Every epic fail has its turning points. In many cases, historians, years after the events in question, identify turning points different from those presented by the media during the days of war itself.
In the view of many observers, a Russian intervention in Eastern Ukraine – yes, you might call that an invasion, but it seems to me that much of our media prefers the term intervention, unless if it is a Russian intervention – would be such a turning point. If it happens, and if it’s too big to be ignored, it would be one.
But maybe, even if such a Russian intervention, with or without a Western reaction, would happen, historians would identify another turning point: the day when Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko ended the ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine on June 30 and vowed that Ukrainian government forces would “attack and liberate” the land. What else should a president of a sovereign country do? And, more interestingly, did he do that in accordance with wishes from EU capitals and Washington DC, or did he do so because he is, after all, Ukraine‘s president, and not the EU’s?
The West has helped you hitherto, Ukraine – but not necessarily by its surpassing favor. Obviously, Russia has its – yet to be determined – share in Ukraine’s agony, but so has the West, and not least Western media.
When a German veteran correspondent, Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, told German television on April 16 that she shared the unease of many German news watchers about an anti-Russian bias, it felt to me as if a general gag order on my country’s media had been lifted. Of course, I was wrong. First of all, there hadn’t been a gag order on reporting flaws or dishonest intentions in Western Ukraine policies. There had only been influences – from political parties who populate much of the boards of German broadcasters, for example. And my sense of relief wasn’t justified either because that interview wasn’t run at primetime, but on a Wednesday night, at 23:20 central European time.
Which is quite characteristic – that’s how media channels can claim that they are pluralistic. Broadcast this kind of stuff when most ordinary people have gone to sleep. (I only got aware of the video on the internet.)
The media had described the situation as if the EU had only ideals rather than interests, Krone-Schmalz said. Even proposals from Moscow that would have been worth a debate had been labeled as “propaganda”. Rather than taking their positon as observers as neutrally as possible, many journalists had, for example, almost completely missed out on the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement’s security aspects, particularly its article 7.
Indeed, I remember noone in the mainstream press taking issue at all.
It is understandable that Western governments want to have options now if Russia
invades Ukraine – umm, starts an intervention, umm, sends a convoy with Russian humanitarian assistance to enable humanitarian aid in Donetsk or Luhansk. But to massage public opinion so as to ensure its support for whatever kind of option is wrong. It leads to further bad choices, just as past manipulations have led to the current standoff.