“Crazy” US Media Coverage is a Bigger Threat to Ukraine than Russian Invasion, Ukraine Parliament Member Says
I spoke this week to Halyna Yanchenko, a member of parliament in Ukraine, about what continues to be an extremely bizarre situation. As you’re likely aware, the US Government and its media proxies have been incessantly warning that a Russian invasion of Ukraine is “imminent” — that it could happen literally at any moment. Some recent reports even claimed the invasion would commence on today’s exact date, February 16. (The clock is still ticking as of this writing.)
But herein lies the bizarreness. While this frenzy unfurls in the US, actual Ukrainians — including those who have the most to lose should an invasion really occur — keep adamantly rejecting these US-generated warnings. What made Yanchenko’s comments to me all the more striking is that she’s manifestly not in any way pro-Russia — in fact she accuses Russia of employing “blackmail” tactics to extract concessions from Ukraine, and greatly resents Russia’s role in the ongoing Donbas conflict. She has no conceivable incentive to excuse or defend Russia’s present actions. Nonetheless, Yanchenko describes the conduct of US media as “crazy,” and forecasts that $10 billion in cash infusions will be required stabilize the country as a result of these “alarmist” foreign provocations. It’s this dynamic that is most likely to cause the destruction of the Ukrainian state, she told me — not a purported Russian invasion.
Yanchenko is a Deputy Head in Ukraine’s “Servant of the People” political faction, which has a majority in parliament and was founded by current president Volodymyr Zelensky. English is not her first language, so some of the transcription provided in this article may read as slightly clunky — I’ve reproduced it as faithfully as possible given the sensitivity of the matter. One has to wonder why so little effort is being made by US media to speak with the people for whom the most is actually at stake in this situation, such as members of parliament whose government allegedly risks being toppled at any moment. Instead, US journalists are opting to circulate wannabe Tom Clancy fan fiction, sourced as always to anonymous “officials” who’ve been allowed to rattle off incendiary speculation without consequence. Each passing week, a new round of wild predictions emerge, cloaked as ever in serious-sounding journalistic jargon — the “intelligence” always supposedly shows an invasion is right around the corner. Perhaps if US journalists and politicians genuinely cared about the welfare of Ukrainians, as they often claim to do, they would recognize that according to Yanchenko, their behavior is currently resulting in Ukraine’s “destabilization”:
“In our opinion, all these crazy things going on in American media and world media — all these appeals to diplomats and business to pack their bags and leave Ukraine immediately — it really harms Ukrainian economy,” she said. “I’m stopping myself from starting using curse words, because all these panics are costing us a lot of money. A lot of money to actually keep, you know, business and services circulating in Ukraine. Because that’s the worst that can happen now.”
It’s true that Yanchenko largely stresses the economic ramifications of the foreign-driven hysteria; she has jurisdiction over various financial committees in parliament, the Rada. This may lead some to question her potential motive to deliberately downplay the risk of Russian invasion — like it’s somehow just a ploy to salvage the economy. But the economic consequences of the kind of invasion being prophesied by the US, in which Kiev is occupied and the Ukrainian government is overthrown, would surely be astronomically greater in scope. So if these Ukrainian officials genuinely believed US reports were accurate — even if all they cared about was the economy — wouldn’t they be screaming from the hilltops right now to warn about the economically devastating consequences of a forthcoming invasion? Instead, they’re doing the opposite — to the point that Zelensky declared today, February 16, a national holiday to counter any US-derived suggestion that it would be the date of the elusive invasion.
Yanchenko pointed to the US shuttering its embassy and demanding American citizens flee Ukraine as particularly unnecessary, and particularly damaging. “In my opinion, this appeal to diplomats to just send away their families and stuff — it actually raises panic attitudes, or panic feelings in Ukraine. And people are thinking that this situation, well, maybe Americans know something. Maybe the situation is such that we should send our family somewhere else,” she said. “It actually caused a big, huge panic in Ukraine, and it had a negative effect on economics.”
According to Yanchenko, the risk of Russian invasion is “minimal… it’s not that much.” Whereas the economy cratering thanks in large part to US agitation is observably happening, right now. “So if we are talking about military situation,” she said, “we are talking only about possible risks — it might happen or it might not happen — but if we are talking about economic consequences, the worst thing already happened. And now we have to react to this and do something in order to keep the state alive.”
“The financial inputs that we need to do in Ukrainian economy to actually balance the situation — not to let the state fall down — our estimation is now about up to $10 billion dollars,” Yanchenko said. “We need to actually stop the worsening of economic situation because of all this, you know — diplomats moving out and all these messages in the media. The national currency, which is hryvna, has lost its position. People are withdrawing the money from bank deposits. Our investors, both internal and external, are losing their international contracts and their contracts for purchasing equipment is worsening.” Ukraine has allocated $592 million to underwrite the continuation of commercial flights, many of which have been canceled or re-rerouted.
“It will be quite difficult to fix the economic damages that we already face — that are not theoretical, but are real and are already there,” Yanchenko told me. Interviewed briefly on a recent Sky News segment, she pleaded with the correspondent: “We are not moving. The aggression will not happen.”
Again, it has to be stressed that there’s no rational reason Yanchenko, Zelensky, or anyone else aligned with their political dispensation in Ukraine would be trying to dispel claims of a Russian invasion if they seriously thought one was as “imminent” as the US contends. Other things being equal, they are generally antagonistic toward Russia and support further integration with the US and Europe. But given the US constantly “worsening the situation” by “circulating the panic” in Ukraine, as Yanchenko put it, they’ve been put in a position where they’re compelled to issue these rebukes. “This harm is not theoretical,” she told me. “This harm is already there. We, as a state, already feel it.”
If you have a high tolerance for asinine nonsense, watch this segment today from CBS News, entitled “Ukraine braces for possible Russian invasion.” See for yourself if the perspective offered by Yanchenko is remotely represented in the coverage. (Hint: it’s not.) You can’t help but conclude that the primary effect of the US Government and media throughout this entire affair has been to 1) sow panic that wouldn’t have otherwise existed, and 2) inflict massive economic damage on Ukraine — all from the comfort of thousands of miles away. But don’t take my word for it; ask a Ukrainian whose life would be completely upended if what the US is warning about actually came to fruition.
“So one thing that we are now doing is in the parliamentary majority, we started a flash mob publishing pictures with our families from our homes, saying that — I am in Ukraine, we are at home with our families, we don’t worry, we are not threatened,” Yanchenko told me. “Everything is fine.”