The immediate characterization of Russia’s intervention in Eastern Ukraine as “unprovoked” by Western leaders, echoed by all Western media and repeated without fail at every mention of the invasion, was the “foundational lie” in the war against Russia over Ukraine. The truth was opposite, with Russia forced finally to intervene when the provocation became irresistible. Hence the burden of guilt for the war and its terrible consequences lies not with Russia, but with those countries of the Western alliance who conspired and fomented this war to expand NATO power onto Russia's borders.
The war has been waged on two fronts like no other – as a real war on the ground and as an information – or disinformation – war in cyber-space. While the Russian military has mostly led the real war in strategy and technology, nearly exhausting the reserves of Ukraine and its many allies, the disinformation war has been led from the start by the Imperial machine and its NATO partners, and has effectively won the battle against Russia for the hearts and minds of Western populations. Thus we have reached the point where Russia cannot prevail in the Western sphere of influence, even when Kiev’s forces are routed on the battlefield. If NATO leaders were to finally accept some agreement on territorial concessions, their citizens still would never accept or understand Russia’s legitimate conditions and demands. The machinery of disinformation and narrative control developed principally by the UK and its European partners has become so sophisticated and pervasive across Western media that their populations are now immune to Russian thought and opinion. One of the means whereby the Western allies have achieved this long-sought objective – devaluing and denigrating Russia’s legitimate interests, and recasting Russia as the aggressor – is by spreading simple and simplistic ideas about the country and her President, designed for their emotional appeal to bypass rational argument. Other leaders have suffered similar denigration when their countries were targeted by the Western allies – most notably Muammar Qadhafi in Libya and Bashar al Assad in Syria – but the campaign against Vladimir Putin and Russia has been the most sustained and vicious. While starting almost as soon as he became President, the current US and UK-led campaign to drive NATO to Russia’s borders intensified over the last decade, and following the US-instigated coup in Kiev in 2014. For Russia this was always seen as a provocation – correctly – and a breaking of trust following the dismantling of the Warsaw Pact, whose existence justified that of NATO. The Russian word for provocation – ‘provokatsia’ – has a slightly different meaning, rather equivalent to “false flag” – but these two meanings combined in the Maidan protests of February 2014. After weeks of riots, the shooting of protestors and government forces by concealed snipers facilitated the collapse of the “pro-Russian” Yanukovich government. Such “agents provocateurs” were also used in Syria to activate and inflame the protest movement, and create the false idea that the government was shooting its own citizens. And it works every time - for the CIA and other "special forces" who plan and execute these attacks and then work with media to capitalise on them. The subsequent take-over by Ukrainian nationalist forces followed years of destabilization – the “Orange Revolution” and the disputes over gas transit fees and supplies from Russia, along with government changes. But what followed the coup in 2014 and US selection of leaders was a greater provocation that led to war – being the passing of laws against the use of the Russian language, in a country where around half of the population were native Russian speakers. The detail of what happened in those first few months is important, and varied considerably between districts of Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Crimea led the way in resisting Kiev’s new plainly racist and undemocratic dictats, rapidly organizing a referendum and voting overwhelmingly to merge with the Russian Federation. Despite ongoing claims of Russian military involvement in the “illegal annexation” of the former Soviet territory, there was no significant opposition to the move and Crimea was able to fully integrate into Russian territory. This was in fact convenient for Russia, given the strategic importance of the Sevastopol base on the Black Sea, and the barely concealed intent of the US and UK to somehow seize it from Russia – an intent that remains just as menacing today. Following the Crimean referendum, the two Russian-speaking provinces closest to the Russian border, Luhansk and Donetsk, sought to follow Crimea’s example and declared themselves autonomous from Kiev. Some local fights took place against governors chosen by Kiev, forcing locals to take up arms to protect themselves. In other cities – Kharkov, Odessa and Kherson, which were predominantly Russian-speaking, Kiev