By Graham Phillips
On the 18th February, I received the following email from Great Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office –
We have been alerted to a number of social media updates that have caused some to raise questions about your presence in Ukraine in a journalistic capacity.
Particular things that have raised concerns include being photographed while wearing military uniforms, separatist insignia, or holding firearms. We are very concerned that you may be putting yourself in danger through these types of activities which could be seen as a blurring of the line between journalism and active involvement in a conflict.
I can only repeat that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to Crimea, Donetsk oblast and Lugansk oblast. We advise against all but essential travel to Kharkiv oblast. Our travel advice is available here: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/ukraine. As we have previously discussed with you, we recommend that British Nationals leave these areas.
Your safety, and that of other British Nationals is a priority for us. Although we are not able to provide consular services within these areas, please do not hesitate to contact us either in London or at the British Embassy in Kyiv if you require consular assistance.
I duly replied today –
Thank you for your email. Firstly, on a factual point, I’m not in Ukraine, I am in Novorossiya, which voted to secede from Ukraine in referendums last May 11th, after the violent revolution of Euromaidan installed an unelected, far-right government.
However, I do sincerely appreciate your concern for my wellbeing, and am grateful for your having written to me.
In terms of the points you raise, I accept that my working practices may appear unconventional. However they are easily explainable – I wear camouflage when filming from frontline positions so as not to attract extra attention to those I am with, or myself. The Ukrainian military are equally inclined to shoot journalists as combatants. I wear ‘separatist insignias’ because I think Novorossiya is a beautiful country. I’ve taken part in firearm drills to augment my experience, and understanding, as a war correspondent.
The line, delineation, of my role here as a correspondent is thus perfectly clear, simply there are those who choose to blur it for their own ends. None of my working practices contravene any laws, all are utilised to the end of my wish to be the best correspondent possible.
I will be back in the United Kingdom shortly, for a break after over 6 months of continuous work here. I appreciate the support of my country, in a diplomatic capacity, and hope that my work here has enlightened our nationals to the real situation here, rather than the skewered misrepresentation sadly perpetrated by much of the British media, and the mistaken position of the British government.
My very best wishes for now Sarah, and do keep in touch. I am proud to be British, proud of my country. However, I am ashamed of our country’s position regarding events in Donbass, and am doing as much as I can to correctly represent the honour, and history, of our great nation.