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The war of words, and at last the word “war” – A Donbas reframing ahead

July 23, 2017

On 7th July the blog noted the appointment of Kurt Volker as US Special Envoy to coordinate US State Department efforts in resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine – per the wording of his mission.

To be entirely blunt, the Donbas front line is not a conflict.  It is one front of many through which Russia is waging war on Ukraine.

The blog has consistently employed the terms “illegally annexed” with regard Crimea, “occupied territories” with regard to the areas of the Donbas beyond the control of the Ukrainian authorities, and persistently highlighted the fact that the kinetic engagement in eastern Ukraine is but one front that has to been seen as part of the political, diplomatic, economic, social, information and cyber fronts that form a war that is being waged.  It is a war of exhaustion.

Equally it has shunned “hybrid war”, “ATO” and “weaponised” – all misnomers and flapdoodle.

The use, or absence, of these words within the prose of the blog is deliberate.  What is said is sometimes less important than what is not said.  It is not what you say, but what people hear that matters.

They are the words employed, or absent, when writing for other (paying) publishers.

The blog is not of a mind to have these words changed or manipulated by (paying) editors.  If the editors wish to shy away from such terms then articles and essays are retracted and they can keep their money.

Objectivity and giving all a fair hearing is absolutely right – but there is no moral equivalence to be found when Russia started and maintains its war on all fronts.  Only a dullard cannot recognise events have been driven by The Kremlin from the very start.  (Fortunately for such dullards, jellyfish which have no brain, have survived for about 500 million years – ergo said dullards will too manage to survive.)

It is easy to criticise western journalists when terms such as “civil war” and “conflict” etc still appear – however the blog knows of several journalists that have submitted copy with far more robust and far more accurate words, for them to be edited and published with either entirely inaccurate phrases such as “civil war”, or weaker words such as “conflict” replacing original prose.

A reader may frown upon the journalists for not standing their ground and/or “outing” the spineless editors/editorial line, however these people have bills to pay and there are plenty of unemployed/under employed journalists who can replace them.

It has to be said that Ukraine has not helped itself by maintaining the ATO label for so long with regard the occupied Donbas.  As made clear a month ago, that will undoubtedly change in September via legislation with “temporarily occupied territories” becoming the official lexicon – and not before time.

The question will be whether the same deluded editors that employ “civil war” or those that are meek and choose “conflict” will adopt that same official lexicon of “temporary occupied territories”?   One of the best ways to force that into the media cycle is for public figures to repeatedly use the phrase – as they will be quoted verbatim.

Of the most public of acts thus far by US Special Envoy Kurt Volker, occurred on 23rd July with a visit to Kramatorsk in eastern Ukraine – what did he have to say?

It’s not a conflict, it’s a war, it’s a crisis that needs to be resolved as soon as possible.

Well bravo – insofar as it goes.

It remains to be seen whether Messrs Tillerson and Trump will repeat that framing publicly too – or indeed whether US Ambassador Masha Yovancvitch or US Ambassador Nikki Haley will also henceforth employ that same framing.  They should, for war is what it is.  Diplomacy can be deft and nimble, or it can be blunt and robust – but it should be accurate either way.  How else can effective policy be crafted?

Unfortunately the accurate words of Mr Volker will almost assuredly only be associated with the narrow view of the fighting on the Donbas front by the domestic Ukrainian media – it’s unlikely the international media will even notice – whereas those words should be associated with the entire spectrum of war that Russia wages.

Even if a ceasefire can be achieved, the Russian war will continue (for at least another decade, probably longer) on all other fronts – perhaps even intensify.

If Russian cyber attacks continue to damage, degrade or completely down critical infrastructure then lives of non combatants/innocents can, and eventually will, still be lost.  The issue of (yet more) war crimes will arise.

In the meantime a reader may be wise to pay attention to the official rhetoric henceforth.  Is there about to be a (public) reframing – whether it be to support the imminent Ukrainian legislative cancellation of ATO and commencement of “temporary occupied territories”, or simply a move to accurate oratory and prose – or both.

To be sure it will not change policy within The Kremlin, but it may make for more robust policy from without.

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