Ukraine II: Filling in Context Not Provided by Corporate Run American TV Networks
In Part II We Delve into the 20th Century History of Ukraine vis a vis its Relationship with Russia & Examine a Couple of Putin's Propaganda Narratives, One of Which Murdoch's Fox News Amplifies
March 7, 2022 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.
The photo at right is currently on exhibit in 'The Storming of the Capitol' photo exhibit at the Bronx Documentary Film Center in the Melrose neighborhood of the Bronx. It shows how seemingly 'ordinary people' [like the man shown in the photo], can be incited by manipulative leaders, in concert with a faction of the press that manipulatively supports them, to destroy the very things for which they think they're fighting.
Some say there are parallels to what's happening in Putin's Russia, but the cultural differences and institutional complexities make such analogies cumbersome at best. One thing is clear, however, and that is that this saying - long attributed to Thomas Jefferson [and now uncertain] - remains true,
"Eternal vigilance is the price of democracy."
Last Week We Did Part I: A Ukrainian Overview
Last week I provided a look at some of the topline stats someone who wanted to know what was going on might ask. We researched the size of the two nations in terms of population, economies, industries and technology. Ukraine came in well ahead of what I had thought, while Russia came in behind what I had expected to find.
Then I started in on Ukrainian history and culture vis a vis Russia, but found it to lengthy and complex to discuss without further research, so again I gave a very brief topline report noting that Ukraine's borders have been in flux over the past century and beyond.
Then I provided another brief look into Ukrainian and Russian politics since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991. This was followed by describing how the Biden Administration is balancing deterrence while trying to minimize escalation in the face of the military aggression brought on by the new Madman of Europe, and minimize the collateral economic impact on Americans' daily life.
Lastly, I took a look at an Australian born Madman's, American-based mass media outlets' coverage, of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The billionaire's name is Rupert Murdoch, and his organizations' daily distorted coverage of people, places and events is - as a whole - appears to be manipulative propaganda. His propaganda techniques are not unlike - but far more sophisticated than - the propaganda Putin is spreading in Russia.
Unfortunately, Murdoch and Putin appear to be in goal alignment, which appears biased toward kleptocracy and fascism. The difference is that from within our borders Murdoch's Fox News, Wall St Journal and NY Post appear hellbent in undermining Biden [and thus our nation at a critical time for Western Democracy] through their distorted 'news' reporting, while pretending not to do so. While Putin's propaganda machine is located outside of our borders, is state run, and thus answers only to Putin.
The graphics at right illustrate the point, where Murdoch's Fox News uses Biden's worst poll numbers over the past month, in lieu of using the most recent poll numbers. The Murdoch goal appears to use their 'distorted' [and predominantly if not totally negative] news accounts to undermine Biden during the Ukranian crisis, in order to pave the way for the Murdoch chosen candidate for president in 2024, which at present appears to be Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who honored Murdoch by providing $570 million of the taxpayers money to Disney in a tax break.
- CLICK here to read the rest of our report on the Russian Ukrainian War - Geography, Russian Naval Movement, Black Sea, Cossacks in WWII, Putin's Palace, Putin's Corruption, Fascist Forces in America Supporting Putin on Fox News, Income in Democracies vs the Russian Dictatorship.
Australian Born Billionaire Rupert Murdoch's Mass Media Protection Racket
In the graphic at right, you can see the sort of mass media 'protection' that Murdoch offers the pols he favors like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in what seems a quid pro quo. In what seems to be a nearly life-long behavior pattern, Murdoch appears to cut deals with those he helps elect by providing distorted news accounts in their favor, and distorted news accounts attacking their opponents [in this case Biden], using Murdoch's overwhelming share of mass media in the nation.
Murdoch's nearly life long habit of using his overwhelming share of the mass media he controls, as a political propaganda machine, to install pols he favors, who will favor him, has gone on for decades in Australia, Britain and increasingly the U.S. An example of using a pol using the public purse is shown by Governor DeSantis above, who was subsequently given an open mic on Fox News. And an example of Murdoch using a pol / government official to provide a favorable regulatory environment follows.
Putin isn't the Only One Installing Puppets - Murdoch's Insidious Influence Appears to be Growing at Disney / ABC News thru Personnel Changes at the Top, as well as in the News Operations
An example of Murdoch using his influence over a pol to use the government apparatus to favor him was done in 2019, when the Trump Department of Justice approved the inverted takeover of Disney / ABC News. This was achieved by allowing the stock merger between Disney / ABC and Murdoch's Newscorp assets.
This merger - billed and reported by the empty suits on network TV News as a takeover of Newscorp assets - enabled Murdoch and two Newscorp investment funds to assume control of about 25% of Disney / ABC company stock.
Since the takeover / merger, it appears a Murdoch man, Bob Chapek, was installed as Disney's CEO in February of 2020. And in December of 2021, Susan E. Arnold, who came from one of the Newscorp largest investment funds, the Carlyle Group, was installed as Murdoch's Disney / ABC Chairwoman. It appears the insidious personnel changes at ABC News have long been underway, as Murdoch slyly turns another of America's trusted news brands, into another one of his disguised propaganda outlets.
Both Putin and Murdoch appear to be at a minimum - sociopaths and more likely psychopaths - who seem to care only about grabbing more power and more wealth for themselves, no matter the cost to others or the planet. They seem not to have a shred of decency between them.
Superficial, Gossip-like, TV News Reporting
How Americans Stay Uninformed by Relying on Fox / ABC TV News
How Can Americans Stay Informed if Network TV News Fails to Provide the Basic Context of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine without any References to the Strategic Considerations of the Baltic Sea & the Dnieper River & the Cultural Importance of the Cossacks?
I would say it's nearly impossible to have any sort of real understanding of what's going on between Russia and the Ukraine, without talking about the Dnieper River and the Cossacks. And yet America's National TV Networks have gone on endlessly about the conflict, without so much as even a mention of the difficulties of trading via the Baltic Sea, the strategic importance of Dnieper River, or the cultural and military role played by Cossacks. The seemingly unlimited shallowness of the reporting done by American TV and radio mass media is even more unbelievable as the War in the Ukraine itself.
At right are a few photos of the inside of Putin's Palace at Gelendzhik, which is a Russian resort town along the Black Sea, located about 150 miles south of Mariupol in Ukraine. Perhaps the Ukrainians might want to make an effort to bomb it in retaliation for Putin's destruction of their nation, including what appear to be crimes against humanity. The news of the bombing might help publicize how Putin's crime and corruption have enriched him, while robbing his fellow countrymen of their wealth in tandem with the other Oligarchs. That sort of break through news - might help wake up the Russian people as to how Putin isn't just robbing the Ukrainians of their freedoms and right to self determination - but the Russian people too.
The Dnieper River - From Moscow, Thru Belarus, the Ukraine & into the Black Sea
The Dnieper River [pronounced neeper] runs south from Smolensk, Russia. Smolensk is a city that lies between Minsk, the capital of Belarus, and Moscow, the capital of Russia. The Dnieper River runs through Belarus and the Ukraine and then empties out into the Black Sea. Russia and Belarus have attacked Ukraine, and are in the process of trying to conquer it. For my money, it strikes me as a Nazi thing, of stealing from other peoples by force, because you think you can get away with it.
If Russia conquers Ukraine, it would have complete control of the Dnieper River, because Belarus' autocrat 'president' Lukashenko, is reportedly beholden to Putin for enabling Lukashenko to steal the most recent 'election' in Belarus in 2020. Controlling the Dnieper River would provide Russia with a fully controlled waterway from Smolensk, which is 240 miles west of Moscow, to the Black Sea, which is a body of warmer water that is open year round, and leads to the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean.
In the graphic at right, you can see the location of Mariupol in Ukraine, where fierce fighting is underway, as noted by the large red dot. Mariupol is just 150 miles north of Putin's Palace [he denies & says it's owned by another oligarch but he's hosted over a thousand events there], which is located at Gelendzhik in Russia, which is a resort town along the Black Sea. While I'm talking about the possible economic and strategic reasons that Vladimir Putin might have rationalized leading up to this war, it's also important to look at the personal reasons he might have committed the Russian Federation to a war with Ukraine.
Most of Russia's Western / European Maritime Capability Lies Along the Treacherous Baltic Sea
Taking control of the Dnieper River would likely be a boon to Russian trade, as its western ports are mostly located along the Baltic Sea. According to Interreg EU,
"... the Baltic Sea has been known as difficult area for shipping for a long time as narrow straits, multiple islands and shallow waters do not leave a lot of space for navigation. Dependent on season shipping also has to deal with rough weather conditions (intensive storms during autumn, strong currents in the straits and icy waters during winter) ..." as well as emerging offshore wind farm areas and protected ecosystems.
Interreg EU, tracks the development in the Baltic region, and in their Baltic Lines report [filed 2012 - 2016] tells us that 90% of the world's trade is done by ship and it has doubled over the past decade.
