What's New(s)

What's New(s) - Covering the invasion - 18/03/22

What's New(s) - Covering the invasion - 18/03/22

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

Last week we talked about the information provided on the Russian invasion, and the tactics used to counter Putin’s disinformation campaigns.

What were some of the main issues the media focussed on this week ?

Of course, in the European media, much attention to the strike in the far west of Ukraine last Sunday, while this raised the question whether Putin would go as far as attacking European Union countries. Just hours after the Kremlin had stated that western supply lines into Ukraine were ‘legitimate targets’, it put its words into action with strikes on a military base used for NATO weapons training, close to the EU’s border. EU countries immediately reacted, as well as a US national security advisor, who said that ‘any fire on neighbour of Ukraine would trigger a full-force NATO response’ quoted the Guardian. Financial Times highlighted this was the deadliest attack yet on Western Ukraine so far.

And is the threat of a spillover of the war to the EU territory indeed real ? What do the media predict ? 

Financial Times underlined that the raid, used for training western instructors and within 10 miles of NATO’s border, implied the danger that Europe’s biggest land invasion since 1945 could spread beyond Ukraine. Dan Sabbagh, Defence and security editor for the Guardian, however believes that an attack on Poland is highly unlikely. The attack was clearly designed to send a message, he agrees, but considering the state of the already weakened Russian forces, already struggling while losing men and material in Ukraine, an attack on Poland would be unlikely.

And in this case, the lack of access to information available just after the attack also shaped the image provided by the media, didn’t it ?

Indeed, media were limited in reporting on the situation directly after the attack since they were limited in their access to the area targeted. Roads leading to the facility were blocked with checkpoints while authorities were conducting search-and-rescue operations, described the BBC. Media were therefore initially depending on insight information from witnesses, who pictured how missiles struck the site and caused the death of, according to most European media 35 people.

But then moving on to the situation in the capital, what is happening there according to different media ? 

Tuesday morning the residents of Kiev, or at least those who remain in the city woke up under Russian artillery fire, which hit a number of residential neighbourhoods in the capital, the Guardian's journalists in Kiev report. These new attacks, comments Le Monde, have forced the authorities to decree a 36-hour curfew from Tuesday night, just before new cease-fire negotiations are due to begin. Yuras Karmanau, AP, describes these attacks as a punishing bombardment. Juan Carlos Sanz, El País, paints a devastating picture for the Ukrainian capital, noting that Kiev could become a new Aleppo if Putin decides to resort to his overwhelming air superiority. Vitali Klitsko has become one of the leading figures in the defence of the capital. The former boxer and current mayor of the city pointed out in an interview to El Correo that "they will never surrender", to which he added the rhetorical question: "Is this is how Putin comes to liberate us?" alluding to the Russian shelling.

And precisely under Russian shelling, President Zelensky received a surprising visit, hasn’t he ?

Very special and very unexpected indeed. On Tuesday Polish, Czech, and Slovenian Prime Ministers travelled to Kiev "for a surprise visit" to meet with the Ukrainian authorities, EURACTIV noted. Camile Gijs, POLITICO, quotes the Polish government statement, saying that the prime ministers of the three countries will act as representatives of the European Council. However, Dave Keating, France 24 correspondent in Brussels quoted an EU official that says the leaders’ visit to Kiev is an individual initiative with “no mandate of the European Council”, and Council President Charles Michel pointed at “the security risks of such a travel” when talking about the plans. Deutsche Welle states that the aim of the trip is to "confirm the unequivocal support of the entire European Union for Ukraine's sovereignty and independence and to present a comprehensive assistance package".