Here's How Russia Is Spinning the Crisis in Ukraine
If you're looking to point fingers in the escalating conflict in Ukraine, look no further than U.S. President Barack Obama.
At least, that's the message that Russia's state-run media has sent this week.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday that the "violence and tyranny in Ukraine" is the result of "the illegitimate Kiev authorities under the cover of their Western patrons." In other words, America is secretly behind the pro-Ukrainian groups' violence in Ukraine, making everything worse.
This is just the latest in a string of falsehoods told by the Russian media to unite Russians decisively against the pro-Ukrainian groups and the Obama administration.
Here's the situation: The Kremlin wants to keep Ukraine under its reign of power for economic and geopolitical purposes. The United States is for the current government in Ukraine and fair elections come May 25 because to a proud West, the revolution in Ukraine and the ousting of its old Kremlin puppet of a president symbolized the blossoming of a potential democracy.
All sides of the conflict in Ukraine proved more violent and oppressive than anyone anticipated. As the violence escalated, so did media polarization.
Some Russians even blame America for explicitly endorsing the tragic fire last Friday that caused the deaths of dozens in Odessa, Ukraine. It is still unknown who started the fire, but most Russian media outlets blame the Ukrainian government for the violence, and America for supporting the Ukrainian troops.
Russian reporters and politics are spouting sensationalist wartime rhetoric to vilify America. The word "genocide" peppered Kremlin-funded news this week to describe what happened in Odessa, as well as the word "martyr" to identify the pro-Russian separatists who perished in the fire. Russian politician Frantz Klintsevich said it's difficult for him not to call American and European politics a "genocide" of the Russian people.
Pro-Kremlin groups are also disseminating their propaganda by utilizing what you might call the armpit of the Internet — the comments section of articles. The Guardian recently wrote that it is being incessantly trolled by participants in what its moderators believe is an orchestrated campaign by a pro-Kremlin group to build an extensive network of visible Russian propaganda talking points on the web.
Of course, the American media is not perfect, and it has made many mistakes in the coverage of the conflict in Ukraine. But America does not have the same history of using misinformation as a weapon as Russia, but that does not mean America's history is not just as sinister in some ways.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has suffocated freedom of the press in his country by cutting off all independent media. Everyday Russians who are on the other side of the conflict are unwittingly being fed different information from the U.S. — information that they trust to be the truth.
In war, truth is the first casualty. But it is the failure to understand the other side's truth that causes all the casualties after.