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22 May. 2023

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How is Ukraine covered in different European media?

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How is Ukraine covered in different European media?

European media outlets have different approaches to covering the events in Ukraine, and some media outlets have clear traces of russian propaganda. Find out more about the mood in the European information space and who is most susceptible to the narratives promoted by russia

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According to the research on counteracting russian propaganda narratives about Ukraine in Western media, the information space of countries is to some extent influenced by russia, although the media understand that russia is a terrorist state.


Thus, news and other publications on events in Ukraine in 36 countries were analyzed. Among the countries most exposed to russian propaganda were 5 European countries.


What do the Hungarian media say about Ukraine?


According to the researchers, the russian authorities directly or indirectly control most of the media in Hungary. Therefore, local media actively promote the narrative that the country should under no circumstances help Ukraine in the war and refuse to cooperate closely with russia to support Ukrainians.


It is also characteristic that anti-Western rhetoric and criticism of European sanctions against russia are often heard in Hungary, where they eloquently point out their ineffectiveness and meaninglessness. Most of these narratives are spread by pro-government public media, which make up the majority of the country's media. Therefore, independent media that express an opposing opinion simply cannot balance the overall picture of the information space.


In addition, pro-russian media outlets are actively promoting disinformation about the situation of the Hungarian population in Ukraine. The main line of manipulation uses narratives about "language oppression" and mobilization activities. Thus, according to their rhetoric, the Ukrainian authorities are massively mobilizing indigenous ethnic Hungarians into the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which, of course, is not true.


Nevertheless, the independent part of the Hungarian media, despite the constant suppression, tries to resist the pro-russian media, covering the true facts and debunking the myths spread by the russian authorities.


What is characteristic of the French media?


France has taken a neutral position, in which the media tries to "balance" by occasionally publishing the conclusions and statements of russian politicians and pseudo-experts-propagandists. Thus, the French media repeatedly published comments by russian officials as specially invited guests. Most often, these were the speaker of the russian Embassy in France, Alexander Makogon, and the vice speaker of the State Duma, Pyotr Tolstoy.


This position is explained by the fact that it is impossible to avoid russian propaganda because of the wide network of disinformation they spread around the world. That is why it is important to publicize the narratives through which manipulations are carried out.


According to the researchers, the French perception of what is happening in Ukraine was shaped by russian correspondents, who are representatives of "soft power" in the economic and cultural sphere of diplomacy. After all, France is critically short of people who can speak on behalf of Ukrainians in the online media and television space to offset propaganda.


But it is also important to take into account the fact that a significant part of public debate in France takes place on Twitter, where Ukraine has almost no representatives who would defend Ukrainian positions. At the same time, russia is successfully using this situation, even though russia Today and Sputnik have been blocked by sanctions against russia. For example, russian narratives are actively promoted through the new pro-government publication Omerta.




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How do the German media talk about Ukraine?


Much of the information about the events in Ukraine is covered by German correspondents who have personally traveled to the war zones and have contacted Ukrainian experts, military, spokespersons and media representatives. Therefore, much attention is paid to military and humanitarian support for Ukraine.


However, russian narratives are present in the German media. In particular, they are influenced by the calls of pro-russian intellectuals who insist on the need to achieve peace in Ukraine "by any means necessary." In addition, in Germany:


● often insist that Ukraine is a corrupt state, completely ignoring the progress that has been made in recent years;

● call the situation with the russian Orthodox Church oppressive;

● promote kremlin narratives about russia's special role in the victory over fascism and the idea of a "great culture of the russian federation" that has nothing to do with the putin regime.


However, russia's public manipulations regarding Germany's dependence on russian energy have not been justified, and therefore Germans have ceased to have a negative attitude towards anti-russian sanctions.


What moods prevail in the Italian media?


According to the researchers, Italy is focused on solving the country's internal problems. That is why news about Ukraine focuses only on the most important events or issues that are directly related to local interests. In addition, there are very few Italian correspondents in Ukraine. Therefore, there is an acute lack of up-to-date information about the real state of affairs in Ukraine in their information space.


It is also important to note that Italian businessmen who have lost part of their income due to sanctions against russia are actively spreading narratives about "achieving peace at any cost." That is why the media follows russian rhetoric calling for "reconciliation of fraternal peoples." In addition, the media sometimes present the occupation of Ukrainian territories, in particular Crimea, as "people's self-determination," trying to compare the region to South Tyrol.


How do Latvian media speak about Ukraine?


Latvian citizens and government officials have been very supportive of Ukraine since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. The local media actively invite Ukrainian experts and journalists and pay a lot of attention to current events and the situation at the front. It is also important that most often they invite experts who speak as politicians and have a clear position on russia, such as Alexey Orestovich or Dmitry Gordon.


However, the main obstacle is that 40% of the country's population is russian-speaking. Therefore, communication with Ukrainian representatives takes place in russian. In addition, it is because of the language barrier and the fact that the media use russian-language sources that russian narratives often enter the Latvian information space.


Also, because of this, pro-russian rhetoric about the so-called "Ukrainian russophobia" has become quite widespread in Latvia, which caused russia's attack and provoked Latvia's economic decline due to its assistance to Ukraine. Therefore, some media outlets are trying to mediate communication between Ukrainian refugees and russian immigrants, pursuing the goal of "reconciliation of fraternal peoples."


So, unfortunately, we see that regardless of the level of support for Ukraine by a particular state, russian propaganda finds a way to infiltrate the country's information space. Therefore, the media should be more vigilant about the narratives that are successfully manipulated by the russian authorities.


We remind you! Some world leaders still cannot leave aside the topic of peace agreements with a terrorist state. We will tell you which countries are promoting "peace initiatives" to resolve the conflict, despite Ukraine's position, in our article here.


Photo: istock




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