This paper attempts to analyze how Russia’s state-owned media outlets have framed the European refugee crisis that has started in 2015. As a key development in the European neighborhood, the crisis has dominated public discourse within EU member states and challenged the effectiveness and readiness of EU institutions. By borrowing from image theory on foreign policy (Elgstrom, 2000; Chaban, Elgstrom and Gulyaeva, 2017), this paper examines articles published in two state-owned media outlets (TASS and Sputnik News) between 2015 and 2016, framing the EU refugee crisis for an international and English-speaking audience. To do so, the perceptions of EU’s values (pro/against Russian values), capacity (strong/weak) and actions (effective/ineffective) are examined. This article attempts to demonstrate that Russia’s state-owned media outlets have conveyed images of the EU as a ‘dangerously multicultural’, weak and ineffective actor. By showing Russia’s weaponisation of the refugee crisis to undermine EU actorness within member states public spheres, this contribution also sheds some light on the interaction between the different challenges currently faced by the EU (unstable neighborhoods and the rise of populism at the internal level) and the increasingly confrontational stance adopted by the Kremlin.
Domenico Valenza (email@example.com)
Domenico Valenza is an Academic Assistant in the European General Studies Programme at the College of Europe. He holds a an MA in European Studies from Université Paris 8 Saint Denis and Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), and a MSc in “Russia in Global Systems” from King’s College London (KCL). His main research interests include Russia’s foreign policy, EU-Russia relations, NATO-Russia relations, European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), and human rights.