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FTR #811 Walkin’ the Snake in Ukraine, Part 4

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Listen: MP3  Note that side 2 is mistakenly identified as side 1 in the introduction. There is roughly 30 seconds of corrupted audio in side 2 which will be corrected presently.

Side 1  Side 2

ISIS followers vowing allegiance to the group. Compare to Tihanybok’s gesturing. Hint: They are NOT auditioning for an anti-perspirant commercial.

Introduction: In FTR #808, we examined the highly dubious claims of a “Russian invasion” of Ukraine. Among the painfully limited voices supporting our profound doubts about the accuracy of those claims is Robert Parry of Consortium News.

It appears that intelligence professionals of his acquaintance dismiss the accuracy of the dangerously irresponsible claims of Russian invasion and have taken the trouble to communicate their analysis to Angela Merkel.

The satellite imagery purporting to show Russian armor and self-propelled artillery inside of Ukraine comes from a private company–DigitalGlobe. That company was founded by key personnel from Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.

Much of the executive structure of DigitalGlobe have CV’s including management positions with IHS, the Thyssen/Bornemisza Industries-owned firm that is the epicenter of Peak Oil. The DigitalGlobe management also heavily overlaps previous managerial personnel from Bain & Company, Mitt Romney’s old firm.

We highlight an article noting the military prowess and sophistication of ISIS. Critical to this analysis is the apparent role of the Chechens in the tactical development of the group. In FTR #381. we noted the role of the Saudi/Wahhabi/Al-Taqwa milieu in the funding of the Chechen separatists, which appears to have continued, as we saw in our analysis of the Boston Marathon Bombing.

Insignia on Azov soldiers’ helmets

In the context of U.S. and Western support for the OUN/B milieu in Ukraine, including the UNA-UNSO fighters who fought with the Chechens and elsewhere in the Caucasus, we may well be seeing “blowback” from our policies vis a vis Ukraine in the development of ISIS’ sophistication. As discussed in FTR #808, the UNA-UNSO fighters were initially composed largely of Ukrainian veterans of the Afghan war. The organization gave rise directly to Pravy Sektor.

The broadcast also highlights the apparent support of the petroleum faction of the U.S. national security establishment for jihadist fighters in Chechnya and elsewhere in the Caucasus.

Svoboda leader Tihanybok salutes

An excerpt from FTR #182, we note the continued disinformation disseminated by the New York Times about Russian actions and intentions in the Earth Island.

Program Highlights Include: Discussion of the Dashnags, Armenian fascists involved in the assassinatin of the Armenian political leadership in 1999; the Dashnags’ historical relationship with the Third Reich, Ukrainian fascists and domestic American fascists; review of the fascist nature of the doctrines deriving from Peak Oil.

(We have covered the ascension of the OUN/B heirs in the Ukraine in a number of programs: FTR #’s 777778779780781782, 783784794800, 803, 804, 808.)

1a. An article by Robert Parry at Consortium News notes the dubious nature of the claims of a “Russian Invasion” of Ukraine.

“Who’s Telling the ‘Big Lie’ On Ukraine?” by Robert Parry; Consortium News; 9/2/2014.

. . . . And now there’s the curious case of Russia’s alleged “invasion” of Ukraine, another alarmist claim trumpeted by the Kiev regime and echoed by NATO hardliners and the MSM.

While I’m told that Russia did provide some light weapons to the rebels early in the struggle so they could defend themselves and their territory – and a number of Russian nationalists have crossed the border to join the fight – the claims of an overt “invasion” with tanks, artillery and truck convoys have been backed up by scant intelligence.

One former U.S. intelligence official who has examined the evidence said the intelligence to support the claims of a significant Russian invasion amounted to “virtually nothing.” Instead, it appears that the ethnic Russian rebels may have evolved into a more effective fighting force than many in the West thought. They are, after all, fighting on their home turf for their futures.

Concerned about the latest rush to judgment about the “invasion,” the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of former U.S. intelligence officials and analysts, took the unusual step of sending a memo to German Chancellor Angela Merkel warning her of a possible replay of the false claims that led to the Iraq War.

“You need to know,” the group wrote, “that accusations of a major Russian ‘invasion’ of Ukraine appear not to be supported by reliable intelligence. Rather, the ‘intelligence’ seems to be of the same dubious, politically ‘fixed’ kind used 12 years ago to ‘justify’ the U.S.-led attack on Iraq.”

But these doubts and concerns are not reflected in the Post’s editorial or other MSM accounts of the dangerous Ukraine crisis. Indeed, Americans who rely on these powerful news outlets for their information are as sheltered from reality as anyone living in a totalitarian society.

Azov battalion’s insignia

1b. An excerpt of the above-referenced letter to Merkel:

“Warning Merkel on Russian ‘Invasion’ Intel” by Intelligence Veterans for Sanity; Consortium News; 9/1/2014.

. . . . Photos can be worth a thousand words; they can also deceive. We have considerable experience collecting, analyzing, and reporting on all kinds of satellite and other imagery, as well as other kinds of intelligence.  Suffice it to say that the images released by NATO on Aug. 28 provide a very flimsy basis on which to charge Russia with invading Ukraine. Sadly, they bear a strong resemblance to the images shown by Colin Powell at the UN on Feb. 5, 2003, that, likewise, proved nothing. . . . .

. . . . If the photos that NATO and the U.S. have released represent the best available “proof” of an invasion from Russia, our suspicions increase that a major effort is under way to fortify arguments for the NATO summit to approve actions that Russia is sure to regard as provocative. . . .

2. The satellite imagery purporting to show Russian armor and self-propelled artillery inside of Ukraine comes from a private company–DigitalGlobe. That company was founded by key personnel from Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative.

“DigitalGlobe”; Wikipedia.com.

. . . . . Origins[edit]

WorldView Imaging Corporation was founded in January 1992 in Oakland, California in anticipation of the 1992 Land Remote Sensing Policy Act (enacted in October 1992) which permitted private companies to enter the satellite imaging business.[3] Its founder was Dr Walter Scott, who was joined by co-founder and CEO Doug Gerull in late 1992. In 1993, the company received the first high resolution commercial remote sensing satellite license issued under the 1992 Act.[4] The company was initially funded with private financing from Silicon Valley sources and interested corporations in N. America, Europe, and Japan. Dr. Scott was head of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories “Brilliant Pebbles” and “Brilliant Eyes” projects which were part of the Strategic Defense Initiative. Doug Gerull was the executive in charge of the Mapping Sciences division at the Intergraph Corporation.[5] The company’s first remote sensing license from the United States Department of Commerce allowed it to build a commercial remote sensing satellite capable of collecting images with 3 m (9.8 ft) resolution.[3]

In 1995, the company became EarthWatch Incorporated, merging WorldView with Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp.’s commercial remote sensing operations.[6] In September 2001, EarthWatch became DigitalGlobe.[7] . . . . .

3. DigitalGlobe co-founder Doug Gerull had previously worked for the Zeiss firm, discussed in FTR #272 as one of the German/Underground Reich/Bormann firms that were moving into satellite imagery technology in the U.S.

“Doug Gerull”; linkedin.

. . . . . Carl Zeiss
Privately Held; 10,001+ employees; Electrical/Electronic Manufacturing industry
January 1980 – 1985 (5 years) Toronto / White Plains, NY

4. DigitalGlobe’s management shows a considerable overlap with two companies we have studied in the past, both with apparent links to the Bormann capital network. CEO Jeffrey Tarr got his start with Bain, Mitt Romney’s old firm and worked in senior management for IHS, a subsidiary of Thyssen/Bornemisza Industries at the time during which IHS was the epicenter of the Peak Oil movement.

(Bain Capital–Romney’s latest venture–is a spin-off of Bain & Company. Although they are separate legal entities, they are very close and many of the Bain Capital execs are, like Romney himself, formerly of Bain & Co.)


Jeffrey R. Tarr

President and Chief Executive Officer

Prior to DigitalGlobe, he was President and COO of IHS (NYSE: IHS). During his tenure IHS grew from $400 million in revenue in 2004 to more than $1 billion in 2010, through both rapid organic growth and more than 40 acquisitions, including Jane’s Information Group, Lloyd’s Register Fairplay and Global Insight.

