Getting the full story about Ukraine

A very informative video discussion: Are we getting the whole story about Ukraine? | Robert Wright & Ivan Katchanovski

Getting objective information on the situation in Ukraine and the cause of this current war is not easy. There is the current censorship and blatant mainstream media bias – which has been going on for years. And it takes work to actually uncover the real facts.

This video is long and well worth watching as it brings out the historical facts. Ivan Katchanovski has done a lot of work on the origins of ultranationalism in Ukraine and the crimes of the neo-Nazi Ukrainian collaborators during World War II

He has also made a very detailed study of the massacres that occurred during the anti-government Maidan demonstration in Kiev in February 2014. This shows that the sniper shooting of demonstrators and police came from the ultranationalist side – not the government side. A “false flag” aimed at getting western support for the coup which overthrew the democratically elected president.

As I said, getting the truth often takes a lot of work – especially in situations like today when there is so much disinformation promoted by governments and the media. But Ivan Katchanovski has the facts and Robert Wright draws out those facts during the interview.

A long video but well worth watching if you want to get the whole story about Ukraine.

The west vs the rest – the world is changing

I warned about the trap of virtue signaling in my article Virtue signaling over Ukraine. This video is still relevant – but have we moved on since then?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was universally condemned at the time. Or was it? Certainly, the political atmosphere in countries like New Zealand/Aotearoa was clear. Anyone arguing the Russian case was shouted down. Media sources like RT were banned. Social media took it upon themselves to actively censor any pro-Russia arguments. And the New Zealand government enthusiastically introduced anti-Russian actions with justification based on bias rather than logic.

But even in those early days when 141 countries voted in favour of a UN resolution deploring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there were words of warning. The Economist Intelligence published this map in its article of March 30, 2022, Russia can count on support from many developing countries”

This article pointed out that only “36% of the world’s population live in countries that have actively condemned Russia and imposed sanctions on its economy. Led by the US and the EU, this bloc includes all Western-leaning governments.”

However, nearly one-third of the world’s population live in a country that has so far remained neutral.” Economist Intelligence warned, that a significant share of these countries would align with Russia if tensions were to escalate.”

Added to this “another 32% of the world’s population live in a country where the government has supported Russia’s actions or where official declarations have echoed Russia’s narrative.” The article concluded that “these countries will try to benefit from closer ties with an anti-Western bloc, further reinforcing a split in the global economic and geopolitical landscape.”

Only a third of the world supported the US/EU/NATO condemnation of the Russian Federation. While another third was neutral, the fact is only a minority of the world was prepared to take any action.

The West vs the rest – it’s serious

These figures suggest that the world is now divided between a US-led minority and the “rest” a majority which refuses to go along with the US/EU/NATO narrative and actions.

In fact, this map shows that the US is taking economic actions (sanctions) against many countries in this majority.

Countries sanctioned in some form by the United States (as of 2022) according to Wikipedia. Map credit: JojotoRudess – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0[/caption]

Sanctions are a form of economic warfare suggesting that this division of the world is serious and permanent.

The West now refuses to condemn Nazism and Racism

The rest of the world can be forgiven for coming to this conclusion. The map below shows the distribution of voting on the UN General Assembly resolution “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”

The final vote on this resolution last December was 120 in support, 50 against and 10 abstentions.

I am certainly very unhappy about our government’s vote on this resolution. Opposition to Nazism and racism should be accepted by all rational people. Our government should not have succumbed to pressure from the US/EU/NATO bloc on this resolution.

The majority of the world wants economic justice

 

Last December the UN General Assembly resolution Towards a new international economic order was approved by 123 members, opposed by 5o (including New Zealand again) and there was 1 abstention.

The text of this resolution is very interesting. It calls for “a new international economic order based on the principles of equity, sovereign equality, interdependence, common interest, cooperation and solidarity among all States.”

It opposes “unilateral economic, financial or trade measures not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations that impede the full achievement of economic and social development, particularly in developing countries.” The majority of the world opposes the sanctions (really a form of economic warfare) imposed by the US/EU/NATO countries and their supporters like New Zealand/Aotearoa.

The resolution also demands “respect for each country’s policy space” and “respect the territorial integrity, national sovereignty and political independence of States.”

These are all things which I agree with, and it disgusts me that my country opposed these principles.

Conclusions

Let’s leave aside detailed arguments about the conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation – they can be discussed elsewhere. But I find the way counties have lined up on important issues like the need to oppose the glorification of Nazism and racism and important economic and financial principles related to justice and equality interesting. These are principles I willingly endorse, and I wish my country had sufficient independence to stand out against pressure from the US/EU/NATO and also endorse such important principles.

