What's New(s)

What's New(s) - Bucha killings - 8/04/22

What's New(s) - Bucha killings - 8/04/22

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

It has been over a Month now that the Russians invaded Ukraine on February 24th. The images published of the massacre in Bucha last weekend made the world shiver once again.

The media immediately raised the question whether war crimes were committed. What do we know so far?

Indeed, Nadine. The media all over the world have been shocked by the massacre in Bucha. Barbarism was the only word accompanying the photo of the corpses on the front page of Libération. The martyrs of Bucha was the headline chosen by Le Soir to illustrate the terrible news, and the Scottish daily The National pointed out that Russia faces genocide claim. Meanwhile, Russian television first broadcast the images of the corpses with a label superimposed with the word fake, and then claimed that Ukrainian soldiers had perpetrated the massacre as Russian soldiers retreated from the ground. However, satellite images published by The New York Times on 10 and 31 March show that both the mass grave and the corpses scattered on the ground in Bucha were already there before the arrival of the Ukrainian troops. 

And do these photos change Europe’s stance towards Russia?

That’s the question that everyone wants to answer. Andrés Gil, in El Diario reports that the EU-27 differ over the inclusion of the energy embargo in the new sanctions against Russia that are being prepared in response to the "atrocities committed in Bucha", and predicts that the proposal for more sanctions will test their unity. POLITICO notes that some European countries are devising a plan to block all imports of Russian oil, and highlights how Berlin's position on this is still unclear despite pressure from a number of Member States. Euractive has named this European pressure the: 'Isolate Russia from the world' mission. The trade ban called for by Warsaw is now on the radar of the Commission and the Member States, which are already preparing a fifth sanctions package. President Von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell have planned their first visit to Kiev after the Russian invasion.

But potential war crimes were committed not only against civilians. What’s the latest news on the violence against journalists in the country? 

Indeed, evidence of Russian aggression against journalists in the country is mounting. On April 1st, Maks Levin, a renowned Ukrainian photographer working for news website LB.ua, was found dead close to Kyiv, where he was covering the Russian invasion. The Guardian cited the prosecutor general’s office in Ukraine, who said that Levin “was killed by servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces with two shots from small arms”. Levin was unarmed and wearing a press jacket, implying that he was deliberately targeted for being a journalist. Besides Maks Levin, 6 other journalists have been killed so far since February 24th. The colleague he was traveling with, Oleksiy Chernyshov, has not been found, writes the New York Times. Media watchdog groups are now expressing their concern over the fate of other journalists who have disappeared in Ukraine. The deliberate targeting of journalists is a war crime, underlines Reporters Without Borders quoted by the Guardian.

And a few weeks ago, we talked about how the war on information is changing our perception of the war. Have the dynamics shifted?

Well, the targeting of journalists shows how Putin is trying to silence journalists and change the image of the situation on the ground. According to Jason Rezaian in the Washington Post, he is threatening free expression in Ukraine and Russia, but also in neighbouring countries. About a month ago, various Western media agreed that Ukraine was winning the information war, via traditional, but mostly via social media. “Ukraine is clearly winning the social media info war since the first days after the invasion”, wrote France 24 back then. “Ukraine and its partisans are running circles around Putin and his propagandists in the battle for hearts and minds, both in Ukraine and abroad.”, wrote Sinan Aral in the Washington Post. It is far too early to declare the information victory, argued Carl Miller however in the Atlantic just a few days ago. Hashtags such #IStandWithPutin and #IStandWithRussia were shared massively by bots and fake profiles even within Europe in countries such as Poland, he writes. Hungarian newspaper Lakmusz recently investigated how articles of RT, now officially forbidden in Europe, are directly translated and shared by Hungarian traditional media. Just like on the battlefield, media attacks continue.