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Facts, fiction, and Ukraine 

Standing strong against "Russian aggression" has become the only acceptable US position on Ukraine for Washington and mainstream media, reminiscent of the relentless anti-Saddam propaganda campaign running up to the Iraq War. This time the demonization of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, substitutes for any nuanced account of events in Ukraine.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates insists Putin is "trying to re-establish Russian influence," and the State Department condemns Russia's "illegal actions" and its "incredible act of aggression."

In response to this alleged aggression, the US stirs the cauldron of a new Cold War, sending destroyers into the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea, scheduling US-NATO troop movements in East Europe, and tightening economic sanctions on Russia. But if we learned any lessons from the belligerent lies that led us into Iraq, we now need to question this latest single-minded messaging fed to us by the US media and government.

Here, then, are some inconvenient facts from the world press, unavailable in mainstream media, for us to consider:

In early 1990, as the USSR collapsed, then US Secretary of State James Baker assured the Kremlin that there would be "no extension of ... NATO one inch to the east." Despite Baker's promises, NATO has expanded steadily eastward into a dozen former Soviet satellite countries, threatening Russia's borders.

Ukraine represents the latest effort to extend Western economic policies and eventually NATO to Russia's doorstep. President Yanukovych was not receptive to the West's hardline economic demands and was turning toward Russia. So thousands were paid with Western money to participate in the allegedly grassroots Maidan protests, and Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland went to Kiev to personally choose Ukraine's post-coup government leaders. Nuland acknowledged that the US had spent $5 billion over the past 20 years to build up "pro-democracy" forces in Ukraine.

Though many Maidan protesters were motivated by a desire to join the European Union, neo-Nazi elements made up a significant number, and were later awarded four ministries, including national security, in the new government. They remain a violent force within the unelected Kiev government and have been responsible for violent incidents in the East, such as the recent massacre in Odessa.

Much of the unrest in eastern Ukraine was driven by fear over austerity measures threatened by the pro-Western government. This in part was why in Crimea, people voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, although the US still blames Moscow's aggression for this voluntary annexation.

Washington still insists that Russia organized and funded the pro-Russian separatists in Eastern cities. But the New York Times reported the separatists to be mostly indigenous former Ukrainian or Soviet soldiers unaligned with Moscow, using outdated weaponry rather than sophisticated Russian weapons.

Just recently, separatist leaders, rebuffing Putin's own call for a delay, insisted on holding a referendum that resulted in an overwhelming vote for independence from the unelected Kiev government. Russian and European leaders are now trying to broker ceasefire negotiations between Kiev and the separatists, but the US refuses to recognize the separatists' independent legitimacy.

This is no surprise, since CIA Director John Brennan, notorious mastermind of Obama's "kill list," made a secret visit to Kiev in April, apparently to assist and fund Kiev's coup government in a violent crackdown on these separatists. So-called "anti-terrorist" campaigns in Eastern Ukraine have escalated since Brennan's visit.

The above account of the Ukraine crisis stands in stark contrast to anti-Russian stories fed to us by US mainstream media. These same media dutifully served Washington's bellicose interests in 2003 by demonizing Saddam and his alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Of course, in the current crisis, there is little doubt that Putin has his own interests and his own propaganda. But it is our US government and its media mouthpieces that have lied to us before and are now again. Let's not be fooled this time, for the consequences could be catastrophic.

Doug Noble is a longtime writer-activist with Rochester Against War and Metro Justice.

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