Monday 4 April 2022

Propaganda and Ukraine

Truth, they say, is the first casualty of war. Every engagement, every attack, each piece of footage, versions of situation maps, and reports from the battlefield are occasions for propaganda. Everything can be spun and is indeed spun to boost and traduce the respective sides of the conflict. And this is even truer with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This most televised and scrutinised war in human history has saturated social media. Disinformation and fake news are difficult to tell from the real thing, and both kinds are manipulated and pushed. To avoid naive accounts of war, whether trusting or cynical, this has to be kept in mind. Especially when the most disgusting crimes are reported.

Crimes like those to have befallen Bucha, a satellite town of Kyiv. The Ukrainian government claims to have uncovered the bodies of 280 civilians. Not all of these were people caught in crossfire. Corpses were found with their hands tied and bullet holes in the back of their heads. There are also reports of partially burned bodies left at the side of the road, and evidence is being documented for the International Criminal Court with a view to bring prosecutions. Despite dozens of residents speaking to the press about the killings they witnessed, the increasingly ridiculous Sergei Lavrov branded evidence of war crimes a "fake attack."

With a whirlwind of propaganda blowing through the media, how to tell the truth from a lie? As it happens, it's not too difficult. An application of common sense or Occam's Razor helps. Which is more likely to be true? Did the forces of Putin's regime, as the occupying army, do it? Or did the Ukrainians "dress" the wrecked town with executed and mutilated bodies? To ask the question is to answer it. There is also context. As acres of footage of burnt out and wrecked residential districts have shown, the Russian military has shown no compunction about flattening civilian buildings. Unless you believe the Ukrainians did it themselves just to make the invading power look bad.

And there is the rhetoric coming from Russian media about Putin's aims and objectives in Ukraine. What was once a "special military operation" is now assuming the proportions of a war of annihilation. From RIA Novosti, a state-owned-and-run news outlet, we have 'What Russia Should Do About Ukraine'. Ostensibly a comment piece, it reads like something out of the Great Patriotic War reconditioned for the 21st century. It says Ukrainians are "passive Nazis" and "Nazi enablers" and deserve "just punishment", as well as "ideological suppression" involving "harsh censorship". It also calls for the ceding of Ukrainian sovereignty to Russia for "denazification" and "deukrainification", and be occupied like a defeated enemy state. It goes on that the idea of Ukraine is de facto anti-Russian, and that everyone who has supported "the Nazis" must "experience war and terror". There you have it, straight from the horse's mouth.

As previously noted, the fact NATO has a clear interest in Ukraine defeating Russia, or at the very least investing them so Russia's military bleeds white and is humbled by a power many times weaker than them does not overdetermine the situation. Ukraine is not the West's dupe. Wherever there are wars and revolutions, the US and its allies will intervene to shape them in a direction conducive to their interests. Sometimes they're successful, sometimes not. In the case of Ukraine, rhetorical support backed by weapons supplies and cash gifts does not mean Ukrainians have no right to resist, or that they should lay down their arms as some idiots on the left are arguing. Bombed out blocks of flats are not blows against US and UK imperialism, and to pretend otherwise is to peddle Moscow's line.

Therefore, taken in the round, the substance of distinguishing between the types of propaganda aren't really that difficult. One serves the aim of subduing Ukraine and transforming it into a vassal state, with dark hints of further mass killings and repression. And the other is of a people fighting for their very existence. These are the filters that matter.

Image Credit


Graham said...

AI and digital processing now make it possible to produce “deep fake” images and videos of everything.

For me one of the saddest and dangerous consequence of this is not these fakes, but that the existence of such technology means all reality can be dismissed as “fake news”.
Even the open source verification techniques used by Bellingcat and other fact checking organisations can be misused by those denying reality to cast doubt over any image.

Goebbels’ big lie has gone digital.
However, the lie cannot continue indefinitely.
His infamous quote continues “The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie”.
At some point the real news will overwhelm the fake news and undermine the efforts of those still peddling Putin’s misinformation.

