The impact of mass media on individuals and society is to a great extent based on emotions. We concentrate on fear as it is one of the basic emotions triggered by risk and threat, which is claimed to play a key role in the twenty-first century consciousness (Furedi 20018). The study focuses on the emotionalisation of fear in contemporary media discourse about Russia, more specifically, on constructions of ‘Russian threat’ and ‘fear of Russia’ in Anglo-American media texts to highlight pragmatic effects and to speculate on possible purposes of such discourses. The study aims to explore the functioning of the lexemes threat and fear, in textual contexts with the focus on their pragma-discursive characteristics. It identifies the mechanisms as well as linguistic tools involved in media strategies of scare-mongering. The dataset was derived from quality British and American newspapers in the period 2018–2020, and was analysed drawing on an interdisciplinary approach combining critical discourse analysis, pragmatics, medialinguistics, psycholinguistics and the theory of proximisation. The paper argues that appealing to emotions as well as constructing emotions is aimed at enhancing the persuasive function of media and fulfilling their own agenda. The persistent use of the words ‘threat’ and ‘fear’ in relation to Russia as well as the obsessive discussion of this topic in media aim to shape a certain negative public opinion of Russia among readerships. The findings show that to achieve this goal different strategies and linguistic tools are used including: exaggeration, repetition, proximisation, interrogative headlines, presupposition, among others. The results go beyond linguistics, and may find implementation in political studies, since they provide researchers with tools for understanding contemporary social and political processes. © Vladimir I. Ozyumenko and Tatiana V. Larina, 2021.