About the Ukraine war raging in the midst of Europe: The “truth gap”

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By Elisabeth Hellenbroich

This year’s World Economic Forum (Davos, January 15- 19), that gathered more than 1200 business leaders and political representatives, was organized under the theme “Disinformation and misinformation- Rebuilding Trust.”

It suffices to just look at some of the speeches and interviews that were given by leading speakers from the US and the EU, as for example: U.S. State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Anthony Blinken, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen as well as by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to see the “truth gap”. In an almost identical fashion they presented their “line” which is identical with the mainstream press in the U.S. and Europe, concerning the status of the present war in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy blamed Putin to “have stolen 13 years of peace and replacing them with pain, pain” waged upon the Ukrainian people, that indeed has become victimized by this 2 years long dirty war. According to Zelenskyy Ukraine gained “superiority” by winning back 50 % of its territory and by experiencing a 5% increase of its GDP and growth last year. He also spoke about the initiative of Ukraine that brought together representatives from more than 80 countries in a separate conference preceding the Davos WEF event, in order to discuss  Zelenskyy’s “peace formula”, with Russia yet being excluded.

E U Commission President Ursula von der Leyen focused her remarks on the theme “rebuilding  trust” underlining the necessity to effectively fight against “Disinformation and Misinformation.” In order to illustrate the significance of “disinformation and misinformation”, she mentioned the war in Ukraine and emphasized that s h e instead wanted to provide some “real information.”  According to Ursula von der Leyen “Russia is failing on strategic goals. It is first and foremost a military failure. We haven’t forgotten that when Russia invaded Ukraine, many feared that Kyiv would fall in just a few days and the rest of the country within weeks. This did not happen.  Instead, Russia has lost roughly half of its military capabilities. (sic) Ukraine has driven Russia out of half of the territories it had captured. Ukraine has pushed back Russia’s Black sea fleet and reopened a maritime corridor to deliver grain to the world. And Ukraine has retained its freedom and its independence.  (…)  Russia’s failure is also economic. Sanctions have decoupled its economy from modern technology and innovation. Russia is now dependent on China. And finally, Russia’s failure is also diplomatic. Finland has joined NATO. Sweden will follow soon and Ukraine is closer than ever on its path to the European Union. And all of this tells us that Ukraine can prevail in this war. But w e must continue to empower their resistance. Ukrainians need predictable financing throughout 2024 and beyond. They need a sustained supply of weapons to defend Ukraine and regain its rightful territory.”

Opposing view of the acting Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief 

One could hear almost “identical” formulations made by U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who being asked in an interview with Tom Friedman (NYT) during the Davos event on stage, about Ukrainian General Zaluzhnyi’s evaluation, who had in an interview with Economist spoken about a “stalemate” (November 1 2023), stated: “What you see is this: Putin has already ‘failed’ in what he set out to do. He set out to erase Ukraine from the map, to eliminate its independence, to subsume it into Russia. That has failed and it cannot and will not succeed. (…) Second, Ukraine has not only stood up to the aggression; over the past year, it took back more than 50% (!) of the territory that had been taken from it in February of 2022.”  In the last year –  what Ukraine managed to do in the Black Sea- is opening it up, pushing the Russia navy back, and starting to get grain out to the world. It’s been the breadbasket of the world. It’s gone back to that as a result of actions it’s taken.” (…)

“The Ukraine has been a ‘profound strategic failure’ for Vladimir Putin and for Russia. In so many ways, Putin has precipitated virtually everything he sought to prevent. You now have a Russia that is overall weaker militarily, its weaker economically, it’s weaker diplomatically. Europe has severed its energy dependence on Russia. Ukrainians are more united than they’ve ever been. The NATO Alliance is stronger, its larger, and it well get larger still in the weeks ahead.”

Blinken in Davos: “$50 billion for Ukraine defense gets spent right back in the US”

In another interview with Andrew Sorkin CNBC Jan 16th during the Davos conference, when being asked on the U.S. Congress financing package for Ukraine (that failed to pass in December), Blinken expressed confidence that there is enough bipartisan support in both houses. If it doesn’t, then that would be a real problem for the US and its leadership around the world. He emphasized that “the money that we’re asking for, $50 billion gets spent right back in the United States; that money to procure items for Ukraine’s defense, it’s made in America. These are American jobs”(sic). “We have our allies and partners around the world who are actually providing the majority of the support to Ukraine. We have more ‘burden sharing’ when it comes to Ukraine than in any other instance, I can remember in the 30 years that I’ve been doing this. So this is a common endeavor, and right now Russia continues to suffer a strategic failure in Ukraine. (sic!)  We have a strong interest in making sure that persists.”  Failing to do this, he warned, Putin would next chose some new targets: “Look I think he would go full tilt on Ukraine and then NATO countries. And of course, if he attacked a NATO country, we have an Article 5 obligation under NATO to work to assist them. That would bring us in directly.”