Russian Warships Left the Baltic, Headed to the Black Sea, to Aid the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
According to 'TheDrive.com', which is an independent online news source that publishes 'The War Zone', six amphibious Russian warships left the Baltic Sea region in mid January 2022, where it was believed they were heading south to the Black Sea, to support Russia's assault on the Ukraine from the south. In a January 18, 2022 WarZone report we were informed,
" ... carry as many as 10 main battle tanks or other heavy armored vehicles, 340 troops, 550 tons of cargo, or a mixture of all three ..."
From the Ukrainian point of view, having weapons that could sink those ships, would be a boon as it could cut off supplies coming out of them in support of Putin's Russian invasion on Ukraine's southern coast.
Putin's Palace - The New Russian Czar's Palace isn't Far from Ukraine
Czar-like, dictator president Vladimir Putin reportedly built himself a HUUUGGGE mansion near a town called Torvik or Gelendzhik which is also located along the Black Sea - not far from Crimea. Putin denies this, even though he reportedly hosted over a thousand gatherings there. A Putin crony, Arkady Rotenberg, says the mansion is his.
I suspect the Ukrainians could score a huge publicity win by destroying the mansion and posting photos and videos to social media and traditional media outlets around the world, to help expose Putin and his cronies' corruption. I suspect an effective bombing of the mansion could be done with drones.
By hitting the mansion - the mansion and the story of corruption surrounding it - would be in the news again. In a nutshell, the story is that Putin allegedly used public funds to build the luxurious Czar-like palace. This might help in the public relations campaign, to help raise Russian awareness of how they - regular Russians - are not free either.
Putin takes their rubles in taxes and Putin and his Oligarch cronies have hoarded Russia's national wealth after allegedly taking it from them in no different a manner than done by the czars and royal Romanovs centuries ago. Just more than a year ago [Jan / Feb 2021] Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny posted photos of Putin's mansion, shortly before Putin had him imprisoned, reportedly on fake, trumped up charges.
Navalny's real crime? Likely, telling the truth.
Perhaps both Ukrainians and Russians can free themselves from the tyrannical rule of a few men who govern with the handmaidens of tyranny: violence and propaganda. They take everything for themselves, leaving only scraps for everyone else, as if only they mattered. Irish English Philosopher Edmund Burke said,
"All it takes for evil to succeed, is for enough good [wo]men to do nothing."
The Cossacks: Great Warriors, Fiercely Independent and Yet Somehow - Rarely Truly Free
Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine have an entangled history that dates back millenia, not unlike how the histories of various nations in the west, such as England, France, Austria and Germany are intertwined - including some through familial and sometimes royal blood.
The Cossacks were orginally something of a tribe [if I may], who settled along the Dnieper River. They had come from the Asian steppe and were great horsemen, hunters and warriors. In the four hundred plus years leading up to the 20th century, the Poles, Latvians, Lithuanians, Belarussians, Russians, Tartars, Jews and Turks all intermingled through trade and war with the Ukranians, of which the Cossacks were one notable group.
Like in Europe, alliances came and went, as the whims of harsh leaders, and the winds of necessity, seemed to dictate. Leading into the 20th century, the Cossacks who were known as fierce warriors, became aligned with the Czar. The Cossacks lived along the Dnieper River which flows through Kyiv. They would fight as needed as allies in the Czar's wars, in exchange for lower taxes, and some level of being left to themselves by the Czar's government between the wars.
The Cossacks Role in the Russian Revolution of 1917
The czars aligned themselves with Britain and France against Germany in WWI which ran from 1914 to 1918. During that war, as the czars sent their army, comprised largely of poor peasants, to the front to be killed by the millions. Before WWI ended, the Russian Revolution of 1917 broke out and went on for another four years, ending in 1923.
The Cossacks, largely comprised of Orthodox Christian Ukrainians, largely sided with the Czar and the 'White Russians' against the 'Red Russians' who were the Communists. There were also some Jewish Cossacks, some of whom reportedly fought both for the Czar, and some of whom fought against the Czar.
Thus, during the Russian Revolution, from 1917 to 1921, Ukraine declared its independence from Russia and tried to operate as a free and independent state. But the Red Russians won, and beginning in 1922, the Russians oversaw the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. One of the Soviet Union's leaders, Premier Nikita Kruschev, came from the Ukraine, rising to the highest office in Russia. Kruschev's time in office ended not too many years after the end of the Cuban Missile Crisis. As mentioned previously, Kruschev allowed Ukraine to annex the Crimean penninsula.
