No, Ukraine is a unique situation with heavily weighted consequences

Francis Paloma, Opinions Writer

Teachers went from instructing math and physics to calculating the trajectory of a mortar shell, hospitals become nothing more than rubble, every inhabitant takes arms as a giant tries to roll through their country. For the past few weeks, the world stands in solidarity as Russian President Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine. The valiant efforts of the strong-willed Ukrainian people against evil imperialistic Putin are reported by every mainstream news source, classrooms and even chilling TikToks. Many view the intensive coverage of Ukraine as blatant bias by the media as many other countries have been through conflicts with little to no western media coverage, however, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is one of the most egregious moments in the 21st century with heavy consequences and must be recognized as such. 

The media have spelled out correctly and quickly how devastating the full-scale invasion of Ukraine is. Freshman Kevin Si said, “Just pure surprise and disbelief… I never expected an all out war to break out with seemingly no true rhyme or reason.” Civilian and military death tolls between outlets vary within the thousands. Millions more are forced to flee into neighboring countries as their homes are bombed or stay and fight a David and Goliath battle. Even outlets like Fox Business and CNN Business outline the repercussions as gas and grocery prices skyrocket along with low business confidence across the globe slowing the economy.

Media has to hit Putin’s invasion of Ukraine hard as its consequences are unlike anything in recent history. There are no rebels, no terrorists, no insurgence, this is black and white, a nuclear power blatantly invading a west-leaning country and trotting right up to NATO and the EU. This completely defies the Budapest Memorandum from 30 years ago that had the West guarantee Ukrainian security against an act of aggression from Russia, and Russia leave Ukraine alone in return for shipping the country’s 5,000 nuclear bombs back to Russia. The breaking of this treaty reveals that Western treaties and promises do not mean the same thing they used to.

The dominoes of escalation have already fallen, a messy Afghanistan evacuation displayed western weakness in full force, Putin pounced on invading Ukraine, and the next domino might just be Taiwan, provoking many to question what will come next. This reality of two nuclear-armed nations butting heads once again since the Cold War only takes a miscalculation or misunderstanding to set the whole world in flames must be understood by people and the only way to achieve that is through widespread and accurate coverage of the situation. 

Social Studies Teacher Johnathan Taylor said, “Media has an obligation, you know, to report what they see and to report objectively… that’s essential in a democratic society.” With such high stakes, the people of the world must play a bigger role in decision-making. Furthermore, the media has to act as a bulwark of truth against radicalism and fear-mongering.

People have seen the consequences when reporting fails to deliver the full truth. In 2001 in lieu of 9/11 Islamophobia and xenophobia ran rampant, hate crimes against Muslims increased by 1,600% from the previous year, thousands more Sikhs fell to the same discrimination, and the perception of Brown and Middle-Eastern people may never be in a positive light again.  

This mistake cannot be repeated, this is Putin’s war, not the Russian people. Sophomore Byron Duvall stated, “When you generalize an entire country like that, it’s harmful to the people in that country.” Heartbreaking stories have already come out of Russian Americans being harassed and their businesses boycotted according to AP News

Within Russia, the people have largely been told lies of the war as Putin has clamped down on their media promoting Russia as the saviors of Ukraine and a victim of the West while banning foreign and private media, with the only access to news being through State sources. Many of those who have procured the truth have taken to the streets protesting Putin’s war with more than 15,000 arrested. Even stories and photos show Russian soldiers not wanting to fight a pointless war, a quarter of them conscripts, many dropping their weapons and walking back, feeling they were deceived by Putin.

Racism in any capacity is wrong, and when echoed by members of the media the consequences are only exacerbated. Former Ukrainian deputy chief prosecutor David Sakvarelidzethat said in a CNN interview, “It’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed.” The legitimation of cruelty in the Middle East is horrible and should not be pushed. However, the media’s emphasis on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine over other horrors in the world is more due to how aligned Ukraine is to the West and the fact nuclear bombs are in the equation, not the color of people’s skin.

All of this is not to discredit all the other atrocities in the world, but rather to put a spotlight on the one most important now. The media acts as a vital bridge for information between events, people, and leaders that must be kept up and used correctly by pushing accurate and unbiased information. Ukraine is one of the largest tragedies we have seen in our lifetimes and our full hearts and prayers go out to every Ukrainian. The best thing we can do is to stay informed and spread the right message.