Swiss military officer: “Evaluation is factually wrong”

On 16th of January the German Magazine “Emma” reprinted an interview which had been done in January by the Swiss magazine “Weltwoche” (Roger Köppel)  with the well informed Swiss intelligence and military expert, book author and former UN official, Jacques Baud.

Being asked by Köppel whether according to a NATO expert, Ukraine has been winning back territory, Baud responded that such “evaluation is factually wrong.”  He pointed to an article in NYT (end of December) that had shown that Ukraine “since the beginning of its so called counter- offensive in the last six, seven months had lost more territory than it had won. That the situation today has not improved, on the contrary. The Russian strategy since October last year was to slowly destroy the Ukrainian army and to destroy them. This is a fact. The Ukrainian army is slowly getting destroyed. “  The key argument which Baud raised was the tendency by the West to systematically “underestimate” the Russian strength: “We however have the whole times ‘underestimated’ the Russians, saying that they would be poorly armed, badly conducted and stupid.” He underlined that the biggest mistake which one can do during war is to “underestimate” the enemy.  This is also true for the Ukrainian soldiers who said that they had believed their media, namely that the Russians were incapable. And that they then would have attacked. But this was absolutely wrong.” ( This reminds the constant propaganda that was given in the last two years by the London based ISW – Institute for the Policy of War in the German mainstream media E.H.)

Being asked how such misevaluation was possible on the side of leading U.S. generals at the beginning of the war, who had predicted early a “Ukrainian victory and a devastating Russian defeat and whether there was any chance for Ukraine to turn the war into its military advantage,” Baud responded that “this is extremely improbable, since they don’t have the means for that. Since also the Americans and the Europeans don’t have the means to support the Ukraine. Moscow already in February 2022 identified two aims: Denazification and demilitarization of Ukraine. First this implied the destruction of the neo-Nazi paramilitary Armed Forces such as the Azov- regiment and similar units, that have been active for 8 years (!) in Donbass. The second aim “demilitarization” factually had been reached beginning June 2022, when President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, that from now on the Ukraine in respect to weapon deliveries was dependent on the West. The West had in particular sent old Warsaw Pact material from former East Bloc states. But suddenly Zelenskyy said “we need 500 tanks and so many armored personnel carriers. Then followed the demand for other highly developed weapon systems.”

Baud added that “everything that has been said since 2022 (in the official western propaganda E.H.) has been wrong.” They at the time kept talking about “regime change” in Moscow, about a “defeat” of Russia. That didn’t happen. Putin’s popularity has even increased a bit. The economy has strengthened, there is growth, unlike in Europe, and in a sense Russia is better off than a year ago.”

Baud recalled that US politicians had stated that “the war in Ukraine is a cheap means to fight against Russia, without risking the life of our own soldiers”. Hence Baud’s remark that the people of Ukraine are being “used” in a cynical way.

Being asked whether the war in Ukraine in reality is also a war by the US against Europe and that Europe has been weakened and made dependent on the US, Baud stated: “My impression is that Europe is suffering a “collateral damage”. The U.S. only looked at Russia and didn’t think about the consequences.”  Being asked whether the war had not been “provoked”, Baud pointed to a “Rand Corporation Study” from 2019, which developed a detailed study for the Pentagon, “in which everything that we see today has been described.”  And he ended by saying that there could be a violent “regime change” not in Moscow but in Kiev.

 

Guidelines for war in Ukraine: Rand Corporation Study 2019

According to the 323 pages long Rand Corporation study (“Extending Russia. Competing from advantageous ground”, 2019), which Baud mentioned in the interview, Russia was supposed to be “lured into a conflict, including the possibility of an armed conflict over Ukraine.” It suffices to just have a look at the content table of the study and read its synopsis. The very title “Extending Russia” sheds light on a series of measures that were recommended by Rand Corporation for the U.S. Pentagon, which years later the US imposed against Russia in order to “provoke” them into a “reaction.”  Indeed, the titles of the various chapters speak for themselves: Chapter 3 “Economic measures”, includes  the recommendation to “hinder” petroleum exports, “reduce” natural gas exports; “hinder” pipeline expansion; “impose” sanctions; “enhance” Russian brain –drain. (!)  This in itself is shocking since it confirms clearly what measures the US government initiated long before the war, so as to “sabotage” the growth of the Russian economy. (One should not forget that in September 2023 a major explosion destroyed parts of the North- Sea pipeline, which according to Seymour Hersh’s [investigative journalist, ex- New York Times] own studies had been planned by a Special Intelligence Unit in the US government under President Biden and Blinken, in cooperation with Norwegian Intelligence. Up to this day German Chancellor Scholz never inquired the background and hence failed to tell his own population the truth E.H.)

