UKRAINE SAYS RUSSIAN TANKS FLATTEN TOWN; EUROPEAN UNION TO THREATEN MORE SANCTIONS

UKRAINE3Pro-Russian separatists walk at a destroyed war memorial on Savur-Mohyla, a hill east of the city of Donetsk, August 28, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

-

By Richard Balmforth and Adrian Croft

KIEV/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Ukraine said Russian tanks had flattened a small border town and pro-Russian rebels had made fresh gains in its east, as EU leaders signaled on Saturday they would threaten more sanctions against Moscow over the crisis.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, attending an EU summit in Brussels, said he was hoping for a political solution, but warned that his country was on the brink of full-scale war.

Russia has repeatedly dismissed accusations from Kiev and Western powers that it has sent soldiers into its neighbor, or supported pro-Russian rebels fighting a five-month-old separatist war in Ukraine’s east.

But Ukraine military spokesman Andriy Lysenko told journalists in Kiev that Russian tanks had entered the small Ukrainian town of Novosvitlivka on the border with Russia and fired on every house.

“We have information that virtually every house has been destroyed,” Lysenko added, without giving details on when the reported attack took place. Ukraine’s daily military briefings typically cover the previous 24 hours.

Lysenko said the rebels had made new gains just east of the border city of Luhansk, one of the rebels’ main strongholds, after opening up a new front in another area last week.

“Direct military aggression by the Russian Federation in the east of Ukraine is continuing. The Russians are continuing to send military equipment and ‘mercenaries’,” Ukraine’s defense and security council said in a separate Twitter post.

Kiev and Western countries say recent rebel gains were the result of the arrival of armored columns of Russian troops, sent by Russian President Vladimir Putin to prop up a separatist rebellion that would otherwise have been near collapse.

There was no immediate fresh comment from Russia on Saturday. Putin on Friday compared Kiev’s drive to regain control of its rebellious eastern cities to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in World War Two.

“NO TIME TO WASTE”

EU leaders meeting in Brussels appointed Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk as president of the European Council, giving hawkish Kremlin critics in Eastern Europe new influence in the bloc.

According to a draft statement from the summit, the EU leaders were set to ask the European Commission and the EU’s diplomatic service “to urgently undertake preparatory work” on further sanctions that could be implemented if necessary.

French President Francois Hollande stressed that a failure by Russia to reverse a flow of weapons and troops into eastern Ukraine would force the bloc to impose new economic measures.

“Are we going to let the situation worsen, until it leads to war?” Hollande said at a news conference. “Because that’s the risk today. There is no time to waste.”

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the EU was prepared to toughen sanctions against Russia but also that it wanted a political deal to end the confrontation.

“We are ready to take very strong and clear measures but we are keeping our doors open to a political solution,” Barroso said at a news conference with Ukraine’s president.

Poroshenko said the crisis was close to a tipping point.

“I think we are very close to the point of no return. The point of no return is full-scale war, which already happened on the territory controlled by separatists,” he said.

He added, however, that a trilateral meeting on Monday involving representatives of Kiev, Moscow and the European Union could produce a ceasefire.

SHOTS FIRED

The crisis started when Ukraine’s Moscow-backed president was ousted by street protests in February after he ditched a pact with the EU that would have moved the ex-Soviet republic firmly toward Europe and away from Russia.

Russia denounced the pro-Western leadership that took over as “a fascist junta” and went on to annex Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula. Pro-Russian separatists then rebelled in Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking east in April, setting up ‘people’s republics’ and declaring they wanted to join Russia.

A senior U.N. human rights official said on Friday nearly 2,600 civilians, Ukrainian government forces and rebels had been killed in a conflict which has led to the biggest Russia-West crisis since the Cold War.

In Kiev, Ukraine’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said a group of pro-Ukrainian fighters had broken out of encirclement by pro-Russian rebels near Donetsk early on Saturday, though other reports suggested many remained trapped.

Defense Minister Valery Heletey also ordered a clamp-down on information coming out of Ilovaysk, a town to the east of Donetsk.

Indicating government forces were being pulled back from the area, Heletey said on his Facebook page: “As soon as the danger for Ukrainian units has passed, all open information for the current period relating to the withdrawal of forces from Ilovaysk will be published.”

