The first casualty in any conflict is the truth. Perhaps it was Aeschylus who first said this; evidence for the source seems conflicted. However, it was Sun Tzu in his little book entitled, "The Art of War, who declared that all war is based on deception. So we can start with the premise that war requires deception and results in the anhiliation of the truth. Both cause and effect are dependent on deceit. Reports that Russian called for last night's meeting of the Security Council over Ukraine, and then pointed the finger at the 'west' for the conflict, while having to listen as various ambassadors disclosed satellite images of thousands of will armed Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, including tanks, as well as various types of weapons, demonstrate both the brazen attitude of Putin and his envoys as well as the degree of deception to which they are willing to stoop.
Here is an excerpt from The Guardian's reporting on the back and forth from the Security Council meeting:
The United Nations security council held an emergency session on Sunday night to discuss the escalating crisis in Ukraine as the war of words between its western allies and Russia continued.
Just hours before a deadline by Ukraine for pro-Russian separatists in eastern cities to disarm by Monday morning or face all-out attack, the security council convened at Russia's request. Moscow called Kiev's plans to mobilise the army "criminal".
Russian ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, denied western and Ukrainian claims that Moscow was behind the violence, and told the meeting that Ukraine has been using radical neo-Nazi forces to destabilise its eastern region.
"It is the west that will determine the opportunity to avoid civil war in Ukraine. Some people, including in this chamber, do not want to see the real reasons for what is happening in Ukraine and are constantly seeing the hand of Moscow in what is going on," Churkin said. "Enough. That is enough."...
Churkin's comments were a direct rebuke to US and its allies which continued on Sunday to link the Kremlin to the unrest in eastern Ukraine.
His US counterpart Samantha Power told the meeting: "These armed units ... raised Russian and separatist flags over seized buildings and have called referendums and union with Russia. We know who is behind this."
Britain's UN ambassador said Russia had massed tens of thousands of well-equipped troops near the Ukrainian border in addition to the 25,000 troops it recently moved into Crimea, which Moscow effectively annexed last month.
"Satellite images show that there are between 35,000 and 40,000 Russian troops in the vicinity of the border with Ukraine equipped with combat aircraft, tanks, artillery and logistical support units," Mark Lyall Grant said. (From The Guardian, April 14, 2014)
Having fomented the 'Russian' people of the Crimea into a plebescite that demanded annexation with Russia, Putin is now attempting a similar strategy in the eastern cities of Ukraine, for the purpose of potentially annexing the eastern half of that country. He has already raised the price of gas to Ukraine, virtually calling the debt of some $2 billion for past energy purchased, in the hope of destabilizing that country into submission to the Russian bear's overture to re-enter the Russian Federation.
Ukraine, for its part, has vowed to confront the masked "militias" who have effectively invaded several eastern Ukrainian cities, and unfortunately declared a deadline which has come and gone, without a Russian 'blink-of-the-eye'. Will the west enable the Ukrainian government to make good on their threat to take on the Russian forces? Will the Russians forces simply continue their march into the Ukraine, while protesting that the west is deceiving the world about its actions and intentions?
As the temperature of this conflict rises, Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist and author, appearing on Global Public Square with Fareed Zakaria, yesterday, almost pleaded with Mr. Putin to turn off the gas flowing into Ukraine, because, in Friedman's view, that would catalyze the west's commitment to renewable energy sources.
Of course, there are still those in the U.S. government like Senator John McCain who want a military response to Putin's military buildup, yet such a position is unlikely to find support from either the White House or the American people. NATO, while rattling its sabres, is also only lukewarm about a military confrontation with Russia, and so, almost by default, Putin is enabled and emboldened in his attempt to re-capture Russian stature and influence in his corner of the world.
And the Ukrainian people, for their part, are the pawns in his game.
The use of energy, including its price hike, is being termed "an act of terrorism" by Ukrainian leaders, and there is clearly legitimacy to that claim. If Putin succeeds in bringing Ukraine to its heels, because it cannot afford to heat its homes and run its factories, and brings the government down through suffocation of energy supplies through price hikes and supply valves turned off, without the west providing adequate support to prevent such action, then the world will know unequivocally that a kind of "wild west" of lawlessness, and the abrogation of international treaties and the peaceful "coup" will have become the latest arrow in the quiver of any dictator.
Since energy is a global commodity, and since the whole world is dependent on its access and affordability, and since Russia command a considerable reservoir of energy deposits supplying nearly 40% of EU energy needs, and since the U.S. is either unwilling or unable to export energy to Europe at this time, Russia is in a very powerful, for the moment, position.
Some observers say that this position is, however, short-lived, and that Putin will eventually have to pay a price for his actions. However, it is now that his actions require both confrontation and repeal, and there seems to be little appetite among the western nations to "take him on".
Has the west been lulled into a state of complacency, following the end of the cold war? Has the west fallen into a trap of excessive trust and/or war-weariness, or merely found the budgetary cupboard bare for any additional military exercises? Or has this crisis not reached the threshold at which it becomes sufficiently serious and so seismic in its potential to shift international norms away from respected and honoured boundaries and treaties that support those boundaries?
Clearly, Russia, nor any other country, cannot have it both ways: to make invasive moves to take over other countries, in whole or in part, and then claim that their "opponents" are responsible for the threats to the Russian people living in those regions, when there was no demonstrable or provable threat in the first place.
It reminds one of the voter repression campaign that is taking place in North America, based on the bogus and trumped-up claims of voter fraud. Former Senator Patrick Moynahan of New York, would be appalled to learn that "there is no agreed upon set of facts" on either side of the Atlantic with which all political combatants can agree, before attempting to establish one's opinion of those facts.
If truth-telling has suffered its final blow, there is no national or international security blanket or apparatus that can or will protect the Ukrainian people and government, or any other people and their government. When the lies of one side becomes its only truth, then, as Orwell predicted, we have entered the age of newspeak, when each word means precisely its opposite. And there is really no defence against such a transformation. We all live in what has become a dystopia.