Kalashnikov as evidence

Flawed logic of U.S. foreign policy propaganda and the events in southeast Ukraine

Recent statements by U.S. officials, as well as many U.S. and other Western media reports clearly reveal a properly coordinated information campaign. This campaign is being aimed at convincing the international public opinion of Russia's direct intervention in the events in south-east of Ukraine, in Donbass region. This is the point maintained since April 8 by the U.S. State Department officials, primarily Secretary of State John Kerry, as well as the U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power. Also this version is being increasingly diffused by such major Western media as CNN, BBC, Euronews and Reuters. On April 13 the U.S. State Department published on its website a special information piece designed to prove that "in eastern Ukraine Russia is now using the same tactics that it used in Crimea in order to foment separatism". As an evidence of such Russia's actions the State Department’s report notes that pro-Russian activists “were outfitted in bullet-proof vests and camouflage uniforms with insignia removed and carrying Russian-origin weapons”.

These statements are often supported in Western media with video footage showing a self-defense unit in Kramatorsk taking control of a local police station. It can be seen that the members of the armed group wear identical new uniform, operate smoothly enough and are armed with Kalashnikov rifles.

This whole argument seems to be designed for a completely uninformed or biased audience. The most surprising is the point on “weapons of Russian origin” used by protesters. It is quite obvious that not only the Ukrainian army and security services, but also, with few exceptions, all power structures in Eastern Europe have no other firearms in possession. Given the fact that the firearms have been seized by Donbass insurgents in local police and SBU (Ukraine’s Security Service) offices, the absurdity of the claim that the presence of a Kalashnikov rifles necessarily implies belonging to Russian forces is obvious. In this case, for example, most of armed groups in Central Africa could also be counted among Russian military forces.

Seizure of the SBU offices also explains the self-defense activists’ uniform. As admitted by representatives of the SBU, this uniform differing from Ukrainian army uniform was recently procured by the service. The Kiev authorities certainly are well aware of this. In turn, representatives of Slavyansk self-defense units reported that they were able to seize the SBU uniform. The interview took place just in the building of the local SBU branch.

Recent events of the unfolding “antiterrorist operation” by Kiev-controlled forces clearly indicate a desperate lack of military professionalism on both sides of the conflict. It is another solid argument for the absence of Russian military among the protesters.

While presenting these overtly hypocritical evidences of "Russian interference", neither the U.S. nor the Kiev authorities cannot produce any documents or demonstrate any "Russian agents", allegedly detained in eastern Ukraine.

Interestingly enough, after reaching the Geneva agreements on April 17 some Western media proceeded with speculations that rapid reduction of tension in Donbass just will mean that the self-defense groups in the region are controlled by Russia. Thus, here’s the strategy to "drive Russia into a corner" of propaganda charges: if the intensity of the conflict decrease, it will be further proof of Russia's involvement, and if not - then, Moscow "continues to destabilize" Ukraine.

Hence we can speak about a sheer propaganda campaign. It is accompanied by constant threats from Washington to apply some new broader sanctions against Moscow, if Russia does not "de - escalate" crisis in Ukraine. Thus, the U.S. seems to be trying to pursue several policy objectives. The most desirable outcome of this U.S. propaganda and diplomatic pressure would be forcing Russia to justify itself by claiming it plays no role in what is happening in Donbass. First, this would inflict a major psychological damage to supporters of federalization that oppose Kiev nationalists. Kiev using Ukrainian TV channels under its control could then say that "Russia has given them up". Secondly, such a justification would only strengthen the position of Western propagandists; according to a well-known PR rule a defendant usually puts himself in a vulnerable position. In addition, the United States is thus trying to strengthen the effect of "Russian scare" in Europe and to consolidate therefore its image among European population as a champion against this "threat".

At the same time, the European expert and political community is unlikely to accept seriously these openly unprofessional U.S. arguments. However, in the present situation Europe is an inept place for a broad critique of American propaganda. As it was the case in the late 1990s during the Yugoslavia bombings, the U.S. is using the situation around Ukraine as another historic opportunity to strengthen NATO and U.S. presence in Europe.

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