Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Crimean “Crisis” and Western Bias

[Saturday update:

Rumors are flying that the US has confiscated Ukraine's gold reserves. It would make sense that the Fed would be gold-hungry, given the trouble they are having "finding" German gold that is "on reserve" with them (but has actually been "leased" to China, where it's been smelted down). And the US did confiscate Iraq's and Libya's gold reserves...

Ukraine's defense minister is trying to whip up hysteria, claiming that the Russians tried to invade and were repelled. (Had the Russians wanted to invade Ukraine, they wouldn't have “tried to”—they just sort of would have.) Looks like the Kiev junta is desperate to start an actual war ASAP, for lack of any other options, while the Russian strategy is to let them simmer in their own juices until the meat falls off the bone.

Two good reads: Vladimir Goldstein's “Let Kerry rethink the arrogance of America” and Ryan Faith's “Why Putin will get everything he wants in Crimea.”]

[Friday update:

Unlike what seems like 99.9% of Western media, Michael Cohen of The Guardian gets it right: there is pretty much nothing the US can do about Crimea, beyond John Kerry's endless harrumphing and Botox-impaired frownies.

Former Ukraine security chief speaks out on the mercenaries who massacred people in Kiev. Moscow wants an investigation, Washington's response is “duh.”

Germany's opposition leader blasts Merkel for supporting the US-installed junta in Kiev: “They are fascists!” But they are “our” fascists, so that makes it OK, right?

Crimean self-defense forces intercepted a US drone over Crimea, gained control over it and forced it to land almost intact. Russian troops are in Crimea based on a long-standing agreement. And the US drones are there out of sheer respect for Ukrainian territorial integrity. Is there a dead horse in the room, or is that just the rotten stench of American hypocrisy?]

[Wednesday update:

Here is some detailed background information on the Ukrainian neo-fascists and a good overall write-up on the situation. Eight neo-fascists now hold ministerial posts within the new, US-supported Ukrainian government. The following quote illustrates their ideology:
To create a truly Ukrainian Ukraine in the cities of the East and South, only one lustration will not be enough, we will need to cancel parliamentarism, ban all political parties, nationalize the entire industry, all media, prohibit the importation of any literature to Ukraine from Russia… completely replace the leaders of the civil service, education management, military (especially in the East), physically liquidate all Russian-speaking intellectuals and all Ukrainophobes... execute all members of the anti-Ukrainian political parties…
It's hard to tell how far they'll get with this ambitious program, but they've already outlawed the use of Russian language and are busy shutting out Russian television. Book-burnings may be next. To understand what this means, consider the following:
The population in the core Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine outnumbers the population in the core Ukrainian-speaking regions by almost two to one. Of the country’s ten largest cities, only one, Lviv, is predominantly Ukrainian-speaking. Russian is, by a wide margin, the language of choice in education, commerce, and entertainment. A 2012 study found that over 60% of newspapers, 83% of journals and 87% of books, and 72% of television programs in Ukraine are still in Russian. Even more troubling, from the western Ukrainian perspective, is that the internet has only reinforced this cultural dominance. Russian is by far the preferred language on web sites in Ukraine (80.1%), followed by English (10.1%), then Ukrainian (9.5%), while the Russian version of Wikipedia remains five times more popular in Ukraine than the Ukrainian one. [source]
By banning Russian, Ukraine is effectively lobotomizing itself.]

[Tuesday update:

The guest post from Renée last week appeared on this blog because Huffington Post refused to run it. And now I hear that no comment linking the new Ukrainian government to the neo-Nazis or the neo-Nazis to the mass murder in Kiev can get through on any news site. It seems like there is an actual news blackout on this message:

"It appears that the US State Dept. gave $5 billion to Ukrainian neo-Nazis who used some of the money to hire mass murderers who massacred protesters, policemen and bystanders in order to provide a rationale for overthrowing the democratically elected government of Ukraine and installing an anti-Russian puppet government."

That's about as short and sweet as I can make it. Please go and see how many places you can cut and paste that sentence. It would give us an idea of the extent of the censorship in the US. First they take over Ukraine, then Huffington Post, what's next? Your living-room?]

[Ukraine update:

Everybody now admits that the Kiev massacre was a false flag operation, just like I said it was. The leading theory is that the snipers who fired indiscriminately on policemen, demonstrators and bystanders were hired by the Ukrainian opposition. (Interesting question: Were they paid with US State Dept. funds?) But in response the newly installed authorities in Kiev have gone full-retard and are blaming... why, Russia, of course! So obvious! Russia had just signed a historic deal with Yanukovych, accepting Ukraine into the Customs Union and giving it a huge discount on natural gas, plus the Winter Olympics in Sochi were underway. Of course Russia would want to throw all of that away, watch helplessly as Ukraine's government gets overthrown and replaced by US-financed neo-Nazis, and now face sanctions for defending the rights of its citizens in Crimea. No, not really.

