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‘Ukraine staging events to bring back fading attention’

Published time: June 16, 2014 06:23
AFP Photo / Yuriy Kirmichny

With Iraq violence attracting the international media’s attention, some in Ukraine are trying to bring back the spotlight by “staging incidents” just to get a response, award-winning investigative journalist Danny Schechter told RT.

RT:There’s a tendency now in the Ukrainian media to stoke up anti-Russian sentiment. Is the media deliberately provoking attacks like this one?

Danny Schechter: There is an urgency to it now, at least from the point of view of the Ukrainian government. Suddenly, with the events in Iraq, American media is shifting its attention away from Ukraine to Iraq and of course in some instances blaming the Obama administration for what is happening there. That results, I think, indeed on the part of some in the Ukraine, in trying to get back into the media eye by staging incidents that could lead to over-response by Russians, which they could then use to justify cause for intervention or more support from the US.

So there is a game being played here clearly, geopolitical game that has to do with the fact that the attention has moved over to Iraq and Ukrainians, who support the current government want to bring it back to the Ukraine. The way to do that is with charges that Russia is somehow either invading, or sending tanks there, or in other ways representing a threat to Ukraine.

RT: What reaction do you expect from Ukrainian officials?

DS: There were responses to condemn the Russians. We are on the verge of a new Cold War. Some in Washington want this, the Neocons, even some in the Obama administration would want to blame Russia and incidents that they can either provoke or stage or report in a distorted way could lead to that outcome, including more hostility towards Russia among Americans.

RT: Russia’s Foreign Minister has asked for the embassy attack to be brought up before the UN. Could this lead to an end of diplomatic relations between Russia and Ukraine?

DS: Ukraine really needs Russia. I don’t think they can just stop all relations with Russia. Obviously they would like not to pay their debt to Russia because of the financial crisis in the Ukraine. So if they can provoke an intensification or an escalation of the crisis there, this gives them a pretext to refuse to pay for gas, to refuse to accept compromises on the Russian part, hopefully to get US more involved.

RT: Radicals from the Right Sector were at the forefront of the attack on the embassy. Were they acting independently?

DS: They have engaged in what they call vanguard action to try to bring the rest of the opposition movement in the Ukraine and in Kiev behind them. They are militant, they are very organized and they have a strategy. And of course they are hoping to provoke a bigger incident, which will show them to be the defenders of Ukraine, obviously for domestic consumption there. But whether or not they will be successful in the respect, I don’t know.

The US does not have a good track record these days of bringing anybody in line on anything — with what is happening in Iraq with reports that our own embassy in Baghdad may be at threat or at risk. Obviously, they would like the Ukrainians not to be unduly provocative, to give the Russians a pretext of doing anything. They continue to blame Putin for everything that is going on there, but it is a very fast breaking situation. It is hard to predict what is going to happen.

The government of Ukraine has to try to position itself as an independent of certain extremists groups. But in reality they are in a situation where they have to respond to facts on the ground, what happens actually out there in the streets. And the government is now looking for a way to blame Russia as the bad guys for everything. So I don’t know whether or not they will intervene to support or defend the embassy of Russia on Kiev.

RT: Why do you think the police failed to intervene?

DS: The police always follow orders, so if no orders are being given to defend the embassy from above, obviously there is a higher level of involvement in this potentially. On the other hand, we are in the situation of chaos on some levels, of a government that is trying institutionalize itself, a giant debt in the country, an upsurge in the east. It is a dramatic situation that keeps shifting and changing. It is hard to expect that every rule will be observed properly. But certainly, the Ukrainian government has to protect the Russian embassy there. And the Russian embassy has to be careful of not overreacting to provocations, so it can’t be blamed for further escalation of the situation.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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