by Keith Lloyd
In October I was ‘innocently’ standing at a Surrey bus stop, helping a local lady to decipher the key to letters on the timetable. You know…the SO for Schooldays Only, the NOPH for Not On Public Holidays and other such features of a public transport timetable legend. So it was that we engaged in conversation; an interesting dialogue that led to her expression of hope that someone would ‘kill Putin’. ‘Why?’ was my response, to which she replied: ‘he is killing people’. Was this Orwell’s ‘two minutes of hate’ (1984) at that Dorking bus stop?
I have followed the situation in Ukraine very closely since before the February 2014 coup d’etat against the elected government that succeeded the happenings in the Maidan (Kiev’s main square) late in the previous year. At the Surrey bus stop it became clear that my fellow bus traveller had not done the same. This lady’s response was identical to that of the Saxmundham (Suffolk) shopkeepers who, in February of this year, all appeared to have raised the identical blue and yellow flags outside their shops as a virtue signal in support of ‘plucky little Ukraine’.
My enquiries in the first two shops that I encountered then revealed that just one side of this conflict had been put to them, alongside the wholesale distribution and display of blue and yellow flags by person or persons unknown. And strange it is that the mainstream media in Britain, led by the BBC, could only reveal that same side to its readers, viewers and listeners. The latter is strange because a whole BBC series of ‘Newsnights’ following the 2014 coup had investigated and broadcast the evidence of openly neo-Nazi and anti-Russian policies within Ukraine as a result of the overthrow of the elected former president, Victor Yanukovitch. I suggest that interested readers dig out these now-sidelined programmes that show a Ukraine that was painted out of the media in February of this year. YouTube still had them when I last looked.
So what else was ‘painted out’ of the mass consciousness by those of Big Brother ilk who know better? The downgrading of the Russian language, the mother tongue of around a quarter of Ukraine’s population? The video evidence of United States involvement in the coup, perhaps most strikingly the presence of American diplomat Victoria Nuland giving out freebies in the Maidan crowds in 2013? The dubious activities of the US president’s son in Ukraine? The eight-year shelling of the Russian-speaking Donbas region of eastern Ukraine…an onslaught that claimed around 14,000 civilian lives? The disproportionate influence of the openly Nazi ‘Right Sector’ on the post-coup Kiev regime? The desire of Crimea’s 90% Russian population to re-join their mother country, as expressed in a referendum that was closely watched by foreign observers? The cutting of water supplies to Crimea after that region’s irredentist move into Russia (often incorrectly termed ‘annexation’)? The widely held view that the war in Ukraine is a Nato proxy war? Bias alert: note the treatment meted out to Catalonia when independence from Spain was in progress. Note too the rather different approach to the ‘slicing off’ of Serbia’s southern province of Kosovo.
It came as no surprise to me to discover that those who wave the flag of ‘plucky little Ukraine’ are, or were, unaware of the attempts at peace in Ukraine as a whole and the Donbas in particular. The two Minsk Accords of September 2014 and of February 2015 were aimed at a ceasefire and the recognition of the rights of Russian-speaking people in the Donbas regions. These aims and others, particularly an end to the fighting, were agreed upon by the Kiev administration, the Donbas regional leaders and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and then backed by France, Germany and Russia.
However, the world effectively ignored the Minsk Accords and the conflict carried on along its deadly course. But, according to the lady at the Surrey bus stop and the retail community of a Suffolk town, the eight years from the 2014 Kiev coup d’etat to February 2022 was peace. But then…’peace’ is, actually ‘war’…as Orwell foresaw.
So, finally…our mainstream media would have us believe that Russia’s ‘special operation’ inflicted a terrible state of war upon a peaceful and peace-loving Ukraine ending an era of peace in that country. If the proponents of this view, especially those in the United Kingdom government and its media, actually believe their own words I have another question.
Why were those in the media and in our government who suggested that ‘war is (actually) peace’ so keen to maintain a silence from journalists reporting from the Donbas? The British journalist, Graham Phillips, has recently had his assets and accounts frozen by the British government without any due legal process being followed…and without more than a whimper from his profession in his country. I suspect that, if Vladimir Putin’s regime had taken this course of action, and they may have, against pro-Ukraine reporters, the nice lady in Surrey and the Saxmundham shopkeepers would have been informed loudly and clearly.
(editors note: we are grateful to Keith for this piece, which was originally submitted to the Orwell Society in a slightly different form as part of a discussion on the current war. That discussion decided it only wished to hear one point of view. The Orwell Society ruled against printing it in case others started to think along the same lines as Keith.)