Meanwhile, Putin is having trouble explaining to Western leaders that Russia is not doing anything illegal: Russian troops are in Crimea legally, based on a long-term agreement with Ukraine and the self-defense forces in charge there are irregulars who do not report to the Russian military. Crimea is about to hold a referendum on independence from Ukraine (having ended up as part of Ukraine as an accident) but the West says the referendum is illegal. You see, unlike the Albanians in Kosovo or the South Sudanese or just about any other group, the Russians in Crimea do not have the right of self-determination. Why? Because they are Russian?

This week's guest post is by Outlook Zen. It strikes me as exceptionally balanced; the one quibble I have is against mentioning Godwin’s Law while ignoring this. Goodwin rightly called out people who use the terms “fascism” and “Nazi” and gratuitously compare people to Hitler. But what about those who don jackboots and Swastika armbands and stomp around saluting each other with the Hitlergruß? Is the comparison still gratuitous? There seems to be a taboo in the US against mentioning that there were neo-Nazis behind the putsch in Kiev. The allegations that they hired snipers to shoot other protesters, to produce a rationale for overthrowing the government, are being hushed up too. Too embarrassing? Well, it should be! But there should still be a full investigation.]

Just two weeks ago, we had discussed the bias in international reporting, and the tendency of media outlets to report the most sensational facts without providing proper context and a full-view of the situation. How time appropriate, given the outbreak of the Russia-Crimea situation in the past few days. As we hear the reporting of the situation in US and western media, I’m reminded over and over again of my earlier complaints. So many of the articles seem so sensational and biased in their reporting. What stands out glaringly is the extent to which Russia has been condemned. Over the past days, I’ve seen Putin compared to Hitler, Russia compared to Nazi Germany, and the Crimean annexation compared to Hitler’s invasion of Poland. The same media that has always jumped to condemn Bush-Hitler comparisons, is now the first to invoke Godwin’s Law when describing Russia and Putin.

Personally, as someone who has no ties to Russia, neither positive nor negative, none of their actions thus far strike me as being outrageous. Hence why the hyperbolic media reporting in the US strikes me as being a bit too biased & extreme.

A recap of the key events in recent days:

Ukraine’s democratically elected government was overthrown by mass-protests in the capital, Kiev.

These protests represent popular sentiment in Western Ukraine, but not in the East. Eastern Ukraine is strongly pro-Russian, and it was this faction that won the most recent elections and installed the President Viktor Yanukovych. The protests could thus be seen as a non-democratic overthrow of a democratically elected government, by the losing minority. It can also be credibly cast as the political censorship and subjugation of the pro-Russia Eastern-Ukraine, by the pro-EU Western-Ukraine.

Russia, in protest of the above, annexes/liberates Crimea, the already semi-autonomous and most heavily pro-Russian province in Ukraine. It was a bloodless takeover, with no casualties. There is no local protest or uprising against the Russian occupation. The Russian army is cheered on and; greeted warmly by the local population. Secession fever breaks out all over Eastern Ukraine, as people protest against the protester-installed government in Kiev. Pro-Russian protesters drape Russian flags over government buildings. Ukraine’s own Admiral Berezovsky, who was appointed by the interim government in Kiev, orders Ukrainian naval forces on the peninsula to disregard any orders from the “self-proclaimed” authorities in Kiev. Pro-Russian leaders in Crimea have scheduled a referendum to be held later this month, that will let the locals decide on secession and ties with Russia. Ironically, both Kiev and the West are opposed to this democratic vote that would allow the locals to chart their own future. Recapping these events, I’m having a hard time expressing outrage over anything Russia has done in the past weeks.

To be sure, this is a very complicated situation, and I certainly do not mean to oversimplify it. What exactly the locals in Crimea and Eastern-Ukraine want, and whether this is aligned with Russian intervention, is certainly a debatable topic. There are good arguments that can be made both for and against Russian intervention in Crimea. If the day ever comes when Russia ignores or suppresses the popular will of the Crimean people, I will be the first to condemn Putin.

