The dominant cultural hegemony of the West is clearly manifested in the control of the media; the campaign of disinformation, lies, hoaxes, censorship of the media – mainly Russian – and the demonisation of the figure of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, and in the messianic exaltation of the President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelensky, construct a manipulation of facts that became evident during the armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
By Jorge Molina and Patricio Mery Bell
As a result of the aforementioned facts, the right to inform and be informed in an impartial and impartial manner is violated, seeking, according to the ontological code of communication, truthfulness above any fanaticism or chauvinistic spirit.
We can conclude this from the emphasis, the headlines, the lack of rigorousness, the lack of contrasting versions and the interest in misleading the public, openly taking the side of one of the parties in conflict.
Without going any further in Chile, a country far removed from the conflict, the media censures anyone who tries to change the hegemonic narrative dictated by NATO; this is the case of what happened with the Ukrainian-born model Lola Melnick, who was cut off on the MEGA channel, in the programme Mucho Gusto (04/03/2022), when she tried to explain in detail the milestones that gave rise to the conflict, including the massacre of Odessa and the shelling of the Donbas by the Ukrainian army (https://www.eldesconcierto.cl/tipos-moviles/pantalla/2022/03/03/no-puedo-sesgarme-la-tensa-conversacion-de-lola-melnick-con-diana-bolocco-sobre-ucrania.html).
We have collected some of the phrases and headlines published by the world press that are either uninformative or outright lies, namely:
“A Russian tank crushed a civilian vehicle in Ukraine” (https://nortesur.media/2022/03/01/ucrania-el-falso-tanque-ruso-usado-para-mentir-en-la-red/). A situation denied, moreover, by Elijah J. Magnier, a war correspondent with more than 35 years of experience covering conflicts in countries such as Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq.
“The Chernobyl plant suffered a nuclear attack” (denied by the UK’s public service broadcaster, the BBC, which had warned of an imminent war between Russia and NATO and the danger of a nuclear air strike). The video does not belong to the BBC but is a fictional representation by an Irish company).
“400 Wagner assassins and mercenaries have entered Ukraine to kill President Zelensky”. (There is no reliable information confirming this fact, which has been widely reported in the media).
“Russians are attacking residential buildings and indiscriminately killing civilians”. (Denied on TV Peru. The houses and buildings were filmed in Donetsk a couple of years ago).
“This is the worst war in Europe since the Second World War”. (A new world war has not been unleashed, as there are only two belligerents in a surgical conflict aimed at safeguarding the pro-Russian population in the Donetsk and Lugansk areas, and the situation in the Balkans and the division of Yugoslavia by NATO is also ignored).
“Russia is acting just like the Nazi-German army did in 1939 during the invasion of Poland”. (Information on the Nazi-inspired Ukrainian Azov battalion at https://www.jornada.com.mx/notas/2022/02/25/politica/batallon-azov-la-extrema-derecha-nazi-tras-zelensky/. In 1939, a non-aggression agreement between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union – the von Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact – was in force. The entry of the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics into the world conflagration was key to the Allied victory and the destruction of German Nazism and Italian Fascism in Europe.)
“The ghost of Kiev is a war hero who single-handedly defeated ten state-of-the-art Russian Sukhoi Su-35 Sukhoi aircraft using an old Mig29”. Even Poroshenko, who was Ukraine’s president between 2014 and 2019, tweeted a photo of a helmeted pilot in a cockpit identifying the person as the ghost of Kiev. (Denied by Digital Combat Simulator. Company that claimed it was a simulation using its software).
“With such strong defenders Ukraine will definitely win”. (This is a picture that was published almost three years ago by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence).
“All the soldiers on Snake Island have been killed by a Russian ship”. (The defenders of Zmiiniy Island – also known as Snake Island – in the Black Sea, who were initially feared dead, are alive and well).
“Russia is using banned weapons of mass destruction”. (No serious, on-the-ground media or correspondent has reported this situation).
All these media headlines have been lies and, in short, fakenews. The lack of investigative rigour, the absolute lack of checking sources is evident and generate a blanket of suspicion on the credibility of the mass media.
There are many more examples. Another significant one is an image showing two children sending off a convoy of Ukrainian forces, which has generated millions of reactions and has been widely shared on social networks. It was tweeted by US Congressman Adam Kinzinger and former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt, among others. But the image was old: it was first published in 2016. It was taken by a volunteer photographer for the Ukrainian defence ministry who was later fired over accusations that he had made montages of some of his war photographs.
Anti-Russian propaganda has become one of the West’s main weapons. This is particularly special in Ukraine, where over the last decade millions of dollars have been poured into creating propaganda centres and supporting pro-Western media and political parties that attempt to distort the role and place of the Russian nation in contemporary history.
The NationalEndowmentforDemocracy (NED) is one of the main sources of resources for information campaigns aimed at creating a hostile image of Russia. While this is not surprising for those of us who know the dark history of this character’s involvement in previous chapters of foreign interference, such as in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and, of course, Chile, it is always good to take a look at the operations it carries out to create instability in countries not aligned with US imperial interests.
The US is using Ukraine as a weapon in its information war against Russia. What no one has yet thought about is the amount of money Kiev receives from Washington in exchange for anti-Russian propaganda.
Journalist Alan Macleod of the US portal Mint Press News writes that the US government has spent 22 million dollars on waging an information war against Russia in Ukraine and abroad.
According to the journalist, the NED “is doing everything but what it claims to do (engage in democracy promotion). Unless the word democracy in their understanding is synonymous with the phrase the interests of the US elite”.
Specifically, the fund has spent $22.4 million on operations inside Ukraine since 2014. On a curious note, it should be emphasised that of the European nations funded by the NED, only Russia exceeds Ukraine in resources received, with $37.7 million.
