Is this Russian propaganda?

5 Mar

A friend posted on FB her admiration of the “hero” Volodymyr Zelensky. Yeah, the guy referred to by this White House reporter for CNN:

No Fly Zones imposed by the US Empire plunged Africa’s richest country into over a decade and still counting of blood-soaked chaos, making it the world’s premier exporter of jihadi terror and creating the warlord conditions in which slaves are openly sold on the quayside in Tripoli.

But grounding Libya’s air force was nothing at the side of what “ordering” Russia to do likewise in Ukraine would set in motion. Need I spell out the chillingly simple chain of consequences?


Other friends take to social media to assure their echo chambers of how evil Putin and his cabal of Kremlin henchmen are. They know this because they’ve been told so, year in year out, by our free, independent-minded and truth serving media.

Oddly enough, they haven’t been told by our free, independent-minded and truth serving media that for thirty years Russia has protested a situation – semi-encirclement by a hostile alliance, the like of which the USA would not tolerate for a second 1 – and got precisely nowhere.

Oddly enough, they haven’t been told by our free, independent-minded and truth serving media that in 2014 a US engineered coup ousted an elected government (corrupt, yes, but less so than what was to follow) to install a Washington friendly regime marked by fascism, anti-semitism – the real kind – and Russophobia. 2

Oddly enough, they haven’t been told by our free, independent-minded and truth serving media that the 2014 coup, depriving forty percent of Ukraine of meaningful representation, led Crimea to vote overwhelmingly to join Russia – of which it had been a part until Kruschev ‘gifted’ it to the Soviet Republic of Ukraine in 1954 – while Donbass and Luhansk declared their autonomy and have been bombarded ever since by a miniature version of Russia’s semi-encirclement; viz, by the artillery of the Ukraine armed forces, the only regular army in the world with an openly fascist Division in the form of the Waffen SS idolising Azov Battalion.

Oddly enough, neither have our TV screens and front pages been turned over, these past eight years, to war-porn images of corpses and fear crazed victims of atrocities – ten thousand ethnic Russians killed in Donbass this past eight years – less useful for empire propaganda purposes.

And oddly enough, our free, independent-minded and truth serving media have neglected to tell us – and, given the stakes, keep on telling us –  that Moscow’s conditions for a complete withdrawal from Ukraine are not only simple and few, two to be exact, 3 but easily conceded by Kiev and Washington. But to do so would put the spotlight on the unavoidable truth that NATO does not want this bloodshed to stopThat would not suit the game plan of an empire in slow decline and horrified by the economic ascendance of Eurasia.

So in their profound ignorance, people I know as kind and decent souls pour out this terrifying, know-nothing drivel on Facebook and Twitter, in below the line comments in the Guardian and – since the wagons always form a tight circle on matters vital to empire – in every other outlet of our free, independent-minded and truth serving media.

There’s nothing magical about human feelings. Even the noble ones, like compassion, don’t come with Truth Fairy immunity from those who would corral and channel them to their own nefarious ends. Show The People a few pictures of child victims of evil Assad and evil Putin – and be sure to shield The People from those of children killed and maimed by British bombs in Yemen, US air strikes in Iraq, Azov Battalion incursions in Donbass – and the job’s done, right?

Caitlin Johnstone today:

Is This Russian Propaganda?

We’re risking a very fast, very radioactive World War 3 to defend the “democracy” of a nation whose government bans opposition parties, imprisons political opponents, shuts down opposition media, and takes all its orders from Washington due to a US-backed coup in 2014.

“Defending Ukrainian democracy” makes as much sense as “Defending Mongolian seaports”.

The powers responsible for destroying Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen are the same powers we’re trusting to carefully navigate extremely delicate nuclear brinkmanship escalations without ending the world.

“Relax, nobody’s gonna start a nuclear war” is a belief that is premised upon the assumption that the empire which laid waste those nations, while destroying our environment and making everyone crazy and miserable, is competent enough to walk that precarious and unpredictable tightrope.

I keep getting comments like “You’re saying we just can’t strike Russia AT ALL, just because they have nukes??”

Yes. Fucking duh. What are you an idiot? What the fuck is wrong with people? Did everyone forget what nuclear weapons are? Did schools stop teaching this or something?

It’s getting so very creepy how aggressively anything besides the US/NATO narrative gets stomped down and how okay everyone is with it. You don’t have to agree with the other side to see it as plainly destructive for it to be forcefully shut down all across the media spectrum.

— Caitlin Johnstone  (@caitoz) March 4, 2022

You can’t fix a problem you don’t understand. And right now with Ukraine the entire western political/media class is pouring a tremendous amount of energy into keeping people from understanding the problem.

If they were telling us the truth about Russia they wouldn’t be censoring Russian media.

Kinda odd how defending freedom and democracy requires such copious amounts of censorship.

Don’t worry, I’m sure all those socialist and antiwar Americans that were platformed by RT America can just get jobs criticizing the murderousness and corruption of their government in the free press of the western mainstream media.

I wonder if we should be concerned that the entire western world is propagandizing and censoring like it’s on war footing?

Socialists and anti-imperialists should never accept platforms on Russian media to get heard. They should wait until a respectable western mainstream outlet agrees to platform them, and keep waiting, and waiting, and just keep on waiting until we all die in a nuclear holocaust.

People tend to overestimate the power of the US war machine and underestimate the power of the US propaganda machine.

I wonder who put the idea in Zelensky’s head that western powers might use military force to defend Ukraine in this war they talked him into fighting? Must be stressful learning your imperial buddies never saw you as anything other than a sacrificial pawn on the grand chessboard.

— Caitlin Johnstone  (@caitoz) March 4, 2022

Remember when US officials kept saying “We’re not trying to start a war, we’re trying to prevent one” while refusing to make reasonable low-cost concessions that would have prevented a war, then, when war started, launched operations which serve the long-term goals of US hegemony?

Russia gets control of Kyiv with this war, while the US gets international consensus for unprecedented economic warfare and support for NATO, plus giving Moscow another Afghanistan. NATO powers could have prevented this war but chose to egg it on instead. Looks like a classic sacrifice a pawn to get the queen move.

Choose one:

    1. A) It’s a coincidence that we were bombarded by hysterical anti-Russia narratives for five years before this started.
    2. B) Bogus Russia scandals were cooked up by US intelligence to start manufacturing consent for a confrontation with Russia to preserve US unipolar hegemony.

It would bring a lot of clarity for a lot of people if we replaced the term “no-fly zone” with “Directly Attack the Russian Military Zone”.

“Whataboutism” is a common misspelling of “Damning evidence that western powers are lying about their motives and values.”

Yes, Smart Internet Person, I love Vladimir Putin. Can’t possibly be that I’m criticizing the known wrongdoings of the mightiest power structure in the world, it’s that I fell in love with some random government official on the other side of the planet and want to suck his cock.

It’s not like the US or its allies have ever done anything wrong, so they couldn’t possibly have done anything to give rise to our current situation, therefore it must be that I’m just kookoo for Putin Puffs. We’re very good thinkers, you and I. Let’s go watch cartoons.

Of course I am aware that Vladimir Putin is no girl scout. That’s why I’ve been warning for years that the west’s refusal to pursue detente could lead us to nuclear war. There’d be nothing to worry about if the guy was a cuddly wuddly snugglepoo.

Having a shit fit about someone criticizing the most powerful empire of all time for actions which led to a fucking war is a great way to let everyone know you have an infantile worldview and a piss weak argument. If you say you hate this war but get upset when people talk about the known ways the US-centralized empire helped cause it, then your interest is not in peace, nor in freedom, nor in truth, but in loyalty to that empire.

Learn more and think harder about the role NATO powers have played in starting this war.

Learn more and think harder about what sanctions are and what they do to people.

Learn more and think harder about what nuclear war is and what might cause it.

Whenever I talk about the frightening escalation in censorship and propaganda we’re seeing in the west I get people telling me that Russia is censoring and propagandizing even worse. Like “We’re a bit better than Russia!” is a sane response to this assault on truth and freedom.

If you feel the need to restrict and manipulate people’s speech, even if what they’re saying is true, then your actions aren’t based on truth. They’re based on something else, like geostrategic conquest.

Everything the empire says it opposes Russia for is a lie. Everything the empire criticizes Russia for are things the empire itself does. Everything we’re told is on the line in this showdown — freedom, democracy, truth, justice — are things the empire has been actively stomping out.

