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FTR#‘s 1259 and 1260 How Many Lies Before You Belong to The Lies?, Parts 21 & 22

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“Polit­i­cal language…is designed to make lies sound truth­ful and mur­der respectable, and to give an appear­ance of solid­i­ty to pure wind.”

— George Orwell, 1946

EVERYTHING MR. EMORY HAS BEEN SAYING ABOUT THE UKRAINE WAR IS ENCAPSULATED IN THIS VIDEO FROM UKRAINE 24

ANOTHER REVEALING VIDEO FROM UKRAINE 24

Mr. Emory has launched a new Patre­on site.

Vis­it at: Patreon.com/DaveEmory

FTR#1259 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

FTR#1260 This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: Updat­ing cov­er­age of the Ukraine war, the title of this series comes from the late, bril­liant polit­i­cal come­di­an Mort Sahl’s 1976 auto­bi­og­ra­phy Heart­land. Mort Sahl was one of Jim Gar­rison’s inves­ti­ga­tors in the New Orleans DA’s inves­ti­ga­tion of the assas­si­na­tion of JFK.

The pro­gram begins with dis­cus­sion of a pow­er­ful eco­nom­ic motive for bait­ing Rus­sia into the Ukraine war–creating a pre­text for oblig­ing Europe and Ger­many to forego use of the Nord­stream 2 pipeline and sev­er the EU from con­sump­tion of Russ­ian nat­ur­al gas.

” . . . . The only way left for U.S. diplo­mats to block Euro­pean pur­chas­es is to goad Rus­sia into a mil­i­tary response and then claim that aveng­ing this response out­weighs any pure­ly nation­al eco­nom­ic inter­est. As hawk­ish Under-Sec­re­tary of State for Polit­i­cal Affairs, Vic­to­ria Nuland, explained in a State Depart­ment press brief­ing on Jan­u­ary 27: ‘If Rus­sia invades Ukraine one way or anoth­er Nord Stream 2 will not move for­ward.’ The prob­lem is to cre­ate a suit­ably offen­sive inci­dent and depict Rus­sia as the aggres­sor. . . .”

Lviv, Ukaine, Sum­mer of 2018. Cel­e­bra­tion of the 75th anniver­sary of the 14th Waf­fen SS Divi­sion (Gali­cian). Note the Ukrain­ian hon­or guard in the back­ground.

In FTR#1245, we detailed Swiss intel­li­gence offi­cer Jacques Baud’s analy­sis of Ukraine’s impend­ing assault on the eth­ni­cal­ly and lin­guis­ti­cal­ly Russ­ian pop­u­la­tion of East­ern Ukraine and Biden’s sign­ing off on that oper­a­tion in order to real­ize Amer­i­can and West­ern Euro­pean goals.

Next, we present an oblique, pos­si­bly very sig­nif­i­cant ele­ment. A For­eign Pol­i­cy arti­cle dis­cussing a for­bear­er of EU pres­i­dent Ursu­la Von Der Leyen’s who was a key Third Reich offi­cial in Gali­cia (West­ern Ukraine).

It appears that Joachim Frei­herr von der Leyen was a mem­ber of the promi­nent silk mer­chant fam­i­ly into which Ursu­la mar­ried.

Con­ven­tion­al fam­i­ly trees make no men­tion of him: ” . . . . Joachim Frei­herr von der Leyen ( Sep­tem­ber 28, 1897 in Haus Meer , Büderich (Meer­busch) ; † 1945 in Dres­den ) was a Ger­man lawyer and admin­is­tra­tive offi­cial who worked as a dis­trict admin­is­tra­tor in the occu­pied coun­tries of Czecho­slo­va­kia and Poland dur­ing the Nation­al Social­ist peri­od and as a dis­trict cap­tain of the dis­trict of Gali­cia was involved in the orga­ni­za­tion of the Holo­caustVon der Leyen comes from the von der Leyen fam­i­ly of silk barons in Krefeld. . . .”

Next, we high­light the ongo­ing lion­iza­tion of Ukrain­ian Nazi and fas­cist ele­ments in the main­stream U.S. press.

A long spread in the Sun­day New York Times beat­i­fies the Nazi Azov Reg­i­ment, the chief Ukrain­ian unit defend­ing the Azovstal steel works.

Anoth­er NYT piece presents a hero­ic por­tray­al of a Ukrain­ian sabo­teur from the Nazi/fascist Azov and Right Sec­tor units: ” . . . . Before the war, Svarog occa­sion­al­ly joined week­end train­ing with Right Sec­tor and Nation­al Corps, a branch of the Azov move­ment, both of which are aligned with para­mil­i­tary units in Ukraine. . . .”

Com­bat Hel­mets of the Azov units.

The ele­va­tion of Ukrain­ian Nazis and fas­cists by the U.S. is exem­pli­fied by a Pen­ta­gon-spon­sored ath­let­ic com­pe­ti­tion: ” . . . .This August, dur­ing the Depart­ment of Defense’s annu­al War­rior Games at Dis­ney World in Orlan­do, Flori­da, lib­er­al come­di­an Jon Stew­art award­ed a Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary vet­er­an named Ihor Halush­ka the ‘Heart of the Team’ award for ‘inspir­ing his team’ with his ‘per­son­al exam­ple.’ Halush­ka hap­pens to have been a mem­ber of the neo-Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion, which has been armed by the US and inte­grat­ed into the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Guard. . . . Per­haps the most famous Ukrain­ian War­rior Games par­tic­i­pant is Yulia Palevs­ka, who the New York Times has dubbed ‘a sym­bol of Ukrain­ian brav­ery and self-sac­ri­fice.’. . . . Yulia Palevs­ka and Ihor Halush­ka were mem­bers of the fas­cist Right Sec­tor orga­ni­za­tion and Azov Bat­tal­ion, respec­tive­ly. . . .”

The extreme nature of the OUN/B suc­ces­sor Nazis and fas­cists in the polit­i­cal driver’s seat in Ukraine are illus­trat­ed by the names of peo­ple on their “kill list”: “ . . . . Why this site is allowed to oper­ate is a good ques­tion. But you can access it eas­i­ly, and even donate mon­ey to help the ’cause’ – if you are sym­pa­thet­ic to Nazis and think that assas­si­nat­ing peo­ple for their opin­ions is a whole­some way to sup­port Ukraine. The co-founder of “Pink Floyd” [Roger Waters] is known for his sup­port of impris­oned Wik­ileaks’ cre­ator Julian Assange, and for his oppo­si­tion to impe­ri­al­ism and war, as well as for his awe­some music, loved by mil­lions around the world. . . . . Even Hen­ry Kissinger’s name is on the list despite his long his­to­ry of Rus­so­pho­bia. But since he dared to air his con­cerns about how the US is tee­ter­ing toward war with Rus­sia and Chi­na . . . .”

Next, we fur­ther devel­op Ukraine’s enemies/death list, not­ing the expe­ri­ence of for­mer Marine Corps intel­li­gence offi­cer Scott Rit­ter.

Join­ing Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Hen­ry Kissinger on the list, sev­er­al of the mem­bers of which have been mur­dered, Rit­ter notes the pres­ence of OUN/B youth camps in this coun­try, pos­si­ble breed­ing grounds for assas­sins.

Zelen­sky “nor­mal­izes” Stephan Ban­dera

Fur­ther­more, Rit­ter cor­rect­ly locates those OUN/B youth camps in the polit­i­cal con­tin­u­um stretch­ing from the Third Reich, through the Cold War, up to today—a con­tin­u­um inex­tri­ca­bly linked with the Gehlen orga­ni­za­tion.

“ . . . . I had to dri­ve past Ellenville, a sleepy lit­tle town that is home to a camp belong­ing to the Ukrain­ian Amer­i­can Youth Asso­ci­a­tion which, every sum­mer, coor­di­nates with the Orga­ni­za­tion for the Defense of Four Free­doms of Ukraine to hold a ‘Heroes’ Hol­i­day’ hon­or­ing vet­er­an of the Ukrain­ian People’s Army and the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists. . . . That a mon­u­ment to men respon­si­ble for geno­ci­dal mass mur­der and who, in the case of two of them (Shukhevych and Ban­dera) open­ly col­lab­o­rat­ed with Nazi Ger­many, could be erect­ed in the Unit­ed States is dis­turb­ing. [NB—Konovalets coop­er­at­ed with the Third Reich as well, D.E.] That every year Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can adher­ents of the odi­ous ide­ol­o­gy of Stepan Ban­dera gath­er to cel­e­brate his lega­cy at a “children’s camp” where the youth are arrayed in brown uni­forms that make them look like what they, in fact, are — ide­o­log­i­cal storm troop­ers for a hate­ful neo-Nazi ide­ol­o­gy that pro­motes the racial supe­ri­or­i­ty of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple, is a nation­al abom­i­na­tion. . . . Ban­dera has been ele­vat­ed to the sta­tus of a nation­al hero in Ukraine, and his birth­day is con­sid­ered a nation­al hol­i­day. . . . The lega­cy of Stepan Ban­dera is at the very heart of what pass­es for Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism today. It dom­i­nates the polit­i­cal are­na inside Ukraine, where all com­pet­ing polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy and affil­i­a­tions have been out­lawed by Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky. . . .”

In FTR #907, we not­ed the pro­found pres­ence of the Ukrain­ian fas­cists in the Unit­ed States, as well as their oper­a­tional con­nec­tions to the Third Reich. In FTR #1072, we not­ed the Ukrain­ian youth cadre in the U.S., and its affil­i­a­tion with the OUN/B milieu in Ukraine.

Our next item out these con­nec­tions, not­ing:

1. The CYM orga­ni­za­tion and its pres­ence in the U.S.

2. The deci­sive involve­ment of post-World War II emi­gres in the growth of that move­ment.

3. CYM’s close affil­i­a­tion with the OUN/B.

4. CYM’s uni­formed, mil­i­tary ori­en­ta­tion: ” . . . . Among the most pop­u­lar activ­i­ties are mil­i­tary-style games where campers are divid­ed into two teams that have to dodge or cap­ture their oppo­nents by mov­ing stealth­ily and orga­niz­ing ambush­es. . . . .”

Fur­ther solid­i­fy­ing the con­ti­nu­ity between the Third Reich, the Gehlen Org and the GOP, we note that, while it was the BND (the intel­li­gence ser­vice of the Fed­er­al Repub­lic) the “Org” was financ­ing the East­ern Euro­pean fas­cist groups that encom­passed the CYM camps in the U.S.

Our pro­grams con­clude with excerpts of anoth­er inter­view with Swiss intel­li­gence offi­cer Jacques Baud.

In the pro­gram, we note Ukraine’s “mir­ror imag­ing” of the polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary aspects of the war, rep­re­sent­ing Ukrain­ian atroc­i­ties and war crimes as Russ­ian.

In turn, West­ern media slav­ish­ly report the Ukrain­ian pro­pa­gan­da as fact, a dynam­ic Mr. Emory has cit­ed as cement­ing the Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of Amer­i­ca, begun dur­ing the clos­ing stages of World War II.

Baud cites Ukrain­ian oper­a­tions behind Russ­ian lines: “ . . . . This is a ter­ror­ist cam­paign tar­get­ing pro-Russ­ian Ukrain­ian per­son­al­i­ties and offi­cials. It fol­lows major changes in the lead­er­ship of the SBU, in Kiev, and in the regions, includ­ing Lvov, Ternopol since July. It is prob­a­bly in the con­text of this same cam­paign that Darya Dug­i­na was assas­si­nat­ed on August 21. The objec­tive of this new cam­paign could be to con­vey the illu­sion that there is an ongo­ing resis­tance in the areas tak­en by the Rus­sians and thus revive West­ern aid, which is start­ing to fatigue. These sab­o­tage activ­i­ties do not real­ly have an oper­a­tional impact and seem more relat­ed to a psy­cho­log­i­cal oper­a­tion. It may be that these are actions like the one on Snake Island at the begin­ning of May, intend­ed to demon­strate to the inter­na­tion­al pub­lic that Ukraine is act­ing. What the inci­dents in Crimea indi­rect­ly show is that the pop­u­lar resis­tance claimed by the West in Feb­ru­ary does not exist. . . .”

Colonel Baud also high­lights Ukraine’s shelling of the Zapor­i­hizia Nuclear Pow­er Plant: “ . . . . By bomb­ing the plant, Ukraine could also be try­ing to pres­sure the West to inter­vene in the con­flict, under the pre­text that Rus­sia is seek­ing to dis­con­nect the plant from the Ukrain­ian pow­er grid before the fall. This sui­ci­dal behavior—as stat­ed by UN Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al António Guterres—would be in line with the war waged by Ukraine since 2014. There is strong evi­dence that the attacks on Ener­go­dar are Ukrain­ian. The frag­ments of pro­jec­tiles fired at the site from the oth­er side of the Dnieper are of West­ern ori­gin. It seems that they come from British BRIMSTONE mis­siles, which are pre­ci­sion mis­siles, whose use is mon­i­tored by the British. Appar­ent­ly, the West is aware of the Ukrain­ian attacks on the ZNPP. This might explain why Ukraine is not very sup­port­ive of an inter­na­tion­al com­mis­sion of inquiry and why West­ern coun­tries are putting unre­al­is­tic con­di­tions for send­ing inves­ti­ga­tors from the IAEA, an agency that has not shown much integri­ty so far. . . .”

Colonel Baud sums up the role of ter­ror cen­tral to the Naz­i­fied Ukrain­ian regime, par­rot­ed by West­ern MSM: “ . . . . Ukrain­ian crimes were begin­ning to be revealed on social net­works, and on 27 March Zelen­sky feared that this would jeop­ar­dize West­ern sup­port. This was followed—rather opportunely—by the Bucha mas­sacre on 3 April, the cir­cum­stances of which remain unclear. Britain, which then had the chair­man­ship of the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, refused three times the Russ­ian request to set up an inter­na­tion­al com­mis­sion of enquiry into the crimes of Bucha. Ukrain­ian social­ist MP Ilya Kiva revealed on Telegram that the Bucha tragedy was planned by the British MI6 spe­cial ser­vices and imple­ment­ed by the SBU. The fun­da­men­tal prob­lem is that the Ukraini­ans have replaced the ‘oper­a­tional art’ with bru­tal­i­ty. . . .”

1. The pro­gram begins with dis­cus­sion of a pow­er­ful eco­nom­ic motive for bait­ing Rus­sia into the Ukraine war–creating a pre­text for oblig­ing Europe and Ger­many to forego use of the Nord­stream 2 pipeline and sev­er the EU from con­sump­tion of Russ­ian nat­ur­al gas.

” . . . . The only way left for U.S. diplo­mats to block Euro­pean pur­chas­es is to goad Rus­sia into a mil­i­tary response and then claim that aveng­ing this response out­weighs any pure­ly nation­al eco­nom­ic inter­est. As hawk­ish Under-Sec­re­tary of State for Polit­i­cal Affairs, Vic­to­ria Nuland, explained in a State Depart­ment press brief­ing on Jan­u­ary 27: ‘If Rus­sia invades Ukraine one way or anoth­er Nord Stream 2 will not move for­ward.’ The prob­lem is to cre­ate a suit­ably offen­sive inci­dent and depict Rus­sia as the aggres­sor. . . .”

In FTR#1245, we detailed Swiss intel­li­gence offi­cer Jacques Baud’s analy­sis of Ukraine’s impend­ing assault on the eth­ni­cal­ly and lin­guis­ti­cal­ly Russ­ian pop­u­la­tion of East­ern Ukraine and Biden’s sign­ing off on that oper­a­tion in order to real­ize Amer­i­can and West­ern Euro­pean goals.

“How Europe Was Pushed Towards Eco­nom­ic Sui­cide;” Moon of Alaba­ma; 5/18/2022.

With the active help from Europe’s ‘lead­er­ship’ the U.S. is suc­ceed­ing in ruin­ing Europe.

As Michael Hud­son, a research pro­fes­sor of Eco­nom­ics at Uni­ver­si­ty of Mis­souri, Kansas City, wrote in ear­ly Feb­ru­ary, before Rus­si­a’s inter­ven­tion in Ukraine:

Amer­i­ca no longer has the mon­e­tary pow­er and seem­ing­ly chron­ic trade and bal­ance-of-pay­ments sur­plus that enabled it to draw up the world’s trade and invest­ment rules in 1944–45. The threat to U.S. dom­i­nance is that Chi­na, Rus­sia and Mackinder’s Eurasian World Island heart­land are offer­ing bet­ter trade and invest­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties than are avail­able from the Unit­ed States with its increas­ing­ly des­per­ate demand for sac­ri­fices from its NATO and oth­er allies.

