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Sit back, and empty your mind of all you’ve been burdened with.
Or, if unable to do that, at least open it to some inconvenient truths.
A couple of months back, Ukrainian MP Sviatoslav Yurash was rolled out for a free run on western media. This time the show was Claire Byrne’s morning radio effort on RTÉ, in the aftermath of the news that a young Irishman, Rory Mason, had lost his life fighting over there. A waste, but also a taste of where mindsets are at and being made go.
What followed was as disingenuous as it was upsetting given the circumstance, but has been trotted out so often as to become not just accepted but completely believed. This politician, the youngest in his nation’s parliament, said that they need more men like Mason to fight their war, and he explained the reason was that this was a battle for freedom, democracy and western values.
Can we please put an end to this bullshit?
I know many reading will back Ukraine and that is absolutely your right.
But if you must, can you be genuine about what you are backing as this isn’t about freedom or democracy or western values, whatever they are at this stage. For there isn’t anything free or democratic or western about Ukraine and there hasn’t been for a long time. If ever.
I’ve said it before, but it’s worth copying and pasting the following – it’s a corrupt, oligarchical, mafia state where opposition politicians are arrested or disappeared, where opposition media is shut down, where leaders are overthrown, and where journalists risk their very existence if they dare step away from the government-demanded stories. It’s also a place that has absolutely no problem in raping, torturing and murdering its own citizens.
This is all a matter of fact and public record before you pipe up in protest.
You might well say that sounds very like Russia, and you’re correct as it does, but no one reasonable is cheering on Vladimir Putin. However we have gone all in on a place that’s the other cheek of the same arse. That’s forgotten due to arguably the most extreme propaganda campaign in history.
I often ask people why they are so behind Zelenskyy and his armies, and the answer tends to be the same. They were invaded, and that is true, but it’s only a chapter in a much larger and much more complicated story. So at least if we are going to commit to an unwinnable war, can we understand the causes, the effects, and the reasons for that war? A little knowledge perhaps?
Can we not pretend that this is merely about a bad man attacking good people for no other reason than he’s Hitler mark two; and can we not reduce one of the most complex geopolitical regions on earth, in a decade of huge turmoil even by its standards, to some simplistic Hollywood narrative as if Ivan Drago trying to knock Rocky Balboa out?
There is a reason there’s an endless campaign to convince you of that, and it’s not for the good of you or ordinary Ukrainians.
So let’s deal in some facts, rather than a Nato and US contrived script that involves the biggest invaders of modern times, the greatest war criminals of modern times, the only country to have dropped nuclear weapons on people, pointing blood-stained fingers and telling you that this is the invasion that is war criminality and Putin might even have the audacity to do the unthinkable and to drop some nukes.
Facts like this not being genocide or akin to the Third Reich, because such nonsense claims belie what’s actually happening – which of course is disgraceful – but minimise the Second World War and its horrors and also undermine what actual genocide is.
Facts like this very much being a US proxy war – which can co-exist with a Russian invasion – when you consider that the US was pumping billions into Ukraine leading up to the 2014 coup (or revolution depending on where you stand), spent another nine billion between then and the start of this war in February arming and training Ukrainian soldiers, and since then have spent more than 30 billion dollars backing the boys in blue and yellow with weapons rather than aid. You can’t be that involved in a war and claim not to be involved in a war.
Facts like former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych not actually turning away from the EU and towards Moscow thus deserving his overthrowing, as is often barked back at critical thinking. When the reality was Moscow offered him and his country a desperately needed loan deal without all the austerity the west had attached to their offer, which made sense for the nation and its people, and all the while he was still looking to trade with not just Russia but also the EU and get the best of both worlds to raise up a country on its economic knees despite being ideally placed at a trading crossroads and a power axis.
Facts like that 2014 overthrowing of Yanukovych being a Washington-backed effort where the far-right nationalists admittedly provided the muscle and the fear, and facts like him agreeing to early elections but the Right Sector and Azov Nazis storming the government buildings, him having to flee to Kharkov by helicopter, and his motorcade being shot up with heavy weapons when it followed, with parliament rubber stamping his removal at gun point.
Facts like that far-right being far more powerful than its polling numbers, as it controls through the sword and not the pen at the ballot box, to the point it isn’t just tolerated but embraced from Bandera through to those Right Sector and Azov thugs and many more, as was documented in huge detail by the same media and journalists that now try to play it down. Meanwhile all the while Ukraine’s leadership won’t do anything to stop it because it has such a relevance, reverence and strength that even a Jew in Zelenskyy was rewarding Nazis in parliament with the country’s highest honours and giving them top positions.
Facts like the reality that after Yanukovych fled for his life, the US was caught in high-level leaked calls drawing up its shortlist of who it would allow Ukrainians vote for to serve a foreign power.
Facts like the seven years of war crimes the Ukrainian armed forces and intelligence services committed against its own people that is documented in huge detail by the UN, and was carried out against Ukrainians in the east of the country who voted for autonomy from Kiev in both the Luhansk and Donetsk regions but were ignored and murdered some more.
Facts like Kiev breaching the Minsk Agreement, going back, and signing Minsk 2, and then breaching that.
Facts like the United States at the start of last year lifting sanctions on arming what it itself described as far-right terrorists in Ukraine so it could arm them to the teeth.
See, it’s complex.
Not everything is black and white behind the fog of war.
But we’ve made it that way and simply throw bones to the dogs of war.
* * *
The problem with this recent past is that if you dare mention it, out come the jaded tropes and gaslighting.
Except shouting “why don’t you go to Russia”, or these being “Kremlin talking points”, or “how many Roubles are you being paid”, or that “you’re pro-Putin” doesn’t change the provable reality.
Saying all that is Russian propaganda doesn’t change the facts either, however calling out facts as such to delegitimise what doesn’t suit and is a matter of historical record is propaganda. The Nato variety that has flooded minds like a raging tsunami to the point that reason has become submerged and lost to the deep. (The same Nato by the way that has, for much of the last decade, been filling children’s libraries in the east of Ukraine, where the government tried to stop the Russian language, with comic books showing Russia and its culture as vodka-drinking evil while Nato are not just the saviours in war terms but will save the children, family life and the environment. I kid you not.)
And yet this is where we have reached.
So what’s behind the madness?
Some of it is media telling people night and day what they want to hear. More of it is media telling people what it feels they need to hear given the situation. Some of it is fear of stepping out of line. Some of it is journalists being paid in US dollars by Kiev. Some of it is journalists being paid by other places including, in cases like the Atlantic Council, weapons’ manufacturers. And much of it is just the self-fulfilling prophecy and self-sustaining ecosystem that reaches a place where everyone has to outdo each other in their blind faith for likes, clicks and sales.
But it’s created a rancid environment of xenophobia, war mongering, and dead bodies being brought back in wooden boxes from where they should never have been. And yet the likes of Claire Byrne and RTÉ allow more of the same frenzy and societal delusion to be cast as some noble cause.
Just remember though – while Zelenskyy and his wife took photos for Vogue, an Irishman was taking bullets for their country and cause. Files passed on tell me at least one more is wanted for desertion. It has the whiff of the young lads from working-class estates being sent off to the Somme as heroes thinking this was their duty, while the officers stayed behind and stayed alive. It has the whiff of a feudal system where the surfs fought for kings and queens and the wars they made.
This is supposed to be the age of enlightenment though.
The era of information.
A time of reason.
So think of all the lies you’ve been told and have heard so many times that you probably don’t even know they are lies anymore if you ever did to begin with.
The Ghost of Kiev which was completely made up.
The gold teeth recently found and said to have been ripped from heads of locals by evil orcs, when in fact a local dentist said he collected them over the years in his local practice.
The idea that Russia was shelling around a nuclear power station, when that plant was in an area it had captured and was filled with its soldiers and was really being shelled by Kiev forces.
The idea that Izium was a genocide where the Russians had taken the time to bury people in marked graves with crosses, when many there were Ukrainian soldiers which their side refused to take back as has been their policy throughout the war. As Oleg Kotenko, the Ukrainian Missing Persons Commissioner said, it was not a matter of a mass grave, but of many individual graves. “I don’t want to call it a Bucha – here the people were buried, let’s say, in a more civilized manner,” he added.
That wasn’t worthy of reporting though.
And what was reported was promotional material. Pravda Ukrainista even refused to take down stories about a Ukrainian woman and her daughter playing street music being attacked in Paris by what they claimed was a Russian when in fact he was also Ukrainian, and they refused to clarify that the woman and her daughter attacked in County Clare wasn’t some ethnically motivated attack that showed Ukraine is at war abroad too.
Bet you didn’t know all that.
Because you never heard it.
That might halt the lunacy.
One that has been as sickly as hypocritical.
* * *
Russian missiles killing civilians is appalling; Ukrainian missiles doing the same is just part of war.
A Russian attack on the glass bridge in Kiev is outrageous; but a Ukrainian missile killing civilians on the bridge into the Crimea is tactical and led people like John Sweeney and Dan Rather to make puns and straight out laugh on social media.
Russia taking prisoners from jail to fight is a sign of dangerous desperation; but months earlier when Ukraine let out child rapists such as the infamous Tornado Battalion it was hush hush. And by the way there’s video of the aftermath of some of the Tornado Battalion’s efforts in 2015 when a mine shaft in Donetsk was found stuffed with the corpses of dead girls that had come across these reinvented heroes.
Russian conscription has been a sign of losing; Ukrainian conscription a sign of passion.
Russia has a Nazi issue; Ukraine’s Nazis with their Heil Hitler chants and Swastika tattoos, with their years of accepted Pogroms, brutalisation of gays and Jews and hatred of communism, are just misunderstood. And for what it’s worth, while their prominent existence doesn’t justify the invasion, the invasion doesn’t justify their prominent existence.
People fleeing to the west is a sign of the fear they have of Russia; people fleeing east is a sign that it’s best to just ignore.
Putin’s nuclear defence drills are headline news; what isn’t is that it is standard practice, Nato were doing the exact same thing and each followed calm and fair protocol in telling each other.
A broad and baffling interpretation of Putin’s words is used to mean he is threatening nuclear war when he never did; yet when Zelenskky straight up said he wanted a pre-emptive strike before this began, a moment captured on film as he spoke to an audience, people immediately accepted it was a mis-translation despite it being very clear.
When Russia says something it’s either unconfirmed, unsubstantiated or absurd; when Ukraine says something it’s taken as gospel.
An attack on a Russian owned pipeline they could just turn off, and that stops future gas sales to the EU, one that saw US helicopters and ships around the site of the blast in the days leading up to it and sees them benefit most and Russia lose, is even chalked down as some Moscow false flag and a sign of their delusions and danger.
It’s so bad that Amnesty became the bad guys and were run out of town for not worshipping at the altar of human rights abuses; so bad that when Boris Johnson went to Kiev, with a peace deal nearly negotiated in April, as reported by pro-Zelenskyy media there, the British Prime Minister convinced him to back away and this was about the only thing Johnson hasn’t been hanged, drawn and quartered for all year; so bad that when Germany dared think more weapons doesn’t get you to peace in a situation it knows better than most, it got bullied and abused into doing what’s popular and not necessarily right.
The west has become rabid. It’s media a deranged mouthpiece. It’s populace dumb-faced.
We cannot do enough.
The Nobel Peace Prize was in part awarded to Oleksandra Matviichuk who, despite engaging with me, refuses to call out the eight years of human rights abuses that her side had proudly committed. The EU’s award for peace went to Ukraine as well. As did the Eurovision. They’ve been added to the Spain and Portugal ticket to host the World Cup in 2030. They had a space created at the bloody World Darts Championship where Russians have been banned. As they have from all walks of life in the west in a sort of collective punishment for what they haven’t done, dripping in proud cultureocide and in complete xenophobia.
It’s got to the point where Sean Penn gave one of his Oscars to Zelenskyy for some reason this week – although maybe it’s the most improved actor category – while football club Shakhtar Donetsk felt comfortable in not just calling for Iran to be removed from the World Cup but the place to go to Ukraine rather than some other Asian side. And sports journalists, just as their counterparts in news, business, culture and more did, flocked to this story with their morals for sale but precious little reasoning.
But you cannot say that.
You cannot dare say there is a wrong being done by anyone other than Putin when there are endless wrongs being done by almost everyone including Putin.
When Elon Musk suggested what was a reasonable solution, even if you disagree with it or think it wouldn’t work, he was eviscerated, including by a Kiev City Councillor later found to have posted an Instagram picture in a Waffen SS t-shirt. Athough even that was defended with many claiming it was actually in honour of the band Kiss.
Before Christmas, when a phone call was leaked in which Silvio Berlusconi suggested that Zelenskyy was a problem child and the European Union was in a big way to blame as what was going to be one Russian manoeuvre saw us flood next door with arms, that wasn’t the story. Instead of his views being digested and contemplated, he was forced into an apology and to back down, which he absolutely did.
And for good reason. If you don’t, you’re torn apart and consigned to the knacker’s yard.
John Pilger dared to write about this propaganda madness and suddenly one of the most respected journalists of modern times and one of the last great journalists was deemed washed up and told to retire.
When renowned and revered American economist, academic and public policy analyst Jeffrey Sachs admitted he called the White House in late 2021 and begged them to negotiate with Russia, after Putin warned them yet again not to expand Nato, he was ridiculed rather than listened to.
John Mearsheimer, one of the elite political scientists who predicted this war years ago because of western actions, is now on a list with many others in Ukraine who have it in for them for daring to have an opinion. And that’s not seen as odd.
On and on it goes.
All protected by the weirdest movement of the lot.
* * *
If you haven’t come across Nafo, you’re lucky.
The North Atlantic Fellows Organisations. An online mish-mash of teenagers, idiots and bullies trying to silence history and dissent, via memes filled with xenophobia, Gifs rife with homophobia, and plain threats. And backed up by their honorary members such as the Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas who is regularly praising their efforts.
It’s a proud ignorance and a proud blood lust aroused in people.
Only future peace involves understanding what happened and what is happening.
It involves balance, perspective and a stopping of demonisation.
It involves sense but we’ve been told that’s of no value so to carry on so we do.
You think the US wouldn’t push for negotiations in the morning if it was in their interests, or that they could give a flying Zelenskyy if Russia took the Donbass if it didn’t affect them.
Course they would but this is win win.
It’s about shifting weapons. It’s about turning public money into private hands. It’s about a growing control of the EU. It’s about total control of Ukraine in future. It’s about trying to weaken Russia to the point its hands get in there next. Can’t you see that?
That doesn’t make Putin’s invasion right or just but it’s obvious what is happening before your eyes. Where do people think we go next anyway? That Russia should just withdraw? What then, with the Ukrainian far-right battalions already publicly warning that they’ll execute anyone in areas they take back who had any dealings with Russia? They call it collaboration but, on their list, simply taking food will see you get a bullet.
Of course the solution here is simple. Well it would be if wanted.
Russia keeps Crimea as it’s always been Russian, if briefly not in writing. Luhansk and Donetsk see Russia withdraw, gain autonomy they voted for years ago, and see the UN move peacekeepers into a civil war situation – one Ukraine would not so much not be able to be able to keep the peace in but have actively destroyed the peace and murdered people on one side. Nato cannot go that far east ever. And the rest of Ukraine remains Ukraine and free to make its own decisions and calls.
That though would involve compromise and, worse, that isn’t what Washington wants.
We’ve been duped into the international rules based order, the future of US foreign policy, where the demands from Uncle Sam amount to “give me it, it’s mine”. They don’t care who dies or who suffers when the prize is so big.
It’s frustrating because of the damage it will do.
To ordinary Ukrainians.
To ordinary Russians.
To ordinary Europeans.
To ordinary Americans.
All hit hard by what they have been convinced to cheer. With some like Rory Mason dead and buried because he was convinced of a greater good that doesn’t exist in far-away killing fields. Ask yourself, what did he sacrifice himself for?
The reality is he and thousands more will be rotting in the ground, while those who say he’s heroic are counting their spoils of war.
“Forward” he cried from the rear. And the front rank died. The general sat. And the lines on the map. Moved from side to side.
26 January, 2023.