On the specifics of verifying the truth about Bucha see this from Bellingcat;

Blissex said...

«dark hints of further mass killings and repression. And the other is of a people fighting for their very existence.»
“3,393 civilians killed (349 in 2016–2021)
13,100–13,300 killed; 29,500–33,500 wounded overall
414,798 Ukrainians internally displaced; 925,500 fled abroad”
“Zelensky extends sanctions against Donbas terrorists”
“Ukrainian courts refer to Article 1 of the law “On combating terrorism” classifying both “LNR” and “DNR” as terrorist organizations.”>
Last Updated: Friday, 3 December, 2004, 20:34 GMT
«A young woman working as a hotel receptionist also said she now feared more than ever that Mr Yushchenko would become president, and said it could only be bad news for the Donbass region. Like several other people I have met in Donetsk, she recalled a comment attributed here to an opposition leader, who allegedly threatened to ring part of eastern Ukraine with barbed wire and set it on fire. The opposition is also accused of planning to invite the US to deploy nuclear missiles pointed at Russia, and to store American nuclear waste inside local coal mines. The fourth person I spoke to, a taxi driver, was also pessimistic. He said that if Mr Yushchenko became president, he would gather his family and emigrate to Russia. "I know for a fact that life will get worse under Yushchenko, whereas under Yanukovych it will get better or at least stay the same." [...] At Friday's meeting in the main square, speaker after speaker expressed resentment at being treated by the demonstrators in Kiev as if their votes did not At least two accused the orange-clad protesters of leading the country towards civil war. Donetsk, however, does not give the impression of preparing to fight a war.»
Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Monday, 8 February 2010
«Yes, for Mr Yanukovych it is a narrow victory, but it is still a victory nonetheless. We, the people of the Donbass region, have been waiting for this moment for five long years. [...] You cannot imagine how difficult it was to live under Orange suppression, when Ukrainians were separated into first and second-rank citizens. If you spoke Ukrainian, were a Nato supporter and an enemy of Russia, you were referred to as a first-rank Ukrainian, if not you were a second-rank Ukrainian.»
«Thousands of Ukrainian nationalists then headed to the east, forming volunteer battalions that served as a vanguard for the Ukrainian forces in the rebel regions. [...] Torch-bearing ultra-right activists regularly march to the beat of drums across the Ukrainian capital’s downtown, chanting, “Death to traitors of Ukraine!” During one scuffle at the memorial to a Red Army general killed in the second world war, an elderly woman approached a group of radical nationalists shouting, “Hang the Russians!” and defied them, saying: “I’m Russian, hang me!” [...] The ultra-right groups also have a strict, military-style structure, and many of their members have battlefield experience from years of fighting in the east. [...] International human rights groups have strongly criticised the Ukrainian government for failing to track down and punish those responsible for the acts of violence and intimidation. The government has promised to rein in the ultranationalists, but has taken no action.[...] early in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, some members of Europe’s neo-Nazi groups trained and fought with the Azov battalion, a Ukrainian ultra-right paramilitary group that advocated white supremacist views.»

Anonymous said...

Occam's razor is the most testable hypothesis, not the most obvious thing. Lavrov's comments had some traction - the alleged Bosniak attack on the Sarajevo marketplace for example - however, I agree with you that on balance the sheer amount of dead - not a dozen, but in the hundreds, with many credible claims of rape and torture, seems to endorse the popular view that these are indeed legitimate war crimes.

This is what you get when you are obliged to recruit paramilitaries from brutalised states like Chechnya and Syria, plus mercs. This is what they do. It is also in the playbook - from Aleppo to Grozny. The difference is that this time Europe is watching.

This, I think, is the only qualitative difference, and says much about how Putin miscalculated - it is a symbol of Russian failure to comprehend the consequences. The West was content to look away when it happened to others, but the West is outraged by what it regards as an attack on itself and 'its' people. Hugely hypocritical, but then, humans are - what does this mean in practice?

