Ukraine
© Twitter/@oivshina
Peace maneuvers in Donetsk
The problem with wars is that you need people to believe in them so they can happen, and somebody needs to do the shooting and dying. As they say, imagine if they gave a war and nobody came. What would happen then? It's not as if our 'leaders', a gaggle of amoral assholes and clinical psychopaths, could be expected to offer themselves and their progeny for the war effort. No indeed, without the 'little people' and 'useless eaters' to fight and die for no good reason other than the personal profits of the political, industrial and financial elites, there would be no possibility of war, ever, and any attempt to manipulate the masses into a jingoistic frenzy would be exposed as the murderous conspiracy that it always has been.

Well, in the case of Ukraine, that's exactly what we are seeing unfold before our eyes.

The newly coup-imposed, non-elected, fascist, right-wing puppet Ukrainian government recently promised an "anti-terrorist operation" against the separatists of the Eastern province of Donetsk in order to avoid another Crimea situation. But things didn't quite turn out as expected.

As Guardian readers humorously put it:
'Report on progress of the war Captain ... Gave away another tank and having a picnic with the Terrorists sir'
John Kerry: "The situation is critical, Mr President, peace has broken out".
So what's a warmonger to do? Why, cook up some media manipulation and lies and get out the bag of dirty tricks, of course! It may sound familiar, but it's worked pretty well to date!

On Wednesday, 16th April, I was fascinated at the news that Ukrainian soldiers were not only refusing to take action against the protesters of Donetsk, but were in fact switching sides. So I compared the RT.com version to the Guardian and BBC versions, as I often do, as much can be learned by comparing different stories. So, bearing in mind that the headline and first couple of paragraphs of an article are the most important (since most readers will go only that far), and that the choice of words counts, let's see how the events of that day were reported.

First the RT version:
Dozens of Ukrainian troops surrender APCs in Slavyansk

Dozens of army troops sent to the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk for an "anti-terrorist operation" refused to follow orders and surrendered their weapons and armored vehicles. Some troops openly voiced support for the eastern Ukrainians.

Reports from the scene said that the locals would not allow the soldiers to take back the APCs, but they were allowed to keep their rifles. The people were cheering the troops.

Meanwhile, the anti-government activists guarding the armored vehicles have said that they did not "seize" them as the media claimed, and that the troops "switched sides" peacefully.

"They were not seized by the self-defense forces. In fact, the Ukrainian troops arrived here flying a Russian flag. In this way, they have taken the side of the people," a Slavyansk activist told Russia-24 TV.

Slavyansk Ukraine
© AFP Photo
Men wearing military fatigues sit by a Russian flag and a white flag reading "People's volunteer corps of Donetsk" as they ride on an armoured personnel carrier (APC) in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk on April 16, 2014.
A Ukrainian soldier interviewed by RIA Novosti in Slavyansk said the troops were told they are being sent against "Russian invaders who have taken the local population hostage and are waging war at us," and that they must "free Donbas from occupants."

"This morning, we started our attack, but the picture we saw in Kramatorsk turned out to be completely different. We saw in front of us a crowd of locals, mostly adults, women and men. They explained to us that there are no occupants here and there is no one to fight. Instead, they gave us food and talked to us," the soldier was quoted as saying.

He added that the troops vowed "not to follow orders to shoot at these people." Some soldiers chose to take the side of the locals, some decided to stay "neutral." They are now "waiting what comes next."

Similar developments were also seen in another Donetsk region city, Kramatorsk, where Ukrainian troops began entering Tuesday after taking a nearby airfield by force, captured a day earlier by armed self-defense activists.

As Ukrainian armored vehicles rolled into the city's center Wednesday, they were surrounded by locals and surrendered. Some of the APCs were filmed flying Russian flags in support of the locals. Kiev eventually confirmed that six APCs were taken away in Kramatorsk but claimed that they were "captured by the extremists." Earlier, coup-imposed Kiev officials dismissed the news as "fake" and even claimed that by raising Russian flags the troops "infiltrated" the areas "controlled by Russian Army units and separatists." [...]

RT's Ruptly agency also spoke with Ukrainian soldiers in Kramatorsk. According to Ruptly's Monika Kalinowska, the soldiers blamed the media for giving "fake information" and "creating unnecessary tension." One of the soldiers told Kalinowska that he found "no aggression" coming from the eastern Ukrainians, except for cases of few "drunks" approaching them with questions.

