Due to the ongoing information war since 24 February 2022 – in fact it has started earlier – we have no longer been truthfully informed about the war in Ukraine and the wider context of this war. Almost every event is presented and interpreted in such a way that it serves one’s own war aims – and not the establishment of truth. The war aims also include keeping the “home front” in line. What could be better than announcing victories? The failure of the Vietnam War taught the USA in particular how important this is. The NATO states and their combatants are once again a party to the war. We cannot trust anything we read, hear, or see in our media about the war in Ukraine and the wider environment of this war. Everything must be verified. For most people this is hardly possible. It can help to observe a basic principle of finding the truth: audiatur et altera pars – hear the other side, too! Using the example of the reporting and commentary on the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, on 15 and 16 November 2022, this will be attempted here.
Ukraine war and use of nuclear weapons
The final declaration of the heads of state and government or their representatives at this year’s summit comprises 19 pages or 52 points in the original English version.1 Only two of these points explicitly deal with security policy issues. These two points read:
“3. This year, we have also witnessed the war in Ukraine further adversely impact the global economy. There was a discussion on the issue. We reiterated our national positions as expressed in other fora, including the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, which, in Resolution No. ES-11/1 dated 2 March 2022, as adopted by majority vote (141 votes for, 5 against, 35 abstentions, 12 absent) deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and demands its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine. Most members strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy – constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity, and elevating financial stability risks. There were other views and different assessments of the situation and sanctions. Recognising that the G20 is not the forum to resolve security issues, we acknowledge that security issues can have significant consequences for the global economy.
4. It is essential to uphold international law and the multilateral system that safeguards peace and stability. This includes defending all the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and adhering to international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians and infrastructure in armed conflicts. The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible. The peaceful resolution of conflicts, efforts to address crises, as well as diplomacy and dialogue, are vital. Today’s era must not be of war.”
Quite uniform interpretation by German-language media
On 16 November, numerous German-language media published their almost uniform interpretations. For example, the “Frankfurter Rundschau”, formerly considered rather “left-wing”, wrote: “The G20 summit in Bali succeeds in further isolating Russia. That is an important signal.” “Putin in the pillory” was the headline of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”, which generally was considered more “bourgeois”. A commentary of the newspaper said: “Moscow could not have counted on a diplomatic triumph at the G20 summit. Otherwise, the Russian President Putin himself would have flown to Bali. In his place, his foreign minister had to try to prevent the worst from happening: Russia being pilloried in front of the world because of its invasion of Ukraine. In this, Lavrov was about as successful as the Russian invasion army in Kherson. [...] Even more directly than through the planned final declaration, Lavrov may have learned in the talks held before and in Bali that Russia is also increasingly on the defensive on the diplomatic front.” The German “taz”, which is close to the Greens, commented: “There is no question: things are not going well for Vladimir Putin and his warriors of aggression. Russia’s military defeat in the battle for the Ukrainian city of Kherson was now followed by a diplomatic defeat at the G20 summit in Bali.” Not differently the Swiss “Tages-Anzeiger” on the same day: “Closing ranks against Vladimir Putin. States condemn Russia’s war surprisingly clearly”, was the title of the “report”. The commentary in the same issue read: “Most people have had enough. At the G20 summit, Russia’s war in Ukraine was strongly condemned – and a piece of predictability was returned to the world.”
How did Russia react?
How did Russia react to the G20 summit and the security policy points of the final declaration? The country’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, was asked in his press conference on 15 November2: “Is Russia willing to sign the G20 final declaration and agree to all its provisions? How will Ukraine be portrayed in it? Is the wording used in this document acceptable to Russia?”
His answer: “Our Western colleagues made every effort to politicise this document and to push wording through that condemns the Russian Federation’s actions on behalf of the G20, that is, including us.
We made it clear that, if they really wanted to touch on the issue which is in no way part of the G20 agenda or competence, then we should be honest about it and put our differences on this matter on record. Indeed, there’s a war going on in Ukraine, a hybrid war that the West unleashed and had been planning for many years now from the time it supported the power grab in the wake of the coup by openly racist neo-Nazi forces. Since then, NATO has been intensively developing Ukrainian territory, conducting military exercises and supplying weapons. You are aware of what happened next: the sabotage of the Minsk agreements and early phases of preparations for a [Ukrainian] military operation against Donbass. So, the draft declaration refers to the exchange of views on these issues. The parties reaffirmed their positions, which have been repeatedly made known in the United Nations, the UN Security Council and the General Assembly, in particular, when adopting the latest UN General Assembly resolution, which was put to a vote and was not unanimously approved. We made it clear that all sides had their own assessments, and these assessments were included in the resolution. The West added a phrase to the effect that many delegations condemned Russia. We put in a line that alternative points of view were included as well. We think this is enough. The G20 is not supposed to drill deep into these matters.”
