Thursday, April 17, 2014

Get Ready for Banderastan

The Gray Lady presents a horn of plenty in her coverage of the unfolding crisis in Ukraine this morning. But on closer inspection the edibles turn out to be the usual assortment of dried dung we have come to expect from the paper's foreign affairs reporting.

There are two noteworthy pieces. First, Andrew Kramer's tendentious coverage ("Ukrainian Security Forces Kill 3 Pro-Russian Protesters") of the murder of pro-Russian protesters in the port city of Mariupol by members of the newly created neo-Nazi National Guard. Kramer repeats the line being laid down by putschist interim interior minister Arsen Avakov that after repeated attempts to calmly and peacefully disperse an armed mob trying to overrun the Guard's military installation there was an exchange of fire and three pro-Russian protesters were killed:
Ukrainian security forces killed three pro-Russian protesters, wounded 13 and took 63 captive in a firefight overnight in the eastern city of Mariupol, the interim Ukrainian interior minister said on Thursday. The clash was the most lethal so far in the east of the country. 
The minister, Arsen Avakov, said pro-Russian protesters had tried to storm a base used by troops in the newly formed National Guard, which has drawn from volunteers who took part in last winter’s protest movement against the government.
For a different perspective, check out The Guardian's version, "Fatal clashes at Ukrainian military base":
But footage published by 0629 appeared to show a disorganised assault by protesters, who said they had been unarmed and were seeking negotiations. 
In a video posted on the site, a masked man wearing a St George's ribbon and a military helmet said after "the gates came down" soldiers began shooting at protesters and also threw stun grenades, wounding several of them. A man with him said a wounded comrade had been left inside the base, indicating protestors had penetrated the walls. 
"We were yelling, asking for the troops, the commander, to come out for negotiations, because no one here wants blood. They answered with shooting," the first man said. 
A third man said troops had fired at "peaceful residents". In another video, a masked man with a megaphone standing behind some lorries calls on troops inside the base to come out: "We don't want you – our guys, friends, comrades – to suffer."
None of this is even hinted at in Kramer's story, nor is the well-known fact, except for the person who reads the Gray Lady exclusively, that the new Ukrainian National Guard is composed mainly of Right Sector and Svoboda fighters.

But Kramer outdoes himself in providing an apologia for the stunning -- maybe a better word would be "epic" -- rout of the Ukrainian military yesterday in its failed effort to subdue the popular uprising in the Donbass:
Driving off the separatists in such a mixed crowd, or even trying to arrest them, would be a difficult task for a well-disciplined force with high morale. It would risk endangering civilians, potentially leading to bloodshed that might provoke a Russian military reaction. 
But there are few signs that the Ukrainian military or the National Guard is trained or equipped for such crowd-control tactics. Ukraine disbanded the country’s riot police, the Berkut, after the uprising in February. 
The methods appear to put the current government in the position of facing the protest and street fighting tactics that brought it to power just two months ago. The pro-Russians, however, are backing a different cause: Those in the east are not seeking the overthrow of a corrupt government and closer association with the European Union, but an expansion of Russian influence in Ukraine.
No, protesters in eastern Ukraine are seeking to separate themselves from an illegal government brought to power in a putsch by an armed gang of neo-Nazis.

This is why the Western governments and their heralds in the prestige press continue to lose the information war. They have to elide the glaringly obvious: the current national government in Kiev is illegal; it came to power through a violent insurrection against a elected president. Any occlusion of this fact, which is a sin qua non for the Gray Lady's coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, is going to strain the credibility of the reporting.

Kramer does provide some delicious texture to the putschists' epic defeat yesterday:
In Kiev, the Ministry of Defense initially denied that the armored vehicles had been captured. Then Sergei Sobolev, the acting head of the Fatherland party in Parliament, claimed that the armored vehicles had flown Russian flags as part of an ingenious subterfuge to get through pro-Russian crowds. 
Ukrainian news media quoted Mr. Sobolev as saying it was a “guerrilla approach” to infiltrate separatist-controlled areas through pro-Russian civilian mobs. Rather than a disastrous setback for Ukrainians, he said the appearance of Ukrainian military vehicles flying Russian flags was a “breakthrough” for the Ukrainian offensive, though it proved to be nothing of the sort. 
Later, the Ukrainian military conceded that six vehicles had been captured but said nothing of the surrender of rifles from the other column. 
Others struggled to understand why things had gone so badly wrong. “We try not to criticize our authorities, but it is obvious that we have more and more problems,” said Dmytro Tymchuk, a former military officer and director of the Center of Military and Political Research, a Kiev-based research group.
The second noteworthy story is Michael Gordon's "Kerry Joins Geneva Talks on Crisis in Ukraine," an earlier version of which was much more strident in its anti-Russian tone. Gordon is a faithful scribe of the U.S. State Department; really, he is identical to a government employee. In explicating the U.S. negotiating position going into the four-party talks that start today, Gordon quotes a senior State Department official saying, "The idea here is that they [Russia] would stop aiding and abetting and supporting the separatists and that they would pull their troops back from the border." Obviously this is a non-starter.

Nowhere is there any indication that the elites who run the show in Washington D.C. will seek to calm the situation and work with Russia to make sure that Ukraine can remain a viable state. Russia has to be a partner for Ukraine to exist. The White House doesn't care apparently. Its goal appears to be primarily a military one. So expect more mayhem. Get ready for Banderastan.

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