Further alienation between east and west. Cementing of the new cold war, which will probably dominate the remainder of the century. Possibly these massacres more than the invasion have firmed up the divide - Russia is now not only belligerent but officially 'evil', and 'evil' cannot be negotiated with, only defeated.

Lost Tango said...

Of course if Putin hadn't stoked up the Donbas conflict in the first place and then sent special forces and regular troops to occupy it, there wouldn't have been a shooting war there in the first place.

The "but Azov" crowd also ignore the nature of the Donbas 'people's republics' which are fascistic regimes run by actual gangsters and have their own record of civilian murders, disappearances and ethnic cleansing.

Putin's useful idiots present and (in)correct....

Old Trot said...

This is a particularly naive, recent and earlier history-ignoring, piece from Phil. He totally ignores the quite legitimate , ghastly , repeated historical, experience-based, fear of Russians (whatever the regime) of having hostile Western forces immediately on the their borders - and the string of well documented broken promises made by Western Leaders in the 1990's onwards, that 'NATO would not advance one inch into the ex Soviet satellite states'.

Phil seems unaware that the US, the EU, and the military industrial complex behind NATO has been enthusiastically playing 'The old Great Game' of geopolitics, in the Ukraine ever since the Soviet Union collapsed . The US/EU backed the 2014 Fascist militias backed 'Maidan' Coup against the then (utterly corrupt of course) pro Russian oligarch president of Ukraine in 2014. The US/EU totally failed to enforce the implementation of the Minsk 1 and 2 agreements about a special , autonomous, status for the ethnic Russian majority Donbass Region after the first Russian/Ukraine war - with endless shelling of this breakaway region by fascist Ukrainian ASOV Battalion semi-irregulars for EIGTHT YEARS . There is footage of the ex actor Ukrainian president , Zelensky, trying to reason with the ASOV division extremists on the trench line of the Donbass in 2016 - and being basically told to fuck off . Zelensky is a weak puppet of the pro EU oligarchs and the electorally irrelevant but militarily strong fascist militias , and to pretend that Ukraine , the state property of which has been entirely stolen by gangster oligarchs (as in Russia too of course) , is some sort of 'Liberal democracy' as the Western MSM portrays, is simply laughable.

Undoubtedly the gangster oligarchy that is Putin's Russia, will be killing civilians , as well as getting its military arse roundly kicked by the highly advanced anti tank rocketry supplied by the West. But of course the Ukranian government deliberately encouraged its civilians to directly participate in this fight, by handing out masses of kalashnikovs to the general population and encouraging them to throw petrol bombs at the Russians. Wake up liberal Lefties, Throughout ALL military history the response of ALL formal uniformed military forces to attacks by non-uniformed civilians is to shoot them on the spot - to 'discourage the others'. That is probably why the Russians have actually shot so many civilians, and destroyed 'civilian buildings, being used as ambush sites and strongpoints . In the drive from Normandy after D Day in 1944 the 'civilised' allies destroyed entire French towns being used as strongpoints by German forces , with the French civilians still in residence !

Old Trot said...

Bolton NE Labour Party CLP in the motion below at least seem to have been able, unlike Phil in his history-ignoring Liberal article, to stand back from the avalanche of constantly skewed UK MSM spin on this terrible conflict, to make a principled independent socialist analysis . Bolton's LP socialists correctly don't feel the need to uncritically back the Ukraine's bandit oligarch , facade democracy, regime and it's EU/US/NATO sponsors, against the gangster oligarch facade democracy regime of Putin. So they will no doubt all be suspended very soon for their temerity !

