On January 6, 2023, a meeting dedicated to the war in Ukraine was held in the public library of the small town of Bethlehem, New York. The event was sponsored by the James Connolly Forum, The United Anti-war Coalition, and Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace. The speeches of both the lecturers and the moderator were permeated with Russian propaganda and outright lies about Ukraine.
Let’s try to single out the main fakes and individual examples of Russian propaganda that were heard at this meeting:
Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace member Joe Lombardo opened the meeting, acting as moderator. He noted that he was in Ukraine twice, and the last time was in Odesa in 2019. However, his stay in Ukraine did not help him to deliver an honest and truthful speech.
Fake: the tragedy of May 2, 2014 in Odesa was the handiwork of Ukrainian nationalists
Joe Lombardo began to talk about the tragedy of May 2, 2014 in Odesa. According to his version, right-wingers burned Molotov cocktails and beat to death 48 participants of the pro-Russian rally. In fact, there is enough evidence, including videos that show people being rescued from the burning building of trade unions by their opponents, instead of being killed. He does not mention the fact that the first victims of the confrontation were representatives of the pro-Ukrainian side, who were shot in the city center.
The fact that Joe Lombardo did not even mention the role of the police and fire department shows his complete lack of understanding of this tragedy. According to the journalist and participant in the investigation of the tragedy Serhiy Dibrov, it is the professional and timely actions of these services that could significantly reduce the number of victims.
The next lecturer is lawyer, journalist and social and political activist Dan Kovalik. He is known for his criticism of US foreign policy, primarily in Latin America and the Russian Federation, and is the author of the book «The Plot to Scapegoat Russia: How the CIA and the Deep State Have Conspired to Vilify Russia.» The author does not hide his pro-Soviet and pro-Russian views. So, on his personal page in Twitter talks about how good and fun life was in the USSR with a bust of Vladimir Lenin in the background. Dan Kovalik is often quoted by the Russian propaganda media. It is clear that expectations from him of objective coverage of the Russian-Ukrainian war were also in vain.
Fake: Ukraine sells weapons it receives from allies abroad
Dan Kovalik begins his report with the fact that the US provides Ukraine with significant military aid. He further accuses Ukraine of arms trade and refers to the words of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. In fact, there are no facts that would testify to the trade in arms received by Ukraine. This is confirmed by the representatives of the USA, who conduct inspections of Ukraine’s use of Western weapons. In particular, Brigadier General Pat noted that «inspections are not reactive — we have no evidence of widespread diversion of US security assistance in Ukraine.»
«The Ukrainian Review» previously published an article that emphasized the lack of evidence regarding the arms trade from Ukraine and the role of Russian propaganda in the spread of this fake.
Fake: Russia attacked Ukraine only on February 24, 2022, and Ukraine has been shelling Donbas and killing its residents for eight years
Dan Kovalik backs up his propaganda speech with photos from his trip to Russia and Donetsk. He accuses the Ukrainian side of shelling the civilian population, torture, and the death of 14,000 local residents. At the same time, it shows how Russia is supposedly rebuilding Donetsk, building houses for those who lost their homes and even a hospital built in 3.5 months.
In fact, although the Russian invasion of Ukraine was not announced, it did not begin on February 24, 2022, but much earlier — in February 2014. Then the illegal annexation of Crimea took place. Russia not only actively supported pro-Russian forces in Ukraine and provided them with finances and weapons, but also sent its soldiers to fight against the Ukrainian army.
The facts of Russia’s control of the territory of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, the Russian citizenship of its leaders, and the planning of military operations by Russian officials were confirmed by the decision of the District Court in The Hague in the case of the shooting down of a Boeing 777 on July 17, 2014.
The next speaker was Scott Ritter, a former US Marine and United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) weapons inspector. His position on Ukraine is also committed, and he himself actively writes for the Russian propaganda resource Russia Today. Scott Ritter in April 2022 on his Twitter account accused the National Police of Ukraine of killing civilians in Buch. The Times conducted a study that testifies to the murders of Ukrainian civilians by the Russian military.
Fake: Russia attacked Ukraine in order to defend itself
Scott Ritter’s claims that Ukraine was preparing to attack Russia, and the USA, France and Germany helped it by training tens of thousands of soldiers sound not just strange, but fantastic. This thesis fully coincides with the statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov, and is an attempt by Russian propaganda to justify a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
It is obvious that Ukraine had no intention of attacking a state that has far more weapons, soldiers and economic and human resources, as well as nuclear weapons. In addition, it did not have enough heavy weapons, and the Western partners began to provide such weapons only after the Russian attack.