Distortion of information about the Ukrainian crisis: Ukrainian army war crimes, flight MH17
Common sense suggests making the right diagnosis on a crisis situation before taking political decisions. A right understanding of facts on the ground and a balanced view of the situation is necessary to avoid mistakes. The crisis in Ukraine is a very bad example regarding these principles as objectivity has been rarely applied within the European Union. Preconceived ideas about the Ukrainian crisis from European Union Member States governments, but also huge media campaign of disinformation in the Western mainstream media have distorted many facts.
Omission of facts and biased information is harming the understanding of what is at stake in the Ukrainian crisis. It prevents the European Union Member States from taking the right decisions according to their own interests, and harm the credibility of the European project as a whole for its own citizens but also its neighbours.
To have more balanced information, it is nevertheless quite easy to highlight the huge contradictions of the information disseminated or omitted by the media or some EU Member States governments.
The coup d’État in Kiev
The protest labelled as «Euromaidan» began on the 21th of November 2013 in Kiev after some opposition parties disagreed with the decision of the Government of Ukraine to suspend the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union.
Ultranationalist, neo-Nazi, and extremist forces which have monopolized the Euromaidan protests and demonstrations transformed the protest into a violent coup d’État. Right-wing activists associated with Pravyi Sektor organized trainings on tactics for violent confrontation with law enforcement officials and initiated the formation of the Maidan Self-Defence groups. They also started to occupy regional and Kiev administration buildings.
From the 18th to 21th February, 77 persons, both protestors and police officers were killed by snipers. During a telephone conversation between the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy Mrs Catherine Ashton and the Estonian Foreign minister Urma Spaet, the Estonian Minister informed Mrs Ashton that he suspected that the snipers were coming from the side of organizers of the violent demonstrations and not the police of the Kiev government according to the information he collected.
On the 21th of February, the Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and the leaders of the three opposition parties, Vladimir Klitschko (Udar), A. Yatsenyuk (AUU Batkivshchyna) and O. Tyagnibok (AUU Svoboda) signed an agreement on resolving the crisis in Ukraine, and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Poland, and France, helped to strike a deal as mediators. The deal included:
-A return to the 2004 Constitution,
– A constitutional reform (to be implemented before September 2014),
-Early presidential elections (to be implemented before December 2014),
-Formation of a national unity government,
-End of occupation of administrative and public building and circulation of illegal weapons,
-Renunciation of the use of force on both sides.
However, this agreement has not been respected and the Ukrainian nationalists took power after the president Viktor Yanukovych had to flee after he received death threats.
On the 23th of February 2014, the decision was made in the Verkhovna Rada to appoint Speaker O. Turchynov as interim President of Ukraine for the period up to the next elections.
After this regime change, the European Union and Member States governments choose to consider the next regime as legitimate, even if it meant that they didn’t stick to the previous agreement made between all parties. It is also surprising that the European Union and its Member States didn’t require an independent enquiry (under the supervision of OSCE?) about the snipers’ case before supporting any new Ukrainian authorities.
More violence erupted after the Coup d’état and a mass-killing of Ukrainian federalization supporters by Ukrainian neo-Nazis took place in Odessa.
Herman van Rompuy told at a press conference on the 5th of June that the group of seven (G7 summit in Brussels) demanded an independent investigation of the various killings in Ukraine. Despite the lack of any real enquiry by the new Ukrainian authorities, why did the European Union and its Members States continue to give their support to the new regime?
The war crimes of the new Ukrainian regime: why is the EU blind?
The European and American governments gave their support to the new self-appointed regime after the coup d’état in February 2014 and newly elected Poroshenko government. This new government promised to undertake negotiations taking account the whole of Ukraine to stabilize the situation. However, the Poroshenko government constantly used military force to try to control the Eastern regions of Ukraine and committed war crimes. The so-called « anti-terrorist operation » of the Poroshenko government was launched against the Ukrainians citizens in favour of a federalization of the country.
The European Union Member States and the United States have decided to exert different layers of sanctions on Russia as they accused Vladimir Putin to support the Eastern Ukrainian rebels. However, they never put pressure on the Poroshenko government to avoid the use of military force and initiate the promised negotiations. They also refrained from any critics on the war crimes committed from the Ukrainian army and National Gard. This has resulted in enlarging the margins of manoeuvre of the Poroshenko government to use violence against rebels but also Ukrainian civilians, even after the cease-fire from the 5th of September, causing overall more than 4000 deaths.
