What Was First: Information Chaos or Wrong Politics?

About a week ago, Josh Rogin, a columnist with Bloomberg View, on the CNN’s Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin discussed the report by the US lawmakers, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry and Rep. Seth Moulton, that Russia is burning its soldiers, who have been killed in action in Ukraine, in mobile crematoriums. He said “This is how Putin keeps up the fiction that Russia is not involved in Ukraine and hides the true cost of his intervention to the international community”.

In fact, this is not the way Russia keeps up this fiction. This fiction is very poorly hidden to say the least. The latest Atlantic Council’s report on the Russian aggression in Ukraine is called “Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine”. The Russian military has suffered huge losses and the only truth, which is really hidden, is the exact number of the Russian soldiers killed in combat in Ukraine. There are plentiful reports of the mass unnamed graves in the occupied territories of Ukraine and the neighboring Rostov region of Russia. There are plentiful reports of the named graves of Russian soldiers throughout Russia. These reports are available in the Ukrainian media and even some Russian media. More recently, the information about dead Russian soldiers has become available in Boris Nemtsov’s report “Putin. War”, which has been widely publicized in the West. Finally, there are reports about the fresh graves of Russian soldiers in some Western media.

Mr. Rogin’s and CNN’s reporting on Russian mobile crematoriums is commendable. However, Mr. Rogin’s remark about absence of information of Russian military casualties in Ukraine is revealing. It means that the fact, which is obvious to Ukrainians and even to many Russians now, has not made its way to the mainstream Western media.

Whether it is Ukraine’s fault of not doing enough to spread the factual information about the war in the English language in the global media. And the Diaspora should increase its efforts in informing the global community. Or it is the outcome of the masterful Russian English-language propaganda. Or maybe it is just the result of Ukraine’s being out of the reach of the Western media and behind the Iron Curtain for so many decades that even two recent revolutions and the war have not broken this wall of Western media’s ignorance. Or maybe it is all of the above. Hopefully, such reports as Atlantic Council’s “Hiding in Plain Sight: Putin’s War in Ukraine” will help bring the simple but gruesome facts about the war in Ukraine to the wider global audience.

As a result of this selective approach to the information, the Western media coverage of the war in the Donbas, while being generally correct, often lacks some crucial details that would make the picture of the Russian invasion complete. Who knows, if this picture was more complete and more often conveyed to the public, it could put more pressure on the Western governments to take more drastic measures to end the aggression.

Or maybe, just maybe, the opposite is the case and the media is (coincidentally?) helping the Western governments use a softer language when dealing with Russia. “The Russia-financed separatists” rather than “the Russian troops”, “the warfare in eastern Ukraine” rather than “the Russian aggression”, and so on and so forth. This softer language goes hand in hand with policies which keep looking like appeasement of the aggressor, as in the case of John Kerry’s recent visit to Sochi when he said he was “privileged to spend many hours” with Putin and Lavrov.

And, in the meantime, the Ukrainian soldiers keep dying in the Donbas. They and their families know too well who they are fighting, which is, in so many cases, the regular Russian military.