However, not all the Ukrainian troops were ready to surrender and side with the locals blocking their way. A video by Ustream user Russian_Donetsk_2 shows a Ukrainian soldier threatening civilians who attempted to step in the way of a convoy of APCs near Kramatorsk by holding a grenade. The people surrounding the vehicles can be heard jeering the soldier. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian media has been quoting some of the troops sent to eastern Ukraine as saying they will "never surrender" to pro-Russian activists.
I've seen more violent stand-offs between drivers and traffic policemen in Mexico City than in the description above, so I remain unconvinced that the common people of Ukraine - including their soldiers - are "extremists" looking for a fight. Notice the comment about "creating unnecessary tension", and the denial that the armed vehicles had been "seized", but were rather voluntarily surrendered. Indeed, one simply needs to use common sense to see that you do not simply "seize" a tank. Either you have heavy weaponry yourself to confront that tank and destroy it, or the friendly tank driver will provide you with the keys himself.

So why is it that the Guardian and the BBC push forward the "seized-tanks" scenario? The only plausible answer is that that this implies a confrontation, while Ukrainian soldiers having a picnic with the 'rebels' does not. You can almost hear the editors reading the reports and exclaiming: "We paid for an action movie and we got a rom-com! Sex it up!"

Here's the Guardian's take. See if you can spot the not-so-subtle differences:
Kiev's grip on eastern Ukraine weakens as pro-Russians seize army vehicles

For Kiev's beleaguered army it was meant to be a display of strength. Early on Wednesday a column of six armoured personnel carriers trundled through the town of Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine. Some 24 hours earlier Ukrainian soldiers had recaptured a small disused aerodrome. Their next target appeared to be Slavyansk, the neighbouring town, occupied by a shadowy Russian militia. Was victory close?

The column didn't get far. At Kramatorsk's railway junction, next to an open-air market and a shop selling building materials, an angry crowd caught up with it. Next armed separatists dressed in military fatigues turned up too. Within minutes the Ukrainian soldiers gave up. Without a shot being fired they abandoned their vehicles. The pro-Russian gunmen grabbed them.

In theory this was happening in Ukraine, under the control of a pro-western government in Kiev, and several hundred kilometers from the Russian border. In reality large chunks of the east of the country are now in open revolt. Ukraine is rapidly vanishing as a sovereign state. Its army is falling apart. What happens next is unclear. But the Kremlin can either annexe the east, as it did Crimea, again shrugging off western outrage. Or it can pull the strings of a new post-Kiev puppet entity.

Slavyansk Ukraine
© Genya Savilov/AFP/Getty Images
Militia gather by seized APCs as they stand guard in Slavyansk, Ukraine.
The militia who captured the armoured vehicles on Wednesday looked like professionals. They had Kalashnikovs, flak jackets, ammunition. One even carried a tube-shaped green grenade-launcher. Some hid their faces under black balaclavas. Others waved and smiled. All wore an orange and black ribbon - originally a symbol of the Soviet victory over fascism, and now the colours of the east's snowballing anti-Kiev movement. There was a flag of Donbass, the Russian-speaking eastern region with its main city of Donetsk.
The Guardian editors make it sound so ominous! Strength, victory, storm-clouds gathering! They are wearing balaclavas, so they must be up to no good! The "look" like professionals, so they must be! And the big question is, you guessed it, will the dark hand of Russia seek to annex or practice puppetry? If all of this sounds very suggestive, it's because it is. It is funny how it is taken as a given that 'Russia is behind it all', when the EU's spymaster has denied there is any Russian military presence in the Ukraine.

To be fair, it is not unreasonable to assume that Russia is to some extent involved in the Ukraine drama, perhaps more than meets the eye, but such involvement would be entirely understandable given that the US State Dept. was directly involved in the coup in Kiev (see "F**k The EU" - U.S. State department blasts Europe; revealed as alleged mastermind behind Ukraine unrest, in case you missed it!). But the media in the West make it sound like Russia is playing the games that the CIA routinely plays across the globe in any country that does not fully align with the U.S. The Western media parrot this version simply because that is what comes out of the White House, so this is a case of the abuser accusing others of what they do themselves.

Now lets turn to the BBC:
Ukraine crisis: Military column 'seized' in Kramatorsk

Pro-Russian militants in eastern Ukraine have seized six Ukrainian armoured vehicles, the defence ministry in Kiev says.

Reports say the occupants were disarmed after the vehicles were blockaded by locals in the city of Kramatorsk.

BBC journalists witnessed civilians, at least some of whom appeared to be local people, challenging soldiers, who were also blocked by a crowd a few kilometers outside the town.

One officer said he had not "come to fight" and would never obey orders to shoot his "own people".

"A column was blocked by a crowd of local people in Kramatorsk with members of a Russian diversionary-terrorist group among them," the defence ministry said its statement.

