The United States supports Ukraine's decision to impose sanctions on TV channels promoting Russian propaganda and disinformation.
This is according to the address by Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE Courtney Austrian, delivered at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on Thursday, February 4.
"Moscow would have you believe that media freedom means it is acceptable to manipulate the media in another sovereign country. Let me be clear: Media freedom does not include the right to spread malicious propaganda and disinformation," Courtney Austrian said.
She asserted that the U.S. supports Ukraine’s decision to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity by countering Russia’s blatant and malign influence.
The American diplomat reminded that the media entities are controlled by Victor Medvedchuk, who has direct personal ties to Vladimir Putin and was sanctioned by the United States in 2014 for actions that threatened the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
"He fled to Russia for most of the next five years to escape accountability. Medvedchuk has a long history of using media entities to promote pro-Kremlin positions that undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity," she added.
The diplomat told that the media outlets shut down by Ukraine "are well-known tools of Russian propaganda aimed at destabilizing Ukraine."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on February 2 signed off on the sanctions proposed by his national-security team against three television stations nominally owned by Taras Kozak, a member of the pro-Russian faction Opposition Platform For Life.
As of the morning of February 3, the broadcasting of NewsOne, ZIK and 112 Ukraine was blocked.
The blocked channels are believed to belong to Viktor Medvedchuk, the head of the faction’s political council and one of the richest and most influential individuals in the country. The politician denies that he owns the television stations.
The move is the latest in a series taken by Kyiv since late January against figures considered Russian agents and follow the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden, a staunch supporter of Ukraine.