There is an important fact which went largely unnoticed among main stream Western medias. During the Ukrainian Kiev army offensive in the Dombass region, many refugees chose to flee to Russia, and not in Western Ukraine. This fact highlights the lack of credibility of the Kiev government and its army for Russian–speaking Ukrainians in the East of Ukraine. If a great part of the refugee flows went East across the Russian border and not West, that is the proof that Eastern Ukrainians feel more secure in Russia, and not in Kiev or Western Ukraine controlled by a government claiming it represents all Ukrainians.
The war crimes committed by the Ukrainian army include:
-The bombing of cities causing civilian casualties and provoking ethnic cleansing as the Ukrainians flee from the combat zones
-The executions of civilians and military prisoners and robbery,
-The widespread use of cluster munitions,
-The presence of neo-fascist in the Ukrainian National Gard.
Massive violations of human rights and rule of law in Ukraine
When painting the conflict in black and white, the American and European Union main stream media and governments have constantly accused the « federalization promoters » and the Russian government to be responsible for the destabilization of Ukraine. However, facts on the ground have shown a very different situation.
The new Ukrainian regime committed many violations of human rights and the rule of law. These include:
-Massive threats, intimidation, kidnapping and murder of political opponents of the new regime or supposed pro-Russian citizens,
-Restrictions, intimidation and murder of Russian journalists but also Ukrainian journalists criticizing the new Ukrainian regime,
-Linguistic and ethnic discrimination with prevention of Russian citizens to cross the Ukrainian border, boycott of Russian products, destruction of Russian cultural centres, incitation to hatred to ethnic Russians, threats to citizens speaking Russian language in order to switch to Ukrainian language,
-Threats to the Ukrainian orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate.
The main consequence of the military operation promoted by the new Ukrainian government is the political radicalization of the Ukrainians initially in favour of the federalization of the country. Since there were too many civilians casualties, they are now demanding even more autonomy or independence. The necessary negotiations will be more difficult as the new authorities in charge in Kiev have lost legitimacy in the South East of Ukraine.
As a result of the lack of trust from Ukrainians living in the Dombass area towards the central Ukrainian government, de facto independence of these territories called « Novorussia » is now the most likely scenario (the map on the result of the last presidential elections reflects the geopolitical division of Ukraine as the new president Poroshenko draw its legitimacy mainly from the West of the country and its lowest score is located in the South East of Ukraine. These facts shown by electoral geography contradicts the mainstream Western media reporting about the so called « landslide victory » of Poroshenko in the whole of Ukraine).
The current likely scenario is the formation of a new « frozen conflict » on the model of Georgia or Moldova/Transnistria. The conflict might also extend itself if the second Poroshenko government try to resolve it again with military means. The Poroshenko government and its war crimes are largely responsible for this situation, but also the European Union and American governments who made the mistake to support the military campaign of the central Ukrainian government and minimized the suffering of the Ukrainian federalization promoters as their rights were denied and identity endangered.
The MH17 affair
Within hours of the downing of the Malaysian plane MH17 in the sky over Ukraine on the 17th of July 2014, separatists in Ukraine and the Russian government have been accused to be responsible by the American government, but also many politicians from the European Union Member States and the main stream Western media, without any material evidence or official enquiry.
The American vice-president Jo Biden accused again the « separatists » in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin to be responsible for the downing of Malaysian plane MH17 in his speech the 3th of October at Harvard University: “Putin sought to keep secret Russian support for separatists who shot down a civilian airliner. We exposed it to the world, and in turn rallied the world. And remember this all began because Putin sought to block Ukraine’s accession agreement with the European Union. Well, guess what: That agreement was signed and ratified several weeks ago.”
However, the most vocal critics of the way this affair has been managed come from the United States itself.
Senior U.S. Intelligence Officers from an association called Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) criticized the way the American government accused Russia without showing any evidence of it in a memorandum addressed to the President. “In charging Russia with being directly or indirectly responsible, Secretary of State John Kerry has been particularly definitive. Not so the evidence. His statements seem premature and bear earmarks of an attempt to “poison the jury pool.”
“Our entire professional experience would incline us to suspect the Russians – almost instinctively. Our more recent experience, particularly observing Secretary Kerry injudiciousness in latching onto one spurious report after another as “evidence,” has gone a long way toward balancing our earlier predispositions”.