Last week pro-Russian rebels opened a new front in a separate, coastal territory along the Sea of Azov and pushed Ukrainian troops out of the town of Novoazovsk. They are now threatening the strategic port city of Mariupol.

Several shots were fired on Saturday at a car carrying Alexander Zakharchenko, leader of the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic, but he escaped unscathed, another separatist leader, Sergei Kavtaradze, told Reuters.

“Zakharchenko wasn’t hurt. His driver was wounded and is being operated on,” Kavtaradze said, adding that an operation was under way to catch whoever had fired the shots.

(Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Kiev and Anton Zverev in Donetsk; Writing by Richard Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Robin Pomeroy)

28 VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS TRAPPED IN UKRAINIAN TOWN BY SEPARATISTS ESCAPE, OFFICIALS SAY

UKRAINE2A member of Donbass battalion, a volunteer militia group devoted to ensuring a united Ukraine, resews a uniform in a school converted into a base, on August 18, 2014 in the small easter city of Popasna, Lugansk region, recently freed by Ukrainian forces from pro-Russia militants. (Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images)
-
 
By Annie Gowen | The Washington Post
 
-

A group of Ukrainian volunteer soldiers managed to escape Saturday from Ilovaysk, a southeastern town that has been besieged by pro-Russian separatists for almost a week, Ukrainian officials said.

Ukraine’s interior minister, Arsen Avakov, announced that 28 of the more than 200 fighters trapped in the town had escaped, but the military did not explain how that had been accomplished — or offer details about plans to evacuate the rest of the troops.

“There’s an operation to withdraw our military from there,” spokesman Col. Andriy Lysenko said Saturday. “The major task now is to evacuate our military with the least losses.”

The soldiers have been cornered in the town since Monday, surrounded by separatists they say have been freshly supplied with troops and high-tech weapons from Russia. Food and ammunition have dwindled, and the death toll has been mounting.

The soldiers’ plight and their apparent dispatch into battle with little training and inadequate equipment has sparked scorn across Ukraine in recent days. Volunteer commanders venting on Facebook have denounced what they say is the government’s neglect, and protesters have gathered in the capital, Kiev, chanting “Weapons for patriots.”

The episode is significant because it exposes the weakness of Ukraine’s armed forces — the result of years of neglect — as the country pivots from a civil conflict to face a far more formidable foe, its neighbor to the east.

In a further sign Saturday of the magnitude of that challenge, Ukrainian officials said Russian forces have been warning residents in Novoazovsk, a coastal border town recently recaptured by pro-Russian separatists, to prepare for the arrival of Russian forces. According to Lysenko, Russia was offering money to residents for information about Ukrainian troops and dropping leaflets instructing locals on how to behave when the troops reached the town.

The nine-point list of instructions on the leaflet — the authenticity of which could not be verified — includes directions to “not under any circumstances hinder the movement of Russian troops,” to “only communicate in Russian,” to “prepare lists of servicemen of the Ukrainian army, participants in the Maidan, civil groups and leaders of national communities to be forwarded to employees of the Russian Security Service,” and to “be ready at any time” to give up living space to “peacekeeping forces of the Russian Federation.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin focused international attention Friday on the soldiers trapped in Ilovaysk by calling in a statement for a protected route to allow them to retreat, even as evidence mounted of a broad incursion into Ukraine by Russian troops and military vehicles.

“I call on the rebel forces to open a humanitarian corridor for the Ukrainian troops who are surrounded, so as to avoid unnecessary casualties and to give them the opportunity to withdraw from the zone of operations,” Putin said.

The statement opened a day on which Ukraine raised the prospect of joining NATO in hopes of deterring an outright Russian invasion and Putin likened the separatists’ Ukrainian antagonists to the Nazi forces that invaded Russia in World War II.

By Friday evening, Lysenko said no corridor had materialized near Ilovaysk, and the spokesman for one of the largest militia battalions said the fighters had come under heavy fire throughout the day as they tried to break through a double ring of rebels. The day’s death toll was not known.

-

UKRAINEShellings and protests continue in Ukraine as the military conflict escalates in the east.  Aug. 30, 2014 Ukrainian troops evacuate from the rebel-held town of Starobesheve, eastern Ukraine. Sergei Grits/AP

-

“Fights are being conducted. There are dead people. There are wounded. But there is hope,” said Vasilisa Trofimovich, the battalion spokesman.

‘Now I understand’

One volunteer soldier, who gave his name only as Vladimir for safety reasons, said he and other members of his unit had been hunkered down in a basement, rationing the bullets for their aging assault rifles and killing farm chickens to survive. Meanwhile, he said, they were being attacked from all sides by separatists and Russians armed with sophisticated guns and tanks.

“For a while, I thought they wouldn’t abandon us,” he said of Ukraine’s government, speaking by telephone. “But now I understand what’s really going on.”

The battalions were launched in spring after the onset of tensions between Russian-backed separatists, largely based in the east, and Ukrainians who want the country to ally itself with Europe and the West.

As fighting began, citizens scrambled to defend the country against the separatist uprising after it became apparent that the armed forces had been enfeebled by years of cost-cutting and neglect. A text-message campaign seeking funds for military defense brought in millions.

Willing but ill-prepared

At the same time, former protesters who had helped oust a president in February hungered to join the fight. The national government established volunteer battalions as a way to help would-be fighters get to the front under some form of government auspices. More than 7,000 volunteer soldiers now serve in 10 battalions under the Ministry of Internal Affairs. By contrast, rebel forces say they have about 12,000 volunteer soldiers.

One former small-business owner from the southeastern city of Donetsk, who said he had never picked up a gun, said he joined up to fight after his city descended into chaos and he was forced to close his business.

“I realized it had to be me who was going to defend my city,” said the businessman, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for safety reasons.

He found himself in a one-month training course with lawyers, doctors and other professionals, including a chef from one of Kiev’s finest hotels. At the end of training, he was given a Soviet-era Kalashnikov assault rifle. But the snipers in his unit fared worse: They left training with cartridges that dated to World War II.

The volunteers were told their role was to secure cities in the wake of the country’s regular armed forces, but they quickly realized they were going to be involved in full-scale combat.

A spokesman for the military’s National Security and Defense Council, Bogdan Voron, rejected the idea that the volunteer brigades were unprepared.

“A lot of these volunteers had [mandatory] military service. They are policemen, former servicemen,” he said. “They have a really good background to serve their country.”

In Ilovaysk, according to soldiers and official military accounts, about 350 members of several volunteer battalions were sent in on Aug. 19 to secure the town and hold their position. The town of about 17,000 is a major railway hub and a strategic link to Donetsk, now under rebel control.

The businessman spent several days fighting in Ilovaysk, where he witnessed the horrific spectacle of a Ukrainian army soldier tied in the position of crucifixion on a local bridge, where he slowly died. Shortly afterward, the businessman escaped.

The volunteer battalions, fighting alongside regular Ukrainian forces, managed to take about two-thirds of the town on their own, according to soldiers and reports from Information Resistance, a group that uses data from Ukraine’s military and other sources. But on Monday, the volunteers and regulars found themselves outnumbered by rebels who the United States believes are being backed by Russian soldiers with tanks and other weaponry.

That day, the Ukrainian military alleged that a column of Russian tanks and armored personnel carriers had breached the border, and the volunteer battalions said they began to see strong reinforcements to their front and rear. They found themselves surrounded, they said.

Vladimir, the young volunteer, said that he and his unit mates, who had already lost two fellow soldiers, have been spending their time in sporadic firefights. Some were ready to fight on, and some were in a daze.

“We will fight to the end,” he said.

Natalie Gryvnyak contributed to this report from Kiev and Mariupol. Karoun Demirjian contributed from Moscow.

POLISH PRESIDENT WARNS GERMANY OF PUTIN’S ‘EMPIRE’ AMBITIONS

BERLIN (Reuters) – Polish President Bronis law Komorowski said that Vladimir Putin is trying to build a new Russian empire for Moscow and that the region now had to choose whether it wanted “a Cossack Europe or a democratic one”.

“Russia has carried out an invasion in Ukraine,” the Polish head of state told German public radio, according to excerpts of an interview to be broadcast later on Saturday.

Komorowski said Putin was quite open about his ambitions to “rebuild the empire”. The Cossacks long served Russian czars in military and security roles on the borders of the empire and their brand of Russian Orthodox patriotism is admired by Putin.

