The nomination of Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State was just the latest signal that diplomacy out of Washington under Trump will boil down to the art of the deal. The official line is that rebel fighters in Aleppo were in fact all terrorists and rightly bombed into oblivion. An international investigation says a Russian-made missile brought down the plane. Russia says it’s all a conspiracy. Right or wrong, world events filter differently through a Russian lens.Player utilitiesPopout
downloadListen to the Story. It’s for this reason that Samantha Power’s public shaming of Russia and Syria at the United Nations falls on deaf ears in Moscow: The story she’s telling isn’t one that Russians hear. Not quite. Tillerson is well known to Putin, having received a friendship medal from the Russian leader. The CIA and Obama administration say they have convincing evidence. Indeed they looked happy. Argue the second, and you’ll instantly be accused of “Russophobia.”
Which brings us to Donald Trump and charges of Russia meddling to win him the White House. The World Anti-Doping Agency has laid out thousands of documents to make its case. PRI.org
Take the war in Syria. Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin chalked up Western criticism to doctored “evidence.” It was another case, Churkin insisted, of “fake news.”
Indeed, what is real and what is fake now seems the dominant theme of world politics. In the West, most certainly he is. The West says they’re on the ground actively fighting. And yet Russians see their own forces as the true rescuers. Putin is already talking of restarting US-Russian cooperation on global security and in the energy sector. Candidate Trump seemed to see the world through a Kremlin lens. From Russia’s annexation of Crimea to its support for Assad and criticism of the NATO alliance, Trump’s views come awfully close to official Russian positions. But what happens when post-fact Russia meets Donald Trump’s self-professed penchant for “truthful hyperbole”? The downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine? The West presents Russian intervention in the Syrian conflict as a Kremlin gambit to shore up influence in the Middle East — a cynical embrace of Assad’s regime in order to break out of international isolation. Is President Bashar al-Assad the Syrian dictator who has relentlessly prosecuted a war against his own countrymen, using tools including chemical weapons? Even those who disagree with the mission agree with President Vladimir Putin’s initial justification: better to kill terrorists in Syria than to face them at home. New-generation weaponry has largely proven effective, which has allayed many Russians’ early fears of a quagmire. Sanctions relief suddenly seems a real possibility for Moscow. They seemed happy.
In place of it, the Russian Defense Ministry’s chief spokesman for the war, Igor Konashenkov, dismissed reports of slaughter and suffering in Aleppo as a mirage. Russia says they’re merely “volunteers.”
Massive state-sponsored doping among Russian athletes? Until the US presidential elections, we merely lived in parallel information voids. There’s been little if any Russian attention given to the heartbreaking “last messages” from Syrians in east Aleppo. As the final hours of the siege of Aleppo wound down, the picture in Russia shifted to grateful Syrians expressing their relief over the end of the siege, munching on Russian cakes and porridge. Trump says he doesn’t buy it. By any objective standard, the West either gets Russia very, very wrong, or Russia operates in a “post-fact” universe of endless lies and spin. But to Russians, the military campaign is a tale of sacrifice and courage in the battle against global terror. Russian soldiers in Ukraine? The Kremlin, of course, denies it. State media here portrays Assad, whose regime is an ally to Russia, as the embattled leader of a country facing the tyranny of both the Islamic State and Western powers scheming to overthrow its legitimately elected government.
In Russia? Until you switched on CNN or the BBC or some other Western news source — where the story was starkly different. That same split in perception applies to the siege of Aleppo. This is, of course, demonstrably false. The message they’ve received on television and from other state news is that American insistence of a “moderate Syrian opposition” was always a myth. Russia complains its own forensic findings are ignored.