Nearly a year ago American whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the global scale of US government spying. With an annual budget of over $50 billion, the National Security Agency has the technology and the highest political backing to tap into any phone call, email or other electronic communication – anywhere and at anytime. Even, said Snowden, a president of the US is vulnerable to the NSA’s invasive spying power. Such is the agency’s totalitarian reach.
Perhaps the most famous snoop conducted by the NSA was the revelation that German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal mobile phone was being tracked. Merkel’s is just one of billions of private communications that the NSA have access to, according to Snowden’s disclosures. And Russia is among the top international targets for American eavesdropping.
Yet with all this capacity to breach private communications, the vast global web of American spy technology has not been able to produce a single piece of evidence to support Washington’s high-flown claims that Russia is secretly orchestrating protests in Ukraine.
For weeks now, Western governments and their dutiful news media have been propounding a mantra that Moscow has infiltrated eastern and southern Ukraine to whip up “anti-Kiev”, “separatist” or “pro-Russia” demonstrations. The accusation has become almost a doctrinal truth. President Barack Obama says it. His Secretary of State John Kerry says it. The US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power says it… Day in, day out, Western politicians and the news media in the US and Europe echo the mantra of Russian subversion in Ukraine.
One variant of the mantra was that Russian agents had been captured last month in eastern Ukraine by the Kiev regime’s security forces. When Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demanded proof, his American counterpart John Kerry said the information couldn’t be disclosed in order to “protect sources.”
In other words, Kerry doesn’t have any evidence. But what about the awesome invasive power of the NSA? Surely one phone call or email interception could be hacked into that would prove the West’s claims of a dastardly Kremlin plot to foment rebellion in Ukraine, and thereby show that Moscow is “building a pretext for outright invasion”?
Not an iota, not a scintilla, not a whiff of such Kremlin-directed covert operations has been produced, not even something that might provide the crude basis for a Pentagon fabrication.
At $50 billion a year, this has got be, on the face of it, the most inefficient spy industry in the world. To put that figure in perspective: it is about 10 per cent of the entire US military budget, or equivalent to the total military spend of Britain and France each. Remember too that the NSA’s spying activities is only a part of the entire US surveillance arsenal. In addition, there are the networks of the Central Intelligence Agency and the satellites and U2 spy planes of the US Air Force.
The complete dearth of evidence to support Western claims of Russian subversion in Ukraine is either gargantuan inefficiency of US spying operations – or, more likely, it betrays the simple fact that there is no evidence of subversion. In other words, the Western mantra of Russian destabilization in Ukraine is a propaganda myth. This is what Moscow has been maintaining all along, that its Special Forces or agents are not involved in the unrest, or now the deadly violence convulsing Ukraine.
If we dispel the Western propaganda myth, then we must consider an alternative narrative. That narrative is that ethnic Russian populations and other dissenting Ukrainians – more than half the Ukrainian total of 45 million – are simply rebelling against the Western-backed fascist junta that seized power in Kiev in February. Given the campaign of low-intensity terror that the Kiev regime and its neo-Nazi paramilitaries have embarked on since it grabbed power, the people of the east and south of Ukraine have every right to take up arms and defy the self-imposed reactionary rule of the illegal coup.
Following the massacre of more than 40 unarmed anti-Kiev protesters in Odessa last weekend and the ongoing military assault on towns and cities in the east of Ukraine, the protesters have gained even more moral and legal right to resist with arms.
But to accept this alternative narrative of a people-led rebellion against a murderous, reactionary, illegal regime is to destroy the Western propaganda cover for its own culpability in what is going on in Ukraine. The Western cover story is that a popular, grassroots pro-democracy revolution sprung up in Kiev’s Maidan Square last November and eventually overthrew the pro-Russian crony president Viktor Yanukovych.
If that were the case then why are dozens of cities and towns in the east and south of Ukraine rebelling against this “democratic revolution”? Why are innocent people being burned alive in buildings by supporters of the “democratic revolution”? Why are unarmed civilians being shot down on the streets for the only offence of voicing their dissent against the “democratic revolution”?
To avoid these questions, and the disturbing answers they lead to, Western governments and their media must keep resorting to the ideological mantra that Russia, led by the “Machiavellian Putin”, is behind all the violence and chaos.
But as we have seen even with America’s global spy industry that can break into the personal mobile phones of world leaders not a shred of evidence has been unearthed to support the Western hyperbole of “Russian subterfuge”.