Mr. Tarr began his career with Bain & Company.

5. Tony Frazier got his start with Bain as well:


Tony Frazier

Senior Vice President, General Manager, Insight.
Mr. Frazier began his career in strategic consulting at Bain & Company.

6. Senior Vice-President Bert Turner is also a veteran of IHS, like Jeffrey Tarr.


Bert Turner

Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing

Executive Bio

Bert Turner joined DigitalGlobe in June 2012 and currently serves as Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing. Prior to DigitalGlobe, Bert served as VP, Strategy & Analysis and Supply Chain at IHS, a global information company. At IHS, Mr. Turner led sales and business development for the Americas Strategy & Analysis sales teams.

7. IHS is a subsidiary of Thyssen/Bornemisza industries and, therefore, inextricably linked with the Bormann capital network. IHS is the epicenter of the Peak Oil philosophy/movement. Embraced by the so-called progressive sector, the doctrine is actually a fascist ideological element, used to justify a gutting of environmental regulations. It has also spawned genocidal “neo-eugenics” proposals consistent with Nazi racial pracitces.

“The Coming Panic over the End of Oil—Coming to a Ballot Box Near You” by “Scoop;” Posted on 12/24/2003 by Walt Contreras Sheasby; p. 1

. . . . In fact, the coalition that is pushing for a radical new energy policy is largely composed of those who stand to benefit from a revival, not a phase out, of oil and gas development. The intellectual and activist core of the coalition is made up of those veteran oil geologists and engineers who use the method of modeling the ratio of reserves to production developed by the maverick research geophysicist Marion King Hubbert, who died in 1989. He believed that the peak of production is reached when half of the estimated ultimately recoverable resource, determined by what has been discovered and logged cumulatively as actual reserves, has been pumped. In1956 at the Shell Oil Lab in Houston, Hubbert startled his colleagues by predicting that the fossil fuel era would be over very quickly. He correctly predicted that US oil production would peak in the early 1970’s.

Support for a remedial program of oil exploration and development versus switching to research and development of alternative energy sources tends to be found among oil experts who are consultants to the industry. While accepting some of the values of the New Age, they largely remain loyal to their calling as oil geologists and wildcatters. The leading trio of Jean H. Laherrere, Colin J. Campbell, and L.F. (Buz) Ivanhoe have worked for, or with, the leading firm modeling oil fields, Petroconsultants of Geneva. Since the 1950’s they have been fed data on oil exploration and production by just about all the major oil companies, as well as by a network of about 2000 oil industry consultants around the world. They use this data to produce reports on various matters pertinent to the oil industry, which they sell back to the industry. ‘This much is known,’ Kenneth Deffeyes writes, ‘the loudest warnings about the predicted peak of world oil production came from Petroconsultants’ (Deffeyes, 2001: p. 7).

In a late 1998 merger, Petroconsultants became IHS Energy Group, a subsidiary of Information Handling Services Group (IHS Group), a diversified conglomerate owned by Holland America Investment Corp., IHS Group’s immediate parent company, for the Thyssen-Bornemisza Group (TBG, Inc.).” [Emphasis added.] In the 1920’s, George Herbert Walker and his son-in-law, Prescott Bush, had helped the Thyssen dynasty finance its acquisitions through Union Banking Corp. and Holland-American trading Corp. (Wikipedia, 2003). Until his death last year, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the nephew of the Nazi steel and coal magnate, was one of the world’s richest men. . . .


9. Illus­trat­ing the direct line of insti­tu­tional evo­lu­tion from the OUN/B to the present, Pravy Sek­tor is the polit­i­cal arm of the UNA-UNSO. It elected Yuriy Shukheyvch as its head. Shukheyvch is the son of OUN/B com­man­der Roman Shukhevych, declared a “Hero of Ukraine” by the Yuschenko gov­ern­ment. Roman also headed the Nachti­gall Bat­tal­ion in their liq­ui­da­tion of the Lvov Ghetto in 1941.

Note that the UNA/UNSO organization–the polit­i­cal par­ent of Pravy Sektor–has appar­ently been active in Chech­nya as well.

“The Dura­bil­ity of Ukrain­ian Fas­cism” by Peter Lee; Strate­gic Cul­ture; 6/9/2014.

. . . . One of Bandera’s lieu­tenants was Roman Shukhevych.  In Feb­ru­ary 1945, Shukhevych issued an order stat­ing, “In view of the suc­cess of the Soviet forces it is nec­es­sary to speed up the liq­ui­da­tion of the Poles, they must be totally wiped out, their vil­lages burned … only the Pol­ish pop­u­la­tion must be destroyed.”

As a mat­ter of addi­tional embar­rass­ment, Shukhevych was also a com­man­der in the Nachti­gall (Nightin­gale) bat­tal­ion orga­nized by the Wehrmacht.

Today, a major pre­oc­cu­pa­tion of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist his­tor­i­cal schol­ar­ship is beat­ing back rather con­vinc­ing alle­ga­tions by Russ­ian, Pol­ish, and Jew­ish his­to­ri­ans that Nachti­gall was an impor­tant and active par­tic­i­pant in the mas­sacre of Lviv Jews orches­trated by the Ger­man army upon its arrival in June 1941. . . .

. . . . Yuriy Shukhevych’s role in mod­ern Ukrain­ian fas­cism is not sim­ply that of an inspi­ra­tional fig­ure­head and reminder of his father’s anti-Soviet hero­ics for proud Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists.  He is a core fig­ure in the emer­gence of the key Ukrain­ian fas­cist for­ma­tion, Pravy Sek­tor and its paramilitary.

And Pravy Sektor’s para­mil­i­tary, the UNA-UNSO, is not an “unruly” col­lec­tion of weekend-warrior-wannabes, as Mr. Hig­gins might believe.

UNA-UNSO was formed dur­ing the tur­moil of the early 1990s, largely by eth­nic Ukrain­ian vet­er­ans of the Soviet Union’s bit­ter war in Afghanistan.  From the first, the UNA-UNSO has shown a taste for for­eign adven­tures, send­ing detach­ments to Moscow in 1990 to oppose the Com­mu­nist coup against Yeltsin, and to Lithua­nia in 1991.  With appar­ently very good rea­son, the Rus­sians have also accused UNA-UNSO fight­ers of par­tic­i­pat­ing on the anti-Russian side in Geor­gia and Chech­nya.

After for­mal Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence, the mili­tia elected Yuriy Shukhevych—the son of OUN-B com­man­der Roman Shukhevych– as its leader and set up a polit­i­cal arm, which later became Pravy Sek­tor. . . .

 10. The pro­gram highlights an arti­cle not­ing the mil­i­tary prowess and sophis­ti­ca­tion of ISIS. Crit­i­cal to this analy­sis is the appar­ent role of the Chechens in the tac­ti­cal devel­op­ment of the group. In FTR #381. we noted the role of the Al-Taqwa milieu in the fund­ing of the Chechen seper­atists, which appears to have con­tin­ued, as we saw in our analy­sis of the Boston Marathon Bomb­ing.

In the con­text of U.S. and West­ern sup­port for the OUN/B milieu in Ukraine, includ­ing the UNA-UNSO fight­ers who fought with the Chechens and else­where in the Cau­ca­sus, we may well be see­ing “blow­back” from our poli­cies vis a vis Ukraine in the devel­op­ment of ISIS’ sophis­ti­ca­tion. As dis­cussed in para­graph 4a, the UNA-UNSO fight­ers were ini­tially com­posed largely of Ukrain­ian vet­er­ans of the Afghan war. The orga­ni­za­tion gave rise directly to Pravy Sektor.

“ISIS an ‘Incred­i­ble’ Fight­ing Force, Spe­cial Ops Sources Say” by James Gor­don Meek; ABC News; 8/25/2014.

With the Obama White House left reel­ing from the “sav­age” slaugh­ter of an Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist held hostage by ISIS ter­ror­ists, mil­i­tary options are being con­sid­ered against an adver­sary who offi­cials say is grow­ing in strength and is much more capa­ble than the one faced when the group was called “al Qaeda-Iraq” dur­ing the U.S. war from 2003–2011.

ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has been mak­ing a “tac­ti­cal with­drawal” in recent days in the face of with­er­ing U.S. airstrikes from areas around Erbil in north­ern Iraq and from the major dam just north of Mosul it con­trolled for two nail-biting weeks, accord­ing to mil­i­tary offi­cials mon­i­tor­ing their movements.

“These guys aren’t just bug­ging out, they’re tac­ti­cally with­draw­ing. Very pro­fes­sional, well trained, moti­vated and equipped. They oper­ate like a state with a mil­i­tary,” said one offi­cial who tracks ISIS closely. “These aren’t the same guys we fought in OIF (Oper­a­tion Iraqi Free­dom) who would just scat­ter when you dropped a bomb near them.”

ISIS appeared to have a sophis­ti­cated and well thought-out plan for estab­lish­ing its “Islamic Caliphate” from north­ern Syria across the west­ern and north­ern deserts of Iraq, many experts and offi­cials have said, and sup­port from hostage-taking, rob­bery and sym­pa­thetic dona­tions to fund it. They use drones to gather over­head intel on tar­gets and effec­tively com­man­deer cap­tured mil­i­tary vehi­cles – includ­ing Amer­i­can Humvees — and munitions.

“They tried to push out as far as they thought they could and were fully pre­pared to pull back a lit­tle bit when we beat them back with airstrikes around Erbil. And they were fine with that, and ready to hold all of the ground they have now,” a sec­ond offi­cial told ABC News.

ISIS didn’t nec­es­sar­ily count on hold­ing Mosul Dam, offi­cials said, but scored a major pro­pa­ganda vic­tory on social media when they hoisted the black flag of the group over the facil­ity that pro­vides elec­tric­ity and water to a large swath of Iraq, or could drown mil­lions if breached.

U.S. spe­cial oper­a­tions forces under the Joint Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand and U.S. Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand keep close tabs on the mil­i­tary evo­lu­tion of ISIS and both its com­bat and ter­ror­ism — called “asym­met­ric” — capa­bil­i­ties, offi­cials told ABC News. A pri­mary rea­son is in antic­i­pa­tion of pos­si­bly fight­ing them, which a full squadron of spe­cial mis­sion unit oper­a­tors did in the Inde­pen­dence Day raid on an ISIS camp in Raqqah, Syria.

“They’re incred­i­ble fight­ers. ISIS teams in many places use spe­cial oper­a­tions TTPs,” said the sec­ond offi­cial, who has con­sid­er­able com­bat expe­ri­ence, using the mil­i­tary term for “tac­tics, tech­niques and procedures.”

In sober­ing press con­fer­ence Fri­day, Sec­re­tary of Defense Chuck Hagel said ISIS has shown that it is “as sophis­ti­cated and well-funded as any group that we have seen.”

“They’re beyond just a ter­ror­ist group. They marry ide­ol­ogy, a sophis­ti­ca­tion of strate­gic and tac­ti­cal mil­i­tary prowess. They are tremen­dously well-funded,” he said. “This is beyond any­thing that we’ve seen.”

Prior ISIS’s recent pub­lic suc­cesses, the for­mer chair­man of the 9/11 Com­mis­sion, which just released a tenth anniver­sary report on the threat of ter­ror­ism cur­rently fac­ing the home­land, said he was shocked at how lit­tle seems to be known inside the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­nity about the Islamist army bru­tal­iz­ing Iraq as it has Syria.

“I was appalled at the igno­rance,” for­mer New Jer­sey Gov­er­nor Tom Kean, who led the 9/11 Com­mis­sion, told ABC News last week.

Kean, a Repub­li­can, who with vice chair­man Lee Hamil­ton, a Demo­c­rat, recently met with about 20 top intel­li­gence offi­cials in prepa­ra­tion of the commission’s lat­est threat report, said many offi­cials seemed both blind-sided and alarmed by the group’s rise, growth and competency.

“One offi­cial told me ‘I am more scared than at any time since 9/11,’” Kean recounted in a recent interview.

A spokesper­son for the Office of the Direc­tor of National Intel­li­gence defended the intel­li­gence community’s track­ing of ISIS, say­ing offi­cials had “expressed con­cern” about the threat as far back as last year.

“The will to fight is inher­ently dif­fi­cult to assess. Ana­lysts must make assess­ments based on per­cep­tions of com­mand and con­trol, lead­er­ship abil­i­ties, qual­ity of expe­ri­ence, and dis­ci­pline under fire — none of which can be under­stood with cer­tainty until the first shots are fired,” ODNI spokesper­son Brian Hale said.

Where did ISIS learn such sophis­ti­cated mil­i­tary meth­ods, shown clearly after the first shots were fired?

“Prob­a­bly the Chechens,” the one of the U.S. offi­cials said.

A Chechen com­man­der named Abu Omar al-Shishani — who offi­cials say may have been killed in fight­ing near Mosul — is well known for com­mand­ing an inter­na­tional brigade within ISIS. Other Chechens have appeared within pro­pa­ganda videos includ­ing one com­man­der who was killed on video by an artillery burst near his SUV in Syria.

Ear­lier this year, ABC News reported on the secret his­tory of U.S. spe­cial oper­a­tions forces’ expe­ri­ences bat­tling highly capa­ble Chechen fight­ers along the Afghanistan-Pakistan bor­der since 2001. In addi­tion, for decades Chechen sep­a­ratists have waged asym­met­ric war­fare against Russ­ian forces for con­trol of the North­ern Caucasus.

The Secret Bat­tles Between US Forces and Chechen Terrorists

In the bat­tle against ISIS, many within Amer­i­can “SOF,” a term that com­prises oper­a­tors from all branches of the mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence, are frus­trated at being rel­e­gated by the Pres­i­dent only to enabling U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. They are eager to fight ISIS more directly in com­bat oper­a­tions — even if unteth­ered, mean­ing unof­fi­cially and with lit­tle if any U.S. gov­ern­ment sup­port, accord­ing to some with close ties to the community.

“ISIS and their kind must be destroyed,” said a senior coun­tert­er­ror­ism offi­cial after jour­nal­ist James Foley was beheaded on high-definition ISIS video, echo­ing strong-worded state­ments of high-level U.S. offi­cials includ­ing Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry.

11. Next, the dis­cus­sion illu­mi­nates the al-Haramayne foun­da­tion. Note that al-Haramayne was allegedly involved with bin Laden.

“Report on Islamists, The Far Right, and Al Taqwa” by Kevin Coogan; privately published and distributed by the author; p. 3.

. . . . In the begin­ning of the 1990’s orig­i­nat­ing from Sudan, there was reg­is­tered in Vienna the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA) with Saudi money and sup­port from the Iran­ian secret police, the Vevak, which sup­plied money and weapons to the Mus­lim fac­tions in the Bosnia war. There was also estab­lished al-Haramayne that sup­plied weapons to Muja­hadin in Afghanistan.

The ‘human­i­tar­ian’ orga­ni­za­tion al-Haramayne was founded in 1992 by the Saudi Reli­gion Min­is­ter Saleh bin Abdu­laziz al Sheikh as the spear­head for the aggres­sive expan­sion of Wah­habi beliefs. In the views of Russ­ian and Amer­i­can inves­ti­ga­tors, the al-Haramayne Foun­da­tion was linked with the Saudi finan­cial con­cern Dal­lah al-Baraka whose founder and major­ity holder, Saleh Abdul­lah Kamel, ear­lier served among other things as the Gen­eral Inspec­tor of Finance for the Saudi monar­chy. Kamel’s name sur­faced after 9/11 in con­nec­tion with the role the Sudanese finan­cial world played in con­nec­tion with the activ­i­ties of Osama bin-Laden.

11b. Note that some of the Saudi “char­i­ties” allegedly spon­sored trips to the USA by Chechen rebel lead­ers. The pos­si­bil­ity of col­lu­sion between petroleum-related ele­ments of the U.S. intel­li­gence com­mu­nity should not be too read­ily dis­missed.

Ibid.; pp. 3-4.

