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War inches away from NATO, Kremlin’s mythology, and China the peacemaker: Western media digest as of March 13

Photo: collage The Page

Photo: collage The Page

Western media continue to cover the war in Ukraine—today, on March 12, they reported that the war was approaching the threshold of NATO, they were looking for answers to Putin's claims to Ukraine, and also pondered why it would be beneficial for China to mediate in negotiations between the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the West.

The Page has compiled an up-to-date overview of what the European and American media are reporting, covering 18 days of an active Russian invasion.


Yavoriv training site: the war has approached the border of NATO

On March 13, world media actively described the Russian attack on the Yavoriv training site. The Russian Defense Ministry said that its purpose was the destruction of foreign mercenaries in Ukraine.

In particular, The New York Times reports that about 134 people were injured and at least 35 died as a result of a missile attack on a base used to transport weapons and train foreign fighters.

Russia targeted a supply center for Western weapons and fighter jets in Ukraine with a flurry of airstrikes on a military base near the Polish border.

Quote"This brought the war closer to NATO’s threshold," American journalists believe, because the attack took place just 19 km from the border with Poland.

According to Ukrainian data, Russian warplanes launched from western Russia and the Black Sea fired about 30 missiles, 22 of which were intercepted by Ukrainian air defenses.

This base was a transit point for weapons for Ukraine. It is also known as the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, and was a training ground for up to 1,000 foreign fighters as part of the new International Legion to fight the RF, the newspaper notes.

President Biden's national security adviser Jake Sullivan called the strike a sign that Russian forces are expanding their targets, frustrated by the inability to take over some of the major cities and the inability to achieve their goals.

Euronews, citing the Russian military, reports that the Russian military has mentioned a number of 180 "foreign mercenaries" dead, but it could not be independently confirmed.

NATO still won't close the sky for Ukraine

Photo: Max Levin

Photo: Max Levin

NBC Chicago also reports on the attack, recalling that since 2015, the United States has regularly sent instructors to the Yavoriv military range to train Ukrainian military and combat medics. The range also hosted international NATO drills.

The Washington Post notes that the airstrike came a day after the Kremlin warned it viewed Western weapons shipments as "legitimate targets", heightening the possibility of direct conflict with the West.

The Russian Defense Ministry threatens to repeat such attacks. Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed that not a single American soldier was killed in the attack—there are no Alliance personnel inside the country.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN that the bombing of a military base in western Ukraine came as no surprise to US intelligence.

Now the Kremlin leader is increasing the number of targets and trying to inflict damage in all parts of the country, he says.

He reiterated President Joe Biden’s insistence that U.S. military forces would not be fighting Russian troops in Ukraine but that they would defend every inch of NATO territory.

Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, again urged NATO to impose a "no-fly zone." The Pentagon responded that the attack would not change the position of the United States. Recall that the USA denied Kyiv to impose it.

Irpin: Occupants killed American journalist

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

Brent Renaud, an award-winning American filmmaker and journalist, was killed in Ukraine on March 13 while reporting in a suburb of Kyiv, The New York Times reports, citing the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.

Although the Ukrainian media reported that he had worked specifically for this publication, because their identity was found on Brent, the American website explained that this was not so.

Mr. Renaud, 50, had worked for a number of American news and media organizations in the past, including HBO, NBC and The New York Times. Another journalist was wounded.

Renaud has also collaborated with The Times in previous years.

Quote"We are deeply saddened to hear of Brent Renaud’s death," said Danielle Rhoades Ha, a spokeswoman for The Times. "Brent was a talented filmmaker."

Mr. Renaud often worked with his brother, Craig Renaud, and won a Peabody award for a Vice News documentary about a school in Chicago. The two have worked on film and television projects from conflict zones and hot spots around the world.

reno-kollazh.jpeg

Over the past decade, the brothers had covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the earthquake in Haiti, cartel violence in Mexico and youth refugees in Central America.

Mr. Renaud was a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University from 2018 to 2019.