Sadly, our country does not have that independence. History will show we have chosen the wrong side.

Ukraine commemorates Nazi collaborators

Activists of various nationalist parties carry torches during a rally in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022. The rally was organized to mark the birth anniversary of Stepan Bandera, founder of a rebel army that collaborated with Nazi Germany and murdered thousands of Jews, Poles, Russians and Ukrainians (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

I have not seen anything yet about rallies in Ukraine commemorating the birth anniversary of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. These usually occur on January 1. Maybe such demonstrations in Kiev are banned under existing martial law. But this certainly has not stopped the commemoration of this birthday – after all Stepan Bander and other Nazi collaborators (responsible for the murder of thousands of Jews, Poles, Russians and Ukrainians in World War II are treated as national heroes in Ukraine.

For example, I hear from Eduard Dolinsky, Director General of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee that:

“The Verhovna Rada [Parliament] of Ukraine’s official FB and Twitter pages are celebrating the 114th birthday of Stepan Bandera.”

You cannot get a higher political level than that!

From the Twitter account of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine – Ukrainian Parliament (NOTE):

🇺🇦1 січня виповнюється 114 років від дня народження Степана Бандери (1909-1959).

Степан Бандера:
📌Коли між хлібом і свободою народ обирає хліб, він зрештою втрачає все, в тому числі і хліб. Якщо народ обирає свободу, він матиме хліб, вирощений ним самим і ніким не відібраний. pic.twitter.com/NxEmHa0SA7

— Верховна Рада України (@verkhovna_rada) January 1, 2023

Translated from Ukrainian:
 “January 1 marks the 114th anniversary of the birth of Stepan Bandera (1909-1959).
Stepan Bandera:  ‘When the people choose bread between bread and freedom, they ultimately lose everything, including bread. If the people choose freedom, they will have bread grown by themselves and not taken away by anyone.’
And from the Facebook account of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine – Ukrainian Parliament (NOTE):

NOTE: Both the Twitter and Facebook posts of the Verkhovna Rada were highly criticized by mainly Polish commentators. Both posts have subsequently been removed. A similar post by the Verkhovna Rada last year listing current Ukrainian “heroes” including Bandera and other Nazi collaborators was removed after complaints by Polish commentators and politicians.

Eduard Dolinsky has also commented on several other events in Ukraine marking this birthday.

And

Yet people try to tell me that Ukraine does not have a neo-Nazi problem. That the ultranationalists in the National Battalions formed after the 2014 coup have all been weeded out. Etc., etc. The examples above are only a small fraction of the commemorations held for Nazi collaborators in Ukraine. Then there are all the street names, statues, etc., commemorating these murderers.

Don’t tell me Ukraine doesn’t have a neo-Nazi problem!

Do New Zealanders no longer support Ukraine?

Of a possible 55 heads of state, only four made time to join a virtual address delivered by the African Union Assembly on June 20 by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Source: Ghana Web

So Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is to address the NZ Parliament next Wednesday. The address will be outside business hours (I will be interested to see how many MPs turn up) but it will please our Prime Minister, Jacinda Adern, who has pushed hard to get this address. As she sees it:

“This address is a valuable opportunity to reiterate our support for Ukraine directly to President Zelenskyy and hear from him what the international community can do to continue to support its people, and its sovereignty.”

But the New Zealand people don’t appear to share the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for Zelensky. Just look at the negative comments this news received on the Twitter announcements of the address by the NZ Herald, News Hub Politics, and 1News NZ.

Ukrainian flags were everywhere 9 months ago. Twitter activists used them in their comments.

 

Gone are those Twitter activists from 9 months ago who proudly virtue-signalled their support for Ukraine and hatred for Russia. They seemed to be everywhere. Nowadays such enthusiastic supporters are few and far between. The mood is quite the opposite.

There is an occasional “Slava Ukraini!” But the vast majority of comments are hostile to this address. Comments raise issues of the corruption in Ukraine, Zelensky’s personal corruption, his attitude of entitlement and his insistent demands for money and weapons, and his support for neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

This surprises me as I expected that New Zealanders had blindly accepted the government’s position on Ukraine. Even accepting New Zealand’s UN vote against a resolution condemning the glorification of Nazis and racism (see Is New Zealand covertly supporting the glorification of neo-Nazism?). Western Governments and media have competed in glorifying Zelensky as a brave and charismatic leader. The Financial Times even listed him as their Person of the Year.

