Ukraine Is Now Sadly Sliding Into The Shadows

Amidst shifting media priorities from ongoing global conflicts to headline-grabbing events, the mission of a non-profit media organization is to provide diverse perspectives and in-depth coverage without paywalls, solely supported by its community, emphasizing the importance of understanding events that unfold over time.

November 02, 2023 00:26 EDT
Important announcement: If you live in or around London, we have an upcoming in-person event on Wednesday, 15 November at the Nehru Centre in Mayfair. Panelists will discuss the Indian economy and you can find the full details here.
Dear FO° Reader 

After a long hot summer prolonged by an exceptionally hot September and October here in Europe, the temperature is slowly declining, giving a hint that, despite the obvious effects of global warming, the inexorable darkness of the short days of winter will once again be upon us. Whether any of us here in the southwest of France see a White Christmas or even the occasional flurries of snow that sometimes grace the landscape between December and February for brief periods before melting into oblivion is another question.

Weather was a big factor last year in the Russia-Ukraine war. The Russians had been pushed back during the summer and fall but the experts were already expecting that General Winter might play a few tricks on the brave Ukrainian forces. Though nothing dramatic occurred during the long months when the ground remained frozen before turning to impracticable mud, the Russians used that time to consolidate the lines of defense around the 20% of Ukraine’s territory they controlled. This allowed them to prepare for the announced counter-offensive NATO’s military and Western media were counting on to reconquer their sovereignty.  

The attention of a goldfish

The much vaunted counter-offensive, tardily launched in June, led to, at best, a stalemate as the Ukrainians made no significant gain. By the end of the summer, Western media not only didn’t know how to describe the situation in Ukraine but appeared to lose any taste for doing so.

Then, the media latched on to the spectacularly well orchestrated terrorist act by Hamas on October 7. This triggered a declaration of war by Benjamin Netanyahu’s government against Hamas, which involved invading the Gaza Strip. Note that this tiny Palestinian territory controlled by Egypt till 1967 is only marginally larger than West Hollywood’s “Sunset Strip” (Sunset Boulevard between Beverly Hills and Hollywood) and houses 2.3 million people, though far fewer celebrities. It remains to be seen how long will the media cover what is going on in Gaza.

Dmytro Larin /

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a glamorous star of every news cycle for a full 18 months starting in February of last year, has seen his place in the media now reduced to at best that of a supporting actor and at worst, an extra, or what Hollywood calls a “background actor”. Yes, if you search Google for Ukraine news you will learn that a struggle is now taking place around the town of Avdiivka and that Zelenskyy isn’t particularly optimistic about how things are going. Worse, in many people’s minds is the remark of White House spokesperson John Kirby: “”On the Ukraine funding, we’re coming near to the end of the rope.” Few seem to be taking note of this important fact.

This brings us to an important question: Are we awaiting Act V, scene V in Ukraine? There has been plenty of speculation by the pundits in recent months about how the endgame may play out. None of them have resembled happy ends. But thanks to its higher level of drama — and death toll — the Israel-Hamas conflict has eclipsed Ukraine for that most valuable commodity in today’s economy: the public’s attention.

What we are witnessing is the iron law of the media: one big story with day-to-day suspense beats everything else, justifying the neglect of secondary dramas such as the stalemate in Ukraine that formerly symbolized everything important going on in the world.

We pay attention to things that matter

We believe in shining the light on issues that matter through prisms from around the world. There are many other issues that are almost as geopolitically significant as both Ukraine and Israel. Therefore, we published Alfred McCoy’s important account of the demise of an empire. It begins with this sentence: “One of modern history’s major empires is falling apart right now, right before our eyes.” The scandalous ploy lasting more than half a century to prolong France’s colonial empire beyond the various acts of formal decolonization has reached the end of its rope. Most people weren’t aware of this shadow empire while it lasted and few are paying attention to how it is dissolving before our eyes thanks to Russian mercenaries.

To avoid having our attention dominated exclusively by the “story of the day” we appeal to our pool of nearly 3,000 authors and the diversity of their interests. Yes, we are covering the Palestine conflict and have followed every stage of the Ukraine war. At the same time, we are keeping our eyes on other parts of this rapidly transforming world.

I live in Southwest France. I grew up in sunny California, did my graduate studies at Oxford and moved here over 50 years ago. My colleague Roberta Campani lives in Geneva, our young colleague Anton Schauble used to live in Italy before moving back home to the US and our editor-in-chief Atul Singh literally wanders around the world. In fact, the first article I wrote for Fair Observer countered Atul’s piece on religion. We are a very diverse team. Some in our team are devout Catholics, others are staunch atheists, still others meditate like the Buddha or follow all sorts of major or minor religions and philosophies. So, what brought our motley group together?

We genuinely believe in debate, discussion and discourse. If Atul disagreed with me, life would be boring. I would never make students coming late to class do push-ups on stage like he does but I must say that I have found teaching and working with him both entertaining and educational. The world is a diverse place. If we insist on imposing our particular point of view on everyone else, we will add the conflict already raging around the world.

Hence, we focus on providing insights from our community of nearly 3,000 authors from over 90 countries. Unlike most media, we don’t focus exclusively on the dramatic event that caught everyone’s attention yesterday or last week. Our authors provide reflections, analysis, context and perspectives that help us make sense of the world. 

We are a community-driven crowdsourced and crowdfunded high-quality nonprofit media organization. We are devoted to depth, understanding, community and collaboration. Owners or advertisers do not define our agenda. Our content does not sit behind paywalls unlike The Washington Post or The New York Times. We are who we are because of you. So, keep sending us perspectives, sharing our pieces, attending our events and becoming regular donors to our cause. Keep supporting us financially too and donate to our cause. Remember, free media cannot run for free. We need your help. 


Peter Isackson, CSO 
Special Event in London on Wednesday, 15 November 

FO° Live: Opportunities and Challenges in India’s Booming Economy

To make sense of India’s economic outlook, Fair Observer’s Editor-in-Chief Atul Singh and moderator Claire Whitaker are joined by a distinguished panel including:
  • Ratun Lahiri Majumdar, Special Advisor, Unicorn India Ventures
  • Amit Singh, Linklaters Partner, Head of South and Southeast Asia Capital Markets
  • Professor Atul Shah, London School of Economics
  • Sam Tully, Director, Head of UK Business Development, Quantum Advisors India
Wednesday 15 November 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm GMT at the Nehru Centre, 8 S Audley St, London W1K 1HF, United Kingdom. 

You can register for this event here.
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