The propaganda war in Ukraine

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Freedom of press critics have complained how the Russian government news program, RT, has been blocked by many Western outlets during the Ukrainian fighting.

But in fact the channel has always been freely available through Google as RT online. It remains as interesting, and surprisingly impartial, as ever – mainly because physically it is able to report events from both sides, as in its reporting of the Maruipol fighting and the recent Ukrainian success with a US supplied rocket to destroy a Russian arms depot in the Kherson area.

It is certainly much better than our Western talking heads ignorant of language, land and culture and unwilling to get out of the capital, Kiev, to tell us what is happening in the rest of the country .

RT online seems quite happy to report anti-Moscow comments. One powerful recent example:

“Nationalism” is on the rise in former USSR because Russia illegitimally took countries that had distinct language, cultural, ethnic differences and tried to “Russify” them. These countries, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Chechnya, Belarus have had enough and want their original identities back. Russia has no logical response to this, other than to say no, and use military force to suppress independence/freedom movements in these countries. That never ends well for the oppressor in the end, as we are seeing in Ukraine today…with Russia’s army torn to shreds.

But naturally it also emphasises pro-Moscow news, for example the little-known current 6,000 signature campaign by German intellectuals calling for a reappraisal of German involvement in Ukraine. Presumably this is what our censors do not want us to see.

Perhaps RT’s main role is giving us a detailed account of what actually happened 2013 -15 when the seeds of the current war were sown and reporting was sporadic.

When the UK BBC was still in good, objective form we had some excellent reporting: the 2014 wanton destruction in the pro-Russian districts of eastern and southern Ukraine by Ukrainian extremists embedded in the Ukrainian army; a 2015 documentary of the Slovyansk citizens in Donesk turning out in hundreds to stop and disarm with their bodies and bare hands the Ukrainian tanks seeking entry.

RT online has carried on from there.

RT online is also crucial to filling in the history gaps – the 2014 massacres in Maidan and Odessa; the relentless eight-year bombing of the two provinces in which the pro-Russian population is concentrated; mass killings in the hundreds of the pro-Russian population in these provinces by Ukrainian forces; and the final decision by Moscow to intervene claiming a need to rescue these people.

But we still lack a final verdict on it all. Somehow our Cold War anti-Russian phobias prevented us in the West from seeing the war as it was – a legitimate struggle, unthreatening of sovereignty, by yet another very large minority people seeking to gain the autonomies we take for granted in almost any other nation of the world.

Today there could be some threat to sovereignty, but whose fault was that?