Inverting reality: The dangerous propaganda of a new Cold War encirclement of Russia
For weeks now western governments, leaders and their dutiful friends in the mainstream media have been pushing a dangerous narrative that portrays Russia as acting in a militarily aggressive way even though this is a total inversion of reality.
We looked at this previously in December in our post US claims about Russian "aggression" are a hypocritical farce. Since then matters have only intensified and the line that the US and its NATO partners are trying to sell us has only gotten more inane.
The standard view -- parroted unquestioningly by major media outlets like CNN, the BBC or Canada's CBC -- is that Russia has been building up, entirely inside its own borders, in preparation for an invasion of Ukraine. This is allegedly due to Putin's fear of "democracy", a "successful" independent Ukraine or whatever.
These premises, such as they are, ignore facts that don't quite fit the propaganda as well Russia's entirely legitimate security concerns given the post-WWII US history of unrelenting warmongering and disregard for international law.
Recently it was revealed that "NATO warplanes confronted Russian aircraft 290 times in 2021, most of the time along Russia’s western borders", this by the alliance's own admission. "It means nearly 80 per cent of NATO's 370 flight missions this year involved confrontations with the Russian air force."
In December the US State Department approved "the potential sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to the government of Lithuania in a deal valued at up to $125 million", one of many military deals over the past 30 years with countries that used to be a part of the USSR.
These are just the latest incidents showing the aggressive encirclement of Russia that the US and NATO have engaged in despite countless broken promises during the collapse of the Socialist Bloc, USSR and the Warsaw Pact during the counter-revolutions of 1989-91.
As we citied before, Gary Leupp noted in a January, 2021 Counterpunch article, that during the Bill Clinton administration the US president:
reneged on the U.S. promise to Moscow in 1989 that NATO would not advance “one inch” east after the Soviets accepted German reunification. Instead he drew Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, long members of the dissolved Warsaw Pact, into the anti-Russian military alliance in 1999. It was an extraordinary repudiation of the Bush-Gorbachev agreement, an egregious provocation of a now-friendly country (then headed by the buffoonish Boris Yeltsin), unremarked on by the U.S. press at the time as anything controversial. Since then the expansion of NATO has been treated as no more remarkable than the expansion of UNESCO.
As Russian President Vladimir Putin noted "They just deceived us blatantly. Five waves of NATO expansion. And there you go -- they're now in Romania and Poland, with weapons systems."
This attempted expansion only continued with the coup in Ukraine in 2014 that overthrew a democratically elected pro-Russian Ukrainian government and that has seen the rise of the extreme right within Ukrainian government and military circles. This has included a nationalist campaign to legitimize Nazi collaborators.
The hypocrisy of the US and NATO line is surreal, if nothing new. As Putin noted "How would the Americans react if on their frontier with Canada we deployed our missiles?" We know exactly how they would react.
On December 23 at a press conference Putin simply dismantled questions from British Sky News reporter Diana Magnay. The first part of the exchange is worth quoting in full:
Diana Magnay: Thank you for taking my question. I am afraid it is in English.
You have talked a lot about security guarantees, and now we have seen your proposals. You also say you have no intention of invading Ukraine.
So, will you guarantee unconditionally that you will not invade Ukraine or any other sovereign country? Or does that depend on how negotiations go?
And another question: what is it, do you think, that the West does not understand about Russia or about your intentions?
Vladimir Putin: Regarding your question about guarantees or whether things depend on the negotiations, our actions will not depend on the negotiation process, but rather on unconditional guarantees for Russia’s security today and in the historical perspective.
In this connection, we have made it clear that any further movement of NATO to the East is unacceptable. Is there anything unclear about this? Are we deploying missiles near the US border? No, we are not. It is the United States that has come to our home with its missiles and is already standing at our doorstep. Is it going too far to demand that no strike systems be placed near our home? What is so unusual about this?
What would the Americans say if we stationed our missiles on the border between Canada and the United States, or between Mexico and the United States? Haven’t Mexico and the US had territorial disputes in the past? Which country owned California? And Texas? Have you forgotten? All right, nobody is talking about this now the way they are talking about Crimea. Very well. But we are trying to avoid talking about the creation of Ukraine as well. Who created it? Vladimir Lenin did, when he established the Soviet Union. This is set out in the 1922 Treaty on the creation of the Soviet Union and in the 1924 Constitution. True, this happened after his death, but in accordance with the principles he formulated.
But the matter at hand concerns security, not history, but security guarantees. This is why it is not the negotiations themselves but the results that matter to us.
We remember, as I have mentioned many times before and as you know very well, how you promised us in the 1990s that [NATO] would not move an inch to the East. You cheated us shamelessly: there have been five waves of NATO expansion, and now the weapons systems I mentioned have been deployed in Romania and deployment has recently begun in Poland. This is what we are talking about, can you not see?
We are not threatening anyone. Have we approached US borders? Or the borders of Britain or any other country? It is you who have come to our border, and now you say that Ukraine will become a member of NATO as well. Or, even if it does not join NATO, that military bases and strike systems will be placed on its territory under bilateral agreements. This is the point.
And you are demanding guarantees from me. It is you who must give us guarantees, and you must do it immediately, right now, instead of talking about it for decades and doing what you want, while talking quietly about the need for security guarantees to everyone. This is the point. Are we threatening anyone?
He goes on say:
You know, sometimes I get the feeling we live in different worlds. I just talked about things that are obvious. How can you not understand them? They told us: there will be no expansion, but they expanded. They promised us equal guarantees for all under several international treaties. But this equal security has failed to materialise.
There is no question, despite the ongoing rewrites of recent history, that in this case Putin is correct. NATO did break its promises and it was absolutely the US and NATO that encircled Russia and that did so even while they were allegedly "friends" in the 1990s.
These actions were aggressive, adventurist and militarily provocative and have led to the very dangerous precipice we are at now. While there is nothing socialist anymore about Russia or the Putin administration, that has not stopped the US and western imperialist drive to push a new Cold War agenda whose goals have nothing at all to do with peace or democracy.