War.

The framework of the historian’s book is made up of ten chapters that organize ten principles. This book has been manipulated by Kremlin propaganda to criticize the US while omitting any reference to Russian aggression abroad.

Principle 1 of war propaganda: We don’t want war. 

We are only defending ourselves! Morelli asserts that leaders from all nations have consistently pledged solemnly to oppose the war. They claim that they want to protect their population.

Putin’s regime invaded Ukraine in full force while claiming it was doing so to defend the Moscow-supported separatist territory of Donbas. The allegation made by Russia that it will protect Russian speakers has gone viral. When Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, it said its goal was to “force Tbilisi to peace.”

Putin’s regime didn’t even dare to call the war against Ukraine a war. Instead, they obliged all the media to call it a ‘special military operation.’

Principle 1: War propaganda in Russian leadership’s statements 

Vladimir Putin, Russian president: I have decided to conduct a special military operation. Its goal is to protect people who have been subjected to humiliation and genocide by the Kyiv regime for 8 years. Russia cannot feel safe, develop, and exist with a permanent threat from the territory of today’s Ukraine. They did not leave us any other option to protect Russia, and our people, except for the one that we have been forced to use today.

Sergey Lavrov, Russian foreign minister: If it depends on the Russian Federation, there will be no war. We don’t want wars.

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russian state media “RT”: We bomb, we bomb every day. Do we want it or not? Of course not. We bomb infrastructure. God knows we don’t want that.

Vladimir Putin, Russian president: What is happening is a forced measure. We were left with no chance to act differently.

Principle 2 of war propaganda: the war is the responsibility of the enemy

According to the dictators, a war is fought to prevent new wars.

Even though Russia attempted to seize the Ukrainian capital and install a new government, the Russian leadership blamed the Ukrainian government for starting the war. 

In this principle, Russian war propaganda relies on the claim that Ukraine didn’t adhere to the Minsk accords and has been selling Donbas. However, Russia didn’t fulfill its commitment to give Ukraine control over the border in the Donbas region.

The Kremlin propaganda repeated its mantra that Ukraine had been bombarding Donbas for eight years. However, the evidence doesn’t show any destruction in the region of that scale, and before Russia’s invasion the casualties in the conflict dropped since the ceasefire signature. 

Principle 2: Declarations by Russian and Belarusian leadership

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus: We didn’t attack them; they started it. And now, I will show you where the attack on Belarus was being prepared from. And if six hours before the operation, we would not have done a preventive strike on their positions. One position, second position, and third position near our borders. They would attack our troops.

Vladimir Putin, Russian president: Our actions are self-defense against the threats posed to us.

Vladimir Soloviev, Russian state TV host: They knew they were planning a strike to pull Russia into this war.

Vladimir Putin, Russian president: Our plans do not include the occupation of Ukrainian territories. We are not going to impose anything on anyone by force. All responsibility for possible bloodshed will be entirely on the conscience of the regime ruling on the territory of Ukraine.

Sergey Lavrov, Russian foreign minister: Denazification, demilitarization in the sense that there are no threats to our security, no military threats from the territory of Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin, Russian president: Even now, as NATO expands to the east, the situation for our country is getting worse and more dangerous every year.

Vladimir Soloviev, Russian state TV host: We must keep a record of this escalation and the beginning of the NATO war against Russia from February 17th.

Principle 3: the enemy’s leader is an absolute evil 

The propaganda machine claims that the enemy’s leader resembles the devil. The authors claim that enemies, as a group of people, cannot be hated collectively. 

Therefore, it is more efficient to direct your hatred at the leader of the adversary nation. By doing this, “the enemy” will have a face, and this face will inevitably cause hatred.”

Russian media have demonized the Ukrainian leadership. The Kremlin propaganda portrays Volodymyr Zelensky as a wicked nazi leader who doesn’t desire peace. Russian propaganda has been spreading unsupported fake news that ‘nazis’ seized power in Kyiv.

Well before the full-scale invasion, The Kremlin media prepared the Russian audience for the hatred of Ukrainians. Russian propaganda stigmatized Ukrainians with false accusations, such as “Nazis,” and pejorative denominations.

