The conflict between the Russian gas company Gazprom and the Ukrainian state has brought along, as usual, a series of denunciations about Russia “imperialism” and Putin’s authoritarianism in the western media. It is true that if Russia begins to sell its gas to Ukraine based on the prices in the world market it is due to the fact that Moscow is not interested in selling them cheaper energy after Kiev’s recent rapprochement to NATO. However, presenting this conflict as Russia’s illegitimate will to quadruple its profits without mentioning the preferential price from which Ukraine was benefiting until now or hiding Russia’s obligation to liberalize its energy market to enter the World Trade Organization, shows, at least, a deceptive vision of the facts. Analysts discuss the issue in the western media over-dramatizing the facts and portraying a Manichaean image of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict pervaded with memories of the Cold War. On the one hand, they show a virtuous, but poor, Ukrainian democracy wishing to get closer to the West (and thus, to “freedom”) and, on the other, they present a Machiavellian, imperialist, autocrat, aggressive and rich Russia that again tries to trap its neighbor in its net.
The commentary made about this issue by Bernard Guetta, editorialist of the French public radio France Inter and also of the private weekly L’Express, perfectly shows this approach. The analyst condemns what he calls Russian “blackmail” against Ukraine. He regrets that Russia may play an important role in the international arena thanks to its revenues for gas and oil sales, and he calls on the United States and the European Union to help Kiev saying that Russia could recover its influence over that country. The author is coherent with his speech. In an editorial published in L’Express on October 13, 2005, he had written that the increase of Russia’s influence over its neighbors “is not good news for freedom”. This opposition between Russia and “freedom” makes us be aware of the fact that the western media is still very tied to the propaganda slogans of the Cold War.

In those countries’ media, the Cold War was a duel to the death between two systems of contradictory values and not a latent war between two imperialist superpowers that legitimized their actions with speeches that proclaimed values rarely supported by the facts. Thus, Russia appears like the heir of the former USSR and that is why every meeting between a Russian and a western leader leads all western editorial offices to write about Human Rights in Russia, while meetings between European and American leaders are accompanied by commentaries of the unity of the “West”. At the same time, the American warmongering or their crimes are always minimized if compared with Russia’s. Thus, the reference journal of the French elites, Le Monde, in an unsigned article that compromises the entire writing staff, did not hesitate to affirm that: “The first war of the 21st century has been declared”. Thus, the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq seem to have been already forgotten. The approach given by the La Croix news daily to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, analyzed today in our section Deceitful Headlines, shows that the case of Le Monde is not an isolated one.

These analyses hide the fact that Russia is no longer a threat to Europe and that the latter, in the future, may have to revise its alliance with Moscow to the detriment of the United States, due to its energy dependence with respect to the Russian gas.
This announced strategic re-orientation is feared by Atlantist analysts, mainly in the countries that were former members of the Warsaw Pact. Polish political scientist Mariusz Przybylski shows his concern in Rzezpospolita about Europe’s increasing economic dependence on Russia, illustrated by the Kiev-Moscow conflict. Thus, he recommends that European leaders take Russia and Ukraine to the negotiating table so that the gas supply to Eastern Europe is not affected and then, in a second stage, to try to diversify its energy resources. The author tries hard to give an alternative.
Former Lithuanian president, Vytautas Landsbergis, harshly criticizes the Russian energy influence, simultaneously mentioning the traditional Atlantis denunciation of Vladimir Putin’s policies with clearly Russo-phobic phrases (Russia is the “homeland of the red terror”, or it is presented as the “Evil”). He condemns a conflict of interests in the new position of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröeder, who is currently the president of the company in charge of building the gas pipeline that will take the Russian gas to Western Europe, but the author does not stop there. He believes that this gas pipeline is not a means to develop the gas supply to Western Europe to partially substitute the limited supplies of oil, but a means to avoid Eastern Europe and to leave it in the hands of Russia. Thus, he urges western countries to oppose Vladimir Putin’s policies, presented as imperialist.
This article was published in Free Republic (United States), in the Daily Times (Pakistan), in El Tiempo (Colombia) and of course in other media outlets thanks to the always efficient work of Project Syndicate, the articles broadcasting office of George Soros, a millionaire very active in supporting the “color revolutions” that took place in former Soviet republics. It is not a coincidence that Project Syndicate is currently spreading another article against Putin written by exiled oligarch Boris Berezovski. To our knowledge, it has thus far been published only by the Korea Herald (South Korea), but it will probably be echoed by other media outlets in the coming days or weeks.
Again, the author attacks Vladimir Putin, presenting himself as the victim of a conspiracy by an authoritarian regime, a position that western media outlets like, although his links with several mafia organizations have been showed long ago. Boris Berezovski affirms that the Kremlin’s struggle against oligarchs is not a re-appropriation by the Russian state of what used to be a generalized looting motive during the times of Yeltsin, but a state aggression against political opponents imbued with democratic ideals. Although he does not say it clearly, this conclusion clearly emerges by itself: the democrats of the whole world should support the oligarchs and, thus, Berezovski and his business against Vladimir Putin.

In the United States, amidst a wave of attacks, Russia finds support (or at least people who give nuances to the attacks against Russia) among Republicans opposed to the neo-conservatives.
Thus, in the website, the candidate to the Republican presidential nomination in 1996 and later independent candidate in 2000, the ultra right winger Patrick J. Buchanan, turns back the accusation about a neo-Sovietization often launched against Vladimir Putin. He affirms that it is the current US administration that is acting according to the Soviet logics (supreme insult for this former advisor to Ronald Reagan). Thus, he compares the National Endowment for Democracy to the Komintern. He says that both organizations tend to impose changes of regimes abroad, the former on behalf of communism to expand the USSR and the latter to extend US dominance. When Vladimir Putin expels the agents of the neo-conservatives from Russia, he is fighting against a “neo-Komintern”; it is not a re-Sovietization of his country.
Oddly enough, Bill Clinton’s former Under Secretary of State, Democrat Graham Allison, also presents in the Boston Globe a relative approach of the attacks against Russia. Without openly questioning the image that western media portray of Vladimir Putin’s policies, he notes that Putin has managed to stabilize Russia and that, contrary to what then US Defense Secretary Dick Cheney predicted in 1991, there has not been any loss of Russian nuclear weapons in 14 years. In this article, John Kerry’s former advisor during his presidential campaign in 2004, Graham Allison, criticizes former democrat senator Sam Nunn who stigmatized the Russian nuclear threat.

Only a few supporters of Vladimir Putin can express their ideas in the western media, so, Russian political scientist Viatcheslav Nikonov is an exception of the rule in the European media field. In the Austrian journal Der Standard, he rejects some western conceptions. In his opinion, there is no opposition between a Russian democracy under Yeltsin’s mandate and a Putin’s autocracy, and he recalls that Putin did not order to shoot against the Duma like his predecessor, nor did he give the national resources to his friends, and that is why the Russian people support him. According to the analyst, this popularity should obstruct any chance of success for a “color revolution” in Moscow, although he does not exclude any attempt.