Russia’s Foreign Ministry is having a meeting next week for United States journalists to discuss the imposition of media restrictions in the country for western media. The move is in response to the censorship and negative treatment of the Russian press in the west due to their reporting of the war in Ukraine. The nature of the restrictions is unclear at this time, but some news outlets have pulled out of the country because of recent legislation.
A new law in Russia threatens up to a 15-year prison sentence for reporting disinformation on what the Kremlin calls its special operation in Ukraine. The stiff sentence is an attempt to control the narrative of how the conflict is progressing.
The new legislation also allows the Russian authorities to completely shut down media outlets if they do not like the content of what is being reported. Until this point, the coverage by the western media has been almost 100% pro-Ukraine reporting.
The U.S. State Department has commented on the situation, saying that Russia is engaged in mass censorship.
The situation is more complicated regarding giving the same treatment to foreign journalists. If Putin were to get desperate to spin failures in the war or if felt he was in danger of falling from power, he might make the decision that he has nothing to lose. Western journalists could receive the same treatment as Russian outlets.
The pending meeting is not the only action Putin is taking to control the message. It is part of an overall strategy to win the information war with the West.
Russia is also attempting to regulate the internet in the same way as its ally China, which has almost total control over what its citizens see.
One of the reasons that Putin must be more aggressive with foreign journalists is that he has not achieved total control of the Russian people’s access to information. Until that happens, you can expect the restrictions on all journalists in Russia to increase.