GUEST BLOG: Marie Venning – Cutting through the propaganda and spin of the Ukraine War


To get a grasp on the war in Ukraine one needs razor-sharp senses in order to cut through the propaganda and spin from not only Ukraine and Russia but also from NATO and the U.S. I see it as a jigsaw consisting of many parts, some historical.  Ukraine has been, as recently as last century, over-run by White Russians and Red Russians, by Germany, Poland and France.  It’s history during this period is full of extreme violence against, mainly, Jews. There has been an adherence to Christianity and a growth of Nazism. This is well documented eg “In The Midst of Civilised Europe” by Jeffrey Veidlinger. Nazism has continued to the present day and many claim it has a strong hold on their current Government. The current Government has a bad record of representing Russian-loyal Ukrainians.  Many who have criticised their government including journalists, priests and prosecutors are on Ukraine’s on-line Blacklist. The list also includes the names, details and passport information of 4506  journalists accredited to work in areas controlled by pro-Russian forces.  (See Julia Gorbunova, senior researcher on Ukraine for Human Rights Watch)

Russia too has a terrible record of human rights abuses and disallowing of alternative views.  They dealt a dreadful, wicked blow to Ukraine during Stalin’s day when, to buy tanks (to support the West’s war) Russia starved Ukrainian peasants.  This too is well documented and a film, laying much of the blame on the U.K. and other Western leadership,  refers to this holocaust. Russia too has a past wedded to Christianity and the bizarre wickedness of the Romanov empire.  An example of the links between these two nations occurred 60 years ago when Khrushchev “gave” Crimea to Ukraine.  It was described as a “symbolic gesture” marking the 300th anniversary of the 1654 Treaty of Pereyaslav.

So, on the puzzle board we have two huge nations with united histories and largely similar cultures. So what has brought them to this state of destroying each other with the potential of destroying many other countries and unbelievable harm to the environment?  Could it be that the West has held out the golden carrot of EU membership, intentional or not?  The desire for many Ukrainians to join the EU has fired the hopes, dreams and plans to become part of ‘the promised land’. And who could blame them?   The West, mainly the US, has much business activity in Ukraine.  And the US has much to gain if Russia is defeated in this conquest.  As well as their  business interests, Ukraine is the grain capital of the world.  In a world of diminishing resources and climate catastrophe Ukraine would be a valuable ally.  AND above all, the cold war only hiccupped, it’s fully alive. And if the U.S. could dent a hole in Russia’s defences  that would be more than icing on the cake.  And how to do this? Through the US’s baby – NATO. NATO is on record saying “Nato is determined to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia for “as long as it takes” and will help the war-racked country transform its armed forces into a modern army up to Western standards – we will not back down”.  We now have proxy “armies” on both sides, Russia and Ukraine, and a proxy air force. This is our new world.

And now to ask WHY?  Why has Russia attacked its former friend and ally?  What has Russia to gain from this?  Is irrational fear and/or vanity a motive?   I think we need to remember how the U.S. responded when the USSR planned or had planted missiles in Cuba giving direct access to the U.S.  Maybe Putin’s fear is not all that ill-founded as he knows well the power and extent of the current weaponry. Maybe he too has greedy eyes on the resources of Ukraine. Previously the U.S. and U.K. invaded and attacked Iraq based on an interpretation of the U.N. charter, apparently Article 2. 4  “All members shall refrain ….from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State.”  Was it the word “threat” which was meant to give them permission? I gather it is the word THREAT that is meant to give permission.  A person who may know Putin’s motives better than many is George F. Kennan. He was posted to the Soviet Union in the 1930s and wrote “1961s Russia and the West under Lenin and Stalin”. When he was 94 he warned that extending NATO up to the borders of Russia was a bad idea….”I think it is the beginning of a new cold war.” Kennan told the New York Times in 1998 after the US Senate ratified NATO expansion.  “I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies.  I think it is a tragic mistake.”  At the age of 101 he said “The failure of modern leaders to understand the price they were given with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the chance of a new era, was clear.  They reacted with hubris rather than magnanimity and pushed NATO’s boundaries towards Russia.”

I end this essay with a quote from Zoran Milanovic, Croatia’s President:  “I am against sending any lethal arms there.  It prolongs the war.  What is the goal?…..This is mad”

And what now?  Our governments, our Consuls, our businesses, we need every link possible to say:  There must be a cease-fire and people beyond the warring countries will be brought in to negotiate settlements.  THE KILLINGS MUST STOP.


Marie Venning is a Christchurch Peace Activist.

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  1. What’s it all about?
    It’s about what it is always about – power and money. Everything else is a rouse and smoke screen to justify their vile actions.
    The first thing Putin did when they annexed Crimea in 2014, wasn’t bring it back in to mother Russia, it was immediately asset strip it. Businesses seized, land and buildings transferred, banks raided, expensive art, cars, boats, you name it, it was stolen. It wasn’t about liberation of former Russian regions or the rights of Russian speaking peoples. It is all complete bullshit.
    What do criminals like Putin and is gangster faux government adore the most? Money. Money and the intoxicating power it brings.
    It was, and still is, ultimately about good ol’ fashioned human greed.

        • Bruce, I’m very experienced in commerce. I can tell you that there are lots of legal ways to loot, exploit and rob. There’s one about to happen at NATOs behest. It is the reconstruction of Ukraine, firesale and indebtedness to follow. If you read about US interest in Ukraine pre war there is a strong thread of robber baron and corruption from Western interests toward Ukrainian agriculture, mineral and gas resources. I doubt the Russians are any better, no innocents here.

