Check your sources, Mr Lavrov
13.06.14 | Halya Coynash
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov should really do a Google check before proposing urgent UN Security Resolutions on the situation in Ukraine. Five minutes on the Internet would for example, clarify that the ’evidence’ he claims for Ukraine’s use of phosphorous bombs in fact dates back to Iraq in 2004.
It is, of course, possible that the Foreign Ministry has other damming evidence, however the only material seen which in fact demonstrates phosphorous bombs in Fallujah (Iraq) was first shown on TV Zvezda which is closely linked with Russia’s Defence Ministry. Why should they resort to a fake, if real proof could be provided?
Zvezda claims that Ukraine’s National Guard showered the village of Semenivka not far from Slovyansk with phosphorous bombs. It goes on to explain that the use of these in populated areas is prohibited by a number of international agreements and gives graphic details of the terrible mutilation or slow, painful death that they can cause.
Rossiya 24 is equally categorical in asserting that the National Guard used white phosphorous and claims that confirmation is provided by the same – Fallujah – video footage. NTV at least acknowledges that the assertions have been made by the insurgents, but also shows the same video clip. It goes on to report that Russia’s representative at the UN, Vitaly Churkin has called for attention to be paid “to the use by Ukrainian soldiers of prohibited white phosphorous bombs”.
Such categorical assertions apparently made on the basis of video footage shown on television are particularly strange given the highly specific sources which the said channels use for their ‘information’. NTV, for example, presents the phosphorous video at the end of a ‘news item’ entitled “Ukrainian soldiers shoot at cars with children leaving Slovyansk” and claims that “two cars bearing white flags and taking children from besieged Slovyansk came under fire from Ukrainian soldiers”.
One wonders if Gleb Garanich from Reuters knows that his photo is used as illustration for this shocking piece of news based, it transpires, on one entry on Live Journal. The fee-charging account (on a resource which is usually free) is in the name of hrapypris31 with little other detail given, but presumably NTV is party to insider information and names him as a spokesperson for the armed forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Independent Republic, Fyodor Beryozin.
Ukraine’s alleged use of phosphorous bombs has been reported in the Kremlin-funded Russia Today, and some other media quoting RT. Not just reported, but ‘confirmed’ by Charles Shoebridge who is described as “a former army officer, Scotland Yard detective, and counter-terrorism intelligence officer who has recently returned from Ukraine”. The same quick Google check found that Shoebridge’s service in any formal capacity came to an end around 2005. His recent interests can, however, be seen on his twitter page where he particularly actively attacks the west for its allegedly criminal behaviour over Syria and Kyiv’s criminal behaviour over just about anything.
There is no indication as to why he was in Ukraine, but he is consulted as an expert. “It does appear that there is at least a case to be argued that something similar, if not itself white phosphorous, was used overnight. I’ve seen the video, I’ve looked at it closely According to the video, “it’s very likely that white phosphorus" was used, Shoebridge added. “It’s very difficult to fabricate the video we saw combined with the evidence on the ground.”
He has clearly only seen the – different time and different country – video, and does not explain what this unspecified ‘evidence on the ground’ may be.
His ’assessment’ precedes information about Russia’s draft resolution at the UN, calling “for an immediate end to all violence and for a lasting ceasefire”.
An end to all this violence is exactly what the vast majority of Ukrainians want. The initiative, however, coupled with allegations about phosphorous bombs, came on a day which saw three tanks and accompanying trucks pass from Russia into the Donetsk region, with at least 200 fighters believed to have crossed the same border in recent days.
Meanwhile top public figures in EU countries continue to welcome Russian president Vladimir Putin’s ‘order’ to heighten control at the Russian-Ukrainian border and other apparently conciliatory words as evidence of a ‘changed situation’ More can be anticipated when it is proving so frighteningly easy to avert real sanctions - more words and more aggression.
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