By John Friend
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his regime are desperate for NATO intervention on their behalf in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military and pro-Russian militias tied to the recently independent republics in the Donbass region.
There has been much speculation about Ukrainian armed forces and militias or paramilitary groups aligned with the Ukrainian regime staging incidents designed to justify Western intervention and using civilians as shields or hostages.
The Western media’s coverage of the Ukraine crisis has been largely defined by emotionalism and hysteria, with unverified horror stories of Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure, civilian casualties and indiscriminate targeting of non-military targets, claims that Russia has consistently denied.
Last week, an iconic theater and drama center in Mariupol, a besieged city that has a large presence of what Western media outlets have described as neo-Nazi militias such as the Azov Battalion, was reported to have been bombed by Russian air strikes. President Zelensky spoke to the U.S. Congress earlier in the day, demanding a NATO-imposed no-fly zone and more military weaponry, insisting that Russia was targeting civilian buildings and infrastructure.
Russia immediately denied the allegations, instead insisting that Azov Battalion members blew up the building in a provocation designed to play on the heartstrings of Westerners.
“During daylight on March 16, Russian aviation carried out no missions involving strikes on ground targets within Mariupol limits,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement. “According to the verified information, militants of the Azov nationalist battalion carried out another bloody provocation by blowing up the rigged theater building.”
The Russian Ministry of Defense stated that the building was never even in consideration for air strikes, and that Russia does not attack civilians or non-military targets.
The Western media, however, ran with the story, with many on social media spreading the dubious narrative. Illia Ponomarenko, a Ukrainian journalist based in Kiev with ties to a media outlet funded in part by the National Endowment for Democracy, was quick to promote the narrative of a barbaric Russian air strike on a theater housing innocent civilians, many of whom were alleged to be women and children.
See this red roof?
It’s a drama theater in Mariupol, we called it “the Dram.”
See those little letters on the square? They read “KIDS” in Russian.
That was a message to Russian bomber crews.
But you know what – they bombed the building to ashes anyway.
Because they’re animals. pic.twitter.com/xYOkC7CPm5
— Illia Ponomarenko 🇺🇦 (@IAPonomarenko) March 16, 2022
Many have questioned the media-promoted narrative, which just so happens to dovetail perfectly with President Zelensky’s hysterical claims that Russia is targeting innocent civilians, demanding NATO involvement in the conflict.
“While the Russian military operation in Ukraine has triggered a humanitarian crisis in Mariupol, it is clear that Russia gained nothing by targeting the theater, and virtually guaranteed itself another public relations blow by targeting a building filled with civilians – including ethnic Russians,” Max Blumenthal noted in a recent article. “Azov, on the other hand, stood to benefit from a dramatic and grisly attack blamed on Russia. In full retreat all around Mariupol and facing the possibility of brutal treatment at the hands of a Russian military hellbent on ‘de-Nazification,’ its fighters’ only hope seemed to lie in triggering direct NATO intervention.”
As the Russian “special military operation” continues to make progress, the Zelensky regime and other armed factions aligned with it appear desperate to either provoke or stage a mass casualty event that could be presented by the media and Western political leaders as justification for an armed intervention.