* * *

  1. That Washington would “not tolerate for a second” the hostile encirclement it has imposed on Russia is not conjecture but enshrined in the Monroe Doctrine. As for the credulous souls who respond to that map of NATO enlargement by bleating that the post 1990 joiners were exercising the democratic will of their peoples, well now. If I can’t convince you that this democratic choice is a chimera, how about the many Latin American countries – Allende’s Chile, Lula’s Brazil and Zelaya’s Honduras to name a few – which found to their cost just how much Washington values democracy.
  2. There are those slightly more sophisticated FB pundits who argue that (a) there are now few fascists in the Kiev government, (b) the Azov Battalion is a small part of Ukraine’s military and (c) Zelensky is Jewish. On (a) there’s a confusion of office with power, against a wealth of evidence – a point I’ll return to in a future post – of fascist cabals behind the scenes.  On (b) the Waffen SS comprised fewer than 5% of Nazi Germany’s war machine, so even before we get to the Azov having spearheaded Ukraine’s atrocities in Donbass, it is childishly simplistic to argue that its relatively small numbers absolve Kiev of the f-charge. As for (c), Zelensky’s high office no more clears Ukraine of the anti-semitic charge than Obama’s presidency proved that the USA is not virulently and systemically racist. (This, by the way, is not to say that “all Ukrainians are antisemitic” – any more than it is to say that “all Americans are racist”. Those who put two and two together to get five in this way are either stupid or don’t care what mud they throw, so long as it sticks.) See this Mint Press offering.
  3. The Kremlin demands are (a) the “denazification” of Ukraine (a more laudable goal, to all who know what ba’athism is, than the “deba’athication” of post invasion Iraq); (b) assurance that Ukraine will neither join NATO nor house missiles pointing straight at Russia.

20 Replies to “Is this Russian propaganda?

  1. Nice one! Couldn’t have put it better myself and that includes the bad language, something I might speak of but don’t habitually use in commenting on a site.
    So when is the western Russophobic, wet dreaming of the US going to Wake The Fuck Up?
    I feel better now.
    Fond regards,

  2. Thank you for this. Last night my Constituency Labour Party (Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland) passed a resolution expressing unequivocal support for NATO in the face of Russia’s ‘existential threat to democracy’. I was the only one to speak – and vote – against the resolution and was, of course, immediately accused of being an ‘apologist’ for evil Putin.

    • Well done you, Caroline. Well and bravely done!

      Yes, the accusations of the brainwashed follow as night on day, and pleasant they ain’t. But the truth can be famously hard to stand by. Again, well done you!

  3. I have received an email from ASDA:

    “Helping those affected by the Ukrainian crisis

    Like many of our customers and colleagues, we have been shocked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
    The supermarket is providing immediate support for families forced to leave their homes in the aftermath ….”

    After which a detailed list of various donations for various “humanitarian” activities. ASDA is not alone in this.

    Senator Lindsey Graham calls on Russians to assassinate Putin.

    Euronews tells us Russian and Ukrainian opera singers “hug in solidarity” on stage in Naples.

    Conductor Valehug Gergiev was forced to resign after refusing to join in the game.

    From one commenter:

    “I listened in to a bit of BBC radio this morning. There was only one story, even in the sports segment. That was devoted to telling us how many medals Ukraine had won in the paralympics followed by an interview with a Ukrainian player for a leading English football team about the situation in his home country.”

    It’s impossible to turn on the TV without being assaulted by “the Ukraine situation”.

    On Question Time one of the guests spoke about how it won’t matter what “we” say, the Russian people will never hear it, being assaulted by non-stop Russian state propaganda – a statement not only colossally ironic but a sneaky case of “reverse psychology”.

    And although I haven’t yet seen any anti-Russian sentiment on children’s TV yet, I reckon it’s only a matter of time.

    • It’s appalling, George. Fucking appalling. We do what we can. The late great Leonard Cohen comes to mind:

      though your promise count for nothing, you must keep it nonetheless

  4. “You can’t fix a problem you don’t understand.”

    Johnson (Caitlin) should be made an Honourary Engineer just on the strength of this practical observation alone.

    Arguably the most realistic overview of this complex ‘problem issue’ (which requires a soft rather than hard systems analysis) can be found in this 38 minute clip with former US marine and UN weapons inspector Scot Ritter:

    Viewing this in conjunction with available analysis across numerous sites and platforms, but never in the controlled Corporate and much of the Corporate controlled so called ‘alternative’ left media, about the serious economic blowback for Zone A from sanctions and counter sanctions is depressing in its stark, evidence based, grounded in reality crushing of a not fit for purpose collapsing Official Narrative.

    Which has nothing left other than to provide today’s perfect metaphor for a system of social organisation which is totally lost the plot: reduced to an orgy of co-ordinated ninety minutes of virtue signalling hate which tells us everything and anything you need to know about how divorced from reality of not only the elites of Zone A are but also too many of its populace, who like Pavlov’s dogs, react instantly and instinctively to the Official Narrative dog whistles;

    • Thanks for yet another apt systems engineering response, Dave. And for the links, which I will check out over the weekend.

      Minor point, to avoid having to make clear that you refer to Caitlin rather than the Boris, use her correct surname – Johnstone

      • Apologies for that oversight. I suspect I’m getting information fatigue given the amount of material I’m ploughing through on a daily basis.

        At least I’m not driving whilst asleep – which did happen at the end of one BAOR exercise.

  5. I find it difficult to take Zelensky’s nattering about a No Fly Zone (NFS) at face value. Does he not know that it is a military euphemism for shooting an enemy’s aircraft out of the sky and denying its air force the airspace over the battlefield? In this conflict thatwould mean NATO forces shooting down all Russian combat aircraft that attempt to fly over Ukraine. It is an act of war that would very likely catapult the world into a nuclear conflict.

    Is Zelensky really this stupid? And if he is why don’t his advisors or the NATO people he no doubt speaks to inform him that he is calling for the annihilation of his nation? I suspect he probably does know what a NFS entails and that his repeatedly begging for one is a piece of propaganda theatre. The man is an actor, after all.

    But for the life of me I have no idea what this is supposed to achieve. In 2015 when Russia joined the war in Syria there were loud calls by the “rebels” for a NFS and during the American election campaign that year Hillary Clinton “vowed” to deny Russian aircraft Syrian airspace. But at the same time military people in the United States stated very unambiguously that the US and NATO are not going to establish a NFS in Syria.

    The same is true today. Despite Zelensky’s ravings and the media’s calls for NATO to “do something” US military people are clearly saying that no, there will be no direct confrontation between NATO and Russian forces.

    What am I missing here? Who is the intended audience for this No Fly Zone nonsense? What is its purpose?

    • Is Zelensky really this stupid?

      Well he was a former comedian, Andy, but no, I don’t suppose he’s stupid. He’s acting out a drama many outposts of imperialism have been caught up in – South Africa’s Boers and Six Counties ‘Loyalists’ spring to mind though there are countless others – whereby it becomes clear to the locals that the empire centre cares nothing for their welfare.

      Washington has been happy to see Ukraine in this situation. God knows what nod-and-wink promises were implied through CIA/Kiev backchannels, all of them worthless. And now Zelensky is desperate.

    • No Fly Zone? You’ve got to remember that Zelensky is a fucking comedian.

      But no-one’s laughing now.

      I hate the slimy low-life little git. Doesn’t he realise that his country’s future, and that of the whole world depends on him signing a paper to make his country militarily neutral. Get back to the negotiating table, you slavish scumbag! He would have us die in our millions to defend Ukranian fascists.

  6. It’s becoming ever clearer how this sham democracy works. All the formal official organisations have to be funded and the more funds they receive, the higher their profile and the more prominent the opinion they have. Thus the loudest voices are those of the rich.

    Nevertheless they all invariably present themselves as “the voice of the people”. But the actual ground level people employed by these organisations generally don’t get to voice their opinion. To offer one of them a chance to speak is too risky.

    But occasionally these basic employees are “invited” to contribute to some “great cause” which is naturally crafted by the owners. These employees are “encouraged” to give generously or to take part in some jealously guarded programme.

    Right now, these programmes revolve around raising help for the “beleaguered” Ukrainians whose predicament is entirely blamed on the Evil Putin, whose blandly assumed malevolence is taken without nuance. Should any of the coerced employees voice the slightest critique, it would be truncated and misrepresented and the bold employee will find himself immediately isolated and possibly even without a job.

    Everyone knows this. But it is an affront to everyone’s dignity to admit it – even to themselves. Thus they internalise the values of the system.

    • You’re not wrong there George.

      And its the same across issue after issue where ever more desperate efforts are made to shore up the Official Narrative are on display on an almost daily basis.

      In terms of process/playbook – call it what you like – there’s no difference here, on this issue, to the dog whistle Narrative Management employed to impose the TWAW official Narrative, or the ‘Far Right’ racists Narrative about a Canadian Truckers protest which included Sikhs, Indigenous Peoples, and Black Canadians along side White Caucasians.

      My email tray is bulging with pleas for money and petitions. in stark contrast to the tumbleweed of the past eight years in which some 40% of the Ukraine population were shelled on a daily basis by people who wanted to eliminate their language, culture, and existence from the face of the earth.

      There is no consistency in the application of principles, which are selectively used to shore up a collapsing narrative that is in a worse condition than John Cleese’s Norwegian Blue Parrot. Ditto for evidence. Also selectively used to suit the Narrative rather than the reality.

      And the result is an increasing collapse of silos in more and more instances. Like Scottish Women from different political party’s working together for a common aim. Deciding they are women first and Tories/Socialist/ Lib Dems second.

      Or the fact that you are more likely to find a Class based analysis and argument in Spiked or the Spectator these days than in self declared Official left sources who abandoned class politics for the Randian individualism of self-id.

      Paul Mason has gone Full Metal neo-liberal/neo con; Owen Jones, aged 37 and a bit, along with a plethora of other erstwhile self declared ‘lefties’ or feminists like Billy Bragg, Mhari Black, Sturgeon et al are more like the provisional wing of a Reddit Male rights Group these days.

      We have Labour activists driven out by misogynists and hand maidens – like Sheffield Counciller Sophie Wilson who supports the sex trade and still does not seem to have worked out why it is she lost in Rother Valley in 2019.

      Even the Daily Mail is reduced to the status of being more realistic than the Guardian and others on the present state of play;

      • Speaking of the Mail, Peter Hitchens – admittedly unrepresentative of Rothermere’s organ – opened a post two weeks ago with these words:

        We have been utter fools.

        We have treated Russia with amazing stupidity. Now we pay the price for that. We had the chance to make her an ally, friend and partner.

        Instead we turned her into an enemy by insulting a great and proud country with greed, unearned superiority, cynicism, contempt and mistrust.

        I have to endure, often several times a day, listening to people who are normally perfectly sensible and reasonable, raging wildly against Russia and Russians.

        Once, I was just like them. I had the normal anti-Russian prejudice of so many Western people …

      • I have noticed that this Ukrainian theatre (and although I’m sure the suffering is real enough, the way it is being highlighted seems theatrical to me) is being “sold” as the only one of its kind. Just as “The Holocaust” is, by definition of the label, the ONLY Holocaust, so the invasion of Ukraine is now touted as “The Invasion”, the only one. Similarly we have “The Refugee Crisis”, “The Humanitarian Catastrophe”, etc.

        I have heard a claim about trans people trapped in “Kyiv” (now that the more familiar Russiam spelling is seemingly banished). I felt an urge to guffaw. The trials and tribulations of a war zone are being reduced to interests considered impressive to bourgeois affluent Western liberals.

  7. This analysis of the propaganda blitz by Medialens is impressive:

    Too many real examples of double standards and hypocrisy choose from.

    This one from the NYT at the time of Yugoslavia stands out:

    Like it or not, we are at war with the Serbian nation… and the stakes have to be very clear: Every week you ravage Kosovo is another decade we will set your country back by pulverising you. You want 1950? We can do 1950. You want 1389? We can do 1389 too.

    Contrast this gung ho approach to other peoples lives and society with that of the same people’s cant today.

  8. The weirdest, as in ‘over the top’, reaction of all was the Milan University’s dropping of a course on Dostoevsky. Reversed but still a dign of the level of idiocy.

    Does anyone visit the Unz Review There are several obvious fascists there, not unlike The Guardian and the Telegraph in that respect, but there are also Mike Whitney …

    … and Canada’s Patrick Armstrong:

    Highly recommended both. And please copy Middlesborough South and East Cleveland.

    • Seriously? I made a satirical comment elsewhere about Tolstoy and Dostoevsky books being burned. I was joking. I may as well give the rest of my “satire”: that Tchaikovsky and Mussorgski would be rehabilitated as Italian composers. I eagerly await further developments.

  9. I’m a bit puzzled by the idea that ASDA “providing immediate support for families forced to leave their homes in the aftermath ….” is viewed as a bad thing. It is a shame they didn’t do the same for Yemenis, Syrians, Palestinians, Afghans, etc, but surely trying to help people who are largely innocent victims of others chicanery is not something to condemn. I say let’s hope that the same compassion and generosity is shown to those other victims across the globe from now on. I don’t think that people who are suffering from the violent actions of others should be categorised according to which “side” they are on. Splitting people into deserving/undeserving is usually a way of avoiding helping at all.

    In this, as in so many of the world’s problems, it isn’t good versus bad, but what one set of exploiters want versus what another, opposing set want. Neither is interested in the rest of humanity other than for what they can extract from us.

    Meanwhile, as I might have mentioned elsewhere, the latest IPCC report is telling us that we are headed for a 4C increase which will spell the end of civilization. At the moment the choice is between nuclear annihilation today, or ecological collapse tomorrow. So it seems an odd priority to worry about ASDA sending some food to refugees.

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