Charles, I just wish the devastation of the civilian areas and the slaughter of the civilian population would end. It's so horrible that bloodbath of so many civilians, women, children, babies continues without end. Why won't Russia agree to a ceasefire, allowing humanitarian corridors to be established to allow civilians to escape? It seems the carnage of women and children is Putin's current strategy. He's seemingly desperate and is resorting to war crimes to get his way. It's heart wrenching and deplorable and unforgivable. He claims to be protecting the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine- as he bombs into oblivion cities like Mariupol that has a population of over 95% Russian speakers.

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Ryan, thank you for your thoughts. According to an article by a Swiss-French intelligence researcher, on which I will be commenting tomorrow (March 25), Russia has been trying to implement the humanitarian corridors, so that the Russian forces can eliminate or neutralize right-wing militias, without civilians being caught in the crossfire. On the other hand, the right-wing militias are creating obstacles to the humanitarian corridors, because in urban areas, the presence of civilians is a deterrent to Russian attacks on the militias, and because the militias are able to use the (Russian-speaking) civilians as human shields. According to the same source, the Donbass republics, and not the Russian forces, are undertaking the assault on the militias in Mariupol; the republics view it as liberation of their territory. The source does not find credible Western claims of Russian attacks on civilians. At the same time, the article reviews the sustained attacks on the civilian populations of Donbass by the Ukrainian government and the right-wing militias since 2014.

According to the perspective of the developing nations constructing socialism, Russia is defending itself against Western aggression. In their view, it is U.S. imperialism that is desperate, because it has fallen into decadence and is unable to address its half century of decline in production and commerce, resulting from its misguided policies of deindustrialization and financial speculation. In desperation, the USA is resorting to military aggression in Eastern Europe, seeking to revitalize the U.S.-European military and economic alliance.

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Wow. Thank you for the commentary on the Baud report.

I'm still delving into the articles and reports linked to in the original cf2r report. But if well-founded, and the credentials of the researchers point to credibility, it is very informative of quite a different narrative of what's transpiring in Ukraine today.

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Thanks, Charles. If correct, that would make a substantial difference to what is commonly presented in the current mainstream corporate media narrative. I look forward to reading the report of that researcher and your comments on it today.

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Charles, how can we believe the "reports" by the Russian military when they aren't even being honest about the invasion of Ukraine, calling it a special mission and throwing into prison anyone who calls it a war or invasion? That's like taking CIA protestations of any accusations of assassinations they've been responsible for. Putin doesn't even recognize that Ukraine is an independent, sovereign nation that isn't wholly part of Russia.

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The reports of the Russian military are being taken as credible by the foreign ministries of Russia and China and by the news media of Russia, China, Venezuela, and Cuba and by all persons in the world who consider such sources to be credible. This should be taken into account.

The mentioned media sources have been documenting since February 24 the NATO expansion to the east; the Western interference in Ukrainian affairs to produce a coup d’état in 2014 and install a pro-Western government; and the sustained violence since 2014 against the Russian population in Donbass by the government and fascists, ultranationalist groups. These sources therefore consider reasonable the Russian claim that it is conducting a defensive military action with specific limited goals that do not include the occupation of the Ukraine or the overthrow of its government. Like the Russian government, the media sources of Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba refer to the Russian military action as a defensive, strategic military operation and not an invasion.

We live in a world in which media accounts are driven by ideology, so that alternative portrayals of the same reality do not even coincide with respect to important facts. In this situation, it is difficult for us to know what to believe. In my accumulated experience with respect to this phenomenon, I have come to distrust the Western media, because it often omits important details that, when known, change the dynamics of the situation. This phenomenon of distortion of reality by the Western media and the Western political establishments is driven by the long history of Western imperialism, which requires distortion in order to justify. At the same time, I have arrived to trust the sources of Cuban and Venezuela media and the discourses of the leaders of these countries, because they for the most part are based in a well developed historical, political, and global consciousness.


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Charles, thank you for your thoughtful and detailed response. I do appreciate it.

I have no doubt that the foreign ministry of Russia would "take[en] as credible" reports of the Russian military; that would be an expected given, of course, but doesn't do anything to convince anyone else not in their sphere of influence. Cuba has supported the right of Russia to self-defense, but I did not see them proclaim support of an actual military invasion of a sovereign country. I don't think they can in light of the fact it could endorse the same in their own country, being invaded by the monster to their north.

But how can anyone else necessarily believe what Russia says in light of all the false assertions they've made? They were denying they were conducting any build up of forces on their western border prior to invasion, forces numbering 120,000 or more that the entire world could plainly see. Putin was denying any intention to invade a sovereign country, as the world can see after the fact he was preparing to invade all along. Regardless of his claim that there is no Ukraine, it's actually just a part of Russia.

He claims to be only protecting the Russian-speaking Ukrainians in the eastern regions, but bombing Ukrainian civilians and destroying blocks of housing, hospitals, and numerous other non-military objectives. Which he denies doing even as we see the bombed out apartments and Russian soldiers mowing down civilians, women, children. Do you really believe him? Really?? Putin claims to only be asserting self-defensive movement to protect the eastern "Independent" separatist territories of Ukraine. Then why is he in reality moving far further west, bombing the civilian neighborhoods of Kiev into submission? Why didn't he move into Lugansk and Donetsk and stop? Because he lies to his people at least as much if not more as the US deceives their own.

I am fully aware that the corporate, imperialist media cannot be trusted to deliver the full truth. And the US government transmits half-truths and untruths, obviously. And the West is far from blameless, I concur.

But, from Aljazeera, not a very pro-Western voice:

Civilians as Weapons

Russia’s tactics have toughened as hospitals and other civilian infrastructure has repeatedly been hit by air raids and artillery shells.

