Thursday, August 28, 2014

Propaganda and the lack thereof

With regard to the goings-on in Ukraine, I have heard quite a few European and American voices piping in, saying that, yes, Washington and Kiev are fabricating an entirely fictional version of events for propaganda purposes, but then so are the Russians. They appear to assume that if their corporate media is infested with mendacious, incompetent buffoons who are only too happy to repeat the party line, then the Russians must be same or worse.

The reality is quite different. While there is a virtual news blackout with regard to Ukraine in the West, with little being shown beyond pictures of talking heads in Washington and Kiev, the media coverage in Russia is relentless, with daily bulletins describing troop movements, up-to-date maps of the conflict zones, and lots of eye-witness testimony, commentary and analysis. There is also a lively rumor mill on Russian and international social networks, which I tend to disregard because it's mostly just that: rumor. In this environment, those who would attempt to fabricate a fictional narrative, as the officials in Washington and Kiev attempt to do, do not survive very long.

There is a great deal to say on the subject, but here I want to limit myself to rectifying some really, really basic misconceptions that Washington has attempted to impose on you via its various corporate media mouthpieces.

1. They would like you to think that there is a Russian invasion in the East of Ukraine. What's actually happening is a civil war between the government of Western Ukraine (which no longer rules the east in any definable way) and the Russian population of Eastern Ukraine. Ukraine has been falling apart for decades—ever since independence. The eventual break-up was inevitable, but the catalyst for it was the military overthrow of Ukraine's legitimate government and its replacement with cadres hand-picked in Washington.

2. They would like you to think that the Russian government stands behind Lugansk People's Republic and Donetsk People's Republic—the two regions which, based on referendum results, have chosen to break away from Kiev. In fact, the Russian government has refused to recognize these republics. They have received no official political support from Moscow, which asked for the referendums to be postponed, and repeatedly asked for a cease-fire and an international, negotiated settlement to the crisis. The leadership of LPR and DPR has refused, and now aims for an outright military victory.

3. They would like you to believe that the Russian government is arming the “rebels” in Eastern Ukraine. To the contrary, the Russian government has withheld all military support, limiting itself to providing humanitarian supplies to the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been destroyed by artillery and rocket fire coming from the Ukrainian forces. The weapons in the “rebels'” arsenal are trophies, which they seized from the retreating Ukrainian forces. That said, the “rebels” are indeed being supported—but by the Russian people, not the Russian government. Remember, these are all Russians, on both sides of the border, and the Ukrainian government no longer controls any of it.

4. They want to convince you that Russia poses a threat to peace in Europe, and that the crisis in Ukraine is part of an imperialist Russian strategy to resurrect the USSR. Nothing could be further from the truth. The overarching Russian ambition is for Russia to be a normal country, subject of international law, at peace with the whole world, and integrated into the global economy. The Russian government is doing next to nothing to prevent Russians in areas that were once part of Russia from being slaughtered right in their homes using artillery and rocket fire. This makes for a distressing spectacle, but the Russian people understand that enlarging the military conflict beyond the by now purely notional borders of Ukraine is not the answer.

5. They want to assure you that Kiev will eventually prevail in the conflict. In fact, the Ukrainian military is being systematically destroyed. Shelling civilians is the only activity which they have been able to carry out successfully. The government in Kiev has instituted three mobilizations, one after the other, sending into battle boys and old men (maximum draft age is now 60). Those who refuse to be drafted were at first threatened with incarceration, but this no longer works, so they are now threatened with murder. The unofficial “fee” for getting out of being drafted is several thousand dollars. These soldiers are badly armed, badly trained, completely demoralized, and they mostly refuse to fight. Ukraine is quickly running out of tanks and APCs, which are all old Soviet-era and have been rusting for decades. It appears that Ukraine no longer has an air force at all. The casualties run into the tens of thousands. Over just one week in July, 1400 Ukrainian soldiers were killed; on the other side the figure is 10. The kill ratio is 140:1 and that one number tells almost the whole story. The war is far from over, but now, for the first time, LPR and DPR actually have something resembling an army, and that army is going on attack. Once the Ukrainian military collapses altogether, there is still the mercenary force maintained by the oligarch Kolomoisky, who runs Dnepropetrovsk Region as a personal fiefdom, and has recently decided to take charge of other neighboring regions as well. But mercenaries don't like getting killed and, beyond a certain point, will simply run away. In all, it seems increasingly likely that Kiev will lose and that Ukraine will cease to exist.