Has the person on the street resisted all this pressure and come to their own mind about Zelensky?

I realise that Twitter commenters can be unrepresentative because they tend to congregate according to their biases. But these comments were on news media Twitter posts, so I expect them to be more representative. Maybe Elon Musk has somehow changed the composition of Twitter commenters, but I doubt it.

 

Have more and more ordinary New Zealanders resisted the media and government pressures to conform over Ukraine and the war in  Ukraine? Are more and more New Zealanders now thinking for themselves.

 

I think the more politically conscious amongst us have learned things about Ukraine and the causes of the war that they weren’t conscious of 9 months ago. The enthusiastic, but unthinking, support from Ukraine has dissipated. We have become more aware of the real nature of Ukrainian society and its recent history. We have become conscious of the 2014 coup which overthrew a democratically elected government. We now know now about the widespread influence of ultranationalists and neo-Nazis in society and in the military national battalions (see The subtlety of neo-Nazi influence in Ukraine – ignored by our media).

Whatever the reason I welcome this trend. A society blindly led by the government and media as happened 9 months ago is dangerous.

 

 

The subtlety of neo-Nazi influence in Ukraine – ignored by our media

Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

"Behind him is Bandera, the Nazi who organized the Volyn massacre, in the first week this bastard executed 15,000 Jews and 5,000 Ukrainians. Europe continues to support this commander-in-chief and his country with arms and money." - Twitter comment.

Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “Behind him is Bandera, the Nazi who organized the Volyn massacre, in the first week this bastard executed 15,000 Jews and 5,000 Ukrainians. Europe continues to support this commander-in-chief and his country with arms and money.” – Twitter comment.

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, our media tended to be relatively honest about the neo-Nazio problem in Ukraine. They covered things like the Azov battalion and the role of ultra-nationalist groups in the 2014 coup which overthrew the democratically elected government. Social media, like Twitter and Facebook, banned posts by the Azov battalion because of its neo-Nazi nature, and the US Congress attempted to ban the transfer of US weapons to the Azov battalion for the same reason.

Nowadays it’s a different story. Any talk of the Ukrainian neo-Nazi problem is jumped on. Citing these former stories in your social media posts and you will be accused of being a “Putin puppet.” And there are numerous articles devoted to whitewashing Ukraine. Explaining that the president is Jewish so how can Nazis have any influence, etc., etc.  You have probably heard all the excuses.

But the fact remains that ultranationalists, many with neo-Nazi characteristics, have a strong influence in Ukraine. After independence (and to some extent before independence) in 1991, there was a growth in ultranationalist influence. There have been strong moves to rewrite the history of Ukraine and to establish ultranationalist Nazi collaborators as Ukrainian state heroes. Building monuments to them. Naming streets after them. And so on – you get the picture.

The recent photograph of Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, illustrates the neo-Nazi influence in Ukraine. President Zelensky may be a Jew. There may be few evident neo-Nazi political parties elected to the Rada, the parliament. But the growth of ultranationalism means that the neo-Nazi influence is everywhere.

General Zaluzhnyi may not be an open neo-Nazi – but he has been photographed in front of a portrait of Stepan Bandera. Such photographs are common. Local officials and Mayors are photographed in front of such portraits because they are so everywhere in Ukrainian government structures – a bit like the Queen’s portrait in our government departments (or is it King Charles these days?)

Kiev

The Babi Yar memorial in Kiev stands at the end of two avenues which have been named after Nazi collaborators and mass murderers the Ukrainian government considers as national heroes – Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych

And then there are the memorials to these recent heroes who were Nazi collaborators and committed horrible crimes of genocide. I have illustrated some of these before (see Once again, those Russian neo-Nazis – the Wagner group), but the street names in Kiev are surely shameful. The avenues leading up to the Babi Yar memorial are now named after the two most prominent Nazi collaborators during World War Two – Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych.

Babi Yar

A German Einsatzgruppen soldier talks to two unidentified women at the top of the Babi Yar ravine, where more than 33,000 people, mostly Jews, were massacred on September 29 and 30, 1941. © Wikimedia

Unfortunately, these vital details (and there are a lot more) are not talked about these days. Our media no longer discusses the Ukrainian neo-Nazi problem. And I will be accused of being a “Putin puppet” or worse for daring to mention it.

