(Reading time: 3 mins.)
In an article by Virginia Harrison on May 16th, in a context of praising the resistance of Ukrainian forces in Mariupol and in which she stated that the Azov Regiment had in the past (italics mine) had “nationalist far-right affiliations” (as distinct from fascist), she went on to state the following: “The regiment …………….. was a militia formed to fight the Russians after the invasion of Ukraine in 2014 but has become a unit of the Ukrainian national guard.”
Apart from failing to inform readers when and how the Azov allegedly dropped their “far-right affiliations”, the Guardian journalist is claiming the unit was formed to resist a Russian “invasion of Ukraine in 2014”!
WHAT REALLY HAPPENED
Russia invaded Ukraine early this year, 2022. The armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine began in 2014, i.e eight years before the Russian invasion. Prior to the time of the Russian invasion in early 2022, over 14,000 people had already been killed in the conflict.
It was not Russia that began that conflict but the Ukrainian far-Right and fascist forces supported by a section of the Ukrainian oligarchy after it had overthrown another section in the “Maidan Revolution” (sic) in February 2014. Those forces began to impose a fascist and racist agenda, attacking LGBT people, left trade unionists, Roma, Greek Russian minorities and Russian-speakers in general. The new Ukrainian Government also removed any official status or support for Russian – even as a regional language — although the language is spoken by 29.5% of the population, or approximately one for every two speakers of Ukrainian1.
In response to the official and unofficial attacks of the Ukrainian Right, the residents of the Crimea held a referendum on 16th February 2014 in which 90% voted for secession and for incorporation into Russia, which in turn formally annexed the Crimea two days later on the 18th.
At the same time, Russian-speakers began to organise themselves for defence in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas, heavily industrialised regions also known collectively as the Donbas. For eight years before the Russian invasion, Ukrainian government forces including in particular the fascist Azov Battalion, now incorporated into the Ukranian National Guard attacked the Russian-speakers who, in the course of this declared their intention to secede from the Ukraine and asked for support from Russia. A number of fierce battles in 2014-2015 ended with one third of the regions’ territory, its most urbanised part, occupied by two statelets calling themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.
During this period Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany signed several versions of the Minsk agreements, which eventually stopped troop advances and reduced fighting significantly. But the Ukraine government never implemented the agreements and the governments of France and Germany failed to push for implementation from the new NATO-supported Ukrainian government.
The fighting became a trench war, with roughly 75,000 troops facing each other off along a 420-km-long front line cutting through densely populated areas. The territory became one of the world’s most landmine-contaminated areas, its heavy industry and economy ruined, destroyed many houses and public buildings and infrastructure and caused the relocation of millions. All of which occurred before any Russian invasion.
WHAT THE GUARDIAN PRETENDS
The newspaper, while asking us to “Support the Guardian”, stated:
“The truth, they say, is the first casualty of war. With correspondents on the ground in Ukraine covering the war, as well as throughout the world, the Guardian is well placed to provide the honest, factual reporting that readers will need to understand this perilous moment for Europe, the former Soviet Union and the entire world. Free from commercial or political influence, we can report fearlessly on global events and challenge those in power.
“We believe everyone deserves equal access to accurate news. Support from our readers enables us to keep our journalism open and free for everyone, including in Russia and Ukraine.
“Support the Guardian from as little as €1 – it only takes a minute. Thank you.”
In its mission statement, The Guardian continues:
“Of course, in a serious age, the appetite for thoughtful, clever features beyond the news is possibly greater than ever. Our readers want to be nourished – by meaningful journalism about technology, economics, science, the arts – not fattened up with junk. They want useful, enjoyable reporting on how we live now, spotting trends, catching the mood, understanding what people are talking about – life-affirming, inspiring, challenging. We can be fun, and we must be funny, but it must always have a point, laughing with our audience, never at them. Their attention is not a commodity to be exploited and sold. ……………………
“We will give people the facts, because they want and need information they can trust, and we will stick to the facts. We will find things out, reveal new information and challenge the powerful. This is the foundation of what we do. As trust in the media declines in a combustible political moment, people around the world come to the Guardian in greater numbers than ever before, because they know us to be rigorous and fair. If we once emphasised the revolutionary idea that “comment is free”, today our priority is to ensure that “facts are sacred”. Our ownership structure means we are entirely independent and free from political and commercial influence. Only our values will determine the stories we choose to cover – relentlessly and courageously.”2
Great words, Katherine Viner, Editor-in-Chief – a pity that despite some good journalists on the staff and as correspondents, the Guardian regularly falls short of its own proclaimed ideals. Falsifying history, biased war reporting and obscuring fascist affiliations hardly matches your high moral tone.
12001 Census, quoted in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Ukraine Also from the same source: “An August 2011 poll by Razumkov Centre showed that 53.3% of the respondents use the Ukrainian language in everyday life, while 44.5% use Russian. In a May 2012 poll by RATING, 50% of respondents considered Ukrainian their native language, 29% Russian, 20% consider both Ukrainian and Russian their mother tongue and 1% considered a different language their native language.”
2Katherine Viner, November 2017: “In a turbulent era, the media must define its values and principles” etc.