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Reuters renames 'Ukraine crisis' section to 'Russia and Ukraine at war'

by Nate Ostiller January 19, 2024 3:31 PM 2 min read
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Reuters, one of the world's largest news agencies, changed the name for its section on Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine from "Ukraine crisis" to "Russia and Ukraine at war."

Russia refuses to refer to its war against Ukraine as a war, referring to it instead as a "special military operation" for propaganda purposes and to minimize its actions for both domestic and international audiences.

Reuters naming its section about Russia's war against Ukraine the "Ukraine crisis" was deemed contentious as it was criticized by some for downplaying the fact that Russia is waging a war.

The title also drew criticism by those who believed it portrayed Russia's war against Ukraine as an internal problem of Ukraine.

Other news organizations have made similar editorial distinctions in their wording, such as BBC, which has a tab for the "War in Ukraine." The New York Times uses the same wording, labeling the tab the "Russia-Ukraine War." Politico uses the tab "Russia's War on Ukraine."

Reuters was criticized shortly after the beginning of the full-scale invasion for maintaining a partnership with TASS, the Russian state-run news outlet. Reuters announced later in March 2022 that it was removing TASS from its content marketplace.

"We believe making TASS content available on Reuters Connect is not aligned with the Thomson Reuters Trust Principles," said Matthew Keen, the interim CEO of Reuters, in an internal memo.

In a bid to remain objective, Reuters has also shared questionable headlines with wording that echoes Russian propaganda.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko criticized the outlet in May 2022 for using terms such as "military-civilian administration" when referring to the Russian proxy forces and military occupation of Ukrainian territory.

In the same piece Nikolenko referenced, Reuters wrote, "The Russian-controlled Ukrainian region of Kherson began exporting grain that was harvested last year to Russia," citing TASS.

Nikolenko said that the grain was, in fact, Ukrainian and was "stolen" by Russia, which is not immediately clear from the way that it was worded.

Russia's choice of wording plays a key part in its framing of the full-scale invasion. Rather than referring to it as a war, Russia chooses to call it a "special military operation," downplaying its severity. Under Russian law, it is forbidden to actually call it a war or an invasion, and violating these restrictions can lead to punishment, including a potential prison sentence.

Reuters' usage of the term "Ukraine crisis" also obfuscates the fact that it is a war of choice started by Russia rather than a crisis whose origins are unclear.

"In a world polluted with disinformation and manipulations, we all bear responsibility for the words we choose to use," The Kyiv Independent said in an editorial in September 2022.

Editorial: Stop using Russia’s propaganda language to talk about its war in Ukraine
Editor’s note: Editorials are articles that present the opinion of the editorial team of the Kyiv Independent. In a world polluted with disinformation and manipulations, we all bear responsibility for the words we choose to use. Unfortunately, some global media and other actors have chosen to act…
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