Russian Economic Reform


Should we trust Zelensky and Ukraine?

Published on March 31 2023
Posted by: jeff

Former US Secretary of State George Shultz wrote, “Trust is the coin of the realm. When trust was in the room, whatever room that was—the family room, the schoolroom, the locker room, the office room, the government room or the military room—good things happened. When trust was not in the room, good things did not happen. Everything else is details.”

I lived in Russia for many years until late October 2022 – ten months after the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine — and I can attest that “trust” in the Russian government and between Russians themselves was quickly falling. Instead of using the term “war” as I did, many people that I knew – often for several years as friends – continued to use the term “special military operation” when we discussed events in Ukraine even in private conversation. They had quickly become afraid and had determined to never use the “war” word in any circumstances lest they find themselves without a job or even in jail.

So, much information and commentary that comes out of Russia should not be trusted. This has led to calls to ban such information.

On 29 March Reuters reported that “Ukraine and seven other central and eastern European nations have called on the world’s top tech firms to act to fight disinformation on their social media platforms by hostile powers which they say undermine peace and stability. In an open letter signed by their respective prime ministers, the countries said tech platforms, such as Meta’s Facebook, should take concrete steps such as rejecting payments from sanctioned individuals and altering algorithms to promote accuracy over engagement by users. Foreign information manipulation and interference, including disinformation is being deployed to destabilize our countries, weaken our democracies, to derail Moldova’s and Ukraine’s accession to the European Union and to weaken our support to Ukraine amid Russia’s war of aggression,” the letter provided to media said. “Big tech companies should be vigilant and resist being used as means of advancing such goals.” ‘The letter was signed by the prime ministers of Ukraine, Moldova, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and released by Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s office. The article quotes a Meta spokesperson as saying: “We’re also restricting access to (Russian media) RT and Sputnik across the EU and Ukraine, and adding labels to any post on Facebook that contains links to their websites, so people know before they click or share them. We’re continuing to consult with governments in Central and Eastern Europe to tackle this issue.”

These are nice sentiments and words, but who decides what is “accurate” and what is “disinformation”?

I know from personal experience that not all Russian sources of information should disbelieved or even banned.

Artyom Lukin, an international relations university teacher in Vladivostok has been “suspended” by Twitter because he “violated Twitter Rules”. I have lived in Vladivostok and I have found his Twitter posts about recent events in that part of Russia and Russia more generally both interesting and useful. I read all his pre-suspension comments and can only conclude that those people responsible for the suspension are ignorant or stupid. His account is:

I also often watch Cross Talk on RT – — which is hosted by Peter Lavelle who I know quite well because we lived in the same apartment building in Moscow for a time, but – like many people – had a falling out with him because he cannot abide people who disagree with him. But, having said that, I do find some of the commentary of his guests useful.

I certainly do not agree with much of what is on RT, and sometimes disagree with Artyom Lukin on Twitter, but at least they present an opportunity to help understand another point of view – one that is not anti-Russian in almost all respects!

The term “Global South” has gained some currency among analysts who see that many people and governments outside of the West do not regard Russian aggression as a problem or concern for them. In October 2022 I gave a presentation on “China-Russia Relations in the Era of Putin and Xi” at the Centre for Contemporary China Studies, Indian Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi. After my presentation the chairman commented that it was good to get a “nuanced” view of the Russia-China relationship. See:

Agreeing to the request of the prime ministers — of Ukraine etc – would only lead even more people in the West to have a one-sided view of events and fail to understand why the “Global South” may have different views to them. And, there is no reason why we should put so much trust in Zelensky or the Ukraine prime minister!

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