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7 Jun, 2024 11:42

‘Has the West Successfully Demonized Russia?’ RT panel: Key takeaways

Western media and officials are engaged in a battle of ‘perception vs. reality’ to portray Moscow in a negative light, experts say
‘Has the West Successfully Demonized Russia?’ RT panel: Key takeaways

Prominent political pundits have offered their views on the longstanding Western campaign to promote the image of Russia as a hostile country, as part of a panel discussion titled ‘The Empire of Evil: Has the West Successfully Demonized Russia?’

The hour-long event hosted by RT took place on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg 2024 International Economic Forum on Friday. It featured speakers such as former UN Special Commission weapons inspector Scott Ritter, and Tara Reade, a former aide to Joe Biden. Others included former Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, the great nephew of German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, Alexander von Bismarck, and American political commentator Jackson Hinkle.

The event was moderated by RT host and correspondent Oksana Boyko.

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion.

Perception vs. reality

Western countries and media are shaping an image of Russia as ‘the enemy’, and use this to justify the allocation of resources to deter it, Scott Ritter said, calling this effort a battle of “perception vs. reality.”

He argued that the West tries to make Russia look like it is “worthy of confrontation” to justify the efforts, while trying to suppress the true image of Russia.

”Anybody who has the audacity to correct the record, to reach into Russia, to capture the Russian experience… and try to expose it to the Western audience, is deemed an enemy of the state,” he said, adding that the fact that he was prevented by the US authorities from going to Russia only proves his point.

Ignorance regarding Russia

Ritter noted that during the Cold War, US policymakers encouraged a better understanding of Russia, including its language, culture, and history, but now, all of this expertise has been squandered and neglected.

He added that the US diplomatic corps and the military are now staffed by people “trained not to learn about your enemy, but despise… and hate” them. The only real solution for Washington is to start taking knowledge of Russia seriously again, Ritter argued.

Animosity towards Russia as an artificial construct

The anti-Russia sentiment in the US “is completely manufactured by political elites,” Tara Reade said, claiming that this animosity largely stems from financial incentives. She explained that some former US officials who now work for defense corporations are beneficiaries of weapons deliveries to Ukraine.

American journalist Jackson Hinkle concurred, describing the US-Russia stand-off as “artificial,” as the US has had “no history of beef” with Russia, with Moscow supporting Washington on numerous occasions in the past. A notable example was World War II, when the Soviet Union and the US fought against Nazi Germany, Hinkle said.

”Ultimately, we don’t have any reason to hate Russia or Russians, especially today, with a younger generation of increasingly traditional and… conservative young men rising up in America.”

Deep-rooted East-West antagonism

Western countries traditionally see Russia as part of a collective East, former Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl said, arguing that this mindset has become fertile ground for cultivating a negative view of the country.

‘Europe lost its soul’

The version of the EU that once embraced freedom of speech and the rule of law is now a distant memory, as these values have been shattered in recent years, Kneissl believes.

While the bloc may eventually manage to deal with its economic and political problems, “Europe has lost its soul,” she argued.

Hope for youth

While Alexander von Bismarck agreed that Europe has lost its soul, he argued that this is not true when it comes to young people, as they rely heavily on social media to access views that don’t portray a one-sided version of events, and use this tool for fruitful debate.

Von Bismarck claimed that 80% of Germans don’t believe in what their government says or does, despite the mainstream media’s attempts to impose their own version of reality on them.