My former neighbour in the US wrote to me, tongue in cheek, a few days ago. “I was told the Ukrainian civil war is over and Russia won because the Azov Battalion was wiped out. There is a total media blackout in the US, and worse than that – so much disinformation before and how it will be justified in the end. I suppose that now the US has a new problem …this is China!!”
It is Not as Simple as That!
This man must be locked in a cave, as CNN and all the rest of the gang are still pummeling the Russians. Meanwhile the West and its Ministries of Propaganda are in damage control mode.
Take for instance when CBS News recently pulled a documentary and had to amend a feature story that claimed 70% of foreign weapons never make it to the front lines in Ukraine. For some unknown reason, the Biden administration/government didn’t agree with it, or something.
Since the documentary is no longer available on CBS, it was re-uploaded it here and there on YouTube. But who knows how long it will be allowed to stay.
According to the documentary, less than 30% of the weapons arrive at their destination. But it not too hard to answer that question, David Arakhamia, the majority leader of Ukraine’s parliament and Kyiv’s top negotiator, called on US and NATO allies to quickly supply Kyiv with additional weapons, citing a lack of progress in brokering a peace treaty with Moscow.
Ukraine knows why many of the weapons, US and NATO supplied, are not making it to the front and many have disappeared. I wonder what he might know about that. Now, do you understand why his diplomatic passport was recently revoked? I suspect he may disappear as well, as have the weapons. He is too open in what he has been doing for the government and with foreign governments—especially with contacts and networks in Georgia.
But where are the rest?
The link to the CBS programme reads,
“the page may have been removed, had its name changed, or is just temporarily unavailable”.
We removed a tweet promoting our recent doc, “Arming Ukraine,” which quoted the founder of the nonprofit Blue-Yellow, Jonas Ohman’s assessment in late April that only around 30% of aid was reaching the front lines in Ukraine.
The changes were made amid an outcry from the Ukrainian government and its supporters. Now Republicans who did not vote for the “no strings attached” funding for arms and money to Ukraine are pounding their chests and saying “we hate to tell you so but we told you so!”
Don’t Bite the Hand that Feeds You!
Meanwhile, Ukraine has made a blacklist of politicians and scholars who have been labelled as Russian propagandists. This list includes Americans, meaning Ukraine is imposing censorship on Americans who do not close ranks with Kyiv and the Biden administration in a war of convenience, as reported by Tucker Carlson of Fox News and the mainstream media.
However, the truth of Ukraine and its military operations is now being exposed – in spite of the spin that shows a different story. You can post anything on Facebook (radical organization banned in Russia), or whatever it is called these days, as long as it is anti-Russian, but people on the ground are telling a different story in their own homes, where it is more difficult for official lines to penetrate.
The rhetoric is heating up, and Ukraine and its spin doctors are looking for other means of getting their point across. These include trashing the reputation of Amnesty International over its recent report documenting how Ukraine regularly uses schools and public areas to shield its military activities, blatantly and recklessly using the local population as human shields.
With few exceptions, access to mainstream sites with other views on things in Ukraine, and those which take exception to US and NATO policy, is a rare exception today. Roger Waters, one of the founders of Pink Floyd, is one of the few artists and pop musicians who have kept their wits about them, and have the courage to speak out publicly about their different view of things.
Waters described Biden’s actions in Ukraine as those of a war criminal – and the action of reaction of NATO pushing right up to the Russian border as what it is! It is easy to dismiss those views as those of a mere artist, who knows nothing of hard political affairs, until you consider where Zelensky himself came from, and Ronald Reagan, Jan Paderewski and others who didn’t suddenly develop a new capability when someone voted for them.
Ordeal of Ukraine’s Disinformation Board: Terrible Idea, Terrible Results
Now Volodymyr Zelensky claims that the way to stop Russia from annexing any more of Ukraine’s territory is to revert to more punitive measures. He is calling for Western countries to ban all Russian citizens from entering their countries.
He fails to understand that sanctions don’t work, though those who are behind him should by now. We only have to recall the Bush era War on Drugs, with all the punishment that entailed for non-compliant and presumed guilty countries, which had no effect whatsoever on the consumption, criminal trafficking and distribution of narcotics.
Zelensky’s propaganda efforts may have proved to be too effective, as even American politicians, including all Democrats, have swallowed the disinformation hook, line and sinker. Now they have to make it real to make their solutions work, like they did in Iraq with the non-existent weapons of mass destruction, a failure Western governments are still very uncomfortable explaining away.
All Coming to a Head!
Perhaps it would be better to ban Zelensky and his minions as a step in the right direction – towards peaceful negotiations. It is all coming to a head in Ukraine, and the sooner the better, as it is high time for reconciliation and reconstruction, and an end to the needless destruction.