6. They want you to think that the government in Kiev is legitimate, popular and stable. In fact, there are huge protests going on in Kiev at this very moment. The entire country is beyond bankrupt and is falling apart in real time, not just in the east, but everywhere. The people are beyond angry. The military units retreating from the east are in a foul mood, and may soon decide to turn their weapons against those who ordered them into battle. The people are beyond angry, and it seems probable that another revolution, only half a year since the last one, is in the works.

I hope that you can absorb this basic information and use it to filter out the propaganda that you read in Western newspapers and hear on the nightly news (if they mention Ukraine at all). Don't automatically assume that if your side is full of it, then the other side is too. You don't have to settle for lies.


Artem Portnoy said...

Dmitry, I believe the picture you're trying to present is lopsided.

See here:
"Alexander Zakharchenko - who is prime minister of the self-proclaimed "Donetsk People's Republic" - said on Saturday his side was receiving new armored vehicles, as well as the Russian-trained fighters, at a crucial time in the separatists' battle with Kyiv.
In a video, Zakharchenko said his side were taking delivery of hardware, as well as welcoming fighters who were trained in Russia. The announcement about reinforcements came as separatists claimed to be making progress against government forces, reestablishing a supply line between the two regions of Donestsk and Luhansk.
"They are joining at the most crucial moment," Zakharchenko said in the video, referring to the trained militants. Although he did not specify where the vehicles came from, Zakharchenko said there were some 150 new armored vehicles, which included 30 tanks."

Here's the full video:

Patricia said...

Finally, someone understands what is really going on in Ukraine. Thank you so much for writing this clear and unambiguous report on the facts. It is sickening reading the MSM of Western countries on this issue. In fact, the lies are so blatant as to be unbelievable, except that people really do believe the lies they see on CNN. "Russian invasion" screams the headline, but there's not a speck of evidence provided by Kiev, but if Kiev says there's an invasion, then "journalists" from CNN will "report" it with nary a question.

Obviously, I'm frustrated by the lying MSM blather and BS. Thank you for telling it like it is.

Desperado said...

"In fact, the Russian government has refused to recognize these republics. They have received no official political support from Moscow, which asked for the referendums to be postponed, and repeatedly asked for a cease-fire and an international, negotiated settlement to the crisis."

I have been watching a lot of video from cassad and other sources. I have seen many clips of the rebels with new 12mm machine guns and fresh ammo boxes as well as various anti tank missles. The magnitude of the videos and shots of burned out tanks, apc's and other armored vehicles also attest to a very generous supply of anti-armor and anti-aircraft weaponry not available to plain russians or even russian NGO's (if they exist). I also doubt that Poland or other ex-Warsaw pact allies are providing such material to the rebels either. Ergo it must be coming from the Russians, whose borders anyone else sending material would have to cross anyway.

Dmitry Orlov said...


There are lots of volunteers from all over Russia who are coming to Eastern Ukraine. There are lots of Russians donating money for supplies and weapons. I suppose the Russian government could try to stop them, but that would be a very risky move. While the Russian Federation can't openly take a side in this civil war (as Washington would like), the Russian people have already made up their mind whose side they are on, and who is going to win.

Desperado -

The weapons in question could have come from anywhere, although the Russian military is the least likely source. The could be coming in through Russia, but the most likely source is Ukraine itself. The place is so utterly corrupt that it is not above arming its own enemy. It certainly isn't above killing its own civilians. Trying to "blame Russia" isn't going to help you understand the situation any better.

andreas said...

Russia just can't afford to have a country of lunatics on its border - a country that the psychotic West is going to use to try to poke a knife in Russia's eyes at every opportunity.

Point 2 - Russia needs to unbottle the Crimea from the North.

So frankly I imagine Russia is more involved than Dmitri supposes. Altho I don't see why there's not more counter-battery work to save the people.

Point 3 - the West is finally going to get the war it craves - back in the Middle East against IS. So they're about to dump the Ukraine. Poroshenko better get his behind to Miami and retire in style with all the other tin-horn dictators or else he'll be hanging from a lamp post in short order.

rapier said...

The NY Times coverage has been like a cartoon. Just the headline reads 'Ukraine orders draft as rebels claim aid of Russian troops'.

I'm blocked from reading it so I don't know if they make clear what I can easily infer. That is the Russian troops are Russian nationals not members of the Russian Army. If they don't say so than the piece is really quite crude propoganda. If they do then it's a bit more elegant. Most just read the headline which without doubt meant to infer,and thus deceive, that the Russian Army is there.

This is one tiny snapshot of what has been a daily occurrence since Feb. Covering only 10% of the story and then only half of those stories. I would say there is no other conclusion but that the Times is conducting an organized campaign of disinformation. The thing is there are just too many people involved. I cannot explain it.

Paul said...

Before Mussolini's 'departure', who could have imagined the humble lamp-post would become a kind of folkloric icon of the exhausted patience of long-suffering peoples?

Unknown said...

Shoulder fired anti tank and anti aircraft weapons are abundant.The rebels have captured many and no doubt plundered more than one armory.No need to come up with "stories" about how they have would be odd if they didn't have them.Same with the vehicles.They are captured.Kiev cant admit how bad they are losing both men and material, so of course the weapons must be coming from Russia.A fairly obvious tactic, but one that will ultimately yield no fruit.

PR said...

@ Paul #7 Mussolini was shot and hung by his heels at an ESSO gas station. Here are some photos.

Unknown said...

Don't know if you've seen this yet:

But it appears the claim of "RUSSIAN INVASION OMG!!111!!!" has been denied by Andrei Lysenko, as near as I can tell from machine translation. Perhaps you could confirm?

Mister Roboto said...

I wouldn't dismiss out of hand the idea that Russia is at the very least providing some sort of covert support to the anti-Kyiv rebels. Human nature, after all, is what it is, and we all know that historically Russia has never been shy about breaking some eggs when it has a yen for omelets. Also, Andreas makes a good point about it being in Russia's interests to do whatever the situation will allow to hasten the demise of that deranged government in Kyiv.

Anonymous said...

I imagine Russia is providing some covert support, but on the basis of some Russian citizens entering Ukraine on their own to fight alongside the federalists. They would likely bring their own weaponry. Russia's latest assault rifles, the AK-400 series, are specifically made for export and are widely available, even in NATO 5.56 and 7.62 calibers.

Ukraine, for its part, has been the beneficiary of volunteer soldiers from several countries, and its phony government has bragged openly of the fact. What's different about that? Additionally, it has a nearly-endless supply of tanks from other eastern-European countries whose arsenals were once Soviet. Hungary, for one, has already unloaded a bunch of its T-72's to Ukraine.

The "Russia is invading!!" cries are only starting up in earnest because Kiev is losing, and retreating. That wasn't supposed to happen, and now all that can be done is to squeal for help.

Anonymous said...

Aren't blog readers a kick? Every silly, ignorant s.o.b. fancies he has a "right" to his half-baked, ill-informed, highly speculative, opinion, cluttering up the works.

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

@Rapier: The explanation is contained in Herman and Chomsky's classic 'Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media’. In a nutshell (paraphrased in my language rather than their much more restrained speech):

Lamestream 'news'-media journalists (more accurately described as jimps - journalist-impersonators) know very little, and are discouraged from learning anything much. But they do know, as internalised rules, what works in their trade, and forwards their precious careers; and also what makes them radioactive and ruins their careers.

From cubhood on, these flexible servants of power are filtered repeatedly to find those who are natural goodthinkers; that is, who believe the sort of ideas naturally, of their own native inclination, that are useful to the power-wielders, so that they don't have to be threatened or told what to write. They just want to do it anyway. In Chomsky's famous rejoinder to Andrew Marr - a classic British jimp - during a BBC interview: "I don't doubt for a moment that you believe everything that you say; my point is that if you didn't believe what you do you wouldn't be where you are."

Note that even the filterers themselves aren’t engaged in any conscious conspiracy. They’re simply selecting the writers who are ‘professional’, ‘objective’, ‘well-trained’, ‘good team-players’, etc. That’s to say: sound according to the selectors’ own prejudices and practical power-wielder needs.

Thus, the editors at the NYT - multi-filtered arch-jimps, every last one - know in their sleep what goes and what doesn't go, without any of the owners or their known powerful friends needing to give them more than the very occasional prod; and they agree anyway, of their own native prejudice. And their underling jimps, also very well filtered to get to such 'prestigeful' (hah!) jobs, also write what suits their innate prejudices and what is in the media air all around them all the time anyway, like the air they breathe.

As 'MC' points out emphatically, there is - positively - NO conscious conspiracy. None is needed, and would in any case produce much inferior propaganda. Instead, everyone knows at the back of their minds what's good for career and what isn't. And everyone writes what suits their - carefully pre-filtered and selected - personal prejudices anyway.

Bingo! Reliable propaganda every time, sensitively aware of which way the wind is blowing in the corridors of power, and weathercocking to follow suit every time, without even noticing consciously that that's what they're doing.

In fact most jimps get very nettled when you even hint that they're not completely free, self-sovereign, highly-principled, professionally-meticulous real journalists, writing only what they believe sincerely, of their own free will; at the self-same time that they recognise very practically the acutely hierarchical power structure within any 'news' organisation, and always toe the house line, from day to day, as a matter of simple career-survival. Literally, they don’t even need to think consciously about these iron realities at all. In fact to do so is existentially uncomfortable for them.

Anonymous said...

Chief of CIA went in, so why shouldnt go Russians in?
this is their historical territory, which was attached to Ua by Nikita Solomon CHruscev and by grandsone of Israel MOschko Blank, V.I.Lenin.
Two hebrews wanted to act the UK way: divide et impera.

Anonymous said...

It was 1915 1 million russians driven out or killed by austro hungarians in galicien, equivalent ot ukraine now.

Unknown said...

@Artem Portnoy What you're saying is absolutely true. But that is not the same thing as saying that the Russian government is doing it. Remember you have a large ethnic russian population in eastern Ukraine. Former or existing russian trained individuals could be joining because of a desire to help their fellow russians or even more importantly because they have family in eastern Ukraine.

As for the hardware, it is known that Ukraine has been ordering soviet hardware from Hungary as well as other bordering countries. I'm not going to say that it's impossible for them to get new Soviet hardware but I doubt it's through official channels and you cannot seriously think that Russia is going to be actively preventing anyone from crossing the border into Ukraine to help ethnic Russians! I mean let's be serious.

Mister Roboto said...

This in-depth article from The Guardian gives the reader good reason to think that Russian servicemen are involved in the Ukrainian sectional conflict, though in what capacity remains open to speculation.

Paul said...

Thanks for that, PR. And the photos. Perhaps the lamp-post thing was a flight of someone's fancy and just caught on.

If you haven't seen a UK TV documentary called, Wicker's War, buy the DVD. On British TV, it was a 2-parter, but what a tremendous, personal cinematic chronicle of a part of recent history it is. Wicker was a young journalist entrusted with another young officer, later killed, with photographing the war in Italy.

I can't imagine it was at the level of Stalingrad or Kursk, but some of the fiercest fighting in the war was said to be in that theatre.

Wicker, a journalist to his finger-tips could be quite crass crass on occasions, but also, all the more surprisingly, at times extraordinarily perceptive and sensitive. I'm thinking of a brief overheard conversation between a desperately injured young officer in a triage queue outside a field hospital and a passing doctor.

He found himself in extraordinary situations: taking prisoner a large body of Italian soldiers who wanted to surrender to him; and right up with that desperado, Mark Clark, who led the first Allied troops into Rome.

Wicker said he could have shortened the war by weeks had he assisted where he was needed, but he was determined to be the first in Rome. Wicker said, had he been a Russian general, he'd have been shot.