Where are Ukrainian refugees going? – an update

How Unrest in Ukraine Is Sending a Wave of Refugees to Russia

A temporary tent camp set up for Ukrainian refugees in Donetsk, in Russia’s Rostov region near the Russian-Ukrainian border, June 22, 2014 (Reuters/Eduard Korniyenko). Source: How Unrest in Ukraine Is Sending a Wave of Refugees to Russia

In August I discussed Ukrainian refugee data in my post You can’t understand Ukraine without acknowledging its deep divisions and how this illustrates the deep divisions in the country. Unless these divisions are acknowledged and all the data considered one simply cannot understand the problems.

Ignoring the refugees from the Donbass and eastern Ukraine, who mainly fled to the Russian Federation, distorts the situation. Unfortunately, our media often falls into that trap.

Also, ignoring the refugees from those areas who fled between 2014 (when the civil war broke out) and February 24 2022 (the date used by the UN for the start of the refugee problem) misrepresents the situation. Our media persists with this fundamental mistake that the Ukrainian conflict started on February 24 thi\us purposely misrepresenting the Russo-Ukraine war.

Here I update the UN figures for refugees. The data is mainly for November 2002, although there is some variation (e.g. the data for the Russian Federation is for October 2022). I have also corrected my mistake of not including the refugees in the period 2014 and February 24, 2022.

The tables below for the refugees since February 2014 are taken from the UN – Ukraine Refugee Situation. However, the pie charts below are more complete as I have included an estimate of the number of Ukrainian refugees fleeing to the Russian Federation in the period between 2014 and 2022. This estimate is 1.5 million. I don’t know if this includes the estimated 120,000 who fled to the Russian Federation in the period just before the 24th of February 2024. This was caused by an increase in Ukrainian attacks on civilian areas just before the invasion.

Ukrainian refugees since 2014

This pie chart shows a fact our media ignores – Russia is bearing the main costs of supporting Ukrainian refugees – 48% of the refugees fled to the Russian Federation. This is understandable if one thinks about it. The war is taking place mainly in the east and south of Ukraine. This is where homes are being destroyed and lives are under threat. The people here are mainly Russian, ethnically. They have close ties with Russia including family ties. It is natural that most of the refugees from these areas will flee to Russia

Ukrainian refugees since February 24, 2022

Even considering the data only for those fleeing since the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war in February 2022 we see that Russia is still bearing the major brunt of the refugee problem. Russia has received 38% of these refugees – more than any other country.

There are problems in Western Europe because refugees are not always welcome. But this is unlikely to be the case in the Russian Federation because the refugees speak the same language and have the same cultural and religious background. Family ties are also common.

But the Russian Federation is obviously bearing most of the economic costs of the Ukrainian refugee problem. Russia also has the cost of restoration of housing and facilities destroyed by the war in the areas they have liberated and annexed.

Some of the new housing being built in Mariupol where most houses were destroyed during the early weeks of the war.

UN data for refugees in Europe since February 24, 2022

Fake news about Ukrainian refugees

The main misrepresentation is that Ukrainian refugees are fleeing mainly to rich western countries and that Western Europe is bearing the main burden. This is obviously not true but is a common theme in western media. (For example, Number of refugees entering Europe grows as power is cut in Ukrainian towns, or Ukrainian refugees: Challenges in a welcoming Europe which lists the “top ten countries hosting Ukrainian refugees” but purposely excludes Russia).

The other common distortion is to claim that refugees hosted by Russia were forcefully deported (eg –Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians forced to Russia, U.S. claims). This is ridiculous but is one of the more fanciful claims disseminated by the authorities in Kiev which are often uncritically picked up by the western media.

*NOTE

It is hard to find complete figures for the refugees fleeing the country between 2014 and 2022 so I have used the commonly accepted estimate. I will update this post when I get my hands on the relevant data from reliable sources. So far, the UN data I have found has been for only individual years.

The refugee numbers are increasing all the time. The recent evacuation of Kherson will mean an increase in the number of refugees in the Russian Federation. The current attacks on services like water and electricity throughout Ukraine will increase the number of refugees fleeing to Western Europe. This parallels the situation in Donbass where such attacks on essential services since 2014 (as well as the indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas) has caused many refugees to flee to the Russian Federation.

Most recently the authorities in Kiev have claimed that the entire population of Ukraine will have to move to other countries in winter because of the Russian destruction of electricity and water services. This claim is extreme and obviously aimed at involving NATO forces directly in the conflict by threatening Europe with the problem of increasing refugee numbers. There is no doubt that the destruction of essential services will lead to more emigration.

