Lu Yuguang, an experienced war correspondent for the Chinese television network Phoenix TV, has stood out during the invasion of Ukraine as a foreign journalist integrated among Russian troops. International media have warned that his unusual access to the Russian side of the conflict contrasts with that of other chroniclers and raises questions about the extent of cooperation between Moscow and Beijing.
His reporting on the invasion has included Russian disinformation, such as the claim that Ukrainian soldiers hold more than 1,000 people hostage to use as human shields, and he has chronicled from the cities most targeted by Russia since the offensive began on Feb. 24, including in Mariupol, where authorities reported thousands of deaths. “I’m on the front line of fire in Mariupol,” he says in one of his reports in front of the camera with a microphone in hand and wearing a bulletproof vest and helmet. Yuguang has been authorized to capture different maneuvers of Russian troops in their advance through Ukrainian territory.
According to the Phoenix TV website, Lu Yuguang is a former Chinese army officer who lived in Moscow for several decades and covered the Chechen war with Russian military protection. For his reporting, he has received multiple awards from the Kremlin and the Russian military.
On March 2, in an exclusive interview with the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic, Denis Pushilin, he praised the pro-Russian militias in Donetsk and said they cannot be compared to Ukrainian forces. “With the help of Russian forces, militias from eastern Ukraine have liberated 40 residential areas within the administrative line. The victory continues to expand,” Lu Yuguang said in that report, where he stressed his support for the invasion. In his reports, he often interviews Russian soldiers who justify the invasion of Ukraine.
In addition, it is striking that he makes these reports so close to the Russian side of the conflict in Ukraine considering that the Kremlin has intensified its campaign against independent media since the beginning of the invasion and several foreign media have been forced to withdraw from Russia after President Vladimir Putin signed a law that provides for sentences of 15 years in prison for what his government considers “disclosure”. of fake news.”
Since the beginning of the invasion, China has refused to openly condemn the military operation in Ukraine and last week called its friendship with Russia “rock solid.”Since the beginning of the invasion, Lu Yuguang has chronicled the Ukrainian cities most attacked by Russia.
In China, state media picked up on some of the Kremlin’s arguments, such as that Ukraine would be using civilians as “human shields” and that the United States would be funding military biological programs in Ukraine.
European Union (EU) foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, in line with other Western countries, said this week that he had called on Beijing to exert its “considerable influence” over Moscow to ensure a ceasefire. But Beijing is reluctant for the moment to stop supporting its ally.