Allow me to begin with two important points. First, I am all for the innocent people of Ukraine and I stand with them. Second, the violence Russia is unleashing upon Ukraine is insanely wicked.
That stated up front, the world is not receiving a proper picture of what is happening in Ukraine. The narrative we hear over and over from our politicians (on both sides of the aisle here in the U.S.) and the popular media includes Russian purely evil and a model of brutal autocracy, and Ukraine purely good and a model of democracy. Some of the louder voices making such statements are progressively liberal politicians and non-governmental influencers I detest.
Again, before I continue, let me repeat: I stand with the innocent people of Ukraine!
However, continual statements from U.S. and other Western officials, as well as ongoing accounts in the news media, have created a stunningly misleading image of Ukraine. There has been a concerted propaganda effort to portray the country not only as a victim of brutal Russian aggression (true), but as a noble bulwark of freedom and democracy (not true). The powers that be would have us believe that Ukraine is an Eastern European version of Denmark (regularly noted as having a pure democracy and the least amount of corruption in the world).
For example, President Biden, in his March 26 remarks on the war, said the conflict was “a battle between democracy and autocracy, between liberty and repression, between a rules‐based order and one governed by brute force.”
Again, Putin is a powerful communist autocratic leader who is unleashing torrents of evil on Ukraine; but Ukraine a country of rules-based democracy and liberty?
Ukraine is far from being a democratic‐capitalist model. The reality is Ukraine has long been one of the more corrupt countries in the international system. In its annual report published in January 2022, Transparency International ranked Ukraine 123rd of the 180 countries it examined, with a score of 32 on a one to 100 point scale. By comparison, notoriously corrupt Russia ranked just a bit lower, 139th, with a score of 29.
This years’ Freedom House report illustrates Ukraine’s track record of protecting democracy and civil liberties is not much better than its performance on corruption. In fact, The brutal, anti-Semitic, neo‐Nazi Azov Battalion was an integral part of Ukraine’s past President Petro Poroshenko’s military and security apparatus, and it has retained that role during Zelensky’s presidency. Indeed, Andriy Biletsky, the Azov Battalion’s commander is now a deputy in Ukraine’s parliament.
“What?” I hope you are asking. Yet the media heralds Zelensky as almost a Jewish messianic figure. As the Wall Street Journal reported in 2019, Zelensky’s wife is not Jewish, and his children were reportedly baptized in the Greek Orthodox tradition, the religion of about two-thirds of Ukrainians. Did you know that? Yet in a piece at the Religious News Service we read:
Never before in modern history have the world’s eyes so clearly focused on a Jew, demonstrating a sweet mix of character, patriotism and sheer courage.
Every Jew in the world today can hold his or her head up higher because of Zelenskyy. More than that: Every Jewish young person now has a hero that they can call their own.
A real, live, not merely historical or Jewish-holidays hero. Zelenskyy is our generation’s Hank Greenberg. He is our generation’s Sandy Koufax.
This is Diaspora Jewish heroism.
What’s really going on here?
Again, what Russia is doing is beyond terrible, but I ask: why the whitewashing of Ukraine’s inner-workings?
In Episode 135 of the Brian Sussman Show Podcast, I detail all of these truths and ask a myriad of questions in an attempt to try to get to the root of what is really happening in Ukraine. Specifically, is this a concerted effort to urge the west into accepting a World War? Additionally, I would like to know why, after decades of official U.S. activity in Ukraine, the country is a mess politically and economically?