1st Dec 2021


Ukraine reporting should be more nuanced

  • Kiev: not as simple as it appears (Photo: Marco Fieber)

I would like to react to Andrew Rettman's article Former Polish FM causes furore over Russia interview, in which he writes that “Ukraine has been de facto partitioned into an EU and US protectorate in the west and Russia-occupied regions in the east.”

Since the Ukrainian Euromaidan revolution and the ensuing crisis, I have been annoyed by the numerous shortcuts and groundless assertions made in the Western media.

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The average reader following mainstream media receives a black and white picture of the events, in which Eastern, Russian-speaking Ukrainians fight against their Western, Ukrainian-speaking countrymen. Moreover, the simplistic view of Ukraine as a territory divided between the 'West' (read EU and USA) and Russia is commonplace.

Let us please get some facts straight: there are indeed many divisions in Ukraine, but this west-east image is overly simplistic. Describing these divisions as running along clear geographic (or ethnic, or linguistic) lines is what I call sloppy journalism.

For example, looking at pro-Russian, or pro-separatist tendencies, one must admit that they are mostly restricted to the Donbas region, which is only a small part of Eastern Ukraine, and an even smaller part of Russian-speaking Ukraine. As a matter of fact, the pro-Russian separatists (and the Russian military) do not even control an entire Ukrainian oblast (province).

The idea of great powers dividing up the Ukrainian pie is also something I believe is unworthy of EUobserver. Crimea was indeed taken by Russia, not as a protectorate, but as an annexed province.

When it comes to the rest of the country, 90 percent of it still belongs to a sovereign Ukraine, while the rest is a war zone under the control of Russia-backed armed groups and Russian military units.

The claim that this Ukraine is now a de facto EU and US protectorate can be found on obscure conspiracy websites, but it is a gross misrepresentation.

The presidential elections in May and polls for the upcoming elections on 26 October all confirm that current pro-Western policies respect the majority's will. Finally, Ukraine is not occupied by EU/US military troops.

The word “protectorate” has not been used often lately to describe international relations in contemporary Europe and rather reminds me of WWII or Cold War diplomacy. I believe it should not be casually used to describe relations between sovereign countries, and certainly not to describe EU/US relations with Ukraine.

I would like to see more nuances in the description of events in Ukraine, and I would invite journalists to abstain from Manichaean and black and white coverage.

Adrien Beauduin is a European citizen and EUobserver reader


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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