In 1999, al Hara­mayne opened in Azer­bai­jan an office of the—until then unknown—‘Foundation for Chech­nya.’ A year before the Russ­ian secret ser­vice FIS dis­cov­ered that the lead­ing man­age­ment of the Al-Baraka Group includ­ing Hafez Abu Bakr Mohammed of ‘Al Baraka Invest­ment and Devel­op­ment’ had financed trips by Chech­nya rebel lead­ers to the USA. In Decem­ber 1999, a mem­ber of a Euro­pean secret ser­vice based in Karachi over­heard Sheik Abu Omar, who rep­re­sented al-Haramayne in Chech­nya, being greeted by the Taliban’s coun­sel, who rep­re­sented al-Haramayne in Chech­nya, being greeted by the Taliban’s coun­sel, who praised Sheik Abu Omar for his aid in help­ing out in the war against the Rus­sians in Chech­nya. An elite Russ­ian unit mon­i­tor­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions in the war heard a con­ver­sa­tion from Geor­gia say­ing that al-Haramayne must avoid being iden­ti­fied as the ‘inciter of Jihad.’

The Russ­ian FIS esti­mates that al-Haramayne con­tributed $50 mil­lion to the cause and also helped send fight­ers with oper­a­tional expe­ri­ence in Bosnia and Kosovo to Chech­nya. . . .

12a. The pro­gram high­lights a fright­en­ing arti­cle about appar­ent U.S. sup­port for a Georgia-based jihadi con­fer­ence. (This article was a major element of discussion in FTR #710.) Rich with fos­sil fuels, the Cau­ca­sus region has long been the focal point of hos­tile activ­ity by for­eign inter­ests look­ing to secure those resources for them­selves, wrest­ing the area away from Rus­sia and/or the for­mer Soviet Union. In FTR #646, we looked at the Bush administration’s close national secu­rity con­nec­tions to the Geor­gian repub­lic, result­ing in a secu­rity agree­ment with that state, con­cluded on the eve of Obama’s inauguration.

One can but won­der if petro­leum con­stituen­cies in the West are look­ing to use Mus­lim Brotherhood-connected ele­ments to foment the inde­pen­dence of those regions. The areas are also piv­otal in the tran­sit of heroin, in addi­tion to logis­ti­cal sup­port for the war in Afghanistan.

In turn, it can be safely sur­mised that Rus­sia will not give these areas up.

“Gorin: More Details on the Georgia-Hosted Jihadi Con­fer­ence Emerge” by Julia Gorin; Jihad Watch; 4/12/2010.

An analy­sis pub­lished Mon­day by Defense & For­eign Affairs offers some cor­rob­o­ra­tion for the Georgia-hosted, U.S.-approved jihadi con­fab in Decem­ber, the men­tion of which seemed to upset some readers.

Here are the rel­e­vant excerpts from the 16-page analy­sis, which is subscription-only and there­fore not linkable:

Mean­while, Geor­gia is actively seek­ing to exploit the spread of jamaats [jihadist mini-societies] in the North Cau­ca­sus in order to go after the Russ­ian pipelines in hope of ensnar­ing the US into actively sup­port­ing a new con­fronta­tion with Rus­sia. In early Decem­ber 2009, Tbil­isi orga­nized a high-level meet­ing of jihadists groups from the Mid­dle East and West­ern Europe in order “to coor­di­nate activ­i­ties on Russia’s south­ern flank.” The Geor­gian Embassy in Kuwait, for exam­ple, arranged for travel doc­u­ments for jihadists from Jor­dan, Saudi Ara­bia and the Gulf States. (There is a large and very active Chechen/Circassian com­mu­nity in Jor­dan since the 19th Cen­tury that is heav­ily rep­re­sented in the intel­li­gence ser­vices and the mil­i­tary.) In Tbil­isi, Deputy Min­is­ter of Inter­nal Affairs Lord­kipanadze was the host and coor­di­na­tor. The meet­ing was attended by sev­eral Geor­gian senior offi­cials who stressed that Saakashvili him­self knew and approved of the under­tak­ing. The meet­ing addressed the launch of both “mil­i­tary oper­a­tions” in south­ern Rus­sia and ide­o­log­i­cal war­fare. One of the first results of the meet­ing was the launch, soon after­wards of the Russian-language TV sta­tion First Caucasian.

The jihadists of the North Cau­ca­sus — includ­ing the Arab com­man­ders in their midst — came out of the early Decem­ber 2009 meet­ing con­vinced that Tbil­isi is most inter­ested in the spread of ter­ror­ism. The meet­ing was attended by, among oth­ers, Mohmad Muham­mad Shabaan, an Egypt­ian senior com­man­der who is also known as Seif al-Islam and who has been involved in Cau­ca­sus affairs since 1992. He took copi­ous notes. Accord­ing to Shabaan’s notes, the Geor­gian gov­ern­ment wants the jihadists to con­duct “acts of sab­o­tage to blow up rail­way tracks, elec­tric­ity lines and energy pipelines” in south­ern Rus­sia in order to divert con­struc­tion back to Geor­gian territory.

Geor­gian intel­li­gence promised to facil­i­tate the arrival in the Cau­ca­sus of numer­ous senior jihadists by pro­vid­ing Geor­gian pass­ports, and to pro­vide logis­ti­cal sup­port includ­ing the reopen­ing of bases in north­ern Geor­gia. Russ­ian intel­li­gence was not obliv­i­ous of the meet­ing. Seif al-Islam and two senior aides were assas­si­nated on Feb­ru­ary 4, 2010. The Rus­sians retrieved a lot of doc­u­ments in the process. Moscow sig­naled its dis­plea­sure shortly after­wards when the pres­i­dents of Rus­sia and Abk­hazia signed a 50-year agree­ment on a Russ­ian mil­i­tary base in order to “pro­tect Abkhazia’s sov­er­eignty and secu­rity, includ­ing against inter­na­tional ter­ror­ist groups”.

A major issue still to be resolved is the extent of the US culpability.

The same analy­sis recalls when this mis­guided approach was used in the Balkans, and out­lines how, in order to not alien­ate Mus­lims while we tried to con­tain ter­ror from the Mid­dle East, we for­ti­fied ter­ror in the Balkans and jump-started the global jihad:

Ini­tially, the US-led West­ern inter­ven­tion in the for­mer Yugoslavia was aimed first and fore­most to sal­vage NATO (and with it US dom­i­nance over post-Cold War West­ern Europe) from irrel­e­vance and col­lapse. As well, the sup­port for the Mus­lims of Bosnia became the counter-balance of the US con­fronta­tion with jihadism in the Mid­dle East. Anthony Lake, US Pres­i­dent Bill Clinton’s National Secu­rity Adviser, for­mu­lated the logic for the US-led inter­ven­tion on behalf of the Mus­lims. The US national inter­est “requires our work­ing to con­tain Mus­lim extrem­ism, and we have to find a way of being firm in our oppo­si­tion to Mus­lim extrem­ism while mak­ing it clear we’re not opposed to Islam. If we are seen as anti-Muslim, it’s harder for us to con­tain Mus­lim extrem­ism. And if we stand by while Mus­lims are killed and raped in Bosnia, it makes it harder to con­tinue our pol­icy,” Lake argued. That in the process the US would end up part­ner­ing with, sup­port­ing and arm­ing, the very same jihadist forces Clin­ton was seek­ing to con­tain meant noth­ing to Wash­ing­ton. The only thing Wash­ing­ton cared about was the image of a US ral­ly­ing to the res­cue of a Mus­lim cause.

Note that in the 90s the U.S., like Britain, per­mit­ted and facil­i­tated ter­ror­ist net­works to oper­ate in Bosnia and Kosovo for the pur­pose of Serb-killing, and along with Ger­many we trained Alban­ian and Mid­dle East­ern ter­ror­ists in Alba­nia. Sure enough, the same decade saw U.S. offi­cials par­tic­i­pat­ing in a Decem­ber 1999 meet­ing in Azer­bai­jan very sim­i­lar to the Decem­ber 2009 meet­ing in Tbil­isi, where “pro­grams for the train­ing and equip­ping of muja­hedin from the Cau­ca­sus, Cen­tral and South Asia, and the Arab world were dis­cussed and agreed upon.” The men­tion of this meet­ing comes in as the analy­sis gives back­ground on how we decided to sup­port ter­ror­ism against Russia:

By 1999, the US had given up on rec­on­cil­ing Azer­bai­jan and Arme­nia in order to con­struct pipelines to Turkey, and instead Wash­ing­ton started focus­ing on build­ing pipelines via Geor­gia.

For such a project to be eco­nom­i­cally viable, the Russ­ian pipelines would have to be shut down. Hence, in early Octo­ber 1999, senior offi­cials of US oil com­pa­nies and US offi­cials offered rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Russ­ian “oli­garchs” in Europe huge div­i­dends from the pro­posed Baku-Ceyhan pipeline if the “oli­garchs” con­vinced Moscow to with­draw from the Cau­ca­sus, per­mit the estab­lish­ment of an Islamic state, and close down the Baku-Novorossiysk oil pipeline. Con­se­quently, there would be no com­pe­ti­tion to the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. The “oli­garchs” were con­vinced that the high­est lev­els of the Clin­ton White House endorsed this ini­tia­tive. The meet­ing failed because the Rus­sians would hear noth­ing of the US proposal.

Con­se­quently, the US deter­mined to deprive Rus­sia of an alter­nate pipeline route by sup­port­ing a spi­ral­ing vio­lence and ter­ror­ism in Chechnya….The Clin­ton White House sought to actively involve the US in yet another anti-Russian jihad as if reliv­ing the “good ol’ days” of Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, seek­ing to sup­port and empower the most vir­u­lent anti-Western Islamist forces in yet another strate­gic region.

In mid-December 1999, US offi­cials par­tic­i­pated in a for­mal meet­ing in Azer­bai­jan in which spe­cific pro­grams for the train­ing and equip­ping of muja­hedin from the Cau­ca­sus, Cen­tral and South Asia, and the Arab world were dis­cussed and agreed upon. This meet­ing led to Washington’s tacit encour­age­ment of both Mus­lim allies (mainly the intel­li­gence ser­vices of Turkey, Jor­dan, and Saudi Ara­bia) and US “pri­vate secu­rity com­pa­nies” (of the type that did Washington’s dirty job in the Balkans while skirt­ing and vio­lat­ing the inter­na­tional embargo the US for­mally sup­ported) to assist the Chechens and their Islamist allies to surge in spring 2000. Cit­ing secu­rity con­cerns vis-à-vis Arme­nia and Rus­sia, Azer­bai­jan adamantly refused to per­mit train­ing camps on its soil.

Now, just to keep our — includ­ing my — heads straight, let’s remind our­selves that this exer­cise that Robert Spencer was good enough to let me engage in on these pages was not a defense of Rus­sia; it was not meant to start an argu­ment about how bad or how not-that-bad Rus­sia is. The point is that for­eign rela­tions in a mad world require find­ing enough com­mon ground with not-so-great states so that we can work together where we can work together. It’s to min­i­mize the messi­ness of things. Why, when we had Rus­sia in its his­tor­i­cally most maleable form, did we insist on pro­vok­ing and pro­vok­ing and pro­vok­ing? Why did we make a bad sit­u­a­tion like Rus­sia worse when we had an oppor­tu­nity to make it bet­ter? As with all prob­lem­atic coun­tries that we nonethe­less find areas of coop­er­a­tion with, we nar­rowed even those areas by deal­ing with the Rus­sians in the bad faith that had been their trade­mark. Simul­ta­ne­ously, we moved away from pick­ing the lesser evil in a given con­flict, and started sid­ing with the greater.

It’s a sur­real sit­u­a­tion indeed when the actions of my sav­ior coun­try put me in the posi­tion of hav­ing to “defend” Rus­sia, whose peo­ple my par­ents thank their lucky stars to not have to live among any­more. I myself am a self-proclaimed Rus­so­phobe; I just had no idea how much more patho­log­i­cal America’s Rus­so­pho­bia is. So for some­one who is loath to visit even Brighton Beach, I find myself in a sur­pris­ing posi­tion here, point­ing out where we went wrong and shoved Rus­sia back into old behaviors.

Infu­ri­at­ingly pre­dictably, one of the com­ment posters sug­gested that the line I’m tak­ing here is one that’s paid for by Rus­sia. The same “tip” was offered to Robert by a fel­low blog­ger — in that tone of pro­vid­ing “some friendly, pro­fes­sional, and cau­tion­ary advice.” The likes of which I’m all too famil­iar with by now. (One Wall St. Jour­nal fix­ture advised me, “Your views on this [the Balkans] are deeply misjudged…You’re not doing your career any favors.” Thanks. Good thing I don’t have a career, then.) It cer­tainly would be nice if any­one paid me for any­thing I do, but it wasn’t to be in this lifetime.

Regard­less, it shouldn’t seem strange for some­one to be point­ing out that our for­eign pol­icy is being guided by peo­ple with a stronger anti-Russian agenda than anti-jihad agenda. And notice where this kind of think­ing has got­ten us. Take the past two decades of West­ern pol­icy and media cov­er­age in the Balkans, which were based on infor­ma­tion that made its way into reporters’ note­books directly from the Min­istry of Infor­ma­tion of the Bosn­ian Gov­ern­ment run by the fun­da­men­tal­ist Mus­lim wartime pres­i­dent Alija Izetbe­govic. The tem­plate was used again when politi­cians, reporters, NGOs and human rights orga­ni­za­tions duti­fully repeated what was com­ing out of the KLA-run news­pa­pers and other pro­pa­ganda organs of the Kosovo sep­a­ratists. And so in ser­vice to con­sis­tency, hav­ing got­ten into this hole, we’ve kept dig­ging. With our Yugoslavia inter­ven­tion, as the Defense & For­eign Affairs analy­sis points out, we’ve ended up “demo­niz­ing the Serbs and the world of East­ern Chris­tian­ity as a whole.” Such that we’ve arrived at a place where the word “Byzan­tine” is now used to mean prim­i­tive or unciv­i­lized. While the Mus­lim world and Islamic her­itage rep­re­sent the height of cul­ture, tra­di­tion, her­itage and civilization.

One inter­est­ing thing about the reac­tions to call­ing the U.S. on its aggres­sive alien­ation of Rus­sia via, for exam­ple, the use of jihadists is the sense of out­rage and shock at the sug­ges­tion that Amer­ica would sup­port these vio­lent groups, fol­lowed imme­di­ately by a defense or jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of such tac­tics (e.g. “we *should* help the Chechens against the Rus­sians”). Mean­while, these oh-so-incendiary alle­ga­tions hap­pen to coin­cide with overtly stated inten­tions and poli­cies. (See the late Sen­a­tor Tom Lan­tos and his ilk applaud­ing the cre­ation of a U.S.-made Mus­lim state in Europe, which the jihadists should “take note of,” Lan­tos hoped.) . . .

13. As the New York Times continues in “Warren Report Mode” (the Gray Lady published that pernicious document), its Cold War style journalistic blitzkrieg against Russia continues. (We note in passing that Russia is no longer Communist.) In an op-ed piece about the next target of supposed Russian aggression, the author casually ascribes the 1999 assassination of Armenian leaders, including the prime minister, to Russian conspiratorial process.

In FTR #182, we noted the history of the Dashnags (there are various spellings). An Armenian fascist and ultra-nationalist group, the Dashnags collaborated with the Third Reich, Ukrainian fascist elements and the Christian Mobilizers of Gerald L.K. Smith. The latter was a prominent American fascist  whose organization was among the ideological tributaries that fed the milieu of the Aryan Nations.

The sources accessed include a San Jose Mercury News article from October 28, 1999, American Swastika by Charles Higham and Under Cover by John Roy Carlson.

“Russia’s Next Land Grab” by Brenda Shaffer; The New York Times; 9/9/2014.

 . . . . Three times in the 1990s, Armenia and Azerbaijan signed peace agreements, but Russia found ways to derail Armenia’s participation. (In 1999, for example, a disgruntled journalist suspected of having been aided by Moscow assassinated Armenia’s prime minister, speaker of Parliament and other government officials.) . . .

