2016: A year of Russian bear-baiting

Neil Clark
Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66
2016: A year of Russian bear-baiting
Lock up your daughters! Batten down the hatches! The Russians are coming! ‘New Hitler’ Vladimir Putin has invaded Ukraine, is threatening the Baltics, and is behind Brexit and the victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election!

When he’s not bombing hospitals for fun, propping up the ‘evil Assad,’ hacking into Democratic Party emails, or ordering the doping of Russian athletes, the sinister Russian President is orchestrating hooligan attacks on England football fans at the European Football Championships!

Does the blighter ever take a break from acts of villainy?

Well, that was the news in brief for 2016, as brought to you by ‘liberal’ and neocon media outlets in the West. Now let’s take a closer, month by month look at how the anti-Russia, anti-Putin hysteria built up.

January

At the annual get-together for the world’s super-rich at Davos, billionaire regime-changer George Soros accuses Vladimir Putin of making the refugee crisis worse by intervening in Syria. He doesn’t mention the West’s deliberate destabilization of the country and backing for anti-government ‘rebels.’

Meanwhile, the US European Command publishes an ‘Updated Theater Strategy’ which lists deterring “Russian aggression” as its number one priority. It’s written by a General Breedlove, but given the document’s Cold War feel, ‘Dr Strangelove’ springs readily to mind.

February

A new report Propaganda in Orbit from the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), takes aim at what it calls Russia’s “campaign of disinformation in Central and Eastern Europe.”

Recent donors of the ‘non-partisan’ CEPA include: The US Department of Defense, Raytheon Company, Textron Systems, Sikorsky Aircraft, Bell Helicopter, and the Lockheed Martin Corporation. So no conflict of interest there, folks. George Soros meanwhile publishes an article entitled “Putin is a bigger threat to Europe than ISIS.

March

Russian air power helps Syrian forces recapture the ancient city of Palmyra from ISIS. But UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond does not seem too happy. He calls a celebratory concert held in Palmyra in May, featuring leading Russian classical musicians, “tasteless.”

The same Philip Hammond had, a few months earlier, called the downing by ISIS of a Russian plane full of tourists “a warning shot” to Moscow. 

READ MORE: A ‘warning shot’- The crazy logic of UK’s Hammond and what lies behind it  

In the US, if you fancy a break from watching politicians like John McCain lambaste Russia, there’s the premiere of the fourth season of the period drama series ‘The Americans,’ featuring two Soviet KGB agents posing as all-American citizens. It’s created and produced by former CIA officer Joe Weisberg – proving once again that in free societies in the West, geopolitics never comes into entertainment.

April

US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter lists Russia – and not ISIS – as the No. 1 strategic threat.

The loved ones and relatives of the 32 innocent people killed in the ISIS terror attacks in Brussels just two weeks earlier probably wouldn’t have agreed with his – or George Soros’ – assessment.

Russia’s envoy to NATO, Alexsandr Grushko, says that the US is scaring Europe with a ‘mythical’ Russian threat to justify increasing defense spending.

May

Despite breaching the contest’s own rules, a song from Ukraine about Stalin’s deportations of the 1940s wins Eurovision – helped by the votes of unelected juries. (Russia won the most votes from the public).

NATO tweeted their approval, but of course Eurovision isn’t political. That’s just “Russian propaganda!”

Meanwhile, NATO foreign ministers agree on the alliance’s biggest military build-up for decades in eastern Europe to counter ‘aggressive’ Russia.

June

Brits vote for Brexit despite regular warnings from pro-Remain media that it would only be playing into the hands of the bogeyman Putin.

Fights occur between Russian and England football fans in France. We are told the UK government suspects that the Russian hooligans weren’t just run-of-the-mill thugs – but (cue some really sinister, frightening music) had “Kremlin links” and were fighting Putin’s “hybrid warfare.”

The violence in Marseilles leads to renewed calls for Russia to be stripped of the 2018 football World Cup.

To put the boot in further, the EU agrees to extend sanctions on Russia for another six months.

July

The Times newspaper, clearly trying to win an Olympic gold medal in Russophobia, runs seven anti-Russian media hit pieces (six of which attack RT), in just two and a half days at the end of the month and at the start of August. RT, according to the angriest of the articles, was a “fake news channel” which had “no place on our screens.” The same writer had earlier denigrated RT as a station that hardly anyone watched. So why the obsession with writing about it, if no one was switching on?

