by William Dunkerley
Ukraine shot to the top of the U.S. news on Monday, February 2.
In the proceeding week, the news had been occupied with a snowstorm that threatened to paralyze the U.S. Northeast; militant attacks, hostage situations, and death threats all involving Islamists; alleged NFL team cheating with soft footballs; chit chat over the upcoming Super Bowl; and, of course, the event itself on Sunday. It drew an unprecedented audience of 114.5 million viewers.
Then, the next day, with little build-up, whamo, the big story was Ukraine. It hit like a bombshell.
What had happened overnight to ramp up all this news furor? Nothing that I could see.
But it was a time for an opportunist to have a field day. The Super Bowl distraction was out of the news. In its wake there was a big vacuum waiting to be filled. And so, bingo, there was an instant, big story about Ukraine.
The New York Times seems to have played an early role in this kickoff. “U.S. Considers Supplying Arms to Ukraine Forces, Officials Say” was a headline that wound up on page one of its New York edition for Monday. The online version links to a conveniently just-released report titled “Preserving Ukraine’s Independence, Resisting Russian Aggression: What the United States and NATO Must Do.”
There’s something about this report that stood out like a sore thumb: all except one of the eight authors have readily verifiable connections with the Clinton family.
One of the authors is Michele A. Flournoy who the Times describes as the “leading candidate to serve as defense secretary if Hillary Rodham Clinton is elected president.”
As I read over this report, the main takeaway I found is that its contents are garbage.
Let me give you just a couple of concrete examples:
First the report claims that Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych “abandoned his position.” That’s demonstrably a falsehood. In reality, the record shows he fled for his life after being threatened by thugs who were pushing for the unconstitutional transfer of power, the one that came to be.
Then the report is laced with innuendoes suggesting that Russia is preparing a military advance further into Europe. What’s their basis for that? The report claims “Moscow currently seeks to create a frozen conflict in eastern Ukraine as a means to pressure and destabilize the Ukrainian government.”
But where’s their evidence to back up these assertions? Russia hasn’t proclaimed those objectives. Are these Clintonites who authored the report mind readers?
This sounds to me like fear mongering aimed at the intellectually vulnerable and at others who don’t take the time to think this through critically. In other words, it’s just nonsense.
Frighteningly, the report recommends:
“The United States and NATO must respond, both to support Ukraine and to push back against Russia’s unacceptable challenge to the post-war European security order. This will require more military assistance, some of it lethal but none of it offensive. Should we delay action, the West should expect that the price will only grow. Should we not act more robustly, we can expect to face further Russian incursions, possibly including attempts to redraw borders elsewhere, and efforts to intimidate former Soviet states into accepting Russian dominance.”
When I was researching for my book Ukraine in the Crosshairs, I carefully examined many of the allegations about the Ukrainian crisis and Russia’s role. What I found is that most of the stories were without a factual basis. Many media reports, for instance, claimed Yanukovych was impeached. But he wasn’t. Even the present Kiev government admits he was not. They also admit the constitution was not followed in replacing him.
Then there was the proof offered by the State Department of Russians playing a role in the Eastern Ukraine conflict. Officials sent out fuzzy photos alleging to show a Russian military operative seen in Georgia during the 2008 war with Russia. A companion photo allegedly showed this same bearded man spotted in Eastern Ukraine. That was the proof.
But it wasn’t the same man. I was able to quickly see online high resolution copies of those fuzzy photos. What I saw is that there were two different men. Even their beards weren’t the same. That’s just one of the examples that I documented in Ukraine in the Crosshairs.
I also suggest in the book who is likely to benefit from the kind of saber rattling that is manifested in the instant Clintonite report.
I have no inside information on what role Russia is or is not playing in the Ukrainian crisis. But, if the people who are trying to convince us of the mainstream story are lying, what does that tell us about the facts? What’s really going on? If they had real facts, why didn’t they use them instead of trying to foist upon us a poorly-done fabrication?
The “Preserving Ukraine’s Independence, Resisting Russian Aggression: What the United States and NATO Must Do” report is fundamentally dishonest. It should not be believed. It is a slick, carefully plotted attempt to influence the American public into believing a storyline that just is not factual.
William Dunkerley is a media business analyst and consultant based in New Britain, Connecticut, USA. He works extensively with media organisations in Russia and other post-communist countries, and has advised government leaders on strategies for building press freedom and a healthy media sector. He is a Senior Fellow at the American University in Moscow.