Propaganda War on Ukraine Crisis


No doubt, the first casualty of war is Truth. And the main task of killing the truth is carried out by propaganda warriors. The rulers, with the assistance of “Goebbels”, give orders, which in the practical fields are implemented by the media. Nowadays, social media are playing an ever-increasing role. Who can deny that in propaganda affairs the West is far ahead of the East? The eastern think tanks are no match to those of the West either. To make it more contextual to the Ukraine crisis, it should be noted that by Eastern think tanks it is meant Russian and to some extent, Chinese think tanks and their allies and Western think tanks mean the US and West European think tanks and their associates worldwide.

If one analyzes media reports and think-tank narratives one can see a very concerted and coordinated pro-western picturization of the conflict. Russia is being depicted as a demon. If a country or a dictator acts like a demon the media cannot describe it otherwise. The Russian forces are shooting and bombing the Ukrainian cities indiscriminately creating havoc over there. They are not only destroying residential buildings but also schools, hospitals, and other non-military installations. One sees the inferno. It is the duty of the media to report the incidents and show the pictures. So far, it is alright. Media are doing their job, performing their duties. But at the same time, it is the duty of the media to scrutinize how Russian leadership became the demon and who instigated them to act like a demon. Does Russia have some genuine explanations? War crimes, atrocities, and destructions must be reported. But at the same time, why the war started in the first place and how it can/could be stopped should also be examined. What we see is a one-sided narration in both camps. Russia is still more or less an iron-curtained state that it had been during the Soviet period. Except for a very few exceptions, the media is controlled by the state. The Russian people do not know the pictures that are not permitted by the Kremlin. What an irony, the West is also flooded by one-sided stories and pictures as if it has also become iron-curtained! RT does not have free access to the West. The western public does not get the Russian version of the story. Both Russia and the West accuse each other of disinformation and hence block each other. They do not believe that people can make the right judgment.

The root cause of the present crisis is the eastward expansion of NATO.  Many world-renowned independent intellectuals like Noam Chomsky opined that after the dismemberment of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, there is no justification for the existence of NATO. One can put aside this debate. But what is the main objective of making Ukraine a NATO member? Nobody conceives that the USA, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and other NATO countries will invade or attack one another at present geo-political realities. NATO´s existence and expansion are mainly centered on containing and confronting Russia and China. When Warsaw Pact was dissolved in 1991, Russia was given assurance that NATO would not be expanded eastward. It did not take a long time to make the breach that promise. Since 2004 NATO added 15 more countries to its contingent. NATO was established in 1949 and till 1991 it had 15 member-states. After Warsaw Pact´s dissolvement NATO doubled its number of members. And almost all of them are East European or Balkan states who were once allies of the Soviet Union. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were even part of the former Soviet Republic.  When these three countries were given membership, Russia was alarmed. At that time, Russia was not able to loudly voice its protest. In the meantime, it has gained considerable strength. And when NATO was signaling that it might open its door for Georgia and Ukraine, Moscow considered it as an existential threat for her. Georgia could be silenced. But Ukraine refused to back down and they got tacit support from NATO. Ukraine’s strategic position is immensely important for Russia. Southeastern Ukraine was Russia´s gateway to the Black Sea when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union. Crimea was indispensable for her strategic movement. Once Crimea was part of Russia and it was given to Ukraine during the Soviet period. After Ukraine became independent, Russia invaded and made Crimea again its part. Russia became safer but Ukraine felt the alarm. Because, Southeastern areas of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Kherson, and Crimea are not only adjacent to Russia but at the same time, a vast ethnic Russian population lives here. They speak Russian too. And Russia lent its support to the separatist movements of the local Russian-majority areas. It is a very delicate situation for both Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine saw a refuge in NATO membership. Kyiv thought if it gets the membership its security would be safe. But to Russia, it is too dangerous for her. Due to geographical contiguity, Ukraine´s NATO membership is considered a knife in her heart. Russia will be encircled from several sides which, according to many observers, is also the main objective of this military alliance. Some argue that it is up to Ukraine whether it will join NATO. It is an independent country. Russia has nothing to say about it. They have willingly forgotten about the Cuban crisis of 1962 when John F. Kennedy asked Nikita Khrushchev to immediately withdraw its missiles from Cuba. As if Cuba was not an independent state at that time. An imminent nuclear war could be avoided between these two countries when both Kennedy and Khrushchev understood the apocalyptic outcome of the imminent armed conflict. Cuba is 90 miles off the US mainland whereas Ukraine has a contiguous physical border with Russia. The 1962 Cuban crisis started under the background of the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion by the Cuban dissidents who tried to overthrow Fidel Castro with US support. The invasion was thwarted. A solution to the Ukrainian crisis can be achieved based on the steps that were taken to solve the aforesaid Cuban crisis. The USSR had to withdraw its missiles from Cuba. At the same time, the USA had to promise that they would not try to topple the Cuban government. Before the present Ukraine crisis started, Russia wanted a guarantee from the West that its security concerns must be addressed. The underlying meaning is Ukraine cannot be given NATO membership. It is still possible to resolve the crisis if Ukraine declares its neutrality i.e., it will not seek membership of the NATO and on the other hand, Russia stops its expansionist activities and cease supporting the ever-increasing demands of the secessionist groups in Ukraine. Putin must be stopped. He is too dangerous because he is the first head of the state who indirectly threatened to use nuclear weapons in a crisis. At the same time, necessary guarantees should be given to Russia so that it does not feel a nuclear threat from NATO.

It is noteworthy that thousands of Russian people came out to the streets and protested Kremlin´s war against Ukraine. The anti-war protesters demanded immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. Many of them were arrested. The people under the iron-curtained country could show their courage. On the other hand, not a single Ukrainian protested on the question of joining NATO. The world did not see any difference of opinion in this democratic country! What a contrast! Even during the Pakistan period, we saw protests against SEATO and CENTO.

True, one can express one´s critical opinion in a democratic country. But how far? What are the latest positions of US whistleblower Edward Snowden and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange? One got a temporary residence permit in Russia which is being renewed from time to time and the other is fighting deportation to the US where a very long jail term for him is almost sure. Many consider that they deserve the Nobel prize for their outstanding service to the truth and unearthing dangerous facts detrimental to the interest of mankind. Instead, they are fighting for their free lives outside prison. Conversely, the plight of Ai Weiwei, the courageous Chinese dissident artist is being focused and highlighted constantly in the West. A clear double standard.

Yes, notwithstanding some shortcomings, DEMOCRACY still is the best-evolved system of governance. Alas! The system has been very badly exploited by the so-called self-declared leaders of the free world. If one considers, the destructions all over the world carried out by the leaders of the autocratic and the democratic countries the picture will be crystal clear. Anyone can compare how much invasion and destruction Russia/the Soviet Union and the USA have made on different countries since World War 11. PR China is yet to come to this calculation.

Media coverage must be balanced, not one-sided. Ukraine, Iraq, Syria, Palestine – everywhere standard should be the same. Unfortunately, the world has been witnessing a double standard. Pure hypocrisy. Due to the misleading information, sometimes pure lies, and almost one-sided propaganda people also take a partisan stand.

Anisur Rahman is a senior Bangladeshi journalist now living in Sweden.


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