The modus operandi of the propaganda campaign against the Ukrainian rebels and Russia is based on very simple and old propaganda tricks: In the same article or official press conference, you incriminate your enemy, and just one sentence later, you admit having no evidence of what your are suggesting. This trick is wonderfully exemplified in these following extracts from an article from the Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank on military: « Still, incriminating evidence against Russia keeps popping up. Igor Strelkov, the Russian rebels’ commander in the area where the plane was hit, is on record as boasting about the downing of what he considered to be a Ukrainian aircraft at about the same time as the destruction of the MH17 flight. The Ukrainian authorities have also released a recording of a phone conversation between ethnic rebels and their patrons back in Moscow, in which they appear to admit to the destruction of the Malaysian Airways’ flight. But there is no independent confirmation of the accuracy of these recordings ».
A Malaysian media, the New Strait Times, went even further and suggested the downing of the plane was done by Ukrainian forces. The examination of some of the wreckage of the plane by OSCE experts offered alternative explanations like a downing of the Malaysian plane by a Ukrainian military plane. The Dutchman in charge of the enquiry, Fred Westerbeke, also didn’t exclude the possibility of the downing of the MH17 plane by another plane. Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans also said that one of the passenger of the Malaysia Airlines plane was found wearing an oxygen mask, adding more mystery to this case .
The silence of the media and the American and European governments after the release of the first interim report of the inquiry by the Dutch authorities the 9th of September 2014 is contrasting with the initial accusations just hours after the crash of the plane. The report states that « The available images show that the pieces of wreckage were pierced in numerous places. The pattern of damage to the aircraft fuselage and the cockpit is consistent with that which may be expected from a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside”.
The German debate: accusations, but no evidence
The German public debate is very interesting as many German citizens and opposition parties have paid attention to the contradictions coming from the government and mainstream media. The German deputies of the opposition party Die Linke have asked the German government to clarify which information it has regarding the Ukrainian crisis and the MH17 flight. The answer is very interesting.
The question from the German opposition in the German Parliament asked the German government if they could reveal what has been recorded by the AWACS NATO planes flying in Romania and Poland since the Ukrainian crises started. The NATO AWACS gathered information on military activity and certainly have plenty of interesting information.
The German government replied that since the Netherlands was in charge of the inquiry, it couldn’t reveal anything since the Chicago convention on the international civil aviation stipulates that no interim report could be published and only with the approval of the State in charge of the enquiry. This argumentation gives de facto a veto right on the Dutch government to reveal the findings of the inquiry.
The German government report also stated in its introduction that « for example, the chairman of the German Parliament CDU/CSU fraction responsible for the Foreign, Defence and security Dr Andreas Schockenhoff said during an radio interview (WDR) on the 31 7st of July that it has been proved that the rebels in Eastern Ukraine have been helped by heavy war equipement and Russian special forces. That Putin had direct influence, and it has been always like this in the past, and that the special Russian forces were leading the Eastern Ukrainian rebels and they instructed them for the use of BUK anti-aircraft system, with witch the Malaysian plane was probably downed. These findings were clearly proved through radio recordings ».
The German government replied to the question of the opposition German deputies in total contradiction with what it said in the introduction about the comments of Dr Andreas Schockenhoff. The report says that « it is aware of the telephone record from the Ukrainian secret services published in the media. Its authenticity couldn’t be confirmed ». This sentence just reinforced the suspicion that the German government has no proof of what it is saying about the telephone recording used to accuse the Eastern Ukrainians rebels for the downing of the plane.
Regarding the accusation of Dr Andreas Schockenhof that the « pro-Russian rebels » were given help by the Russian Special Forces for using the BUK antimissile system against the MH17 plane, the German government also replied that the information was classified by the secret services because of security reasons and because of the cooperation with other foreign information agencies.
There are also contradictions between what the American and Ukrainians authorities pretend to know and the hypotheses of the German secret services (BND). The BND claims to have intelligence indicating that pro-Russian separatists captured a BUK air defence missile system at a Ukrainian military base and fired a missile on July 17. The Americans however accused the Russian forces to have operated the Buk missile system. Regarding the satellite images of the American and German secret services, the Dutchman Fred Westerbeke in charge of the international enquiry declared that he doesn’t know precisely which satellite images this is going to be and that the material in its possession is not enough to prove anything. According to the famous American journalist Robert Parry, "By withholding this evidence for nearly three months, the West has benefited from keeping alive the anti-Russian propaganda” .
