‘The danger of an all-out world war is ever present’

Famed war correspondent and documentary filmmaker John Pilger discusses the Russia-Ukraine war with The Daily Star.
One year of Russia-Ukraine War

John Pilger has been a war correspondent, author and documentary filmmaker who has won British journalism's highest award twice. For his documentary films, he has won an American Television Academy Award, an Emmy, and a British Academy Award given by the British Academy of Television Arts. He has received the United Nations Association Peace Prize and Gold Medal. His 1979 documentary, Cambodia Year Zero, is ranked by the British Film Institute as one of the 10 most important documentaries of the 20th century. He is the author of numerous best-selling books, including Heroes, A Secret Country, The New Rulers of the World, and Hidden Agendas. In an exclusive (electronic) interview with Eresh Omar Jamal of  The Daily Star, he talks about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.


February 24 marks the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The West calls it an "unprovoked" invasion launched by Putin, whom it compares to Hitler. Russia, on the other hand, calls the invasion a "special military operation" launched to protect its national security interests. What is the real reason for the war in Ukraine?

The invasion clearly was provoked. Indeed, if it was a breach of international law, so too was the provocation. To put it simply, the Russians foresaw Nato missiles installed in Ukraine and aimed at Moscow, 300 miles away – a situation the United States would never itself tolerate if Russian missiles were stationed 300 miles from Washington. That's almost exactly what happened in Cuba in 1962, and the Russians removed their missiles in exchange for the US removing its missiles in Turkey which were aimed at Russia.

What happened in Ukraine in 2014 that led to the Minsk agreements signed on September 5 of that year? And why did the agreements fail to prevent this war?

The first invasion of Ukraine happened in 2014 following a US-managed coup that overthrew the democratic government and replaced it with a regime infested with Nazis, which attacked the Russian-speaking people of eastern Ukraine. The "peace conferences" that followed in Minsk were recently shown to have been a front for the regime in Ukraine to build up its military – Angela Merkel has said as much – and, in effect, that Vladimir Putin was conned into believing in it.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh recently published a story claiming it was the US that blew up the Nord Stream pipelines that were built to transport natural gas from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea. What do you make of his revelations?

They make common sense. Joe Biden had warned that if Russia invaded Ukraine, the Nord Stream pipelines would be destroyed. That's what happened.

One year after the war in Ukraine started, are there any signs that we could see peace soon, or does it seem more likely that Russia and the West might get into a direct conflict, leading to a World War III scenario?

This is too serious for guesswork. I don't know. I do know that the danger of an all-out world war is ever present.