Russia invades Ukraine: Vladimir Putin's lies must be countered by the truth – Scotsman comment

According to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, the US is acting like Hitler, Ukraine’s government are neo-Nazis, and the invasion by his country’s vast army was necessary to defend itself against the threat posed by its outnumbered and outgunned neighbour.

Truth is said to be the first casualty of war but, in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, it was mortally wounded many years ago. And, like many of Putin’s critics, it is now being killed off.

Anything that runs contrary to their lies is dismissed. So, when asked about a Ukrainian primary school girl, Polina, who was shot dead along with her parents by Russian forces in Kyiv, Lavrov refused to answer the journalist’s questions, saying they were “games” and “like a talk show”.

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And on Russia’s state-controlled media, the war is not a war, but a “special military operation” and Russian troops are mostly portrayed as defending the pro-Moscow rebels in Ukraine’s Donbas region.

Independent sources of news which fail to parrot Putin’s narrative are in trouble. The country’s only independent TV channel, Dozhd TV, and radio station Ekho Moskvy have been accused of spreading “false information regarding the actions of Russian military personnel as part of a special operation” in Ukraine with the state media regulator ordered to restrict access to both.

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Former Russian foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev tweeted that the Russian government was “about to shut down the last Russian-speaking free speech radio and TV platforms… the regime hunts freedom. Brutally. Everywhere”. He even suggested that silencing Ukraine's free media was a motivating factor for the invasion.

Such is the suppression of free speech in Russia and the laughably obvious lies told to the world, that it is hard to think anyone would believe a word Putin, Lavrov and co say.

Vladimir Putin cannot be trusted to tell the truth (Picture: Adam Berry/Getty Images)

However, here in the UK, there are some, mostly among the hard-left, who parrot the Putin line that “Nato expansion” was a contributing factor to the war.

But Nato did not “expand”; instead, countries like the Baltic states, fearing Russian aggression, fled towards it. And Putin did not invade Ukraine because he feared any threat posed by it or Nato.

Much more likely is that he shares a nightmare common to oppressive, paranoid dictators: that his grip on power could slip unless he shows, with increasing brutality, just how strong he is.

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