by Mike Whitney, The Unz Review:
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.
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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.
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?