Winand Wernicke

The Russian Ministry of Defense approached us and other western journalists and asked if there was any interest in such an embedded trip. At first glance, this is not particularly unusual. I remember the procedure from my time as studio manager at ZDF in Moscow. At that time, the Russian army was deployed in Syria and the Defense Ministry suggested looking at the situation on the ground. Such trips are controversially discussed within journalism. I think it’s right. We in the editorial team also talked for a long time about whether we should accept or not. In the end, journalistic interest prevailed.

[Wernicke’s report was shown in the “heute-journal” on Sunday, it can also be accessed via the ZDF website]

In that case, the Defense Ministry said that to avoid spreading – and this is the common term in Russia – “fake news” about the situation in Donbass, it should look at the situation on the ground. The Russian side did not impose conditions that one was not allowed to talk to certain people or similar things. But buses, routes, filming locations were chosen by the Russian side.

But they are the only chance for us to get into such areas in the first place. After all, I can’t go to the Donbass by taxi or plane. It’s the only way to get a glimpse of people’s lives. Because that’s what it’s all about: to show how the people there are doing. I hope that in our reports we have been able to show how difficult and dire the situation in Donbass is – and how keen Russia is in separating the region from Ukraine economically and politically.