As we wrote a few weeks back, Vladimir Putin has no intention of stopping at invading merely Crimea. On Sunday, a near-identical manoeuvre was carried out on three cities in eastern Ukraine, taking government buildings, demanding independence and, of course, all carried out by "pro-Russian demonstrators".
Except they weren't, of course. Any more than those who took Crimea were "pro-Russian demonstrators".
The propaganda war waged by the Russian regime, lying barefacedly about their land-grabs in the Ukraine, has been something to behold. It has found a natural home, of course, in the far left and the far right, and the anti-establishmentarians of Wikileaks, Anonymous and so on.
But guess which mainstream national daily decides to give column inches to the regime? Well, you could have guessed it. Yes, yesterday they chose to run an op-ed by none other than Sergey Lavrov, Russian foreign minister.
It could, of course, equally have been filed in the "Culture" section of the website, under "Comedy". The title itself, a whining "It's not Russia that is destabilising Ukraine", was an irony-free example of the current Russian exercise in geopolitical chutzpah. But the text was better, listen to this:
"Russia has done more than any other country to support the independent Ukrainian state."Stop it, Sergey, you're too much! And then:
"Russia is doing all it can to promote early stabilisation in Ukraine."Oh, my sides! I can't take any more!
But if you want the clincher, you have to do what I did and Google Lavrov on the Guardian website and found has last op-ed for the paper. At least in those heady and innocent days of 2009, when Obama was still trying his disastrous "reset" policy of relations with Russia, the Graun had an excuse, that the regime was at least tolerated on the world stage and not trying to invade its neighbours (except, er, Georgia).
But the title was the best. It thundered:
"Shake loose the cold war"That's right, the man whose boss is currently doing more than anyone to restart the Cold War since the fall of the Berlin Wall was lecturing us on how we should break free of the shackles of our warmongering Western thinking and embrace the new peace.
Stop it! I need a pee!
UPDATE: Just discovered that Seumas Milne (see Centre Lefts passim) has flown to Caracas to interview the quasi-dictator Nicolás Maduro. An impressive 24 hours' work, Guardian.