The Polish president, whose post is largely ceremonial but does give him a say in foreign policy, is an ally of Prime Minister Donald Tusk from the centrist Civic Platform (PO).

“I hope Germans are sufficiently mindful of what a Soviet empire meant for Europe,” Komorowski told Deutschlandradio Kultur and Deutschlandfunk, warning against any reprise of the pre-World War Two “appeasement policy of yielding to Hitler”.

“First the challenge was Crimea, now it is about further regions of Ukraine and everyone is asking where it will end,” he said, reiterating a call from Poland and the Baltic states in particular for NATO’s eastern flank to be reinforced.

NATO member Poland is one of the most outspoken critics of Putin’s support for pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. This week the rebels opened a new front against government forces, a reversal Kiev blames on the arrival of Russian troops.

(Reporting by Stephen Brown; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

RUSSIA DENIES RUMORS OF ‘INVASION’ OF UKRAINE

“The Russian authorities clearly said many times there are no regular Russian troops there,” says Russian diplomatic source

-

Russia denies rumors of 'invasion' of Ukraine

Image Credits: Pavel Kazachkov / Flickr

-

by Pravda.ru

In Russia, officials deny the rumors about the invasion of Russian troops in Ukraine.

Russian military men and hardware do not take any participation in the events in Ukraine, Russian Permanent Representative to the OSCE Andrei Kelin told Itar-Tass after the meeting of the Permanent Council of organization: “We have clearly stated before that there is no participation of Russian troops, we do not deliver any hardware to Ukraine either,” he said.

“We’ve heard many statements from the Ukrainian leadership that quickly turned out to be a lie. Now we are witnessing another hoax, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, Yevgeny Serebrennikov told RIA Novosti.

“Lies has become an integral feature of the so-called Kiev authorities, so Mr. Poroshenko will not surprise anyone either in Russia or in the West. I can only say that there are no grounds for such words, as the junta still continues blame-shifting,” head of the Duma Committee on CIS Affairs, Leonid Slutsky said.

“ZERO PROOF” – THE “RUSSIAN INVASION” OF UKRAINE

Translation error or an intentional Poroshenko ‘screw up’

-
 
Notice that one author of the NYT piece above is Michael Gordon, who, together with Judith Miller, wrote sensational reports about proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
-
 
by Moon of Alabama
 
The authors of this NYT piece, Ukraine Reports Russian Invasion on a New Front, are not really convincing when presenting these reports by the Ukrainian government as truthful:

The latest incursion, which Ukraine’s military said included five armored personnel carriers, was at least the third movement of troops and weapons from Russia across the southeast part of the border this week, further blunting the momentum Ukrainian forces have made in weakening the insurgents in their redoubts of Donetsk and Luhansk farther north. Evidence of a possible turn was seen in the panicky retreat of Ukrainian soldiers on Tuesday from a force they said had come over the Russian border.

Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian military in Kiev, said the Russian armored column entered the town of Amvrosiyivka, south of Donetsk, expanding what Western and Ukrainian officials have described as one of the main fronts in a multipronged counteroffensive directed by Russia.

The “momentum” the Ukrainian troops had was never as big as the Ukrainian government had claimed. A few motorized brigades ran through open territory held by few insurgents and when coming to a halt at their primary target were immediately cut off and surrounded. Their moral is bad, their equipment old, ammunition is low and the entire aim of their campaign is dubious. Now even a few weak counterattacks, the “counteroffensive”, have them on the run.

While the piece repeats the Ukrainian claim that Russian material, including ammunition, passed over the border the third picture shows some 20+ wooden boxes of RPGs and the caption says:

“A villager opened a box of rocket-propelled grenades left by the Ukrainian Army in Starobecheve, southeast of Donetsk. Pro-Russia rebels took over the town after the military withdrew.”

Obviously the fleeing Ukrainian troops are leaving a lot of goodies behind.

Then there is this:

The separatists have asserted that they are using captured Ukrainian equipment. But American officials say they are confident that the artillery in the Krasnodon area of Ukraine is Russia’s since Ukrainian forces have not penetrated that deeply into that separatist-controlled region. American officials also say the separatists have no experience in using such weaponry.

That bold part is of course utter bullshit. The Donetsk miners and volunteers from Russia all have had regular military service. They surely will be able to handle Grad systems, little evolved from World War II, and other artillery.

