On this Page:
- Analysis of Parties Involved in the Conflict
- Comment on Mainstream News’ Loyalties and Short Memory
- Selected Articles / Links
If you have read our ‘timeline‘ of events in Ukraine over the last year, you will have noticed that the picture it presents is different from the one described by our leaders and which pervades all our media. This ‘alternative reality’ is in fact radically different, and to consider it fairly may mean suspending normal judgement at first. It will also mean ultimately questioning some of the beliefs that we hold dear, such as belief in the fundamental good intentions and benign nature of our ‘Western’ governments.
It is useful to describe some of the ideas that we have absorbed from our trusted media organisations and from our less trusted leaders, before considering how these ideas misrepresent or fail to represent the reality of the current conflict with Russia over Ukraine. While the events in Ukraine which have captured the World’s attention only began a year ago with the ‘Maidan’ protests and the ousting of President Yanukovich, the internal conflict and external interference in Ukraine had been simmering for years. There had been several changes of government and direction since Ukraine’s independence in 1994, from Russia-leaning to European leaning and back, with the US role in the ‘Orange revolution’ of 2004 being significant. During this period, under all governments, Ukraine’s huge natural wealth was stolen and frittered away by corruption and Oligarchs until the country is now practically bankrupt.
Physically Ukraine is very close to Russia, encircling its South Western border. About one third of the population is ethnically Russian, living in the south and east, while the rest of the country is a mixture of ethnicities and allegiances. Crimea, stuck on the bottom on the Black Sea, was the ‘most Russian’ part of Ukraine, and has now chosen to ‘return to the Motherland’, from which it was only half separated when Khruschev ‘gave it’ to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. The ‘disputed area’ of the South-East known as Donbass has another feature apart from its affinity to Russia – its huge natural resources of Coal and Gas, as well as exceptional agricultural productivity. It has long served as a key producer for Russia as well as Ukraine, of wheat and steel and manufactured goods.
These simple features of physical and social geography are also the key to understanding the roots of the current conflict, and the agendas of the parties to it. But this is where the problem begins; only the agenda of Russia is self-evident, and self-justifying. Not only do we not see exactly who the ‘other party’ to the conflict is, but we are grossly deceived about their agendas. As this is really the nub of the conflict, and the focus of its misrepresentation, it is helpful to describe and analyse this point.
Parties to the Ukraine conflict and their stake in the game.
Supporting the Ukrainian government and military forces:
USA and US corporations – political control, exploitation of mineral and agricultural resources, financial interests through IMF and World Bank, military/strategic interests.
NATO – interests in expanding and consolidating NATO forces and strategic ‘defence’ along Russia’s Western borders from the Baltic to the Black Sea; special interest in seizing control of Crimea where Russia’s vital Black Sea base gives it access to the Mediterranean.
GERMANY – dependence on Russian gas, significant business interests with Russia, key role in EU economy.
FRANCE – domestic problem with Russian sanctions on its produce; key ally of US and Israel in Syrian and Libyan conflicts.
UK – history of antagonism to Russia and strategic nuclear rivalry, financial interests, closest US ally.
POLAND – border with Ukraine; links with neo-Nazi groups and military intelligence, key US and NATO ally with strategic defence missile base.
SAUDI ARABIA – support for Islamic terrorism in Chechnya; antagonism over Syria expressed in Oil market manipulation in cooperation with the US.
Other parties include Israel and other European states. Following Poroshenko’s recent visit to an arms fair in the UAE we could say that it is also now playing a supporting role, supplying armaments to Ukraine.
Opposing the Ukrainian government, its policies and military actions:
RUSSIA – close and long-standing physical, economic and strategic links with Ukraine; transit country to major European gas market; maintenance of Ukraine’s essential role as non-aligned barrier to NATO expansion; strategic imperative to keep Crimea, base of Russian Black Sea fleet, under Russian control.
DONBASS – ethnic Russian populations in Eastern Ukraine seek to maintain their normal rights, fundamentally challenged by the actions of the pro-European and anti-Russian government in Kiev; forced into armed action by Kiev-backed militias and ‘anti-terrorist’ operations targeting civilian population.
It is important to add here, that neither Russia nor citizens of Eastern Ukraine sought or seek Donbass’ separation from Ukraine – only the maintenance of their democratic rights and freedoms now threatened by Kiev.
CRIMEA – the current Minsk 2 agreement only seeks a solution to the conflict over Donbass, as Crimea is now formally part of Russia. While the population in Crimea is now moving ahead, the Kiev government and its Western backers still maintain an objective to seize Crimea back; while this is a crazy and desperate idea it is one of which we should be aware.
