Kurt Volker tells it like it is: Russia controls everything that is happening in the easternmost part of Ukraine. There is no rebellion. There is no separatist movement. There are no people’s republics. There is only Russian occupation. Speaking at a State Department briefing on November 3, the United States Special Representative for Ukraine said this: “It’s not an internal strife. It’s not an ethnic conflict; it’s not an indigenous conflict. It is one where on the eastern side you have 100% Russian command and control of what’s happening there.”
Russia invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014. It began the invasion in Crimea and expanded to Donbas. In both these places, the Russian occupation army conducted quick-and-dirty, made-for-TV referendums that were timed to pre-empt the Ukrainian presidential election on 25 May 2014. The agitation propaganda fakery behind these referendums was that a “rebellion” against the central government in Kyiv was going on. In fact, the referendums were held under the barrel of a gun, and they were false front operations of Russia’s intelligence and security services. What was really going on then, and is going on now, is a combination of Russian military occupation of Crimea and Donbas, and a Russian crime syndicate operation to rob everything of value from the land and people of Ukraine.
Kremlin propagandists have put enormous effort into getting across a false narrative about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The language they use attempts to take Russia out of the picture. Whether through negligence, carelessness or malice, most Western news organizations pick up on this perverted and perverting language: they lie about Putin’s War. When they do, they fail to be fair witnesses to events.
It is a lie that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a civil war; it is an international war, between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. It is a lie that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a rebellion; Russia has command and control of its army, just as Ukraine has command and control of its army. It is a lie that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a separatist war; no one even pretends that Crimea or “Novorossiya” are viable states, and Russia even pretends that Crimea is “unified” with the Russian Federation. It is a lie that the “Donetsk People’s Republic” or the “Luhansk People’s Republic” exist; the so-called “DPR” and “LPR” are fictions of Russia’s intelligence and security services, and are false fronts to present Russia’s military occupation of Donbas and the Putin crime syndicate’s exploitation the land and people of Ukraine. It is a lie that there are pro-Russian militants fighting the Ukrainian armed forces in Donbas; they are Russian soldiers, led by Russian officers, armed and equipped by Russia, paid by Russia, and buried by Russia with a meagre pension for their families when they’re killed in battle.
The Kremlin spreads propaganda lies because it is an essential part of Russia’s imperialist aggression. It has been ever since Russian aggression broke out into open warfare with Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008. Western news organizations who echo this propaganda do so out of ignorance, laziness, or malice. Any time the press says “civil war” or “pro-Russian rebels” it must be called to account and forced to explain its decision to present Russia’s propaganda lie. Russia is invading Ukraine. Crimea and Donbas are occupied by Russia. When it comes to Putin’s War, the press has a duty to report the events and to comment on their significance. Any “Russia says” reporting cannot be left as is, but be placed in the context of the propaganda purpose and war aim that lies behind what Russia says.
Kurt Volker said what Ukrainians and observers of Ukraine have known from the start: Russia is completely in charge of everything that happens in temporarily occupied Crimea and Donbas. There is no civil war. There are no rebels. The men in military uniform who came to kill Ukrainians aren’t “pro-Russian” – they’re Russian.