14. In FTR #182, we noted the history of the Dashnags (there are various spellings). An Armenian fascist and ultra-nationalist group, the Dashnags collaborated with the Third Reich, Ukrainian fascist elements and the Christian Mobilizers of Gerald L.K. Smith. The latter was a prominent American fascist  whose organization was among the ideological tributaries that fed the milieu of the Aryan Nations.

The sources accessed include a San Jose Mercury News article from October 28, 1999, American Swastika by Charles Higham and Under Cover by John Roy Carlson.

We access a segment of FTR #182.



4 comments for “FTR #811 Walkin’ the Snake in Ukraine, Part 4”

  1. The Lenin statue in Kharkiv was just torn down. Here’s a video, although the video doesn’t show what followed:

    Bloomberg View
    Toppling Lenin 20 Years Too Late
    Leonid Bershidsky
    6 Sept 29, 2014 7:48 AM EDT
    By Leonid Bershidsky

    The Lenin statue in Kharkiv was the biggest in Ukraine. Perhaps that’s why it lasted longer than most, escaping what has been called the Leninfall — the mass teardown of monuments to the Soviet Union’s founder that Ukraine’s Euromaidan revolution set off this year. It is now toppled, too, but it’s hard to see what that means anymore.

    The Lenin in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, survived the overthrow of Yanukovych, unlike dozens of other such monuments in Ukraine. It was sculpted by Alexei Oleynik and Makar Vronsky, who made so many Lenins in the 1950s and ’60s, they failed to notice that the one cast for Dnepropetrovsk had one cap on his head and another clasped in his fist. The Kharkiv statue was special, however — part of one of the world’s most imposing constructivist ensembles, an 8.5-meter bronze on an 11.7-meter pedestal in the city’s biggest square (once named after Dzerzhinsky but now known as Freedom Square):

    Gennady Kernes, Kharkiv’s charismatic ex-convict mayor, defended the statue, promising to “break both arms and both legs” of any nationalists who might attempt to bring it down. Kernes has since taken a near-fatal shot in the back from an unidentified assailant and lost much of his influence. Ukraine, meanwhile, has lost a war against Russia and its proxies in neighboring regions of eastern Ukraine, and has ratified the EU deal (likely to be watered down under Russian pressure).

    Kharkiv’s governor, Igor Baluta, apparently sanctioned Sunday’s teardown. (Kernes insists it will be restored.) The activists who carried it out promptly climbed on the pedestal with a yellow banner emblazoned with a Wolfsangel — the “wolf hook” emblem of certain neo-Nazi organizations, which has been adopted by the Social National Assembly, an extreme right-wing group that is powerful in Kharkiv.

    Is that supposed to symbolize Ukraine’s hope of joining the EU and NATO and breaking forever with its Soviet heritage? Economic liberalization and an effective anti-corruption campaign would work better, even if all the irrelevant statues were left standing.

    Yes, “the activists who carried it out promptly climbed on the pedestal with a yellow banner emblazoned with a Wolfsangel”. Here’s some more pics.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 29, 2014, 12:58 pm
  2. “It may be a measure of just how politically sensitive the accident is that Russian investigators broke their usual rules by swiftly announcing the name of the snowplow driver, Vladimir Martynenkov, and claiming to the press that he was drunk at the time. However, Mr. Martynenkov’s lawyers and family subsequently insisted he could not have been drunk, and investigators appeared to admit the accident’s causes may be more complicated than first thought.”


    Russia loses key Western business ally in airport tragedy

    Cristophe de Margerie, who died when his private jet crashed into a snow plow at a Moscow airfield last night, was CEO of France’s Total energy company. It’s just the latest in a string of high-profile plane crashes in Russia.
    Christian Science Monitor
    By Fred Weir October 21, 2014 11:14 AM

    The Kremlin has lost one of its strongest Western supporters in the effort to lift US and European sanctions.
    Related Stories

    China cashes in on Russia’s shrinking economic options Christian Science Monitor
    Total CEO killed in Moscow runway crash Associated Press
    Russia blames ‘negligent’ airport bosses for Total CEO’s crash AFP
    China’s Li in Russia for Putin talks AFP
    Total CEO de Margerie killed in Moscow as jet hits snow plow Reuters

    Cristophe de Margerie, CEO of France’s Total energy company, perished on a Moscow airfield early Tuesday morning in one of those bizarre, murky plane crashes that seem to happen all too often in Russia.

    Mr. Margerie was an outspoken opponent of Western sanctions against Russia, and his company was heavily invested in developing the giant Yamal gasfield in northwestern Siberia, together with China’s CNPC and Novotek, a private Russian gas firm co-owned by heavily sanctioned Kremlin ally Gennady Timchenko.

    Recommended: Sochi, Soviets, and tsars: How much do you know about Russia?

    The Yamal project, with its emphasis on helping Russia master liquified natural gas technology under Arctic conditions, is key to the Kremlin’s strategy of sidestepping sanctions and remaining a strong player in global energy markets.

    Margerie was leaving Russia after attending a government-sponsored investment conference. His private French-built Falcon jet reportedly hit a snowplow as it was attempting to take off from Moscow’s Vnukovo 3 airport, and crashed in a ball of flames, killing all aboard.

    The accident is likely to cause a political firestorm, and could have a damaging impact on Russia’s plans to circumvent Western sanctions on its crucial energy sector. Margerie had been a close ally of the Kremlin, which was quick to issue condolences. He also was reportedly a personal friend of French President François Hollande.

    Some experts say Margerie’s death may not make much difference. “We sometimes overestimate the influence of big business over politics. They have some say in things, but politics is a world of its own,” says Alexei Makarkin, director of the independent Center for Political Technologies in Moscow. Moreover, Margerie’s successor as Total’s CEO will probably continue to defend the company’s Russian investments.

    It may be a measure of just how politically sensitive the accident is that Russian investigators broke their usual rules by swiftly announcing the name of the snowplow driver, Vladimir Martynenkov, and claiming to the press that he was drunk at the time. However, Mr. Martynenkov’s lawyers and family subsequently insisted he could not have been drunk, and investigators appeared to admit the accident’s causes may be more complicated than first thought.

    The accident will not help Russia’s image as a place where, two decades after the collapse of the USSR, outward modernization still does not extend far below the surface. In recent years bizarre accidents at Russian airports have killed the Polish president, along with his entire entourage, and wiped out an entire Russian professional hockey team.

    “Russia’s a country of risky weather, and on top of that we have human problems, technological issues,” says Dmitri Orlov, director of a think tank connected with the pro-Kremlin United Russia party. “Of course this looks bad. There should be a strong reaction from Russian authorities, and effective measures taken” to prevent any recurrence.

    Posted by Tiffany Sunderson | October 23, 2014, 9:39 am
  3. http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/23/business/russia-total-plane-crash/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

    CNN) — A snowplow driver who’s been blamed by Russian authorities for a plane crash that killed the chief executive of the oil company Total has been sent to pretrial detention, his lawyer said Thursday.

    Snowplow driver Vladimir Martynenko has denied claims by Russian officials that he was drunk at the time of the crash Monday at Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport.

    Total CEO Christophe de Margerie and three others were killed after his plane hit the snowplow during takeoff and crashed.

    Four other airport employees have also been detained in connection with the crash, a Russian investigative committee said earlier.
    Total CEO death ‘shocks’ oil industry

    They are: the airport service chief engineer, Vladimir Ledenev, who’s in charge of snow-clearing operations; flights director Roman Dunayev; air traffic controller Svetlana Krivsun; and the airport’s chief air traffic controller, Alexander Kruglov.

    “Investigators believe the detained persons failed to provide safety requirements concerning flights and on-ground works and it led to the tragedy,” a statement from the investigative committee said. “They have been detained and questioned as suspects in the case.”

    Amid the fallout from the incident, the airport’s director general, Andrei Dyakov, and deputy director general Sergei Solntsev have resigned, the airport said in a statement Thursday. Their resignations have been accepted.

    The airport’s shift director, the head of the airport’s maintenance division and the leading engineer who heads the shift have been suspended from duties.

    Blood test

    Martynenko’s lawyer, Aleksandr Karabanov, told CNN that a court decided Thursday to place him in detention.

    “The judge explained her decision, saying that the court decided that Martynenko could escape, put pressure on trial participants or destroy the evidence,” Karabanov said.

    He said the judge had also introduced a doctor’s certificate with results of a preliminary medical examination.

    She said that according to that data, Martynenko was found to be drunk, but the final results would be known and announced in five to seven days.

    “I found it’s ridiculous and it makes no sense,” Karabanov said. “During that medical examination, Martynenko had a blood test that would show whether there was alcohol in his blood. It always takes only a day or two to get the results. Why are we still not given any?”

    He said he was convinced his client was sober at the time.

    Log book

    Karabanov said at a news conference Wednesday that Martynenko had passed a daily “medical examination” that all snowplow operators at the airport are required to take before reporting for duty.

    The lawyer said the results of the test were recorded in a log book that investigators now have.

    According to the lawyer, Martynenko became separated from a convoy of snowplows after he heard a strange sound and stopped briefly to check his equipment.

    The lawyer speculated that an unnamed air traffic controller saw the other snowplows in the convoy and cleared the runway without realizing that Martynenko’s machine was still there.

    The French government has deployed three investigators and two technical consultants from its aviation authority to also investigate the crash.

    Posted by Tiffany Sunderson | October 23, 2014, 12:22 pm
  4. Berlin’s doves have a beef with Nato’s top commander. It’s about his intelligence. Not that they think he’s dumb. But there appears to be growing concern amongst some in Berlin that the intelligence used to justify NATO’s stances in the Ukrainian conflict aren’t actually justifiable:

    Der Speigel
    Breedlove’s Bellicosity: Berlin Alarmed by Aggressive NATO Stance on Ukraine

    By SPIEGEL Staff

    March 06, 2015 – 07:47 PM

    It was quiet in eastern Ukraine last Wednesday. Indeed, it was another quiet day in an extended stretch of relative calm. The battles between the Ukrainian army and the pro-Russian separatists had largely stopped and heavy weaponry was being withdrawn. The Minsk cease-fire wasn’t holding perfectly, but it was holding.

    On that same day, General Philip Breedlove, the top NATO commander in Europe, stepped before the press in Washington. Putin, the 59-year-old said, had once again “upped the ante” in eastern Ukraine — with “well over a thousand combat vehicles, Russian combat forces, some of their most sophisticated air defense, battalions of artillery” having been sent to the Donbass. “What is clear,” Breedlove said, “is that right now, it is not getting better. It is getting worse every day.”

    German leaders in Berlin were stunned. They didn’t understand what Breedlove was talking about. And it wasn’t the first time. Once again, the German government, supported by intelligence gathered by the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence agency, did not share the view of NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).

    The pattern has become a familiar one. For months, Breedlove has been commenting on Russian activities in eastern Ukraine, speaking of troop advances on the border, the amassing of munitions and alleged columns of Russian tanks. Over and over again, Breedlove’s numbers have been significantly higher than those in the possession of America’s NATO allies in Europe. As such, he is playing directly into the hands of the hardliners in the US Congress and in NATO.

    The German government is alarmed. Are the Americans trying to thwart European efforts at mediation led by Chancellor Angela Merkel? Sources in the Chancellery have referred to Breedlove’s comments as “dangerous propaganda.” Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier even found it necessary recently to bring up Breedlove’s comments with NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

    The ‘Super Hawk’

    But Breedlove hasn’t been the only source of friction. Europeans have also begun to see others as hindrances in their search for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine conflict. First and foremost among them is Victoria Nuland, head of European affairs at the US State Department. She and others would like to see Washington deliver arms to Ukraine and are supported by Congressional Republicans as well as many powerful Democrats.

    Indeed, US President Barack Obama seems almost isolated. He has thrown his support behind Merkel’s diplomatic efforts for the time being, but he has also done little to quiet those who would seek to increase tensions with Russia and deliver weapons to Ukraine. Sources in Washington say that Breedlove’s bellicose comments are first cleared with the White House and the Pentagon. The general, they say, has the role of the “super hawk,” whose role is that of increasing the pressure on America’s more reserved trans-Atlantic partners.

    A mixture of political argumentation and military propaganda is necessary. But for months now, many in the Chancellery simply shake their heads each time NATO, under Breedlove’s leadership, goes public with striking announcements about Russian troop or tank movements. To be sure, neither Berlin’s Russia experts nor BND intelligence analysts doubt that Moscow is supporting the pro-Russian separatists. The BND even has proof of such support.

    But it is the tone of Breedlove’s announcements that makes Berlin uneasy. False claims and exaggerated accounts, warned a top German official during a recent meeting on Ukraine, have put NATO — and by extension, the entire West — in danger of losing its credibility.

    There are plenty of examples. Just over three weeks ago, during the cease-fire talks in Minsk, the Ukrainian military warned that the Russians — even as the diplomatic marathon was ongoing — had moved 50 tanks and dozens of rockets across the border into Luhansk. Just one day earlier, US Lieutenant General Ben Hodges had announced “direct Russian military intervention.”

    Senior officials in Berlin immediately asked the BND for an assessment, but the intelligence agency’s satellite images showed just a few armored vehicles. Even those American intelligence officials who supply the BND with daily situation reports were much more reserved about the incident than Hodges was in his public statements. One intelligence agent says it “remains a riddle until today” how the general reached his conclusions.

    Much More Cautious

    “The German intelligence services generally appraise the threat level much more cautiously than the Americans do,” an international military expert in Kiev confirmed.

    At the beginning of the crisis, General Breedlove announced that the Russians had assembled 40,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and warned that an invasion could take place at any moment. The situation, he said, was “incredibly concerning.” But intelligence officials from NATO member states had already excluded the possibility of a Russian invasion. They believed that neither the composition nor the equipment of the troops was consistent with an imminent invasion.

    The experts contradicted Breedlove’s view in almost every respect. There weren’t 40,000 soldiers on the border, they believed, rather there were much less than 30,000 and perhaps even fewer than 20,000. Furthermore, most of the military equipment had not been brought to the border for a possible invasion, but had already been there prior to the beginning of the conflict. Furthermore, there was no evidence of logistical preparation for an invasion, such as a field headquarters.

    Breedlove, though, repeatedly made inexact, contradictory or even flat-out inaccurate statements. On Nov. 18, 2014, he told the German newspaper rankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that there were “regular Russian army units in eastern Ukraine.” One day later, he told the website of the German newsmagazine Stern that they weren’t fighting units, but “mostly trainers and advisors.”

    He initially said there were “between 250 and 300” of them, and then “between 300 and 500.” For a time, NATO was even saying there were 1,000 of them.

    The fact that NATO has no intelligence agency of its own plays into Breedlove’s hands. The alliance relies on intelligence gathered by agents from the US, Britain, Germany and other member states. As such, SACEUR has a wide range of information to choose from.

    Influencing Breedlove

    On Nov. 12, during a visit to Sofia, Bulgaria, Breedlove reported that “we have seen columns of Russian equipment — primarily Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops — entering into Ukraine.” It was, he noted, “the same thing that OSCE is reporting.” But the OSCE had only observed military convoys within eastern Ukraine. OSCE observers had said nothing about troops marching in from Russia.

    Breedlove sees no reason to revise his approach. “I stand by all the public statements I have made during the Ukraine crisis,” he wrote to SPIEGEL in response to a request for a statement accompanied by a list of his controversial claims. He wrote that it was to be expected that assessments of NATO’s intelligence center, which receives information from all 33 alliance members in addition to partner states, doesn’t always match assessments made by individual nations. “It is normal that not everyone agrees with the assessments that I provide,” he wrote.

    He says that NATO’s strategy is to “release clear, accurate and timely information regarding ongoing events.” He also wrote that: “As an alliance based on the fundamental values of freedom and democracy, our response to propaganda cannot be more propaganda. It can only be the truth.” (Read Breedlove’s full statement here.)

