CounterPropaganda · Russia · Ukraine

Is DW now a Russian Propaganda Broadcaster Like Sputnik?

Ukraine Blockade von Transportwegen – Kohletransport bei Donezk (Reuters/K. Chernichkin) – Ukraine Blockade of transport routes – Kohlet transport at Donetsk (Reuters / K. Chernichkin)

In “Opinion: Kyiv risks divided Ukraine“, DW publishes an article written by Bernd Johann, which might as well come straight out of the Kremlin.

A bit about DW first. From “Deutsche Welle (DW) is Germany’s international broadcaster.”   “Mission: DW conveys Germany as a nation rooted in European culture and as a liberal, democratic state based on the rule of law. DW is known for its in-depth, reliable news and information and promotes exchange and understanding between the world’s cultures and people.”  Translation, DW is supposed to provide a democratically oriented message to the rest of the world.

In this article, DW fails, however.

This is an opinion piece so I would expect the story to differ from one of the normal 1,500 employees of DW.  An equal number of freelancers, however, almost guarantees at least one, in this case, Bernd Johann, appears to have a different non-conformist, pro-Russian opinion.

Bernd disagrees with the Ukrainian government’s decision to stop all freight traffic into East Ukraine but does not say so. Instead, he says it will be the cause for “cementing the division of Ukraine”, “pouring fresh fuel on the fire”, and “now it is Kyiv itself that has moved to speed up this process”.  No logic, no argument, no facts, just ‘it’s bad’.

More remarkable is that this journalist uses words and phrases straight out of the Russian propagandist handbook.  He says “rebel-occupied areas in Luhansk and Donetsk”, whereas there is most likely not a single home-grown rebel among them now.  We see “separatists” used four times, same argument.   There is no acknowledgement that the invasion of East Ukraine is illegal, no nod that the invasion was planned, organized, sponsored, lead, and augmented by Russia, Russian generals, Russian soldiers, and supplied with Russian equipment – to make up the largest tank army in all of Europe, outnumbering Ukraine 700 to 300.  There is absolutely no concession to numerous Russian denials of involvement which have been repeatedly disproven, followed by a begrudging admission. There is no acknowledgment to increasing provocations, hyper-aggressive behavior, more infiltration of Russian Spetsnaz with operations deep in Ukraine, and no certification of constant and consistent pummeling by the Russian media with propaganda, disinformation, deceptions, and distortions.

The Minsk Agreement was a Russian scam from the outset that Merkel and Hollande should never have signed. Arguing around Minsk now is peddling the Russian agenda around sanctions relief and blameshifting. This has been argued ad nauseum in the press so this writer cannot plead cluelessness, he is clearly peddling the Russian line from the pages of DW. The DW editors were lazy and did not check him or fact check the content. This is Russian proxy behavior of German media, which might be motivated by anti-Americanism.

The last two paragraphs are oddly anti-Russian, at odds with the rest of the article. While reading the article in a semi-state of disbelief, I could not help but get the feeling the last two paragraphs were purposefully written to be approved by an editor too lazy to read the whole story.

My overall assessment is that the author is an ossie’ pining for the revival of the USSR. Most Germans are disgusted with what the Russians have done and have become, as it is the same badness Germany had to expunge after 1945. So peddling what is patently Russian fascist propaganda under the DW flag is fundamentally contrary to everything modern liberal democratic and decent Germany stands for.

DW’s unwritten mission is to provide fair and objective reporting about world events, in this case about events in Ukraine. In doing so, however, the words used in this article portray a very pro-Russian perspective and promote views espoused by Russian propaganda. DW, you are better than this. For shame, Bernd Johann – you have been consistently bashing Kiev and using a nihilistic tone.  It is your editor, however, that deserves the spank on the bottom. Perhaps you are surrounded by pro-Russian writers, even in the Kyiv offices of DW.  DW, if you are to provide the German perspective and that perspective is pro-Russian, say so.  This would be a very unpleasant surprise to the rest of the world because it is certainly not what your people and many leaders seem to believe.  If not, please retract this article and make a conscious effort to take out pro-Russian statements in the future. If Germany stands against Russian contrived provocations, Russian aggression, and Russian propaganda and disinformation, say so.  Better yet, demonstrate your resolve by doing so. Do not promote Russian propaganda in the pages of DW.

