Mariupol & Bucha: Narrative v Reality

Who shot at the civilian humanitarian corridors in Mariupol? What really happened in Bucha? How to use critical thinking and game theory principles to sift through BS and separate reality from narratives.

Mariupol & Bucha: Narrative v Reality
Natalia Usmanova, Woman From Azovstal

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In this piece, I'll apply our "dirty dozen" principles for critical and strategic thinking to the question of what happened in Mariupol and Bucha.

We'll use exclusively the information provided in the Western mainstream media and Ukrainian media (plus some Al Jazeera) and public channels of Ukrainian far-right. This is a purposeful handicap I chose such that nobody can write this off as "Russian propaganda". I mean, some can try, and good luck to them.

On the question of the shooting at Mariupol humanitarian corridors, we'll look at:

  • The incentives of the attacking army to have civilians at the place of the siege;

  • The incentives of the "defending" army to have civilians at the place of the siege;

  • The profiles and history of the "defenders" of Mariupol versus the defenders of Donbass (branded "rebels" in the Western mainstream media);

  • A brief history of the 2014 Maidan coup as a minority but violent movement (based on the research by the Ukrainian media at the time, subsequent academic peer-reviewed research, as well as the direct statements by the participating far-right leaders);

  • Evidence of Kyiv forces using civilians as human shield provided through:

    • UN and Amnesty International reports;

    • direct quotes of Zelensky and other Kyiv officials in the Western and Ukrainian media;

  • Eyewitness reports in the Western media (including the doctored ones from the Western media, which is easily provable).

On the question of the Bucha war crimes, we'll look at:

  • The track record of the Ukrainian far-right in staging false flag massacres going back to 2014 Maidan mass murder of 100 protestors (provable beyond any reasonable doubt in peer-reviewed academic papers, one by Canadian-Ukrainian academic);

  • The incentives of the Russian forces to institute terror on the "captured" territories;

  • The incentives, intent, and follow-through by the Kyiv forces to exact retribution for "collaborationism" (stated point-blank in quotes by the Kyiv officials and the far-right to the Western and Ukrainian media);

  • Track record of the far-right kill lists and SBU extra-judicial killings evidenced by Amnesty International;

  • Kyiv releasing convicted war criminals from prisons;

  • Laws enacted by Kyiv that prohibit saying non-negative things about Russian military and encouraging civilian combatants;

  • Further proof of the severely one-sided Western media narrative bias against Russia, including easily debunked "fact checks" by the Western media.

There's a strong case to be made that in both instances, the crimes in question had been perpetrated by somebody associated with the Kyiv regime, rather than the Russian troops.

To be honest, I entered this research being a sceptic in early 2022, my first draft in July 2022 was a bit more balanced, but in light of the latest evidence from late 2022 and early 2023 (provable politically-motivated censure of academic works, disappearance of YouTube videos, and AP/PBS "investigation") I am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that the cumulative evidence points to one conclusion only.

The vast majority of this article had been written in July 2022; the Conclusion section had been re-written in light of the new evidence after July 2022. I highlight in-text where I added major revisions / additions in January 2023.

Read to find out the details. This post is long and detailed.

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A Dirty Dozen (Thinking Principles)
How I process information: a dozen principles. This piece builds on the NY Times Disinformation article and expands the principles I apply when processing information.