The Ukrainian troops appear to have been disarmed before being fed by pro-Russian militants at a cafe in Sloviansk and then put on a bus back to their home city of Dnipropetrovsk.

In another incident, several hundred residents of Pchyolkino, south of Sloviansk, surrounded another column of 14 Ukrainian military vehicles.

After the crowd was reinforced by pro-Russian gunmen, negotiations ensued and the troops were allowed to drive their vehicles away, but only after agreeing to surrender the magazines from their assault rifles.
Although the BBC goes for the seized-tank theory too, at least they care to point out - further down the article, mind you - a couple of important details that make a mockery of the statements of the Ukrainian government. Rather than "Russian diversionary-terrorists", the people who negotiated with the occupiers of the military vehicles seem like a very reasonable bunch of people, feeding them and allowing them to go back unharmed, while making sure they wouldn't be harmed themselves.

Buried in the same BBC article we find another key piece of information:
In the city of Donetsk, where activists have been occupying the regional government building since 6 April, pro-Russian gunmen have taken control of the mayor's office.

They told an AFP correspondent their only demand was for the region to stage a referendum on turning Ukraine into a federation with broader local rights.
So what on Earth is wrong with that?! Why does that make the people of Donetsk "separatist terrorists"? What is more terroristic, to demand your own rights or to impose the rule of a non-elected government, puppet of the West, by sending troops to confront their own people?

As it often happens, the masses of normal people don't want trouble and suffering in their lives. Blood-spilling is troublesome, and war is a lot of blood-spilling. But it is clear that there are a few psychopathic types in power - in the U.S., the EU and the Ukrainian government - who like to create trouble for the people because that often translates into profit for them. What are they going to do if people don't want to spill blood? Well, they are clearly on the case.

We read from the BBC:
Deadly clashes at Ukraine port base as leaders meet

Three people were killed in a raid on a base in eastern Ukraine overnight, the country's interior minister says, as the US, Russia, the EU and Ukraine begin crisis talks in Geneva.

Overnight about 300 pro-Russian separatists attacked a military unit in Mariupol near the Azov Sea, throwing petrol bombs. Troops opened fire, killing three, Mr Avakov said.

According to Mr Avakov, 13 of the attackers were wounded and so far 63 have been detained. He said none of the interior ministry troops had been killed.

Mariupol
© Reuters
A man wounded in the clash in Mariupol is given first aid
That was just a few hours after the people of Sloviansk were having lunch with tank drivers. Now we are asked to believe that similar "separatists" decided it was wise to "attack" a military base with petrol bombs. Is it just me or does it sound like someone in the crowd wanted the crowd to be shot at? And who in their right mind would want that? Or has the version of events above been 'spiced up'?

We read a rather different story from other sources.

RT:
3 dead, 13 injured as anti-govt protesters rally near Ukrainian military base - Interior Ministry

Three people were killed and thirteen others injured by gunfire in a confrontation between anti-government protesters and soldiers stationed at a military base in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov says.

Avakov wrote on his Facebook page that three of the anti-government activists that clashed with soldiers at the base had been killed, referring to them as "armed militants."

At least 63 people were detained overnight following the incident, but 25 of them were then released within hours.

Police "could not charge those 25 people with anything," Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser, Stanislav Rechinsky, told journalists, as quoted by Itar-Tass.

On Wednesday evening, a group of several dozen protesters arrived at the base, located in the turbulent Donetsk region.

They called on the troops to abandon the base, but the soldiers didn't listen, the demonstrators said.

Instead, the troops opened fire at the protesters, injuring at least four people. One of them took a bullet in his chest and is in serious condition, according to protesters.

Some local media said the protesters were armed with Molotov cocktails, which they used in the confrontation.

Protester chatter blames unidentified provocateurs for the shooting. Demonstrators say a group of people arrived at the protester-held City Hall of Mariupol and called on people staying there to go to the military base to try to seize it.
It paints a rather different picture, doesn't it? 25 of the people detained were released because they could not be charged with anything. It is certain that they were not doing any "attacking" themselves.

The Guardian provides some more information about the contrasting versions of what happened at Mariupol:
Fatal clashes at Ukrainian military base

[...]

Around 500 protesters - many of them wearing the St George's ribbons used as a symbol of the anti-Kiev movement - reportedly attempted to storm a national guard base starting at 8.30pm, the Mariupol information website 0629 reported. Ukrainian soldiers inside the besieged base fired warning shots in response to explosives hurled inside the compound by the militia. Periodic shooting continued late into the night. [...]

Accounts differed on events at the Mariupol base, the actions of the attackers and soldiers and the number of dead and injured.