The money went to “create and train pro-Western political parties, finance-controlled media, subsidise large-scale privatisation campaigns that benefit foreign multinational companies”.
Among the controlled media, Macleod cites the Ukrainian Crisis Media Centre, which consistently publishes research on ‘Russia’s distortion efforts’.
This centre promotes a vision of Ukraine as ‘an outpost of freedom and democratic development in Eastern Europe’ and ‘an integral part of the West’. Two other focuses of NED projects are the Donbas and the fight against corruption.
The word ‘Donbas’ is mentioned 52 times in NED grants to Ukraine; ‘Eastern Ukraine’ is mentioned 108 times and ‘Crimea’ 22 times. Ambiguous phrases are used to explain the purpose of the projects receiving the resources: they name the expansion of media outreach in these regions bordering Russia, and assistance to civilian groups operating there.
The word ‘corruption’ appears 83 times in NED grants to Ukraine, and the foundation has funded a wide range of NGOs working on the issue.
The US government is willing to spend an enormous amount of money to train Russophobes, spread false information and discredit Russia in the eyes of the international public, using satellite states to achieve its own interests, i.e. to isolate Russia economically and politically by paying off the Ukrainians.
Today’s war in Ukraine did not start with the Russian invasion. Nor did it begin with the images of tanks on the road to Kiev. That is only part of it, the part that is seen on television. The global view of the events that are shaking the world is unidirectional. It condemns Moscow, President Vladimir Putin. This biased view, in which the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) seems to be a supporting actor, is used as the backdrop for virtual operations, such as those published by the AFP agency, which were called “Disinformation on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict”.
But there are facts that are in plain sight and are ignored. The special operation without anaesthesia over Ukraine is the consequence of multiple causes. A truism that minimises the scale of the US role. The very information provided by the NED is the best evidence of how geopolitical subjectivity is constructed to destabilise an enemy power. With the dollars that the US Treasury Department always provides.
The NED, created in 1983 during the Reagan administration, pronounced itself on the crisis, even before Putin decided to mobilise his war machine: “Ukraine today represents the epicentre of the struggle for freedom. As such, NED continues to provide assistance to independent civilian groups and the media to help strengthen the Ukrainian people’s ability to determine their own future.
One key is how public opinion is won over when a large-scale operation such as the one Russia deployed in Ukraine is unleashed. Think back to the Iraq War and “weapons of mass destruction” attributed to Saddam Hussein.
This US organisation, which depends on congressional funding, is not formally governmental, but has the size of a state agency. It has been chaired since June 2021 by Damon Wilson, a former official of the embassy in Iraq during the US invasion and of the National Security Council. It is clear from his CV that he helped “expand NATO, partner with Germany and support a democratic Ukraine”. He is not an improviser, nor are NED and USAID – his soul mate – pumping millions of dollars into supporting Washington-friendly governments or undermining those that are not.
In Latin America in recent times, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia can attest to this. The NED is accountable for its actions before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This is unusual for a self-proclaimed NGO or foundation.
In Ukraine it has played an influential role. Its own information, only if you take the year 2021, revealed on 2 February the millions of dollars in funding given to civil society organisations. Mostly to pro-Kiev media outlets, Ukrainian war veterans who served in the Donbas region and other ‘good governance’ or ‘democracy’ institutions based in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.
It is the disputed area where the armed conflict began in 2014 – invisible to this day – after a coup d’état in the capital with the support of neo-Nazi groups. On 2 May of that year, far-right militants attacked the house of trade unions in Odessa and burned alive 42 pro-Russian Ukrainians. The overwhelming majority of the population in the separatist republics did not submit to the government that emerged after the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych, who was sentenced in absentia to 13 years in prison. This is why Putin spoke of denazifying the neighbouring country.
The NED paid funds of 96,000 dollars for the promotion and protection of the rights of veterans who acted in Donbas. It did so in order to ‘assist in the social reintegration of the sizeable but increasingly marginalised population that fought in the conflict’. It also gave $91,000 to a so-called International Centre for Political Affairs to ‘promote research and public debate on the Chinese government’s influence in Ukraine and neighbouring countries’. Even Beijing was not left out, although it is not a party to the conflict. This and other contributions are often justified by NED as ‘raising public awareness of the programme through media publications, including articles, blogs, videos and television programmes’.
It is clear from its pages how generous it has been to the media, especially in the area where Russia has the most influence. The Donetsk Information Institute was given $100,000 under the pretext of “promoting independent media in eastern Ukraine”. The recipient of the funds is said to ‘continue monitoring print and online media in separatist-controlled areas to counter disinformation’. It will also “produce and broadcast episodes of its weekly television programme DonbassToday, promoting it through video clips on social media”.
The NED also funded a Crimean community radio station with $16,000, which broadcasts from the Russian-majority peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014. “The programme will reach an audience of up to 1.2 million people,” the US organisation says in its survey of contributions. Discretionary distribution reached the National Media Association with $51.5,000 for the purpose of “local and regional media managers, editors and sales directors” to monetise content.
The rain of dollars also refreshed the Donbas Social Perspectives Research Centre. The 50.5 thousand dollars paid, as NED states, allowed it to set itself a media target: “the organisation’s popular news website will expand its analytical reporting on the conflict, continue to monitor media and events within the separatist-controlled territories, and debunk propagandistic narratives”.
All of the above avalanche of facts and data constitute just a few examples of how an organisation that answers for its actions to the US Senate became involved in Ukraine long before Russian tanks crossed the border, to whip up anti-Russian sentiment and gradually trigger an armed conflict aimed at isolating, muddying and assassinating the image of the Russian Federation, in general, and its President Vladimir Putin, in particular.