How is Russian media reporting the Ukraine war? How state-controlled news coverage distorts reality
Coverage of the war in Ukraine varies hugely between countries and their allegiances - from Russia’s outright propaganda to China’s fence-sitting
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The news coverage you see from the war in Ukraine depends a lot on where you live in the world.
Coverage of the conflict differs starkly across countries, from the overt propaganda of Russian state TV to the censored view available in nations with historic links to the Kremlin, most notably China.
It’s a rapidly changing situation, so how exactly have news organisations in other nations reported (or misreported) on the war so far?
How Russian state media has reported the war
The state-controlled media in Russia has offered a typically distorted view of the invasion.
Russian state TV initially claimed that missile strikes on Ukrainian cities and reports of Russian soldiers killed in action were fakes.
However, even Channel One’s political talk show Vremya Pokazhet (Time Will Tell) later reported that the number of casualties could no longer be kept from the public, leading to public shock that their loved ones had been sent to fight in Ukraine.
The Moscow Times has reported on how the Western withdrawal of companies has left “Thousands of Russians’ Livelihoods on the Line” with segments of the paper delving into “Russians against War”.
However, Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda, meaning ‘Truth’, carries headlines such as “Heroes on the front lines: the sergeant personally destroyed 10 nationalists” and “Professional thugs from the Ukrainian ‘Foreign Legion’ earn $ 5,000 per day”.
There is also the ludicrous suggestion that Russia is actually helping Ukraine, with one report on the site claiming: “Since the beginning of the special operation, the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations has delivered more than 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the residents of Donbass and Ukraine.”
Such propaganda dominates Russian media, which made the anti-war protest from journalist Marina Ovsyannikova on the Kremlin-controlled Channel One television all the more powerful and courageous.
The view from China
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi insisted on Monday 14 March that China is “not a party” to the war with Ukraine. This came after US officials claimed Moscow requested military equipment from Beijing.
However, China has accused Washington of spreading ‘disinformation’ over Beijing’s stance in the Ukraine war and has repeatedly blamed the US and NATO’s ‘eastward expansion’ for worsening tensions in the region.
Since the start of the Ukraine war, there has been a substantial increase in citations of Russian state media on Chinese state media, with fake reports of how American-funded biolabs in Ukraine are secretly producing chemical weapons.
Headlines such as “Russia reveals evidence of U.S funded bio-program in Ukraine ‘’ and “China urges U.S to disclose more details about biolabs in Ukraine ‘’ appear on state-run China Global Television.
A video of a Russian Defence Ministry news conference repeating these false claims has been viewed more than 10 million times on Sina Weibo and liked 90,000 times.
The BBC has revealed that social media posts expressing partisan views both for and against Russian military action are being monitored and removed by China on a daily basis.
On Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent, one person wrote: “No-one dares to stand with Ukraine right now. It’s all one-sided support for Russia."
According to Free Weibo, which monitors censorship on the platform, this post was one of many which was removed.
However, there are signs that even Chinese media is turning against the Russian invasion, with reports that its state media had started to report on the killing of Ukrainian civilians.
This may reflect the political pressure that China is under to condemn Russia’s invasion, as the international condemnation grows against its historic ally.
The Belarusian view
A long-time ally of Moscow, president Alexander Lukashenko is playing an increasingly prominent role in supporting Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Media outlets in Belarus are unsurprisingly pro-Russian in their outlook, arguing that Ukraine needs to remain outside of Western organisations.
Belarusian state owned newspaper Zviazda carries a piece by former Russian culture minister Vladimir Medinsky, in which he writes: “We need a peaceful, free, independent Ukraine, neutral - not a member of military blocs, not a member of NATO, a country that is our friend, neighbour with whom we develop relations, build our future, and which is not a bridgehead of the military and economic attack against our country. Therefore, our goal does not change.”
In another article titled “We want peace there”, President Lukashenko said: “In this situation, no Belarusian soldier is fighting in Ukraine. Despite their hostile position towards Belarus, pushed by the West, I called Zelensky and offered to enter into negotiations with Russia immediately.”
Support people fleeing the devastating conflict in Ukraine: donate to the DEC appeal
Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) charities and their local partners are in Ukraine and in neighbouring countries providing food, water, shelter and medical assistance. Learn more and donate what you can today
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