Anyone watching nothing but Russian state television would never know President Putin has massed his troops on the border of Ukraine, that Kremlin-controlled separatists shelled a kindergarten full of children and Russian forces are in position for an offensive against its beleaguered neighbor. On Kremlin-funded networks, the vision of events is presented not only upside down, but backwards. Panicked pundits blame the United States and Ukraine for the escalation, claim that Russia doesn’t want the war and theatrically ponder: “Why won’t somebody stop Biden?”
Chairman of the International Committee of Russia’s State Duma, Leonid Slutsky alleged that the president of the United States is painting “an absolutely inverted picture of the situation around Ukraine” and accused Joe Biden of misrepresenting “the alleged readiness of the Russian Federation to invade Ukraine.” Slutsky added that “the American president, talking about the “villain-Russia,” the very Russia that today accepts and saves the civilian population of the LPR and DPR, seems like a real character from [Lewis Carroll’s topsy-turvy children’s book] Through the Looking-Glass.”
And yet, it is Russia who has turned white into black, and black into white. If there were not so many lives hanging in the balance, you would describe current Russian state TV as a darkly comic farce.
Events on the ground are unfolding just as the American president had warned, based on the information provided by U.S. intelligence agencies. U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter said that according to U.S. assessments, Russia has placed somewhere between 169,000 and 190,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders—up from 100,000 at the end of January.
Having massed its troops and armaments on the Ukrainian border, Russia stands ready to invade Ukraine. On Friday, Kremlin-controlled heads of the self-proclaimed “republics” in Eastern Ukraine (LPR and DPR) started unprovoked evacuations of civilians to Russia, followed by suspicious explosions in the region. Russia’s state media immediately—and baselessly—blamed the Ukrainian military. State TV channel Rossiya-24 reported: “Let’s address the emergency event that took place several minutes ago.” The correspondent present on the scene said, “Everyone is trying to figure out what happened here.” The headline read: “The Ukrainian army struck the gas pipeline in Luhansk.”
What makes this all the more bizarre is that the U.S. had publicly predicted these very tactics.
Just as the U.S. administration had warned, Russian authorities now appear to be readying themselves for the re-invasion of Ukraine under false pretexts. One of the main pretexts aggressively promoted by the Kremlin and Russia’s state media is the unfounded allegation of “genocide” of Russian speakers by the Ukrainian military. Back in December of 2021, Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed: “What is happening in Donbas right how we know and see very well, it’s very reminiscent of genocide.” By February, the state media and Russian officials went full bore with their accusations of “genocide” in Ukraine.
According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, Russian officials circulated a document at the UN Security Council meeting on Thursday, accusing the Ukrainian government of the “genocide of the Russian-speaking population of Donbas.”
Speaking before that UN Security Council meeting, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that according to the information obtained by the U.S. intelligence agencies, Russia was planning to use a false flag attack in Eastern Ukraine, followed by baseless accusations of “genocide” in the region. Blinken pointed out: "Russia may describe this event as ethnic cleansing or a genocide, making a mockery of a concept that we in this chamber do not take lightly, nor do I take lightly, based on my family history."
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's dismissal of Moscow's assertion of “genocide” in the eastern Ukraine’s region of Donbas enraged Russian officials. On Saturday, Russian Foreign Ministry scolded Scholz and Germany as a whole: “It is not for German leaders to laugh at the issues of genocide. This is unacceptable, given the historical experience of Germany in matters of massacres against people and the spread of misanthropic ideology.” Russian state TV went even further, with the host of 60 Minutes Olga Skabeeva cynically asserting: “Germans have different ideas about genocide. They’ll have to start burning people in ovens, and maybe then they’ll concede: ‘Yes, it’s genocide.’”
Russia’s state media is spreading claims of Ukraine allegedly shelling the regions of Donbas and on Saturday alleged that the Ukrainians shelled Russia’s Rostov Region, located near the border with Ukraine. The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant General Valery Zaluzhny, denied all of Russia’s accusations, stating in part: “It should be noted that the artillery units of the Joint Forces are located in areas of withdrawal at a distance of more than 21 km from the line of contact, which exceeds the maximum firing range of multiple rocket launchers "Hail" and 122-mm guns in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine."
Anticipating false accusations from the Kremlin, Ukrainian authorities allowed access to a number of local and international journalists. NBC’s Richard Engel noted: “The separatists are claiming Ukrainians are attacking and besieging them. I’ve walked up and down those trenches for the last several months. Saw no signs of ongoing or impending Ukrainian offensive. None.” Meanwhile, streams of state media news reports claim that Ukraine is aggressively shelling Donbas, alleging “the most intensive bombardments by the Ukrainian military in recent months.”
In a bizarro world of Russia’s state media, America—which has been painstakingly attempting to prevent an escalation—is the true aggressor. Appearing on 60 Minutes on Friday, lawmaker Oleg Morozov lamented: “I’m hoping there are people next to Biden, next to Scholz, next to the British PM, who will look at the scenarios and say, ‘If the big war with Russia’s participation were to start, it will cost Europe dearly. Think about that!’ That is my last hope, that the fear of this unpredictable situation will stop these hotheads.”
Igor Korotchenko, a member of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Public Council and editor-in-chief of the National Defense magazine, exclaimed: “The United States want this war. Their main goal is to take over Europe’s energy market. Biden could care less about the victims and their suffering, about Europe’s losses. He is realizing the plans of the American establishment.” Summarizing the grotesque new theme in the Kremlin’s war on truth, Korotchenko theatrically pleaded with European leaders: “Stop Zelensky! Stop Biden!”