However, what I do find most objectionable today is the hyperbole with which Russia is being regarded by Western media. The bias inherent in almost all reporting, and the arguments presented to justify only 1 of the 2 sides, is virtually bordering on propaganda. Even worse is the lack of context with which Russia’s actions are being presented. Consider the following list of US interventions in foreign countries over the past half century.
After looking at this list, it’s hard to make the case that Russian intervention in Crimea is outrageous compared to what we have been doing for decades. At no point during any of the above controversies did the media question whether our country is deserving of economic sanctions, whether we should have our G8 membership revoked, or whether we’re becoming a police-spy-war state like Nazi Germany. And yet, Russian intervention in Crimea has been deemed worthy of all the above.

[...P]atriotism is no excuse for biased reporting & hyperbole against Russia. It’s been 25 years since the Cold War ended. It’s time we evaluated Russia’s actions objectively, and not from the narrow prism of Western ethnocentrism.


Jacob Gittes said...

Nice timing, Dmitri. I was actually considering writing to you personally, through email, to put this situation in context vis a vis the amazingly biased crap coming out of the western MSM. Unbelievable in its hypocrisy. I guess I did ask you to comment in your last post about the repeated claims that Russia is a third-world state, ruled by Oligarchs and patched together with duct tape, and Putin is just another tin pot dictator. The claims just get repeated and repeated! I commented on a NY Times article, pointing out the rank hypocrisy, but alas, my comment was not published. That is, I was censored, while all the rabid anti-Russian comments got through.

You yourself, Dmitri, have been dragged through the mud! I found an attack on you on Morris Berman's blog. I sent a comment in defending you (hopefully not too tepidly) just before I saw your new post.

I believe the commenter was possibly a paid troll: the comment was just superficially even-handed enough to seem plausibly non-paid-GHCQish, but when I re-read it, I had to call it out. For instance, he writes, "
Basically, [Orlov] is a hardcore Russian propagandist that pretends to be a confused, moderate 'individual' to spread a pro-Russian message."

So, you've succeeded in pissing people off! Congrats.
Anyway, I sincerely hope, for the sake of peace, that Putin is not a fool, that he's thought this through, and that he has carefully measured the character of Obama and the sociopaths in charge here. I fear that Obummer may feel forced to escalate.

Thus, I am praying that all the so-called experts in the MSM in the USA are wrong when they write whole articles documenting Russian economic and military weakness.
Otherwise, the madmen at the helm might very well think they can get away with bloody murder.
Oh wait, they already have.

Silent Otto said...

Sting - " Russians "

In Europe and America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mr. Krushchev said we will bury you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too

How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy
There is no monopoly in common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the President
There's no such thing as a winnable war
It's a lie we don't believe anymore
Mr. Reagan says we will protect you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is if the Russians love their children too

Jules said...

I agree with all this but one question remains: who are the Russian-speaking soldiers who have no army badges?

Garryck said...

"Crimea is about to hold a referendum on independence from Ukraine (having ended up as part of Ukraine as an accident) but the West says the referendum is illegal. You see, unlike the Albanians in Kosovo or the South Sudanese or just about any other group, the Russians in Crimea do not have the right of self-determination. Why? Because they are Russian?"

No.. because Ukraine siding with Russia would prevent the US from doing something about shutting down Russia's warm-water naval port in Sevastopol. As it stands, that port is a huge hindrance to expanding US military adventures in the Middle East, as we saw recently in Syria.

P.S. In your list of US interventions, you forgot to mention the Korean War.. (there are also indications that the official version of how that war began is wrong as well. it seems likely to have been triggered by Sth Korea, encouraged and egged on by a certain US intelligence agency. Research pays dividends.)

Judy said...

I am left wondering why? Why would EU/US want the Ukrainian government overthrown? And why now, when Ukraine is practically bankrupt by all accounts?

I don't understand why EU would want to rock the boat when that is the main supply route of gas, and any refugees from civil unrest would flood into the rest of Europe? Who benefits from any of this?

I'm also not convinced that many countries in the EU are ready to buddy up with the US on whatever their aim is in this region. The US lost all respect after the Snowden incident, but then what would I know?

yvesT said...

Thanks for the analysis.

To me there is a major "common image" in the western psyche, that although in a very indirect way in this case, still plays a major part in what kind of propaganda can be pushed regarding current and recent conflicts.