Another fascinating TV documentary I saw was based on the experiences of a sergeant major who had liaised between freedom-fighters in allied countries in every theatre of the war, and the War Office. He said, nowhere had he seen heroism to match that of the civilian population in Northern Italy.

phodges said...

You cannot rely on the NYT and the Guardian. Here you can go to the source, the actual press conference with leaders of Novorossiya:

Glenn said...

America's mass media is thoroughly disciplined to march in conformity with the government with regard to foreign affairs.

The New York Times has just recognized use of the word "torture" as appropriate for print, years after being apparent.

Some Americans are still looking for Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

Most Americans thought Victoria Nuland's use of the "F" word was newsworthy but never heard or remember her discussion of USA's coup plans for Kiev.

I live with dolts who can't think but can only parrot the words of their Representative Plutocracy.

Professor Diabolical said...

It's been stultifying, incredible, "toujours l'audace" watching the mouth-breathing imbeciles we call the Western Media finger-pointing at how the rebels were using "Russian equipment."

Phone call for you from planet Earth: ALL the hardware in the Ukraine is Russian. All the military hardware within 500 miles of Ukraine is Russian. So if they were getting it from anywhere, under a bed, bought from smugglers, donated from Moldavia, it would be Russian-manufactured.

But planet dumb is even larger: When you have--comment dit-on--a "Civil War", you might notice that the arms WITHIN THE COUNTRY, are divided between combatants WITHIN THE COUNTRY. Funny thing about that. So the Ukrainian army that seceded from Kiev KEPT THEIR TANKS and anti-armor.

Guess what else? There's this thing called "Capturing the enemy", particularly when they aren’t paid, don't give a damn about oligarchs, and are perfectly happy to surrender to you. Then it's some miracle/conspiracy that Donbas shows up with hardware signed out in Kiev. ...And manufactured in Moscow.

English is a robust language, but clearly we do not have enough synonyms for "moron" in it. Yet. I nominate the word "reporter", possibly suffixed with "from the New York Times" to add to those synonyms.

I won't even get into how on the same newsline with Ukraine is the breathless drama that 500 English-speaking men have joined ISIS from US, Canada, and UK. ...Yet somehow we don't think that the US, Canada, and Britain have joined the fight with ISIS to behead the world.

To imagine that Russia would enter Ukraine with a force of 1,000 men and no armor is an insult. If Russia entered Ukraine you wouldn't miss it. The nation that lost 10 million Russians to kill 4.3 million Germans would take Kiev in 25 minutes while the West from Austria to Austin, Texas retired to change their diapers.

The Western plan hinged on drawing Russia into the conflict and then pointing a finger at them in order to expand the war, returning Poland, Germany, Romania, into the historic Anglo fold. The media spin continues hysterically as if that is actually happening. But Ukraine is so ineffectual there wasn't any need.

20 coal miners and a cow have defeated the Kiev oligarchs because they're so odious no one on earth will have anything to do with them.

Not even the US or EU.

Unknown said...

The rumours about Russian invasion were started by Alexander Zakharchenko in order to demoralize Ukrainian military and as current events on the ground show he succeeded beyond any expectations with helping hand from unwitting western msm.

michigan native said...

I noticed that pig faced, fat bastard, mass murderer, and baby killing terrorist in Kiev has had a worried look on his face lately. Could it be that his "government" is falling apart and unless he seeks asylum in the US or Britain, will likely get the Mussolini treatment he so much deserves?

Not all the people in the US are being quiet about these insane, desperate acts of the Obama regime. Listen to Dr Paul Craig Roberts, the conservative "father of Reaganomics" tell it like it is. About 13 minutes into this interview, he directly accuses Kiev of a raw act of terrorism, the deliberate downing of that Malaysian airliner, along with other current events.

Not all of us are duped in the US

Anonymous said...

