NATO’S Deputy Commander, General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, engaging in some pro-Western bluster, said recently that it had to be in a state of high readiness in order to convince Russia that an attack on one Nato ally will inevitably provoke conflict with the whole alliance. David Cameron has been relaying a similar message and his right wing Defence Minister, Sean Fallon, provoked a furious reaction in Moscow when he ludicrously suggested that Russia was seeking to gain influence over other Baltic States.
Professor Richard Sakwa is an expert in the field of Russian and Eastern European communist and post-communist politics. In his new book, Frontline Ukraine, he attempts to produce a balanced and reasoned description of the conflict in the Region which is far removed from the irresponsible and distorted reports of western politicians which are reprinted uncritically in the media. He draws attention to several issues that are never mentioned in western accounts: the civilian casualties in eastern Ukraine caused by Ukrainian shelling: the assaults on left leaning candidates in last year’s elections and the failure to investigate either sniper activity in Kiev or the Odessa massacre in which dozens of protesters were burned alive.
This is reminiscent of the way in which violent deaths in Northern Ireland were reported; maximum coverage was given to any killings which might possibly be attributed to Republicans but murders at the hands of the RUC and the British army were presented as justifiable in the conflict. British and often the Dublin media reproduced Ministry of Defence press releases without any scrutiny of the source.
The CIA has orchestrated an insidious and demonising campaign throughout the West against President Putin. Sakwa points out that even at the height of the Cold War, when there was a real danger of nuclear conflict, figures such as Brezhnev and Andropov were never subjected to similar treatment.
Frontline Ukraine argues that building a Ukrainian State is not merely a question of good governance with the rule of law at the centre but an acceptance of bilingualism, mutual tolerance and respect for different traditions. The template for the Six Counties in the North of Ireland, you might conclude.
Sinn Fein is the most popular political party throughout Ireland; Belfast journalist, Jude Collins, recently argued convincingly that, given demographic change, the possibility of Martin McGuinness becoming First Minister In Belfast while Gerry Adams was elected Taoiseach in Dublin was a very likely prospect. Rather like Putin, Adams has an international reputation as a statesman and gifted politician but is demonised in the politically controlled Dublin media at every opportunity. However, the electorate have not bought it.
Sakwa’s unbiased, academic account of the Ukraine conflict will be unwelcome to NATO.
It must tell the truth.