While no other countries could be called ‘parties to the dispute’, a significant role has been played by the BRICS countries and particularly China in assisting Russia politically and financially.
Other countries have spoken out in protest against the coup in Ukraine, and against the armed assault on the citizens of Donbass. These include Venezuela, which has also suffered from the US/Saudi manipulation of the Oil price, as well as covert US schemes to replace its government.
It is worth noting that Western news media have entirely failed to notice, or just entirely failed to note, the significant and even majority opinion of countries which are opposed to US/NATO expansionism and aggression. Western audiences are therefore led to believe that their political leaders’ and mainstream media’s viewpoint on Russia (and ‘Putin’s ambitions’) are shared by the rest of the world (‘the free world ‘ / ‘the world community’ we hear) and we are very insulated from alternative viewpoints coming from foreign media organisations – we are told that is ‘propaganda’ and ‘we would be fools to be duped by it’.
There are many different ways to look at the Ukraine ‘conflict’, but in our view it is a conflict started and cultivated by groups in the US and Europe with an agenda. It is not ‘Russia’s work’, and events of the last year in no way reflect Russian ‘ambitions’ or even work in Russia’s favour. Russia’s role has been from the start to defend, not extend, its legitimate interests and sovereignty against economic and military aggression from the US and its NATO partners. Despite the views of many authorities that this is the case – that the agreement made when the Berlin Wall fell has been broken by NATO by its expansion eastwards up to Russia’s borders – the Western ‘allies’ and their mainstream media present the one opposing viewpoint: Russia under Vladimir Putin has dangerous designs on Eastern Europe and wants to see the return of the Soviet Empire. No evidence could be found for such a claim, or support for such an idea from the Russian government, but facts evidently can’t compete with the chosen narrative: ‘Putin is an unpredictable and delusional dictator who has duped his people into a nationalistic fervour with clever propaganda so they all support him’. (85% did at the last count)
To realise that such fantastical ideas have become normalised in the Western media is shocking; it is even more deeply disturbing that whole populations in the countries of the ‘Western allies’ now live in the fantasy world created for them by those media. Not only that, their governments tell them that all the reports they hear from elsewhere cannot be trusted, and especially those from ‘State funded Russian media’. But those media, whose connection to the state is no different from our very own ‘state funded’ media like the BBC, claim that our reports are ‘propaganda’.
So who do we trust? Why should we believe the ‘claims’ and ‘denials’ of Russia’s president and ministers rather than the statements and accusations of our own leaders? To do so we must also question the informed opinions of our respected media and commentators, who hold very similar views. To take such a step must mean having a lot of evidence which challenges the ‘Western narrative’… or does it? What if that narrative is mostly based on faith – the faith in our governments’ basic good intentions – and that there is actually very little solid ‘evidence’ supporting it? We contend here that this is indeed the case, and that the evidence for the alternative viewpoint is in fact overwhelming – we simply need to have an open mind to see it.
To help in reaching a truer understanding of events and the spin applied to them, following a short presentation of the ‘Cases’ for each side in this dispute, we suggest Selected Articles, preceded by a short article: ‘Mainstream News’ Loyalties and Short Memory’.
The US/European Case:
Following pressure from Russia, President Yanukovich opposed European integration, which initiated a protest movement in November 2013. The protests met with police repression and protestors were shot, before Yanukovich was expelled, and a new interim government installed with assistance from European advisors.
Areas in East Ukraine with an ethnic Russian population resisted the new government in Kiev, but this was exploited by Russia as an opportunity to seize control of Crimea and annexe it to Russia. Following this, movements of armed ‘separatists’ in several Eastern cities occupied government buildings and fought Kiev’s attempts to install new governors there. The Ukrainian army began a campaign to restore control of the region, but the ‘rebels’ or ‘terrorists’ were supported by Russian forces and armaments, and were able to keep control of Donetsk and Luhansk.
The shooting down of MH17, apparently by the rebels using a Russian missile, forced Kiev to intensify its assault on rebel-held cities, before Russia negotiated a ceasefire in September 2014. It also had serious effects on Europe-Russia relations, as sanctions imposed as protest at Russia’s actions took a serious toll on communities on both sides.
Following a renewed but finally unsuccessful effort by the Ukrainian army and Nationalist militias to restore control to the East and kill or capture the rebels, Ukraine was forced to agree to a Russian plan which recognises some autonomy for the two new ‘republics’ in East Ukraine.
