By Maria Semenchenko-KarpovaABC News | February 10, 2021 10:07:17As Ukraine’s state-owned news agency has been under increasing pressure from the United States, its main rival, the Russian-backed state-controlled RIA news agency, to publish more accurate information about the war in the Donbas, a spokesman has said the agency will no longer provide such coverage.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the decision was taken as a result of the serious allegations made by the Ukrainian authorities.
“We will no more provide RIANovosti with this material, and our aim is to continue our work in accordance with our constitutional rights,” said Igor Kornelyov.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said he was disappointed with the decision, but that the Kremlin is “not interested in influencing the decisions of the Russian media.”
“The Ukrainian authorities are acting against the interests of the country,” he said in a statement, referring to Russia.
Russia and Ukraine have been at odds since the end of the cold war and their mutual hostility has led to a deepening of the conflict.
In a statement on Sunday, Ukraine’s foreign ministry accused RIA of falsifying the number of casualties in the conflict and spreading misinformation.
“This is a case of a government trying to influence the decision-making process and to manipulate public opinion,” it said.
“It is a clear example of the criminal behavior of RIA.
It should be exposed to the light of day.”
Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russia of using fake news stories to stir the conflict in the country, which is currently embroiled in a four-year-old conflict between Russia and separatist rebels in the east.
Ukroslav Smirnov, an expert at the Carnegie Moscow Center think tank, said RIA was in the business of peddling fake news.
“It is not just a story of an attack, but a story about what happened in the war,” he told ABC News.
Smirnov said that RIA had been involved in a number of fake stories that claimed that Ukrainian troops had been killed.
Smiornov said it was possible that RIL was using the propaganda war to further its own political ambitions.
“What they want is to create the perception of the Ukrainian government as weak, and that they are vulnerable to foreign influence,” he added.