RussiaToday, Russia’s state-owned propaganda machine managed by Putin medal-laureate Margarita Simonyan, headlined today with this breaking news:
“Confirmed: Ukrainian air force fired over 150 missiles at Lugansk, bombed admin HQ”
Following this attention-grabbing headline which was re-tweeted by about 1 million Kremlin trolls, the following substance was given:
“Kiev has admitted showering the eastern Ukrainian city of Lugansk with dozens of missiles from the air, saying that its Air Force helicopters and jets “fired more than 150 missiles” in Monday’s military action.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also confirmed on Tuesday that the deadly explosion at the city’s administrative building was indeed an airstrike. Kiev has so far denied the responsibility for the incident, saying its forces “do not target” civilian areas.”
So, who confirmed what, exactly?
The first statement points to something that “Kiev” allegedly said that has nothing to do with the specific explosion at the LNR HQ. “Kiev”, arguably, admitted that it fired more than 150 missiles. Well, good for them, as that’s what attack destroyers are supposed to do. Yet, nowhere in “Kiev’s” alleged statement is there a mention of an attack on LNR HQ.
The second statement quotes the OSCE, which allegedly “confirmed that the deadly explosion was indeed an airstrike”.
Indeed, the OSCE did make a passing statement on LNR in its summary of the events in Ukraine on June 2nd.
In its summary report, called “Latest news from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received until 18:00 hrs, 2 June (Kyiv time)”, the OSCE reports:
In Luhansk the situation remained volatile. On 2 June, shortly after 15:00 hrs, rockets hit the occupied regional administration building. Based on the SMM’s limited observation these strikes were the result of non-guided rockets shot from an aircraft. The number of casualties is unknown.
This report explicitly contained the qualification “based on limited observation”, thus no self-respecting journalist would call that a capitalized “confirmation”. Instead, a self-respecting journalist would pick up the phone and call the number at the bottom of the OSCE report. I am no self-respecting journalist (I own media but I am otherwise just an occasional blogger). Yet I picked up the phone and called the OSCE SMM number. I spoke with Iryna Gudyma, Senior Press Assistant of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. Her words:
“I draw your attention to the clear words in the OSCE statement saying the information was based on limited observation obtained before 18:00 yesterday. We are very sorry about the confusion that this has caused”.
Fair enough. Unfortunate choice of words, or maybe just jumping the gun.
P.S. I am not arguing one way or the other on the substance here. The rocket attack might well have come from the sky, despite alternative explanations such as a local ground-launch attack. The point I am making is RT – again – simply didn’t do any of the (damn-easy) checks that any responsible journalistic outlet would do.