Zelensky said Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy.” If he stays in his own, he may have a political future what will be Ukraine proper, but only if he starts learning Polish in the meantime.
Yes, Russians live their own world, and it is a tough one for now. However gas and oil will find a market like water finds its level.
Sanctions will not prevent the sale of Russian oil, but they will burden it with additional costs. Of course, with the current global oil price, life goes on. But if there is no alternative to Russian oil it is the end users who will have to bear these costs, and no one will be able to blame the Russians for them on one hand, and keep buying their oil on the other.
The thing about sanctions is that some people will make a bigger profit than under normal trading. Even in the hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic, when the exchange rate at one point was 4,210,500,000,000 deutschmarks marks to the dollar, some businessmen were able to make large profits by not playing by the rules, exactly what sanctions are about.
Russian gas sales to the EU will continue as there are insufficient alternatives. Anytime there is a profit motive there will be ways to get round sanctions, as we have learned from Iran and South Africa, and more recently the relative prosperity of prewar Armenia.
For example, there is a pipeline from Kazakhstan that goes through Russia (from the Tengiz Field-CPC). If some Russian crude was added, would the shipment be rejected?
South Africa under apartheid was subject to all sorts of sanctions, just as neighbouring Rhodesia was after declaring unilateral independence from the UK to maintain white minority rule. In both cases, they were still able to get oil, and were the most developed countries in Africa at the time.
There had to be some transfers to intermediaries, and that cost a little extra, but there were still enough well-wishers around to make profit more important than principle, amongst them Sir Garfield Weston, now known primarily through the charitable foundation which bears his name, despite how much of its endowment came from sanctions busting and his enthusiastic support of the apartheid regime.
Now there seems to be a concerted effort, at least according to the New York Times, to impose a total embargo on Russian oil. This is close to a full-scale declaration of war, at least a proxy one, as everyone will be forced to take sides, and won’t be able to choose their side in most cases.
However, turning off the Russian oil tap is easier said than done, as petroleum projects are sold on an international market. For the West, especially Western Europe, to close ranks over this is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Addictions are Hard to Break
The West is more than dependent on Russian oil and gas, especially gas, than it ever imagined. It is perhaps better and more accurate to use the term addicted.
However it will not be too difficult for Russia to shift much of its export market to China and India if it chooses to. Who now is “kowtowing” to American pressure to close ranks in punishing Russia for pursuing its own national security interests and protecting the rights of ethnic Russians in Ukraine?
In fact, the oil is already flowing, with discounts, to China and India, and it is not hard to see that Western countries will find innovative ways to circumvent sanctions. People soon stopped being suspicious when they were no longer told where their food came from, the labels suddenly reading “produce of more than one country”. As long as no one has to use the word Russian, that element will still be there.
Not all European countries are interested in the EU-wide ban on Russian oil. Hungary and Slovakia are interested in their own energy security, especially gas, and are not keen to follow the lead of other countries who are more into political expediency and punitive actions than economic realities.
The irony is that the citizens of every former Eastern Bloc state begged for years to be free of the political expediency and punitive actions imposed upon them by the Soviet Union, but were repeatedly let down by a West which told them overthrowing communism wasn’t realistic. As independent states, they are seeking better realities, and finding themselves excluded from these by the West which continually preached their virtues.
That’s why the EU is giving these two countries more time, to show some understanding of their plight. Officially they will be given till December 2023 to ban Russian oil. It is even likely that more leeway will be allowed, as they don’t consume so much, for the sake of purported European solidarity.
If the EU and the West really want to get serious and have hard-hitting sanctions, they need to ban Russian gas and go back to burning wood and dirty high sulphur coal. It is going to be hard for the EU to go Cold Turkey – so it might be better to start damming some rivers and hope that the wind blows, and there will be lots of sunny weather, for an alternative fuel source.
The rhetoric is strong but let us to see what happens next, considering the price of oil in the world market, short supplies, and the dynamics of supply and demand (greed) at play in many members of OPEC.
It is just a matter of time before the collective West cuts off our ability to communicate; Facebook and YouTube already have, as have social and mass media in general. Sanctions and free speech are at opposite sides of the river of normalcy, and when the West cannot win the proxy war in person, then they will win it on paper, and how it is reported or recorded by historians.
Huxley summed it up:
“By means of ever more effective methods of mind-manipulation, the democracies will change their nature; the quaint old forms— elections, parliaments, Supreme Courts and all the rest—will remain. … Democracy and freedom will be the theme of every broadcast and editorial. … Meanwhile the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained elite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit.”
Yes, run the show, however, the show must go on—and it will not be the West that is allowed to write the script.
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.