Click here for the full episode, including the extended interview with Wyatt Reed.
“Welcome to Donetsk. You survived your baptism by fire.”
Wyatt Reed, a US journalist who writes for Sputnik, a Russian-state media outlet, is reporting from the front lines in Ukraine. His hotel was bombed by a Ukrainian strike just hours after he had arrived there — and while he was just steps away. He shares with us his videos of the attack and describes what it’s like in the war zone.
In Donetsk, Reed reports, the war is in every moment of daily life. He details the choice of which direction to face when choosing a seat at a restaurant, taking into account which way the bombs will come from, which way the shrapnel will fly. “This is something that people here just live through.”
And yet western media refuse to cover these deadly parts of Ukraine. Donetsk, home to many ethnic Russians, is one of the breakaway republics that has fought the Ukrainian government since a US-backed coup in 2014. For them, the war didn’t start when Russia invaded this past February, but eight years earlier.
Reed tells us that he can count the number of western journalists in Donetsk on one hand, and that Useful Idiots is one of few western outlets that would share his story. The people just want to be heard, he explains, telling the story of a man who “through tears, said ‘I wish that these so-called western journalists that are saying all this about the situation would have to spend just one day in my shoes.’”
But these days, reporting on a perspective from the other side only gets you labeled a Kremlin propagandist. It is important to note that Reed works for a Russian state outlet when analyzing his reporting. But it is impossible to fully assess the situation if you don’t hear from both sides.
And Reed is sharing the perspective of the people of Donetsk: “It’s really unimaginable until you come here and you understand this is what people have been enduring for nearly a decade.”
Note: We apologize for the poor quality of the interview, wifi and war zones don’t seem to mix well.
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It’s all this, and more, on this week’s episode of Useful Idiots. Check it out.