Chapter 4 of the Rand study is called “Geopolitical measures”. This includes: “provide” lethal weapons to Ukraine (sic); “increase” support to Syrian rebels; “promote regime change” in Belarus; “exploit tensions” in South Caucasus; “reduce” Russian influence in Central Asia; “challenge” Russian presence in Moldova. Chapter 5: “ideological and informational measures”;  “Pathways for Influence Operations”; current status of “Russian regime Legitimacy”; “Russian domestic environment”; “Policy Measures to diminish domestic and foreign support for the Russian Regime” (!).

Chapter 6 of the Pentagon supported study is head-lined: “Air and Space Measures”, this included the “change” of “air and space force posture and operations”; “increase” aerospace research and development; “increase” air and missile components of the nuclear triad. Chapter 7 lists “Maritime Measures”: This implied an “increase” of U.S. and allied naval force posture and presence; increase naval research and development efforts; shift nuclear posture toward SSBNs; check the Black Sea buildup. Chapter 8: “Land and Multidomain measures”: “increase” U.S. and NATO land forces in Europe; “increase” NATO exercises in Europe; withdraw from the INF treaty; invest in new capabilities to “manipulate Russian Risk perceptions”. (sic)

Listing the titles of these chapters hence sufficiently illustrates  that the US government and some of its intelligence units together with some of their Allies in Europe, were for several years systematically concentrated on “encircling” and “extending” Russia, which  interestingly also included the clandestine attempt to station nuclear weapons in for example “Ochakovo” (Ochakiv near Odessa,  InfoSperber 17.08.2017) that was never mentioned in the main stream press, aside the stationing of “missile defense systems” in Central Europe (Poland, Romania) and expanding  NATO troops in Europa, as well as launching a huge propaganda effort to manipulate and provoke Russia into the “desired” risk perception.

The study proves furthermore that von der Leyen and Blinken are not fully “telling the truth”, that the EU has often “misinformed” about Russia and that NATO has been engaged in some   psychological and disinformation war against Russia, sabotaging for example in December 2023 Russia’s proposal for a comprehensive security architecture debate in Europe,  that finally led to the Russian invasion in Donbass, that did constitute a break of international law.  The real victims of this war however are the many civilian and military dead and wounded people in Ukraine and Russia, and the people in Germany and EU as a whole, while the US thinks it can harvest the fruits from this geopolitical conflict.  As one can read in the synopsis of the Rand report, that was compiled 2019,  i.e. 3 years b e f o r e the Russian invasion in Donbass (February 24rth 2022),  the report focused attention on recommending areas that “should cause Russia to ‘overextend’ itself militarily or economically or causing the regime to lose domestic and /or international prestige and influence.”  It essentially examined “expanding US energy production and imposing trade and financial sanctions on Russia”, which according to the report “seem most likely to further stress the Russian economy, government budget and defense spending.” (sic).  The report furthermore underlined that “the Ukrainian military already is ‘bleeding’ Russia in the Donbass region and vice versa”. (This hints at the 8 year long war that was raging in the Donbass since 2015 E.H.)  “Providing more U.S. military equipment and advice could lead Russia to increase its direct involvement in the conflict and the price it pays for it. Russia might respond by mounting a new offensive and seizing more Ukrainian territory.”(sic) While this might increase Russia’s costs, it would also represent a setback for the United States, as well as for Ukraine. “Returning significant U.S. ground forces to Europe would make them more rapidly available for European contingencies and some non- European ones.  However, the closer to the Russian border these forces are positioned, the more likely they are to raise tension and the more difficult it could be to redeploy them elsewhere: Locations in central Europe might therefore be preferable.”

“Extending Russia”?

The synopsis concludes that “Russia’s greatest vulnerability in any competition with the United States is it’s ‘economy’ and it underlines that  (…) “the most promising measures to stress for Russia are those which directly address these vulnerabilities, anxieties, and strengths, exploiting areas of weakness while undermining Russia’s current advantages. (…) Continuing to expand US energy production in all forms, including renewables, and encouraging other countries to do the same would maximize pressure on Russia’s export receipts and thus on its national and defense budgets. (…) Sanctions can also limit Russia’s economic potential. To be effective, however, these need to be ‘multilateral’, involving (at a minimum) the European Union, which is Russia’s largest customer and greatest source of technology and capital, larger in all these respects than the United States.”

Hence Jacques Baud is absolutely correct to point out to the  Rand Study from the year 2019, that exposes the US planning then. And it is only few experts in the West like Prof Jeffrey Sachs and Prof John Mearsheimer that have the guts to expose the long prepared disinformation, misinformation and psychological warfare, which has led to the “truth gap” about the Russia-Ukraine war.

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