    The German government, meanwhile, is doing what it can to influence Breedlove. Sources in Berlin say that conversations to this end have taken place in recent weeks. But there are many at NATO headquarters in Brussels who are likewise concerned about Breedlove’s statements. On Tuesday of last week, Breedlove’s public appearances were an official item on the agenda of the North Atlantic Council’s weekly lunch meeting. Several ambassadors present criticized Breedlove and expressed their incredulity at some of the commander’s statements.

    The government in Berlin is concerned that Breedlove’s statements could harm the West’s credibility. The West can’t counter Russian propaganda with its own propaganda, “rather it must use arguments that are worthy of a constitutional state.” Berlin sources also say that it has become conspicuous that Breedlove’s controversial statements are often made just as a step forward has been made in the difficult negotiations aimed at a political resolution. Berlin sources say that Germany should be able to depend on its allies to support its efforts at peace.

    Pressure on Obama

    German foreign policy experts are united in their view of Breedlove as a hawk. “I would prefer that Breedlove’s comments on political questions be intelligent and reserved,” says Social Democrat parliamentarian Niels Annen, for example. “Instead, NATO in the past has always announced a new Russian offensive just as, from our point of view, the time had come for cautious optimism.” Annen, who has long specialized in foreign policy, has also been frequently dissatisfied with the information provided by NATO headquarters. “We parliamentarians were often confused by information regarding alleged troop movements that were inconsistent with the information we had,” he says.

    The pressure on Obama from the Republicans, but also from his own political camp, is intense. Should the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine not hold, it will likely be difficult to continue refusing Kiev’s requests for shipments of so-called “defensive weapons.” And that would represent a dramatic escalation of the crisis. Moscow has already begun issuing threats in anticipation of such deliveries. “Any weapons deliveries to Kiev will escalate the tensions and would unhinge European security,” Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s national security council, told the Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda on Wednesday.

    Although President Obama has decided for the time being to give European diplomacy a chance, hawks like Breedlove or Victoria Nuland are doing what they can to pave the way for weapons deliveries. “We can fight against the Europeans, fight against them rhetorically,” Nuland said during a private meeting of American officials on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference at the beginning of February.

    In reporting on the meeting later, the German tabloid Bild reported that Nuland referred to the chancellor’s early February trip to Moscow for talks with Putin as “Merkel’s Moscow stuff.” No wonder, then, that people in Berlin have the impression that important power brokers in Washington are working against the Europeans. Berlin officials have noticed that, following the visit of American politicians or military leaders in Kiev, Ukrainian officials are much more bellicose and optimistic about the Ukrainian military’s ability to win the conflict on the battlefield. “We then have to laboriously bring the Ukrainians back onto the course of negotiations,” said one Berlin official.

    Nuland Diplomacy

    Nuland, who is seen as a possible secretary of state should the Republicans win back the White House in next year’s presidential election, is an important voice in US policy concerning Ukraine and Russia. She has never sought to hide her emotional bond to Russia, even saying “I love Russia.” Her grandparents immigrated to the US from Bessarabia, which belonged to the Russian empire at the time. Nuland speaks Russian fluently.

    “Nuland, who is seen as a possible secretary of state should the Republicans win back the White House in next year’s presidential election, is an important voice in US policy concerning Ukraine and Russia”.
    OMFG. Well, it looks lke the 2016 race for the White House is going to feel even more of a vote on whether to wreak havoc across the world than normal.

    Overall, it’s pretty clear that some sort of tensions are developing between the different NATO camps over the balance to strike between seeking a diplomatic end to the crisis in Ukraine or fueling it with advanced weapons. And a big source of that intra-NATO conflict is clearly rooted in Breedlove’s sources of intelligence (an understandable source of concern).

    Still, it’s not really clear how deep these tensions run. For instance, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier downplayed the reports of the rift the day after the Der Spiegel report and reduced to a quibble over intelligence sources, saying…

    Germany downplays report of rift with NATO over Breedlove comments

    By Erik Kirschbaum and Tom Körkemeier

    BERLIN/RIGA Sat Mar 7, 2015 10:30am EST

    (Reuters) – German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier downplayed a magazine report on Saturday of tensions with NATO over hawkish comments about Ukraine made by the Western alliance’s supreme allied commander.

    Der Spiegel news magazine said an official in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s offices had complained of Air Force General Philip Breedlove’s “dangerous propaganda” over Ukraine and that Steinmeier had talked to the NATO General Secretary about him.

    “It’s true that I asked in two instances, in which the information we had from our sources was not entirely consistent with the information that came from the United States or NATO,” Steinmeier said at a European Union foreign ministers meeting.

    “But I also say that we have no interest in any dispute emerging from this,” Steinmeier said at the meeting in Riga. “We have to see that we stay closely together, also in the question of assessment of risk, and not differ in our advice.”.

    So it mostly just sounds like a disagreement over some intelligence sources based on Steimeier’s statements.

    But it’s entirely possible that the disagreements run deeper and there really is a growing divide between the hawks in NATO and doves in Berlin. Although, if that’s the case, the doves have a lot more to worry about than the head of NATO since EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker just called for the creation of an EU army so that Europe can better intimidate nations like Russia during future conflicts and there’s a lot of support for the idea in Berlin:

    The Guardian
    Jean-Claude Juncker calls for EU army

    European commission president says this military development would persuade Russia the bloc is serious about defending its values

    Andrew Sparrow

    Sunday 8 March 2015 19.44 EDT

    The European Union needs its own army to help address the problem that it is not “taken entirely seriously” as an international force, the president of the European commission has said.

    Jean-Claude Juncker said such a move would help the EU to persuade Russia that it was serious about defending its values in the face of the threat posed by Moscow..

    However, his proposal was immediately rejected by the British government, which said that there was “no prospect” of the UK agreeing to the creation of an EU army.

    “You would not create a European army to use it immediately,” Juncker told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper in Germany in an interview published on Sunday.

    “But a common army among the Europeans would convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the European Union.”

    Juncker, who has been a longstanding advocate of an EU army, said getting member states to combine militarily would make spending more efficient and would encourage further European integration.

    “Such an army would help us design a common foreign and security policy,” the former prime minister of Luxembourg said.

    “Europe’s image has suffered dramatically and also in terms of foreign policy, we don’t seem to be taken entirely seriously.”

    Juncker also said he did not want a new force to challenge the role of Nato. In Germany some political figures expressed support for Juncker’s idea, but in Britain the government insisted that the idea was unacceptable.

    A UK government spokesman said: “Our position is crystal clear that defence is a national – not an EU – responsibility and that there is no prospect of that position changing and no prospect of a European army.”

    In the past David Cameron, the British prime minister, has blocked moves to create EU-controlled military forces saying that, although defence cooperation between member states is desirable, “it isn’t right for the European Union to have capabilities, armies, air forces and all the rest of it”.

    Geoffrey Van Orden, a Conservative MEP and a party spokesman on defence and security, said: “This relentless drive towards a European army must stop. For Eurocrats every crisis is seen as an opportunity to further the EU’s centralising objectives.

    “However the EU’s defence ambitions are detrimental to our national interest, to Nato, and to the close alliances that Britain has with many countries outside the EU – not least the United States, Gulf allies, and many Commonwealth countries.”

    Van Orden also accused Juncker of living in a “fantasy world”. “If our nations faced a serious security threat, who would we want to rely on – Nato or the EU? The question answers itself,” he said.

    Labour said that it did not support a standing European army, navy or air force and that Nato was and should remain the cornerstone of Europe’s collective defence.

    A Lib Dem spokesman said: “Having an EU army is not our position. We have never called for one.”

    But in Germany, Ursula von der Leyen, the defence minister, said in a statement that “our future as Europeans will one day be a European army”, although she added “not in the short term”. She said such a move would “strengthen Europe’s security” and “strengthen a European pillar in the transatlantic alliance”.

    Norbert Röttgen, head of the German parliament’s foreign policy committee, said having an EU army was “a European vision whose time has come”.

    “Norbert Röttgen, head of the German parliament’s foreign policy committee, said having an EU army was “a European vision whose time has come”.”

    Huh. Well, that probably means an EU army is just a matter of time. So with talk of a European army and the ongoing tensions over NATO intelligence sources, it will be interesting to see if the joint EU spy agency idea gets another look. It seems possible.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 10, 2015, 7:04 pm

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