The Ukraine story has been hijacked as a major tectonic-plate shifting event. Suppose we dropped the hypocrisy and hype and faced the facts?
These days I am asked why I do not write about the Ukraine story. Because I don’t feel like it, basically. I have Russian friends, I have Ukrainian friends, both from the Donbass and from Western Ukraine, each one with a different take on a story which has nothing to do with me. I do not write about Russia because I don’t live there and refuse to sit in my office inventing things about stories I know nothing about. I have already said I write when I have done a lot of listening and reading first and so there are those far better prepared than I to address this issue and anyway, to make an article worth reading, it has to leave the reader with a meaningful experience, like presenting new facts, or teaching something, or presenting ideas. Others here in this newspaper can do that concerning Ukraine far better than I.
My take continues to be the same. First, a word for the families of those who have been killed or injured or left homeless or lost their pets, whoever they are. Second, this has been coming for a long time. Did anyone listen to the concerns of Russia for Russian speakers and Russian culture as lines on maps changed but residence did not? Did anyone address the issues as they arose, namely Fascists on the streets, armed, shouting Death to Russians and Jews? Wearing neo-Nazi insignia in batallions inside the armed frorces of Ukraine? Committing massacres of Russian speakers? Where was the international community then?
The way these things were addressed was to deny they existed, wipe them from the Net and then say “OK prove it!” when anyone mentioned the background to the current crisis. The fact is that Kiev adopted a very stupid policy regarding the Russian-speaking areas of Ukraine, suppressing their culture, attacking them, forcing them to take up arms to protect themselves, then signed the Minsk Agreements which kept these regions inside Ukraine but enjoying their own culture, then refused to implement its terms.
My family’s own history has taught me that when you get Fascists involved, problems arise.
I had family members in concentration camps. I have visited those concentration camps and seen for myself what happened inside. There are those who deny it and pull the wool over their eyes. They can do the same thing regarding Ukraine but whether or not the actions of Kiev’s forces were pulled from the Net or not, it does not mean that they did not take place.
Now as for the details of the special military operation in Ukraine, I was not privy to the decision to launch the attack, had no idea it was coming, and since then I have been privy to the information I get from the Russian Ministry of Defence, my own contacts in the area and a one-sided western propaganda machine which decided to censor out major Russian news outlets. I can see these anyway using alternative methods. So much for Ursula von der Leyen’s Democratic censorship machine! I have both sides of the story on my laptop, most do not.
And I conclude this section with a word for the victims and their families and homes and pets, whoever they are. Maybe if all of us followed my approach, not doing hatred but trying to find solutions, instead of doing demonology all the time, we could get through this faster. Arming Ukraine is a choice. It prolongs the conflict of course, and uses Ukrainians as proxy soldiers in a war against Russia. Let’s put the boot on the other foot and ask what NATO would have done if Russia had armed Iraq or Libya?
I know why western authorities censored out Russian news outlets. It was so they could present their own version of the truth as the truth. So it was not difficult to see where this was going. First, paint Russia as the aggressor without taking into account at least eight years of violence against Russian speaking civilians in the East of the country, with youths wearing Hitler T-shirts calling them sub-humans. Second, paint Russia as the pariah. Third, find a crying kid and place him on the evening news bulletin with a nice gory headline and sexy soundbites. Fourth, find some rubble and present it as an indiscriminate Russian attack on civilians without bothering to find out what happened (Ukrainian soldiers using civilian areas as cover?). Fifth, find a grave and say it is a Russian massacre (irrespective of whether it was perpetrated by Ukrainian fascists against what they perceived as collaborators). So when you remove the other side of the story with censorship, you can stitch together whatever you like and present it as the facts to a gullible audience brought up on cartoons, farts, and reality shows. And popcorn.
The truth, I can assure you, is not only what the official (western) version of events says it is.
