Covering Russia: What Sucks About The New York Times – OpEd


Authored by Anton Troianovski and Carlotta Gall, the December 1 New York Times article “In Nagorno-Karabakh Peace Deal, Putin Applied a Deft New Touch“, is another example of Anglo-American mass media misreading Russian policy directives within the former USSR. In this instance, an incomplete overview, unsubstantiated claims, and faulty comparisons, are evident for the relatively objective and knowledgeable observer of the issues at hand. 

The aforementioned Troianovski-Gall piece is in line with a sophomoric New York Times want ad, seeking a correspondent to cover Russia. That posting suggestively depicts working in a rogue state in considerable turmoil. University of Ottawa Professor Paul Robinson and RT’s Nebojsa Malic, appropriately ridiculed that New York Times job notice. (Robinson’s blog posts continue to elicit some cogent follow-up comments, running counter to what typically prevails in Western mass media.) 

Troianovski and Gall suggest that Russia initiated conflicts in the Soviet drawn boundaries of Ukraine and Georgia with an “iron-fisted playbook”. The reality is different. 

Ukraine saw a democratically elected president overthrown in a coup, after he signed an internationally brokered power sharing arrangement with his opposition. The pro-Russian area of Crimea opposed the slanted anti-Russian manner behind that coup and proceeded to reunite with Russia in a virtually bloodless process. There has been no convincing evidence that the majority of eastern Ukrainian based rebels are from Russia. To a good extent, the Russian support for these insurgents is tied to pro-Russian public opinion among those with roots to the territory of the former Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. There’s also the matter of the Russian government not wanting to see a situation on its border get too out of hand.   

Like Crimea, the Abkhaz and Ossetian populations appear to generally prefer Russia over the given entity seeking them. Among the neocon, neolib and flat out anti-Russian followers of this and related subjects, I’ve yet to find one of them satisfactorily answer the following point. If Moscow is so bad relative to those holding power in Kiev, Tbilisi and (regarding Transnistria) Chisinau, it’d stand to reason that Russia wouldn’t be as preferred.    

Troianovski and Gall spin Belarus as a former Soviet republic, where Russia has shown restraint in a way which suggests something new. In point of fact, Russia never appeared to be on the verge of attacking Belarus, when the Belarusian government implemented discriminating, if not repressive actions against pro-Russian advocates. 

In so far as the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan is concerned, the Armenian government hasn’t recognized Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence, or that territory being a part of Armenia. Having ample reason to be on good terms with Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Russian government has quite understandably acted as it has with these two former Soviet republics. Likewise, the West has taken a similarly measured stance with Azerbaijan and Armenia. 

In comparison to the Gall-Troianovski New York Times article, Ron Synovitz’ November 24 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) piece “Armenians See Russia As ‘Savior’ Not ‘Scapegoat’ In Nagorno-Karabakh War“, is more objective and pretty much in sync with some of my stated observations of November 19 and 17. There was a time when RFE/RL was considered by some to be less objective in (overall terms) than The New York Times

Over the decades, The New York Times has been known to utilize individuals with US government ties. Joe Biden’s appointment for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken (who previously served in the Obama administration) is one such person. Blinken’s Russia related New York Times articles match the content of numerous others at “the paper of record”.   

As the year draws to a close, the skewed New York Times journalism brings to mind Julian Barnes’ August 5 article, attacking the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF) and yours truly. I use “attacking” to rhetorically underscore how Barnes utilized that word to describe my SCF article on (among other things) Evelyn Farkas

Barnes presents bewilderment that a State Department report, negatively noting the SCF, didn’t mention my piece regarding Farkas getting placed in the Yonkers Tribune, during her campaign bid for a New York congressional seat. Barnes uncritically references Farkas, who said the State Department report at issue is “so sanitized”. In actuality, it’s more a matter of her having some crackpot notions. I recall that as late as this past August (and perhaps for a period thereafter) Farkas’ Twitter opening byline describes her as sounding the alarm on “Trump-Russia”. That description has been removed. As of this writing, some of Farkas’ other inaccuracies remain posted at her Twitter account. 

The State Department report specifically mentions several non-Americans (who to my knowledge aren’t currently living in the US), whose articles have appeared in the SCF. Not one American SCF contributor (writer) is mentioned. Could this be a round about acknowledgement that their content isn’t out of line within a democracy, in addition to not wanting to increase the possibility of any legal undertaking? (Paul Robinson breaks down the faulty State Department report, along with some cogent follow-up comments. Philip Giraldi a former CIA officer and frequent SCF contributor, weighed in on this issue as well.) 

As previously stated before Barnes’ August 5 article (a matter informally communicated by me in more than one instance prior to his article), I submitted an article of mine to the Yonkers Tribune, without any egging on to do so from the SCF. Regardless of my standing as a US born American citizen and lifelong New Yorker, I don’t see anything wrong with that submission. I’ve repeatedly welcomed substantive give and takes, unlike those who seem to lob pot shots under managed conditions, without addressing any dissenting follow-up. 

Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media criticThis article was initially placed at the Strategic Culture Foundation on December 7.

Michael Averko

Michael Averko is a New York based independent foreign policy analyst and media critic. He has appeared as a guest commentator on the BBC, RT and WABC talk radio, in addition to having been a panelist at the World Russia Forum, Russia Forum New York and Experts' Panel. Besides Averko's Eurasia Review column -, Counterpunch, Foreign Policy Journal, Global Research, History News Network, InoSMI.Ru, Johnson's Russia List, Journal of Turkish Weekly, Kyiv Post, Oriental Review, Penza News, Pravda.Ru, Pravoslavie.Ru, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Russia Insider, Sputnik News, Strategic Culture Foundation, The Duran, The Huffington Post, Valdai Discussion Club, Yonkers Tribune and WikiLeaks, are among the numerous venues where his articles have either appeared or been referenced. The American Institute in Ukraine and the Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies, have referenced some of Averko's articles, along with academic white papers prepared for NATO Watch, Ohio State University, Problems of Post-Communism and the Royal College of Defence Studies. He has been referenced in the Council on Foreign Relations, Defense One and The New York Times. Averko is source referenced in Richard Sakwa's book "Frontline Ukraine". His Eurasia Review article on Pavlo Skoropadsky, provides the first full online English language transcript of Skoropadsky's edict calling for an "All-Russian Federation", inclusive of Russia and Ukraine. Among other issues, that article explains the relationships among the major combatants in the Russian Civil War. He can be reached via [email protected]

2 thoughts on “Covering Russia: What Sucks About The New York Times – OpEd

  • December 9, 2020 at 3:42 am

    Thank you for the informative article I read it on the Russian website иносми.ru.


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