What Russia Sees: In Crimea, ‘Everyone Is Having Fun’

On Russian state television, explosions on the roadway of a 12-mile bridge are no reason to cancel your vacation to the beaches of the Crimean Peninsula, even with a war raging nearby on mainland Ukraine.

Channel One RussiaCreditCredit…Channel One Russia

The last words of the TV correspondent Alyona Svistelnikova on the above episode of Crimea 24’s “Time Will Tell” program sum up a running theme of Russian state TV after an apparent Ukrainian strike on a critical bridge linking Crimea and Russia.

Over and over again since Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Russian government officials and the assorted hosts, pundits and commentators of state television have played that note: Everything is fine.

The theme persisted even after the Russian authorities said they destroyed two attack drones targeting central Moscow this week. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin of Moscow reported drone strikes briefly on his Telegram account, saying there was no “serious damage or casualties.”

Then, after a short statement the next day, he moved on to usual programming: His next post was about Moscow’s top medical care, with photos of gleaming hospitals.

The war in Ukraine — and the flashes of violence in Crimea and Russia’s border regions — often comes up in news programs. But it is usually paired with remarks from President Vladimir V. Putin or other officials who insist that Russia’s military is doing well.

The Kremlin has sought to keep Russians supportive of the war by making sure they don’t feel its consequences too keenly. To that end, Russian officials try to project an air of confidence and competence in the face of any obstacle.

When the United States announces new weapons or ammunition for Ukraine, for instance, Russian leaders present a sanguine front. As U.S.-provided cluster munitions began arriving in Ukraine in recent days, Mr. Putin told a reporter — for a program titled “Moscow. Kremlin. Putin.” — that the delivery was a sign of Ukraine’s supply shortages, a contrast to Russia’s well-stocked supples.

He has also said that Russia has its own cluster munitions and that his forces are ready if the weapons are used against them. There is evidence that both Ukraine and Russia have used cluster munitions, which are widely banned, though not by Russia, Ukraine or the United States.

ЗАРУБИН via TelegramCreditCredit…ЗАРУБИН via Telegram

The airwaves are also full of all the usual programming — talent contests, dating shows, prestige dramas, and sci-fi and historical fiction — along with the steady drumbeat of news coverage delivered by state employees. They often seek to directly reassure the public, as Ms. Svistelnikova did, and blanket their broadcasts with images of normal Russian life.

“Everything is wonderful — summer, sea and sun,” Ms. Svistelnikova told viewers, after saying that Crimea’s hotels had rooms and beds ready. “Crimea is waiting to for every guest with open arms!”

This is one in an occasionalseries breaking down how Russia is selling the war at home, as TV and other propaganda outlets create a distorted reality of what’s happening and who is responsible.

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