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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

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.

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.

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.

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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