The Cossacks Role in WWII - The Lienz Cossacks & Putin's Nazis
As mentioned, the Cossacks were pretty skilled militarily, and used as such by the Czars. After the Ukraine was taken over by the Red Communists, the White Cossacks' standing in Russian society fell considerably. In 1939 Stalin conscripted them to fight in WWII for the Russians. As the Cossacks were hostile to Stalin and Russia, they split off from Russia and sided with Hitler and Germany during WWII. They reportedly did this - not to advance the German cause per se - so much as to advance the cause of Ukrainian freedom from the Russians.
According to a 06/22/2016 report by warfarehistorynetwork.com,
" ... Stalin ruthlessly expanded the collectivization program into an offensive against the peasantry. Millions were displaced, and millions were killed. A significant number of Soviet citizens, including many of the Cossacks, therefore greeted the invading Germans as liberators..."
After the war the British kept an agreement made with Churchill, FDR and Stalin in February of 1945 at Yalta, which is coincidentally located on the southern coast of Crimea. In that agreement, both sides agreed to turn over the captured soldiers / citizens of their respective nations, to each other. As part of that deal, the Cossacks, who fought against Stalin and Russia, were returned to Stalin, where he reportedly had many of them tortured and most or possibly even all of them [about 50,000] killed.
Putin's Propaganda Draws on Russian / Ukrainian History
This is probably why Vladimir Putin keeps trying to label the Ukranians as Nazis. So let's put this in perspective. First the Italians, Germans and Japanese were the enemy during WWII and today they are some of our staunchest allies. Who controls the government apparatus of each nation makes a huge difference in how that nation behaves and what it does - especially if the national government is operated by a violent, psychotic dictator - as in Hitler's Nazi Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union and Putin's Russia today.
I have not heard of the Cossacks used in any way against the Jews in the Holocaust, but admittedly I am still researching / learning, so I can't claim that definitively. While many people knew about and / or ignored the ongoing methodical extermination of the Jews by Hitler at the time, there were also likely many who were truthfully ignorant of this horror at the time, as access to the news wasn't as ubiquitous as it is today. Back then they didn't have TV or the internet, phones and radios were luxuries, and cultures, languages and distances were far larger barriers than they are today. And, of course, the Nazi propaganda machine was highly effective. Lastly, according to Wikipedia, there are apparently less than a million Cossacks living today in the Ukraine, and in total there are about 3 - 5 million Cossacks spead out among several of the old Soviet Republics like Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakstan and so forth.
Ok, so now we begin to understand how Putin is trying tap use the history of the mid 20th century, to re-attach the Nazi label to the Ukrainian nation of 44 million, to incite his fellow Russians against them. In a March 7, 2022 MSN report, the right wing, white nationalist parties garnered only 2% of the vote in the 2019 Ukrainian national election, and the president they elected with an overwhelming 73% majority, is Jewish. By contrast, in Hungary, Austria and Switzerland, the nationalist parties gained over 25% of the vote. In all other European nations it was somewhere less than that, and in many of them, considerably less than that. So perhaps we now understand why Putin claims Russia and Ukraine share some of the same history and culture. But the Ukrainians aren't as fond of that shared history as Putin is.
Why Russians Make Half the $ Income that Europeans do?
Perhaps Because their Dictator Hoards their Resources - Putin is Alleged to have Enriched Himself like a Czar [$200 Billion] and to have Plundered Public Funds to Build a $1.4 Billion Palace for Himself
Putin has reportedly enriched himself by the billions, by plundering state funds. One of his personal projects, built in about 2012 using state resources, was a palacial mansion at Gelendvhik in Russia. Gelendvhik is a resort town along the Black Sea and Putin's Palace overlooks the resort town, where Putin has reportedly thrown extravagant parties and conferences, in a plush style some have compared to that of the Czars. Putin denies these allegations and says the palace is owned by an Oligarch friend of his.
The photo at right shows Putin's Czar-like palace at Gelendzhik
Like the Czars, Putin lives amidst plush surroundings, while the Russian people suffer. The per capita income of the peoples of the European Union [$29,000] is about twice that of the Russian Federation [$15,000]. And yet the new Russian Czar - Putin - once a poor KGB operative has collected wealth said to make him among the richest men in the world.
According to a March 2, 2022 report in Fortune magazine Putin is reportedly worth $200 billion. They state,
"... The $200 billion figure was estimated by financier Bill Browder who, in a testimony to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in 2017, said that Putin amassed most of his wealth after a Moscow court jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky in 2003 for fraud and tax evasion:
"After Khodorkovsky's conviction, the other oligarchs went to Putin and asked him what they needed to do to avoid sitting in the same cage as Khodorkovsky. From what followed, it appeared that Putin's answer was, "50%" He wasn't saying 50% for the Russian government or the presidential administration of Russia, but 50% for Vladimir Putin personally."
Why the Russian Military is Failing
1) Because Putin Crony Corruption Redirected Russian Military Spending into their Billion Dollar Yachts?
Some analysts say that the reason the Russian military has fared so poorly against the Ukrainians, is because the incompetence and corruption of the Putin regime. In a March 8, 2022 Business Insider report, Andrey Kozyrev, the former Foreign Minister for Boris Yeltsin in the 1990's, suggested that the Oligarchs may have diverted billions of the Russian Federation defense budget into their own pockets - or rather into their yachts in Cyprus.
A March 7, 2022 report in Project-Syndicate.org called Vladimir Putin's Russian Army a Potemkin Village. This refers to a historical figure, a Cossack ironically, Grigory A. Potemkin who it is said, built what would be the equivalent of stage sets of a village, along a route he traveled on with Russian Czar Catherine the Great in order to impress her. The village stage set would be assembled and after he passed with Catherine, disassembled and moved to another point along the route that Potemkin would pass with Catherine in tow.
Today it means a Tiger who's a pussycat or a great army that ain't so great. In the graphic above, you can see that Putin established a no-fly zone over the Sea of Azov, likely to protect his palace at Gelendzhik, which is just across the Sea of Azov, south of Ukraine, and only 150 miles from Mariupol, where Putin's Russian Army has reportedly bombed a Childrens' Hospital.
2) Because About Half the 600,000 Men in the Russian Army were Conscripted Because They are Young and Poor?
Reportedly Dictator-President Vladimir Putin has augmented his army with some contingents of mercenary forces from the Wagner Group [NationalWorld.com on March 9, 2022] and is reportedly seeking Syrian mercenaries to join the Russians in the invasion of Ukraine.
3) Because One Man Fighting for his Home is Equal to Ten Soliders Fighting for a Ruthless Dictator Willing to Throw Away Their Lives so he is Not Deposed, or Ten Merecenaries Fighting for Money
I stole the phrase of the headline #3 from a movie entitled Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner. I'm not generally a fan of Costner, but he did a great job of acting out this one. As Robin returns from the crusades, he tells us that one of the lessons he learned in fighting them was that,
"... One man fighting for his home is worth ten men fighting for money ..."
I think we're seeing that play out in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In this story, Volodymyr Zelensky is Robin and Vladimir Putin is the Sheriff of Nottingham, who is waging war - like the Czars - with poor conscripted Russians, against poor, mostly volunteering Ukrainians who are fighting for their homes and homeland.
Putin's Propaganda Narratives are Spread & Legitimized via Rupert Murdoch's Fox News & Murdoch's Other American, British and Australian News Brands
But ultimately Vladimir Putin, like Rupert Murdoch, is a liar and a manipulator. Putin lied about his war intentions, repeatedly telling the western world he wasn't planning to invade Ukraine. Putin has repeatedly used false excuses for why he decided to go into Ukraine, including the tenuous labeling of Ukrainians as Nazis. The Ukrainians' President Zelensky is Jewish and White Supremacist groups won only 2% of the vote in 2019, which is far less than most other European nations. Putin falsely claims that the November 2021 agreement between NATO and Ukraine triggered the war, and yet Putin first invaded the Ukraine in 2014, seven years before that agreement.
Australian born billionaire Rupert Murdoch's fascist-leaning Fox News likes the latter Putin narrative, that it was the November 2021 NATO agreement that caused Putin to start the war, which Murdoch's Fox News legitimizes by repeating and amplifying Putin's narrative, like he gives oxygen to so many other false narratives here and abroad.
As mentioned above, Murdoch's Fox News fails to remind their audience that Putin invaded the Crimea and Donbas sections of the Ukraine in 2014 - a full seven years before any such NATO agreement was made. Murdoch's Fox News is guilty of omitting so many key facts, from so many different stories, on so many of its news broadcasts - that Fox News viewers have been found to know less about what's really going on in the world, than people who don't watch the news at all.
I have a bit more on this, which I'll try to post in the coming week or two. And in the meantime I updated the photos and graphics for this story, and I did get around to posting the photos and graphics I wanted to include in the prior story posted last week, which you can find by scrolling down to March 1, 2022.
Have a good week.