    • Ending US ‘hegemony’ with my pal the Beast from out of the earth (China) is what it’s all about!

      Time for everyone to live under dictatorship, hahahahaaaa!

  2. “.. during Stalin’s day when, to buy tanks (to support the West’s war) Russia starved Ukrainian peasants.”

    The Holodomor was in the early 1930s. What war? What Westerners’ war(!) was Stalin supporting with his tanks in the 1930s?

  3. Finally, some much needed balance. We are all victims of propaganda from both sides. What astounds me though particularly with the lessons over the last 20 years is that there are those hell bent on escalation. Very easy to talk about US and NATO imperialism after the fact, but in real time it’s crickets.

  4. Marie,

    Why did you skip over Holodomor & then totally left out, The Lisbon Protocol Budapest Memorandum which Russia signed guaranteeing it will respect Ukraine’s Sovereignty and it’s rights to make its own decisions IRT it’s security & economic development. With the US & UK guaranteeing Ukraine’s Sovereignty & Security should Russia be stupid a enough to invade Ukrane when it gave up its Strategic Wpns at the end of the Cold War like 2 other former Soviet Republics did.

    The Lisbon Protocol & Budapest Memorandum were ratified by the UN with Ukraine singing the NPT.

    What Russia has done has further confirm that the Big 5 can’t be trusted when it comes to signing Security & Sovereignty Treaties involved WMD’s!

    So who the bloody hell now, is going to give their respective WMD’s & would it make some countries consider getting WMD’s especially Nukes now!

  5. Thinking back to Crimea and the Maiden uprising.

    So in 2014, during the coup, the US had a senator (McCain) and the ambassador (who is official voice of the US in Ukraine) give speeches in support. So the US was officially supporting a coup against an elected government. Then the ambassador and asst sec of state Nuland discuss who they want in the key positions in the post coup govt. And, no surprises, that’s exactly what happened.

    The post coup (interim) govt then bans the previous govt parties (who got 75%+ support in Crimea as well as the 4 recently annexed regions). And removes Russian as an official language. Now, all Crimeans aged 60 and over were born in Russia (as Crimea hadn’t been given to Ukraine when they were born). Most of the remaining adults were also Russian as one or both of their parent(s) were born in Russia. So they’ve been told they are second class citizens – courtesy of the US who have resumed the Cold War.

    And yet, even through the coup and this follow up, Russia did nothing. It wasn’t till the govt said they’d kick Russia out of the port at Sebastopol (the only port they have in the Black Sea for their Navy to protect them) and replace them with NATO. At that point I told anyone interested (which to be fair wasn’t too many) that they’d crossed a red line and the increasing provocation would now be met with a military reaction. I said not whilst the Sochi games were on, but once they finished… In fact my recollection is that a couple of days after the closing ceremony, little green men appeared in Crimea.

    I was surprised only by how quick and clean this was. Didn’t expect a referendum, but the outcome was obvious (no, not rigged, just re-read the last paragraph). Of course the US banned observers from auditing the referendum as it wasn’t safe – that’s correct, but it’s not that it was physically unsafe but rather politically unsafe (for the US).

    I wasn’t convinced they had reason for the fighting in the Donbass though. And that ended with the Minsk accords that the west (as france & germany recently admitted) weren’t going to comply with. But despite that, Russia did nothing for 7 years. (Which makes rubbish of the suggestion that any ceasefire will mean they’ll overrun europe like germany in ww2. And the struggle for bakhmut emphasises the lack of any larger war from russia’s side, especially if it involves a NATO country.) So now we have the war that the west wants. Dunno why they want it – perhaps someone smarter than me can enlighten us all.

    And, as I see it, China will need to have oil & gas along with food – and given all the US bases in the China sea (Sth Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, etc) they’ll need a supply from Russia as a naval blockade is a given in any war (and there will be one, over Taiwan, likely started when they say they’re an independent country – at the urging of the US). So China won’t let Russia fall. But they will try to stay out of the hostilities as far as they can.

  6. You won’t read much of this sort of opinion in our mainstream print duopolies and television media. Serious examination and discussion on the historical background, Russian historical insecurities, aggressive US brinkmanship and comparison to earlier US behaviour is conspicuously absent.
    MSM has been well and truly gagged, just as it was from 2001 though the duration of illegal Iraq war and occupation.

  7. It’s a testament to our world today that the call for peace is non-existent. What does this say about our politicians, what does this say about our media.

    People matter – politicians, people matter – media, I know you’ve lost this, but history shows that you can’t keep, we the people, hoodwinked forever! People power, this is the only power that ever defeats the power of money!

    Power to the people….

  8. Everyone is willing to belgiumize Ukraine.

    The prob is Putin’s fears. And his elite’s. Light scares them. Why wouldn’t it.

    The main thing is the Russians are deserving of freedom and democracy. Read their fiction. The Germans couldn’t do it first up, let’s support the Russians’ better lights without a demolishing war.

  9. You have fallen into Putin’s trap in overstating the Nazism that exists in Ukraine. You have also understated the extent of fascism/Nazism that exists in Russia. The influence of Russian fascist philosophers Ivan Ilyin and Alexandr Dugin on the Kremlin is very high today.
    In Ukraine the majority of hardline fascists are Russian supporting ones in the Donbas.


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