View from India: Western myths about Russia and the war in Ukraine

12:27 23.04.2024 •

The moment the war started, Western mainstream media started making concerted efforts to completely suppress the Russian point of view and only show the Western and Ukrainian narrative, writes Indian “The Print”.

The war in Ukraine is two years old, and so far we in India, as well as most of the world, have just been hearing one narrative about it, the Western narrative on the causes and progress of the war. This has resulted in many myths being propagated and taken for granted. Perhaps it’s time for us to examine them.

The first myth is that ‘this was an unprovoked war of aggression suddenly launched by Russia in 2022 to grab territory’

This conflict, like any other one, has deep-rooted historical, ethnic and geopolitical causes. During journalist Tucker Carlson’s recent interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow, the President spent 28 minutes explaining the history of Ukraine and Russia. The overthrow of the legally elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-sponsored Maidan coup in 2014 and the subsequent attempt by the Ukrainian Army to suppress the Russian-speaking regions of the Donbas ultimately led to civil war. This coincided with the relentless eastward expansion of NATO in five phases from 1999 onwards, despite the dissolution of its Cold War adversary, the Warsaw Pact, and contrary to the assurances given to Russians. Putin repeatedly warned that NATO expanding eastwards was an existential threat to Russia, most explicitly at the Munich Security Conference of 2007.

After the 2014 Maidan coup, the Ukrainian Army was built up into one of the largest armies in Europe by the United States and NATO to create a bridgehead against Russia. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian civil war in the Russian-speaking region of Donbas resulted in 14,000 deaths between 2014 -2022. The duplicity of the West in guaranteeing the Minsk agreements to stop the Donbas civil war with no intention of honouring them but using the time to build up the Ukrainian Army further, as confirmed by Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, just added to the distrust of the West in Russia. Russia perceived Ukraine to be an existential threat on its borders, created by NATO, which would have to be dealt with. So the war did not suddenly begin on 24 February 2022 because of Russian aggression as the Western narrative portrays it.

The next myth is ‘that, in the Russia -Ukraine war, plucky Ukraine is resisting an imperialist Russian land grab’

On the contrary, it is a full spectrum economic, financial, and military US-led Western war on Russia that’s using Ukraine as a proxy. The West, to date, has slapped over 18,000 sanctions on Russia in the hope, as US President Joe Biden said, that it would crater the Russian economy and the ruble would become “rubble”. In just two years, the US and the European Union have provided almost $200 billion of financial and military aid to Ukraine. In comparison, the total Indian defence budget including pay and pensions is just approximately $75 billion.

It’s widely accepted that battlefield intelligence, satellite surveillance and communication by Elon Musk’s Starlink are provided to the Ukrainian Army by NATO. Western Special Forces are present on the ground with the Ukraine Army helping them with planning, targeting and operating sophisticated weapons systems. The intercepted video conversation of 19 February between General Ingo Gerhartz, Chief of the German Luftwaffe, and four officers on destroying the Crimean Kerch bridge with Taurus missiles is the most recent proof.

The West has supplied hundreds of tanks and thousands of combat vehicles, Patriot and other air defence systems, anti-tank weapons, cruise missiles and millions of rounds of ammunition to Ukraine. The latest Leopard, Challenger and Abrams tanks, M113 and Marder Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems), ATACMS (Army Tactical Missile Systems), and Storm Shadow missiles have been supplied to Ukraine. The West sees it as a golden opportunity to inflict a ‘strategic defeat’ on Russia and weaken it, as specifically stated by the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. A recent article in The New York Times has confirmed that 12 secret CIA bases were established in Ukraine after 2014 to spy on Russia and train the Ukrainians.

The third myth is that ‘Putin is a warmonger who will not stop at Ukraine; he wants to attack Europe and may even use nuclear weapons to do so’

One just has to listen to the speeches by Putin to know that at no stage has Russia ever threatened any European country. The three goals of the Special Military Operation are clearly laid out to protect the Russian-speaking population persecuted by Ukraine and to demilitarise and denazify Ukraine. The rhetoric imputing Russia wanting to attack Europe and being ready to use nuclear weapons comes from US, EU and European politicians, media and military figures.

The fourth myth is that ‘the battlefield is stalemated and ultimately Russia is going to lose the war’

This is also untrue. After the spectacular failure of the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the summer of 2023 and the recent capture of the Ukrainian stronghold of Avdiivka, the Russians are advancing on all sections of the 1,000-kilometre frontline, even in the current rasputitsa (mud) season. Their strategic intent is to grind down and destroy the Ukrainian Army. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu of Russia said recently that the Ukrainians are losing between 800 to 1,000 men every day along with 100-plus items of weapons and equipment.

No army can sustain that kind of loss. Websites that track casualties through obituaries and publicly available information calculate that the Ukrainians have lost approximately 450,000 – 500,000 soldiers. The Ukrainian Army is being destroyed as we speak and no amount of assistance can save it now. Russia will win this war, the only question now is how far West will the Russian Army go with most guesses being at least up to the Dnipro River and the Odesa-Kharkiv line.

Another myth is that ‘the West has a free press and the rule of law’

The moment the war started there was a concerted effort throughout the mainstream media in the West to completely suppress the Russian point of view and only show the Western and Ukrainian narrative. Internet access to Russian media has been blocked in the West. Russia Today and other Russian channels have been banned in the Western world. Western society has gone so far as to try to boycott Russian sportspersons and cancel Russian culture by preventing art shows, ballet, music and anything to do with Russia from being shown in the West. These are hardly the signs of a free press. As regards the rule of law, $300 billion worth of Russian sovereign foreign exchange reserves have been seized in the US and Europe without any basis in international law. This is nothing but theft. So much for the rule of law.

The last myth is that ‘Russia is being weakened by this war’

The situation is the exact opposite. Sanctions forced Russia to focus on domestic production and turn to markets away from the West. The Russian economy is today growing faster than Europe, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projecting a growth of 2.6 per cent in 2024 against 0.9 per cent for Europe. At the same time, major European countries like Germany are slipping into recession. Russian ties with the global majority are being strengthened. Russian oil revenues in 2023 showed no signs of collapsing as the West wanted and expected. Russian society has become more cohesive and strong.

Putin is as popular as ever and has recently been re-elected with over 87 per cent of the vote. The Crocus City Hall atrocity has unified Russian society like never before. An average of 30,000 Russians volunteer and sign contracts to serve in the Army every month, with the Russian Army growing to a force of 1.2 million. Russian defence production has increased manifold and is easily supplying the Russian Army with modern weaponry and ammunition much faster than the West can supply the Ukrainians. Russia will emerge from this war with the most battle-tested, well-equipped and combat-ready Army in Europe. So it is certainly not being weakened.

We have been relentlessly fed a one-sided narrative by the Western mainstream media, which is far removed from reality and has propagated certain myths. The Indian media needs to try and give the public a more balanced and realistic account of the situation and not unquestionably accept what is fed to them.


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