There is significant misinformation floating about regarding the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. A closer examination busts the popular myths.
Paraphrasing Shakespeare, many a man has arrived at a subject with the head of a fool, only to find himself walking away with two.
Not all that glitters is gold.
Writing at the pinnacle of the Cold War, Jacques Ellul said, the antidote to propaganda is dialogue. For ‘propaganda ceases where simple dialogue begins.’
In other words, cross-check assertions. Stick as close to the primary source as possible. Identify bias. Filter the facts from the fiction.
Scrutinise anything that preaches an ideology as truth, that does not have a well-reasoned evidence-based argument to back it.
Admit blind spots. Acknowledge it may be too difficult to illuminate them, without daring to pray: “God, show me what You see here that I don’t.” Rarely assume.
Ellul’s advice equally applies to the coming COVID-19 political fall-out, and the Ukraine-Russia debacle.
Myth 1: Ukraine is full of Neo-Nazis.
In 2014, Shaun Walker penned an on-the-ground report for The Guardian, describing the Azov as both a threat to the Ukrainian government, and an effective fighting force.
He labelled the Azov as “far-right” with some Neo-Nazi links, making an account of the Azov militia’s close ties to Russia.
‘The Azov are a minority among the Ukrainian forces, and even they, however unpleasant their views may be, are not anti-Russian; in fact the lingua franca of the battalion is Russian, and most have Russian as their first language.’
‘Much of what Azov members say about race and nationalism is strikingly similar to the views of the more radical Russian nationalists fighting with the separatist side.’
Israel’s self-described “broad liberal” newspaper Haaretz recounts that although the Azov are now a regiment in the Ukrainian reserves, their political views are not popular.
Russia, Haaretz said, ‘consistently plays’ up the Azov’s politics, using their existence as proof that Ukraine is controlled by a ‘fascist junta.’ This is ‘despite their poor showing in the Ukrainian elections.’
The Guardian’s Shaun Walker also noted that many in Azov were ‘intent on “bringing the fight to Kiev” when the war in the east is over.’
The closest link to neo-Nazism in Ukraine is the East Ukrainian Azov battalion, which has its roots in the defunct Social-National and Patriot of Ukraine parties.
Conclusion: Azov is a small, self-serving political militia that nose-dived in the 2019 Ukrainian elections.
With their links to Russia, the Azov are best described as a Russian 5th column.
MYTH 2: Zelenskyy is a Western puppet, not a servant of the people.
Verdict: Red herring.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy has a law degree. He became an actor and comedian. Other politicians who fit this bill include Ronald Reagan, Shirley Temple, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Donald Trump.
The 44-year-old Zelenskyy was elected in 2019 with 43.16% of the vote, with the pro-Russian For Life Party (his main opposition) garnering 13.04%.
Zelenskyy isn’t a career politician, and with his Servant of the People Party, was elected on an alleged anti-corruption platform.
Ukraine’s dealings with the Clinton Foundation come into play under former President Petro Porosheko, and Victor Pinchuk, a ‘Ukrainian billionaire who [donated to the Trump Foundation and] has been one of the largest donors to the Clinton Foundation.’
Petro Porosheko came to power just after the 2014 Maidan uprising (so-called coup) which — according to Bloomberg — ‘toppled the country’s Kremlin-backed leader.’
According to the “Russia, Russia, Russia” left-leaning news site, Politico, the then Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (European Solidarity Party) helped the Clinton campaign in 2016, in an effort to undermine Trump.
Conclusion: Petro Poroshenko is proven to have closer ties with Western globalists than Zelenskyy.
Although Zelenskyy’s anti-corruption focus is disputed, there is the very real possibility he’s being targeted because of his alleged fight against corruption. This includes the investigation into the dealings of his Obama-era predecessor, who also happens to be Ukraine’s current opposition leader.
MYTH 3: Ukraine is not a Democracy.
Verdict: It’s complicated.
Point three follows point two.
Ukraine has been on a war footing with Russia since Putin’s extension of Crimea in 2014.
Tucker Carlson and others have asserted that Zelenskyy was operating as an ersatz dictator.
The three key factors to understand here are:
First, Zelenskyy was democratically elected.
Second, COVID-19 restrictions have been as dictatorially brutal as those of Western nations.
(Of special note are the 1.2. million people in Eastern Ukraine caught between Covid-mad restrictions and Putin-mad Russians.)
Three, some Ukrainian politicians have allegedly aided Russia in its interference in Eastern Ukraine.
For example, former president, now main opposition leader Poroshenko has been under investigation because of an alleged coal deal that helped fund separatist action in East Ukraine.
The Pro-Putin Moscow Times put it this way,
“Prosecutors have accused [former president who fled to Poland] Poroshenko, of working on the scheme with pro-Kremlin lawmaker Viktor Medvedchuk, a friend of Putin’s who is also facing treason and terrorism charges.”