(For anyone who has only read and heard about the conflict in Western media, the viewpoint of this ‘case’ will be extremely familiar and ‘trusted’, as no other challenging viewpoint besides this one has been aired there, bar a tiny minority of articles some collected below.)
The Russian and ‘Separatist’ Case:
Moves by pro-European factions in Ukraine against Russian interests in Ukraine reached a crisis point in November 2013, when the US started actively working to depose the Russia-aligned President Yanukovich. The ‘Maidan’ protest movement was hijacked by extreme right wing groups who fomented violence, and finally used a ‘provocation’ to justify an attack on government buildings and security forces, with snipers firing on both protestors and police. Russia brokered an agreement to resolve the situation, but it was immediately broken by the opposition and Yanukovich forced to run to East Ukraine and then Russia.
Within a few days, the people chosen by the US for the new ‘government’ were installed and rapidly began legislating against ethnic Russia populations in the East. The close involvement of US neocons was revealed in a conversation between Victoria Nuland and US ambassador to Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt, tapped by Russia. This also showed that the US had no time for EU leaders’ ideas on the project, which aimed to extend NATO control and US presence up to Russia’s border.
This illegitimate beginning to the Ukraine conflict colours everything that happened since, and those events must be seen through that lens to be interpreted accurately. So when Kiev forces started violent actions against people in the East, their resort to arms was in self-defence. Kiev openly talked in terms of killing or expelling anyone who resisted the government, and committed numerous atrocities against them. The ‘separatists’ fought well however, and captured arms from the Ukrainian army. They pleaded with Russia for military support, and though the Kremlin declined, some help did come from volunteers across the border.
Apparently in an attempt to boost its campaign, the Ukrainians shot down MH17, and tried to frame Russia as somehow responsible; the Russians quickly produced radar and other evidence demonstrating Ukrainian culpability, but Western media ignored it completely, and the US refused to release satellite surveillance data.
Despite calls following the crash for a cessation of fighting, the Ukrainian army capitalised on the chaos to continue its push eastward, until talks in Minsk in September forced a ceasefire. This mostly lasted until January 2015, when a substantial new campaign by Kiev caused a new surge in casualties. This however proved an even more disastrous defeat, when about a third of the Ukrainian army was surrounded and faced with surrender; at this point the second Minsk ceasefire agreement was forced on Kiev.
It seems though that President Poroshenko’s agreement is worthless, and the Kiev government, with US and UK backing, is now rearming itself for another fight. This time may be different – Russia has said clearly that the arming of Ukraine by Western countries cannot be tolerated, as it presents a clear threat to Russia’s security.
We can only hope that European leaders’ distrust of the US policy and NATO actions in Ukraine will grow, and that they will start to realise that the scheme they have taken part in only stands to benefit the US and only endangers and disadvantages Europe.
Mainstream News’ Loyalties and Short Memory
We are very aware that at least 95% of what we all see, hear or read daily about Ukraine-Russia in the apparently varied but in reality highly uniform Western mainstream media will fit like a glove with the ‘US/European Case’ laid out above. That is the story we get, end of story, unless we dump the mainstream and look beyond.
The image of there being ‘a wide range of views’ in the mainstream reporting of key policies, such as this, is maintained to some extent by the variety in styles and the different relations to social class which news-providers present.
But there is undeniably – if you step outside the box and search in vain for contrary views or seriously challenging questions – an underlying established framing on all major government issues, foreign ‘interventions’ included, within which mainstream state and corporate reporting confines itself, with extremely few exceptions.
Regarding foreign policy, US and allied actions and motivations are consistently identified as ‘beyond reproach’ in mainstream news presentations, on a par with reverence for the Queen for UK news consumers, or the First Family in the US, say. Within the narrative presented it is true that there are allowances for a few occasional dents in the otherwise irreproachable US ‘good guys’, but these are always presented as ‘mishaps’ or ‘rare exceptions’ and don’t begin to call into question the ‘deeply moral bigger picture’ of their apparent global mission to ‘spread democracy’, (but actually resulting only in spreading their own military and geopolitical dominance at such a huge human cost).
Whether the style of news approval comes in the form of an intellectually concluded ‘reluctant acceptance of the need for a just war’ offered by one style of news provider, or as a jingoistic “Back our Heroes!” and “Stop Vlad!” from another, is effectively irrelevant in terms of the result: ensuring public endorsement of the process of taxation unquestioningly further enriching arms-producing elites by requiring more military hardware pumped out of factories and fired at ‘bad guys’, killing and maiming uncounted, mostly unreported, men, women and children (while at home hospitals and fire stations ‘need’ to close’).
