Credit: ZM / BD

US Newspaper Alters Headline After Criticism Over Description of Czech Republic

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has changed the headline of an article about Czech assistance to Ukraine in response to criticism on social media, which was joined by the US ambassador to Prague, Bijan Sabet.

The headline originally said “A Small Ex-Soviet Satellite State Goes Hunting for Arms for Ukraine.”

A number of social media users criticised this description of the Czech Republic as an outdated stereotype.

The newspaper later changed the headline on its website, and the article now appears on its front page under the headline “Czech Republic plays a big role in supplying artillery shells to Ukraine.”

“Dear WSJ, I corrected it for you,” Ambassador Sabet wrote on Twitter (styled as ‘X’), crossing out the US newspaper’s headline in a screenshot and replacing the Czech Republic’s name with his own text: “democratic country for more than 30 years and important NATO ally.”

The activist volunteer association NAFO, which aims to fight Russian propaganda, also responded to the article. In an open letter to the WSJ editors, signed by Irish journalist Ian Willoughby, NAFO acknowledges that the Czech Republic is portrayed in a positive light in the article, but argues that the description of the country as a former Soviet satellite is misleading and offensive given Prague’s foreign policy stance, which includes strong support for Ukraine.

“We have left the Cold War past far behind us, and it is time for you to do the same,” the letter reads.

The article published on Sunday refers to the Czech Republic as one of Ukraine’s most ardent supporters in its defence against Russian aggression. According to the WSJ, Prague has secured about 800,000 artillery shells from a diverse group of suppliers around the world and identified another 700,000 that could be ordered with additional funding.

The Czech Republic was able to do this, according to the newspaper, because of its Cold War-era contacts and its neutral relations with countries in the so-called Global South that have not responded to similar requests from the United States.

The Czech initiative will help Ukraine stabilise the front and regain the upper hand, Nico Lange, a former chief of staff at the German Defence Ministry, told the WSJ.

Analysts say Ukraine needs up to 200,000 rounds of ammunition of various calibres each month to counter the Russian offensive.

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