"This CLP condemns Vladimir Putin’s decision to order Russian military forces to invade Ukraine and demands an immediate ceasefire. For one country to make first use of military force against another and to invade and occupy it, are always illegal acts of aggression. The Russian invasion has already led to thousands of people losing their lives, the senseless destruction of buildings and infrastructure, environmental harms, and to millions fleeing their homes as refugees.
We stand in solidarity with the ordinary people of Ukraine and affirm their right to national self-determination, to reform their own political system, and to protest and resist the Russian invasion and occupation.
We welcome the anti-war movement in Russia and support Russian troops refusing to participate in the war. We condemn the crackdown by the Russian government on anti-\var protesters and on independent media in Russia. We oppose Russophobia and discrimination against ordinary Russian people or culture because of the actions of Russia’s rulers.
We condemn any far right or fascist group, on either side of the conflict, seeking to take advantage of this war to exploit ethnic tensions and build their own organisation.
Russia’s war against Ukraine is in part also a conflict between the United States and Russia over Ukraine’s possible future membership of the NATO nuclear alliance, and Russia’s reckless invasion risks escalation to a global nuclear war.
We believe Western governments have a duty to the people of Ukraine and the world to support diplomatic efforts for a negotiated peace and Russian withdrawal. They should not make NATO expansion an obstacle to these aims. We are totally opposed to NATO military forces joining a war in Ukraine and believe the statements of the US President ruling out a NATO ‘no fly zone’ over Ukraine should be kept to.
In dangerous times, it is important to listen to anti-war voices and longstanding critics of our own foreign policy, rather than silence or smear them. We express our dismay at reports that some Labour MPs were forced by the leadership to withdraw their signatures from a Stop the War statement and that the labour Party has suspended Young Labour’s access to twitter, apparently because of criticisms of Boris Johnson and NATO.
We call on the Labour Party leadership to support the demand of Ukraine’s social movement to cancel Ukraine’s international debts, as part of an expanded programme of humanitarian relief and economic reconstruction. We also call on Labour to support visa free access for all refugees from Ukraine and other international conflicts.
Labour should promote measures to end the UK being used as an investment destination by corrupt elites in Russia and around the world, and to cease shoring up autocratic fossil fuel producers by rapid development of renewable energy. It should champion a foreign policy based on peace and consistent, not selective, opposition to international crimes. "

Blissex said...

«On the specifics of verifying the truth about Bucha see this from Bellingcat»

The dogs of war are loose, and the ragged Russian Bear,
Full bent on blood and robbery, has crawl'd out of his lair;

It seems a thrashing now and then, will never help to tame
That brute, and so he's out upon the "same old game."

The Lion did his best to find him some excuse
To crawl back to his den again, all efforts were no use;

He hunger'd for his victim, he's pleased when blood is shed,
But let us hope his crimes may all recoil on his own head.

We don't want to fight but by jingo if we do,
We've got the ships, we've got the men, and got the money too!
We've fought the Bear before and while we're Britons true
The Russians shall not have Constantinople!

Jim Denham said...

Good post Phil!

British workers need to stand up and show our opposition to Putin's imperialist war, conducted with the intention of destroying Ukraine’s existence.

Six national unions are backing this Saturday's demonstration in opposition to Russian imperialism and in defence of Ukraine’s self-determination.

This is one of a series of trade union-sponsored initiatives across Europe which aim to make direct links and solidarity with the Ukrainian left and working class. A Workers’ Aid for Ukraine convoy has just left Vienna. A similar initiative is being worked on by a French union confederation. We are not liberals, we are working-class socialists. Yes, we are for Ukraine against Russian imperialism. We are also for the Ukrainian working class against the Ukrainian bosses.

During this war the so-called "Stop the War" coalition has disgraced itself. It is dominated by people who are sympathetic to Putin’s regime, who are quietly obstructing the 9 April protest march because they perversely see the main threat in this war as the West, not Russia.

And what does “stop the war” mean in this situation? If it means “Russia should stop fighting and withdraw its troops”, fine. But how could that happen without Ukraine forcing them to leave?

