While searching for a topic to write about this week (the Afghan and Indian elections will have to wait until there is a result to write about) I found a video on the BBC showing the Russia media coverage of events of recent days in Eastern Ukraine. The contrast to the information the rest of the world has been seeing is astounding. So today I’d like to go through four aspects of this video, to see what Putin is saying and what the reality in Eastern Ukraine really is.
This article is for those needing a catch up on the seizure of government buildings by pro-Russians in three eastern cities.
Firstly though, why is this important, and secondly, why is the Western media so much more trustworthy? The way the Russian media is reporting this is important because it shows how Putin wants Russians to see this crisis. The Russian media follows the Kremlin’s line, and this is all the news Russians see.
And why should we trust the Western media more? Organisations like the BBC, Al Jazeera English and Reuters pride themselves on finding the truth in an even-handed way. The BBC shows its own government in a bad light just as often as it does others. Also, if they discovered that US mercenaries really were working for the Ukrainian government in Donetsk (see video) their journalists would rush to be the first to break such a huge story to the world.
This is the video showing how numerous Russian channels have covered the crisis in the East of Ukraine.
00:33 – 01:02
“Donetsk is the first region in South East Ukraine to decide its destiny independently”
- The region has not made any ‘decision’ whatsoever. There has been no referendum, no massive month long protests, and no attempts at any sort of negotiation.
- The men occupying the government building and making this proclamation are nobodies. None of them have held any government office or are even well-known in the city.
- Joining Russia isn’t even what a majority of the population want. Opinion polls show that just 26% of Eastern Ukrainians support joining Russia. While undoubtedly far more are against the Euromaidan, declaring that ‘Donetsk wants to join Russia’ is ridiculous.
“Russian diplomats are worried by the arrival of…American mercenaries from ‘Greystone’, a private military organisation”
- This is absolutely the last thing the US government would want. Any US soldiers or mercenaries being caught in Ukraine would in the best case be a huge humiliation for the US, and they would lose all credibility. At worst it would lead to Russia striking back at US interests elsewhere in Europe or the Middle East.
- Ukraine is just not that important to the US. What is important to the US is that Russia broke all international norms and conventions when it annexed Crimea. But they have no interest in going to war for Eastern Ukraine. Not the president, and certainly not the US public.
- For what it’s worth, Greystone says the company has no employees in Ukraine
- There is far more evidence that Russian security forces are involved in destabilising Ukraine.
“Who could possibly want violence to break out in the region, considering what’s been going on there lately?”
- Putin has everything to gain from instability and violence in Eastern Ukraine. It makes the Ukrainian government look weak, it demonstrates to the world that ‘Ukrainians don’t want the Euromaidan’ and it’s a pretext for them to intervene if ever Putin considers it necessary.
“It’s always a possibility that the present illegitimate government in Kyiv is trying to stage a provocation…to get NATO involved”.
- The chance that NATO will get militarily involved is almost 0, and Ukraine knows it. Even just military aid is unlikely. NATO will fight to protect its member states like the Baltics, but Ukraine is on its own as far as the military goes. Any attack on Russian forces by NATO would be the closest the world has come to WWIII since the Cuban missile crisis, and far too big a risk.
- The whole situation in Eastern Ukraine makes the Ukrainian government look unstable and weak, and puts them in a terrible position. Not reacting decisively enough against the protests in Donetsk makes them look weak; reacting too strongly could bring in the Russians. With no NATO help on the way, there is no way that the Ukrainian government would ever put themselves in this situation.
No matter how they spin it, the version of this story told in the Russian media is not just untrue, but is carefully designed to gain support for any possible intervention in Ukraine and to blacken the name of the new government. Reporting like this only makes a peaceful solution much harder to reach.
Personally I hope to return to explaining a wider variety of news stories each week, such as the elections taking place in India and Afghanistan. However, Ukraine keeps making the news week after week, and I believe it’s important to keep the situation in people’s attention.