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7 Oct, 2023 14:58

Western media being pressured over Ukraine coverage – WaPo

The newspaper claims government officials have told outlets to “lift up the conversation a bit” on Kiev’s faltering counteroffensive
Western media being pressured over Ukraine coverage – WaPo

Western officials have urged the media to depict Ukraine’s faltering counteroffensive in a more charitable light, the Washington Post has reported. The US newspaper claimed the efforts are aimed at preventing a decline in public support for providing further military aid for Kiev in the coming months.

In an article on Saturday, the Post alleged that “Ukrainian and Western officials in recent weeks have focused on reshaping the narrative” amid Kiev’s underwhelming progress so far. The implementation of the supposed new strategy presumably has to do with increased criticism in some Western countries, which has called into question the continuation of military aid for Kiev.

According to the media outlet, while Ukraine’s Western backers are publicly putting a brave face on the counteroffensive, privately they are increasingly concerned that the conflict could become a frozen one, with Kiev’s forces unable to breach Russian defenses.

The Post noted that several Western officials had recently paid an unusual amount of attention in their press briefings to the way the media is covering the Ukrainian military’s progress. In one example cited by the newspaper, an unnamed official urged journalists to “lift up the conversation a bit” and stop focusing too much on the day-to-day developments on the ground, lest they miss the “fuller picture.

The same official also reportedly tried to lower expectations in the briefing, saying that a Ukrainian victory would not necessarily mean the recapture of “every bit of territory by X date” – despite Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky’s insistence that this is the only acceptable scenario.

Ukrainian officials have been limiting journalists’ access to the front line, citing security reasons, the Post continued. Special officers are making sure that sensitive topics, such as Kiev’s losses, are kept quiet.

Late last month, the New York Times reported that a slowdown in the counteroffensive “comes with huge risks for Ukraine.” The newspaper explained that “if it looks unlikely to recapture large areas of the country, Western support could wane, either through lack of political will or unwillingness to donate more weapons.

Meanwhile, Kiev’s already slow progress may be further impeded by autumn rains in the region, the NYT pointed out, adding that such adverse weather conditions would make the ground almost impassable for heavy Western-supplied tanks and other hardware.