In Japan, we generally hear little about the Ukraine, and what we hear is normally US propaganda. Japan has to toe the line, or it will wind up like...(having to think)...Japan doesn't have oil or gas, so probably invaded by China. (But again, what for?) Mostly, I think, politicians realize they had better toe the line or they'll be suicided.
In this context, it is interesting to note that about two weeks ago, one of the major broadcasters let on, in a prime-time newscast that Ukraine had been using white phosphorus against civilians in rebel-held territory, and then about a week after that, basically turned everything that had been said previously in a panel discussion with clips of interviews with people in the Crimea who were happy to be part of Russia, and the host stressed that Russia was not the aggressor, going so far as to embarrass one of the panelists. They did say that Russia had an interest in seeing that its old weapons factories in eastern Ukraine did not fall into NATO hands. As I've not heard that point of view expressed by anyone else, I doubt it has much validity.
A day or two after that, however, the talking heads went back to demonizing Putin again. So it looks to my like a trial balloon was sent.
In talking to people in Japan, I find that about three out of four recognize that no information has been provided so far that implicates Russia, and the fourth is emotionally tied to the notion that "Putin is the devil."
It seems that America's grip on Japan is still strong, but getting weaker, and I think Putin is talking sense to the leaders behind the scenes. His upcoming trip to Japan was off because of the "invasion," but now for mysterious reasons (noted as mysterious by the talking heads), it is back on again.
Meanwhile, I have been getting the cold US from relatives in the States after pointing out there was a coup d'etat in the Ukraine funded by America, that Russia did not invade the Crimea, and that Putin had helped his country's citizens, who'd suffered tremendous deprivations under Yeltsin.

seraphim said...

@Before Mussolini's 'departure', who could have imagined the humble lamp-post would become a kind of folkloric icon of the exhausted patience of long-suffering peoples?

Well, actually many people imagined that long before:

"The word, or the slogan "À la lanterne!" (in English: To the Lamp Post!) gained special meaning and status in Paris and France during the early phase of the French Revolution, from the summer of 1789. Lamp posts served as an instrument to mobs to perform extemporised lynchings and executions in the streets of Paris during the revolution when the people of Paris occasionally hanged officials and aristocrats from the lamp posts. The English equivalent would be "String Them Up!" (British) or "Hang 'Em High!"(American)...

"Ça ira" (French: "it'll be fine") is an emblematic song of the French Revolution, first heard in May 1790. It underwent several changes in wording, all of which used the title words as part of the refrain.

"Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira les aristocrates à la lanterne!Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira les aristocrates on les pendra!

Ah! It'll be fine, It'll be fine, It'll be fine aristocrats to the lamp-post
Ah! It'll be fine, It'll be fine, It'll be fine the aristocrats, we'll hang them!

(From Wikipedia and many books that I read)

ta.malthaus said...

They say the truth is the first casualty of war.

Ukraine will collapse, and Putin will reabsorb the former satellite.
Ukraine is running on fumes, not unlike the remaining 170-plus countries.

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

John! Will you please stop sneering at yourself in that mirror! Makes you look ridiculous!

Rhisiart Gwilym said...

@Mister Roberto - It's really dicey to trust anything at all published by the Grauniad these days. It's sunk to new lows of Washington pleasing lately, especially since the La Nul/Pyatt troublemaking in Kiev blew up.

Something to do with wanting to establish itself as a 'radical' voice in the wasteland of the US media, I suspect. If it weren't for the now in progress USSR-style-but-much-worse collapse of the US, I'd expect the Graun to transfer itself eventually to being a mainly US rag, with a branch in the English province of the empire, rather than the other way round as it is at the moment.

But with an inexorably falling long-term circulation base here in Britain - more so once Scotland breaks free into independence, I imagine - and with no realworld future in the US, I think it could well vanish altogether soonish. The Graun is definitely not either reliable or radical. Cure yourselves of that delusion.

Mister Roboto said...

@John from yesterday at 4:20: That's what intelligent people do on the Internet: They discuss the issues and current events of the day based on such reality-based sources of information as are available to them. And in doing so, they may occasionally say things you might not want to hear. Deal with it, troll.

Paul said...

Well, Seraphim, there you are. A whole hinterland of lamp-posticide folklore. Very ineresting, to. Thank you.

Anyone else notice how squeamish the 'great and the good' are in the West about the public in foreign countries informally executing toppled tyrants.

Paul said...

Thanks for that wealth of info on the phrase's historical origin. Very interesting. I didn't know there were occasional, local lynchings of aristocrats during the French Revolution.