Washington and McCain Speak Out on Russian ‘Propaganda’

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As Ukraine calls on United Nations peacekeepers to intervene in a “joint counterterrorist operation” against Russia, the United States and Sen. John McCain reiterated their positions in regards to disbelief of Russia’s self-proclaimed innocence.

The Russian Federation sends special units to the East of our country that conduct armed seizure of the administrative buildings and threaten lives of hundreds of thousands of our citizens,” said Oleksandr Turchynov, acting president and chairman of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Legislature), on Monday. “We do not object and even welcome holding of joint counterterrorist operation in the East. Then, experts and observers will be able to witness the legality of our actions themselves.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke on behalf of his country last week, saying, “It’s not Russia that is destabilising Ukraine,” while insisting that “Assertions that Russia has undermined efforts to strengthen partnerships on the European continent do not correspond to the facts. … Russia is doing all it can to promote early stabilisation in Ukraine.” The U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Spokesperson released “10 More False Claims About Ukraine” on Sunday, outlining the “false and dangerous narrative” that are being used “to justify its illegal actions in Ukraine.”

To Russia’s claims that it has not been active in Ukraine, the Office of the Spokesperson cites the arrest of “a dozen suspected Russian intelligence agents in recent weeks, many of whom were armed at the time of arrest.” McCain (R-Ariz.), for his part, referenced satellite images as evidence of military intimidation.

“It is clear from the satellite images released by NATO yesterday that Russia has poised a menacing force near the Ukrainian border as part of its effort to destabilize Ukraine and destroy its chance for independence, self-determination, and democracy,” the senator said. In the past, Russia has claimed that any troop movements observed were part of a training exercise, a suggestion quickly denied by the U.S. and NATO. “NATO Secretary General Anders Fough Rasmussen stated that the 40,000 Russian troops along the border are not conducting training exercises but are prepared for combat,” said McCain.

The U.S. Office of the Spokesperson also denied Russian claims that pro-Russian sentiment movements are entirely grassroots in origin, claiming instead that some are paid for their part in organizing such shows of separatist inclinations. It also denied the supposed support of separatist leaders, civil war in Ukraine, and the possibility that Russia has removed some of its troops form the Ukrainian border — a possibility it says there is no evidence to substantiate.

As for ethnic threats, the Office of the Spokesperson found that the most concerning one is in the Crimea region for ethnic Ukrainians, such as Crimean Tatars, as opposed to any risk to the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine. President Barack Obama and others have labeled false information coming out of Russia as propaganda. “No amount of propaganda can make right something that the world knows is wrong,” Obama at the end of last month, referring to Russia’s claims, which are largely internationally disproved of in light of its annexation of Crimea.

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