Written by Daniel Edgar exclusively for SouthFront
Numerous analysts have noted that Russia is being annihilated by the Western countries in the ‘information war’ theatre of operations, urging much greater effort is necessary to address this aspect of the conflict. It would however be counterproductive to try to compete with ‘the West’ on its own terms in the conflict of narratives, beyond refuting the most publicized allegations and accusations with verifiable evidence and testimony so that the Ukrainian people and other interested parties can examine the respective claims and all available evidence in order to reach their own conclusions. International media outlets that demonstrate some inclination and capacity for independent and sincere reporting and analysis based on the available evidence could be invited to dispatch reporters and mutually acceptable experts to investigate and verify the facts in terms of specific incidents and controversies as well as in terms of the overall nature and course of the conflict. Any attempt to impose the Russian perspective and narrative over the Western narrative will not succeed, in the Ukraine or elsewhere.
As an example of the power of persuasion of the Western media complex, most people in the world believe that the Twin Towers and Tower 7 of the World Trade Centre collapsed as the result of office fires rather than due to controlled demolition, even in New York City itself, notwithstanding the implausibility of such assertions and the accumulation of evidence to the contrary over time. When all Western corporate media outlets present the same assertions and information as indisputable fact and exclude other evidence, opinions and analysis from their coverage (other than the carefully managed presentation of a small number of dissenting opinions that avoid the main topics and are easily refuted or discredited), it is difficult not to believe the narrative that has been established.
While Russia cannot match the West in the international media, their ability to reach people in the Ukraine in order to present the Russian perspective of the conflict is much greater and this domain will be the most crucial in terms of persuading members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces – and the people more generally – that, while their sense of patriotism and natural instinct to defend their country against a foreign invasion is admirable, the best way to defend their sovereignty, security and welfare (both national and individual) is to surrender to the Russian Armed Forces in an orderly and dignified manner so that the destruction of the country’s infrastructure and economy are minimized and they can participate in the reconstruction of the country as soon as possible.
This obviously requires a huge ‘leap of faith’ on behalf of the Ukrainian people, who are currently forced to choose between several bad options: try to flee the violence, ‘go West’, and hope that if and when they return their property and belongings haven’t been destroyed or ransacked; ‘stay home’, try to not get killed, endure the suffering until the conflict ends, and hope that when the Russians arrive they treat the citizens of Ukraine with respect and goodwill; join the armed forces or militias, and try to ‘kill a Russky or two’ before they are caught, captured, or forced to flee to the West and perhaps be recruited to participate in the new & improved ‘Gladio’ networks to undertake sabotage and terror missions against Ukraine in the future.
Many would no doubt also respond: How can one possibly surrender to an invading military force and maintain one’s dignity, particularly the members of the Armed Forces who are sworn to defend their country and people against any and all threats no matter what the personal cost? Many factors and arguments can be presented to address this question.
One is that Ukrainians should stop and think before they rush off to the local military recruitment office at the urging of the international and Ukrainian media, to try to analyse and understand the broader context and geopolitical situation beyond the immediate instinct to flee, fight or stay put and hope the storm passes. Review and discuss the situation among themselves, and consider the respective risks, advantages and consequences of each alternative course of action in terms of specific local conditions and the broader context.
What will continuing to fight the Russian forces from increasingly besieged and destroyed cities achieve and a few regional hubs in the western part of the country achieve, other than more deaths and destruction? Whether they like it or not, the Russian armed forces have achieved complete theatre control in many key areas, destroying the capacity of the Ukrainian armed forces to operate the types of major coordinated defensive and counter-offensive operations that would be necessary to reverse this fact. Even if major ground operations were successful, a large part of Ukraine’s heavy military equipment has been destroyed and the Russians will still have complete air superiority.
While the ‘patriotic’ Ukrainian and international media are urging people to resist and fight the Russians to the last Ukrainian, claiming that the Russians can be defeated militarily and that NATO will protect and support them, it must be increasingly clear to all but the most thoroughly indoctrinated or fanatical that the only thing that can prevent the Russian military from taking over most if not all Ukraine territory now is an order from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Moreover, the longer and more intense the futile resistance of what remains of the Ukrainian armed forces goes on, the greater and more enduring the destruction and suffering will be. The only winner will be the United States, whose leadership is obsessed with the idea of weakening Russia at any cost and maintaining its military occupation of and control over the rest of Europe.
The question also needs to be asked by Ukrainians trying to decide between the main options outlined above: are the Ukrainian government and media as well as Western countries so intent on urging people to sacrifice their lives in order to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty and the well-being of the Ukrainian people, or so that they can consolidate Western control over the Ukrainian State, economy and people through the collaboration exercised by a small number of corrupt and privileged vested political and economic groups?
Most importantly from the immediate individual perspective, if all the men of fighting age rush off to fight the Russkies at the front lines, who is going to be there to defend and protect their families and homes, whether from invading Russkies, marauding paramilitary groups, or others seeking to take advantage of the situation to ransack properties or commit other crimes and atrocities?
If local conditions permit, maybe they can form neighbourhood self-defence groups to maintain order and security in the immediate surroundings and discuss establishing a collective position on relations with the authorities and armed forces, whether Ukrainian or Russian depending on the situation.
