Unbe-Kiev-able: Cries of ‘Russian invasion’ not backed by evidence
NATO accused Moscow of sending troops to eastern Ukraine largely basing its allegations on images of unmarked military trucks. Also the bloc referred to an earlier OSCE report, which claims that some personnel vehicles carrying no insignia were spotted in eastern Ukraine. The group reported that it was impossible to determine their identity and where they came from. The Russian side demanded proof of NATO’s “invasion” allegation, which so far has not materialized.
RT:We've seen the videos showing unmarked vehicles on the move. How can footage like this be presented as evidence?
Charles Shoebridge: The public is confused, I suspect. But actually in many cases the public have long learned not to trust one side or the other. Because all too often these claims and counterclaims are proved either to be false or “maybe true,” but there is no evidence to back it up. As an objective observer you have to look at the Ukraine situation and say that it is possible that Russia has sent forces into Ukraine and may have good reasons for doing so. It is just that and we need to deal with hard facts and hard evidence. On each occasion that the Ukraine government and in most cases NATO have claimed specific examples, as they have done the last couple of days, of what the Ukrainian government calls “invasion”. Hard evidence is hard to come by even when they have been openly challenged.
RT:So where do you think these video materials, which the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) presented, came from?
CS: In some cases there could be captured weapons. There could be weapons that have been handed over by armed forces in Ukraine as part of defector’s movements. There could be what is alleged to be the case that they moved over into Ukraine. It may be even that this footage in some cases isn’t filmed in Ukraine at all, or may be out-of-date. There are number of possible scenarios for this. We have to look at what the OSCE is saying.
We have to look at what the OSCE is saying…Ukraine claimed five days ago that 32 tanks had crossed into Ukraine from Russia .They didn’t say they “were in Ukraine,” they specifically said “they crossed.” The OSCE subsequently saw 4 or 5 tanks along with some other vehicles which were unarmed. Again it appears that there was no footage of that. The OSCE themselves made it clear that it was a fleeting glimpse, they didn’t have time to investigate it properly.
RT:Both NATO and the OSCE are saying they don't have a full understanding of the situation. So why put up unverified information at all?
CS: On the one hand, the OSCE is making efforts and everybody can go to the OSCE website. The special monitoring mission in Ukraine tweets its reports on a daily basis and people can read those reports for themselves and often they don’t chime with what it is being claimed by either side in Ukraine. But you have to remember, although they have quite a substantial presence in Ukraine, the OSCE is still relatively speaking thin on the ground. Observers can only be at a certain places at a certain time….Things can happen at different times and they will not be able to see those things.But it is really the case that the Ukrainian government has got a problem here, and it is a problem of credibility. Even now, were it to make true claims, and without evidence one can’t say whether it is true or not true. In the past they have made too many forced claims. They’ve effectively “cried wolf”. Now, for example, the US government, which in the early stages of this Ukraine crisis would inevitably come in and repeat what the Ukraine government had said, are now very careful with their words and don’t give unreserved backing to these Ukraine government claims. If the Ukrainian government is making these claims then they should be in a position…to be able to back them up with some kind of evidence.
RT:The media is also quick to jump on these allegations. How accurate do you think the coverage has been so far?
CS: I think it has been a case for some time that the public, generally speaking in the West, isn’t taking a huge amount of interest in what is going on Ukraine. They were initially, but then there have been claims and counterclaims. Increasingly the public in the West, those that want to be informed about such issues as Ukraine, are looking beyond the traditional mainstream media such as BBC, CNN, and the press such as The Times and so on. These organizations enviably seek to vilify Russia - they have done this for decades and especially since the Ukraine crisis erupted. Because of the resources issues, Twitter, the media being online generally…people are able to get alternative views. I think that the Western mainstream media and Western governments will seek to portray Russia as a “bad guy” in this situation and the Ukrainian government as a “good guy”. Nonetheless, reports to counter that narrative are coming to the attention of the British and other Western publics through alternative media.
RT:Is the Western military playing on the fears of the public? They even raised the specter of nuclear capable units being deployed.
CS: No. On the one hand, it is in the West’s interest to vilify Russia in this case. It is in their interest to support the Ukrainian government in its claims that it is being invaded by Russia, because it is a handy explanation for why the Ukrainian military is not making the advances that one would expect it wouldagainst comparatively lightly-armed rebels rather than what they say Russia supplied them with. But it should also be noted that even the West’s governments have long since stopped giving unconditional support to the Kiev government’s statements about repeated invasions from Russian forces, simply because either they have been categorically proven untrue, or there has been a lack of evidence to support them.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.