The New Observer International affairs,Media Comment A Mark Galeotti and Times Radio propaganda show

A Mark Galeotti and Times Radio propaganda show

Mark Galeotti is an interesting figure and I often watch his interviews. Here, one of Times Radio’s professional propagandists is coaching him to create an anti-Russian piece of propaganda, masquerading as journalism, (which is in many ways one of the chief functions of Times Radio).

Mark Galeotti is an excellent analyst of the domestic situation in Russia. He far outperforms any other Western expert I have seen. He is careful not to go too far and get carried away beyond what the facts permit, as so many ‘experts’ do. He obviously knows his field of study and provides a reliable and accurate assessment of the political situation in Russia.

But he is in the Western camp. At the start he dismisses Putin’s claim that the US was trying to humiliate Russia as “nonsense”. On foreign affairs then – he seems to share the view that the war was “unprovoked”. As readers of this site will know; we share the view of International Relations scholar John Mearsheimer and others that the precise opposite is true; the US provoked this war by pushing Ukraine into NATO.

(In passing – it is odd that Galeotti seems to think that the “genuine difference” between Israel hitting hospitals – an admitted part of their strategy in Gaza, and Russia, allegedly hitting hospitals in Ukraine is that the latter is an apparent war crime, but that is not my main point here. He is also incorrect that the West has sanctions on Russian grain; they don’t).

At 26.44 we have the Times journalist turning up the propaganda full volume. The Maidan revolution she tells her audience was an “attempt to break away from Russian influence and interference in Ukraine”. This is laughable. If we want to talk about “interference” we should not forget; the US invested $5 billion in ‘shaping’ Ukraine prior to Maidan; they sponsored the coup (against an elected President) and their officials were then caught on tape nominating the post-coup government!!!. Yes; let’s not be na├»ve – Russia too was ‘interfering’ – by managing influence networks. But the US was clearly doing far more and with less excuse given they are based half a hemisphere away. Putin, in my view, slightly exaggerates the extent to which the coup turned Ukraine away from Russia; quite possibly Western and Northern Ukraine was sooner or later going to pull away from Russia in any event. However; at the time of the coup support for joining the EU in Ukraine was by no means universal in Ukraine. In the North it was 60%. In the West 84%. In the Centre 43%. In the South 27% and in the East 19%. (Rounded). [1] Support for joining NATO was considerably less.

Putin’s view of the Maidan coup as an externally created event is certainly no “rewriting of history” as the bright-eyed Times propagandist announces (ironically enough perhaps rather like a newsreader on Soviet TV). The so-called “Revolution of Dignity” was not purely some kind of internal organic process; the US worked on it for many years. In as much as it was it was an internal process in which one faction came to predominate. (Richard Sakwa has an interesting analysis of the Maidan coup. It started as a movement against oligarch corruption which drew in people from across the spectrum in Ukraine, but was overtaken by what he calls ‘monists’ – Ukrainians whose vision of Ukraine excluded the people in the East who wanted to stay close to Russia).

Galeotti complains that Yanukovych’s government was “thoroughly, thoroughly, corrupt” and was “denying them the opportunity to get close to the West”. Corrupt – yes. But this was entirely in keeping with the oligarch system in Ukraine, which, according to Sakwa, survived the Revolution of Dignity, largely intact. Nor was Yanukovych systematically trying to deny Ukraine the opportunity to get closer to the West. He did at the last moment pivot away from the EU Association deal and accepted a huge loan from Russia, true, but his overall policy had not been specifically against the West. For example, while not backing NATO membership for Ukraine he cooperated with NATO in various ways. Sakwa argues that he aimed to strike a middle path between Russia and the EU. In any event, he was an elected President and the West and its supporters of Maidan cannot answer the question as to why the matter should not have been resolved in the elections – which, by the agreement made on February 21 and supported by the EU, were to have been brought forward. Which agreement was then overturned by the “Revolution of Dignity”.

Galeotti says “Putin does not believe that Ukraine is a country” and refers to the widely-quoted online essay by Putin about Ukraine. As Mearsheimer and others point out, however, in that essay, Putin indicates that he would be quite prepared to work with Ukraine as a partner. Putin has indicated repeatedly that he would accept Ukraine joining the EU. There is no reason to disbelieve him. Possibly he does have a somewhat romantic view in which he exaggerates the ties between Ukraine and Russia and does not see how far from Russia much of Ukraine has moved since 1991. But, as per Mearsheimer, the real driving logic is probably that Russia does not want a hostile country on its doorstep; that is, a NATO outpost on the porch. And this, from a strategic point of view, is entirely understandable.

You really have to laugh. The Times ‘journalist’ uses her wide-eye effect and asks, ‘innocently’ “do the Russia people actually buy this version [Putin’s] of history?”. This is like something from North Korea. Anecdotally; I was chatting to my taxi driver yesterday and he was telling me that he sees the war as a conflict between the US and Russia and part of US attempts to dominate the globe. So he “actually” “buys” this version of history! That’s at least one! (I think he was a nationalist and somewhat to the right of Putin).

Mark Galeotti is really excellent on the domestic Russian social and political situation. But on International Relations he seems to have absorbed the US State Department propaganda line – a very childish position. He seems to have dedicated his professional life to understanding the country which he opposes. The Times journalist reaches North Korean heights of propagandist and theatrical absurdity as she spins out the required narrative lines.

Notes:

  1. Source: https://www.usagm.gov/wp-content/media/2014/06/Ukraine-slide-deck.pdf Gallup