Russian propaganda called the Ukrainian president Antichrist. When announcing a ‘special military operation’ against Ukraine, Putin called Ukrainian leadership a bunch of drug addicts and nazis.

Principle 3: Statements in Russian propaganda media

Vladimir Soloviev, Russian state TV host: Look at the hideous muzzles of the Ukrainian government. Satanists! 

Vasyl Vakarov, Russian political analyst: I never thought that Zelensky would become so satanic.

Araik Stepanyan, Russian expert in geopolitics: The Orthodox Church must proclaim that Zelensky is the Antichrist who has come. An official Antichrist. 

Alexander Kamkin, Russian political scientist: He is just a little demon. But not more than that. Yes, he serves Antichrist. 

Dmitry Drobnitsky, Russian expert on US matters: If people heard that in the 19th century, they would say that Antichrist had come.

Vladimir Soloviev, Russian state TV host: These Satanists, American, British, and European. Not their people but their satanic governments. Look at the muzzles of the British and German governments, which are such a distorted hatred and devoid of intellect. Look at the small demon Macron.

Principle 4: we are defending a noble cause, not our particular interests

War frequently has ideals, moral principles and fair values. They conceal its economic and geopolitical objectives. Russian war propaganda claims that they fight to defend traditional values against the decadent West. 

They intentionally skip Moscow’s geopolitical interest in controlling Ukraine as a strategic nation. They do not mention the economic benefits of annexing regions with great natural resources.

For many years, Moscow has been promoting the so-called ‘Ruskiy mir,’ or Russian world, a nationalist concept associated with Russian culture, language, and the Moscow Orthodox church.

Principle 4: Statements by Russian leadership and propaganda media

Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Russian state media “RT”: War has its goals. It brings personality changes towards a greater awareness of oneself, to be part of your country, part of your motherland, part of some values, some ideals.

Vladimir Putin, Russian president: Well-being, the very existence of entire nations and peoples, their success and viability, always originates in the powerful root system of their ancestors’ culture and values, experience, and traditions.

Sergey Lavrov, Russian foreign minister: We are engaged in achieving the goal – to rid the east of Ukraine of the pressure of the neo-Nazi regime.

Vladimir Putin, Russian president: It is to save people from this suffering and from this genocide that is the primary, main reason, motive, and goal of the military operation that we launched in Donbas and Ukraine.

Principle 5: the enemy commits atrocities intentionally; we make mistakes unintentionally

Stories describing the atrocities committed by the enemy are a crucial component of propaganda. We frequently read about the crimes committed by the Ukrainian military in Russian media. 

They broadcasted a fake story about a crucified Russian-speaking boy in Donbas by Ukrainian soldiers. The Kremlin propaganda spreads other false stories about horrors committed by the enemy.

On the other hand, there is a total denial of Russian atrocities and war crimes, which were documented by international media and organizations in Bucha, Izyum, Kherson, and other Ukrainian towns. Russian officials and propaganda media claimed that everything was staged, and called it a provocation.

Principle 5: Declarations in Russian propaganda media

Galina Pyshniak, a refugee from Slovyansk, on Russian state TV: They took a three-year-old child, a little boy, in panties, in a T-shirt, like Jesus, and nailed it to the bulletin board.

Vladimir Putin, Russian president: In Zaporizhzhia, in the Kherson region, in Lugansk and Donetsk, people saw and see now the atrocities that neo-Nazis are committing in the occupied areas of the Kharkiv region. The successors of Banderites and Nazi punishers kill people, torture them, and throw them in prisons.

Released Russian POW: Our eyes were closed, we were beaten, strangled, and threatened with weapons, and they put weapons to our heads.

Vasily Nebenzya, Russian representative to the United Nations: In the discussion on Bucha, clear-cut provocation, classic Goebbels-style, (which is) risking to have serious implications on international peace and security. 

Sergey Lavrov, Russian foreign minister: After our military had left the town of Bucha, a provocation was organized, which we are discussing today.

Vasily Nebenzya, Russian representative to the United Nations: If you look carefully at what you see in Bucha, the corpses that are lying on the streets, that never existed before the Russian troops arrived… left, sorry.

Principle 6: the enemy makes use of illegal weapons

Claims that the opponent employs prohibited weapons depict inhuman warfare.

The alleged use of prohibited weapons by the Ukrainian military received extensive coverage in the Russian state propaganda media. And always without any evidence. 

The Kremlin made up myths about biological weapons being produced in Ukraine’s laboratories. They also spread lies about Ukraine developing a dirty bomb. 

Russian propaganda used fiction about inhuman weapons to demonize the opponent and justify the war.

Russian Ambassador to the UN told a ridiculous story that US and Ukraine were planning to use against Russian troops mosquitoes infected with dangerous viruses.

Principle 6: Statements by Russian political and military leadership

Sergey Lavrov, Russian foreign minister: We are very alarmed by the revelation that the Pentagon has set up several dozen military and biological laboratories on Ukrainian territory.

Maria Zakharova, press department director at Russian foreign ministry: The Russian Federation sent an appeal to the UN and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly to investigate the activities of biological laboratories in Ukraine.

Igor Kirillov, Russian commander of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons: Two Ukrainian institutions have a specific assignment to create so-called dirty bombs. The works are in their final stages. By the way, by carrying out a dirty bomb provocation, Ukraine hopes to intimidate the local population.

Igor Konashenkov, chief spokesperson for Russian defense ministry: According to the documents, the American side planned to carry out in Ukraine in 2022 works on pathogens of birds, bats, and reptiles with a further transition to the study of the possibility of transfer of African swine fever and anthrax by them.

Vasily Nebenzya, Russian representative to the UN: According to the description, such a drone transports a container with a large number of mosquitoes, infection vectors, to a given area and releases them. When they bite, the mosquitoes infect the attacked humans with pathogens of particularly dangerous diseases. The explanation explicitly emphasizes that an infected serviceman will be unable to perform his assigned tasks.

Principle 7: we experience minimal losses, whereas the enemy suffers significant losses

The dictatorship forbids it from revealing its army’s losses because public opinion is highly dependent on the conflict’s apparent outcomes.

During the war, Russia silenced all the information about its losses, which tend to be very high, according to open-source data and videos from the frontlines. Information about the casualties of the Ukraine War was proclaimed a state secret by the Russian government and is prohibited. 

After half a year of a full-scale war, the Russian defense ministry recognized only five thousand killed soldiers while Ukraine and foreign intelligence were talking about tens of thousands killed Russian invaders.

Courts force the media to remove any information about killed soldiers in Ukraine. Conversely, Russian media consistently makes it seem like the Ukrainian army sustained significant losses.

Principle 7: Statements by Russian leadership and propaganda media

Sergei Shoigu, Russian defense minister: If we talk about the 200,000-strong army (of Ukraine), then more than 100,000 losses mean that half the army is lost. Our losses to date are 5937 dead.

Igor Konashenkov, chief spokesman for the Russian defense ministry: There are no losses in the Russian armed forces!

Regional media in Russia: Sad news came from Ukraine today.

Regional media in Russia: And now, the sad news: another one of our countrymen died while on military duty.

Vladimir Putin, Russian president: I consider it necessary to support the proposal of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff to conduct a partial mobilization in the Russian Federation.

Principle 8: respected intellectuals and creative people support our cause

The government relies on the backing of musicians, writers, and artists to justify the war through art and music initiatives. The Kremlin employs well-known personalities to inspire the Russian population to support an unjustified, irrational war on Ukraine. 

Famous artists and singers who support the war are featured in the propaganda media. A concert in support of the war was organized in March, a few weeks after the invasion of Ukraine began.

After the annexation of Crimea, Russian propaganda produced films about the peninsula promoting the expansionist motto “Crimea is ours.” 

Following phony referendums in captured Ukrainian territories, during the full-scale war, the Moscow regime organized a concert to celebrate it, involving key cultural figures.