The United States has photographs that show the Russian artillery moved into Ukraine, American officials say. One photo dated last Thursday, shown to a New York Times reporter, shows Russian military units moving self-propelled artillery into Ukraine. Another photo, dated Saturday, shows the artillery in firing positions in Ukraine.

“Shown to one NYT reporter” who likely can not differentiate a Grad system from a pipe organ is hardly any proof. Why doesn’t the U.S. publish the picture?

On the highway in Novoazovsk on Tuesday, Sgt. Ihor Sharapov, a soldier with the Ukrainian border patrol unit, said he had seen tanks drive across the border, although they were marked with flags of the Donetsk People’s Republic. Others suggested the flags were a ruse.

“I tell you they are Russians, but this is what proof I have,” said Sgt. Aleksei Panko, holding up his thumb and index finger to form a zero.

Zero proof – indeed. I have absolutely no doubt that Russian volunteers are fighting on the insurgency side. I have no doubt that some ammunition is coming from Russia. But judging from pictures of equipment and ammunition the insurgents use nearly all of it seems to be the same Soviet era stuff the Ukrainian army is using. I have yet to see and big updated Russian equipment in their hands. The big Russian invasion the Ukrainian government claims is very unlikely to have happened.

Update

This is a quite amazing “information operation” without doubt of U.S. origin.

Consider: The Ukrainian President talks about Russian affiliated insurgents in east-Ukraine and Reuters and others distribute this as “invasion”. After all major news-entities repeated the “invasion” claim and the public damage is done they simply take it back.

Consider this from Tagesschau, the highest rated German TV news show:

On #Ukraine there was a translation error by the agency Reuters: According to the correction Poroshenko did not talk of an invasion.

So there was an “invasion”, distributed by major news agencies, which then turns out to have been a translation error or an intentional Poroshenko ‘screw up’.

Notice that one author of the NYT piece above is Michael Gordon, who, together with Judith Miller, wrote sensational reports about proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The current head of NATO who is promoting war against Russia, Fogh-of-war Rassmussen, said 11 years ago: “Iraq has WMDs. It is not something we think, it is something we know”.

These folks and the western news agencies that promoted the WMD in Iraq claims are now claiming a Russian “invasion” in Ukraine only to retract it when the damage is done. Warmongers. All of them.

WASHINGTON KEEPS PILING LIE UPON LIE

The latest Washington lie, this one coming from NATO, is that Russia has invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops and self-propelled artillery

-

Washington Piles Lie Upon Lie

-

by Paul Craig Roberts | Infowars.com

The latest Washington lie, this one coming from NATO, is that Russia has invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops and self-propelled artillery.

How do we know that this is a lie? Is it because we have heard nothing but lies about Russia from NATO, from US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, from assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland, from Obama and his entire regime of pathological liars, and from the British, German, and French governments along with the BBC and the entirety of the Western media?

This, of course, is a good reason for knowing that the latest Western propaganda is a lie. Those who are pathological liars don’t suddenly start telling the truth.

But there are even better reasons for understanding that Russia has not invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops.

One reason is that Putin has invested heavily in diplomacy backed by unprovocative behavior. He would not risk his bet on diplomacy by sending in troops too few in number to have a decisive effect on the outcome.

Another reason is that if Putin decides he has no alternative to sending the Russian military to protect the Russian residents in eastern and southern Ukraine, Putin will send in enough troops to do the job quickly as he did in Georgia when the American and Israeli trained Georgian army invaded South Ossetia and was destroyed in a few hours by the Russian response. If you hear that 100,000 Russian troops accompanied by air cover have invaded Ukraine, it would be a more believable claim.

A third reason is that the Russian military does not need to send troops into Ukraine in order to stop the bombing and artillery shelling of the Russian populations by Washington’s puppet government in Kiev. The Russian air force can easily and quickly destroy the Ukrainian air force and artillery and, thereby, stop the Ukrainian attack on the secessionist provinces.

It was only two weeks ago that a fabricated report spread by the UK Guardian and the BBC that a Russian armored convoy entered Ukraine and was destroyed by the Ukrainian Military. And two weeks prior to that we had the hoax of the satellite images allegedly released by the US State Department that the corrupt US ambassador in Kiev spread around the world on social media allegedly showing that Russian forces were firing into Ukraine. One or two weeks from now we will have another lie, and another a week or two after that, and so on.

