The “Russian-fuelled insurgency” in Donbass

This is the standard line on the conflict in Donbass. It isn’t just dehumanising, supportive of genocide, but it could contribute to a war in which tens of thousands more die.

This is the agreed narrative line on the conflict in Eastern Ukraine:

Russia, which has a fraught historical relationship with Ukraine, has fueled an insurgency in the former Soviet republic’s east that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/jan/28/us-and-germany-step-up-pipeline-warnings-to-russia-as-un-meeting-called

This one is from French government media channel AFP in the Guardian but it doesn’t matter. You will see exactly the same line over and over again in the Western media about the conflict in Donbass (often even the exact same form of words). This is because it is the narrative line agreed at an editorial level in a handful of outlets. The editors in turn take their cue from the financiers and military groupings around which power flows in the West.

The line de-exists the people in Donbass. Many of these people (probably the majority) look towards Russia. They don’t want to be ruled by Kiev – an illegal regime which came to power by violently overthrowing an elected President, who was popular in the East and who had agreed a deal with Russia, and which is supported by Ukrainian nationalists who are opposed to the use of the Russian language and who pass laws denigrating the Russian language. [1] (Imagine the outcry if Westminster passed a law saying that shopkeepers in Carmarthenshire had to greet customers in English).

For Western liberals the views and feelings and aspirations of the people in Donbass are inconvenient because they go against the narrative. So they are wiped out. These people don’t fit the mould and so are in information terms eliminated.

Very, very, occasionally little glimpses of the truth seep out in the Western liberal press. For example this is a rare article in the Independent which actually admits that some people in Kharkov (just outside Donbass) are not so much pro-Russian as just Russian-speaking: “There are a lot of people who are fed up with the way they are treating Russian culture here. Don’t forget this used to be the capital of Ukraine once, we are aware of our identity.”. This article stands out because it is actual journalism. The journalist has gone there and talked to actual people. It is a break from the monotonous reputation of narrative “truths”. But usually it is the agreed line which if Russia was doing it would unambiguously be called “mis-information”.

We can add; while there is a focus on support which Russia may be giving to the rebel militias in Donbass there is a media blackout on the other side. Since the start of the conflict the West has been arming and training the Ukrainian army. [2] The UK has been training the Ukrainian army. (Recently they have poured in anti-tank weapons with the ludicrous claim that such weapons are ‘defensive’; obviously if you are confident you have the ability to take out armour you can advance). All of this has taken place against the backdrop of Kiev’s refusal to implement the Minsk peace accords which they signed up to; they continue to refuse to talk to the leaders in Donetsk and Lugansk even though this is obviously the first step in resolving the conflict. This of course is “fuelling a conflict” – but as far as this is concerned there is a media black-out in the Western press. It is all the fault of Russia. This is propaganda at the most primitive level.

Update 29-1-22

This is another example from the Guardian (by Luke Harding):

“Zelenskiy has previously pointed out that Ukraine has been at war for nearly eight years, since Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea in 2014 and started a separatist conflict in the Donbas region in the east”.

Yes. Putin. Personally. Again this is either deliberate or just reflects an unconscious savagery but either way the idea is the same; the people in Eastern Ukraine who did not welcome Maidan and who speak Russian as a first language have no right to exist. It is all Russia’s fault – even just “Putin”. It is hard to imagine a less coherent geo-political analysis than this. They simply see 100% past Donbass and only look at the big cardboard figure of ‘Putin’ which they have erected and onto which they attach all their fears and negativity.

Notes

  1. https://www.france24.com/en/live-news/20210401-new-law-stokes-ukraine-language-tensions
  2. https://www.rand.org/blog/2022/01/us-military-aid-to-ukraine-a-silver-bullet.html

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer