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The Portrayal of Russian Military Intervention in Ukraine (2014-current) in Russian Media Outlets

By Yevheniia Dubrova, VI Form

The Portrayal of Russian Military Intervention in Ukraine (2014-current) in Russian Media Outlets

Editor’s Note: This paper was completed as a part of the History Research Fellowship, a one-semester course available to sixth form students.

  1. Introduction

On April 13, 2014, following the Russian occupation of Crimea, pro-Russian activists seized the City Council building in Makiivka, located in the Donetsk region of Eastern Ukraine. They proclaimed the area part of a newly formed proto-state, the Donetsk People’s Republic. Almost immediately, the Republic’s government restricted public access to all Ukrainian and international TV channels and print media. As Dmytro Tkachenko, an adviser at Ukraine’s Ministry of Information Policy, noted, “Russia [was] doing everything it [could] to cut those people off.” Controlling TV towers in the two regions allowed the separatists to broadcast their propaganda, exaggerating Ukraine’s failures and glorifying their self-declared government. From that day forward, the population of occupied Donbas, including Makiivka, received all of their news solely from local Republican or state-owned Russian media outlets. 

I remember that day clearly because it marked the beginning of the aggressive attitudes of pro-Russian supporters, who constituted the vast majority of people in my hometown of Makiivka, towards those supporting Ukraine and its reunification with the region. Never before had I witnessed the propaganda machine working so effectively and disinformation campaigns executed so brilliantly. Russia’s state-controlled media outlets unanimously denied the presence of Russian troops in the region and stated that it was ultra-nationalist Ukrainian government financed by Western politicians who started the war in Donbas for its own benefit. Branding the Ukrainian government a “fascist junta,” the Kremlin portrayed it and the Ukrainian state as “purveyors of fascism, xenophobia,” and violent racism. The horrifying tales of the violence of Ukrainian soldiers that appeared in the news, such as the infamous story about the public crucifixion of a three-year-old boy in Slovyansk, removed any traces of sympathy from the local population towards Ukraine, its government, and its army.

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