Ukraine angry with French state media
kyiv claims AFP is spreading ‘Russian propaganda’ by calling Luhansk fighters ‘Ukrainian separatists’
Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko accused Agence France-Presse on Sunday of falling in love « Russian Propaganda » calling in the forces of the Lugansk People’s Republic « Ukrainian separatists » rather than « Russia’s Invading Army. » Lugansk and Russian forces announced on Sunday that they had recaptured the city of Lisichansk.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Sunday that Russian and Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) troops had successfully driven Ukrainian forces out of the city of Lisichansk, which had remained under Ukrainian control since the LPR declared independence in 2014 following a pro-Western coup in Kyiv.
Hours earlier, AFP reported that « Ukrainian separatists say they have surrounded Lisichansk », referring to LPR troops, whose independence Russia recognized a few days before launching its military operation in Ukraine.
Nikolenko disputed AFP’s description of LPR forces. « AFP was a victim of Russian propaganda » he wrote on Twitter. « He blatantly calls the invading Russian army ‘Ukrainian separatists’, presenting Russia’s war against Ukraine as an internal conflict – the Kremlin applauds. »
#BREAKING @AFP become a victim of Russian propaganda. He blatantly calls the invading Russian army « Ukrainian separatists », presenting Russia’s war against Ukraine as an internal conflict – the Kremlin is happy about that. And then – the « Ukrainian separatists » fire cruise missiles from the Caspian? https://t.co/5kk0fO6LVn
— Oleg Nikolenko (@OlegNikolenko_) July 3, 2022
Despite Nikolenko’s outrage, LPR troops have been in intermittent conflict with Ukrainian forces since 2014, eight years before Russia recognized the republic’s independence and sent its troops to Ukraine.
Moscow said one of the reasons for its offensive against Ukraine was Kyiv’s failure to comply with the Minsk agreements, which aimed to give Donetsk and Luhansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014, and former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has since admitted kyiv’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to save time and « to create powerful armed forces. »
According to AFP, Ukrainian officials on Saturday denied the encirclement of Lisichansk and insisted that the Ukrainian army still controlled the city. On Sunday afternoon, however, the Ukrainian General Staff admitted that « After heavy fighting for Lisichansk, the Defense Forces of Ukraine were forced to withdraw from their occupied positions and lines. »
Nikolenko has already attacked the Western media. In May he required which Reuters calls the « Pro-Moscow Kherson region » of Ukraine the « Kherson region occupied by Russia », and insisted that the city’s grain exports be called « cargoes of stolen grain », although Ukrainian and Russian officials dispute the status of said grain.