Concerning the accusation on the 27th of August from NATO that more than 1000 Russian soldiers entered Ukrainian Eastern territory, the information from satellite images has also been classified as confidential by the German government. It is important to underline that NATO has constantly accused the Russian speaking rebels and the Russian government for the downing of the plane and for the overall destabilisation of Ukraine. We have to keep in mind that NATO has a vested interest in making Russia the new enemy for its own survival and for reviving article V in order to make the USA the « indispensable » Nation on the Eurasian continent to prevent multipolarity to emerge.
The way the States in charge of the enquiry handle the affair looks like the German and Dutch governments have something to hide.
It also means that the sanctions against Russia at European level have been decided on something they cannot prove as the German government answer to the opposition question underlines that : « Based on the assertion that Russia was involved in the activities of the rebels in East Ukraine and in particular in relation with the downing of the Flight MH17, the European Union imposed on the 1th August 2014 the third layer sanctions against Russia, and they reach for the first time significant elements of its economy.
Many other questions remained so far unanswered:
Why are the black boxes of the MH17 plane in London, when we know the privileged relation of the United Kingdom’s government with the American government and its vested interest in weakening Russia to preserve Anglo-Saxon dominance?
Why is information concerning this affair classified as confidential in the Netherlands and in Germany?
How can information from the Ukrainian Poroshenko government be reliable since it is working closely with the United States government and receive directly sums of money for its military (officially, 115 millions$), and Ukrainian intelligence SBU working closely with the CIA?
Why is there not a single witness in Eastern Ukraine of the smoke emitted by the firing of a BUK missile?
The EU credibility into question
Blaming the Russian side for the downing of the plane allows the governments opposed to Russia to make people forget about the real stakes by demonizing the enemy:
The complex geopolitical rivalry between a pro-American Ukrainian government coming into power after a coup d’état and Russian speaking separatists feeling threatened by the central government from which their representatives were eliminated.
At global level, blaming Russia serves to distract attention on what is at stake: The rivalry between the American and the most atlanticist European governments trying to detach Ukraine from Russia to preserve the global Western dominance. They are opposed to Russia defending its vital national interests anchored in a long term historical vision since Crimea and Eastern Ukraine were part of Russian territory during four centuries.
Willy Wimmer, former German defence policy spokesman of the CDU/CSU and former Vice President of the OSCE declared that the United States try to use Ukraine as a bulwark not only against Russia. The geopolitical objective is to erect a buffer zone under U.S. control between the Baltic States, Poland and Ukraine to the Black Sea. This goal has already been anticipated at least since the NATO summit in Riga in 2006. The objective is also a total control over the Ukraine without the Europeans through this manoeuvre: create a new dividing line between Russia and Western Europe and destroy the good economic relations between Russia and Germany.
Then, Western Europe would be in total control from the United States.
The American vice-president Jo Biden admited to have put pressure (till embarassment) on the Europeans to decide sanctions in his speech the 3th of October at Harvard University:
“Throughout we’ve given Putin a simple choice: Respect Ukraine’s sovereignty or face increasing consequences. That has allowed us to rally the world’s major developed countries to impose real cost on Russia. It is true they did not want to do that. But again, it was America’s leadership and the President of the United States insisting, oft times almost having to embarrass Europe to stand up and take economic hits to impose costs. And the results have been massive capital flight from Russia, a virtual freeze on foreign direct investment, a ruble at an all-time low against the dollar, and the Russian economy teetering on the brink of recession.”
The American, British and German pressure on France regarding the Mistral ship contracts, but also the BNP fines are an example of what the Americans and their close allies can do to force their partners to follow their policies and infringe on their sovereignty.
In front of these global challenges, the European Union Member States should defend their own interests and not allow themselves to be manipulated by external power interests.
The credibility of the EU is at risk as it pretends to defend Human rights and peace, but refrain to apply its principles in the case of the Ukrainian crisis and showing self restraint regarding the war crimes of the Poroshenko government officially receiving their political and financial support. This attitude is largely harming the reputation of the EU as an honest broker to help to stabilize the situation as it constantly only accuse the Russian government for the crisis. The European Union institutions and Member States are applying double standards and lose credibility, not only in the Russian–speaking world, but also in front of EU citizens.
18. Wahlperiode 09.09.2014 Kleine Anfrage der Abgeordneten Sevim Dağdelen, Dr. Alexander S. Neu, Heike Hänsel, Annette Groth, Andrej Hunko, Niema Movassat und der Fraktion DIE LINKE.