If Ukraine has the right to self-determination it also has the right to defend itself. If it has the right to fight, it has the right to ask the West for arms. We support Ukraine’s war and demand the West provides weapons so that Ukraine can defeat the Russian occupation.

Socialist Workers Party members and supporters of the Communist Party of Britain's newspaper, the pro-China Morning Star, are actively obstructing union backing for this march. Their worldview — in which US imperialism (rather than capitalism and imperialism more generally) is the source of most of the world’s problems, and states and forces (no matter how reactionary) who oppose the US are seen as somehow being in “our” camp — has been profoundly exposed as false and misleading during Russia’s war on Ukraine. These socialists damage reality when they talk only or mainly of conflict between NATO and Russia during a war in which NATO is steadfastly refusing to fight and Russia is pulverising Ukraine.

Socialist Worker asks: what about NATO? What about the crimes of US imperialism? We say in response: The overwhelming problem in Ukraine, right now, is the aggressive Russian war aimed at ending Ukrainian rights to self-determination. The first victims of Putin’s occupation of Ukrainian territory are workers, and trade unions and democracy. The prototype for the new Russian occupation exists in the territory grabbed by Russia in 2014, in Eastern Ukraine. The so-called People’s Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk are areas are run by warlord-gangsters responsible only to Moscow. Half the pre-2014 populations of these areas have left, the economies have collapsed, trade unions are repressed, and torture and arbitrary arrest are widespread. This is what the areas of newly Russian-occupied Ukraine will begin to look like. Already, in towns overrun by the Russian military, Ukrainian politicians have been kidnapped and councils have been replaced by “People’s Committees” run by Quislings.

The socialists who oppose this march, who do not back Ukraine’s fight, are also (more or less) the same left-wing groups and individuals who supported the nationalist idiocy of Brexit and who deny Israel’s right to even exist. These are not isolated mistakes. These socialists are, in their own way, being consistent — consistently wrong, that is. The issue is that their underlying political framework is a version of Marxism which has been heavily corrupted by Stalinism. It’s high time the healthy left made a clean break from these people. We can start by demonstrating our clear and unequivocal support for Ukraine and its right to fight the invaders.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the usual suspects saying "nothing to see here".

What a surprise.

In the last few days, articles by Duginsts have appeared in the mainstream Russian media openly, and proudly, calling for the wholesale genocide of the Ukrainian nation.

What's your reaction to that, "Old Trot"?

Cathy said...

I agree with 'Old Trot' that "[Phil] totally ignores the quite legitimate , ghastly , repeated historical, experience-based, fear of Russians (whatever the regime) of having hostile Western forces immediately on the their borders - and the string of well documented broken promises made by Western Leaders in the 1990's onwards, that 'NATO would not advance one inch into the ex Soviet satellite states'.

This is the line we take in Labour Affairs

Old Trot said...

Anonymous cheekily , and ignorantly, says, and asks:

"In the last few days, articles by Duginsts have appeared in the mainstream Russian media openly, and proudly, calling for the wholesale genocide of the Ukrainian nation.

What's your reaction to that, "Old Trot"?"

My Answer for you: I, and every socialist utterly condemns the expression by anyone of genocidal intent or wishes on any media, in Russia, or anywhere else . There is no doubt that the Putin mafioso oligarchy of Russia , with its 'Great Russian chauvinism' constantly pumped out to hide its kleptocratic banditry, contains a lot of very nasty types, very similar in ideology to the open neo nazis of the Azov Battalion , etc, in the Ukraine. But is the 'genocide' of Ukrainians in any way part of Putin's aims in Ukraine ? Quite obviously it isn't, or the already available Russian weaponry used by the Putin oligarchy would have differed considerably. The word 'genocide' is being flung about willy nilly by the Western MSM, when what appears to be happening is typical wartime isolated atrocities . Isolated atrocities are not a genocide. Genocide means the deliberate attempted mass destruction of an entire distinct community/ethnic grouping of people - as with the Jews and Roma in WW2. The only party to the current conflict putting up huge numbers of statues and memorial museums to documented Ukranian nazi active genociders and nazi collaborators are the Ukranians, with the likes of national icon of the Right, Stepan Bandera. They have even renamed the main road in Kiev leading to the WW2 Babi Yar ravine genocide site after one of these nazi collaborators ! So spare me your attempt to tar the entire mafioso oligarch Putin regime with the mad rantings of one or two Russian nazis . This conflict is a dispute between rival power blocs and rival oligarchs , not a simplistic struggle between Ukranian liberal democracy and 'Russian barbarism'.