The cumulative effect of lie piled upon lie for most people is to build the view that the Russians are up to no good. Once this view is established, Western governments can take more serious moves against Russia.

The alleged entry of 1,000 Russian soldiers into Ukraine has been declared by NATO Brigadier General Niko Tak to be a “significant escalation in Russia’s military interference in Ukraine.” The champion liar Samantha Power told the US Security Council that “Russia has to stop lying.” The UK ambassador to the UN said that Russia was guilty of “a clear violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory.” UK prime minister Cameron warned Russia of “further consequences.” German chancellor Merkel announced that there would be more sanctions. A German Security Council advisor declared that “war with Russia is an option.” Polish foreign minister Sikorski called it Russian aggression that required international action. French president Hollande declared Russia’s behavior to be “intolerable.” Ukraine’s security council imposed mandatory conscription.

This suicidal drive toward war with Russia by Europe’s leaders is based entirely on a transparent lie that 1,000 Russian troops crossed into Ukraine

Of course the Western media followed in lock-step. The BBC, CNN, and Die Welt are among the most reckless and irresponsible.

The mountain of lies piled up by Western governments and media has obscured the true story. The US government orchestrated the overthrow of the elected government in Ukraine and imposed a US puppet in Kiev. Washington’s puppet government began issuing threats and committing violent acts against the Russian populations in the former Russian territories that Soviet leaders attached to Ukraine. The Russian people in eastern and southern Ukraine resisted the threat brought to them by Washington’s puppet government in Kiev.

Washington continually accuses the Russian government of supporting the people in the territories who have voted their separation from Ukraine. There would be no war, Washington alleges, except for Russian support. But, of course, Washington could easily stop the violence by ordering its puppet government in Kiev to stop the bombing and shelling of the former Russian provinces. If Russia can tell the “separatists” not to fight, Washington can tell Kiev not to fight.

The only possible conclusion from the facts is that Washington is determined to involve Europe in a war with Russia or at least in an armed standoff in order to break up Europe’s political and economic relations with Russia.

Europe’s leaders are going along with this because European countries, except for Charles de Gaulle’s France, have not had independent foreign policies since the end of World War II. They follow Washington’s lead and are well paid for doing so.

The inability of Europe to produce independent leadership dooms Russian President Putin’s diplomacy to failure. If European capitals cannot make decisions independently of Washington, there is no scope for Putin’s diplomacy.

Notice that the very day after Putin met with Washington’s Ukrainian vassal in an effort to resolve the situation, the new lie of Russian invasion was issued in order to ensure that no good can come of the meeting in which Putin invested his time and energy.

Washington’s only interest is in hegemony. Washington has no interest in resolving the situation that Washington itself created in order to bring discomfort and confusion to Russia. With the caveat that the situation could be resolved by Ukrainian economic collapse, otherwise the longer Putin waits to resolve the situation by force, the more difficult the task will be.

SIX BIG LIES ABOUT THE UKRAINE: WASHINGTON’S NARRATIVE IS PURE PROPAGANDA

There is a virtual news blackout with regard to Ukraine in the West

-

Six Big Lies About The Ukraine: Washington’s Narrative Is Pure Propaganda

Image Credits: Horia Varlan via Flickr

-

by Cluborlov

With regard to the goings-on in Ukraine, I have heard quite a few European and American voices piping in, saying that, yes, Washington and Kiev are fabricating an entirely fictional version of events for propaganda purposes, but then so are the Russians. They appear to assume that if their corporate media is infested with mendacious, incompetent buffoons who are only too happy to repeat the party line, then the Russians must be same or worse.

The reality is quite different. While there is a virtual news blackout with regard to Ukraine in the West, with little being shown beyond pictures of talking heads in Washington and Kiev, the media coverage in Russia is relentless, with daily bulletins describing troop movements, up-to-date maps of the conflict zones, and lots of eye-witness testimony, commentary and analysis. There is also a lively rumor mill on Russian and international social networks, which I tend to disregard because it’s mostly just that: rumor. In this environment, those who would attempt to fabricate a fictional narrative, as the officials in Washington and Kiev attempt to do, do not survive very long.

