Noam Chomsky Says Ukraine Desire for Heavy Weapons Is 'Western Propaganda'

Political philosopher Noam Chomsky said Ukraine's request for heavy weaponry is a narrative concocted by the "Western propaganda system," despite Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's previous requests for other nations to arm his country in its efforts to fend off Russia's invasion.

"What if we were to argue to the Ukrainian people that if we provide the huge arms demanded by Zelensky, by the president, that this will be an act of destruction for the Ukrainian people, but the position of the Ukrainian people in response to that is, 'We want those arms,'" U.K. journalist Owen Jones asked Chomsky in an interview shared Wednesday.

He continued: "Because then in a sense, it's this danger that we're arguing something against the expressed will of the Ukrainian people, we're saying that 'This will lead to your violent destruction,' but their argument is 'We need this in order to end a war of aggression, which is a war of subjugation,' how do we square that?"

Chomsky responded: "Well in the Western propaganda system, what we hear is Ukrainian people want more and more arms. That's the U.S. and British propaganda system."

Noam Chomsky attends a press conference
Noam Chomsky called Ukraine's plea for heavy weapons "Western propaganda" as the war with Russia continues. Above, Chomsky attends a press conference in Curitiba, Brazil, on September 20, 2018. HEULER ANDREY/AFP via Getty Images

He stated that Zelensky—whom he said is "as much of a voice to the Ukrainian people as we have any idea about"—has "repeatedly" called for a "pretty sensible" political settlement in which Ukraine would "commit itself to neutralization," give up NATO membership prospects, postpone the Crimea issue, and "move towards some kind of accommodation on Donbas."

"That's what you don't hear in the U.S.-British propaganda system," he added.

Zelensky has, in fact, made pleas for weapons on several occasions. Beyond requests during meetings with foreign officials, the Ukrainian president tweeted a video with the hashtag #ArmUkraineNow in April.

"We've been defending ourselves against Russia much longer than the invaders planned," Zelensky said in the video. "We have destroyed more Russian weapons and military equipment than some armies in Europe currently possess. But this is not enough."

Zelensky said images out of Bucha and Mariupol have "demonstrated real Russian intentions to the whole world," which can "only be stopped by force of arms."

"It must be done now. Ukraine needs weapon supplies," he said. "We need heavy artillery, armed vehicles, air defense systems and combat aircraft. Anything to repel Russian forces and stop their war crimes."

The president then went on to list specific weapons needed by Ukraine, which included artillery, multiple launch rocket systems, armored vehicles, tanks, air defense systems, and military aircraft.

"Freedom must be armed better than tyranny," he concluded. "Western countries have everything to make it happen. The final victory over the tyranny and the number of people saved depends on them. Arm Ukraine now to defend freedom."

Zelensky had previously expressed some willingness to compromise with Russia in an effort to end the war. In a recent interview with Italian broadcaster RAI, the Ukrainian leader said he was ready to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin, barring any "ultimatums."

Zelensky said "there is nothing left" in the Donbas and that Ukraine will "never recognize autonomy."

"I have never talked about recognizing the independence of Crimea, we will never recognize it as part of Russia," he added.

In March, Zelensky acknowledged his country's accession to NATO would not take place—chalking it up to the alliance not being "prepared to accept Ukraine"—though he welcomed news of Finland's bid to join NATO on Thursday.

"Had a phone conversation with President of Finland [Sauli Niinistö]," Zelensky tweeted. "Commended the readiness of [Finland] to apply for NATO membership. We also discussed Ukraine's European integration. And [Ukraine] - [Finland] defense interaction."