Anonymous said...

From the safety of Old Trot's eyrie no doubt the Nazi-like acts of Russian, yes, barbarism, which echo those carried out by the Germans in Ukraine and elsewhere in WW2 (and of course the Russians in Chechnya, Syria, etc - in that it is true they are nothing new) constitute mere skirmishes. Were he to find himself in that situation, perhaps he would have a different perspective, or would he be like one of those old Stalinists in the gulag, I wonder, saying if only Joseph Vissarionovich knew...

There is no parity between the far right in Ukraine (election result - 1.6 per cent. Paramilitaries - 2000) and the widespread and apparently uniform bestiality of Russian troops worryingly reminicent of the Wehrmacht and police battalions of WW2, and little surprise when the Russian army handbook parrots the ravings of Dugin. Old Trot stains the meaning of socialism by evoking it, but old Trots like him were ever thus.

Zoltan Jorovic said...

It's amazing how many people suddenly appear to be (selective) experts in Ukraine's history and geography. The history of Ukraine and in particular its relationship with Russia is complicated. Trying to simplify a thousand plus years into a paragraph is bound to fail. We only need to look a little closer to home, in Ulster, to see how two very different stories can be told when there are opposing views on almost everything - and two very different objectives.

We all choose sides, not necessarily based on "facts" as we like to kid ourselves, but on existing bias. So, a large pinch of salt is required, and most who post here are definitely low sodium.

All conflicts produce atrocities. Civil wars tend to be worse - and this is essentially a civil war. Both sides will commit them, but the aggressor has to take the primary blame.

Rather than trying to heap all the blame for what is happening on to one side, we should realise that both sides have "interests" and both use almost any means to achieve them. There are no goodies here, just perpetrators and victims. The perps are those who use violence to try to achieve their aims, and are prepared to destroy people and places in pursuit of them.

What should be obvious is that in this case ordinary Ukrainian civilians are the victims, and our sympathy should be with them. If we spend our time arguing about which are the deserving dead, we are perpetuating the attitude that leads to these tragedies.

Old Trot said...

You are obviously a political simpleton , 'Anonymous', completely duped by the grossly slanted narrative on the Ukraine crisis pumped out daily by the EU/US/NATO MSM. Were the USA and British and other forces involved in the entirely baseless , illegal under International Law, Iraq war (there were no Weapons of mass destruction - remember ?) , which devastated that country and killed around a million civilians during and long afterwards as the country imploded into warlordism , therefore 'Nazis' ? No they weren't . They were merely the usual ruthless capitalist imperialists intent on seizing Iraq's oil wealth , and unconcerned by civilian mass casualties. Turkey is currently still engaged in huge illegal military operations against the Kurds in Northern Syria and Iraq - with constant bombing raids on civilian areas. Are the Turks Nazis ? No they aren't . Just a ruthless regional imperialist power . As with Saudi Arabia, with its current brutal war against masses of civilians in the Yemen. And so it goes on . There are few simple 'good guys' in these brutal inter imperialist wars , and 'defending liberal democracy' has nothing to do with any of those quoted. The Ukraine is an oligarch owned facade democracy, with a huge openly Nazi armed force fully integrated into its armed forces, a state which officially idolises some of the worst genocidal butchers of WW2. Not a state that socialists should even try to support, any more than the Russian Putin oligarchy, or the western imperialists of the US/EU/UK. and NATO. Sensible socialists should avoid buying into the skewed propaganda of their own imperialist bloc's mass media - whether the Russian media OR the equally dishonest Western ones. That is a recipe for a 1914 type march to global war, a thermonuclear one this time .

