Will the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine lead to a World War that quickly escalates to an end of the world scenario in nuclear exchanges? That remains unlikely, but we are clearly well on our way. It is long past debate whether the conflict is merely between two neighboring countries at the eastern fringe of the European Union. It is a full-blown proxy war between the United States of America and the Russian Federation, and it is about ending or perpetuating American global hegemony.
The latest approval in Washington of $800 million in further urgent military assistance to Ukraine, including the Pentagon’s most advanced attack drones and powerful Soviet era S300 ground to air missile systems makes it perfectly clear that U.S. is sabotaging the ongoing peace talks between Moscow and Kiev for the sake of prolonging a war that can only result on the Ukrainian side in the utter shattering of civil as well as military infrastructure, mass emigration and ubiquitous, calamitous poverty for those remaining; and on the Russian side in wholesale and painful reorganization of the economy away from the West as well as civil discord amid deep disagreements over the war and crackdown on dissent. The centuries-long debates and hair-pulling in Russia between “Westernizers” and “Slavophiles” is breaking out into the open yet again, as we saw in Vladimir Putin’s remarks yesterday during a speech otherwise devoted to increasing social benefits at home. I will direct attention to that speech in a moment.
So far the West has been spared the pain arising from pending economic distortions on a global scale. However, as the conflict progresses in the direction of total war, which is happening before our eyes now that the United States President and Senate have designed Vladimir Putin as a ‘war criminal,’ the share of misery borne by the broad public in the West may rise dramatically. The Russians have yet to unleash their own “nuclear option” of economic sanctions against the West, meaning immediate halt in export to “hostile nations” (the USA, the EU in particular) of hydrocarbons, strategic metals, grains and other agricultural commodities. That may come in the days immediately ahead.
Whatever the outcome of the still virtual negotiations between Moscow and Kiev over a cease fire and implementation of a 15-point peace agreement, Moscow’s move on to its Plan C, namely direct nuclear confrontation with Washington remains ‘on the table,’ as they like to say in the American capital. Peak-a-boo surfacing of Russian nuclear submarines just outside U.S. territorial waters on the East and West coasts, daily patrols of Russian strategic bombers in the Caribbean – these threats have clearly been held in reserve by the Russians for their possible Plan C scenario.
Meanwhile, the American-led Information War has been proceeding apace, presenting to Western media for instant, unquestioning dissemination a stream of fake news that is intended to raise the public mood of hatred for Russia and things Russian to fever pitch. Our television newscasts are filled with scenes of destroyed apartment buildings in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities. Yesterday’s biggest news item was the destruction of a theater in downtown Mariupol said to have housed up to a thousand people seeking refuge from Russian air strikes.
The production of fake war videos became a big industry among American and British propaganda organs during the Syrian War, when Western audiences were shown utterly fraudulent films of alleged chemical attacks by the Assad regime. Many featured the supposedly heroic and selfless work of ‘white helmet’ humanitarian volunteers operating in the Syrian war zones. Now these talents and experience are being unleashed to whip up popular outrage over the conduct of the Russian campaign in Ukraine.
This morning’s Russian state television featured an expose of the latest fake news exploits being served up to world media by the Kiev regime. A half dozen such videos and photographic montages were analyzed by Russian experts who tracked down the original footage and on split screen show how what the Ukrainians are claiming to be Russian attacks on the civilian population in Kiev are, for example, footage taken from the SS-21 (Tochka-U) missile blast in downtown Donetsk city this past Monday which killed 21 people outright and injured critically 30 more. That attack was launched by the Ukrainian army from a distance of perhaps 30 miles. Other videos showing alleged destruction of civil buildings are taken from cities, mostly in the Donbas, several years ago, where the aggressor was Ukrainian militias, not Russians or their Donbas allies today.
Of course, none of the Russian proofs of fraud perpetrated by Ukrainian propagandists with the help and guidance of their American curators will be shown on Western media. However, we the people can for ourselves determine who is telling the truth and who is lying just by putting on our thinking caps when we look at what is shown on the BBC News, for example.
I think in particular of an evening news BBC front line reporter in Kiev who stood before a heavily damaged 15 story residential building a couple of days ago in which all windows were blown out by some explosion. The lady journalist was well coiffed and dressed immaculately in what can only be described as a surreal setting. Pointing to the building, she told us indignantly that four people had been killed in this latest Russian attack. Here, unnoticed evidently by her producers back in London, there is the kind of discrepancy between what we are shown and what we are being told that should set off alarm bells in anyone who has his head screwed on properly. The building itself and the kind of destruction we saw on our television screens should have yielded 400 fatalities, not 4 if this were anything but bogus information. Instead, what the BBC was presenting aligns perfectly with the Russian narrative that in Mariupol, in Kharkiv, in Kiev and other Russian cities the Ukrainian army and militias of irregular radical nationalists fighting by its side are using the civilian population as ‘human shields.’ What this means is that residential buildings and civilian infrastructure are taken over by the army, who chase out the civilians and move artillery and other weaponry into the buildings from which they attack Russian troops and attempt to attract counter fire into genuinely civilian homes for the sake of atrocities to publicize on the internet.
Note: we do not have any body counts relating to the destruction of that theater in Mariupol. During the course of last evening, the BBC report shifted imperceptibly from claims that hundreds were sheltering there during the attack to claims that hundreds had been sheltering there in recent weeks. Meanwhile the Russians flatly denied that they were responsible for the destruction of the theater and laid the blame entirely at the Ukrainian army and its special propaganda mission.
Given the near total jamming by Europe, by the USA of Russia-based internet resources, the Russian counter charges do not reach the eyes or ears of Western audiences. My own access to this information is chiefly coming from satellite channels that are not yet prohibited in Western Europe.
As the USA and Europe have each day piled on new sanctions against Russia, the awareness of a ‘total war’ situation has penetrated the consciousness of Russia’s leadership and the tone of public discourse about the war has hardened noticeably in recent days. Talk shows which I follow regularly have changed course yet again from what I reported a week ago. On the Vladimir Solovyov evening programs, the bearer of grim expectations about war prospects, Mosfilm general director Karen Shakhnazarov, has disappeared, his place taken by others who take the conversation in a wholly different direction, including fierce denunciations of unpatriotic personalities within Russia. Still other newcomers are presenting their own half-baked speculations on how the entire Russian economy and society has to be reorganized to respond to the new realities of a total permanent break with the West. While the Putin government remains resolutely pro-business and pro-entrepreneurship, though with a heavy dose of state direction of the economy, the new panelists in talk shows denounce free markets as just one more manifestation of the West’s hijacking in the 1990s Russia’s domestic political economy. Still other panelists on the Russian talk shows are talking about purging the government and all public institutions of Liberals, who are synonymous with Fifth Column traitors and have no place in Russian society under conditions of a war for the country’s survival.
As BBC and other Western journalists have remarked, Vladimir Putin addressed the issue of the Fifth Column in a televised speech yesterday that was otherwise dedicated to the increases in pensions and social benefits that he just announced to counteract negative results of the newly imposed Western sanctions. In the BBC interpretation, the scum and traitors denounced by Putin are the oligarchs. These are the people who live there, meaning in the West, either physically or just mentally, while earning their money in Russia.
However, this identification with the oligarchs only shows how little Western news organizations, Western think tanks and Western government leaders know about Russia and about what makes it tick. No, oligarchs were not in the sights of Vladimir Putin yesterday: it was the multitude of little traitors to the country and its people who have in recent weeks come out of the woodwork and taken flight in an attempt to avoid having to publicly take sides in the conflict and so lose their fortunes and/or their social standing.
The broad Russian public has been utterly shocked at the departure of a good many stars in the entertainment industry, the kind of folks who in the West are images on the covers of People magazine and of the yellow press more generally. Veteran singer Alla Pugacheva and her husband Galkin have been darlings of Russian television and music halls across the country for decades. They are known to have quietly flown to Israel, where so many of their friends from show business and from high society have already found refuge earlier still. Then there is one of the two leading television news presenters, Sergey Briullov, host of The News of the Week on Saturday nights. Sergey carries a British as well as Russian passport; his family is based in their home in England and his children study there. About a week ago, Briullov disappeared from Russia and eventually surfaced in Brazil, where he says he is doing a film project about the Brazilian attitude to the Ukraine-Russia War. No one is fooled for a moment about the fact that Briullov is just one more traitor to his homeland, and comments on the Russian portals bear this out daily.
No, Messrs BBC News, it is not oligarchs whose behavior if not their very existence has embittered the middle and lower class Russians during the current war. Those middle and lower classes constitute the 70% of the population which backs Putin through thick and thin. It is the smaller fish of Fifth Column populations who exist in much greater numbers: as, for example, Russian lawyers who have homes near the Champs Elysees and split their time between France and their law offices in Moscow, whence the money from their servicing oligarchs comes. Then there is the intelligentsia, the university dons, the occupants of often important offices in government and private public institutions who loathed Putin from his first election to the presidency in 2000 and have never relented. Their contempt for the broad Russian public, which they see as the great unwashed, as a herd of animals, was never well hidden, and this contempt is now being reciprocated on Russian state television and on the internet.
All of these fissures in Russian society are being deepened and discussed on Russian media as a result of the ongoing war for survival. If Russia is becoming a much less free society, that is a direct result of Western pressure. But there is nothing new under the sun. This was precisely one of the key arguments in favor of détente as opposed to confrontation during the 1990s.
The accusation that Putin is a ‘war criminal’ coming from the top U.S. leadership has far greater importance than Western media have given to it. For them, it is just one more joke in a long line of adjectives vilifying the Russian leader. For Biden as Vice President, Putin was ‘a thug.’ For Biden one month into his presidency, Putin was ‘a killer.’ Now the words ‘war criminal’ are actionable, not merely descriptive. In this regard, Vladimir Putin is no longer a man with whom you can negotiate a peace deal in Ukraine Instead, he is a dangerous man who you can justifiably assassinate.
A call for Putin’s assassination was made by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on 4 March. That utterly outrageous and vile statement was never properly rebuked by the President, by the Secretary of State.
If there are officials in the Biden administration who are actually seeking to have the Russian President assassinated, then it is one more example of their total ignorance of the ‘enemy,’ an ignorance that is possible only because anyone who knows something worth knowing is denounced in American universities and on air as a Putin stooge.
The murder of Vladimir Putin in the present context of the ongoing war to the death over global overlordship would surely precipitate the launch of Russia’s nuclear arsenal against the United States. As I have said in the past, the Russian political elite is much more aggressive and much readier to push the button than Vladimir Vladimirovich. I have also said and here repeat, that the Russian Federation likely has First Strike Capability, meaning that it can launch a nuclear attack first, destroy nearly all of America’s arsenals and most important population centers, disorganize or frustrate any counter attack, and rely on its well developed anti-ballistic missile defenses to ward off any of the residual U.S. capability. That was the clear objective of Putin back in 2007 when Russia was humiliated and impotent before the American hegemon. He reached that objective in 2018.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2022