</end editorial>

Opinion: Kyiv risks divided Ukraine

For weeks, conflict has been escalating in eastern Ukraine. Hardly a day goes by without an exchange of fire. Heavy weapons are being used again. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which should be monitoring to ensure that the long-established ceasefire is respected, can scarcely deliver more than helpless reports of a war that is still not over after three years.

Politically speaking, all sides – the leadership in Kyiv, as well as the separatists and their supporters in the Kremlin – are pouring fresh fuel on the fire. They are cementing the division of Ukraine step by step. And now it is Kyiv itself that has moved to speed up this process: The Security Council of Ukraine has decided to stop all freight traffic with the rebel-occupied areas in Luhansk and Donetsk.

Armed activists surrendered

The financial transfer between Kyiv and the separatist parts of Donbass has long been interrupted – with devastating consequences for the people, especially the elderly. They must take the dangerous route across the dividing line to retrieve their pensions or other social benefits from Kyiv. With the economic blockade that has now been decided, Kyiv is also cutting back on shipments of all kinds of goods to Donbass.

The Ukrainian government, with President Petro Poroshenko at the head, is thus bending to the pressure of armed activists who interrupted the railways between Donbass and the rest of Ukraine two months ago. A few politicians in Kyiv have criticized this, as did Poroshenko. Now, a controversial action by activists has become a state blockade in the name of national security.

Residents left to an uncertain fate

Officially, Kyiv continues to stress that the occupied areas around Luhansk and Donetsk belong to Ukraine. The blockade on the movement of goods is theoretically to be stopped as soon as the separatists withdraw the recently decided illegal “nationalization” of factories. Ukraine is seemingly taking over the political initiative. But in actual fact it is likely to play into the hands of Russian separatists and Russia itself, who will say that Kyiv has given up the people of Donbass.

The Ukrainian plans for a reintegration could become so much wasted paper with such action. Politicians in eastern Ukraine – along with many in Kyiv – have long pointed out that Ukraine is doing too little to win back the people of Donbass. Now those goalposts seem to be moving further and further away.

Johann Bernd Kommentarbild App
Bernd Johann of DW’s Ukrainian desk

Pushing partners away

With this decision, Kyiv is essentially also making fools out of countries that are working to resolve the Donbass conflict. These include Germany and France, which have always stood for the unity of Ukraine within the framework of the Minsk process – which is why they are opposed to any measure that could lead to a worsening of the conflict. The imposition of an economic blockade is precisely such a step. The German government’s reaction to the blockade imposed by Kyiv and the illegal seizure of factories by the separatists is correspondingly sharp.

Only Russia, which after the annexation of Crimea launched the conflict in eastern Ukraine as well, will probably be pleased with Kyiv’s moves, which provide it with a welcome opportunity. Only recently, the Kremlin began to recognize passports issued by the separatists in eastern Ukraine as valid travel documents. This recognition accelerates the process of division. The economic blockade in Ukraine is now pushing Donbass further into the arms of Moscow and advancing the division of Ukraine.



One thought on “Is DW now a Russian Propaganda Broadcaster Like Sputnik?

  1. Interestingly, his views seem to have developed over time. 2015: “…The West knows that saving Ukraine could be an expensive venture. How much it’s willing to give in the end remains to be seen. The collapse of Ukraine must be prevented – but no one wants to invest in a bottomless pit …” ( ) This, from 2016: “… Russia has annexed Crimea and Donbass in eastern Ukraine is overrun by Russian-backed separatists. It’s been 25 years since Ukraine declared independence, and Russia is again at its door … No one should believe that Russia intends to withdraw its troops from Ukraine anytime soon. It won’t let Kyiv go because the Kremlin’s lust for empire remains strong.” ( )

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