Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 17.02.2018
Russia is invading Europe in Ukraine. Starting in 2014, Putin destroyed the post-Second World II settlement that avoided international war and kept Europe largely at peace. You wouldn’t know any of this by reading the reportage coming from news agency Reuters about Putin’s War, or by listening to the statements of Germany’s Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel. Lazy journalism from Reuters and Russian disinformation from Gabriel means that the reality of war in Europe is ignored, and the lies of Kremlin propaganda are amplified.
Reuters published a news item on February 17 that at first had the headline “Ukraine progress should soften sanctions on Russia: Germany’s Gabriel” that they subsequently covered with additional paragraphs and the new headline “Sweden says it could be part of U.N. peacekeeping in Ukraine.”
Lazy journalism by Reuters begins with this sentence: “More than 10,000 people have been killed since April 2014 in a conflict that pits Ukraine forces against Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.” Russia invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014, the date Putin placed on the medal he gave to Russian special forces who besieged the regional parliament in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine. The “Ukrainian forces” are in fact the Armed Forces of Ukraine – the Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force, Airmobile Forces, Territorial Battalions and the National Guard of Ukraine. There are no “Russian-backed separatists” – this is a Kremlin lie; there are only regular and irregular soldiers of the Russian armed forces, under the command of Russian officers, armed, supplied, and paid by Russia. Finally, the “conflict” is a war – an invasion – and it is not taking place in eastern Ukraine only: it is also taking place in southern Ukraine (in Crimea) and in cyberspace and in the whole world as economic warfare by Russia against Ukraine.
The earlier draft of the article also referred to Russian soldiers as “rebels.” This is an out-and-out Kremlin lie, as there is no rebellion – only Putin’s invasion. Reuters removed the word “rebel” which is so beloved by Russian propagandists.
Reuters reported Germany’s Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, making a statement at the Munich Security Conference. Gabriel said “the West should ease some economic sanctions imposed on Russia if Kiev [sic; Reuters probably means Kyiv] and Moscow implemented a lasting ceasefire in eastern Ukraine with the help of peacekeepers.” Gabriel is wrong on many counts in this misleading statement. First, sanctions were imposed in 2014 after Russia invaded Ukraine in Crimea, and are not connected to the ceasefire arising from the early 2015 Minsk Agreement about Russia’s subsequent invasion of Ukraine in Donbas. Second, Gabriel gives a false equivalency for ceasefire violations, as if Ukraine and Russia were both responsible; as the German foreign minister knows full well, Russia is initiating the attack with Minsk-proscribed weapons and Ukraine is defending itself with Minsk-permitted weapons – ceasefire violations are ordered by Putin as a tool of his ongoing war. Third, the war is in southern Ukraine (Crimea) and in eastern Ukraine (Donbas) – the invasion is all of a piece to Putin, whose aim is to destroy the sovereignty, independence, and democracy of Ukraine.
An earlier draft of the article quoted Gabriel as saying it was “unrealistic” to expect Russia to adhere to the conditions for lifting sanctions – therefore some sanctions should be lifted! This bizarre reasoning was dropped from the current draft of the Reuters article.
To report Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Reuters maintains a bureau in Moscow only. It does not maintain one in Kyiv. Reuters does not have a regular war reporter on the battlefront in Donbas. Reuters does not have a regular report in Russia-occupied Crimea.
Sigmar Gabriel reflects the ‘Ostpolitik’ thinking of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, which looks only at Russia when looking east, and ignores Ukraine. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should be a strong negative for Germany; Ukraine participating in a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union is a strong positive. But the ‘Realpolitik’ of Russia at war with Europe and Ukraine embracing it has not shifted the pre-1991 thinking of the SPD or of Sigmar Gabriel: they still look to Russia and to the Putin-Kremlin crime syndicate for profits for German industry.
The war effort of Russia against the West is served very well by the Reuters article originally titled “Ukraine progress should soften sanctions on Russia: Germany’s Gabriel.” Where Reuters and Sigmar Gabriel meet, lazy journalism and Russian disinformation come together.