And all done to achieve the US and allies’ unstated geopolitical chess-game objectives, which here includes pushing US-armed and trained forces right up to Russia’s border, disregarding the rights of Eastern separatists who don’t recognise the post-coup far-right Kiev government, and disregarding wider risks of war escalation; while marketed to us through the mainstream as ‘noble deeds to combat Russian aggression’. (2 minutes looking at a map and considering that “it’s NATO that’s getting closer to Russia, not the other way around” should help to dispel that nonsensical piece of propaganda, see Armstrong article link below).
The same consistent underlying loyalty to the US and allies is true regarding reporting on eg: Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Iran … When dealing with any nation which it seeks to control / topple the leadership of, the whole of the mainstream is seen to align with the narrative of leading politicians, reinforcing daily to news-consumers ‘who we should blame’ and ‘who we should support’. Glaring and scratch-deep inconsistencies are left ignored by a ‘mind-already-made-up’ supportive mainstream echoing the pro-war line. Wars and ‘liberating’ regime changes are then seen to carry on ‘smoothly’ without the possibility of there being a well-informed anti-war populace at home joining the dots and uniting in huge protests.
Unlike the mainstream’s ‘loyalty-to-US-and-allies-first’ approach to reporting on international events, we see it as dangerously psychopathically insane and a dereliction of duty in the extreme for purported ‘news’ providers to ignore and file away out of sight and out of mind all of the fresh evidence of other self-serving and mass-murdering US-led coups and wars, also based on false pretexts and using violent extremists as pawns, when presenting their support for a similar US-led escalation in Ukraine.
These are some of the most recent of the US’ violent foreign ‘adventures’ which the mainstream has ‘forgotten to mention’:
- The US-backed proxy invasion and destabilisation of Syria shown to be using US and UN certified Al-Qaeda terrorists (Al-Nusra and others) to try to topple Assad is ONGOING.
- The US-led regime change in Libya using extremist militias and US-led air attacks to topple Gaddafi with no mandate, causing unknown levels of death and destruction, massive numbers of refugees, and leaving citizens at the mercy of violent militias, was started on false grounds in just 2011.
- The US-led (second) Iraq War killing several hundreds of thousands directly, and leaving the country in violent chaos was in just 2003.
… the ‘forgot to mention’ list goes on and on, see Nicolas Davies’ excellent article below.
In each case, particularly when it’s been the time for a government to formally commit to involvement in another US-led attack, mainstream news has conveniently completely ignored how each of the previous (or even ongoing!) US ‘freedom / democracy missions’ has caused only mass death, destruction and further conflict.
Should a parent keep buying pets for a child who keeps strangling them, and believe each time afresh the persuasively expressed ‘virtuous intentions’, wiping from their mind past barbarities?
– The mainstream media and leading politicians keep ‘force-selling’ the latest reasons for ‘more US-led war to end suffering’ when it clearly only creates ever more suffering and more war. As citizens we are the people in whose charge governments and media must exist, not vice-versa! We must ‘stop buying’ the one-tracked narrative of the military-industrial-media complex by getting informed independently of the mainstream to take control of our dangerously persuasive spawn before it strangles us all.
So we try to take a rational view based on an analysis of past facts with no set loyalties to any group, (however ‘radical’ being rational might seem, given the ‘loyalty-based’ mainstream) in that we see the long list of evidence over many decades of US-allied self-serving coups and catastrophic wars based on lies as a logical reason to firmly reject arguments for more of the same occurring in Ukraine, with a serious risk of becoming a nuclear WW3 conflict with Russia. Based on its repeated role in this madness, we also naturally firmly mistrust the mainstream for loyally supporting and ‘normalising’ these insane arguments.
We urge people to ask themselves the next time they encounter mainstream news “what is NOT being said?”; and also to try shifting around shoes on other feet in the narrative presented – how, for example, would it be reported if it were Russia sending ‘advisory’ troops to Mexico or Canada after fomenting a violent coup on America’s doorstep there? Would America be portrayed as the aggressor?
Once aware of the loyalty-based framing that underpins mainstream reporting, we think people will naturally look elsewhere for a real range of views, perhaps including some of the sources quoted below.
Besides the dominant framing discussed above, there are a very few exceptions in the mainstream that do break the rigid line of establishment conformity, and certainly too there are all kinds of wacko sites and articles that need to be avoided if randomly looking for alternatives, and unfamiliar with reliable sources. We try to collect here in one place a mixture of both exceptional examples from the mainstream that are not blinkered by the overriding US and allied adoration there, and also selected voices of reason found (and kept) outside the mainstream.