There are also rumours of the outbreak of civil unrest in Odessa as civilians oppose the poor response of the city administration to the loss of civilian services. It is possible such civil unrest will spread and this may also promote emigration and an increase in refugee numbers.

Finally, we should never forget the large number of refugees that have been settled within the country who must be supported by Ukrainian institutions and international humanitarian agencies.

Is New Zealand covertly supporting the glorification of neo-Nazism?

Ukrainian veterans of the Azov Battalion, formed by a white supremacist and banned from receiving U.S. aid, attend a rally in Kyiv on March 14, 2020. Source “Ukraine’s Nazi problem is real, even if Putin’s ‘denazification’ claim isn’t” Vladimir Sindeyeve / NurPhoto via Getty Images.

That’s what it looks like if we consider the changes in New Zealand’s voting behaviour at the UN General Assembly.

This month New Zealand changed its voting behaviour on the annual resolution on Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” Whereas in the past our country had chosen to abstain from this resolution, this year it voted against it.

The voting record shows that a year ago only two countries, the USA and Ukraine, voted against this resolution (Green in favour, Yellow abstained and red agianst

This November the numbers voting with the US and Ukraine to effectively oppose the combating of the glorification of Naazim rose from 2 to 52 – including New Zealand.

The European Union countries refer to the war in Ukraine to justify their change in their vote (see EU Explanation of Vote – UN General Assembly: Draft Resolution on Combating glorification of Nazism.” Traditionally abstaining, this year they voted to oppose the resolution.

It appears that this war somehow means we should not combat the glorification of Nazism. But what has changed? Surely our attitude to the glorification of Nazis should remain strong. It should not be affected, or thrown away, because of this war – or by the propaganda and geopolitical pressures accompanying it.

Surely our principles should be a lot stronger than this.

This worries me. The outbreak of the war has brought home to me that many of our principles seem to be shallow. We have willingly accepted censorship. We don’t speak out about the effective racism in blaming the population of a country for the decisions of its leaders, we have fallen into the trap of collective responsibility. Our principles on the sanctity of ownership have been abandoned in the rush to impose and support sanctions that amount to great power robbery. And all rational thought on the war gets jumped on. A real discussion of the Ukrainian war, its causes, and its consequences has become impossible.

This vote raises an important question. We changed our vote without consulting our people or political representatives. The change was in response to great power pressure (as many votes in the US are). It was not a democratic decision.

If we vote this way over such a fundamental question related to our values simply because the USA and other NATO countries pressure us to – what has happened to our sovereignty?

Following the war in Ukraine – an update

SLOVYANSK, UKRAINE – APRIL14: Ukrainian troops ride tanks on the way toward Slavyansk on April 14, 2014 in Ukraine. Tension has been rising in Ukraine, with pro-Russian activists occupying buildings in more eastern towns and a Russian fighter jet making passes over a U.S. warship in the Black Sea. (Photo by Ilia Pitalev Kommersant Photo via Getty Images)

My post, How is the war going?, from two months ago recently got a lot of attention. Probably because of recent changes on the ground in Ukraine. A lot has changed in those two months, and I have found other military analyses that are worth following for their daily updates. So here is a list of the sites I currently think anyone interested in this war should follow.

Of course, one should never take any particular analysis as gospel. Everyone has their bias and different skills – I have sometimes been shocked at the poor knowledge of the Ukrainian events of 2014 or of the concern about European security that some analysts show.  That is why it is worth following several analysts and making one’s own critical assessment of what they present.

So here is my current list of YouTube channels I watch that are usually updated daily. I have ranked these with those I consider the best first.

Military Summary Channel

The guy running the Military Summary channel seems to be a military expert. His summaries often provide information like the number of battle groups in each area, which is lacking in other summaries. It is worth remembering that this war probably has more to do with the destruction of enemy forces than the capture of territory. He also does get into speculating on the likelihood of impending battles (interesting but not necessarily correct – the hardest thing to predict is the future). He comes across as knowledgeable but objective

Defense Politics Asia

Defense Politics Asia is run by a guy from Singapore. He has a Singaporean sense of humour and is always checking and reevaluating his sources and information so often makes changes when he can get verification of a claim.

New World Econ

This is a newer channel I have come across with far lower subscription numbers – but still worth following. It has regular posts and often does short posts on breaking news.

THETI Mapping

Another new channel with lower subscription numbers but valuable analyses.

Weeb Union

Yet another newer channel with lower subscription numbers but valuable analyses.

The subscription numbers for these last three channels are growing rapidly as more people become aware of their work.

