If you’re reading this in the UK, the greatest likelihood is that you’ve not heard of me, despite my both being from the UK, and having been the longest serving (with the exception of Patrick Lancaster) western journalist covering the crisis in Ukraine, events in Crimea, and war in Donbass.
Here are some short clips, by way of introduction, of my covering the war in Donbass.
Fighting by Donetsk, November of 2014 –
Donetsk in January 2015, as Ukrainian shelling hit a humanitarian aid queue –
Pervomaisk in February 2015, in an apartment blocked wrecked by Ukrainian shelling –
By Debaltsevo in February 2015, as fighting went on –
By Donetsk airport in June of 2015, as battle goes on –
Being a big fan of the England football team, I’d gone to live, and work in Ukraine before Euro 2012, working for the (now defunct) magazine What’s On, in Kiev. When Ukraine’s revolution of late 2013, and early 2014, Euromaidan got going, my position on that differed from other western correspondents due to my having lived in the country, and witnessed first-hand the elements behind Euromaidan.
While the western media gave Maidan blanket support, my position was that Euromaidan was a violent, undemocratic coup which would only lead to disaster. Doors to western media closed, one day I was surprised to receive an offer from Russia Today, RT, via Facebook, to do a Skype interview for them, in December of 2013, my going on to do several Skype interviews for RT.
Our working relationship developed, and we had a short, eventful spell working together in Donbass before my 2nd deportation from there by Ukraine authorities incensed at my work covering another side of the conflict from that of other western media. RT gave me the choice to either continue with them, or return to report in Donbass, I returned to report in Donbass, self-employed, in August of 2014.
After some months self-employed, I received an offer to work for Russia’s Zvezda channel, covering an escalating conflict there. To be absolutely open, the Zvezda channel falls under the auspices of Russia’s Ministry of Defence. Yet that held no sway in my working, and they had no say, in my work, and in fact I had, and have had, no dealings with anyone from the Russian authorities at all.
Anyway, after a few months I decided to stop working for Zvezda in March of 2015. Since then, I’ve been fully funded by my YouTube channel, and crowdfunding. Actually, I consider myself perhaps one of the first and only journalists to be fully supported by crowdfunding. The reason for this is clear – after their coverage in Ukraine, I’ve lost trust for western media, and if I work for Russian media western media use it to discredit my work.
I support ‘out’ in Brexit because I’ve seen first hand the acts of an EU-backed Kiev regime in Donbass. Witnessed the Ukrainian, EU-backed, shelling of civilian homes in Donbass, murdering of civilians. I’ve filmed so much death, destruction and misery there … at times my own YouTube channel has been blocked for ‘graphic content’ simply due to my filming, and posting, what was happening.
As someone born, raised in the UK, who loves the UK, I’ve been ashamed to see how the reputation of our country has been dragged into the mire by our subjugation to an EU position so patently wrong in Ukraine. Sending UK trainers to help a Ukrainian army targeting civilian areas with shelling, following a dunderheaded EU invective of Crimean ‘annexation’ – and doing all of this without any thought or input of our own – UK diplomats have towed a passed-down, pre-determined EU whip. Former Foreign Secretary William Hague even wilfully deceived parliament in the process. And the way Cameron has tried to differentiate the UK from the EU in this is by making the UK even more wrong.
None of this is good enough. None of this is the United Kingdom. I’ve covered events in Ukraine, and Donbass, with objectivity, but I do declare an interest in this, in supporting a Brexit ‘out’. That said, I’ll put that to one side when I’m back in the UK, and will be covering the Brexit referendum, set for June 23rd, not as an activist, but as a correspondent.
However, my heart is with a Brexit. In my work I’ve seen first hand the harm, damage, manifest wrong which the EU does, and the UK goes along with. It’s time for us to show that this is not us. It’s time for us to show the world who, and what, the UK actually is, make our own decisions, be who we are. We are not the European Union, we are the United Kingdom, and it’s time to define for ourselves who we are, and show the world why that’s something to be proud of.