It will not be me who gives you an answer to this question. Because there is no easy answer, and because I wasn’t there. Like everyone I depend on the media and their reports to form an opinion. Don’t worry! I am not one of the trolls who spread conspiracy theories about evil America. Neither will I defend Russia. But I’d like to make some remarks. Today I read something about the neo-Nazi members of the militia that supports the Ukrainian government against the “pro-russian separatists”. It reminded me that we always have to question the motives of both sides. There is – as usual – no black and white.
Some general thoughts at the beginning: I really dislike the way politicians, Germans and others, started talking about “east and west” and the “enemy Russia”. This Cold War rhetoric is out-of-place. The Cold War is something I learned stuff about in school. It’s over. Everybody agreed it was a bad thing. So why are we doing it again? It seems like things haven’t changed since then. “East and West” still exist as some kind of moral categories in our heads.
When I watch the news displayed at popular airtime, the general impression that sticks is “Ukraine = good, Russia = bad”. As I said, I will not defend Russia. Too many lies have been discovered. What I’d like to point out is that we have to keep on thinking for ourselves. I personally feel that I can’t trust the speakers of any country in this conflict, and certainly not the pictures. But most people are not willing to take the trouble and do research, and because of this they might get the wrong impression things were black and white. They are not.
First example: The involvement of right-wing or neo-Nazi groups who fight with the Ukrainian army. In an article of the New York Times these groups are mentioned:
“Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.”
German media also sometimes cover this topic, for example the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. If there are neo-Nazi fighters in Eastern Ukraine, Russia has a point saying that they are fighting “fascists” there, hasn’t it? What I am trying to say is, each side has it’s own truth. We have to remember that.
Another example: The different opinions about the NATO’s east expansion. It has been the apple of discord between Russia and the “West” for many years, and its interpretation is important for the question who the actual aggressor is. Russia says the expansion was a breach of contract of the “West” who guaranteed in 1990 that the NATO would not expand further eastwards than the German border. But then former states of the Warsaw Pact joined, first Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. Between 2004 and 2009 a large number of eastern states followed. Because of this, some say Russia has a point feeling threatened. The NATO says there never was a contract like this. Besides, it never pushed the expansion. It was Russia who broke the Budapest Memorandum when it “took” Crimea with a faked referendum.
What to believe? Where to get the information from? I am not satisfied. Please, give me more well-balanced reports that question the motives of both sides in this conflict! And to all the trolls who blaim the journalists and think they know everything better: Please just shut up and let them do their job, which is complicated enough in this case.