War in Ukraine

The War in Ukraine summaries of harder to understand, if only because his maps are less detailed. He does also provide extra information which I find sometimes good (like his analysis of the situation in Lithuania regarding the blockage of the Kaliningrad) and sometimes not so good.

He definitely has a pro-Ukrainian bias (he is Ukrainian) but has no illusions about the dire state of the Ukrainian economy and the widespread corruption there.

Denys Davydov

Denys Davydov is a Ukrainian pilot and is clearly biased toward Ukraine – he comes across as a bit naive. Still worth watching because he does give an idea of what Ukrainians may be pinning their hopes on.

While he continues to present a propaganda message which is unfortunately common on social media, his predictions are often fanciful. Some people prefer his simplistic messages. (One of my followers recently combed through my list and ended up reposting only Denys – obvious confirmation bias.

The economic and geopolitical wars

There is also an economic war, based on the sanctions and their effect on the Russian economy and Western economies – particularly those of the NATO countries but also the rest of the world. It’s much harder to find convincing and objective information on this. It is up to readers to use the sources they feel most comfortable with. However, for those interested in this aspect I recommend Alexander Mercouris. His analyses are always thoughtful and I learn a lot from him. For example, he was the only analyst I am aware of who suggested the Russia Military would withdraw from Izyum several days before it happened. He argued that Izyum no longer had military value to the Russians.

War and the loss of young lives are horrible, but I think the economic and geopolitical wars will end up being more important than the military war as their outcome will affect us all.

Russian anti-war protester goes to see for herself

Maria was a Russian who fiercely opposed the invasion of Ukraine. She was adamant it was wrong, and she had no hostility towards the Ukrainian people. As she said, like most Russians she saw the Ukrainians as practically family. That in fact, many Russians and Ukrainians belonged to the same families. She could not understand the reason for the war and basically believed the western propaganda about the war.

But her attitude changed after she got the opportunity to travel to Donbass as an interpreter for an independent journalist, John Mark Dougan. What she saw shocked her. As well as interpreting she helped bring humanitarian aid to the people there who were suffering from the war – which for them had been going on since 2014.

Now she understands that the war was inevitable, even necessary. And that the western propaganda she had formerly largely believed was false – full of lies.

Her story is interesting and informative. t gives an insight into the beliefs of many liberal Russians who opposed this war when the invasion occurred in February 2022.

 

You can’t understand Ukraine without acknowledging its deep divisions

Our media insists on telling us that Ukraine is a unified country suffering aggression from its neighbour the Russian Federation. But it is hardly unified. A violent civil war has raged there since the overthrow of the democratically elected government in February 2014.

This civil war arose from deep divisions within Ukrainian society. These divisions and their political effects are one of the reasons for the current war.

Richard Sakwa, in his book Frontline Ukraine, describes these divisions as between “the monist Ukrainian nationalist aspirations of creating culturally uniform Ukrainian-speaking nation, by contrast with the pluralist concept of Ukraine as culturally and linguistically diverse.” With the rise of ultranationalism after independence this was manifest in conflict between ultranationalist political forces and those recognising the fact of cultural diversity in the country and the need for friendly relations with their ethnically similar neighbour, Russia. In the end a conflict between the ultranationalists and the ethnic Russians living in the east.

So, it is no surprise that many people in eastern Ukraine may prefer living in an area administered by Russia. They may be interested in travelling from Ukrainian administered parts of the country into Russian administered parts of the country, even moving there, as indicated in the video above.

But these facts contrast with stories we usually get from our mainstream media.

UN refugee data

The refugee data also conflicts with the mainstream media narrative.

Far from seeing the Russian Federation as a brutal enemy, many Ukrainians that flee the country as refugees go to Russia. In fact, the UN data shows that the country hoisting the largest number of Ukrainian refugees who fled the country since February this year is the Russian Federation. With almost two million refugees, Russia is hosting a much larger number than Poland which has the next highest number of about one and a quarter million.

See the data below which was taken from the Ukraine Refugee Situation on the UN Operational Data Portal.

Beware of simple stories

Understandably, simple stories are promoted in a war situation, and they may well appeal to many people. Understandably and many people “pick sides” and have a desire to confirm their bias.

But simple stories rarely convey the truth of a situation. And in the case of Ukraine one simply cannot understand the conflict of one does not recognize the divisions in that country. In fact, ignoring those divisions means one easily falls into the trap of believing the propaganda from the preferred side and inevitably aligning with that side – no matter how unjustified their position is.