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

Briefing wars on Ukraine

The Guardian is briefing that Russia has already put in place a plan to stage a “false-flag” operation in Eastern Ukraine. Apparently they already have special force assets in place to attack “Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine” in order to blame Ukraine and use this as a pretext to “stage an attack”. CNN carries the same story.

Both outlets attribute the story to an unnamed “US official”. We are not even told what department they work in. No source for the intelligence is given; the anonymous official simply says “We have information…”

Firstly; this shows the media working hand in glove with the US State Department to wage an information war. Since information wars are an integral part of war we see here the Guardian and CNN essentially taking part in war preparations on behalf of the State Department. Of course; actual journalism would be asking questions; who is this anonymous official? Why are we being used to disseminate this information in this way? What is the source of the information? But, no. The Western media is the PR arm of the war machine and fulfills its role by simply transmitting this information as required rather than questioning it.

Continue reading “Briefing wars on Ukraine”

Beating the drums of war on Ukraine

It is being endlessly repeated: “Russia must be dissuaded from invading Ukraine”. “Russia must understand that there will be serious consequences if it invades Ukraine”. “The G7 must warn Russia of the consequences of invading Ukraine”, “The UK is urging other countries to join a united front against a Russian invasion of Ukraine”, “An invasion is expected in January, intelligence reports”.

The last one is telling – as the “intelligence” referred to seems to be Ukrainian intelligence – which, objectively speaking, is just as likely to be playing information games as offering disinterested analysis.

Is Russia really preparing to invade Ukraine? This is extremely unlikely. Why on earth would Russia want to invade Ukraine? They would have to occupy a country where millions, in the West and centre, more or less despise them. There would be no economic benefit – the economy of Ukraine is far behind that of Russia. It would be impossible to manage; they would have a partisan war on their hands (with the partisans supplied by the West with the latest weapons). It would be insane. Furthermore; I think there is zero demand in Russia for a Russian invasion of Ukraine – people would be bewildered. This of course contrasts with the annexation of Crimea after a popular vote and Russian support for the rebel regions in Donbass – both of which were/are hugely popular actions in Russia, and with all generations.

Russia has said that if Kiev tosses out the Minsk agreements which they signed up to and tries to retake Donbass militarily they will intervene militarily to defend the people in this region (many of whom are now of course Russian citizens since Russia started giving out citizenship to these people in April 2019). Ukraine as a country is split; it is true that people in the West and centre prefer a “European future”. It is equally true that people in the East tend more to look to Russia and identify with Russia. The forces on the border are there to protect these people (and arguably Russian prestige).

The Western political classes and media sing as always with one united voice. The media, at least 90% of it, simply voices the same narratives as the politicians. Indeed it is hard to know where the insanity starts; with the media or the politicians. Even “intelligence” seems to be infected and to believe delusionary narratives rather than providing objective analysis. For example; don’t they even have people in Russia whose job it is to read the public mood? If they did they would know what I have said above; the Russian population would be bewildered if Russia “invaded” Ukraine.

Russia is not an expansionist power. Russia is in defensive mode. Crimea is full of ethnic Russians, and has a key strategic naval base. Taking Crimea after an illegal coup in Kiev was not expansionist; it was defensive. Support for South Ossetia and Abkhazia in the 2008 war with Georgia can be interpreted as preventing Georgian expansion; at any event these are small enclaves on the border and can hardly be seen as Russia being expansionist; (the combined population of the two regions is about 300,000). It is inevitable that after the collapse of the USSR there should have been some disputed areas on the borders of now Russia. Where has Russia “expanded” to? Against whom has Russia “aggressed”? In all the supposed cases any historically-informed analysis shows us that they are in fact no more than Russia defending what it sees as its key interests – consolidating what it has; not expanding. We can add that Putin fully understands the limits of his military power; he claims it is sufficient to defend Russia but he knows Russia is not a world military power.

One problem seems to be that Western “intelligence” and NATO hold the delusion that Russia is “expansionist” and “aggressive”. Where have they got this from? Most likely it is a simple projection of their own aggression and imperialism.

Back to Ukraine and Donbass. It is likely (as I said in a previous post) that Kiev is trying to prepare the ground for an action against Donbass – and they can then present a Russian intervention to protect the people of Donbass as a “Russian invasion”. The headlines in the West should be screaming “Ukraine must not attack Donbass” not “Russia must not invade Ukraine”.

Final note; the Western media is increasingly going along with the increasingly blatant attempts by Kiev to wriggle out of the Minsk agreements which they signed up to and which were co-signed by France and Germany. The Minsk agreements foresee substantial autonomy for Donbass – the only viable solution to this conflict. This is an example in the Guardian: “the crisis is at its worst since 2015, when Moscow staged a large-scale incursion into Ukraine, clandestinely sending tanks and artillery to encircle Ukrainian troops and compelling Kyiv to sign a peace agreement in Minsk”. (The extent of Russian military support is not clear and is certainly not established in the way that Roth claims, though in reality it seems likely that there was some direct military support as the battlefield situation did suddenly turn in favour of the rebels). At any event; Kiev signed up to Minsk and it was backed by France, Germany and the OSCE. So; that is the deal. If not Minsk (i.e. autonomy for the disputed regions) then what? What does Roth suggest? As far as I can see the only alternative is war in Europe.