The West wants a new war in Donbass to "prevent Russia's development on the world stage." The narrative is promoted by the Russian press in the context of the escalating situation in eastern Ukraine. At the same time, the idea that the Kremlin's actions are justified in blocking a new NATO enlargement to the east is promoted.
News: "Russian President Dmitry Peskov's press secretary has warned that, because of the situation in Donbass, Moscow needs to strengthen its defense. But politicians in the United States and Europe are only interested in escalating the conflict as a means of achieving their own goals.
The United States poses the greatest threat, not only to Ukraine but to the entire world community, as it often conducts military exercises far beyond its territory and also lobbies in every way possible for NATO's expansion towards the borders of the Russian Federation.Washington and its European allies have failed to deliver on their promise to the Soviet Union not to allow NATO to expand eastward. In 2018, at the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, the French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged the West's guilt towards Russia, saying that NATO enlargement to the East, contrary to that promise, was a mistake that caused Moscow's legitimate concerns.
And so it turns that for more than 7 years people have not been able to live in peace, they have to walk the streets in fear, because the bombing can resume at any time [in eastern Ukraine]. Moreover, the civilian population keeps dying. But what is important for Western politicians is to use the situation in southeastern Ukraine as a tool to achieve their own interests, first and foremost to block Russia's development on the world stage. "NARRATIVES: 1. The West needs a new war in Donbass. 2. Russia is preparing to defend itself in the face of a provocation orchestrated by the West and Ukraine. 3. All of Moscow's actions are correct, and the West has not fulfilled its promise to the Soviet Union not to expand NATO to the east without Russia's approval. 4. The USA and its allies are a danger to the whole world, aiming to destroy Russia.CONTEXT/LOCAL ETHOS: The conflict in eastern Ukraine broke out in 2014. Russia finances and supports mercenaries and separatist forces, formed within two self-proclaimed republics, DNR and LNR, which consist of a small part of the occupied Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. Ukraine, Western countries and NATO have repeatedly accused Russia of sending troops and heavy weapons in support of the separatists. Moscow claims it only provides political and humanitarian support to the rebels, and the Russians fighting alongside them in eastern Ukraine are volunteers. In the spring of this year, despite numerous armistices, an escalation of the conflict took place, and Russia began to concentrate its armed forces near the borders of Ukraine in the south, east and north. The United States and the EU have expressed growing concern over the increase in Russian troops and pledged support to Kiev. The Ukrainian authorities reiterated their support for a political and diplomatic solution to reclaiming the territories that got out of their control in 2014, the same year when the Russians annexed the Crimean Peninsula. The situation in Donbass is being discussed by the press and political analysts around the world, and the question is whether or not Vladimir Putin will risk starting a large-scale war in Ukraine. Against this background, President Volodymyr Zelensky called on the NATO leadership to speed up Ukraine's accession procedure. He believes that joining NATO is the only way to stop the conflict with the separatists in the east of the country, in Donbas and Lugansk. The Russian media kept writing in February-March this year that Ukraine intended to provoke a resumption of the conflict in Donbass so that sanctions against Russia could be tightened. The Russian press also wrote about the danger that NATO would pose to Russia's security.The latest narratives were preceded by others, typical of the Kremlin, in which NATO was described as an enemy of the "Russian world" and the West's desire to rekindle war in eastern Ukraine in order to impose new sanctions on Moscow was stressed. This time, however, the Russian press, citing high-ranking officials, gives more explanations as to why all of Moscow's actions are correct – apparently Russia is still angry with the West, which promised the USSR it would not expand through NATO to the east without Moscow's permission. Since the promise has been broken, Russia has the right to defend itself, citing French President Emmanuel Macron, who "acknowledged the West's guilt towards Russia" in 2018. In fact, citing the same Russian press (TASS agency), Macron said that some promises were not kept by NATO: "We did not build a space of trust, which Russia had a right to expect, which again fueled [Moscow's] suspicions."
PURPOSE: The purpose of these narratives is to build a parallel (hybrid) political reality in order to exonerate Moscow and present it as a victim forced to defend itself. The blame for the escalation of the situation in Donbass is put on the USA, which, according to such media narratives, uses Ukraine as a puppet.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Western leaders have constantly called for calm in Donbass. No war preparations by Ukraine have been observed in the region, and NATO neither has any troops in Ukraine, nor has it shown any intention of interfering in any conflict to defend that country. Russia, on the other hand, without being provoked, began amassing troops near Ukraine's borders and gathering its military ships in the Black Sea, and the West has demanded explanations.Macron did not apologize in St. Petersburg for NATO's enlargement to Eastern Europe without Russia's consent, but said the process should have been carried out based on mutual trust. At the same time, this excerpt from Macron's statement does not appear on the French president's website and can only be found on Russian-language news portals.GRAIN OF TRUTH: There is no clear (written) evidence that USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev received assurances that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would not expand eastward. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said two years ago that Gorbachev was not assured that the North Atlantic Alliance would not expand to the East. On the other hand, the USSR was divided into 15 states, which each have the right to opt for any organization. NATO enlargement was not a process of "expansion", as the Russian press presents it, but a geopolitical move requested by the eastern states themselves.