February 9, 2023
By Mike WHITNEY
On February 16, 2022, a full week before Putin sent combat troops into Ukraine, the Ukrainian Army began the heavy bombardment of the area (in east Ukraine) occupied by mainly ethnic Russians. Officials from the Observer Mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) were located in the vicinity at the time and kept a record of the shelling as it took place. What the OSCE discovered was that the bombardment dramatically intensified as the week went on until it reached a peak on February 19, when a total of 2,026 artillery strikes were recorded. Keep in mind, the Ukrainian Army was, in fact, shelling civilian areas along the Line of Contact that were occupied by other Ukrainians.
We want to emphasize that the officials from the OSCE were operating in their professional capacity gathering first-hand evidence of shelling in the area. What their data shows is that Ukrainian Forces were bombing and killing their own people. This has all been documented and has not been challenged.
So, the question we must all ask ourselves is this: Is the bombardment and slaughter of one’s own people an ‘act of war’?
We think it is. And if we are right, then we must logically assume that the war began before the Russian invasion (which was launched a full week later) We must also assume that Russia’s alleged “unprovoked aggression” was not unprovoked at all but was the appropriate humanitarian response to the deliberate killing of civilians. In order to argue that the Russian invasion was ‘not provoked’, we would have to say that firing over 4,000 artillery shells into towns and neighborhoods where women and children live, is not a provocation? Who will defend that point of view?
No one, because it’s absurd. The killing of civilians in the Donbas was a clear provocation, a provocation that was aimed at goading Russia into a war. And –as we said earlier – the OSCE had monitors on the ground who provided full documentation of the shelling as it took place, which is as close to ironclad, eyewitness testimony as you’re going to get.
This, of course, is a major break with the “official narrative” which identifies Russia as the perpetrator of hostilities. But, as we’ve shown, that simply isn’t the case. The official narrative is wrong. Even so, it might not surprise you to know that most of the mainstream media completely omitted any coverage of the OSCE’s fact-finding activities in east Ukraine. The one exception to was Reuters that published a deliberately opaque account published on February 18 titled “Russia voices alarm over sharp increase of Donbass shelling”. Here’s an excerpt:
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov voiced alarm on Friday over a sharp increase in shelling in eastern Ukraine and accused the OSCE special monitoring mission of glossing over what he said were Ukrainian violations of the peace process….
Washington and its allies have raised fears that the upsurge in violence in the Donbass could form part of a Russian pretext to invade Ukraine. Tensions are already high over a Russian military buildup to the north, east and south of Ukraine.
“We are very concerned by the reports of recent days – yesterday and the day before there was a sharp increase in shelling using weapons that are prohibited under the Minsk agreements,” Lavrov said, referring to peace accords aimed at ending the conflict. “So far we are seeing the special monitoring mission is doing its best to smooth over all questions that point to the blame of Ukraine’s armed forces,” he told a news conference.
Ukraine’s military on Friday denied violating the Minsk peace process and accused Moscow of waging an information war to say that Kyiv was shelling civilians, allegations it said were lies and designed to provoke it.” (Russia voices alarm over sharp increase of Donbass shelling, Reuters)
Notice the clever way that Reuters frames its coverage so that the claims of the Ukrainian military are given as much credibility as the claims of the Russian Foreign Minister. What Reuters fails to point out is that the OSCE’s report verifies Lavrov’s version of events while disproving the claims of the Ukrainians. It is the job of a journalist to make the distinction between fact and fiction but, once again, we see how agenda-driven news is not meant to inform but to mislead.
Quote: Larry C. Johnson, A Son of a New Revolution.
The point we are trying to make is simple: The war in Ukraine was not launched by a tyrannical Russian leader (Putin) bent on rebuilding the Soviet Empire. That narrative is a fraud that was cobbled together by neocon spin-meisters trying to build public support for a war with Russia. The facts I am presenting here can be identified on a map where the actual explosions took place and were then recorded by officials whose job was to fulfill that very task. Can you see the difference between the two? In one case, the storyline rests on speculation, conjecture and psychobabble; while in the other, the storyline is linked to actual events that took place on the ground and were catalogued by trained professionals in the field. In which version of events do you have more confidence?
Bottom line: Russia did not start the war in Ukraine. That is a fake narrative. The responsibility lies with the Ukrainian Army and their leaders in Kiev.
And here’s something else that is typically excluded in the media’s selective coverage. Before Putin sent his tanks across the border into Ukraine, he invoked United Nations Article 51 which provides a legal justification for military intervention. Of course, the United States has done this numerous times to provide a fig leaf of legitimacy to its numerous military interventions. But, in this case, you can see where the so-called Responsibility To Protect (R2P) could actually be justified, after all, by most estimates, the Ukrainian army has killed over 14,000 ethnic Russians since the US-backed coup 8 years ago. If ever there was a situation in which a defensive military operation could be justified, this was it. But that still doesn’t fully explain why Putin invoked UN Article 51. For that, we turn to former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who explained it like this:
“Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing Article 51 as his authority, ordered what he called a “special military operation”….
under Article 51, there can be no doubt as to the legitimacy of Russia’s contention that the Russian-speaking population of the Donbass had been subjected to a brutal eight-year-long bombardment that had killed thousands of people.… Moreover, Russia claims to have documentary proof that the Ukrainian Army was preparing for a massive military incursion into the Donbass which was pre-empted by the Russian-led “special military operation.” [OSCE figures show an increase of government shelling of the area in the days before Russia moved in.]
..The bottom line is that Russia has set forth a cognizable claim under the doctrine of anticipatory collective self-defense, devised originally by the U.S. and NATO, as it applies to Article 51 which is predicated on fact, not fiction.
While it might be in vogue for people, organizations, and governments in the West to embrace the knee-jerk conclusion that Russia’s military intervention constitutes a wanton violation of the United Nations Charter and, as such, constitutes an illegal war of aggression, the uncomfortable truth is that, of all the claims made regarding the legality of pre-emption under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, Russia’s justification for invading Ukraine is on solid legal ground.” (“Russia, Ukraine & the Law of War: Crime of Aggression”, Consortium News)
Here’s a bit more background from an article by foreign policy analyst Danial Kovalik: