Some Italian and German media outlets echo Russian narratives about Ukraine as an impoverished, abandoned by the West, corrupt, failed state that is historically only part of Russia. Such theses are aimed at justifying Russian aggression and devaluing Ukraine as a state and are a blatant lie. We further explain why.
Fake: Ukraine’s economy and political institutions barely function
Italian and German pro-Russian media–Controinformazione, ll foglio, RT.DE, and others–state that Ukraine is close to economic and political failure, derailing all EU and US efforts to support the capital. They lay the blame on the total corruption, rampant crime, and weakening economic relations with Russia.
- “Ukraine is an economic black hole, with massive industrial pollution, titanic debt, rampant theft, and staggering corruption.” (“L’Ucraina è un buco nero economico, con un enorme inquinamento industriale, debiti titanici, furti sfrenati e una corruzione sconcertante.”) — Controinformazione (Italy)
- “Ukraine, another state in default, political and economic, in the garden of Europe” (“Ucraina, un altro stato in default, politico ed economico, nel giardino dell’Europa.”) – Il foglio (Italy)
- “Neoliberal reforms and weakening economic ties with Russia throughout his almost five-year term of office led to a dramatic deterioration in the socio-economic situation of ordinary citizens, and the emigration of workers continued at a terrifying pace.” (“Neoliberale Reformen und die Schwächung der Wirtschaftsbeziehungen zu Russland während seiner kompletten, fast fünfjährigen Amtsperiode führten zu einer dramatischen Verschlechterung der sozioökonomischen Lage der einfachen Bürger, die Abwanderung von Arbeitskräften setzte sich in bedrohlichem Maße fort.”) — RT.DE (Germany)
How was it actually?
Economic relations with Russia have indeed become much colder since Russian troops invaded Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and occupied Crimea. According to the State Statistics Service, when in 2013, 25.6% of all exports were to Russia, in 2021 – 5%. The same goes for imports: in 9 years it has decreased by 20%. The reason for this is the tariffs, quotas, and sanctions imposed in recent years, which affected the economies of both countries.
But it doesn’t mean default or economic collapse: according to KSE analysts, as of February 2022, compared to 2014, economic indicators are acceptable, the macrofinancial situation is stable, the economy is diversified, and now has no critical dependence on Russia. The NBU has a sufficient level of reserves (about $30 billion) to curb devaluation and smooth out currency shocks if they occur.
The fight against corruption is slow but ongoing: even after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, the National Anti-Corruption Bureau and the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, established after the Revolution of Dignity, continue to operate. Moreover, it turned out that the war had a positive effect on the corruptionists and their moral qualities. Thus, one of the suspects in the case of illegal seizure of assets of the territorial community of Odesa – a former prosecutor of the Odesa region – voluntarily applied to the High Anti-Corruption Court of Ukraine. He asked to transfer over 2.5 million UAH bail to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Fake: Historically, Ukraine is part of Russia
Some pro-Russian publications in Germany and Italy follow Putin’s view of the history of the Slavic peoples (read: Russians) and spread myths about Ukraine as a cultural and historical part of Russia.
- “Ukraine is a part of Russia that became independent when the Soviet Union collapsed. Ukrainians are kind of Russians. They have the same religion, the same language, the same culture, and the same history”. (“L’Ucraina è una parte della Russia diventata indipendente al momento del crollo dell’Unione Sovietica. Gli Ucraini sono Russi, in un certo senso. Hanno la stessa religione, la stessa lingua, la stessa cultura e la stessa storia.”) — Come Don Chisciotte (Italy)
- “Ukraine is a patchwork of parts that until recently belonged to different empires – the Austro-Hungarian and the Russian – as well as to several nations like Russia, Poland, and Romania. It combines Catholicism and Orthodoxy and has millions of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers with deep historical, cultural, and economic ties to Russia”. (“Die Ukraine ist ein Flickenteppich aus Teilen, die bis vor kurzem zu verschiedenen Imperien – dem österreichisch-ungarischen und dem russischen – sowie zu mehreren Nationen wie Russland, Polen und Rumänien gehörten. Sie vereint den Katholizismus und die Orthodoxie und hat Millionen ethnischer Russen und russischsprachiger Menschen mit tiefen historischen, kulturellen und wirtschaftlichen Verbindungen zu Russland.”) — Uncut News (Germany)
How was it actually?
Ukraine is an independent sovereign democratic state with a long history.
VoxCheck, along with historians, discussed in detail the fallacy of allegations about “historically Russian” lands in his article “On the Historical Unity of Lies and Vladimir Putin.”
Further, we present the main theses:
- when they talk about “historically Russian” lands, they mostly talk about the South of Ukraine, Slobozhanshchyna, and Donbas, which were formed on the territory of the uninhabited Dyke Pole (Wild Field);
- on the map of 1720, Putin’s “historically Russian” lands belong to either Ukraine or the Crimean Khanate;
- more than 100 years later, the 1897 census of the Russian Empire showed that the so-called “Little Russian” (i.e., Ukrainian) language dominates not only in modern Ukraine (particularly in the “historically Russian” lands mentioned by Putin) but also goes beyond it.
- the “similarity” of languages and religions was created artificially by Russia: in 1720, Peter I ordered the publication of books only in Russian, and in 1863 Peter Valuev almost completely banned all printing in Ukrainian; Ukrainians tried to establish their own church as early as 1302, as evidenced by the existence of the Galician Metropolis, abolished by the pressure of Moscow’s Tsar Simeon the Proud in 1347.
The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations