The West and NATO have poked the Russian Bear once too often.
Well, what seemed improbable to many just twenty days ago has happened. On Thursday February 24th large Russian forces invaded their southern neighbour Ukraine after months of military build ups in the border areas.
The media response has been breathtakingly jingoistic. There is simply no pretence of objectivity in the many extended news bulletins with endless discussion of whether Vladimir Putin is insane and if he can be violently overthrown.
I have done a 7,000-word analysis of the media coverage of the Russian invasion of Ukraine from Thursday February 24th 2022 to Tuesday March 15th 2022 – 20 days. The content is drawn from many sources both mainstream and alternative including the BBC and Al Jazeera.
On Sunday afternoon 27th February presenter Camilla Tominey of LBC’s (Leading Britain’s Conversation) talk in radio show proudly announced to an unseeing audience that she was wearing the Ukrainian colours of blue and gold. One of her guests was the former Tory Party leader Ian Duncan Smith and she was on the phone via Internet to journalist John Sweeney in the Ukraine who rather jokingly likened the situation to Walmington-on-Sea as in the classic TV series Dad’s army.
That weekends and subsequent weekend’s football saw many teams show their support for Ukraine with big screens showing a yellow and blue background. Not just in England and Scotland but in Europe as well.
On Wednesday March 2nd the Russian news channel RT (formerly Russia Today) was pulled from the air despite the very real possibility of the Russians retaliating by blocking the BBC in Russia.
Question Time on BBC1 Thursday March 3rd included presenter Fiona Bruce asking a leading question as to whether Vladimir Putin could be overthrown by the Russian public and or the Russian military.
BBC2’s Newsnight of Thursday March 3rd featured Kirsty Wark and Mark Urban with guest former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko discussing the overthrow of Putin and how the Russian invasion is going very badly, “looking very haphazard” according to Wark, and how they will never win. Poroshenko while waving his gun sang the praises of Boris Johnson. Former US national security adviser H. R. McMaster was also interviewed, he said Putin had underestimated the Ukrainian military. Ex-military man Mark Urban explained the situation on his giant studio video display. It rather reminded me of Peter Snow who presented Newsnight from 1980-1997 with his bloodless sandpit.
Jeremy Vine’s morning phone in TV programme of Friday March 4th discussed whether Putin should be assassinated, Conversation went along the lines of, “Is it wrong to call for Putin to be assassinated? US Senator Lindsey Graham has called for it. But is it against our morals? Or is it justified?”
Friday March 4th saw an attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and also the BBC suspend its operations in Russia.
The Daily Mirror headline of Saturday March 5th had a sinister looking image of Vladimir Putin with the glaring headline `WANTED FOR WAR CRIMES`. On the inside pages there is a two-page spread by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown headlined `WE MUST PUNISH PUTIN`.
The papers of Sunday March 6th all led on Ukraine. The Mail On Sunday has Boris Johnson's `SIX POINT PLAN TO DEFEAT PUTIN`. The Sunday Times led on `MERCILESS PUTIN SHELLS EVACUEES` while the Daily Star on Sunday led with `MAD VLAD DYING OF CANCER. `
The Observer of Sunday March 6th was headlined `DEFIANT PUTIN WARNS THE WEST: YOUR SANCTIONS ARE AKIN TO AN ACT OF WAR`.
In the Observer of the same day Luke Harding reporting from L'viv has a two-page spread headlined `WE ARE UKRAINIANS. AND WE ARE INVINCIBLE! ` - PUTIN’S ARMY MEETS FOES WHO REFUSE TO BE VANQUISHED. Further on in the paper there were two full page emergency charity appeals and one quarter page appeal for Ukraine. There were no emergency appeals for Afghanistan or Yemen or Palestine. On page 50 there is an editorial headlined, “What more can we do to help defeat Putin?” and opines that Putin’s `war crimes are intensifying`.
On the BBC1 evening news of Sunday 6th March US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was reported as trying to up the ante by getting more weapons and even war planes into Ukraine. He must surely realise that no number of weapons can help the Ukrainians defeat the Russians who are around 15 times stronger. It is to be hoped that this is merely hype while serious negotiations are going on behind closed doors.
The Newcastle upon Tyne `Journal` newspaper of Tuesday March 8th has a Ukrainian flag over its masthead and an article about Russian students in Newcastle voicing their opposition to their country’s invasion of Ukraine. There is a picture from Glasgow which is over 100 miles away showing the statue of the Duke of Wellington with the customary traffic cone on his head but this time instead of red and white it is painted blue and gold.
On Wednesday 9th March Al Jazeera Moscow correspondent Step Vaessen reported from a subway station in Kiev. Describing the grim conditions of those sheltering she spoke of people sleeping in subway trains. The children were being entertained by a clown. With sirens blaring in the background, she told of Russian forces getting closer to Kiev.
Also, on Wednesday March 9th the level of reporting from Ukraine was so embarrassing that even Richard Madeley of ITV’s `Good Morning Britain` made the point to a CNN correspondent that reporters are humanising stories to such an extent (by embracing people at the end of an interview for example) that the journalists are becoming the story rather the Ukrainians.
Al Jazeera, which is still on the air at the time of writing, does at least cover stories from other parts of the globe such as from Niger in Africa, India and of the South American elections in Chile and Colombia.
From the British Parliament on Wednesday March 9th during BBC2’s `Parliament Live` MPs in the House of Commons could be seen all wearing Ukraine ribbons in their lapels. Ian Blackford of the SNP berated Boris Johnson about the small number of Ukrainian refugees taken by Britain compared to other European countries.
Drumbeat for war
The British papers continue the drumbeat for war. The headline in the Daily Mirror of Friday March 11th has images of Chelsea football owner Roman Abramovich and Vladimir Putin separated by the glaring headline `BLOOD BROTHERS`. Inside there were pictures of Abramovich’s £125 million mansion in Kensington Palace Gardens in London and of his £450 million yacht.
The Weekend i newspaper of Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th March has `PUTIN CLOSING IN ON KIEV` on the front page. Also in that day’s i is a poll on page 9 which says that the majority of British people fear that Putin will use nuclear weapons. Before the Russian invasion most British people wanted Boris Johnson to resign over Partygate but now the majority think it is inappropriate to discuss the issue. The paper also has a full-page charity appeal for Ukraine but no such appeal for other countries with serious refugee problems such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Palestine etc.
The papers of Sunday 13th March react to the newly announced Government scheme to pay Britons £350 per month to provide accommodation to people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
“PUTIN WIPES OUT ENTIRE CITY”, declares the front page of The Sunday Times of Sunday March 13th. The front page also points to an investigation about the Russian media mogul and close friend of Boris Johnson, Evgeny Lebedev, with the paper claiming British intelligence warned the Prime Minister about him two years ago.
The Sunday People and the Sunday Express of March 13th similarly carry the story on the initiative to help people fleeing the war. People includes in its report comments from Novichok poison survivor Charlie Rowley, whose life was “ruined by Russian secret agents” in 2018, as he urges “big-hearted Brits to take in Ukrainians fleeing the war”. The paper adds that Mr Rowley was “sickened” by Home Secretary Priti Patel’s “Russian spies” excuse for ministers’ reluctance to offer visas to refugees.
Many of that Sunday’s front pages reacted to the newly announced Government scheme to pay Britons £350 per month to provide accommodation to people fleeing the war in Ukraine.
The Independent carried a report on the 200 Ukrainian civilians who have taken refuge in the bunker of a church in Mariupol which has been under siege for weeks.
The Sunday Telegraph led with the Government’s new scheme to help people fleeing the Russian invasion. The Homes for Ukraine programme will allow individuals, charities, community groups and businesses to bring people escaping the war to safety and pay them to provide accommodation.
The Observer of Sunday March 13th also splashes with the Homes for Ukraine programme, adding Ms Patel has been left “humiliated” after a “fortnight of failure”.
The BBC news website on Sunday March 13th led with `Russia widens assault to hit military base near Poland` and it also reported the death of the first journalist in the conflict, American Brent Renaud.
The front page of satirical magazine Private Eye (number 1568 March 4th to March 17th) has a picture of Vladimir Putin sitting at one end of his very long table saying, “If anyone calls me a mad mass-murderer, I’ll blow up the world.” At the other end of the table his two senior generals say, “Victory is as near as he is.” And, “Oh no! It’s Vlad the insaner.”
In the middle pages newspaper headlines were satirised such as the Financial Times saying `UKRAINE – WILL YOUR SHARE PORTFOLIO BE AFFECTED BY ARMAGEDDON? ` and the Daily Mail` saying `UK MUST WELCOME REFUGEES` with a note from the editor saying “Is this a mistake?”
The Sun has the headline` IT'S WORLD PHWOAR THREE – UKRAINE’S FRUITIEST FIGHTERS`
The newspapers of Monday 14th March were mostly preoccupied with the Russian missile attack on a military base close to Ukraine's border with Poland.
"Putin's deadly warning to the West," was the Daily Mail's front-page headline. The paper has seen a British intelligence report that says the strike was designed to illustrate Russia's willingness to escalate, should the West continue sending supplies to Ukraine. Most of Monday 14th March newspapers headlines were along the lines of: 'War at NATO’s door' as Putin has 'West in sights' meaning there is a fear the war could spread.
On BBC2’s Newsnight of Monday March 14th Kirsty Wark solemnly informed us that “There appears to be to no limit to Putin’s civilian targets in Ukraine.” Wark interviewed the US Ambassador to Poland Mark Brzezinski (son of former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski [1928-2017]) who rather ironically said, “Big states should not bully little states.” I would love to have seen Wark suggest that the US invasions of many small third world countries like Vietnam and Nicaragua could be thus described but she did not pursue it.
Interviewed by C.J. Polychroniou of `Truthout` leading American academic and campaigner Noam Chomsky reminded people about climate change. “In the midst of the Ukraine crisis, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) released its 2022 report, by far the most dire warning it has yet produced. The report made it very clear that we must take firm measures now, with no delay, to cut back the use of fossil fuels and to move toward renewable energy. The warnings received brief notice, and then our strange species returned to devoting scarce resources to destruction and rapidly increasing its poisoning of the atmosphere, while blocking efforts for extricating itself from its suicidal path.”
The newspapers of Tuesday 15th March mostly led on the offers by the British public to put up Ukrainian refugees.
A programme on the BBC Parliament programme on Tuesday March 15th had a live broadcast from a select committee on Russian Disinformation. The committee was chaired by Conservative MP Julian Knight of the impressively titled Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. I watched it in its entirety and actually thought at first it might be satire. The title sounded like something out of `Private Eye` magazine or the puppet show `Spitting Image`. However, many learned academics such as Professor Vera Tolz from the University of Manchester expounded their learned pronouncements about Putin’s disinformation. Professor Tolz said that in the old days of the Soviet Union the news programmes that the Russians (or Soviets) broadcast were boring and most people didn’t listen. However, since 2012 there had been a proliferation of talk shows which people could watch for hours and become influenced by. (Although she did not say so I think she may have meant RT – the UK version of RT was launched on 30th October 2014 and closed on March 2nd 2022). She said that after Putin came to power in 2000, he started to control the Russian media after a period of relative freedom. She said that China created its own Internet and social media while Russia started with an open Internet which made censorship more difficult. Rebecca Skippage who is the disinformation editor of the BBC World Service also contributed. Conservative MP Damien Green was present as was a member of Ofcom (Office of Communications).
One phrase which is used constantly by newscasters after they solemnly announce casualty figures is, “These figures cannot be independently verified.” If the figures cannot be verified why use them in the first place?
Another constantly recurring theme is that the Russian invasion is not going to plan and that the Russians are not making the expected progress. What exactly is the expected Russian progress? Why not ask Russian President Putin or Russian general and defence minister Sergei Shoigu?
In less than 3 weeks of the invasion the Russian army seem to be on the brink of taking over the country.
The depiction of Ukrainians as being “people like us” can be seen as the EU opens doors to Ukrainians that were shut to Arab Refugees.
cars that look like ours
As reported by Moustafa Bayoumi in the Guardian of Wednesday March 2nd , `while on air, CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D’Agata stated last week that Ukraine “isn’t a place, with all due respect, like Iraq or Afghanistan, that has seen conflict raging for decades. This is a relatively civilized, relatively European – I have to choose those words carefully, too – city, one where you wouldn’t expect that, or hope that it’s going to happen”. If this is D’Agata choosing his words carefully, I shudder to think about his impromptu utterances. After all, by describing Ukraine as “civilized”, isn’t he really telling us that Ukrainians, unlike Afghans and Iraqis, are more deserving of our sympathy than Iraqis or Afghans?
Righteous outrage immediately mounted online, as it should have in this case, and the veteran correspondent quickly apologised, but since Russia began its large-scale invasion on 24 February, D’Agata has hardly been the only journalist to see the plight of Ukrainians in decidedly chauvinistic terms.
The BBC interviewed a former deputy prosecutor general of Ukraine, who told the network: “It’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blond hair … being killed every day.” Rather than question or challenge the comment, the BBC host flatly replied, “I understand and respect the emotion.” On France’s BFM TV, journalist Phillipe Corbé stated this about Ukraine: “We’re not talking here about Syrians fleeing the bombing of the Syrian regime backed by Putin. We’re talking about Europeans leaving in cars that look like ours to save their lives.”
In other words, not only do Ukrainians look like “us”; even their cars look like “our” cars. And that trite observation is seriously being trotted out as a reason for why we should care about Ukrainians.
There’s more, unfortunately. An ITV journalist reporting from Poland said: “Now the unthinkable has happened to them. And this is not a developing, third world nation. This is Europe!” `
The very real danger now is of the war spreading and even becoming a conflict between a nuclear armed Russia and a nuclear armed NATO.
As legendary Australian journalist John Pilger has stated, “I have reported many wars and witnessed their horrors. Whatever the reason for a war, whatever the grievances of its 'cause', one truth is constant: a war is impossible to control. The invasion of Ukraine must be stopped now or we all are at grave risk.”
Russian footballers and athletes are to be banned from international competitions.
British Foreign Secretary and geography expert Liz Truss wholeheartedly supports people going to Ukraine to fight the Russians. Despite being unaware that Rostov on Don is in Russia and not Ukraine she is in favour of mercenaries going to the current conflict.
The media as is their wont, act as cheerleaders for the war but not in a way seen for many a year since perhaps the 1991 Gulf War. This was what the late Gore Vidal called `The CNN light show`. Remember CNN’s John Holliman and his “Holy Cow!” reporting which likened the death and destruction of the American bombing to a “Giant fireworks display.”?
Supermarkets have been reported as taking bottles of Russian vodka off their shelves while anything and everything remotely Slavic is treated with hatred and contempt. There have even been suggestions of removing Russian tennis player Daniil Medvedev from his new position as world number one.
Removing bottles of vodka from supermarket shelves, removing novels by Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy from libraries and banning Russia from the Eurovision song contest is supposed to help the people of the Ukraine?
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is of course an act of aggression and a violation of international law. There have been repeated calls for Vladimir Putin to be prosecuted as a war criminal and even for him to be assassinated. While Russia’s invasion is illegal the same holds true for the many, many Western invasions of countries such as Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. Should George W Bush and Tony Blair be prosecuted for their unprovoked attack on Iraq in 2003?
The old cold war between the western powers led by the United States and the Warsaw Pact powers led by the old Soviet Union lasted from the late 1940s until the collapse of both the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact in 1991. After the terrible scare of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 when the world came close to Armageddon there emerged in the 1980s a relatively youthful Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev made bold unilateral decisions including the end of political repression at home, major disarmament and allowing the peaceful reunification of Germany. The 400,000 Soviet troops stationed in East Germany were withdrawn and Germany became one again. The Americans made the promise to Gorbachev that if Germany was united then NATO would not expand one inch to the east.
There was a feeling of euphoria in the early 1990s that after decades of tension and the threat of nuclear oblivion there could be a `peace dividend`. However, many important people, including media baron Rupert Murdoch were against this. There is no profit in peace and after a few years NATO began to expand. NATO did not expand one inch to the east – they expanded 800 miles to the east right up to Russia’s borders. While Soviet troops were withdrawn from Germany over 30 years ago American and British forces are still there, some 77 years after the end of the Second World War – why?
In 1999, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined NATO, amid much debate within the organisation and Russian opposition. Another expansion came with the accession of seven Central and Eastern European countries: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
These nations were invited to begin membership talks during the 2002 Prague summit, and joined NATO shortly before the 2004 Istanbul summit. Albania and Croatia joined on 1 April 2009, prior to the 2009 Strasbourg-Kehl summit. The most recent member states to be added to NATO were Montenegro on 5 June 2017 and North Macedonia on 27 March 2020.
The Russians have expressed mounting anxieties with each expansion of NATO but their concerns have been ignored. The prospect of Ukraine with its 1,400-mile plus border with Russia joining NATO was a red line which the Russians decided could not be crossed.
What is the answer? Endless prattle about `wee mad Vlad` and calls for him to be overthrown are of no use to the suffering people in Ukraine. Ukraine cannot defeat Russia no matter how many arms are sent to them. There has to be serious and hard negotiations between the two major powers involved meaning Russia and the United States which is the head of NATO.
war between the two nuclear powers is unthinkable
I feel that what must happen is that both parties agree to withdraw, Russia from Ukraine and NATO from eastern Europe. This is what surely must happen as a war between the two nuclear powers is unthinkable. Over two and a half million Ukrainians are now refugees and there is an outpouring of sympathy and offers of help not shown to the many refugees from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen or Afghanistan, all of whom were displaced by US led wars of aggression.
Talking of Afghanistan what did 20 years of NATO occupation (2001–2021) achieve? Two decades of occupation and 70,000 dead Afghans has accomplished what exactly?
The Taliban were replaced by er, the Taliban and the country is likely to be denied compensation and development aid in much the same way as Vietnam was isolated for many years after defeating the US in 1975. US President Joe Biden recently signed an executive order releasing $7bn in frozen Afghan reserves to be split between humanitarian efforts for the Afghan people and American victims of terrorism, including relatives of 9/11. There was much media coverage of the hasty NATO withdrawal from Kabul in August 2021 but precious little since. Two decades of occupation, trillions of dollars spent, wedding parties blown up and Médecins Sans Frontières facilities bombed. On 3 October 2015, a United States Air Force AC-130U gunship attacked the Kunduz Trauma Centre operated by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, or Doctors Without Borders) in the city of Kunduz, in the province of the same name in northern Afghanistan 42 people were killed and over 30 were injured. Then US President Barack Obama offered an apology and US$6,000 in `condolence payments` to the families of the bereaved.
The Afghan people are freezing and starving and there are no welcoming westerners offering them shelter and visa free entry into Europe.
Consider the hopeless position of the Palestinians who have been occupied for 7 decades. The hideous siege of Gaza has turned a potentially prosperous area in to the world’s largest open-air prison. The interminable `peace process` has produced precisely nothing as Israel demolishes more Palestinian homes, confiscates more land and imprisons more and more people including many children. The so-called two state solution and innumerable `initiatives` such as the Camp David accords of 1978, Madrid Conference of 1991, Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995, Clinton Parameters of 2000, Road Map for Peace in 2003 etc. have all failed to produce anything at all. Could you imagine the Palestinian flag being flown at football matches as a symbol of solidarity and Israeli products being withdrawn from supermarkets and Israel being banned from major sporting events and the Eurovision song contest? In fact, the cry of anti-Semitism is so strong that it is scarcely possible to even acknowledge the mere existence of Palestinian people without being censured.
What about the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis which is in Yemen? According to UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund) 11.3 million children in Yemen are in need of humanitarian assistance. Now, coronavirus threatens their lives too. From the YNICEF website: `80% of Yemen’s population are in need of humanitarian aid and protection. More than six years of fighting has already pushed Yemen and its health system to the brink of collapse. Millions of children lack access to clean water and sanitation facilities and are in desperate need of basic healthcare. Malnutrition is also at an all-time high. 2 million children are acutely malnourished and over 325,000 children under 5 are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and urgently need life-saving food to survive. ` Britain and other Western powers has been arming the Saudi government which has been bombing Yemen for years. The Saudi dictatorship has an appalling human rights record and recently executed 81 people in one day. Over the last six years Britain has sold the Saudis £20 billion worth of weapons including bombs to be dropped on Yemen. Yet the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is going to see the Saudis to do more business with them and doesn’t care at all about human rights in Saudi Arabia, Yemen or anywhere else.
What about the suffering in Libya and Syria? What about the failure to restore basic services like electricity and clean drinking water in Iraq nearly 20 years after the 2003 US led invasion under the false pretences that Iraq had WMD and was responsible for the September 11th attacks?
The West has been far from an innocent bystander to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The February 2014 leaked conversation between Geoffrey Pyatt who was the US Ambassador to Ukraine from 2013-2015, and Victoria Nuland who was the Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs from 2013-2017 was made public.
During the taped conversation Nuland and Pyatt discussed the upheavals in Ukraine, and (then Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych)’s offer the previous month to make the opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk the new prime minister and Vitali Klitschko deputy prime minister. Both men turned the offer down.
Nuland, who in December 2013 went to Independence Square in Kiev in a sign of support for the demonstrators, adds that she has also been told that the UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, is about to appoint a former Dutch ambassador to Kiev, Robert Serry, as his representative to Ukraine.
"That would be great I think to help glue this thing and have the UN glue it and you know, fuck the EU," she says, in an apparent reference to differences over their policies.
"We've got to do something to make it stick together, because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it," Pyatt replies.
In the phone call, Nuland suggests that Vitali Klitschko, the former world champion boxer, is not yet suited to take a major government role, in contrast to Yatsenyuk.
"I don't think Klitsch should go into the government," she apparently said.
"I think Yats is the guy who's got the economic experience, he's got the governing experience," she adds.
The Ukraine had become a CIA theme park with Nuland proudly boasting that US$5 billion had been pumped in to opposition groups and the democratically elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in the Maidan coup of February 2014. He subsequently fled to Russia.
The coup government's anti-Russian sentiment culminated in a gruesome massacre in the city of Odessa. On May 2nd 2014, a right-wing mob assaulted an anti-Maidan emplacement there, forcing the protesters into a nearby trade union building. Trapped inside, the anti-Maidan protesters were burned alive. Those trying to escape the flames were brutally assaulted. The official state toll is 48 dead, but the actual number may be far higher. No credible investigation has ever been conducted. That might be related to the presence of Ukrainian politician Andriy Parubiy. From December 2013 to February 2014 Parubiy was a commandant of Euromaidan. As Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, Parubiy supported the anti–terrorist operation against pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. Parubiy, had travelled to Odessa to confront the anti-Maidan camp, with hundreds of Right Sector members in tow.
What of the Nazi presence in Ukraine such as the Azov battalion? The Azov Battalion has been described as a far-right militia, with connections to neo-Nazism and members wearing neo-Nazi and SS symbols and regalia, and expressing neo-Nazi views. The group's insignia features the Wolfsangel, a German heraldic charge inspired by historic wolf traps adopted by the Nazi Party, and the Black Sun, both of which remain two popular neo-Nazi symbols. Azov soldiers have been observed wearing Nazi-associated symbols on their uniforms. It is surely a matter of great concern that they are prominent in contemporary Ukraine. The war in Donbas has since left over 14,000 dead. According to UN figures, 81% of the civilian casualties since 2018 have occurred on the rebel-held, pro-Russian side. There is little or no reporting of this despite the recent saturation coverage of Ukraine with only the Ukrainians seen as victims.
These Russian-speaking Ukrainians, however, are what Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman described in "Manufacturing Consent" as "unworthy victims": foreign civilians killed with US support, and thus unworthy of our sympathy or even attention.
Remember that the whole history of Russia has been one of cruel invasions from both east and west including of course what the Russians call the great patriotic war when they lost some 27 million citizens fighting the Nazi invasion of June 1941 until the retreat of the Germans in autumn 1944 and their final defeat in May 1945. More people died fighting on the Eastern Front than in all other fighting across the globe during World War II. The Russian contribution made to winning the Second World War is seldom if ever acknowledged in the West.
We are always told of Russian aggression and their desire to take over the world. How many people, are aware of the British, French and American invasions of Russia?
In his seminal work `Truth the First Casualty` Australian journalist Phillip Knightley lists 19 countries which invaded Russia in 1919 to reverse the Bolshevik revolution including Poles, Latvians, Czechs, Britons, Americans, Canadians and French from the west and from the east, the Japanese.
While not a fan of any kind of imperialism it has to be asked who invades whom? Historically Russia has been a medium power with a land-based empire which has never invaded Britain, France or the United States while all three of those aforementioned countries have invaded Russia. Britain, the USA and France were among a coalition of countries that invaded Russia to (unsuccessfully) try and overturn the 1917 Russian Revolution. Britain and France also invaded Russia during the Crimean War of 1853-1856. You can read about this in Phillip Knightley’s `The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero & Myth-maker from the Crimea to Iraq. `
Re Putin the hate figure. Remember when Putin was very popular in the West and `Pootymania` after September 11th attacks? Russian President Vladimir Putin, then less than halfway through his first term, said and did pro-Western things. Putin was the first foreign leader to call President George W. Bush after Al-Qaeda hijackers brought down the World Trade Centre, damaged the Pentagon, killed nearly 3,000 people, and stunned the country with the enormity of a seemingly incomprehensible blow. He aided the U.S.-led military operation in Afghanistan -- where the Taliban had shielded Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, who was behind the 9/11 attacks -- by opening Russian airspace for U.S. humanitarian flights, sharing intelligence, and acquiescing to U.S. deployments in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, which Russia still considers part of its sphere of influence.
Putin’s overtures to the West, rather like Gorbachev’s 20 years previously, met with little understanding or reciprocation. When Putin expressed concern about Russia’s security due to the expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders, he was disparaged or ignored.
Russia has attacked schools and hospitals, says Dominic Raab the deputy PM. Remember when the US deliberately bombed schools and hospitals in Hanoi in 1972 during the Vietnam War as part of Richard Nixon’s `madman` theory? Richard Milhous Nixon the only US President ever to resign was a fanatically anti-communist politician. While posing as a peace candidate in the 1968 and 1972 US elections (both of which he won) he greatly expanded the war in Vietnam. He picked up the idea of acting like a madman from the South Korean dictator Syngman Rhee who advised Nixon to act crazy so that your opponents don’t know what to expect. When Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and members of his cabinet expressed outrage at the bombings Nixon was furious and sent in the CIA to overthrow Whitlam and replace him with the more pliable Sir John Kerr.
The Russians are coming? No, they’re already here. The City of London, the world’s biggest financial centre, is awash with an estimated £100 billion of dirty money. The ruling Conservative party receives millions of pounds in donations from Russian donors. Doubtless that helps to pay for the cheese and wine parties in Downing Street which breached the lockdown in 2020. Maybe as well as the wine there was the odd bottle of Smirnoff.
The Russian oligarchs have castles, yachts and football teams. They own newspapers and indeed own politicians. Where did they get their vast wealth? Looting the economy of the old Soviet Union as it collapsed.
Australian journalist Julian Assange, currently languishing in London’s notorious Belmarsh prison has said: "Populations don’t like wars...and have to be fooled into war." Where is the media coverage of his wrongful imprisonment?
The Ukraine cannot defeat Russia militarily, not unless there is direct NATO involvement on their behalf and that surely cannot take place. A full-blown war between a nuclear armed NATO and a nuclear armed Russia simply must not happen. The two big players in this are the US/NATO and Russia. It is time to scrap all the preposterous hype and flag-waving and start serious negotiations which will see both Russia and NATO pulling back and allowing the people of Ukraine to live.
Reported in the Byline Times – what the papers don’t say -` Rarely mentioned in the news media since it began, Boris Johnson’s Government has been quietly paying a special Coronavirus subsidy to the big newspaper groups for nearly two years.
Details are scarce, but the bulk of this taxpayers’ money appears to have gone to organisations that (a) were wealthy enough to survive the crisis without special help and (b) generally support the Government through their partisan journalism. Just how much has gone to helping the likes of Rupert Murdoch, the Barclay family, Lord Rothermere and Lord Lebedev of Siberia is, as we shall see, a closely guarded secret – but it could be an awful lot. One of the few things we do know is that it was meant to be £35 million for the first three months. It is now in its 23rd month.
The scheme is called ‘All In, All Together’ and was the result of intense lobbying in the first weeks of the pandemic by the club of newspapers known as the News Media Association (NMA). It is unlikely, in fact, that any industry got the begging bowl out more swiftly and more effectively in those spring days of 2020.
Advertising revenues were in free-fall, the NMA argued, and something had to be done to enable the press to continue doing its vital work of informing the public – work that was all the more vital at such a critical time. `
The 2014 coup in Ukraine which overthrew pro-Russian President Victor Yanukovich had Victoria Nuland declaring in a leaked telephone call that `Yats` (i.e., Arseniy Yatsenyuk) is our guy. Just imagine that in reverse with a Russian diplomat saying of the US elections, “Trump is our guy”.
Censorship, supposedly anathema to the civilised West, abounds. Oliver Stone’s documentary `Ukraine on Fire` has been pulled from YouTube. The Russian TV network RT has been banned. Also deleted from YouTube are nearly 600 episodes of US journalist Abby Martin’s old RT show `Breaking The Set`. A years-long censorship campaign has culminated in tech giants purging thousands of her critical interviews and reports about the US empire. Abby says she is gutted by the decision.
I managed to access the RT website of Tuesday 15th March which is headlined: `3 Eastern European prime ministers heading for Kiev - The Polish, Czech, and Slovenian prime ministers have crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border. ` Also reported. ` Alexey Arestovich, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has said that Moscow and Kiev could sign a peace deal in the coming weeks. Russia attacked the neighbouring state on February 24.
“I believe, most likely, we’ll have a peace agreement by May, in early May, or maybe even earlier. We’ll see how it goes,” Arestovich said on Monday, while appearing on political activist Mark Feygin’s YouTube channel. He added that in the best-case scenario, a deal on the withdrawal of Russian troops could even be reached in “one to two weeks.”
An RT headline from the afternoon of Tuesday 2022 announced that Russia was imposing sanctions on the USA. Russia sanctions US President.
