The cause of the crisis in the Eastern Ukraine, to paraphrase Thomas Edison, is 10 percent of armed hostilities, and 90 percent of Russian propaganda. Take away the latter element and chances are the crisis will vanish as quickly as it broke out few months ago.
A look at the situation from this angle explains why Russia was so desperate to derail Ukraine’s presidential elections, which, against all odds, took place on May 25. Kremlin was covertly sabotaging Ukraine’s national vote, because its chiefs were afraid that the election of a legitimate head of state in Ukraine would demolish Kremlin’s myth of the “illegitimate neo-nazi regime” in Kyiv.
And it is this myth that Russia has consistently used to justify its interference in the Ukrainian crisis in the eyes of the international community, as well as to motivate certain parts of the local eastern Ukrainian population to take arms to “defend their land from the unelected/illegitimate fascist oppressor”.
As myths based on lies are the fuel on which Russian propaganda machine runs, and since this vicious machine had no intention to stop, the dispelled myth of the illegitimate unelected regime (meriting military resistance) had to be replaced by a new, no less emotive one.
The myth is dead, long live the myth. The substitution story was concocted by Putin’s unscrupulous propagandists literally within days after Ukraine’s presidential elections. The new cornerstone of Russian propaganda became the hundred-times-a-day-repeated mantra of “Ukraine’s (now legitimate) government using inhumane and internationally prohibited methods of warfare in their punitive operation against its own people”.
The headlines of Russian media and its satellite stooges in West are full of “juicy facts”, fabricated to promote this new myth. The numerous sins of the “blood-thirsty” Ukrainian regime include the indiscriminate air-strikes and carpet bombings of civilian populations, armed attacks on vehicles with humanitarian assistance, blocking the evacuation of refugees and internally displaced persons, outrages breaches of the rights of journalists working in the conflict zone, etc. Put simply, Eastern Ukraine is drowning in a humanitarian crisis caused by the inhumane Ukrainian Government.
Needless to say, most of these stories are based on lies, not facts. Some of such lies are blatant and cynical to the point of being morally deranged. Take, for example, just the most recent story of a one-year old girl on life-support machine “saved” by Russian journalists from the fascist Ukrainian soldiers. The Russian media reported that the parents of the little girl were unable to evacuate their daughter from the war-torn city of Sloviansk because the Ukrainian army did not allow them to.
In reality, Russian journalists, supported by the pro-Russian armed militia, gave the girl’s parents an ultimatum: “Either we evacuate you to Russia (and get the emotional propagandist story of a little girl saved by Russia from Ukrainian fascists), or you stay here amidst the bombshells”.
While the means of the Russian propaganda may have changed, its end goal has remained the same: Ukrainian government, legitimate or not, is plain bad. Or, as Putin would’ve put it, Ukraine is a failed state.
According to the Kremlin rhetoric, at first Ukraine was run by the an allegedly illegitimate government whose discriminatory neo-nazi policies created the problem in the Russian-speaking regions. Now the country is run by a legitimately elected government, which, due to its “warmongering” inclinations, cannot solve the problem. In both cases we have a failed state unable to provide its citizens, at least in the east and south of Ukraine, with the minimum protection and basic human rights.
The notion of Ukraine as a failed state has long been the cornerstone of Putin’s long-term strategy with respect to Ukraine. Kremlin’s chief puppeteer has openly confessed in the past to his nostalgia for the Soviet Union, which has gradually transformed into an obsessive idea to recreate the union of slavic nations in the guise of the Russkiy Mir (Russian World).
And since Putin’s neo-Soviet Union is unthinkable without at least a large part of Ukraine, the arch-plan is to prove to the world that it is a failed state, and thus can be legitimately deprived of its territories in the same way as parents, unable to care for their children, can be legitimately deprived of their parenthood.
Neo-imperialists, as alcoholics, hardly ever change. Yet they can be restrained. Telling the truth, and telling it regularly, every time the Russia-sponsored lie comes to the surface, is, perhaps, the only cure that can save Ukraine (and the world) from Putin’s propaganda-powered neo-imperialist plans. To achieve peace and justice we need to start firing the rockets of truth at Putin’s tanks of propaganda.
PhD in Law (human rights), Civil activist