The coordinates of these hospitals are known to Russian military planners, the buildings are large and easily identified from the air. One or two attacks might be a mistake, one of the dreadful realities of war, but any more than that shows a deliberate strategy to make life unbearable for the local civilians who will then flee to unoccupied areas, quickly overwhelming the meager resources of the towns and cities near the front lines.

And I agree with Chomsky, well known for his attack of US imperialism:

"Putin is the direct aggressor in this war, even though NATO has sought it out. The invasion is a continuation of the Soviet policy that brought tanks to Hungary, Afghanistan and Czechoslovakia.

Putin is responsible for the dead and displaced caused by the current conflict. Whatever the outcome of the war, Russia will gain something and will lose a lot. Ukraine and the Ukrainians will have lost more. Ending the war as soon as possible is imperative.

Vasili Nebenzi, Russian ambassador to the United Nations Security Council, asserted that “Russia is not attacking the Ukrainian people, but the ruling regime.” It is hard to imagine anything more cynical.

Heard in Cuba, the phrase gives us the shivers. The arguments for the invasion of Ukraine could in turn serve for a hypothetical US invasion of Cuba. Nebenzi’s phrase contains another irony: the US government says the same thing about its economic blockade against Cuba. Ukraine, in the end, is not so far away from us Cubans."

More from Chomsky: "... a few facts that are uncontestable. The most crucial one is that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a major war crime, ranking alongside the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the Hitler-Stalin invasion of Poland in September 1939, to take only two salient examples. It always makes sense to seek explanations, but there is no justification, no extenuation."

I agree wholeheartedly that NATO expansion has led to this problem. But one country invading pre-emptively another sovereign nation has to be held as unacceptable by the entire world, no exception.

Do you support Russia's invasion and killing of thousands of civilians? Did you support Russia's devastating war in Syria? Did you support the US invasion of Iraq? With Russia putting offensive weapons in Cuba in 1962, is it your belief it would have been legitimate for the US to invade?

Obviously, I would expect these to be merely rhetorical as I can't believe you would. But, respectfully, I ask how do you support this invasion of a neighboring country that has not been itself militarily attacked?

Russia is committing war crimes and should be held accountable.

Ukraine should not be destroyed as a pawn in the struggle between NATO and Russia.

Ukrainians should not be sacrificed in the process.

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Ryan, thank you very much for your considered and well-developed response.

Yes, of course, the support of the Russian media is to be expected. I included reference to it because, in any modern society, the support of media for government is not automatic. The position of Russia Today is an indication of consensual institutional support in Russia, and Russia Today has been generating daily, on Spanish-language television, very impressive video documentation and reporting with respect to the conflict today and since 2014.

I do not share you interpretation of the Cuban position on the issue. I see Cuba as supporting the Russian military operation. To be sure, official statements by the government have a certain degree of caution, because Cuba has long advocated the peaceful resolution of conflicts. But even the official declaration clearly takes the Russian side on all the issues of the conflict, and it declares that Russia has the right to defend itself. Cuban television and newspaper coverage has been less constrained in its support of Russia, even though Granma has dutifully reported on what the Western governments are doing and saying on a daily, somewhat hurried manner, without commentary. Cuban academics are fully in support of Russia, although some are retrospectively criticizing the former Soviet Union for not having liquidated Nazism in Ukraine, as was done in post-war Germany.

Cuban support for Russia goes beyond this particular conflict. Cuba sees Russia as an anti-imperialist power, which has formed economic and diplomatic relations with other anti-imperialist governments, like China, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba. Cuba does not see Russia as an imperialist power. This is fundamental to Cuba’s internationalist perspective. It sees itself as among the vanguard nations that are constructing an alternative world order based on cooperation, respect for sovereignty, and mutually beneficial trade. It sees Russia as an important actor in this global movement for a more peaceful and prosperous world order, largely because of the size of its economy and the internationalist political will of its leaders, a political dynamic that emerged in Russia after the shock and disgrace of the 1990s. This perspective is shared by the media, government, and academics of China and Venezuela. And it is shared by the intellectuals associated with Geopolitical Economy Research Group (University of Manitoba, Canada), who are socialists with an experiential base in all regions of the world.

The coverage of the military action on the ground by the media of Russia, Venezuela, and Cuba is fundamentally different from that of the media in general. They are describing systematic attacks by Ukraine and nationalist groups of the civilian population of Donbass. They are reporting on the specific military objectives of the Russian operation, listing the particular military installations and equipment that has been neutralized. They describe a carefully planned and disciplined military action being carried out jointly by the forces of Russia and the two recently recognized republics in the East, largely in the territory of the two republics. They reiterate that the Russian objective is to secure the independence of the new republics (which would be allied with Russia); recognition of Russian possession of the Crimean peninsula; an independent but neutral Ukraine that is not a platform for NATO aggression; and the elimination of fascist violence against the people.

The Canadian journalist and intellectual Arnold August reports that the hospital attacked by Russian forces (reported in Aljazeera) was no longer functioning as a hospital. Medical staff and patients had evacuated, and it had been occupied by fascist militias. I do not know what Arnold’s source is. In general, I view Aljazeera as a reliable source, but I have not read it enough to have an informed judgment concerning its reliability with respect to this issue.

Many Western intellectuals of the Left are strong in criticizing Western imperialism, but they do not see and have not taken into consideration the alternative world under construction by the Third World plus China. This places serious limits on their understanding. Noam Chomsky, in spite of his important contributions in documenting the violence and false claims of U.S. imperialism, falls into this category.

I reiterate that these are difficult questions. With contrasting claims of fact and contrasting perspectives, if is difficult to discern the true and the right. Responding to this situation requires commitment to diligent intellectual work, and I therefore appreciated the time your have taken to address the issue at hand and to share your thoughts.

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