14 mar 2023 10:17 am
In three tweets, Russia correspondent Ina Ruck expresses her lack of understanding of the Russian perception of the war. She thus discovers the limits of the German narrative about the war in Ukraine. Germany is yet to experience this.
By Gert Ewen Ungar
Ina Ruck is the ARD Moscow correspondent. She reports from Russia and likes to use clichés about Russia and the Russians that are widespread in Germany. She is often accused of one-sided reporting and the allegations are justified. Her reporting on Navalny made it clear that Ruck is not reporting from Russia in order to make events in Russia understandable to German viewers, but that she is classifying events in Russia in a Western narrative. She has not touched the story that is widespread in Germany about Navalny as the allegedly most important Russian opposition figure, even though everyone in Russia knows that it is not true. Ruck was in Russia, so she knew it too. Regardless, she supported in the ARD the fictitious story about Navalny as one of the greatest threats to the existing political system in Russia. A man without any recognizable political profile and with a shady past, mind you – the Germans were given a robber’s pistol and Ruck played a key role in it.
Ruck evaluates where she is supposed to report, suggests connections where she lacks facts and suppresses them if they don’t fit the picture about Russia. This strategy has also remained true with regard to the Ukraine conflict. This is of course the opposite of journalism and also the opposite of the mission of public broadcasters.
The stories about Russia, which are uniformly disseminated and maintained in the German media in a kind of voluntary conformity, have little in common with Russian everyday reality. If you are looking for journalists in the German media landscape who are trying to paint a balanced picture of Russia and Russian politics, you will not find them in the big media. The German media’s view of the Ukraine conflict is also marked by deep one-sidedness and omissions.
Of course, this technique of propaganda has its limits. Ina Ruck discovered one of them – the geographical one. Where the German and Western media barely reach, their disinforming effect is minimal.
“A colleague didn’t come back. His photo is now hanging at the vocational school”. “Friday they brought three again.” The war is present in the small Siberian town. Change the posters with fallen portraits. None of those we talk to question the war pic.twitter.com/wJ4tgTGR3E
— Ina Ruck (@InaRuck) March 10, 2023
The ARD correspondent is currently traveling in Siberia, where she has come up against the limits of the German narrative about the Ukraine conflict. She draws attention to this in three tweets. The people would not question the war, writes Ruck and you can tell her lack of understanding. You are hospitable, but then ask why the West started the war against Russia, why is it arming fascists? “You couldn’t get it together in your head,” Ruck credibly indignantly said. She probably really doesn’t understand.
On the river, one of the ice fishermen says, “I don’t understand. We built their roads and schools for them in the Soviet Union – the Estonians, Georgians, Ukrainians. And now they are against us”. Field study in colonialism: It’s as stuck in people’s heads as the ice is on the ob pic.twitter.com/RHTDVnL9Zz
— Ina Ruck (@InaRuck) March 10, 2023
The mistake she makes is twofold: she believes that the German view of the conflict is the right one. And she also believes that this view is undisputed and therefore valid everywhere. This is by no means the case. What Ruck believes in regarding the Ukraine conflict has narrow regional boundaries.
Warm hospitality everywhere. Then questions like: “Why did the West start the war against us?”, “Why are you giving weapons to the fascists?” They believe this, with sincere indignation. And are completely perplexed if you don’t agree. Didn’t get it together in your head
— Ina Ruck (@InaRuck) March 10, 2023
Not only she, but the Germans as a whole will have to get used to the experiences that Ruck made in Siberia. The story of an unprovoked attack by Russia on Ukraine will not hold up. German media will have to correct them and adapt their story about the conflict to what is actually happening.
No, people in Russia really don’t understand Germany’s behavior and they don’t understand it for good reasons. On the one hand, of course, this has to do with the special German-Russian relationship, with close historical ties, with reunification, with Germany’s special debt as the successor state to the German Reich towards Russia as the successor state to the Soviet Union. But that also has something to do with different reporting. The Russian media reports extensively on what is happening in Ukraine, while in Germany a lot is kept secret – the Ukrainian war crimes, for example.
People in Russia know about the daily bombing of the Donbass by Ukraine, the daily casualties among civilians. German media hide this from their audience – including Ruck. She is probably simply forbidden to report on it. This does not mean that alleged Russian war crimes have no place in Russian reporting. But they come across as what they actually are: previously unproven allegations. While they are being sold as facts to the German public. Reporting on the Ukraine conflict is certainly weighted in Russia, but overall more balanced than in Germany.
But anyone who takes note of Ukraine’s war crimes will not be able to understand the German arms deliveries. The Russian media also reported on the extensive censorship, the ban on opposition, and the purges of the power apparatus by Zelenskiy, while in the German media they only appear marginally and are put into perspective. Even those who reject the term fascism in relation to Ukraine will have to admit, given the internal political conditions in Ukraine, that something is fundamentally wrong there. The story of a democratic Ukraine is fictitious given the actual development. In Siberia, they know that much better than in the editorial offices of German “quality media,” Ruck said. She doesn’t want to believe it.
Unlike Ruck’s not wanting to understand, Ruck’s experience is not a refusal. Reporting on the Ukraine conflict is broader in Russia than in Germany. Ruck doesn’t understand because she omits, because she refuses to acknowledge facts, because she denies. She also lacks intercultural competence. She is not in Russia to understand, but to teach the Russians German understanding and the German point of view. Many have tried before her and failed. She will too.
Your comment about alleged Soviet colonialism is particularly revealing in this context. The Soviet Union was not an imperialist project. It was not a project to exploit the periphery for the benefit of a center, as practiced by the western colonial states. Ruck remains trapped in the narrow confines of her German spirit and does not see the Russian expanse because of her German character. Her tweets express how alien the country and its history are to her.
In doing so, she gets caught up in contradictions. While Ruck repeatedly claims and suggests in her television reports that there is strict censorship in Russia, that you have to be careful what you say and that you are not allowed to talk about war, for example, she cheerfully uses exactly this word in her tweets proving that their claims are unfounded.
The world outside the West does not share his narrative of Russia’s unprovoked attack on an innocent Ukraine. The majority of countries also do not support the idea of a military solution to the conflict through ever more arms deliveries and the exclusion of negotiations. It contradicts the founding principles of the UN. Also rejected is the arrogance of the West to enforce the goal of destroying the Russian economy at the expense of uninvolved countries with sanctions that hit the entire world economy.
Like Ina Ruck, Germany will have to get used to the idea of being on the wrong side again this time. Germany is isolated in its perception of the conflict and will ultimately not be able to assert itself due to the comprehensive inconsistency of its narrative about the origins and course of the Ukraine conflict. You will have to get that together in your head – not just Ina Ruck.
more on the subject – What is really happening in Donbass? Impressions of a refugee – and the eternal German ignorance
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On February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he would launch a special military operation in Ukraine together with the armed forces of the Donbass republics to protect the population there. The goals are to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine. Ukraine speaks of a war of aggression. On the same day, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskiy declared a state of war across the country.
The West condemned the attack, reacted with new deliveries of weapons, promised help with reconstruction and imposed sanctions on Russia.
Scores of soldiers and civilians have been killed on both sides of the conflict. Moscow and Kiev have accused each other of various war crimes. Thousands of Ukrainians have now fled their homeland.