The description of the Ukraine crisis as an ‘information war’ in recently published studies seems to suggest a belief that the Russian government’s propaganda in the crisis contributed to Russia’s swift annexation of Crimea. However, studies focusing on Russia’s state-controlled media fail to explain how Russian’s narrative spread beyond the ‘Slavic world’. This study, based on quantitative and qualitative analyses of news coverage by ITAR-TASS, Reuters, the Associated Press, and Agence France-Presse over two years, reveals that Russian’s narratives were internationally circulated in news stories published by a western news agency. Although this by no means suggests that the western news agency was complicit in Russia’s propaganda effort, these news stories were published on the most popular online news sites, such as Yahoo News and Huffington Post. These findings highlight the vulnerability of today’s global news gathering and distribution systems, and the rapid changes in relationships between states and corporations in the media and communications industry.
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