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What’s New(s) – On the brink of war – 18/02/2022

Écrit par sur 18 février 2022

What´s New(s)? La revue de presse anglophone – Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

It seems only a matter of moments before tensions can escalate in Ukraine. Fears of a possible Russian invasion are overall present in the media. Europe’s biggest airline companies were, one by one, withdrawing their flights to the country. How do media in different EU countries report on the current situation ?

Well of course the strong concerns about a possible outbreak of violence in the east of Europe are echoed by most European media. When the United States warned last Friday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine could be imminent and implored its citizens to leave the country immediately. It did not take long before EU countries including Germany, Spain, Latvia, Denmark, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands followed, stated POLITICO. How the bloc’s member states reacted to the fear of a potential invasion by Russia, however strongly depended state by state, underlined national media.

In Germany, all eyes were set on Chancellor Scholz relatively moderate approach: he was one of the few EU leaders initially hesitant to provide weapons to Ukraine, delicately balancing between political and economic interests. British media underlined the fierce stance of their Prime Minister. “Britain will not flinch over Ukraine, Boris Johnson tells Russia”, headlined the BCC. Deutsche Welle described the UK’s relationship with Moscow however as somewhat ambiguous.

The British government announced tough sanctions against Russia in the event of an invasion, while its own capital has come to be known as ‘Londongrad’ because of its close ties with Kremlin-linked oligarchs, argued the German broadcaster. London’s role in hiding Moscow’s gold risks signalling that the UK is not serious about confronting Putin’s invasion.

But the last days it looked like Russia was slowly withdrawing its troops again, is an escalation realistic? What does the press predict ?

Well, the BBC quoted various western military analysts who said to be sceptic of Russia’s latest move to withdraw some of its troops, arguing they need more information to judge the significance of Russia’s movement. German newspaper Der Spiegel – one of the first newspapers announcing that the Russian military could invade on Wednesday, something later denied by US intelligence sources- estimated that NATO now saw reason for ‘cautious optimism’ in the Kremlin’s announcement to order some troops back from the border. Kiev’s plaid of proof on an actual de-escalation was perceived in Moscow as ‘hysteria’ and ‘information terrorism’, wrote the newspaper. Investors at least took confidence in Moscow’s words, reported Reuters – stocks and other risky assets immediately made a modest recovery after Russia’s announcement.

But then moving on to Spain, where a labour campaign reform caused political chaos ?

Well, the BBC quoted various western military analysts who said to be sceptic of Russia’s latest move to withdraw some of its troops, arguing they need more information to judge the significance of Russia’s movement. German newspaper Der Spiegel – one of the first newspapers announcing that the Russian military could invade on Wednesday, something later denied by US intelligence sources- estimated that NATO now saw reason for ‘cautious optimism’ in the Kremlin’s announcement to order some troops back from the border.

Kiev’s plaid of proof on an actual de-escalation was perceived in Moscow as ‘hysteria’ and ‘information terrorism’, wrote the newspaper. Investors at least took confidence in Moscow’s words, reported Reuters – stocks and other risky assets immediately made a modest recovery after Russia’s announcement. 

But then, moving on to the media reports of a new protest movement spreading across Europe. What does the press write about this so-called freedom-convoys ?

The freedom convoys arrived from Canada with the aim of collapsing the cities of Paris and Brussels. Le Figaro puts the number of demonstrators at 32,000 and more than 7000 police officers mobilised for the operation. William Audureau and Léa Prati in Le Monde define this movement as an apolitical initiative that appeals to the extreme right. They also point out that opponents of the French government’s health policy welcomed the Canadian truckers’ initiative, even if it meant passing on false information and exaggerating its importance or political impact. Guillermo Abril defined these groups in the Spanish daily El País as anti-vaccine, conspiratorial and heirs of the ‘yellow vests’, and quotes one of the participants that said that: “The aim of this pandemic is to decrease the world’s population”.

And can the protests be seen as legitimate, while countries are slowly lifting restrictions ?

That’s what Dave Keating, France 24 correspondent in Brussels asks himself, “Enthusiasm may have been dampened by Friday’s announcement ending restrictions”, and says that a very small number of protesters has gathered on foot at the city centre, “visibly frustrated that more people haven’t joined them”.

Pauline Hofmann and Arthur Sente argue in Le Soir that without leadership, the movement ran out of steam before reaching Brussels. Kim Willsher (the Guardian) also highlights the role of the Belgian police to hamper these demonstrations “Police set up barriers and enforced checks around the European quarter”, which might have helped to reduce it to only about 10% of the convoy that had converged in Paris. The Spanish public television defines the attempt to block the city of Brussels as a failure since they haven’t managed to reach the institutions.

Source photo : European People’s Party


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