Over the weekend, on Saturday, Americans heard on corporate news media reports that anonymous U.S. government officials confirmed the Russians are “70 percent ready” for an immediate invasion of Ukraine. Only a day later, they heard that the invasion, which had been described as almost a certainty, would come instead in late February when the ground in Ukraine is frozen enough so that Russian tanks won’t sink in the mud.
The supposedly pending invasion, described as imminent since last December, still fails to materialize.
The media topped this with an even worse scare story coming from U.S. “intelligence”—a claim that as many as 50,000 Ukrainians could die and as many as one million could become refugees flooding into Poland and other countries in Europe when the Russians invade.
As for Ukrainians being killed, the reality ignored by the media is that tens of thousands have already died, but those have been killed by Ukrainian government forces and fascist organizations allied with it attacking people in Eastern Ukraine. There, separatists have been trying to establish two small autonomous republics under the terms of an agreement reached with the Ukrainian government in 2014. Ukraine has reneged on that treaty and instead continues its assaults in the east.
As for refugees, there have been tens of thousands of them already, but they’re not people fleeing a Russian invasion. Instead, they are Russian-speaking Ukrainians fleeing into Russia to escape the Ukrainian military and its allied fascist militias. In order to alleviate that refugee crisis and simultaneously help protect the population in the east, the Russian-speaking Ukrainians have been granted the Russian passports they have demanded. The hope is that this “escape route” will give them the safety and confidence to stay in their homes in Ukraine unless or until it becomes absolutely necessary.
It’s not the first time that Russia has had to deal with tens of thousands trying to flee into the country because of right-wing terror in a former Soviet republic on its border. When the right-wing government of Georgia began killing thousands in South Ossetia, in the northern part of Georgia, in 2008, those people too fled en-masse across the border into Russia, creating a refugee crisis. That situation worsened by the day until Russian forces moved into Georgia to put a stop to the killing. That move has been described in the Western press as an unprovoked “invasion.”
Also this weekend, more stories appeared in the media about Germany allegedly harming the “unity” of NATO. Germany has continued to refuse to forego Nord Stream 2, a pipeline designed to carry Russian gas to that country at a time when it needs the gas to meet its energy needs. The new German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, leads a party that has often called for cooperation with rather than confrontation with Russia.
Meanwhile, NBC and other outlets in the U.S. are having a hard time finding support on the ground in Ukraine for the anti-Russia war hysteria. Their correspondent Matt Bradley was sent to Kharkov, the second largest city in Ukraine, which is close to the Russian border. He reported Monday morning that people were still going about business as usual and that there was no particular sense of emergency about an impending invasion by the Russians.
Not satisfied with that, the network went to Kiev to shoot video of alleged “ordinary citizens” being trained by “volunteers” to engage in self-defense in the event of a Russian invasion. The only people who speak to the NBC reporters in the video are identified in print across the bottom of the screen as members of the Azov Batallion, a notorious armed neo-Nazi group that was formed in 2014 and later officially integrated as a unit of the Ukrainian military.
One of the Azov commanders interviewed by NBC condemns the Ukrainian government for its “inadequate” response to the Russian “threat.”
At no point did the NBC reporters mention the fascist nature of the two men’s organization. It is not clear whether they even knew they were filming a fascist-run training session. They simply described him and others in the video as “veterans of the fight against separatists in Eastern Ukraine.”
Last week, NBC reporters on the network MSNBC unearthed a right-wing pizza shop owner and this week an active member of the Azov Batallion as examples of “ordinary citizens” getting ready to fight the Russians. Times must be tough when, having millions of real ordinary citizens to choose from for interviews, they go instead to open and dedicated fascists.
John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People’s World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union’s campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and ’80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper’s predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.