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This year we in “the West” have been been subjected to a mass media bombardment of war propaganda, accompanied by the military-like operations of censorship. Sadly, some of that has been supported, even cheered, by some on the Left.
But occasionally the haze of the bombardment clears and we get a glimpse of what might be happening in reality. Two of those examples occurred this weekend.
UKRAINIAN MILITARY BOMBING CIVILIAN TARGETS
It has long been claimed by alternative media sources to the wsm (western mass media) that Ukrainian military have been a) bombing civilian targets in their opposing areas and b) using civilian areas and structures from which to fire on their opponents.
Generally the wsm has ignored these claims or claimed they were unable to verify them, an approach very different to that which they take in the case of Ukrainian state and NATO military and political claims (and denials).
However this weekend an Associated Press report of the Ukrainian rocket attack on the municipal building (i.e the town council building) of Donetsk (a clearly civilian target) in the Donbas was widely reported in the western mainstream media.
“Photos circulating on social media showed plumes of smoke swirling around the building, rows of blown-out windows and a partially collapsed ceiling. RIA Novosti and local media also reported that three cars parked nearby had burnt out as a result of the strike.1”
The Ukrainian state’s silence on the matter was reported also.
Of course, Zelensky might yet come up with some “justification” for the attack, which would no doubt be faithfully reported by the wsm. An outright denial seems highly unlikely, given that photographs of the damaged building have been widely circulated.
Wsm reporting does try some squirming to exonerate itself of course, claiming that “Kremlin-backed separatist authorities have previously accused Ukraine of numerous strikes on infrastructure and residential targets in the occupied territories … without providing corroborating information.2”
Aside from the fact that the absence of corroborating information in reporting Ukrainian or NATO claims has rarely been seen as a problem by the wsm, there has been plenty of corroborating material of this fact – it’s just that the wsm was not interested in reporting it3.
In fact, though undoubtedly also used for military transport (as are a most major bridges in the world), the bombing of the 12-mile (19 km) Kerch Strait Bridge, the longest in Europe, was also an attack on an important civilian transport facility.
MILITARY DIFFICULTIES OF UKRAINIAN MILITARY
There is no doubt that the Ukrainian counterattack caused serious reverses in Russian military operations in the Donbas, a cause of much celebration to the Ukrainian state and to its NATO allies which found its reflection in the wsm (western mass media).
Russian military responses have been underplayed, except with regard to missile attack and artillery shelling of Kiyv and other areas after the Ukrainian bombing of the Kerch Strait Bridge4, generally portrayed by the wsm in terms of rage and desperation at such success by the Ukrainian state.
While reporting on two gunmen opening fire on volunteer military trainees on a Russian firing range and killing 11 (which if occurring to a NATO member or ally would be described as “a terrorist attack”), the Associated Press described current difficulties for Ukrainian forces.
“A very severe situation persists in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions” Zelenskyy said, referring to two regions Russia says its has annexed. “The most difficult is near Bakhmut, like in previous days. We are still holding our positions,” he said5.
Quoting Zelensky on the matter was no surprise since his utterances are guaranteed entry to the wsm but giving voice to what seems to be a disgruntled Ukrainian soldier is something else and is highly unusual for the wsm6:
One soldier, just back from the front line, told AFP they had been fighting for four days non-stop.
“Out of the 13 guys in my group, we lost two soldiers, and five got evacuated,” said the 50-year-old soldier, “Poliak”, from the 93rd brigade. “For days I didn’t sleep, didn’t eat, didn’t drink except coffee,” he added.
That is an over 50% attrition rate in that soldier’s unit and if that rate is even approached in others is not sustainable for the Ukrainian forces, while Russia on the other hand can count on the 300,000 reservists it is bringing into the conflict7 and even more if required.
US/NATO and its allies are well aware that even with the massive supply of military hardware supplied to the Ukrainian state’s forces (and even if they all were to reach their scheduled objectives), the Russian military (and Donbas volunteers) cannot be defeated in conventional war.
The purpose of US/NATO therefore in what amounts to using up Ukrainian manpower, seems to be primarily to weaken the Russian Federation and to strengthen US domination over and cohesion of its own allies in its contention with its main opponent as world superpower – China.
Meanwhile, for us on the other side of the disinformation curtain, the examples quoted may represent nothing more than an inadvertent twitch of the material. It would be nice to think that instead it represented a drift towards more objective or even-handed reporting of a serious conflict.
3Filming and interviews by Patrick Lancaster on Youtube has been one such corroborative source.
4Arguably of a type of what would be described normally in the media as a terrorist attack and one in which the driver may have been unaware of his deadly cargo.
6Quotations from Ukrainian military personnel complaining of NATO-supplied arms and equipment reaching the black market instead of them, for example, have usually only surfaced in alternative media sources.
7We might wish to note that the call up of some reservists at this late stage alone does bear out Putin’s statement, often mocked in the wsm, that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February was and is a “special military operation” and, unlike wsm claims, that it was never a failed operation to capture Kiyv, much less occupy the whole of Ukraine.
Ukrainian rocket attack on municipal building: https://www.thejournal.ie/donetsk-mayor-rocket-explosion-5894617-Oct2022/
Military difficulty for Ukrainian forces: https://www.thejournal.ie/russia-shooting-death-ukraine-training-base-5894484-Oct2022/
Rare wsm (Reuters) report on Ukrainian June bombing of civilian target in Donetsk: https://www.reuters.com/business/aerospace-defense/three-killed-artillery-attack-donetsk-market-separatist-news-agency-2022-06-13/
2015 Ukrainian bombing of Donetsk: https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Ukraine/Under-the-bombs-in-Donetsk-158549