Propaganda vs. bombs: a lose-lose situation

One of the two sides is lying through their teeth and it would be quite difficult to figure out which one: Russia or Ukraine.

According to official Ukrainian reports, Russian forces attacked and set on fire Ukraine’s Zaporozhskaya nuclear power plant.

That mainstream media almost all over the world, as if led by an invisible conductor, picked up the Ukrainian version and went stir-crazy, was to be expected. If true, this could have led to another nuclear plant explosion, and again, on Ukrainian soil. Remember Chernobyl.

Except, Russian government’s response, while confirming a fire at the plant, accuses the other side.

Major-General Igor Konashenkov, Russian Defence Ministry’s spokesman, announced (verbatim translation): “Last night, an attempt to carry out a horrible provocation was made by Kiev’s nationalist regime on the area surrounding the station.

What happened, the Major-General went on, was that a Ukrainian sabotage group (his words) attacked Russian troops patrolling the territory.

The timing, according to the Russian spokesman, went as follows: at about 2 a.m. local time, Ukrainian forces had attacked Russian soldiers. They opened heavy fire from a training facility next to the power station. Their plan, according to Major-General Konashenkov, was to “provoke a retaliatory strike on the building.”

The Russian patrol had neutralised the group’s firing points, he added, without elaborating how and at what human cost. The incident went on, however, as the saboteurs (his description) had then set fire to the training facility as they retreated.

Ukrainian State Emergency Service’s firefighters put out the blaze. That’s the one part of the story neither side would dispute.

To calm the nervousness somewhat, Russia’s spokesman said, “At the moment of provocation, no staff members were at the facility.”

As anyone could understand, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky would not let pass such a great chance to score off the Russians in the propaganda war.

Zelensky denied the provocation claims and accused Russian forces of having staged the attack.

Most interestingly, a link to Russia’s RIA news agency that published Zelensky’s statement, is almost inaccessible from North America.

And here’s where the story gets somewhat unclear. Dmytro Orlov, Mayor of Energodar, a town close to the plant, had reported first that it was Russian shelling that triggered the blaze, and, to make it sound even more dramatic, he said the entire plant was on fire.

Whether they were aware of the mayor’s statement or not matters not. What does matter is that the emergency services dismissed out of hand the claim of the plant going up in smoke.

Elaborating on the question of who started it was something the firefighters wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. First of all, they didn‘t necessarily know and, besides, answering such queries would be high above their pay scale.

According to most reports, Russian forces have captured the plant but local staff were keeping operations going and monitoring radiation levels.

The International Atomic Energy Agency put in their few cents’ worth by saying that so far as they know, there has been no change in radiation levels in the wake of the incident.

If it all wasn’t so tragic, it would remind contemporary witnesses of this tale:

Soviet official news agency, TASS, has been authorised by appropriate authorities (this was a usual turn of phrase) to report on an incident near the Soviet-Sino border.

A group of Soviet collective farmers were peacefully tilling their fields when a group of Chinese intruders opened fire using sub-machine and machine guns.

Soviet collective farmers returned fire, using their grenade launchers and recoilless guns.

Having chased the Chinese intruders back behind the border, the Soviet collective farmers peacefully took off and flew back to their base.

That was a joke, one of those called “radioactive:” if reported to secret police, they could send you to toil in uranium mines, with as much hope of escape as from behind prison bars.

Flames in a plant that works on radioactive stuff is not funny.

Most nibs agree we’re watching two wars at once: the real one, with Russia winning almost hands down, and the other, war of words, propaganda war, where Russia’s foes have been scoring a barrage of hits.

The difference between the two?

Results of the former are often irreparable, while the latter goes down crashing as soon as people see through the charade.

Both cost real human lives.

And that’s the real crime.

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