took control, though not without bloodshed. The most significant fight took place over Mariupol, where the resistance from the mostly pro-Russian population was violently repressed by the Azov militias in May 2014. Human Rights Watch recorded what happened there, including the shooting of unarmed civilians following a Victory day rally. Mariupol had a special role as a manufacturing and export hub for Donbass close to the Eastern border with Russia, which made it a prized fortress for the Kiev regime’s military power, as well as the first target for “liberation”. Following their initial acts of resistance, the Donetsk leaders and militia were forced into a war of self-defence against what Kiev called an “Anti-Terrorist Operation”. While Russian soldiers were not officially deployed to help their brothers in Ukraine, some weaponry and ammunition helped the “separatists” to prevail against a poorly equipped and motivated Ukrainian army, and despite dirty tricks like the shooting down of MH17. (my article about MH17, written two days before the start of the SMO, is a good companion to this discussion) The Ukrainian Army was also assisted by violent Nationalist groups like the Tornado and Azov battalions, who continued to target and kill civilians from their strongholds close to Donetsk following the ceasefire agreement in 2015. The crimes they committed, particularly against prisoners, were unlimited, as described in this article about a DNR investigation and report. That ceasefire agreement and demarcation of a no-fire zone became the start of the Minsk discussions, which attempted to formalize an agreement on local autonomy for Lugansk and Donetsk provinces, as demanded by the local population. As we know now, the parties to the Minsk accords other than Russia had no genuine commitment to them, and Kiev refused to make any concessions that could have enabled a permanent peace agreement. Questions over the legitimacy of the two rebel provinces’ demands for autonomy are actually the fundamental issue at stake in this war, and also a guide to which party may claim to be victim of the other. It is not a simple case of saying that the invasion of one country’s sovereign territory by another is invariably wrong and illegal – as is maintained by the whole Western alliance, its media and institutions. For Donbas – or Novorossiya – the Russian “invasion”, or intervention, only came after eight years of attempts to resolve the situation peaceably and fairly had failed, while Kiev refused to allow autonomy for the region. It’s important to realise also that such an agreement would not have been a threat to Kiev, while Kiev’s aggressive drive to impose Ukrainian nationalist control over Donbas was a continuing and existential threat to the millions living there. The shameless hatred of Russia and Russians, and threat to drive Russian speakers from their homes that has been repeated by some Ukrainian leaders recently, must not be dismissed or ignored by Western commentators. Indeed it is the basic issue on which we must judge the legitimacy of Russia’s “humanitarian intervention”. In this context, the series of crimes committed against Donbas citizens by the Ukrainian army and Nationalist soldiers must be recognized as war crimes verging on genocide. It is only thanks to a highly sophisticated network of disinformation and propaganda that such malevolent intentions could be masked and hidden from the Western audience, whose tacit consent has been necessary for these crimes to be committed. The lead part in this propaganda play has been played by Ukrainian president Zelensky, who has recently labelled the Russian government a “terrorist regime” and likened it to that of the Nazis. This is more than a bit rich, coming from a man who has no apparent problem with those in his government who celebrate Stephan Bandera’s memory and freely display their Nazi sympathies. His Jewish heritage along with that of his main sponsor Igor Kolomoisky seems not to be a problem either - and make of that what you will. In summary we can conclude that far from being “unprovoked”, Russia was provoked to such a degree by Kiev’s campaign against fellow Russian speaking citizens of Eastern Ukraine that it was finally forced to intervene militarily, in a move that WE might reasonably have considered legitimate under the “Responsibility to Protect”. This is however unlike the times when NATO allies have used this as a pretext to attack and invade another nation – Libya springs to mind – motivated by the desire to protect Western interests, including the profits of arms manufacturers and multinational energy companies. It is then only a short hop from “intolerable provocation” to “justifiable self-defence”, including defence of your “family” against an aggressor. Statements of intent from Kiev as well as from her NATO allies leave no doubt – at least in the Kremlin’s mind – on which party to this conflict is the aggressor and “provocateur”.
DM 15th May 2023