From the Russian point of view, the military operation in Ukraine was necessary to defend the country against what appeared to have been an inevitable war against the Western/ NATO countries which has been meticulously prepared for over the last few decades, pushing their military installations and forces ever closer to the Russian heartland, conducting regular large-scale strategic nuclear attack, conventional and hybrid warfare manoeuvres and operations.
Over the last few years Ukraine had opened its territory to all of these activities, including overflights by nuclear-capable bombers, and it seemed to be just a matter of time before US military bases were established and nuclear missiles deployed to Ukraine, whether the Ukraine had been accepted into the European Union and NATO or not. Such military installations would in effect be US sovereign territory entirely under the control of the US military and used to advance the geopolitical interests and objectives of the US financial and political elites, not to protect and defend the Ukrainian people.
As with Turkey and Georgia, it is questionable whether the core European countries will ever accept them as full members of the European Union (other than as a propaganda stunt during the conflict), and they will probably never accept the people of the countries of Eastern Europe or the Middle East as equals; rather, they would be accepted into these organizations because they represent additional markets, infrastructure, natural and human resources for their companies to capture, control and exploit, as well as being strategic and expendable frontier territories for NATO (read, the people that control the financial-military-industrial complex in the US, the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain and Italy, whoever and whatever the hell they are) in order to establish a ‘full spectrum dominance’ military presence with which they could further provoke, threaten and harass Russia. Many Ukrainians may well consider being ‘under the protection of the US nuclear umbrella’ a reassuring prospect, failing to realize that participating in the NATO expansion and subjugating themselves to complete US military control over their territory greatly increases the likelihood of a devastating nuclear conflict in which their country will be one of the first to be obliterated.
Moreover, as in all other countries where they operate, all US military personnel and contractors would have operated freely in all parts of Ukraine, the Ukrainian military and authorities would have no jurisdiction over them, and they would be granted ‘full diplomatic immunities and privileges’ so that, apart from complete exemption from all Ukrainian military, police or customs inspections, whenever US military personnel or contractors commit crimes against Ukrainians if anyone complains or tries to prosecute them the perpetrators will be hastily redeployed to a US military garrison in some other corner of the world subject to US military occupation.
There was therefore not much Ukrainian sovereignty left to protect, it had already been surrendered voluntarily.
Possible measures to prepare for the post-conflict period
** Establish a joint Russian-Ukrainian ‘Truth and Justice Commission’ to investigate and discuss all relevant political, economic and military developments prior to and during the conflict, with regional sub-commissions, and invite neighbouring countries to participate. To do this effectively, many military and intelligence documents and materials and all related ‘diplomatic’ correspondence will have to be declassified and made available; if the people are to trust the politicians and bureaucrats (and the Ukrainians are to trust the Russians), the politicians and bureaucrats must trust the people (and the Russians must trust the Ukrainian people) and recognize their right to be informed rather than treating them like children or simpletons who must be told what to think, what to do and what to believe.
** Establish national and regional Commissions and technical committees to discuss and plan for the economic and social reconstruction of the country and provide for interim governing arrangements. These must be ‘of, by and for the Ukrainian people’, with transparent procedures for the people of each region and district to select their own representatives and members. Preliminary steps could be taken in areas that have already been secured, both as ‘pilot studies’ to test their viability and in order to try to reassure Ukrainians in contested areas that they will not be killed by the Russian forces if they do not try to attack them, that they will have every opportunity to participate in and control future developments in their region, and that if they surrender rather than make a ‘heroic’ but futile last stand their regions won’t be further affected by the military conflict and they can begin to rebuild their lives and their communities. This could include a sub-commission to explore the Chinese proposal of making Ukraine a ‘bridge between the East and the West’ rather than being the primary battleground in the Russia-NATO confrontation for the foreseeable future, with an internationally guaranteed status of military neutrality and amicable relations with all nations to the extent this is possible.
** As far as is possible and practicable, establish surveillance and monitoring posts and platforms to maintain constant surveillance and recording/ documentation of installations where it is suspected that ‘false flag’ attacks and extremely destructive and deadly sabotage operations might be undertaken, in order to increase the amount of evidence available to identify the nature and perpetrators of such attacks and to be able to refute claims that such incidents were the result of Russian aviation, missile or artillery bombardments. Ukrainians could be encouraged to record and document ongoing developments in their regions and localities, to establish additional records and testimony as to what is happening in conflict areas. This would be particularly useful in areas where there are allegations that Ukrainian military and paramilitary units are in effect holding the residents of some cities hostage, preventing them from leaving through humanitarian corridors so that they can be used as ‘human shields’. In this way, if it turns out that Russian claims that they have been taking many precautions to protect civilian lives are true, this can be verified by the Ukrainian people themselves with irrefutable evidence and the extra casualties that have been incurred by the Russian forces as a result will not have been in vain.
** As a local variant of what has been suggested with respect to the properties of Russian oligarchs in the UK (by Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kiev, if I am not mistaken), all properties of Ukrainian oligarchs (and Western financial-corporate predators and vulture funds – I mean, foreign investors) could be confiscated, nationalised and returned to the people of Ukraine. The systematic plundering and pillaging of Ukraine’s infrastructure and resources since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the ‘Deep State’ and ‘Deep Finance’ political, bureaucratic and financial/ economic networks responsible would be worthy of another independent Commission in the context of economic recovery and social justice plans and projects.