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  • Kanishk Dasgupta

Shades of Truth: Is the Western Media Villainizing Russia?

"Truth is the first casualty in war." In an era where information is abundant, public opinion is often shaped by biases. A prevalent narrative in Western media is casting Russia as the perennial villain, oversimplifying complex geopolitical dynamics.

Historically, Russia's relations with the West, particularly the USA, have been complex, dating back to before World War 2. The USA's constant interference in Russia's communist government and Russia's exclusion from the League of Nations are key examples of this complicated relationship. These incidents undoubtedly led to Russia's sense of isolation from global affairs.

The establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation or NATO, intended to counter Soviet power, exemplified the mistrust towards Russia. The expansion of NATO into former Soviet territories, especially when Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania joined in 2004, intensified tensions. This marked the first instance of NATO's presence along Russia's border, a significant shift in the geopolitical landscape. 

Russia's primary request to the West and to NATO was to exclude former USSR countries like Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania from NATO membership. Russia viewed this as a measure to reduce Western military presence near its borders. However, Western media craftily depicted this request as a manipulative tactic which “undermines the sovereignty of these nations.”

The situation escalated when Ukraine expressed interest in joining NATO in early 2021. Russian President Vladimir Putin strongly opposed this, viewing it as yet another step in the USA's military encroachment. Putin accused NATO of breaking promises regarding its expansion eastward, stating, "They cheated us — vehemently, blatantly. NATO is expanding. They promised they would not expand even one inch eastward and now they seem to have forgotten their word."

In early 2022, Putin, frustrated with the West's involvement in what he viewed as Soviet affairs, launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. This action, leading to significant loss of life, intensified the debate about the right course of action in such complex geopolitical conflicts. While there are multiple perspectives to consider, it is essential to recognize the complexity of this narrative, acknowledging that there are diverse viewpoints in any conflict.

While Western media often portrays Russia in a negative light, it is crucial to note that Russia's initial demands were arguably reasonable and were disregarded by NATO. Before hastily labeling one side as the "villain," it is crucial to delve into and comprehend the intricacies of both sides of the dispute. Ultimately, we must keep in mind that geopolitical issues are never in black or white and will always remain a grey moral dilemma that defies the categorization of “good” and “evil”

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