QuoteAnn Marie Lipinski, curator of the Nieman Foundation, posted on Twitter on Sunday that Mr. Renaud "was gifted and kind, and his work was infused with humanity." Lamenting his death, she said that "the world and journalism are lesser for it."

Mr. Renaud’s reporting partner who was shot, Juan Arredondo, described the shooting from a hospital bed.

The journalists were shot in a car after they passed a checkpoint while going to film civilians fleeing the fighting.

The outlet Time reported that the deceased Renault had collaborated with them. In recent weeks, he had been working on a project on the global refugee crisis.

Is there any justification for Putin's war?

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

The Guardian in an analytical article is looking for an answer to the question of whether there is a justification for Putin's war.

The publication tried to assess the justification of Russia’s claims: in particular, about the NATO invasion, genocide, and "drug-addled neo-Nazis in Ukraine."

The outlet also wondered whether the Russian speakers in the east of the country are really endangered and whether NATO expansion is really a material threat to Moscow.

NATO threat: It's hard to imagine an attack on Russia

voina-i-nato.jpeg

Russia’s logic here is shaped by history, the outlet reports. The Russian historical view is that every hundred years or so there’s an invasion from the west, Tomas Ries, associate professor at the Swedish national defense college, says.

Quote"From a Russian military perspective, I can understand that they were worried when Nato was enlarged," he said. "The problem with this argument is that no one in their wildest dreams can imagine the west attacking Russia."

Ukraine's accession to NATO: Still a distant prospect

Photo: Pixabay

Photo: Pixabay

Another argument against Russian hysteria is the position of the newly independent states that joined NATO.

Quote"This wasn’t NATO trying to enlarge, this was countries hammering on the door saying let us in," Ries said. "From our worldview, these are small countries that have good reason to be afraid of Russia."

Was Russia justified in worrying that Ukraine might join Nato? Not really, said Kristin Bakke, a professor in political science at UCL.

Quote"For a long time, support for Nato membership in Ukraine was about 30 to 40%," she notes, adding that far more people wanted simply to remain neutral.

It wasn’t until last year that surveys showed more than half of Ukrainians wanting NATO membership. And by the time 100,000 Russian troops had amassed on the border, that number had risen to close to 60%.

Yanukovych's flight as an "operation of the West"

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

Another Russian claim is that the West orchestrated the removal of Ukraine's democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, in 2014, exacerbating the political crisis.

Yanukovych favored closer ties with Russia. Protesters on Maidan square in central Kyiv wanted Ukraine to join the EU. Western powers naturally sympathized with the protesters, but there is no evidence that this movement was anything other than an expression of discontent with an unpopular leader, the media reports.

Quote"I had friends on Maidan," said Gustav Gessel, a Berlin-based fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. "It was neither an assembly of Nazis, nor made by the CIA. It started as a student protest."

"Ukraine is to blame for the failure of the Minsk process"

After Russia seized Crimea and invaded Donbas in 2014, supporting the establishment of the pseudo-republics of the DPR and LPR, a peace agreement was drafted in Minsk with Franco-German mediation.

It provided for a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weaponry, and constitutional reform granting a measure of autonomy to the Donbas republics seeking secession.

International monitors had a hard time accessing the separatist republics and tracking all the processes, the newspaper writes.

Valerie Morkevičius, an expert in the ethics of conflict at Colgate University, New York, explains that Ukraine did engage in a process of decentralization, although not so quickly, it was not ready to grant privileges to ORDLO over the rest of the country's regions, as the Kremlin demanded.

The Minsk agreement also provided for all foreign military forces to be removed from the area.

Quote"Russia never did, but continued to deny that its forces were there," Morkevičius says.

"Saving" Donbas inhabitants from "genocide" by Ukraine

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From 2015 until the February 24, 2022 invasion, Putin insisted that the people of Donbas needed military intervention to prevent their genocide and extermination.

