The Russian-Ukrainian crisis has entered its sixth day and has drawn widespread international condemnation as the United States, United Kingdom and European Union have imposed harsh sanctions on Russia, in particular on President Vladimir Putin and at the Central Bank of Russia (CBR).
The crisis has become the main focus of global media, and while covering the ends and outcomes of what is widely described as an “invasion”, netizens have highlighted what can only be described as racial bias. and not-so-subtle examples of white supremacist Eurocentrism. .
One such example that has gone viral on social media and drawn heavy criticism is the coverage of CBS News foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata.
Reporting from Kyiv on Friday, Charlie D’Agata said: ‘It is not a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflicts rage for decades. It’s a relatively civilized, relatively European city — I also have to choose those words carefully — where you wouldn’t expect that or expect that to happen.
Social media users read D’Agata as an implication that the crisis that has hit Ukrainians is inherently more important and requires more empathy from being “relatively civilized, relatively European” in contrast to war-torn countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, where death and refuge are the norm and should not cause emotional outcry.
These statements have been heavily criticized and deemed racist and bigoted because they imply a notion of “white supremacy” as described by online users.
In another example, Ukraine’s former deputy chief prosecutor, David Sakvarelidze, faced backlash for what he said in a BBC interview while discussing the crisis.
Sakvarelidze said the situation in Ukraine is “very emotional for me because I see Europeans with blue eyes and blond hair being killed”.
Such comments have exposed the racist attitudes of some aspects of Western media when it comes to covering similar issues in the global South.
A third example of the cheeky media coverage, NBC correspondent Kelly Cobiella said while reporting from Poland as Ukrainian refugees were stationed: “They are not refugees from Syria, they are Christians, they are white. They look a lot like us.
The bias is not unique to media accounts, as The New York Times found that countries with nationalist governments neighboring Ukraine are opening the door to tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees.
Poland’s far-right government had already decided last year to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to block the entry of refugees from the Middle East and found itself stuck in Belarus.
However, with regard to Ukrainian refugees, the Polish government, with the help of American soldiers and diplomats, established centers to facilitate the entry of Ukrainian refugees.
In Hungary, the army allowed Ukrainian refugees to enter through borders, which had previously been closed to block refugees from the Middle East.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer welcomed Ukrainians fleeing their country following the Russian military operation. He said: “Of course we will welcome refugees if necessary.”
Nehammer, while serving as interior minister, tried to bar Afghan refugees from taking refuge in Austria as the Taliban took control of Afghanistan following the historic US withdrawal in August 2021.