Anonymous said...

I don't know Old Trot, every time I hear someone utter 'MSM' I think of them in their jim-jams watching too much YouTube and thinking they have access to some kind of special 'truth' after watching Russell Brand. You may be an old Trot, but I strongly suspect you have never grown up, and you certainly wouldn't be the only one.

Funnily enough, I opposed the Iraq war, stand with the Kurds, Tamils and Palestinians. The fact is that you have to resort to whataboutery to justify your apologism for fascists. I stand on the side of any innocent, ordinary people being terrorised, always have. Talking of secrets, compassion is the secret ingredient of true socialism, and once that's forgotten it's next stop gulag.

I'll leave you to play with your toys.

Old Trot said...

Your 'Reply' , as always, is content and analysis-free drivel, 'Anonymous'. Try some real analysis beyond virtue signalling Liberal sentimentality please. The ethnic Russia-speaking and identifying majority of the Donbas region have been under constant shelling from the Azov Battalion fascists (now a fully integrated component of official Ukranian forces) for EIGHT long years - because The Ukranian government was unwilling or incapable of reining them in - or implementing the Minsk 1 or 2 agreements. It is only the Oligarch owned Ukranian state that currently idolises in statues and museums WW2 Nazi sympathiser collaborators and mass killers of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Poles, Jews and Roma.

So spare me your historically ignorant (Western propaganda-based ) waffle. Socialists need to distance themselves from both of the capitalist imperialist factions involved in this war, both Putin's mafioso Russia, and the Oligarchy owned facade democracy of Ukraine, and its US/EU/UK rival imperialist backers. The blood of the many innocents killed in this terrible, war is on the hands of the EU/US and NATO too, for endlessly stirring up this conflict for years behind the scenes, ie, supporting the 2014 Coup, and encouraging the Ukranian government not to implement the Minsk 1 and 2 peace deals - and encouraging the Ukranian government to think that joining NATO wouldn't bring down just the Russian military response that it now predictably has - all as part of the unending encirclement of the Russian state by ever closer NATO member states ever since the fall of the USSR. The Russians do remember the previous catastrophic invasions that always came from the West, not from them , ie, from Napoleon, to WW1, and of course the 25 million or so dead and mass destruction from WW2".

Anonymous said...

Old Trot, you do seem to have a very high opinion of yourself - which you expound at great length.

However, none of your clever verbiage will obfuscate (see, I can use big words too!) the reality that Putin is a fascist who is committing genocide.

JN said...

'Old Trot'

Can I suggest you read some Lenin? I don't mean to be dogmatic; I just think he's very good at clarifying how socialists should approach issues of nationalism, imperialism, and war.

This is a wholly unnecessary war of aggression, and is being fought with similar brutality to Russia/Putin's previous war in Chechnya. Yes, of course, the USA, UK, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel, etc, etc.... have all done things just as bad as what Russia is doing right now. That doesn't justify it in any way. Two wrongs...

Ukraine has the right to national independence from Russia, and that is being blatantly violated. The right to national self-determination is precisely the necessary basis for genuine internationalism (again, see Lenin's writings on the subject). Russia has absolutely no right to annex parts of Ukraine by military force.

This war is a disaster for the people of both Ukraine and (to a lesser but still pretty major extent) Russia. Putin doesn't have any progressive or noble aims here. Of course, he has pretexts; every war-monger in history has some of those. They aren't very convincing.

The political consequences of the war are almost wholly negative. It is strengthening reactionary and militarist forces in Ukraine, Russia, and far beyond. That includes the Azov types in Ukraine and the 'Z' types in Russia. It also includes NATO.

