Today’s New York Times has a longish piece (“Russia is quick to bend the truth about Ukraine“) about how Moscow is doing its best to destabilize the eastern Ukraine, while at the same time pretending that it has nothing to do with the situation and urging the international community to bring peace. The object, as far as I can see, is to allow Russia to take over the region under the pretext of stabilizing it. That’s not rocket science.
It reminds me a bit of the beginning of World War II, when in late August of 1939 the Germans killed a few Poles and left their bodies on the border as evidence of Polish aggression, and then used that “evidence” as a pretext to invade Poland. It was the same kind of lies that Moscow is promulgating now. But read the Times piece; here’s a snippet:
The Facebook post on Tuesday morning by Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia was bleak and full of dread.
“Blood has been spilled in Ukraine again,” wrote Mr. Medvedev, once favored in the West for playing good cop to the hard-boiled president, Vladimir V. Putin. “The threat of civil war looms.”
He pleaded with Ukrainians to decide their own future “without usurpers, nationalists and bandits, without tanks or armored vehicles — and without secret visits by the C.I.A. director.”
And so began another day of bluster and hyperbole, of the misinformation, exaggerations, conspiracy theories, overheated rhetoric and, occasionally, outright lies about the political crisis in Ukraine that have emanated from the highest echelons of the Kremlin and reverberated on state-controlled Russian television, hour after hour, day after day, week after week.
It is an extraordinary propaganda campaign that political analysts say reflects a new brazenness on the part of Russian officials. And in recent days, it has largely succeeded — at least for Russia’s domestic audience — in painting a picture of chaos and danger in eastern Ukraine, although it was pro-Russian forces themselves who created it by seizing public buildings and setting up roadblocks.
In essence, Moscow’s state-controlled news media outlets are loudly and incessantly calling on Ukraine and the international community to calm a situation that Ukraine, the United States and the European Union say the Kremlin is doing its best to destabilize.
Even the United Nations weighed in. In a report released Tuesday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that threats to ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine, cited repeatedly by Russian officials and in the Russian news media as a potential rationale for Russian military action, were exaggerated and that some participants in the protests in the region came from Russia.
. . . “It’s all lies,” said Lilia Shevtsova, an expert on Russian politics at the Carnegie Moscow Center. “The Russia leadership doesn’t care about how it’s being perceived in the outside world, in the world of communication, in the world where we have plurality of information and where information can be confirmed and checked. This is a radical change in attitude toward the West.”
Ms. Shevtsova added: “We can’t trust anything. Even with the Soviet propaganda, when they were talking with the Soviet people, there were some rules. Now, there are no rules at all. You can invent anything.”
I gather some of our readers are sympathetic to the Russia’s drive to expand its borders, fuellng Putin’s megalomania for an old-timey, Soviet-style agglomaration of states. Putin is an extremely dangerous man, the international community is timorous (who wants a war?), but at least we must start by admitting that this situation was created, engineered, and manipulated by a group of Russian warmongers who will stop at nothing to take over another sovereign nation. There’s a lesson to be learned from Crimea.