Please share articles that you find most useful. Please recommend an article to us by going to Guest Book.
Selected Articles / Links
Jonathan Steele, Guardian Moscow correspondent writing just after the Kiev coup, and a year later reviewing a book by Richard Sakwa – ‘Frontline Ukraine’:
Seumas Milne, Guardian Associate Editor:
- The demonisation of Russia risks paving the way for war
- Interviewed on UK and US breaking Minsk 2 agreement and growing Russophobia by George Galloway on RT’s ‘Sputnik’
Nicolas Davies, writing an extremely useful short history of US dirty coups allied with whichever violent pawns get the job done, including “fascists, drug lords and terrorists“, neo-nazis in Ukraine. Written for the Stop the War Coalition:
Journalist Robert Parry founded Consortium News in 1995 as the 1st investigative news magazine on the internet, and CN provides regular quality reports on world issues. In the 1st piece selected here, frightening parallels are drawn with the ‘WMD’ false pretexts spread by politicians and mainstream media that led to the Iraq invasion of 2003. In the 2nd selected piece mainstream media limitations are pinpointed with clear detailed evidence from Forbes that Crimeans chose democratically and decisively to split with Ukraine and join Russia, contrary to the general propagandistic mainstream reporting of a ‘Russian landgrab’.
11.57 The “Doomsday Clock”, designed to warn the world of imminent nuclear apocalypse, was moved closer to midnight – doomsday – by the group of Nobel Laureates charged with maintaining it last month. Katrina van Heuvel on the dangers of the US arming the Ukrainian military and fanning a war:
Professor Stephen Cohen is an American scholar of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University with academic work on modern Russian history and Russia’s relationship with the United States. Speaking at a roundtable discussion in Brussels hosted by the American Committee for East-West Accord, with John Mearsheimer and Katrina van Heuvel, he says “I think the possibility of war with Russia is real”, “This is the biggest international crisis since the Cuban missile crisis”, “… a possible turning point in history”.
Robert Roth in Counterpunch: “How Obama’s Aggression in Ukraine Risks Nuclear War”:
Spiegel Staff in Spiegel Online on German concerns over US warmongering: “Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine”:
Sputnik on the deployment of US (and UK) troops that breaks the Minsk 2 summit treaty: “Boots on the Ground”
Patrick Armstrong in Russian Insider with an intricately referenced piece, including an excellent bulleted list of nonsense we’re supposed to swallow on this conflict, eg “That people haven’t noticed that it’s NATO that’s getting closer to Russia and not the other way around.“
David Barsamian, pictured wearing a “Don’t Trust Corporate Media” t-shirt, writes in Boulder Weekly on political and media massaging of the message: “Politicians present policies wrapped in benign intent. ‘We want to help the world,’ they say. ‘We want to liberate women in Afghanistan or some other country. We want to spread freedom and democracy.’ These are all terms of propaganda that conceal real intentions of people in power, which is to acquire resources, which is to extend U.S. hegemony over the rest of the world. The U.S. has 735 military bases around the world, it has thousands of bases inside the country, it spends more on the military than the next 10 countries combined, meanwhile emergency rooms and hospitals are closing, schools are closing, teachers are being underpaid and laid off“
Prof. John McMurtry: “Is Washington preparing to wage war on Russia?”
Peter Lee: “Fascist Formations in Ukraine”
Finian Cunningham writing in the Strategic Culture Foundation online journal: on Merkel being unnerved by “Washington’s reckless attempts to scuttle the shaky ceasefire in Ukraine”; on NATO finding a backdoor to arm Kiev.
Mike Whitney in Counterpunch: “NATO Lies and Provocations”
Daniel McAdams: “What About Foreign Troops in Ukraine?” (Information Clearing House, like its name suggests has articles from a wide range of sources):
The Saker is a well-known blogger with detailed insights into Ukraine and Russia; here in an interview with economist and columnist Paul Craig Roberts: “Does Washington intend war with Russia?”
Independent TD Clare Daly to a hushed Irish Parliament on “war criminal” and “hypocrite of the century” Obama: a truly memorable speech that speaks for millions, perhaps billions, in ‘calling out the emperor for having no clothes on’, as ranks of “slobbering” sycophantic politicians and ‘news’ reporters fawn over the US drone king’s visit to Dublin. Relevant here for passionately nailing the groupthink reverence to US militarism. Thank you:
Chris Nineham, a long-term Stop the War Coalition campaigner, reviews Richard Sakwa’s new book and insists: “We in the West have a responsibility to do everything possible to force our leaders back from the brink.”