Mediamonitoring of Coverage of the Environmental Theme in Ukrainian Mass Media (24 February – 27 April 2022)

The full-scale invasion of the russian federation into Ukraine, which started on 24 February 2022, has dramatically changed the Ukrainian reality: political life, daily routine and information environment. The news from the battle field have filled and defined our media scene. However, after the first shock had faded, we realised that the war raised and sometimes even made us look at the pre-war themes and issues from the new angle. One of them is environmental problems.

We have decided to see how the environmental matters are covered by the Ukrainian media scene during the full-scale war. We have focused on the period from 24 February until 4 April, the first forty days after the war had started. Although it is rather a coincidence, that period actually coincided with the so called “first phase” of the intensification of the war between russia and Ukraine in 2022, the phase when the aggressor intended to quickly conquer and control the entire country, the so called blitzkrieg. It used the attack methods that were supposed to force the Ukrainian political leaders and the society to lay down arms quickly. In particular, there were air and artillery attacks on the infrastructural facilities, destruction of which materially damaged the environment and posed a threat for human lives. The fires caused by various types of weapons polluted the air, and the water and soil were also affected by the hostilities. The occupants even turned to open nuclear terrorism by seizing the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone and two Ukrainian nuclear power plants. That first phase, the period from the end of February until the beginning of April, expressly demonstrated that russian Juggernaut had practically no limitations to its destructive path, as to neither its opponents at the battle field nor civilians, cities and villages, economic facilities and nature and the environment.

The general theme “The Environment and the War” resulted from the broad search where the data to be analysed were formed from all the news items that mentioned the war, hostilities and the environment at the same time. The sources for nine other themes were formed based on the clear matches in the key categories. The results of such search and analysis thereof can be found below in the themed sections:

  • Climate Changes
  • Green Energy
  • Radiation Hazard
  • Radioactive Pollution
  • Air Pollution
  • Water Pollution
  • Chemical Pollution
  • Forest Fires
  • Starting Grass Fires

In addition to analysis of the monitoring data in the key categories in the theme “The Environment and the War”, peculiarities of the Ukrainians’ interest in environmental issues based on Google search, by means of Google trends, were studied. The longer observation period was selected: from the beginning of the year until the end of April. It enabled to see the dynamics of the Ukrainians’ interest in the environmental issues in the broader context, to compare the war-time data with the preceding period.

In the end, the last section of the study was analysis of the environmental protection matters in the speeches of the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy. His public speeches in the foreign parliaments, interviews by the global mass media, daily addresses to the citizens of his country and various assemblies abroad became the authentic voice of Ukraine, which is fighting for its freedom and freedom of the entire democratic world. Environmental issues were also considered in that versatile communication.

The purpose of the media monitoring was to trace how the Ukrainian media and therefore the Ukrainian politicians, the civil society, ordinary citizens responded to the environmental situation changing as a result of the russian invasion. We also considered the themes traditional for the national environmental protection discourse and tried to detect how its media coverage had changed during that dramatic period.

The media monitoring has been performed in pursuance of the Environmental Policy and Advocacy Initiative for Ukraine (EPAIU) by the International Renaissance Foundation with financial support from Sweden. 

The copyright to this publication is held by the International Renaissance Foundation. Any use of the information that represents the content of this publication without written consent is forbidden, except for common scientific quoting standards. 

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