Interior minister Arsen Avakov posted a statement on his Facebook page reporting that a gang of 300 pro-Russian men had attacked the Ukrainian base, throwing firebombs and molotov cocktails. After they began shooting at the garrison, he wrote, soldiers fired warning shots into the air and only shot at attackers when they attempted another assault.

Interior ministry special forces later began hunting the attackers down, capturing 63, according to Avakov. He said interior ministry forces hadn't suffered any casualties, while three attackers were killed and 13 wounded.

"After a short battle, the gang of attackers was dispersed and for the most part isolated and disarmed," he wrote.

Medics in Mariupol talking to the Guardian, however, could confirm only one death and 15 injuries.

Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said the attackers carried machine guns, and Associated Press reported it had seen footage of unidentified men with assault rifles outside the base.

Avakov said the attackers had mobile phones operating on Russian networks. The pro-Kiev analytical centre Informational Resistance said they were locals with basic military training led by a Russian military intelligence officer.

But footage published by 0629 appeared to show a disorganised assault by protesters, who said they had been unarmed and were seeking negotiations.

In a video posted on the site, a masked man wearing a St George's ribbon and a military helmet said after "the gates came down" soldiers began shooting at protesters and also threw stun grenades, wounding several of them. A man with him said a wounded comrade had been left inside the base, indicating protesters had penetrated the walls.

"We were yelling, asking for the troops, the commander, to come out for negotiations, because no one here wants blood. They answered with shooting," the first man said.

A third man said troops had fired at "peaceful residents". In another video, a masked man with a megaphone standing behind some lorries calls on troops inside the base to come out: "We don't want you - our guys, friends, comrades - to suffer."

The assertion that the protesters were unarmed was contradicted, however, by photographs also published by 0629 showing masked men, many of them in camouflage, assembled outside the base armed with clubs and molotov cocktails.
"Armed" with clubs and molotov cocktails? So much for Russia's military sponsorship! Did they seriously think they could attack and take over a military base with clubs and molotov cocktails? Or was it rather a demonstration that somehow got out of hand, probably due to agents provocateurs? By the way, how does the Kiev government know that the "attackers" were using mobile phones operating on Russian networks? I'm just curious.

Speaking of mysterious provocations, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz published the following (very dubious) story:
Report: Separatists in east Ukraine town of Donetsk order Jews to register

Measure due to the alleged support of Jews for Kiev and their hostility "to the Orthodox Donetsk republic and its citizens."

A notice ordering all Jews in the eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk to register with the pro-Russian separatists or face deportation has been pasted near the local synagogue, according to the Novosti Donbassa news agency.

According to the report, the notice was distributed by "three unidentified men wearing balaclavas and carrying the flag of the Russian Federation."

Novosti Donbassa speculated that the men involved were provocateurs who "tried to provoke a conflict, then to blame the attack on separatists."

Jews Ukraine Donetsk

Part of the notice as distributed on Twitter.
The notice apparently bore the stamps of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk and was signed by its self-styled people's governor Denis Pushilin.

It orders all Jews over the age of 16 to register at the government building, which has been occupied by pro-Russian insurgents in defiance of Kiev rule. Jews would also have to pay a registration fee of $50 before May 3 and list all real estate and vehicles owned.

The notice explained the measure as being due to the alleged support of Jewish leaders for the "nationalist junta of [Stepan] Bandera in Kiev" and their hostility "to the Orthodox Donetsk republic and its citizens."
John Kerry wasted no time in getting in front of the cameras to denounce this "anti-semitic" notice as "not just intolerable, [but] grotesque... beyond unacceptable."

Image

Doh! Caught spreading lies and propaganda, again!
Let's think logically about this. First, let's bear in mind that all it took for this rumor to become 'news' was the action of three anonymous people - not the province of Donetsk and certainly not Russia. Second, it would be an extremely stupid thing to do to antagonize part of the local Eastern Ukrainian population and to create an image for yourself as anti-Semitic when you are in most need of legitimacy. And finally, suppose, for the sake of argument, that you are a separatist and you do have grievances against a certain group of people, but your demands of independence are far from being satisfied, and in fact, you do not have any real authority at all. Why would you go on a witch-hunt when you are not even ready to stand on your own feet?

In any case, it seems that Kerry was a little too eager to use this particular piece of propaganda in service of his warmongering, because it has already been exposed as a photo-shopped fake. Oops!

Based on the way the 'Ukraine crisis' has been handled so far, it is safe to say that if a war breaks out in, or because of, Ukraine, the rationale for it will be built on a foundation of lies and half-truths aggressively marketed to the world by the Western warmongers in government and their obsequious mainstream media whores.