The Russian Foreign Minister was also asked: “Has the United States succeeded in turning the G20 into an exclusively anti-Russia platform by changing the global agenda, or did the countries that came to Indonesia to discuss the issues that really matter expressed their views and opinions behind closed doors?”
His answer: “The majority of issues on the G20 agenda were discussed at the level of experts and ministers over the past few days. The results of these discussions have been expressed in the substantive part of the declaration.
As for Ukraine, the United States and all its allies spoke quite aggressively during the discussions held today, accusing Russia of ‘unprovoked aggression against Ukraine.’ The more often they speak about ‘unprovoked aggression,’ the more clearly everybody can see that it has been provoked by them […].”
In this context, Sergey Lavrov also commented on the sanctions against his country: “Only the West and its closest satellites have joined the anti-Russia sanctions.
Differentiated and diverse statements …
And how did Russian media report? In its English-language press review of 16 November, the Russian news agency TASS quoted the Russian newspaper “Izvestia” as saying: “Russia has included a provision on various assessments of the Ukraine crisis in the G20’s final declaration, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who headed the Russian delegation to the summit, told a subsequent press conference. In Indonesia, he held a number of bilateral meetings, among them, with German and French delegates. This time, Western participants did not boycott Russia. Despite the irreconcilable stances of Moscow and Kiev, the experts interviewed by ‘Izvestia’ did not diminish the significance of the signals to hold talks coming from the G20 participants. Chairman of the Valdai Discussion ClubAndrey Bystritsky told ‘Izvestia’ that the G20 can become a venue to seek a resolution to the crisis. ‘It is important to keep in mind that the G20 is not just Western countries by far. Of course, the Ukrainian factor concerns everyone. Many participants, including China, insist on finding a political solution and applying the use of legitimate international law which, by the way, the West is not doing,’ the expert noted. […] At talks with Joe Biden, China’s leader Xi Jinping hinted that the US could have played a part in stopping the bloodshed if an agreement on important issues was reached,’ he added.
Senior Research Fellow at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of China and Contemporary AsiaYelena Safronova told the newspaper that currently Beijing is interested both in multi-vectored development of ties with Russia and in predictable relations with Washington. ‘Over several years of confrontation with the US, China, apparently, has realised that the assertive style […] is not always effective,’ she said, adding that Beijing will try to clarify its stance in relations with Washington while maximally retaining the tonality of partnership with Moscow.”
… and questions about the meaningfulness of G20
On 16 November RT published a commentary by Karin Kneissel. Ms Kneissel is the former Austrian non-party foreign minister and emigrated from Austria some time ago. She writes: “For months, many have puzzled over whether this conference of the twenty most important industrialised and emerging countries would see a turning point in the current stalemate. Let it be said in advance: Expectations missed the reality. International relations are stuck in an impasse of speechlessness. The capitals talk past each other. Meetings of 30 or 40 minutes are not enough to establish trust or to seriously resolve hot issues. [...] Under such conditions, the most that can be done is to ‘send political signals’, as it is called in current jargon. But the real tasks of diplomatic meetings, such as building trust, discreet negotiations and substantive solutions, are hardly possible.”
Many claim that the West has already won the information war because its propaganda methods are much better. But one can also ask the question whether propaganda that is almost uniform, misanthropic and aimed at destructive affects, as practised by the West, is really more successful in the long run than a way of presentation that strives for polyphony, differentiation and objectivity. For man is also endowed with reason and conscience. •
1 The English original can be found, for example, at https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/60201/2022-11-16-g20-declaration-data.pdf
2 Authorised English version at https://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/1838803/?lang=en
km. The G20 (Group of 20) is an informal association of states (plus the European Union) existing since 1999, which consider themselves to be the most important industrial and emerging countries. The resolutions of the G20 have no binding consequences. The meetings should serve as a forum for the exchange of problems of international economic and financial systems and also for the coordination of other important global themes such as climate policy, migration or terrorism. The G20 includes representatives of the following 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Germany, France, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Saudi-Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the USA, the People’s Republic of China. The European Union belongs as well. The G20 is not representative of all the countries in the world as a whole. Western and western-oriented countries are also trying to dominate the G20. More than 170 UN countries of the world are not represented.
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