There is a great deal to say on the subject, but here I want to limit myself to rectifying some really, really basic misconceptions that Washington has attempted to impose on you via its various corporate media mouthpieces.

1. They would like you to think that there is a Russian invasion in the East of Ukraine. What’s actually happening is a civil war between the government of Western Ukraine (which no longer rules the east in any definable way) and the Russian population of Eastern Ukraine. Ukraine has been falling apart for decades—ever since independence. The eventual break-up was inevitable, but the catalyst for it was the military overthrow of Ukraine’s legitimate government and its replacement with cadres hand-picked in Washington.

2. They would like you to think that the Russian government stands behind Lugansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic—the two regions which, based on referendum results, have chosen to break away from Kiev. In fact, the Russian government has refused to recognize these republics. They have received no official political support from Moscow, which asked for the referendums to be postponed, and repeatedly asked for a cease-fire and an international, negotiated settlement to the crisis. The leadership of LPR and DPR has refused, and now aims for an outright military victory.

3. They would like you to believe that the Russian government is arming the “rebels” in Eastern Ukraine. To the contrary, the Russian government has withheld all military support, limiting itself to providing humanitarian supplies to the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been destroyed by artillery and rocket fire coming from the Ukrainian forces. The weapons in the “rebels’” arsenal are trophies, which they seized from the retreating Ukrainian forces. That said, the “rebels” are indeed being supported—but by the Russian people, not the Russian government. Remember, these are all Russians, on both sides of the border, and the Ukrainian government no longer controls any of it.

4. They want to convince you that Russia poses a threat to peace in Europe, and that the crisis in Ukraine is part of an imperialist Russian strategy to resurrect the USSR. Nothing could be further from the truth. The overarching Russian ambition is for Russia to be anormal country, subject of international law, at peace with the whole world, and integrated into the global economy. The Russian government is doing next to nothing to prevent Russians in areas that were once part of Russia from being slaughtered right in their homes using artillery and rocket fire. This makes for a distressing spectacle, but the Russian people understand that enlarging the military conflict beyond the by now purely notional borders of Ukraine is not the answer.

5. They want to assure you that Kiev will eventually prevail in the conflict. In fact, the Ukrainian military is being systematically destroyed. Shelling civilians is the only activity which they have been able to carry out successfully. The government in Kiev has instituted three mobilizations, one after the other, sending into battle boys and old men (maximum draft age is now 60). Those who refuse to be drafted were at first threatened with incarceration, but this no longer works, so they are now threatened with murder. The unofficial “fee” for getting out of being drafted is several thousand dollars. These soldiers are badly armed, badly trained, completely demoralized, and they mostly refuse to fight. Ukraine is quickly running out of tanks and APCs, which are all old Soviet-era and have been rusting for decades. It appears that Ukraine no longer has an air force at all. The casualties run into the tens of thousands. Over just one week in July, 1400 Ukrainian soldiers were killed; on the other side the figure is 10. The kill ratio is 140:1 and that one number tells almost the whole story. The war is far from over, but now, for the first time, LPR and DPR actually have something resembling an army, and that army is going on attack. Once the Ukrainian military collapses altogether, there is still the mercenary force maintained by the oligarch Kolomoisky, who runs Dnepropetrovsk Region as a personal fiefdom, and has recently decided to take charge of other neighboring regions as well. But mercenaries don’t like getting killed and, beyond a certain point, will simply run away. In all, it seems increasingly likely that Kiev will lose and that Ukraine will cease to exist.

6. They want you to think that the government in Kiev is legitimate, popular and stable. In fact, there are huge protests going on in Kiev at this very moment. The entire country is beyond bankrupt and is falling apart in real time, not just in the east, but everywhere. The people are beyond angry. The military units retreating from the east are in a foul mood, and may soon decide to turn their weapons against those who ordered them into battle. The people are beyond angry, and it seems probable that another revolution, only half a year since the last one, is in the works.

I hope that you can absorb this basic information and use it to filter out the propaganda that you read in Western newspapers and hear on the nightly news (if they mention Ukraine at all). Don’t automatically assume that if your side is full of it, then the other side is too. You don’t have to settle for lies.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 81 other followers