Two days ago, speaking to the Russian Federation’s Federal Assembly, Vladimir Putin declared Crimea, a part of Ukraine’s territory, part of Russia. The fifty minutes long triumphant speech – received with standing ovation – completed the twenty days illegal intervention into a sovereign state in the middle of Europe. It took Putin less than three weeks and a little under an hour to dismantle the system of international security which took the global community almost seventy years to build. The world looked on in silent disbelief.
How was this possible? How could a state which was among the founding-members of the United Nations so cynically trample its very foundation? Not without the support of its brutal propaganda machine by the unscrupulous media in the West, including the US.
On March 13, Los Angeles Times published an op-ed piece by Robert English “Ukraine’s threat from within”. In a nutshell, the article justifies Putin’s aggression in Crimea, bluntly stating that “Russian worry [that fascists are on a crusade to ethnically cleanse Russian-speaking Ukrainians] is well founded”.
So when Putin says that he sent in the Russian army into Crimea to stop fascists – which he has done every time when he tried to explain his madness to the international community – he is, according to LA Times, telling the truth.
And when the citizens of the Western countries, including the US, don’t see any real response to the Kremlin’s aggression – they believe that their governments’ inaction, according to LA Times, is justified, because defending neo-Nazis doesn’t make any sense and wouldn’t be right.
The problem is that the story about the rise of neo-fascists in Ukraine, as told by the LA Times and many other Western media, is a far cry from the truth. Robert English’s account of the current political situation in Ukraine is a cynical distortion of reality, based on manipulation, over-exaggeration and outright lies.
At the center of English’s effort to warn the West about the evil Ukrainian neo-Nazis is the Ukraine’s Svoboda party, whose leaders, he writes, “publicly praise many aspects of Nazism” and are hell-bent on “ratcheting up pressure on Ukraine’s Russian-speaking minority”.
This is a misguided exaggeration, the kind which then appears word-for-word in in Russia’s justificatory speeches in the UN Security Council. While English conveniently calls Russia’s brazen annexation of Crimea, recognized by the UN as a flagrant breach of international law on the scale unseen after the Hitler’s annexation of the Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland in 1938, “Putin’s maneuvers in Crimea”, he has no qualms with calling neo-fascists the party, which daily reassures domestic and international audiences that their political rhetoric is aimed solely at the jingoistic neo-imperialist Kremlin, not the Russian-speaking people in Ukraine.
English’s other statement, according to which Ukraine’s World War II nationalist leader Stepan Bandera, whose patriotic views have been the source of inspiration for many participants of the recent Euromaidan protests, massacred thousands of Poles and Jews, is simply a manifest lie. A quick look at Bandera’s profile at least in Wikipedia explains why.
So next time when you hear Putin telling the world that his military aggressions are based on the grounds which even the Western media believe are well-founded, drop a quick thank-you email to LA Times.
PhD in Law (human rights)