CBS News foreign correspondent apologises for saying Ukraine is more ‘civilised’ than Iraq and Afghanistan

A senior foreign correspondent for CBS News has apologised after claiming on air that the attack on Ukraine cannot be compared to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because the Eastern European country is more “civilised”.

On Thursday (24 February), Russia launched a full-scale attack on its neighbour. Heavy fighting is underway in Ukraine’s second city as Russian troops entered Kharkiv in the early hours of Sunday morning (27 February).

Charlie D’Agata was reporting from Kyiv, Ukraine on Friday (25 February) when he told viewers that Ukraine “isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan that has seen conflict raging for decades”.

He continued: “This is a relatively civilised, relatively European – I have to choose those words carefully, too – city, where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen.”

The clip of D’Agata’s comments was shared widely on social media, with the video having been watched more than 1.5 million times.

Many people took issue with D’Agata’s use of the word “civilised”, calling it “racist” and “inaccurate”.

“This is not ok,” responded Miqdaad Versi, the media spokesperson for the Muslim Council of Britain, as per The National.

Chris Doyle, the director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, called the comments “disgraceful” and asked if there is a league table to help identify which countries can be classed as civilised.

D’Agata – who has been a reporter for CBS for two decades – has since issued an apology on the network’s streaming platform, as per New York Post.

“I spoke in a way I regret and for that I’m sorry,” he said. The reporter went on to say that what he was trying to communicate was that Ukraine had not experienced “this scale of war” in recent years, unlike other countries.

He added: “You should never compare conflicts anyway, each one is unique. I used a poor choice of words and I apologise for any offence I may have caused.”

Major attacks on Saturday night (26 February) in Ukraine included a gas pipeline outside Kharkiv that was set ablaze by Russian troops, and an oil depot in Vasylkiv near Kyiv that was destroyed by a Russian missile strike.

Ukraine’s health minister Viktor Liashko has said that 198 Ukrainians, including three children, have been killed since Russia’s invasion began.

Liashko added that 1,115 people have been injured, including 33 children, according to operation data.

You can follow along with updates at The Independent’s Russia-Ukraine liveblog here.