Putin’s comment on Ukraine ‘twisted by Western media’

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends his annual end-of-year news conference in Moscow, Russia, December 17, 2015. © Sergei Karpukhin
Western journalists, many of whom remain rather "ignorant of Ukraine", have misreported and twisted President Vladimir Putin’s comments on the Russian involvement in the east of the country, experts said.

We never said there were no people there who carried out certain tasks including in the military sphere, but that doesn't mean there are any regular Russian troops. See the difference,” Putin said during his annual Q&A Thursday.

READ MORE: Vladimir Putin 2015 media Q&A Live updates

Some news outlets have now run with headlines alleging Putin has admitted for the first time that the Russian military was present in Ukraine. RT asked analysts if the media have read him right.

It’s misreporting again in much of the Western media. [Some time ago] the claims were of “Russian invasion of Ukraine” and, of course, soldiers were mentioned. And Putin isn’t saying this. What he is saying is that military advisors are, or were in Ukraine, the same way US military advisors were in Ukraine, too. So, I think it is a bit of a non-story, really. He is not saying that there were Russian soldiers coming in; that was the claim. And now his words are twisted again …,Neil Clark, journalist and broadcaster told RT.

‘Western journalists remain ignorant of Ukraine’

Marcus Papadopoulos editor at Politics First magazine also said he didn’t read Putin’s comment the same way the some Western media did.

"Western journalists remain very ignorant of Ukraine. Prior to the crisis in Ukraine, many of them wouldn’t have been able to find Ukraine on a map. And if you said to them Kiev, they wouldn’t have thought of the capital of Ukraine, they probably would have thought of a certain dish that you can find in Russian and Ukrainian restaurants.

The reality is this that Ukraine is a very important part of the Russian people’s identity, their cultural identity, their linguistic identity. And, of course, Kiev is the mother of all Russian cities; it is the birth place of the Russian state. And it is only natural that the Russian government will have an interest in eastern Ukraine where millions and millions of Russian speaking people reside rather than ethic Russians or Ukrainians who consider the Russian language to be their mother tongue.

So, President Putin did not say there are Russian regular forces in eastern Ukraine. What he said is that: “Yes, there are Russian personnel, Russian officials acting there in the interest of the local population of Donetsk and Lugansk,” because these people have been suffering tremendously because of the Ukrainian government’s dreadful murderous policy towards them in terms of cutting electricity, cutting gas, shelling them, bombing them either with artillery or aircraft. So, it is only natural that Russia would not stand by idly and would do something in eastern Ukraine and quite rightly, so," he said.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.