Meanwhile, The Atlantic asks the ‘frightening’ question: “What if Russia invaded the Baltics and Donald Trump was President?” 

The Atlantic Council warns that Russia could invade Poland ‘overnight.’ 

Thought you could enjoy the summer holidays without any nightmares? Not when there’s a ‘Russian threat’ to be promoted!

August

Russians Paralympians are banned en masse from taking part in the Paralympics in Rio, depriving athletes who had never been found guilty of wrongdoing the chance of competing at a tournament they had spent four years preparing for. The British head of the IPC, Sir Philip Craven, said he was “greatly encouraged” by the decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to uphold the ban. Russia’s sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, said that “punishing innocent athletes” was a “flagrant violation of human rights.

Meanwhile, as The Donald’s presidential campaign gains momentum, top Kremlinologist Edward Lucas asks the question: “Is Trump a Russian agent?

The Intercept reveals that US defense contractors have been telling investors that the so-called ‘Russian threat’ was good for business. 

Who’d have thought it!

Former CIA director and Hillary Clinton supporter Michael Morell doesn’t just want Russians banned – he wants them killed. He says that Russians (and Iranians) in Syria should be killed ‘covertly,’ ‘to pay a price.’ 

September

As ‘Russian threat’ paranoia increases further in the US presidential election, Dr. Andrew Foxall of the neocon Henry Jackson Society warns that despite major NATO military build-ups, Britain is still “ill-equipped” to deal with Russia. “The alliance simply isn’t doing enough to build up the range of capabilities necessary to deter an aggressive and resurgent Russia.”

A new film version of Arthur Ransome’s classic children’s adventure Swallows and Amazons introduces two new characters who aren’t in the original novel. Guess what – they’re two Russian agents.

October

Boris Johnson – now UK Foreign Secretary – calls for people to protest outside the Russian Embassy in London, having only a few months earlier – in a previous incarnation – called for Britain to work with Russia in Syria. Tory MP Andrew Mitchell likens Russian actions to the Nazis. George Soros accuses Putin of “heinous crimes against humanity.”

Pro-war Labour MP John Woodcock, not to be outdone, calls for Russia to be stripped of hosting the World Cup.

RT is given notice that its bank accounts will be closed in the UK, but The Times says this is not going far enough.

NATO forces meanwhile prepare for the biggest military build-up on Russia’s borders since the Nazi invasion of 1941. Remind me once again: Who’s threatening whom?

November

Donald Trump wins the US Presidency, and neocons along with the faux-left go into meltdown over the prospect of improved relations with Russia in the New Year.

An explanation for the shock defeat of Hillary Clinton soon emerges: Russian interference in the election!

Why, it had to be!

In a spirit of true McCarthyism, the Washington Post publishes a blacklist of websites accused of being ‘routine peddlers of Russian propaganda’ – including WikiLeaks, antiwar.com, and the Ron Paul Institute.

Meanhwile in the UK, the fiercely anti-Russian former Tory MP Louise Mensch tweets “Leonard Cohen‘s death reminds us that America’s enduring greatness is as multifaceted as a diamond. Russia has nothing. Russia is joyless.” It is pointed out to her that (1) Cohen was Canadian and (2) Russia had produced some of the world’s greatest writers, musicians, and artists. Mensch then ‘protects’ her Twitter account.

December

The Blairite and pro-Remain Labour MP Ben Bradshaw says in Parliament that it was "highly probable" that Russia’s "cyber warfare" interfered in the Brexit referendum as well.

Clearly those who voted ‘Out’ only did so because they had their brains rewired by the Kremlin. There can be no other explanation. 

Andrey Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, is assassinated in Ankara. New York Daily News columnist Gersh Kuntzman defends the killing by likening Putin to Hitler.

On Christmas Day, a plane carrying members of the Red Army Ensemble crashes in the Black Sea near Sochi, killing all 92 people on board. The French ‘satirical’ magazine Charlie Hebdo thinks it’s funny and that the only bad news is that Putin wasn’t on board.

The Washington Post claims that Russia hacked the power-grid in Vermont. The newspaper, which earlier had raged against ‘fake news,’ later retracts the story.

READ MORE: Washington Post latest blunder proves fake news is fine... if it involves Russia

The US ends the year by imposing yet more sanctions on Russia and expelling 35 Russian diplomats. Big Bad Russia responds by expelling no one.

The ‘evil Putin’ wishes Obama, his family, and the America people a Happy New Year!

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