Staunton, January 6 – Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine has largely disappeared from the front pages of Western newspapers and the lead stories of Western news broadcasts, a development reflecting the short attention span of many people but one that gives the Kremlin leader a victory because this lowers pressure on governments to oppose Russia’s actions.
That has profoundly frustrated those who find themselves in a situation in which any of their efforts to raise the issue are met with the dismissive suggestions of others that this is old news and that the world has moved on – even among those who recognize that aggression which goes unpunished will be repeated.
In an interview given to Gordonua.com, Syuzanna Dostaleva, a native of Odessa who has lived and worked in the Netherlands for 20 years and now collects money to help Ukrainians at home, discusses this situation (gordonua.com/publications/Volonter-iz-Niderlandov-Ukraina-davno-ne-na-pervyh-polosah-zapadnyh-SMI-V-Evrope-bolshe-govoryat-ob-Islamskom-gosudarstve-i-viruse-Ebola-59311.html).
She told her interviewer, Natalya Dvali, that “the Dutch understand that in the Ukrainian conflict, Russia is the aggressor, and they say that Putin has gone out of his mind. But they don’t have sufficient information from Ukraine even in English,” something she hopes to remedy by creating an information agency in Europe.
The situation has become more critical in recent weeks, Dostaleva says. In the last month or so, there is “either nothing or 30-second reports” about what is going on in Ukraine. The country and its problems “for a long time have not been in the first columns of the Western media. Instead, those outlets talk about ‘the Islamic State’ or the Ebola virus.”
In some ways, this is nothing new. At the end of February 2014, for example, “when activists in Kyiv were being beaten and shot, in the Netherlands, they showed the Olympics in Sochi! In protest,” she says, she “declared a hunger strike.” That got some media attention, but it says something that this was the only way to get the media to cover Ukraine.
Now, the situation is even worse, Dostaleva says. Asked how she thinks the war in Ukraine will end, the activist responds: “Either by yet another Maidan or … People are very tired. The Ukrainian authorities must do everything so that the people will not be disappointed in them.”
The Verkhovna Rada votes on measures but few of these are fully carried out, she says. “We in the West see this very well even with the insufficient information from Ukraine that we have. Despite being tired, Ukrainians living abroad all the same will help.” As for herself, she adds, “I cannot not help Ukraine.”
But if Ukraine is disappearing in the Western media, it is still a central focus for outlets in Russia. And a new survey using Yandex data for the period from January 1 to December 15, 2014 shows that some outlets mentioned Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko more often than Vladimir Putin -- and Ukraine more often than Russia (meduza.io/galleries/2015/01/06/samoe-ukrainskoe-smi-v-rossii).