The few ostensible scraps of “evidence” that have been presented so far have ended up being discredited, retracted or, at best, forgotten as worthless. Recall the NATO satellite photo that purportedly showed massive Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s eastern border and cited as evidence of imminent invasion. That was quickly ditched when it emerged that the image was from previous years apparently showing routine Russian military maneuvers within its own territory.
NATO’s top commander, American Four Star General Philip Breedlove was only a few weeks ago warning about Russian forces invading Ukraine based on the spurious satellite image. Now he has changed his tune because of his vanishing “satellite fact”. Earlier this week, Breedlove said that Russia was not going to invade Ukraine… because, reports Voice of America, “he thinks Russian President Vladimir Putin will keep doing what he is doing - creating unrest, discrediting the Ukrainian government [sic] and stirring up a separatist movement.”
The VOA went on to report: “The NATO commander said he is certain Russian special forces are in Ukraine.”
No facts, no proof, just a subjective, unverifiable “certain.” Is this the same “certain” as Colin Powell’s WMD “certain” in Iraq? Or Samantha’s Power’s “certain” about the Syrian army using chemical weapons near Damascus last year?
Then there was the photo published by the New York Times last month allegedly showing Russian Special Forces in Ukraine. Days later, the newspaper of record had to issue a retraction for publishing misinformation.
Last weekend saw another embarrassing admission by the New York Times – albeit indirect and low-key. After weeks of claiming “Russian expansionism” and “covert destabilization” in Ukraine, this particular story should have produced a resounding mea culpa from the editors.
On May 3, the Times published an article under the headline: “Behind the Masks in Ukraine, Many Faces of Rebellion.” Its two senior reporters, CJ Chivers and Noah Sneider, spent a week in Slavyansk in the Donetz region with a company of People’s Self-Defense militia. It was clear from the newspaper’s recent biased coverage of events in Ukraine alleging a sinister covert Russian role that the reporters were expecting to find damning evidence of Kremlin Special Forces, FSB agents, and bristling military equipment bolstering the local militia.
Well, after a week of being freely and openly received by the Slavyansk militia and the local people, the New York Times had to conclude: “There was no clear Russian link in the 12th Company’s arsenal…”
All of the military men turned out to be locals or from other parts of Ukraine, such as Odessa. Some of them served in the Russian military in the past. But all them flatly denied any Russian liaison in the ongoing defense of their towns against the “Kiev fascists.” “There is no Russia master,” said the group’s commander, named Yuri, who with good humor dismissed the probing of the American journalists as being silly.
Indeed, even the New York Times correspondents reported that the men complained of being short of fighting equipment and not having the latest Russian gear. So much for Kremlin-inspired subversion!
The significance of this report is that the New York Times has been leading the Western media propaganda campaign, in the service of Washington’s geopolitical agenda, in order to demonize Russia and specifically to portray Moscow as the provocateur in the Ukraine crisis. The absence of any proof, even when the New York Times paid propagandists are sent “behind enemy lines,” is a damning admission.
Yet in spite of this vacuum of supporting evidence, the Western political leaders and their media persist against all reason and intelligent rationale with their specious claims that Russia is sowing subversion in Ukraine.
The gutter-level nadir of Western journalism was reached in the days immediately after the massacre in Odessa. Instead of clearly reporting the facts of this mass killing and the fascist perpetrators, the Western media engaged in muddying the waters, claiming that the deaths were the result of “street clashes.” The Western media even indulged the Kiev regime’s odious claims that “Russian agents were to blame” and that the incident was an example of Russia’s “plan to destroy Ukraine.”
Reuters, one of the main news feeds for Western media, reported: “Ukraine’s interior minister said on Monday he had drafted a new special forces unit in the southern port city of Odessa after the ‘outrageous’ failure of police to tackle pro-Russian separatists in a weekend of violence that killed dozens.”
Similar misleading reports were carried by the BBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Washington Post, France 24, among others.
The neo-Nazi murderers, the Kiev junta, and its Western sponsors are sanitized from involvement in mass murder and the unfolding violence across Ukraine. Instead, the blame is insinuated against the victims of violence, and against Russia and fictitious pro-Russian agents, despite Moscow’s evident diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the conflict.
The disturbing thing about this systematic lying and distortion is that its logical conclusion is war. Moreover, it is carried out by organizations that claim to be bastions of free and independent journalism. In reality, they are nothing but propaganda tools of a totalitarian regime led by Washington that is honed for war.
Reprinted with permission from the Strategic Culture Foundation.