Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 25.06.2018
NATO is on the mend. But you wouldn’t know it from reading most Western media. While members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization build collective security against the Russian threat, most Western media outlets report “Russia says” as if it’s news. What Russia says about NATO is always bad. The good news about NATO and about Ukraine is being shouted down by Russian propaganda. “Russia says” is being amplified by the Western press, which is reporting Russia’s war against Ukraine from Moscow and not from Kyiv.
The salient fact guiding everything about security and international relations in these times is that Russia is invading Ukraine. This cataclysmic event which began in 2014 is as significant to global affairs as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invading Poland in 1939. Unlike the Second World War, though, most of the Western press is not reporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an invasion, or Putin’s War as the war that it is. That is because Kremlin propaganda is stronger than Goebbels’s was, and the Western press is weaker now than it was almost 80 years ago. Today we have a Russo-centric and Ukraine-ignorant press, which favours the aggressor over the defender.
In the face of Russia’s invasion of Europe in Crimea and Donbas, the Western press has collapsed. Western politicians have been mostly appeasing of Russian aggression, but some timid measures like sanctions against Russian war criminals have gone through. But the military leadership in the West has been loyal and stalwart to our civilization’s ideals. Ukraine is in the forefront, boosting defence spending to five percent of the nation’s gross domestic product and fighting an effective defence against the Russian invaders who are actively bombarding and assaulting across the front line in Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
NATO has multiple efforts to meet the growing threat of Russian aggression. Forward presence battlegroups are now on guard in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland. Air policing by NATO member air forces is being conducted in the Baltic countries and in Romania. A mission is underway in Yavoriv, Ukraine to deliver NATO-standard training to members of the Ukrainian armed forces. Ukraine is rapidly achieving NATO technical standards milestones, as is Georgia.
In recent news, NATO member Czechia now contributes to NATO forward defence against Russian aggression. This month, a mechanized battalion of Army of the Czech Republic deployed to Latvia, to join the Canadian-led battlegroup there. Almost 5000 troops from 18 different NATO member countries are now stationed in the Baltic countries and in Poland. They’re there because Russia invaded Ukraine and any of these front-line countries could be Putin’s next target.
The NATO training base in western Ukraine has never been more active. Today, NATO members the United States, Canada, Lithuania, the United Kingdom, Poland, Denmark, and non-NATO Sweden are participating in training and exercises with the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The Canadian contribution is called Operation UNIFIER. To date, the Canadian Armed Forces have trained more than 7,680 Ukrainian soldiers. Their mentoring consists of tactical soldier training, explosive ordnance device disposal, military police training, and combat first aid. The purpose of the whole NATO effort is to help Ukraine build its military capacity and maintain its sovereignty, security, and stability. The front line of the West’s defence against Russian aggression is in Ukraine. Ukrainian soldiers will take the skills learned from their NATO peers, and apply them immediately to combat against the invaders from Russia. Along the way, NATO armies will learn from the Ukrainians what it’s really like to fight the Russian Federation in the “hybrid war” conditions in which Putin has so far chosen to wage his war.
If you haven’t heard any of this, it is because most of the Western press isn’t doing its job. In the English language, war correspondents filed reports and were on the radio throughout the Second World War. Journalists covered the Vietnam War in the newspapers and on television, in English, every day. The Western press has superior technical means to report Putin’s War, but inferior will to do it. The English language press has deliberately put an embargo on reporting Russia’s war against Ukraine. The press should be reporting the truth of events, which is the significance of the actions of Russia in its invasion of Ukraine and also of the actions of NATO in response. Instead, most Western media amplify Russian propaganda, repeating what “Russia says” or what “Putin says” – which is always lies or incomplete truth. What “Russia says” is hate propaganda directed specifically at Ukraine but also at the West in general.
When it comes to NATO, the message coming from Moscow is contradictory. On the one hand, the Kremlin message is that NATO members are rent by division, wracked by internal conflict, and the alliance is weak to the point of collapse. In this version of Putin’s propaganda, Russia has the ability to seize its “sphere of influence” and swallow up the “near abroad” and NATO couldn’t lift a finger to stop it. On the other hand, the Kremlin message is that NATO members are guided by a malignant Russophobia and are surrounding Russia with bases, ready to attack. Although opposite, this version of propaganda leads to the same result: Russia should strike first against its neighbours and not show weakness to NATO.
The fascist ideology which guides Russia today is based on emotion, not reason. It doesn’t matter that the propaganda the Kremlin spreads about NATO is false and contradictory. What matters is that it makes the Russian people fear and hate, and at the same time doubt their own experience and reason. That is is why it is tragic that most of the Western media amplifies what “Russia says” uncritically. An honest and morally righteous press will either not publish Russian propaganda at all or will present it critically, guided by facts and news.
Here’s the real story. Ukraine has been fighting against Russian invaders for over four years and has not been defeated. Today, a quarter of a million Ukrainians are under arms, and Ukraine leads the defence of Europe with a Joint Forces Operation against Putin’s army. NATO is building collective security and is stronger today than it was when Russia invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014. NATO is the organization that every country looking to its own security wants to join.