The semi-dormant war for the future of Donbass/Eastern Ukraine has been sputtering back to life since June, as is being reported by both sides. Ukrinform cites a UN report alleging the “highest number of civilian casualties” in Donbass since “August 2015”. Fort Russ has been repeatedly reporting shelling of Donbass regions by the UAF (Ukrainian Armed Forces), targeting “infrastructure and civilians.” Meanwhile Interfax Ukraine is claiming the UAF has itself come under essentially unprovoked fire from “militants”.
Is the recent spate of violence in the region just a passing thing, or is it a sign the Washington Uber-Hawk response to loss of face and direction in Syria is going to be – not a reality check – but a renewed attempt to ignite wider conflict? Are we pivoting back to the pincer-movement so often talked about, a final and crazed attempt to imprison Russia between a burning Ukraine and a burning Middle East?
The western media is – predictably – largely ignoring these developments. The corporate outlets universally upholds the line that Russia deserves renewed sanctions for its alleged “failure” to implement Minsk2 (even though Russia is not a party to the agreement) and its alleged reluctance to put pressure on Donbass to implement the agreement. But they fail to record either the alleged violation of the ceasefire by the UAF and the civilian deaths that result, or the Kiev government’s own reluctance to accede to the requirements of the deal, most notably its total failure to support or facilitate the holding of elections in the region.
If/when renewed war does break out in Donbass expect to see the Guardian et al offer up the usual soundbite intelligence-propaganda, devoid of content, informing docile readers that it’s all the fault of Vladimir Putin and his “territorial ambitions,” while continuing to airbrush out of existence the violations and incursions of the side we are supposed to support.
But how much longer can this go on? With the current NATO summit preaching the need to “reinforce eastern Poland & the Baltic states against Russia,, the recent unprecedented NATO drills on Russia’s borders, and as the US places its pre-emptive-strike “missile defence shields” in Poland, Romania and South Korea how will even the most sanguine or self-delusional mainstream journalists be able to avoid asking themselves where this is going? How long can they continue to brush off Russian fears as “anger” or “paranoia”? How long until they realise that what Russia fears should frighten all of us?
It would be good to know if there are any brakes on this war-wagon the human race has been herded aboard. But even if there are, who’s going to apply them if the Labour Party is lost in internecine warfare with its own right wing that clearly would rather be dead than democratic? What help can we expect from a “quality press” busy re-blogging Langley talking points, wittering about identity politics or faux feminist “issues”, hawking their books about how absolutely horrid Russia is because reasons, or giving space to witless foreign ministers celebrating the drift to Armageddon? What will it take to make these people realise they – like all of humanity – will be in the front line of this particular conflict if it ever ignites, and not just cheering on the action from the Houses of Parliament or filing embedded updates from the cosy safety of a hotel bar 100 miles from the nearest death zone.
“I don’t know how to get through to you people” Putin told assembled reps of the corporate western media recently, in an impassioned explication of the current insanity. He talked about the real purpose of the “missile defence” program and how, inevitably, if nothing changes, there will be a catastrophic war. The corporate journos stared back, glazed, ever so slightly bewildered.
And so far as I can tell not a single one of them reported what he said.