Moscow has announced sanctions against US leadership, including Joe Biden, as well as the chiefs of the Pentagon and the CIA. Russia on Tuesday sanctioned US President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, and ten other administration officials and political figures. Moscow has said that the sanctions are a reciprocal measure, imposed after Washington blacklisted top Russian leaders, including President Vladimir Putin. The latest additions to Russia’s “stop list” were announced by the Kremlin on Tuesday, and were described as a “counter reaction” to the “extremely Russophobic course taken by the current US administration.”
As I finish this analysis of the media coverage of the Ukraine crisis on Tuesday March 15th 2022, I learn that Russian forces are on the verge of taking the Ukrainian capital Kiev. The BBC1 lunchtime news of Tuesday March 15th 2022 came live from Lviv in Western Ukraine. It reported that there are now nearly 3 million Ukrainian refugees. Kiev mayor Vitali Klitschko was shown announcing a 35-hour curfew for people in the capital, warning "today is a difficult and dangerous moment”. It was stated that peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine were continuing. BBC Security Correspondent Gordon Corera said that NATO had ruled out direct intervention or a no-fly zone. A meeting of the `Joint Expeditionary Force` which is an initiative of NATO was shown with Boris Johnson talking of stopping what he called `Putin’s bullying`. However, British action will be limited to imposing more sanctions and not military action. To finish there was a video of 7-year-old Ukrainian Amelia Anisovych singing `Let it go` from a Kyiv bomb shelter.
Former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook tweeted a disturbing opinion poll on Tuesday March 15th which shows British public opinion seeming to favour a no-fly zone in Ukraine “And they say corporate media propaganda doesn't work! Britons just became turkeys voting for a nuclear-Armageddon Christmas.” The poll shows that 40% of Britons support a no-fly zone while 39% oppose it - source Opinion March 8-11 2022.
A disturbing comment on Facebook suggested that there are large numbers of foreign mercenaries coming in to Kiev. It is said they come in on small private planes, armed with the heaviest of weapons.
I just hope the bloodshed can stop soon and that the awful conflict does not spread to a wider European or World War.
Australian writer Caitlin Johnstone puts it well when she says, “Wars end in one of two ways: with diplomacy and negotiation, or with mountains of corpses.”
It is to be hoped that sanity prevails and a sensible solution is found. However, the current and recent hysteria is frighteningly reminiscent of the classic 1963 cold war comedy drama `Dr Strangelove` starring Peter Sellers, Sterling Hayden and George C Scott. Directed to perfection by Stanley Kubrick it is a story of how an unhinged lower echelon commander played by Hayden orders a pre-emptive strike on the Soviet Union without presidential authority. The US and Soviet presidents then have to figure out a way of reversing this doomsday scenario in a very short time. It’s an unforgettable film alright but we must hope that life does not imitate art.
- Mainstream British newspapers including the Guardian, the Observer, The Daily Mirror, i newspaper, Sunday Times, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People. Also, the Newcastle upon Tyne Journal newspaper.
- BBC television news bulletins and BBC news magazine programme Newsnight. BBC current affairs programme Question Time. BBC2 Parliament Live. BBC2 Politics Live. ITN news and breakfast time `Good Morning Britain`. Channel 4 news. RT (formerly Russia Today, now banned in Britain). Also, Al Jazeera television. Jeremy Vine phone in TV programme on Channel 5.
- Various websites including BBC News Website, Truthout, Reader Supported News, John Pilger, Caitlin Johnstone and the Grayzone.
- Caitlin Johnstone website: https://caitlinjohnstone.com/
- Radio programmes including BBC Radio 4, LBC (leading Britain’s conversation), BBC Radio Scotland and BBC Radio Newcastle.
- Film: `Ukraine on Fire` a 2016 film featuring Oliver Stone and directed by Igor Lopatonok. It was deleted from YouTube but as at 15th March 2022 it can be seen on both Vimeo and Amazon.
- Film: `Dr Strangelove or How I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb. ` made in 1963 and released in 1964. Starring Peter Sellers, Sterling Hayden, George C Scott and Slim Pickens. Directed by Stanley Kubrick.
- Book: `The First Casualty: The War Correspondent as Hero and Myth-Maker from the Crimea to Iraq` by Phillip Knightley.
- Book: `The Fire this Time` by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark. It deals with war crimes committed by the West during the attack on Iraq in 1991. Published by Thunder’s Mouth press in 1994. Difficult to buy in bookshops or to borrow from public libraries but available from Goodreads and Amazon.
- Book: ` The Assault on Truth: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Emergence of a New Moral Barbarism` by Peter Oborne, published in 2021, which is available in book shops or online.