NARRATIVES: 1. The population of Ukraine, just like the people of Africa, is starving. 2. The launch of the land market in Ukraine will trigger a food crisis. 3. Ukraine has become an agrarian colony of the West. 4. To solve the current agricultural crisis, Ukraine doesn’t need a democratic government or a climate favoring investment, but merely a centralized regime.
BACKGROUND: On July 1, the land market law took effect in Ukraine, under which people are now free to buy or sell farmland. Starting 2024 the market is due to be expanded to include foreign citizens. Right now, Ukraine’s agricultural output is underperforming due to the lack of investment. The ban on selling farmland is a legacy of the communist period. Whereas the Government in Kiev claims the launch of a functional market in one of the most fertile areas on the planet marks a first important step towards a more efficient agriculture that will boost investment, the Russian state media continues to promote various false narratives about this reform. Ukraine is described as a state struggling with hunger, which exports most of its quality foodstuffs to the West, because large corporations are turning it into an agricultural colony. The agrarian reform, like most of the other initiatives bringing Ukraine closer to the West for that matter, is seen as a threat which leads to Moscow losing influence over Kiev.
PURPOSE: To convince public opinion that the land reform is a mistake which will turn Ukraine into an agricultural colony of the West. The narratives criticize the transparent norms that regulate the functioning of the food market with a view to conveying a pro-Kremlin message – to solve the current agricultural crisis, there’s no need for a democratic state or an investment-friendly climate, but rather for a centralized regime.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: The headline, conclusions and the political messages at the end of the news article bear no logical connection to the facts presented by the author. The article contains a number of obvious fallacies. On the one hand, the author writes about “the great hunger” in Ukraine, about an obvious food crisis, whereas on the other hand he states that meat imports have gone up six times! Ukraine is compared to Somalia and Zimbabwe for which the UN is collecting humanitarian aid, while at the beginning of the article the very author writes that “of course, Ukraine is not on the list of countries where people are dying from starvation”. The information is presented so as to give uneducated readers the impression that Ukraine is now at a level similar to underdeveloped countries in Africa due to the land reform launched a few days ago!
The Hunger Map, which, the article claims, proves that Ukrainians are starving, in fact shows that Ukraine is no different from most other EU states. Still, the situation is critical in Donbass, namely in areas that aren’t currently controlled by the Ukrainian authorities. The Russian state media doesn’t mention this, thus misleading public opinion.
The other false narratives are presented as the author’s personal commentaries, emulating the Kremlin’s usual narratives regarding Ukraine. Such anti-Western narratives speak about Ukraine being turned into a colony of the West, the failure of capitalism and democracy compared to centralized regimes (an allusion to the successful agricultural system administered by the Putin regime in Russia).
In truth, if implemented correctly, the land reform could breathe new life into Ukraine’s economy. Kiev experts claim that the land market would spell additional income from exports for the country and would translate into more food for the rest of the world. The liberalization of farmland trading would give rise to a more efficient agriculture, and the market would become more transparent, which hasn’t been possible so far.