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Article

China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Russian media: Politics of narratives, images, and metaphors

Kuteleva A., Vasilev D.

Through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) it is obvious that China is crafting a new space for itself in the international system and becoming more assertive and confident in its international dealings, including in Eurasia, typically considered by Russia as its backyard. This raises the question of how the BRI is presented and perceived in Russia. The article explores this question by examining the coverage of the BRI in Russia’s major newspapers between 2013 and 2019. It traces the visibility of different topics in Russian media coverage of BRI and maps the shifts in its focus over six years. The article demonstrates that while the definition of BRI in Russian newspapers includes multiple and often contradictory discursive frames that compete with each, Sino-Russian cooperation in Eurasia and, specifically, Russian proposal of “linking up” of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and BRI are unanimously supported and approved as a strategy that suits Russia’s international status. Consequently, it can be concluded that Russian newspapers support the official narrative of Sino-Russian relations and follow trends rather than create them.