It could be summarized as :
"first oil shock = Yom Kippur/Arab embargo= geopolitical story= nothing to do with geologic constraints"

When the real story was :

- end 1970 : US production peak, the energy crisis starts from there, with some heating fuel shortages for instance (some articles can be found on NYT archive on that)
- Nixon name James Akins to go check what is going on.
- Akins goes around all US producers, saying this won't be communicated to the media, but needs to be known, national security question
- The results are bad : no additional capacity at all, production will only go down, the results are also presentede to the OECD
- The reserves of Alaska, North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, are known at that time, but to be developed the barrel price needs to be higher
- In parallel this is also the period of "rebalance" between oil majors and countries on each barrel revenus (Ghadaffi being the first to push 55/50 for instance), and creation of national oil companies.
- dropping of B Woods in 71 (move to petro $) and associated $ devaluation also put pressure on raising the barrel price for producing countries.
- So to be able to start Alaska, GOM, North Sea, and have some "outside OPEC" market share, the barrel price needs to go up (always good for oil majors anyway) and this is also US diplomacy strategy
- For instance Akins, then US ambassador in Saudi Arabia, is the one talking about $4 or $5 a barrel in an OAPEC meeting in Algiers in 1972 (when it still was around $1)
- Yom Kippur starts during an OPEC meeting in Vienna, which was about barrel revenus percentages, and barrel price rise.
- The declaration of the embargo pushes the barrel up on the spots markets (that just have been set up)
- But the embargo remains quite limited (not from Iran, not from Iraq, only towards a few countries)
- It remains fictive from Saudi Arabia towards the US : tankers kept on going from KSA, through Barhain to make it more discrete, towards the US Army in Vietnam in particular.
- Akins is very clear about that in below documentary interviews (which unfortunately only exists in French and German to my knowledge, and interviews are voiced over) :
For instance after 24:10, where he says that two senators were starting having rather "strong voices" about "doing something", he asked the permission to tell them what was going on, got it, told them, they shat up and there was never any leak. The first oil schock "episode" starts at 18:00
(the "embargo story" was in fact very "pratical", both for the US to "cover up" US peak towards US public opinion or western one in general, but also for major Arab producers to show "the arab street" that they were doing something for the Palestinians).

Note : About Akins, see for instance :

And then the second oil shock (79) result of Iranian revolution, and leading to the "Carter doctrine", with then the Reagan corollary and creation of CENTCOM.

Followed by the counter oil shock (for a big part the result of Reagan administration pushing the Saudis to produce more in order to bring the USSR down), about this for instance :

The global ignorance about all this allows to keep the messages around "old time geopolitics, this is about values, pushing democracy, bad and good guys, etc".

But one could say it has always been the case, maybe ...

William Hunter Duncan said...

I comment regularly on Huffpost. Since this Ukraine thing hit the headlines, they have censored every comment I made in which I referenced neo-nazi's in the coalition. They would not let me publish any article pointing to those sniper attacks as coalition.

Huffpost/AOL manipulating Americans, to go to war against Russia in Ukraine, by proxy to enter Syria and Iran.

Dmitry Orlov said...

The guest post from Renée last week appeared here because Goofington refused to run it. It seems like there is an actual news blackout on this message:

"The US State Dept. gave 5 billion to Ukrainian neo-Nazis who used some of the money to hire mass murderers who massacred protesters, policemen and bystanders in order to provide a rationale for overthrowing the democratically elected government of Ukraine and installing an anti-Russian puppet government."

That's about as short and sweet as I can make it. See how many places you can cut and paste that sentence. Give those comment moderators/censors something to chew on.

yvesT said...

By the way about Akins, his report to Nixon in 1971 should be a key document, but it is still classified to my knowledge, anybody knows whether it could now be declassified ?

St. Roy said...


See my comment post at J. Kunstler blog. I asked him the question you answered

St. Roy

S.Treimel said...

Judy said...
I am left wondering why? Why would EU/US want the Ukrainian government overthrown? And why now, when Ukraine is practically bankrupt by all accounts?

Why indeed?
Well, Ukraine has some of the best topsoil in the world. Think "Agricultural Breadbasket". Good farmland is very valuable. If you control that farmland, you control food; if you control food, you control people.
Second, when a country falls into chaos, the normal economy falters, and overall energy consumption drops. That "liberates" a lot of energy supply for other countries to use, as there is less competition for that resource. As peak oil sets in, and less supply is available, lowered demand helps keep prices lower.
Third, when chaos overtakes a country, mobile capital tends to flee. In this case, to a (perceived) safe haven, like the dollar. The demand for dollars supports its value in the market.

hvelarde said...

Dmitri, the 5 billion dollar quote is a little bit different: during the International Business Conference at Ukraine in Washington (held at National Press Club on December 13, 2013) Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, said: "Since the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the United States supported the Ukrainians in the development of democratic institutions and skills in promoting civil society and a good form of government - all that is necessary to achieve the objectives of Ukraine’s European. We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals."