Principle 8: war propaganda in the songs of Russian singers

Olga Kormukhina, Russian singer: My palm turned into a fist! And if there’s gunpowder, give me fire! (words from the song – ed.).

Polina Gagarina, Russian singer: Who will follow the lonely trail? The strong and the brave laid their heads in the field in battle. (words from the song – ed.). 

Oleg Gazmanov, Russian singer: Officers, officers, your heart is in the crosshairs for Russia and freedom to the end. (words from the song – ed.). 

Shaman, Russian singer: Let’s stand up! The heroes of Russia will remain in our hearts! (words from the song – ed.).

Nikolai Rastorguev, Russian singer: We are advancing on all fronts. Tanks, infantry, artillery fire. We are getting killed, but we survive… And again, we throw ourselves into the attack. Let’s fight for life; my brother, let’s fight to the end! (words from the song – ed.). 

Dmitry Pevtsov, actor, member of Russian parliament (Duma): And make Russia an even stronger, richer, and more beautiful country! Together we will win!

Ivan Okhlobystin, Russian actor: It is right to call it a holy war! Fear the old world devoid of beauty and true faith; fear us! We are coming!

Denis Maidanov, singer, member of Russian parliament (Duma): He can reduce the enemies to ash in an instant. He’s ready to execute the verdict! No fear of U.S. missile defense, no fear of sanctions! There is only one pleasure for Sarmat (nuclear missile) – to disturb NATO’s sleep! (words from the song – ed.). 

Principle 9: our cause is sacred

It is claimed that the war is holy, a crusade against the “axis of evil” and a “fight of good against evil.” The regime does this to defend the war and mobilize its people against the enemy nation.

According to Russian propaganda, the war against Ukraine is a holy war to preserve the Russian state and its spiritual values. 

The Kremlin propaganda mouthpieces claim that Russia is fighting Satanists and the devil’s forces. The conflict is portrayed as a struggle between good — Russia — and evil — Ukrainians and the West. The Russian Orthodox Church joins the government’s war narratives, with priests blessing deadly weapons. 

The sacralization of the war reached an unthinkable extent when top Moscow TV propagandists declared that opponents would just die in the war while Russians would go to paradise.

Principle 9: Statements by Russian spiritual leader, politicians, and TV anchors

Boris Chernyshev, member of Russian parliament (Duma): This (missile strikes on Ukraine’s infrastructure) is an expression of our hatred, absolutely holy hatred! They will stay without gas, without electricity, and without everything!

Vladimir Soloviev, Russian state TV anchor: Ramzan Akhmatich (Kadyrov) wrote: This is Jihad! This is a holy war! 

Vyacheslav Nikonov, deputy head of parliament committee on international affairs: This is a clash of good and evil! We are on the side of good against the forces of absolute evil!

Moscow Patriarch Kirill, head of Russian Orthodox Church: If you lay down your life for your motherland and your friends, as the Holy Scripture says, then you will be with God in his kingdom and eternal life!

Moscow Patriarch Kirill, head of Russian Orthodox Church: And if in fulfillment of this duty, a man dies, he sacrifices himself for others! Therefore we believe that this sacrifice washes away all sins!

Margarita Simonyan, head of Russian state media RT: I don’t want to live in such humanity! I’d rather go to heaven right away, as Putin told us – that we’ll go to heaven, and they’ll simply croak!

Moscow Patriarch Kirill, head of Russian Orthodox Church: If this is a war, we must all be mobilized!

Rally in Moscow, organized by Russian parliament member Evgeny Fedorov: We, as martyrs, will go to heaven! And they will simply croak! To Washington! To Washington! (protesters chanting – ed.).

Vladimir Soloviev, Russian state TV anchor: There is a holy war going on! You are fighting for the very right of the human race to exist in its original form as it was conceived by the Creator!


Unfortunately, despite these techniques being old and known, they influence many people in the world, and are spread by Russian agents of influence and ‘useful idiots’ worldwide. Spread the word, share this article, and this video, and help us to stop the war propaganda!

Read all articles by Insight News Media on Google News, subscribe and follow.
Scroll to Top