Myths about Russia Are Hurting the West

Dmitry Peskov, press secretary for the president of Russia said, “In recent months, the American media have published a very large amount of unverified, distorted and demonstrably false and provocative information about what’s happening in and around Ukraine.”

Let’s analyze some of that false information in much the same way the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not so long ago.

1. ‘Russia Has Soviet Ambitions’

“The latest conflict (in Ukraine — Vzglyad) is rooted in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desire to reestablish the influence that Russia wielded under the Soviet empire, foreign policy experts say. The U.S., in turn, wants to keep Russian aggression in check while working to strengthen a struggling democracy that has become more closely aligned with the West,” writes USA Today.

As a matter of fact, Russian leadership conducts itself pragmatically in the international arena and is not trying to attain the unattainable. In particular, it isn’t trying to restore the global influence that the Soviet Union had in its time — simply because Moscow just doesn’t have enough resources for this. That’s why Russia is not placing bases in Latin America, not returning a fleet to the Mediterranean Sea, not handing out money left and right to leaders in Latin America and Africa, not attempting to deploy forces in the Czech Republic or East Germany. And, most importantly, not competing with the United States for worldwide domination.

A significant portion of the Russian leadership’s attention is focused on its near periphery, which Russia considers its zone of responsibility. Not because of some kind of “imperial ambition,” but because this territory is important to the security of the Russian Federation — security which demands the presence of either friendly or neutral governments along Russian borders.

Ukraine is inherently not included among these nations, not because it chose the “Western path” but because the Ukrainian governmental project was formed, in Putin’s words, as “anti-Russia,” as an instrument for Russia’s destabilization, a cholera tent situated wall-to-wall with the multinational Russian home.

And Americans deliberately spread the cholera in this tent. They are deeply indifferent as to how democratic the government entity is (otherwise they would have forced Ukraine to undertake democratic reform and end civil war in the country long ago). The idea of turning Ukraine into a “beacon of democracy and progress” as provocation for Russia was shattered by Ukrainian illusions a long time ago. That’s why the U.S., along with the United Kingdom and a range of other countries, is now simply using Ukraine to destabilize Russia and the European Union.

2. ‘Russia Is Going To Take Over Ukraine’

Sharing a quote from someone here would be meaningless. Nearly every Western media outlet has written and continues to write about the Russian Federation’s intent to take over Ukraine. But at the same time, no one explains why Russia would need to. Essentially, the only argument is again that Moscow wants to restore the Soviet Union. And the reason there is no debate over this is clear. Any serious analysis of the prospects for a full-scale invasion shows that it would only bring Russia loss.

Yes, Russian forces could take Kyiv and capture Ukrainian territory. But they could not gain full control over the hostile segments of the population, and Russia would get a partisan war inflicting not so damage to its military and economy as to its image. Moreover, the seizure of Ukraine, oddly enough, would save the Maidan project: instead of collapsing in shame, it would gain an aura of heroism, and the Ukrainian elite represented by Petro Poroshenko, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and others (who transformed Ukraine into a beggar-country) would be seen as freedom fighters.

Finally, Moscow risks suffering other negative impacts from the Eurasian front (a range of Russia’s neighbors would try the fate of Ukraine on for themselves), a break in relations with Europe, new friction with the United States, and a disruption to gas supplies.

3. ‘Russian Soldiers on Russian Territory Threaten the West’

“Nobody knows for sure exactly what Vladimir Putin is doing with around 100,000 Russian troops parked near the Russia-Ukraine border, but it’s making the U.S. and Europe extremely nervous,” CNN reported. This idea is backed up by a similar “thought” from The New York Times about “an unpredictable Russian president amassing thousands of troops on the border of a neighboring country, Ukraine.”

In fact — as has been publicly stated more than once — these forces are located on Russian territory for training exercises or other events and do not violate any international norms or rules by their presence. Russian officials have stated on many occasions that they aren’t going to use these forces for an attack on Ukraine, let alone for some attack on a NATO member-nation. Political analysts write that the conditions of military deployment for these forces is absolutely predictable. This deployment is only possible in the event that Ukraine attacks the Donetsk People’s Republic or Luhansk People’s Republic, thus placing the lives of Russian citizens at risk. And that means Moscow’s actions (if they occur) will be entirely reactive.

This is understood, even in Europe, by people who don’t see Moscow through their own biases. “As long as the Russian government sticks to its current measured approach, which is more likely reactionary than provocative, there is still a chance to avoid escalation,” said Gunnar Beck, member of the European Parliament from the Alternative for Germany party.

4. ‘Nord Stream Is a Geopolitical Project’

Nord Stream 2 has become a weapon in a geopolitical game, and it’s extremely important for Putin. The pipeline valued at $11 billion “has already acted as a huge wedge between the traditional allies at a time of huge tensions between Russia and the West,” assures CNN.

The reality is that Nord Stream 2 was built to deliver significant economic advantages for Gazprom and the entire Russian Federation —and also, for Gazprom’s clients in Europe. It allows for the pumping of gas without payment to transit countries, and also without risk that a pipe could simply burst because of the transit country’s inability to service it. (The Ukrainian gas transit system is in a grievous technical state.)

Yes, Nord Stream 2 has a certain geopolitical dimension. Its construction has proven that Moscow can carry out serious infrastructure projects notwithstanding American preferences and sanctions. This fact will not only encourage Russia to take a new approach to infrastructure, but will inspire other countries wary of American pressure to realize their own projects.

However, a “huge wedge” is being lodged in the allies’ ranks not because of Moscow’s intrigues, but because of divergence in the interests of NATO member countries. For Germany, Nord Stream 2 presents colossal benefits. Thanks to the pipeline, the Federal Republic of Germany is becoming one of the largest European gas hubs, and also — through its leadership obligations in the EU —guaranteeing energy security for the European Union’s member countries.

5. ‘Defensive Alliance NATO’

“Russia has repeatedly turned away from agreements that have kept the peace across the continent for decades. And it continues to take aim at NATO, a defensive, voluntary alliance that protects nearly a billion people across Europe and North America, and at the governing principles of international peace and security that we all have a stake in defending,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

In fact, it’s not Russia leaving the agreements that have kept peace across the continent, but the U.S. It was the U.S. that withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. It was the U.S. that withdrew from the Treaty on Open Skies. It was the U.S. that withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. It was the U.S. and its NATO partners that refused to ratify a new version of the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, leading to the suspension of Russia’s participation.

It was the U.S. that broke the Budapest Memorandum by interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine, and that participated in the organization of a government coup there. Moscow has always held to international agreements, and its “repeatedly turning away,” in fact, was only a suspension of the Russian delegation’s participation in PACE — and that was after Russia was deprived of having a voice there. NATO has not been a defensive alliance since at least the end of the Cold War. All of NATO’s military operations have had an aggressive-offensive nature, including the Yugoslav wars (beginning with Bosnia and ending with Kosovo) and Libya.

Even the operation in Afghanistan, where NATO acted in response to 9/11, was essentially an occupation of the country. The reality is that NATO is currently an aggressive bloc of states, the resources of which the U.S. uses to execute its own foreign policy. And this bloc certainly cannot be called “voluntary” after the alliance’s leadership, with the support of Milo Đukanović (at that time fulfilling the role of prime minister), dragged Montenegro into NATO against the wishes of most of the population in 2016.

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