See: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37599.htm

Jean-Paul Printemps said...

Dmitry, I am very heartened by your standing by the truth in this latest paramilitary ugliness. It takes someone who has lived a life of standing tall to do this, valuing uprightness in all of life's decisions.

A note about the lock-step obfuscation and misdirection in the Western media, one exception is the March issue of Le Monde Diplomatique, where the lead story is on the ultra-nationalist nature of the coup leaders. Accompanying this is another interesting story about the level of ultra-right influence in Europe's parliaments. In here is a tip maybe for would-be blog posters: publications are likely to let through comments on ultra-nationalists or right-wing extremists, where the word "Nazi" may be auto-redacted as too hot button a word.

Ien in the Kootenays said...

Thanks for providing a forum for people who are censored elsewhere. I have also been depending on http://the automatic earth.com for background on this story.

Ken Barrows said...

US media is no surprise here. Journalists from just about anywhere may be good at pointing out the foibles of evil, feckless foreigners. But their own country? Just stenographers.

Anonymous said...

Judy, Stephen,
Paul Craig Roberts provides an excellent explanation and historical overview of why the U.S. wants to overthrow the Ukrainian government in his latest interview at usawatchdog.com.


Short version: the U.S. wants Ukaraine to join Nato so that it can put nuke missiles and nuke ABM defenses along Russia's border, to neutralize Russia's power to oppose US in the world. And yes, the neo- cons are that nuts. Ukrainian resources are side benefits used to secure buy-ins to the plan by the likes of Chevron and Big Agribusiness.

Unknown said...


I had my Patriot Day moment yesterday, when I discovered that thousands of "Good Samaratans", CNN words, had volunteered to scour over satellite images looking for a plane that vanished.

Who needs jackboots when whole cities voluntarily go under martial law and who knows how many citizens sign up to study satellite photos for plane wreckage?

Fascism, like the military, is a volunteer service.


Minds of Uncanny Gallery

Razer said...

I've illustrated your Tuesday update Dimitry, and no... NOT our 'living rooms'.


My donkey said...

Independent journalists seem to be the only sources worth paying attention to anymore, but you still have to be on guard.

On one hand, Pepe Escobar does a good job of separating the wheat from the chaff today.

On the other hand, the normally balanced Gwynne Dyer can't stop his Putin-loathing, pro-Western bias from shining through.

My donkey said...

The Pepe Escobar article link above is missing an L on the end.
Here's the correct link:

stevelaudig@gmail.com said...

for those interested in 'a' history of US interventions, I recommend.

Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2009


Jim Kemeny said...

It does look increasingly like Obama is moving to throw more money at Ukraine, despite the opposition in Congress. The Ukraine is bankrupt because of its high level of corruption plus huge wealth of its oligarchs, and dependence on Russian gas.

Russia now only needs to sit tight and see what happens. The end result might still be that the lease on Sevastopol will be renewed. All this may take time, as Obama is still acting hawkish, and the more time that passes the more pressure on Ukrainian leaders to compromise. If not, we will see a resumption of the Cold War that ended a generation ago.

Anonymous said...

There is some discussion about right-wing revolutionaries and who was behind the snipers in the comment section of this NYT article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/13/world/europe/ukraine-washington.html

Nothing as definitive as Dmitry might like, but it is being discussed.

de amateureconoom said...

Dimitri, I just want to support you for your side of the story.
High trees catch a lot of wind.
Thanks for all your wonderfull insides on all these issues.
Good luck to you and your family.

de amateureconoom said...

Dear Dimitri.
Just want to tell you I truly am gratefull for your blog and vieuw on all these political disgusting stories affecting all these innocent inhabitants in these country's.
Keep up the spirit and know many people support you truly and are learning a lot thanks to your unusual perspective on our western world.

Judy said...

The BBC reported a Neo-Nazi threat in Ukraine. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SBo0akeDMY

michigan native said...

So the whole thing appears to be yet another humiliating farse that may well back fire on the US, the desperate acts of a dying empire. Wait until Germany realizes their gold is stolen, coming after being told the extent the US has spied on its "allies". Let's see how eager the EU will get behind us. I am wondering if they will wake up and drop out of NATO as well....

Razer said...

If the evidence is produced this could get REALLY ugly!

Russian ambassador tells Security Council evidence exists to prove up-till-now unverified snipers fired from Maidan commandant’s office