Conclusion: Zelenskyy is more of a “noob,” than a stooge.
CCP-19 emerged before the lawyer/actor had even cut his teeth as a politician. His presidency has been further complicated by Putin, and pro-Russian political players, who haven’t just destabilised all of Ukraine — they’ve undermined his legitimacy.
MYTH 4: Russia is defending itself against NATO expansion.
Why? NATO will be surpassed by the (somewhat anti-American) militarisation of the EU.
Additionally, Ben Shapiro explained,
‘The claim that Ukrainian membership would threaten Russia’s borders is absurd on its face: Estonia and Latvia have been members of NATO for years, and both border Russia.’
Furthermore, citing Stephen Pifer, Melanie Philips argued,
‘Western leaders never pledged not to enlarge NATO, a point that several analysts have demonstrated. ‘
The claim that Ukraine wants nuclear weapons also needs clarification.
Bill Clinton brokered a deal in the 90s, whereby Ukraine surrendered their massive Soviet-era nukes. This was done with promises from Russia that they’d respect Ukraine’s sovereignty.
The party line is that Clinton, Russia et al had concerns Ukraine wasn’t stable enough to guarantee the “end of days” weapons would remain secure.
The optics were great for Clinton. The denuclearisation of Ukraine made the man like an anti-nuclear hero.
Conclusion: Concerns about NATO are a Russian ruse to justify the ambition of geopolitical dominance via expansionism. Ukraine continues to be milked by the Clintons for political advantage.
MYTH 5: Putin is an anti-woke warrior, fighting the Globalist Left.
Verdict: It’s complicated.
The Russian dictator’s speeches tickle the ears of beleaguered conservatives in the West, but he is no defender of Burkian Classical Liberal freedoms.
Religious freedom in Russia is spurious, and freedom of speech is curtailed by the noise of propaganda, the suppression of dissent and opposition.
A 2020 assessment of Russia’s religious freedom by the SBC stated,
‘The Yarovaya Laws, signed by Putin in 2016, were anti-terrorist laws [that] turned out to be anti-missionary and even anti-church laws. Instead of a war on terror, the state unfurled a very real war against religious freedom.’
Conclusion: Putin is anti-free speech and in this sense, pro-cancel culture.
Melanie Philips said it best,
‘Given what Putin is doing in Ukraine — and has done to his own dissidents, not to mention those political opponents he has had murdered or attacked in Britain with radioactive poison and nerve agents,’ Putin is ‘not an ally in the war against the woke.’
Also note Putin’s apparent ties with Islamism:
MYTH 6: This is a battle of good vs. evil
Verdict: It’s complicated.
While Ukraine is said to be ‘known as the Bible belt of the former Soviet Union,’ the dualist concept of villain and victim is not how it is on the ground.
Ukraine is a geopolitical mess.
We know there is corruption in Ukraine, simply because Zelenskyy claims to have been elected to fight it.
We also know there’s a strong political connection to certain members of the American Democrat Party, who are, and have been, beneficiaries of Putin’s continuous conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
To add, despite the Russian in-house rhetoric, and perhaps the desperate view of some who may see Putin as a “white saviour”, his unholy actions negate anything that may be holy.
In his recent Eternity News article, Tim Costello was reckless in linking Christian theonomy with Putin.
As even Costello inadvertently acknowledges, when talking about Crimea, the indicators suggest the Russian President is motivated by ambition, not Divine submission.
In “nationalist Christian theology” or Christian theonomy, Christ is King. In Putin’s world, only Putin is Czar.
If Costello’s stereotype of Christian theonomy is on par with Islamist jihadism:
‘“the Church becoming a department of the state justifying in God’s name invasion, violence and annihilation.”
Then two years of defending government overreach, and dehumanising informed consent as “anti-vax,” makes Costello — along with the leftist bourgeois “tone and nuance” brigade — guilty of the same unbiblical, jihadist thinking.
As Caldron Pool founder and chief editor Ben Davis assessed,
‘I think the trap people are falling into with this is feeling the need to take a side, as though it’s good verse evil. It’s very possible that these are two corrupt powers going at each other.’
Like or loathe him, the rookie Ukrainian president inherited a broken nation, a war, a pandemic, and political interference in his country from the United States and Russia.
Offering a deeper level of understanding does not mean I think the Ukrainian President is a saint.
This form of solidarity cheers on the Ukrainian people his office represents as they come under fire by savvy aggressors, who know how to play, and profit from the dysfunction, and division in the West.
As I wrote last week, don’t let Western politicians use Ukraine as a scapegoat — evidenced by legacy media cameras turning our heads to Ukraine, while totalitarians intensify their own authoritarian rule at home.
Originally published at Gratia Veritas Lumen. Photo by Jimmy Liao from Pexels.