Conflicts always end some time. Now with the call-up of 300,000 reservists in Russia, things are not going to get calmer on the front. For those who know what they are talking about, not everyone in Russia is against the call-up and as I have said before, when Russia starts to tap into that Deep Russia and when the machine gets rolling...ask Napoleon or Hitler what happens.
We might start by asking Zelenskiy why the Hell he refused to implement the Minsk Agreements, which his country signed. Donbass would be today inside Ukraine, at peace.
The only exchanges would be in trade and smiles. But no, Zelenskiy is too busy shaping a career in Hollywood as some kind of Eastern European Batman, bearded, wearing fatigues, trying to sound manly with a gruff voice. It sounds as if he was trying to play the piano with his penis and got it stuck between A sharp and B flat.
Why didn’t Russia bring the issue of its (cultural family of) citizens being attacked to the wider international community? It did, for eight years. Nobody listened and instead moved forces into Ukraine. So maybe it is time to start listening.
Quite how we now move back to the point before February 2022 is very difficult to see. Most of the people in Crimea and Donbass, whatever they say, identify as Russians and want to be Russians (quite apart from the fact that under Moscow, they receive a lot more in financial terms than under Kiev). While foreign players are using Ukraine, and prolonging the conflict, and while Kiev states that it does not accept that any of its territory shall be lost, the best we can hope for right now is some kind of ceasefire.
My reading is that this will come, but only after NATO has upped the ante and taken the conflict to a higher level, forcing Russia to tap further into its reservists and using more lethal weaponry, which it has not yet deployed. Remember, Russia has deployed around ten per cent of its armed forces in Ukraine and can if it wants call up 25 million more soldiers. So it is infantile to believe that Russia will just pull out and go away.
In this scenario we have an irresistible force facing an immovable and impenetrable mass with mounting casualties. If the west stops supporting Ukraine, it will collapse. If Zelenskiy accepts the loss of Crimea and Donbass, and now who knows what other territory, he will indeed have to flee to Hollywood. Something evil will arise in Kiev, who knows what will happen in Moscow without President Putin? Bad vibes, people, bad vibes. This cannot go anywhere towards the peace camp.
Let us remove Biden and Truss from the equation, because we need some adults in the room. A cultural initiative, which I started at the beginning of this conflict, bringing all sides together in art, music, literature, sport, proved to be a non-starter and was naively optimistic, I now accept that. But I tried.
So how do you get guys who are shooting at one another to sit down together? Provide them with an alternative. In this case, there isn’t one. So let’s create one. As I said remove Biden and Truss, they are incapable of seeing beyond their noses, and they have one word on which their blinkered eyes focus: CONFLICT. They pander to the whims of those who make money through the misfortune of others, the military-industrial complex and the BARFFED (Banking, Arms, Resources, Finance, Food, Energy, Drugs Lobbies).
The buzzword is Trade. You know, an exchange of goods and money, you don’t shoot the guy who you want to buy your stuff, do you? With Trade comes Development. Leave the guns where they are, you don’t need those to trade. Leave the soldiers where they are, they’ll be happy to sit back and play cards and soccer together and when they get bored they’ll shout to the other side, Hey guys! Let’s play soccer together!!! Then, Hey! Let’s get drunk!!
Pre-adhesion to the European Union for Ukraine might see measures extended to a “commercial federation” of regions, not a political one, including Donbass, Crimea, etc. improving standards of living, repairing damage, seeing an exchange of cash and not gunfire, while a peace and reconciliation process goes on and talks can begin. Eventually, if the whole area is enjoying the same economic benefits and status, the lines on maps won’t matter. Remember Northern Ireland?
The alternative, ladies and gentlemen, is a conflict that will escalate into a nuclear exchange and a catastrophe from which we might never recover. Yes, Humankind is that stupid.
Let us not waste time finding the boogey-man here, there are two sides to every coin, two sides to a story, in this one, a lot of hypocrisy, a lack of communication, stupid decisions, Fascists all mixed up in a mixed bag of badwill. Let us find solutions.
Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey can be reached at [email protected]
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