In addition to being a crime, the invasion is also spectacularly stupid. The best outcome Russia can hope for here is a Pyrrhic victory. Russia is in far more danger from 'the West' now than it was 3 months ago.

JN said...

Not that the left have much influence right now, but we should be totally clear in calling for a cease-fire and Russian withdrawal from Ukraine. Of course, we should ALSO be wary of our own governments doing anything to escalate the war (including expanding NATO).

Michael McGubligan said...

'Old Trot' has got it right. The opposing faction exemplify the truth of this quote, (by a Nazi, but that does not mean it contains no truth).

"Naturally, the common people don't want war ... but after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."

Hermann Goering

Jay said...

Despite Old Trot criticising Putin's Russia in near all of their posts, anonymous still has them pegged as a Russia minimizer. By the end we see ad hominem and an accusation of genocide.

Thanks to the propaganda that Phil thinks we should accept because it's from/for the Ukrainian "team", such is the fate of those who might look at causes of this war earlier than day 0 of the invasion.

Coincidentally this long read from the Guardian shows an American perspective on realisation their life was awash with propaganda so pervasive they could only see it when removed to the other side of the world. A British person could take the same path..

Blissex said...

«we should be totally clear in calling for a cease-fire and Russian withdrawal from Ukraine.»

Are those the same "we" who have been totally clear in calling for a cease fire and an ukrainian withdrawal from the Donbas for the past 8 years?
“3,393 civilians killed (349 in 2016–2021)
13,100–13,300 killed; 29,500–33,500 wounded overall
414,798 Ukrainians internally displaced; 925,500 fled abroad”
«President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has enacted the Strategy for De-occupation and Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol. Decree No. 117/2021 of March 24 on enactment of the relevant decision of the National Security and Defense Council was published on the website of the Head of State.»
«Published 2 April 2021 Over the last week, Ukraine has been moving military vehicles and troops to the front lines, a measure that increases its military tensions with Russia. On March 24, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed the Decree 117/2021 approving the "strategy of disoccupation and reintegration of the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the Sevastopol city." In practical terms, Ukraine's decision could trigger actions leading to an armed conflict with Russia in which the United States or other Western countries could become involved. “This is essentially a declaration of war against Russia, and Zelensky would have never signed such a document without the approval of the Biden administration,” Foreign Affairs analyst Michael Snyder said, as reported by ZeroHedge.»
«On 18 January 2018, the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill to regain control over separatist-held areas. The bill was adopted with support from 280 lawmakers in the 450-seat Verkhovna Rada [...] The legislation granted President Poroshenko "the right to use military force inside the country, without consent from the Ukrainian parliament", which would include the reclaiming of Donbas. The bill supports a ban on trade and a transport blockade of the east that has been in place since 2017.»

Blissex said...

«“2 April 2021 Over the last week, Ukraine has been moving military vehicles and troops to the front lines, a measure that increases its military tensions with Russia. On March 24, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed the Decree 117/2021 approving the "strategy of disoccupation and reintegration of the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the Sevastopol city."»

Of course those were purely defensive reactions to the aggressive moves that the Russian federation government had made only a few weeks later :-).
«May 24, 2021 [...] The augmentation of forces on Ukraine’s borders and in the illegally annexed Crimean Peninsula raised dramatically and by an order of magnitude the level of concern [...] The snap exercises that unfolded between 7 and 22 April showcased Russia’s ability to transfer major contingents of forces rapidly and over considerable distances.»

JN said...


This invasion is an unmitigated disaster for both Ukraine and Russia. Even if Russia manages to annex parts of Ukraine and claims victory, it would be the definition of Pyrrhic. The real beneficiaries of this war are NATO, arms-dealers, and extreme reactionaries in Ukraine, Russia, and beyond.

And honestly, you think Putin et al care about the poor oppressed Russian-speakers of Ukraine? Aye, no doubt as much as they care about the average Russian.