There is no evidence for this. About 14,000 people were killed on both sides during the 2014 war—in an area then numbering about 4 million people. But deaths slowed to a trickle in the stalemate that ensued.

Quote"There was no indication that Ukraine was targeting people for being Russian-speaking," Morkevičius stresses.
Quote"The Russians say there was a genocide against the Russian population, and there is no evidence for that at all," Tomas Ries, associate professor at the Swedish national defense college, added.

"Russian language and cultural heritage are being erased"

It is a misunderstanding of Ukraine to imagine it split into two with Russian speakers in the east, and Ukrainian speakers in the west, The Guardian stresses.

In fact, most people speak both languages. And there are a multitude of other tongues protected by law as well. A new law introduced in 2019 requiring use of Ukrainian in public life and secondary education was seen as anti-Russian in Moscow.

Quote"It does promote the use of Ukrainian, but Russia can still be used whenever a citizen asks for it," Morkevičius noted.

But In terms of a reason to go to war, it’s not a just cause and there’s no proportionality there, she stressed.

"Ukraine is run by drug-addled neo-Nazis"

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

There are neo-Nazis in Ukraine but they are not in power, just as there are neo-Nazis in Germany but they are not in power, Gustav Gessel, a Berlin-based fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, explains.

The far right occupies fewer than 1% of seats in parliament. The president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, is a Russian-speaking centrist of Jewish origin.

The neo-Nazi concern almost certainly stems from the reputation of some of the volunteer brigades who fought the separatists in the 2014 war.

Putin’s theme of "fascists running wild in Ukraine" is almost certainly a ploy to revive glorious memories of the "great patriotic war," the outlet reports.

Quote"The second world war is a very important part of Putin’s narrative," Kristin Bakke explained.

As for being drug-addled, while Ukraine does have relatively high rates of opiate abuse, UN data shows it is no worse than Russia.

"The West cannot lecture Russia on the theme of invasions"

Photo: Joint Forces Operation

Photo: Joint Forces Operation

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov used similar words on the eve of the war in Ukraine, fulminating at western hypocrisy.

Quote"It’s an awkward position for the west," Ries confirmed. "It is true that the US and Nato have used force when they felt they needed to. Sometimes it was justified, as in the Balkans in 1995, but sometimes it was very dodgy like in Iraq. From the Russian perspective, I can see how they can make that argument."

At the same time, the outlet stresses that two wrongs don’t make a right. And while there are differences between Iraq and Ukraine.

Quote"Volodymyr Zelenskiy is a democratically elected leader, who has not committed human rights abuses," Bakke said. "What is also different is President Putin’s stated dismissal of Ukraine’s right to exist as a sovereign state."

China could join in resolving the crisis

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

The American media are proposing to call on China to resolve the crisis between the Russian Federation and the West.

Quote"It's time to offer Russia an offramp. China can help with that," The New York Times stresses in another article.

Earlier, The Page reported how the United States hinted to China that it would be more rewarding for Beijing to oppose the Kremlin than to support Putin.

This Tuesday, President Xi Jinping of China held a virtual summit with President Emmanuel Macron of France and Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, urging a diplomatic solution.

The United States and its allies might be reluctant to have China play any role in this crisis, given that they view Beijing as a strategic rival.

Quote"That’s foolish and shortsighted. The conflict’s immediate dangers far outweigh any competitive considerations. Ukraine itself sees the potential of Chinese-led conflict resolution," the journalists believe.

So far, China has called for dialogue and stated it supports humanitarian aid efforts. But Beijing’s interests in more proactive involvement are growing by the day.

China has a significant economic interest in a quick resolution to the Russian-Ukrainian war.

China enjoys strong ties with Russia and Ukraine and is both countries’ largest single trading partner, though each trades more with the E.U. bloc than with China.

Russia and Ukraine are crucial components of the Belt and Road infrastructure program as well as conduits for China’s trade with Europe. China-Europe rail transports have experienced a hundredfold increase since the beginning of the 2010s, but the ongoing conflict threatens to disrupt these trade flows.

Beijing as a "neutral intermediary"

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

China is also uniquely positioned to act as a neutral mediator between a Western-supported Ukraine and Russia. Yes, Beijing and Moscow have a strong and growing relationship, especially in the economic realm, the outlet notes.

China’s demand for resources that Russia has in abundance—food and energy—as well as a mutual dissatisfaction with the current state of the U.S.-led world order have increasingly drawn the two countries together.

This alliance was cemented when Putin and Xi met last month and issued a joint statement underscoring their deep ties and reaffirming a partnership with "no forbidden zones."

It is not in Beijing’s interests to rely solely on an anti-Western alliance with Moscow. Russia may possess a mighty military, but its economy is in long-term structural decline, with a G.D.P. not much larger than that of Spain.

For all the talk of ties with Moscow, it is worth remembering that China’s economic interests with Russia are dwarfed by those it shares with the West.

QuoteIn 2021, trade between China and Russia may have jumped by 36% compared to the prior year, to $147 billion—but that’s still less than a tenth of the combined trade with the United States ($657 billion) and European Union ($828 billion).

Even if China isn’t joining in the sanctions, it is possible that Chinese businesses and banks will decrease involvement with Russia.

The prospect of a growing economic relationship between Moscow and Beijing may be threatening to the West, but it provides China with leverage over Putin in potential negotiations.

Western unification does not suit China

Photo: Pixabay

Photo: Pixabay

There are also political reasons China wants this conflict to end in a way that is appealing to all involved. The longer the war lasts, the more it will reinvigorate the Western alliance around the idea of a values-based confrontation between East and West, bringing the United States and the European Union into even closer alignment while driving military budgets up around the globe.

That is not good for China, which would prefer to maintain lucrative economic ties with the West and focus its resources on domestic development.

At a time when China faces increasing global criticism for its human rights violations, mediating an end to this conflict could help improve the country’s standing with the West.

Beijing has long striven to convince political and business elites in Europe and America that the rise of China does not present a threat. Support for Russian aggression threatens to undermine that assertion.

By contrast, playing a constructive role in ending the war could help cast China as a strategic and not just economic partner. For example, Beijing could help bring about an immediate ceasefire as a prelude to talks between Russia, Ukraine, the US, the EU, and China.

Weapons for Ukraine—looking for ways

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

We previously reported that, according to The Washington Post, the Biden administration is working with European allies to speed up the supply of more advanced air defense systems and other weapons to the war zone.

Next week, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is meeting with NATO allies in Brussels and Slovakia, which, along with Poland and Romania, has announced its readiness to transfer military assistance to its stricken neighbor.

Slovakia has S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems well known to Ukrainians. This weapon is used to shoot down enemy aircraft. They will look for other systems our troops know how to work with in other countries as well.


Instead of an afterword. Although the war has become closer and is almost on the threshold of NATO, one should not expect an iron dome over Ukraine. Kyiv has long been asking for at least aircraft that would help to close the sky on its own and protect the country from the Kremlin’s guided and unguided missiles that are killing more and more people and destroying infrastructure.

However, this issue is in the air—there already was an attempt to send the MiG aircraft that Poland could transfer to Germany, and then to the United States, but both refused to send them to Ukraine on their own.

The Biden administration has already been criticized for weakness by opponents, but the Republicans are apparently earning points for themselves before the November 2022 election.

Meanwhile, the deaths have already affected not only Ukrainian citizens—both the death of an American journalist and the people at the Yavoriv training site have become a tragedy. Western experts are dispelling the myths and claims of the Russian Federation to Ukraine, while China is being offered to act as a peacemaker.

These delays and the latest attempts by the West to involve diplomacy for Kyiv so far only turn into more bloody victims of the war. Of course, Russia is being suppressed by external sanctions and repression that Putin started even inside the FSB. But while Russians are outraged by the closure of social media and McDonalds, Ukraine has been defending its right to exist for 18 days.

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