The most glar­ing exam­ple is the U.S. dri­ve to block Ger­many from autho­riz­ing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to obtain Russ­ian gas for the com­ing cold weath­er. Angela Merkel agreed with Don­ald Trump to spend $1 bil­lion build­ing a new LNG port to become more depen­dent on high­ly priced U.S. LNG. (The plan was can­celled after the U.S. and Ger­man elec­tions changed both lead­ers.) But Ger­many has no oth­er way of heat­ing many of its hous­es and office build­ings (or sup­ply­ing its fer­til­iz­er com­pa­nies) than with Russ­ian gas.

The only way left for U.S. diplo­mats to block Euro­pean pur­chas­es is to goad Rus­sia into a mil­i­tary response and then claim that aveng­ing this response out­weighs any pure­ly nation­al eco­nom­ic inter­est. As hawk­ish Under-Sec­re­tary of State for Polit­i­cal Affairs, Vic­to­ria Nuland, explained in a State Depart­ment press brief­ing on Jan­u­ary 27: “If Rus­sia invades Ukraine one way or anoth­er Nord Stream 2 will not move for­ward.” The prob­lem is to cre­ate a suit­ably offen­sive inci­dent and depict Rus­sia as the aggres­sor.

In mid Feb­ru­ary OSCE observ­er not­ed that the artillery bom­bard­ment of Don­bas by the Ukraini­ans increased from a hand­ful to over 2,000 explo­sions per day. Rus­sia react­ed to these attack prepa­ra­tions by rec­og­niz­ing the Don­bas republics, sign­ing defense agree­ments with them and by final­ly com­ing to their help.

Short­ly after the launch of the Russ­ian mil­i­tary oper­a­tion Pro­fes­sor Hud­son fur­ther devel­oped his ear­li­er thoughts:

The recent prod­ding of Rus­sia by expand­ing Ukrain­ian anti-Russ­ian eth­nic vio­lence by Ukraine’s neo-Nazi post-2014 Maid­en regime aims at forc­ing a show­down. It comes in response to the fear by U.S. inter­ests that they are los­ing their eco­nom­ic and polit­i­cal hold on their NATO allies and oth­er Dol­lar Area satel­lites as these coun­tries have seen their major oppor­tu­ni­ties for gain to lie in increas­ing trade and invest­ment with Chi­na and Rus­sia.
...
As Pres­i­dent Biden explained, the cur­rent mil­i­tary esca­la­tion (“Prod­ding the Bear”) is not real­ly about Ukraine. Biden promised at the out­set that no U.S. troops would be involved. But he has been demand­ing for over a year that Ger­many pre­vent the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from sup­ply­ing its indus­try and hous­ing with low-priced gas and turn to the much high­er-priced U.S. sup­pli­ers.
...
[T]he most press­ing U.S. strate­gic aim of NATO con­fronta­tion with Rus­sia is soar­ing oil and gas prices. In addi­tion to cre­at­ing prof­its and stock-mar­ket gains for U.S. com­pa­nies, high­er ener­gy prices will take much of the steam out of the Ger­man econ­o­my.

In ear­ly April Pro­fes­sor Hud­son took anoth­er look at the sit­u­a­tion:

It is now clear that the New Cold War was planned over a year ago, with seri­ous strat­e­gy asso­ci­at­ed with America’s per­ceived to block Nord Stream 2 as part of its aim of bar­ring West­ern Europe (“NATO”) from seek­ing pros­per­i­ty by mutu­al trade and invest­ment with Chi­na and Rus­sia.
...
So the Russ­ian-speak­ing Donet­sk and Luhan­sk regions were shelled with increas­ing inten­si­ty, and when Rus­sia still refrained from respond­ing, plans report­ed­ly were drawn up for a great show­down last Feb­ru­ary – a heavy West­ern Ukrain­ian attack orga­nized by U.S. advi­sors and armed by NATO.
...
Euro­pean trade and invest­ment pri­or to the War to Cre­ate Sanc­tions had promised a ris­ing mutu­al pros­per­i­ty among Ger­many, France and oth­er NATO coun­tries vis-à-vis Rus­sia and Chi­na. Rus­sia was pro­vid­ing abun­dant ener­gy at a com­pet­i­tive price, and this ener­gy sup­ply was to make a quan­tum leap with Nord Stream 2. Europe was to earn the for­eign exchange to pay for this ris­ing import trade by a com­bi­na­tion of export­ing more indus­tri­al man­u­fac­tures to Rus­sia and cap­i­tal invest­ment in rebuild­ing the Russ­ian econ­o­my, e.g. by Ger­man auto com­pa­nies, air­craft and finan­cial invest­ment. This bilat­er­al trade and invest­ment is now stopped – for many, many years, giv­en NATO’s con­fis­ca­tion of Russia’s for­eign reserves kept in euros and British ster­ling.

The Euro­pean response to the U.S. proxy war against Rus­sia was based on media dri­ven hys­teric mor­al­iz­ing or maybe mor­al­iz­ing hys­te­ria. It was and is nei­ther ratio­nal nor real­is­tic.

The Euro­pean ‘lead­er­ship’ decid­ed that noth­ing but the eco­nom­ic sui­cide of Europe was suf­fi­cient to show Rus­sia that Brus­sels was seri­ous­ly miffed. Dimwit nation­al gov­ern­ments, includ­ing the Ger­man one, fol­lowed that pro­gram. Should they stay on their course the result will be a com­plete de-indus­tri­al­iza­tion of west­ern Europe.

In the words of one seri­ous observ­er:

Today, we see that for pure­ly polit­i­cal rea­sons, dri­ven by their own ambi­tions, and under pres­sure from their US over­lord, the Euro­pean coun­tries are impos­ing more sanc­tions on the oil and gas mar­kets which will lead to more infla­tion. Instead of admit­ting their mis­takes, they are look­ing for a guilty par­ty else­where.
...
One gets the impres­sion that West­ern politi­cians and econ­o­mists sim­ply for­get basic eco­nom­ic laws or just choose to ignore them.
...
[S]aying no to Russ­ian ener­gy means that Europe will sys­tem­i­cal­ly and for the long term become the world’s most cost­ly region for ener­gy resources. Yes, prices will rise, and resources will go to counter these price hikes, but this will not change the sit­u­a­tion sig­nif­i­cant­ly. Some ana­lysts are say­ing that it will seri­ous­ly or even irrev­o­ca­bly under­mine the com­pet­i­tive­ness of a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of Euro­pean indus­try, which is already los­ing ground to com­pa­nies from oth­er parts of the world. Now, these process­es will cer­tain­ly pick up pace. Clear­ly, the oppor­tu­ni­ties for eco­nom­ic activ­i­ty, with its improve­ments, will leave Europe for oth­er regions, as will Russia’s ener­gy resources.

This eco­nom­ic auto-da-fe… sui­cide is, of course, the inter­nal affair of the Euro­pean coun­tries.
...
Now our part­ners’ errat­ic actions – this is what they are – have result­ed in a de fac­to growth in rev­enue in the Russ­ian oil-and-gas sec­tor in addi­tion to the dam­age to the Euro­pean econ­o­my.
...
Under­stand­ing what steps the West will take in the near future, we must reach con­clu­sions in advance and be proac­tive, turn­ing the thought­less chaot­ic steps of some of our part­ners to our advan­tage for the ben­e­fit of our coun­try. Nat­u­ral­ly, we should not hope for their end­less mis­takes. We should sim­ply, prac­ti­cal­ly pro­ceed from cur­rent real­i­ties, as I said.

Vladimir Putin, Meet­ing on oil indus­try devel­op­ment, May 17 2020, Krem­lin, Moscow

1b. Next, we present an oblique, pos­si­bly very sig­nif­i­cant ele­ment. A For­eign Pol­i­cy arti­cle dis­cussing a fore­bear­er of EU pres­i­dent Ursu­la Von Der Leyen’s who was a key Third Reich offi­cial in Gali­cia (West­ern Ukraine).

It appears that Joachim Frei­herr von der Leyen was a mem­ber of the promi­nent silk mer­chant fam­i­ly into which Ursu­la mar­ried.

Con­ven­tion­al fam­i­ly trees make no men­tion of him: ” . . . . Joachim Frei­herr von der Leyen ( Sep­tem­ber 28, 1897 in Haus Meer , Büderich (Meer­busch) ; † 1945 in Dres­den ) was a Ger­man lawyer and admin­is­tra­tive offi­cial who worked as a dis­trict admin­is­tra­tor in the occu­pied coun­tries of Czecho­slo­va­kia and Poland dur­ing the Nation­al Social­ist peri­od and as a dis­trict cap­tain of the dis­trict of Gali­cia was involved in the orga­ni­za­tion of the Holo­caustVon der Leyen comes from the von der Leyen fam­i­ly of silk barons in Krefeld. . . .”

“The Aris­to­crat­ic Inep­ti­tude of Ursu­la Von Der Leyen” by Peter Kuras; For­eign Pol­i­cy; 4/30/2021.

How the EU president’s fam­i­ly con­nec­tions explain her rise to power—and fail­ures using it dur­ing the pan­dem­ic.

. . . . Von der Leyen’s fam­i­ly tree traces a lega­cy of pow­er and bru­tal­i­ty, incor­po­rat­ing not only some of Germany’s most sig­nif­i­cant Nazis but also some of Britain’s largest slave traders and, through mar­riage, some of the Unit­ed States’ largest slave own­ers. Von der Leyen is descend­ed direct­ly from James Lad­son, who owned more than 200 slaves when the Civ­il War broke out. . . .

1c. “Joachim Frei­herr von der Leyen;“Wikipedia.org

Joachim Frei­herr von der Leyen ( Sep­tem­ber 28, 1897 in Haus Meer , Büderich (Meer­busch) ; † 1945 in Dres­den ) was a Ger­man lawyer and admin­is­tra­tive offi­cial who worked as a dis­trict admin­is­tra­tor in the occu­pied coun­tries of Czecho­slo­va­kia and Poland dur­ing the Nation­al Social­ist peri­od and as a dis­trict cap­tain of the dis­trict of Gali­cia was involved in the orga­ni­za­tion of the Holo­caust .

Von der Leyen comes from the von der Leyen fam­i­ly of silk barons in Krefeld. [This is the fam­i­ly of Ursu­la’s in-laws–D.E.] His father , Friedrich Lud­wig von der Leyen , was may­or of Büderich and dis­trict admin­is­tra­tor of the dis­trict of Neuß , and lived with his fam­i­ly in Schloss Haus Meer until his death in 1945.

From 1915 to 1918 von der Leyen took part in the First World War and from 1919 to 1920 he was a mem­ber of a Freiko­rps . He was a mem­ber of the Young Ger­man Order and from 1926 to 1933 of the Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsol­dat­en . He joined the NSDAP on Feb­ru­ary 1, 1940. [1]

He stud­ied law and passed the first state exam­i­na­tion in 1926, and then on Decem­ber 22, 1928 the major state exam­i­na­tion in law. In 1933 he was a per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the chief of police in Uerdin­gen and from April 1934 at the police head­quar­ters in Wup­per­tal . After the smash­ing of the rest of the Czech Repub­lic , he became pro­vi­sion­al Ober­lan­drat in the dis­trict of Deutschbrod , based in Deutschbrod in the Pro­tec­torate of Bohemia and Moravia , and in 1940, after the occu­pa­tion of France , became head of the admin­is­tra­tive depart­ment of the mil­i­tary admin­is­tra­tive dis­trict OFK 591 in Saint-Ger­main-en-Layeappoint­ed.

At the end of July 1942 he suc­ceed­ed Otto Bauer as dis­trict cap­tain in the dis­trict of Lem­berg-Land in the dis­trict of Gali­cia, the dis­trict gov­er­nor there was Otto Wächter . Bauer remained head of the dis­tric­t’s inter­nal admin­is­tra­tion. Berthold Püt­ter, the dis­trict cap­tain of Lem­berg-Grodek , had been draft­ed into the Wehrma­cht , and the dis­trict admin­is­tra­tion had been merged with Lem­berg-Land.

The fact that von der Leyen was informed about the Jew­ish actions in advance is doc­u­ment­ed, as was the case with a num­ber of oth­er dis­trict cap­tains. [2]

He is said to have died of gas poi­son­ing after the air raid on Dres­den .

Von der Leyen had only been head of his manor for a short time . His wid­ow Huber­ta von der Leyen man­aged the busi­ness, which his son Friedrich Hein­rich von der Leyen II took over in 1970.

Lit­er­a­ture [ edit edit source ]

Markus Roth : Mas­ter peo­ple. The Ger­man dis­trict cap­tains in occu­pied Poland — career paths, rule prac­tice and post-his­to­ry. Wall­stein Ver­lag: Goet­tin­gen 2009. ISBN 978–3‑8353–0477‑2

Dieter Pohl: Nation­al Social­ist Per­se­cu­tion of the Jews in East Gali­cia 1941–1944. Orga­ni­za­tion and imple­men­ta­tion of a state mass crime. Old­en­bourg, Munich 1997, ISBN 3–486-56313–0 ( full text avail­able dig­i­tal­ly ).

2. Next, we high­light the ongo­ing lion­iza­tion of Ukrain­ian Nazi and fas­cist ele­ments in the main­stream U.S. press.

A long spread in the Sun­day New York Times beat­i­fies the Nazi Azov Reg­i­ment, the chief Ukrain­ian unit defend­ing the Azovstal steel works.

“Last Stand at the Steel­works: Inside an 80-Day Siege” by Michael Schwirtz; The New York Times; 7/24/2022; pp. 1–16 [West­ern Print Edi­tion]

3. Anoth­er NYT piece presents a hero­ic por­tray­al of a Ukrain­ian sabo­teur from the Nazi/fascist Azov and Right Sec­tor units: ” . . . . Before the war, Svarog occa­sion­al­ly joined week­end train­ing with Right Sec­tor and Nation­al Corps, a branch of the Azov move­ment, both of which are aligned with para­mil­i­tary units in Ukraine. . . .”

“Ukraini­ans Behind Ene­my Lines Tell Invaders: You’re Nev­er Safe” by Andrew W. Kramer; The New York Times; 8/18/2022; pp. A1-A7.

. . . . Before the war, Svarog occa­sion­al­ly joined week­end train­ing with Right Sec­tor and Nation­al Corps, a branch of the Azov move­ment, both of which are aligned with para­mil­i­tary units in Ukraine. . . .

4. The ele­va­tion of Ukrain­ian Nazis and fas­cists by the U.S. is exem­pli­fied by a Pen­ta­gon-spon­sored ath­let­ic com­pe­ti­tion: ” . . . .This August, dur­ing the Depart­ment of Defense’s annu­al War­rior Games at Dis­ney World in Orlan­do, Flori­da, lib­er­al come­di­an Jon Stew­art award­ed a Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary vet­er­an named Ihor Halush­ka the ‘Heart of the Team’ award for ‘inspir­ing his team’ with his ‘per­son­al exam­ple.’ Halush­ka hap­pens to have been a mem­ber of the neo-Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion, which has been armed by the US and inte­grat­ed into the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Guard. . . . Per­haps the most famous Ukrain­ian War­rior Games par­tic­i­pant is Yulia Palevs­ka, who the New York Times has dubbed ‘a sym­bol of Ukrain­ian brav­ery and self-sac­ri­fice.’. . . . Yulia Palevs­ka and Ihor Halush­ka were mem­bers of the fas­cist Right Sec­tor orga­ni­za­tion and Azov Bat­tal­ion, respec­tive­ly. . . .”

“Jon Stew­art and the Pen­ta­gon hon­or Ukrain­ian Nazi at Dis­ney World” by Alexan­der Rubin­stein; The Gray Zone; 8/31/2022.

Defense Depart­ment-spon­sored “War­rior Games” fea­tured lib­er­al come­di­an Jon Stew­art award­ing a mem­ber of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion at Dis­ney World. The Pen­ta­gon refused to tell The Gray­zone whether US tax­pay­ers fund­ed the for­eign com­peti­tors’ trav­el.

This August, dur­ing the Depart­ment of Defense’s annu­al War­rior Games at Dis­ney World in Orlan­do, Flori­da, lib­er­al come­di­an Jon Stew­art award­ed a Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary vet­er­an named Ihor Halush­ka the “Heart of the Team” award for “inspir­ing his team” with his “per­son­al exam­ple.”

Halush­ka hap­pens to have been a mem­ber of the neo-Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion, which has been armed by the US and inte­grat­ed into the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Guard. The award-win­ning ultra-nation­al­ist wore a sleeve over his left arm as he accept­ed the prize, pre­sum­ably to cov­er up his tat­too of the Nazi Son­nen­rad, or Black Sun.

Because the War­rior Games are spon­sored by the Pen­ta­gon, Amer­i­can tax­pay­ers like­ly paid to send Ukrain­ian Nazis like Halush­ka to Dis­ney World. Indeed, at least two mem­bers of a Ukrain­ian team of wound­ed vet­er­an ath­letes flown to Orlan­do, Flori­da are con­firmed mem­bers of neo-Nazi groups in their coun­try. Yulia Palevs­ka and Ihor Halush­ka were mem­bers of the fas­cist Right Sec­tor orga­ni­za­tion and Azov Bat­tal­ion, respec­tive­ly.

The pair are part of a team of forty Ukrain­ian vet­er­ans par­tic­i­pat­ing in the War­rior Games. They were joined at the cer­e­mo­ny for this year’s com­pe­ti­tion by Dar­ius Ruck­er, the for­mer vocal­ist for the glo­ri­fied bar band Hootie & the Blow­fish, and lib­er­al come­di­an Jon Stew­art.

Dur­ing the clos­ing cer­e­mo­ny, Stew­art award­ed the Azov Battalion’s Halush­ka with the “Heart of the Team” award. The announc­er pro­claimed that Ihor “inspires his team with his per­son­al exam­ple and his unique sense of humor. Sgt. First Class Ihor Halush­ka embod­ies the spir­it and deter­mi­na­tion that is the heart of Team Ukraine.” 

Stew­art tri­umphant­ly bel­lowed “Ihor!” as the Nazi was pre­sent­ed with his tro­phy.

Jon Stew­art awards Ihor Halush­ka with the “Heart of the Team” award

Pri­or to Russia’s inva­sion of Ukraine in Feb­ru­ary of this year, main­stream out­lets from the Dai­ly Beast to Vox to For­eign Pol­i­cy, and even the US gov­ern­ment pro­pa­gan­da out­let Voice of Amer­i­ca, have each acknowl­edged the Azov Battalion’s embrace of Nazism. Right Sec­tor group has been sim­i­lar­ly iden­ti­fied as a fas­cist orga­ni­za­tion. Since the inva­sion, how­ev­er, West­ern cor­po­rate media has down­played the pres­ence of Nazis in the Ukrain­ian armed forces as groups like Azov have tak­en on promi­nent front-line roles.

Reached by phone, War­rior Games com­mu­ni­ca­tion direc­tor Travis Clay­tor would not tell The Gray­zone who cov­ered the trav­el expens­es of Team Ukraine and oth­er for­eign com­peti­tors. Clay­tor mere­ly stat­ed that the Depart­ment of Defense is “not respon­si­ble” for their costs. How­ev­er, he not­ed that “the rela­tion­ship with each team is dif­fer­ent.” Ukraine and Cana­da are the only for­eign teams par­tic­i­pat­ing in this year’s com­pe­ti­tion.

While promis­ing this reporter a more com­plete response by email, Clay­tor has so far failed to deliv­er. 

video on the DoD War­rior Games YouTube chan­nel enti­tled “Fam­i­ly Night at Mag­ic King­dom” shows some mem­bers of Team Ukraine enjoy­ing a night out at the world-famous theme park.

This year’s War­rior Games are tak­ing place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Com­plex at Walt Dis­ney World Resort. Com­pe­ti­tions include shoot­ing, wheel­chair rug­by, cycling, pow­er­lift­ing, indoor row­ing, wheel­chair bas­ket­ball, field, golf, track, swim­ming, sit­ting vol­ley­ball and archery.

This is the first year Team Ukraine has par­tic­i­pat­ed in the War­rior Games. Its ath­letes came away with at least 18 gold medals.

Ukraine’s team is com­posed of the same vet­er­an-ath­letes that par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Invic­tus Games, a sim­i­lar com­pe­ti­tion of wound­ed vet­er­ans found­ed by Prince Har­ry after the Eng­lish roy­al attend­ed the War­rior Games. Ukraine’s Invic­tus Games team and War­rior Games team are both led by Oksana Gor­bach, accord­ing to the Ukrain­ian Min­istry of Vet­er­ans Affairs.

“The orga­ni­za­tion­al team of the War­rior Games in Ukraine includes the Min­istry of Vet­er­ans Affairs of Ukraine, the Cen­ter for Strate­gic Com­mu­ni­ca­tions ‘Strat­Com Ukraine,’ the NGO ‘Invic­tus Ukraine Games,’ the Strong­man Fed­er­a­tion of Ukraine, the ‘Come Back Alive,’” the Min­istry of Vet­er­ans Affairs web­site states. Strat­Com Ukraine, like the Min­istry of Vet­er­ans Affairs, is a gov­ern­men­tal body, while the oth­ers appear to be Ukrain­ian NGOs.

As the Gray­zone report­ed, the head of Ukraine’s vet­er­ans affairs agency attend­ed a 2019 neo-Nazi black met­al con­cert fea­tur­ing sev­er­al anti­se­mit­ic met­al bands, and pro­mot­ed the event on Face­book.

Accord­ing to a delet­ed arti­cle from 2017 on an Azov Bat­tal­ion web­site, at least three mem­bers of the noto­ri­ous ultra­na­tion­al­ist fight­ing force have par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Invic­tus Games. Because Azov iden­ti­fied the com­peti­tors by their call signs, and there­fore did not dis­close their real names, it is not pos­si­ble to deter­mine whether they also com­pet­ed in the 2022 War­rior Games.

While the team page on the Invic­tus Games web­site mere­ly states that Ihor Halush­ka was a mem­ber of Ukraine’s Nation­al Guard, an expand­ed bio on the web­site makes it clear he was a mem­ber of Azov.

An unlist­ed YouTube video by the Invic­tus Games on YouTube offers a close-up of Halush­ka work­ing out with Nazi Black Sun sym­bol tat­tooed on his left elbow clear­ly vis­i­ble. Halush­ka opt­ed to cov­er the fas­cist sym­bol dur­ing pho­to ops at the War­rior Games.

Halush­ka has nev­er been shy about his ties to the Azov Bat­tal­ion. Dur­ing the Invic­tus Games this April, he whipped out an Azov flag as he accept­ed a gold medal, which was host­ed in The Hague – where war crim­i­nals are nor­mal­ly tried, not award­ed. Like­wise, in Orlan­do, Haluskha wore an Azov Bat­tal­ion t‑shirt as he accept­ed a gold medal for indoor row­ing. He was hon­ored days lat­er as the “heart” of his team.

“sym­bol of Ukrain­ian brav­ery” was mem­ber of fas­cist Right Sec­tor

Per­haps the most famous Ukrain­ian War­rior Games par­tic­i­pant is Yulia Palevs­ka, who the New York Times has dubbed “a sym­bol of Ukrain­ian brav­ery and self-sac­ri­fice.” 

Palevs­ka gained inter­na­tion­al recog­ni­tion this March when she hand­ed off footage she had filmed in Mar­i­upol to a jour­nal­ist with the Asso­ci­at­ed Press. The video showed Palevs­ka evac­u­at­ing Azov Bat­tal­ion sol­diers from the Azovstal steel plant in Mar­i­upol when she was cap­tured by Russ­ian forces. Three months lat­er, she was released.

Palevska’s release by Rus­sia was such a notable event in Ukraine that Pres­i­dent Zelen­sky per­son­al­ly remarked on the devel­op­ment.

The Asso­ci­at­ed Press down­played her links to the Azov Bat­tal­ion, writ­ing “Rus­sia has por­trayed Taira as work­ing for the nation­al­ist Azov Bat­tal­ion… But the AP found no such evi­dence, and friends and col­leagues said she had no links to Azov.”

How­ev­er, Palevs­ka was a mem­ber of anoth­er neo-Nazi for­ma­tion sim­i­lar­ly incor­po­rat­ed into the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary – a fact not men­tioned by main­stream media out­lets that vault­ed her to war hero sta­tus this March.

A 2019 Bloomberg Busi­ness­week report iden­ti­fied Palevs­ka as “a for­mer mem­ber of Right Sec­tor,.” (“There’s no such thing as ex-Right Sec­tor,” she claimed). After leav­ing the group “amid infight­ing,” she orga­nized a team of com­bat medics named after her World of War­craft char­ac­ter, “Taira’s Angels.”

Bloomberg’s cor­re­spon­dent met with Palevs­ka in Mar­i­upol, which was then con­trolled by the Azov Bat­tal­ion. Palevska’s medic group “runs through about $20,000, half of it from abroad, in cash, fuel, and med­ical sup­plies every month,” he report­ed.

“Every­one I talk to describes [Palevs­ka], dap­pled with Bud­dhist tat­toos and sport­ing dyed blue hair, as moti­vat­ed pure­ly by patri­o­tism,” he added.

In a pho­to post­ed by the offi­cial Face­book page for Ukrain­ian War­rior Games team, Palevska’s tat­too of the ultra­na­tion­al­ist slo­gan “Glo­ry to Ukraine, Glo­ry to the Heroes” is clear­ly vis­i­ble.

Anoth­er mem­ber of Palevska’s media group was “wear­ing a T‑shirt from the neo-Nazi appar­el com­pa­ny Sva Stone and an Iron Cross ring,” accord­ing to Bloomberg.

It is dif­fi­cult to believe that Palevs­ka and Halush­ka are the only mem­bers of Team Ukraine that have belonged to neo-Nazi groups. 

A pho­to post­ed on the team’s offi­cial Face­book page show five team mem­bers per­form­ing a fas­cist salute in front of a War­rior Games ban­ner.

Team Ukraine per­forms a fas­cist salute in front of a Depart­ment of Defense ban­ner

In oth­er pho­tos, a mem­ber of the team wear­ing a War­rior Games t‑shirt can be seen hold­ing a Right Sec­tor flag; and sev­en vet­er­ans asso­ci­at­ed with the team bear the flag of the 14th Waf­fen Grenadier Divi­sion of the Schutzstaffel (SS), a WWII-era Nazi mil­i­tary for­ma­tion made up of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists.

Amer­i­can tax­pay­ers have already forked $60 bil­lion over to Ukraine since the war broke out in 2014. They are there­fore enti­tled to know whether the Depart­ment of Defense paid Team Ukraine’s trav­el expens­es.

Video from the Depart­ment of Defense shows the Ukrain­ian team deboard­ing on the tar­mac at MacDill Air Force Base. Did they even pass through Cus­toms?

The Pentagon’s War­rior Games has refused to answer these ques­tions and stonewalled The Gray­zone ever since.

While the pres­ence of neo-Nazis with­in Ukraine’s fight­ing forces may come as lit­tle sur­prise to crit­i­cal observers of NATO’s con­flict with Rus­sia, their invi­ta­tion to Dis­ney World by the Depart­ment of Defense is with­out a doubt one of the weird­est episodes in the Ukraine proxy war.

5. The extreme nature of the OUN/B suc­ces­sor Nazis and fas­cists in the polit­i­cal driver’s seat in Ukraine are illus­trat­ed by the names of peo­ple on their “kill list”: “ . . . . Why this site is allowed to oper­ate is a good ques­tion. But you can access it eas­i­ly, and even donate mon­ey to help the “cause” – if you are sym­pa­thet­ic to Nazis and think that assas­si­nat­ing peo­ple for their opin­ions is a whole­some way to sup­port Ukraine. The co-founder of “Pink Floyd” [Roger Waters] is known for his sup­port of impris­oned Wik­ileaks’ cre­ator Julian Assange, and for his oppo­si­tion to impe­ri­al­ism and war, as well as for his awe­some music, loved by mil­lions around the world. . . . . Even Hen­ry Kissinger’s name is on the list despite his long his­to­ry of Rus­so­pho­bia. But since he dared to air his con­cerns about how the US is tee­ter­ing toward war with Rus­sia and Chi­na . . . .”

“Roger Waters Added to Ukraine Gov­’t Spon­sored Hit List” by Deb­o­rah Arm­strong; The Gray Zone; 8/25/2022.

Russian political analyst Daria Dugina, who was killed in a car bomb explosion in Moscow on Saturday, now appears as “liquidated” on the Ukrainian online hit list. The site was created under the watch of the Minister of Internal Affairs.

This arti­cle was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished by Deb­o­rah L. Arm­strong at Medium.com

Editor’s note: The IP address of Mirotvorets has been traced to a serv­er in Brus­sels, Bel­gium

I have writ­ten about the Ukrain­ian hit list known as Mirotvorets, or “Peace­keep­er,” twice before. The first time was in this arti­cle about inter­net cen­sor­ship, and the sec­ond time was when a 13-year-old Ukrain­ian girl, Faina Savenko­va, was added to the list for pub­licly speak­ing out against Kiev’s bloody war on Russ­ian-speak­ing civil­ians in the east­ern part of Ukraine, a region known as the Don­bass.

Screen shot of Faina Savenkova’s pro­file on Mirotvorets.

Mirotvorets is a data­base which lists thou­sands of jour­nal­ists, activists, and any­one else who is declared an “Ene­my of Ukraine.” Their per­son­al infor­ma­tion is pub­lished, such as the address­es of their homes, their phone num­bers and bank account num­bers; any­thing that can help them be eas­i­ly locat­ed. When the peo­ple on this list are mur­dered, like Ital­ian jour­nal­ist Andrea Roc­chel­li was, the word ЛИКВИДИРОВАН, “LIQUIDATED,” writ­ten in Ukrain­ian, is stamped across their pic­ture in big red let­ters.

And, as of August 22, Daria Dug­i­na, who was killed in a car bomb explo­sion in Moscow on Sat­ur­day, appears as “liq­ui­dat­ed” on the web­site, adding more cred­i­bil­i­ty to Russia’s asser­tion that she was assas­si­nat­ed by a Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist who rent­ed an apart­ment in the build­ing where Daria lived in order to sur­veil her pri­or to her killing. It is believed that she was killed because her father, Alexan­der Dug­in was referred to as “Putin’s brain” and “Putin’s spir­i­tu­al guide” in west­ern media, though these claims are real­ly just more spec­u­la­tion.

Ital­ian jour­nal­ist Andrea Roc­chel­li is list­ed as “liq­ui­dat­ed” on Mirotvorets site.

Daria Dug­i­na, Russ­ian war cor­re­spon­dent, is list­ed as “liq­ui­dat­ed” on Mirotvorets site.

It seems that almost any­one can be added to this kill list. Even Hen­ry Kissinger’s name is on the list despite his long his­to­ry of Rus­so­pho­bia. But since he dared to air his con­cerns about how the US is tee­ter­ing toward war with Rus­sia and Chi­na, Kissinger, who once sug­gest­ed drop­ping nuclear bombs on Moscow, is now declared an “Ene­my of Ukraine.”

Kissinger’s Mirotvorets pro­file.

Real­ly, so many peo­ple have been added to this list that it has now become a badge of hon­or among those opposed to Ukraine’s regime, when they are includ­ed on the Mirotvorets site.

Fil­mak­er Igor Lopatonok is tar­get­ed by Mirotvorets because of a film he worked on with Oliv­er Stone.

Why this site is allowed to oper­ate is a good ques­tion. But you can access it eas­i­ly, and even donate mon­ey to help the “cause” – if you are sym­pa­thet­ic to Nazis and think that assas­si­nat­ing peo­ple for their opin­ions is a whole­some way to sup­port Ukraine.

Here is Roger Waters’ pro­file:

Roger Waters’ pro­file on Mirotvorets.

The co-founder of “Pink Floyd” is known for his sup­port of impris­oned Wik­ileaks’ cre­ator Julian Assange, and for his oppo­si­tion to impe­ri­al­ism and war, as well as for his awe­some music, loved by mil­lions around the world.

Waters recent­ly referred to Joe Biden as a “war crim­i­nal” on CNN, and said that Biden is “fuel­ing the fire in Ukraine.”

“This war,” the musi­cian stat­ed, “is basi­cal­ly about the action and reac­tion of NATO push­ing right up to the Russ­ian bor­der, which they promised they wouldn’t do when [Mikhail] Gor­bachev nego­ti­at­ed the with­draw­al of the USSR from the whole of East­ern Europe.”

Waters also said that Crimea belongs to Rus­sia, because the major­i­ty of peo­ple liv­ing on the penin­su­la are Russ­ian.

The rock star’s views have out­raged the pro-NATO crowd and their Nazi friends, as well as the social jus­tice war­riors who froth at the mouth in sup­port of what­ev­er the main­stream media declares to be “the cur­rent thing.” Waters, who has always been some­thing of a dis­si­dent and anti-war, the way all rock stars used to be when rock and roll was still real, is attacked mer­ci­less­ly by the “woke” crowd, who are intol­er­ant of all who are not in lock­step with their views. . . .

6. Next, we fur­ther devel­op Ukraine’s enemies/death list, not­ing the expe­ri­ence of for­mer Marine Corps intel­li­gence offi­cer Scott Rit­ter.

Join­ing Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters and Hen­ry Kissinger on the list, sev­er­al of the mem­bers of which have been mur­dered, Rit­ter notes the pres­ence of OUN/B youth camps in this coun­try, pos­si­ble breed­ing grounds for assas­sins.

Fur­ther­more, Rit­ter cor­rect­ly locates those OUN/B youth camps in the polit­i­cal con­tin­u­um stretch­ing from the Third Reich, through the Cold War, up to today—a con­tin­u­um inex­tri­ca­bly linked with the Gehlen orga­ni­za­tion.

“ . . . . I had to dri­ve past Ellenville, a sleepy lit­tle town that is home to a camp belong­ing to the Ukrain­ian Amer­i­can Youth Asso­ci­a­tion which, every sum­mer, coor­di­nates with the Orga­ni­za­tion for the Defense of Four Free­doms of Ukraine to hold a ‘Heroes’ Hol­i­day’ hon­or­ing vet­er­an of the Ukrain­ian People’s Army and the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists. . . . That a mon­u­ment to men respon­si­ble for geno­ci­dal mass mur­der and who, in the case of two of them (Shukhevych and Ban­dera) open­ly col­lab­o­rat­ed with Nazi Ger­many, could be erect­ed in the Unit­ed States is dis­turb­ing. [NB—Konovalets coop­er­at­ed with the Third Reich as well, D.E.] That every year Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can adher­ents of the odi­ous ide­ol­o­gy of Stepan Ban­dera gath­er to cel­e­brate his lega­cy at a “children’s camp” where the youth are arrayed in brown uni­forms that make them look like what they, in fact, are — ide­o­log­i­cal storm troop­ers for a hate­ful neo-Nazi ide­ol­o­gy that pro­motes the racial supe­ri­or­i­ty of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple, is a nation­al abom­i­na­tion. . . . Ban­dera has been ele­vat­ed to the sta­tus of a nation­al hero in Ukraine, and his birth­day is con­sid­ered a nation­al hol­i­day. . . . The lega­cy of Stepan Ban­dera is at the very heart of what pass­es for Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism today. It dom­i­nates the polit­i­cal are­na inside Ukraine, where all com­pet­ing polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy and affil­i­a­tions have been out­lawed by Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky. . . .”

“SCOTT RITTER: The Death List” by Scott Rit­ter; Con­sor­tium News; 8/31/2022.

 The odi­ous lega­cy of Stepan Ban­dera dri­ves the sup­pres­sion of those who dare chal­lenge the nar­ra­tive of the Russ­ian-Ukrain­ian con­flict pro­mul­gat­ed by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, its West­ern allies and a com­pli­ant main­stream media.  

Stepan Ban­dera mon­u­ment in Ternopil, Ukraine, 2017. (Myko­la Vasylechko, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wiki­me­dia Com­mons)

In May 1986 I received orders to attend a coun­tert­er­ror­ism aware­ness course at the John F. Kennedy Spe­cial War­fare School, in Fort Bragg, North Car­oli­na. For the next two weeks I learned about the var­i­ous ter­ror­ist threats fac­ing the Unit­ed States mil­i­tary, and was taught var­i­ous skills to over­come them, such as high-speed eva­sive dri­ving, counter-sur­veil­lance method­ol­o­gy and reac­tive shoot­ing tech­niques.

Upon my return to Twen­ty-Nine Palms, where I was sta­tioned as a Marine Corps intel­li­gence offi­cer, I was giv­en the task of putting my new­ly learned skills to work by car­ry­ing out a base-wide coun­tert­er­ror­ism exer­cise. I bor­rowed a scout-sniper team from the infantry bat­tal­ion on base, and set them up in an apart­ment off base, where I turned them into a ter­ror­ist cell tasked with col­lect­ing intel­li­gence on the senior offi­cers who lived and worked on the base. The only rule was that the ter­ror­ists could not engage with civil­ians — no fam­i­lies were to be impact­ed by the drill.

Over the course of the next 30 days, my ter­ror­ist team was able to “assas­si­nate” every bat­tal­ion com­man­der, the reg­i­men­tal com­man­der and the base com­man­der, using impro­vised explo­sive devices and sniper fire — and had the pho­tographs to prove it.

The take­away from this exer­cise was that if some­one want­ed you dead, you were prob­a­bly going to die.

Vig­i­lance was your only real defense — to be alert for any­thing sus­pi­cious. In short, to live a life gov­erned by para­noia. In the age of ter­ror­ism, if you feel like some­one is seek­ing to do you harm, it is prob­a­bly because some­one is seek­ing to do you harm.

Using Those Skills

Through­out my pro­fes­sion­al life, I have had occa­sion to use the skills I learned at Fort Bragg on sev­er­al occa­sions — I was tar­get­ed for assas­si­na­tion while work­ing as a U.N. weapons inspec­tor in Iraq and I was informed that I was the sub­ject of a “hit” put out by the Russ­ian mafia for my role in break­ing up an illic­it mis­sile com­po­nent smug­gling ring.

I would con­duct a 360-degree inspec­tion of my vehi­cle before enter­ing it, look­ing for signs of tam­per­ing. And I would con­duct counter-sur­veil­lance drills while dri­ving, accel­er­at­ing at odd inter­vals to see if any­one kept pace, or rapid­ly exit­ing a high­way to see if any­one fol­lowed.

Today, I’m a 61-year-old writer liv­ing in the sub­urbs of Albany, New York. It’s a qui­et neigh­bor­hood, where every­one knows every­one. And yet, due to recent cir­cum­stances, I once again find myself inspect­ing my vehi­cle before get­ting inside, keep­ing a watch­ful eye out for strange vehi­cles dri­ving down my street and con­duct­ing counter-sur­veil­lance maneu­vers while dri­ving.

Why the para­noia? Sim­ply put, my name has been added to a Ukrain­ian “kill list.” Think I’m get­ting too wound up? Ask the fam­i­ly of Daria Dug­i­na, the 29-year-old daugh­ter of the Russ­ian philoso­pher Alexan­der Dug­in. Both she and her father were on the same list. Both were tar­get­ed for death by an assas­sin dis­patched by the Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty ser­vices. Only a last-sec­ond change of plans, which put Alexan­der Dug­in behind the wheel of a dif­fer­ent car, kept him from being killed in the blast that took the life of his daugh­ter.

Daria Dug­i­na. (1RNK, CC BY 3.0, Wiki­me­dia Com­mons)

I’ve been writ­ing for some time now about the Ukrain­ian Cen­ter for Coun­ter­ing Dis­in­for­ma­tion and their pub­li­ca­tion in mid-July of a “black­list” con­tain­ing the names of 72 intel­lec­tu­als, jour­nal­ists, activists and politi­cians from sev­er­al coun­tries who were labeled “Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­dists” by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment for hav­ing the audac­i­ty to speak crit­i­cal­ly, yet fac­tu­al­ly, about the ongo­ing Russ­ian-Ukrain­ian con­flict.

I took umbrage over this list for sev­er­al rea­sons, first and fore­most that the salaries of the Ukraini­ans who com­piled this list appeared to be paid by the U.S. tax­pay­er using funds appro­pri­at­ed by Con­gress for that very pur­pose. The idea of Con­gress pass­ing a law which empow­ered the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment to do some­thing — sup­press the First Amend­ment guar­an­tees of free speech and a free press — that Con­gress was Con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly pro­hib­it­ed from doing angered me.

[Relat­ed: SCOTT RITTER: Chuck Schumer’s War on Free Speech]

So, too, did the fact that the Cen­ter for Coun­ter­ing Dis­in­for­ma­tion announced the exis­tence of this “black­list” at a func­tion orga­nized by a U.S.-funded NGO and attend­ed by State Depart­ment offi­cials who sat mute while their Ukrain­ian col­leagues labeled the per­sons on this list “infor­ma­tion ter­ror­ists” who deserved to be arrest­ed and pros­e­cut­ed as “war crim­i­nals.”

At the time, I cau­tioned that the use of such inflam­ma­to­ry lan­guage meant that the “black­list” could be turned into a “kill list” sim­ply by hav­ing a fanat­ic decide to take jus­tice into his or her own hands. Giv­en that the U.S. gov­ern­ment fund­ed the cre­ation of this list, orga­nized the meet­ing where it was pre­sent­ed to the world and gave an implic­it stamp of approval to the list and its accom­pa­ny­ing label­ing through the atten­dance of U.S. gov­ern­ment offi­cials, these fanat­ics don’t have to be for­eign sourced. Plen­ty of peo­ple in the U.S. adhere to the same hate-filled ide­ol­o­gy that exists in Ukraine today and which gave birth to the “black­list.”

Some of them are my neigh­bors.

In June I drove down to Bethel, New York (the site of the orig­i­nal Wood­stock music fes­ti­val), to par­tic­i­pate in a Spar­tan Obsta­cle Course Race. To get there, I had to dri­ve past Ellenville, a sleepy lit­tle town that is home to a camp belong­ing to the Ukrain­ian Amer­i­can Youth Asso­ci­a­tion which, every sum­mer, coor­di­nates with the Orga­ni­za­tion for the Defense of Four Free­doms of Ukraine to hold a “Heroes’ Hol­i­day” hon­or­ing vet­er­an of the Ukrain­ian People’s Army and the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists.

The camp boasts a “Heroes’ Mon­u­ment”, con­sists of a 42-foot-tall struc­ture with a Ukrain­ian tri­dent at the top flanked by the busts of Yevhen Kono­valets, Symon Petliu­ra, Roman Shukhevych and Stepan Ban­dera —four lead­ing fig­ures in the his­to­ry of Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism, all of whom were involved in the mur­ders, col­lec­tive­ly, of hun­dreds of thou­sands of Jews, Poles and Rus­sians.

Ban­dera has been ele­vat­ed to the sta­tus of a nation­al hero in Ukraine, and his birth­day is con­sid­ered a nation­al hol­i­day.

That a mon­u­ment to men respon­si­ble for geno­ci­dal mass mur­der and who, in the case of two of them (Shukhevych and Ban­dera) open­ly col­lab­o­rat­ed with Nazi Ger­many, could be erect­ed in the Unit­ed States is dis­turb­ing.

That every year Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can adher­ents of the odi­ous ide­ol­o­gy of Stepan Ban­dera gath­er to cel­e­brate his lega­cy at a “children’s camp” where the youth are arrayed in brown uni­forms that make them look like what they, in fact, are — ide­o­log­i­cal storm troop­ers for a hate­ful neo-Nazi ide­ol­o­gy that pro­motes the racial supe­ri­or­i­ty of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple, is a nation­al abom­i­na­tion.

From Ellenville to Bethel, I saw evi­dence of this hate­ful real­i­ty in every blue-and-yel­low Ukrain­ian flag flut­ter­ing in the wind — and every red-and-black ban­ner of the Ban­dera-wor­ship­ping Ukrain­ian neo-Nazi fanat­ics that flut­tered next to them.

Stepan Ban­dera Lega­cy 

The lega­cy of Stepan Ban­dera is at the very heart of what pass­es for Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism today. It dom­i­nates the polit­i­cal are­na inside Ukraine, where all com­pet­ing polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy and affil­i­a­tions have been out­lawed by Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky.

It is behind the sup­pres­sion of all dis­sent­ing voic­es — for­eign and domes­tic — that dare chal­lenge the nar­ra­tive about the Russ­ian-Ukrain­ian con­flict being pro­mul­gat­ed by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, its West­ern allies, and a com­pli­ant main­stream media.

After Con­sor­tium News pub­lished my let­ter to my New York con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion (Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gilli­brand and Rep. Paul Tonko), in which I called them out for vot­ing for Pub­lic Law 117–128 appro­pri­at­ing $40 bil­lion in U.S. tax­pay­er mon­ey to under­write the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment and mil­i­tary, there was con­cert­ed action by oth­ers impact­ed by the Ukrain­ian “black­list,” which the leg­is­la­tion had fund­ed.  This was led by Diane Sare, the LaRouche Par­ty can­di­date chal­leng­ing Schumer for his Sen­ate seat.

The pub­lic­i­ty about con­gres­sion­al­ly-fund­ed sup­pres­sion of free speech appeared to be too much for those who are com­plic­it in a frontal assault on the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. The Cen­ter for Coun­ter­ing Disinformation’s “black­list” was removed from the inter­net.

Vic­to­ry, how­ev­er, was short lived. With­in days of the Cen­ter for Coun­ter­ing Disinformation’s “black­list” being tak­en down, a list pub­lished by the Ukrain­ian “Myrotvorets” (Peacemaker’s) Cen­ter incor­po­rat­ed names that had been on the Cen­ter for Coun­ter­ing Dis­in­for­ma­tion “black­list.”

Coat of Myrotvorets staff mem­ber with field ver­sion of their emblem on sleeve. (Shao, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wiki­me­dia Com­mons)

The Myrotvorets list has been in exis­tence since 2014 and has been described as “effec­tive­ly a death list for politi­cians, jour­nal­ists, entre­pre­neurs and oth­er pub­lic fig­ures who have been ‘cleared for fir­ing’” by the list’s cre­ators.

Daria Dugina’s name was on that list. 

And now so is mine, along with sev­er­al oth­er West­ern­ers, such as Cana­di­an jour­nal­ist Eva Bartlett and British rock musi­cian Roger Waters. 

Scott Rit­ter on the death list. (Click to enlarge).

The Biden admin­is­tra­tion is silent about this abom­i­na­tion.

So is Con­gress.

Accord­ing to 6 USCS § 101, the term ter­ror­ism is

“any activ­i­ty that involves an act that is dan­ger­ous to human life or poten­tial­ly destruc­tive of crit­i­cal infra­struc­ture or key resources; and is a vio­la­tion of the crim­i­nal laws of the Unit­ed States or of any State or oth­er sub­di­vi­sion of the Unit­ed States; and appears to be intend­ed to intim­i­date or coerce a civil­ian pop­u­la­tion, to influ­ence the pol­i­cy of a gov­ern­ment by intim­i­da­tion or coer­cion, or to affect the con­duct of a gov­ern­ment by mass destruc­tion, assas­si­na­tion, or kid­nap­ping.”

There is lit­tle doubt that the mur­der of Daria Dug­i­na was an act of ter­ror­ism per­pe­trat­ed on behalf of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment. (Her pho­to on the list now has the word “liq­ui­dat­ed” writ­ten diag­o­nal­ly across it in red.)

While the Ukraini­ans deny any such alle­ga­tions, Russ­ian author­i­ties have assem­bled a con­vinc­ing fac­tu­al case to the con­trary.

The exis­tence of the Myrotvorets “death list” is an instru­ment of ter­ror and should be tak­en down at the insis­tence of the U.S. Gov­ern­ment.

The fail­ure of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment to shut down the Myrotvorets Cen­ter and con­demn its activ­i­ties would con­sti­tute mate­r­i­al sup­port of ter­ror­ism.

The U.S. should also rec­og­nize any orga­ni­za­tions which embrace the ide­ol­o­gy of Stepan Ban­dera as ter­ror­ist enti­ties — includ­ing those respon­si­ble for rais­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of brown-shirt­ed neo-Nazis in the heart­land of Amer­i­ca.

The “Hero’s Mon­u­ment” in Ellenville must be closed, and the stat­ues of Ban­dera and the oth­er three Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists removed from pub­lic view.

It is a nation­al dis­grace that U.S. cit­i­zens are sub­ject­ed to death threats from an erst­while ally of the Unit­ed States for sim­ply exer­cis­ing their Con­sti­tu­tion­al right of free speech. The adher­ents to the ide­ol­o­gy of Stepan Ban­dera, in Ukraine and in the Unit­ed States, must be treat­ed as ter­ror­ists, and pros­e­cut­ed with the same lev­el of inten­si­ty and pur­pose as were the fol­low­ers of al-Qae­da and the Islam­ic State.

Until this is done, I will have no choice but to take the appro­pri­ate pre­cau­tions to make sure that nei­ther my fam­i­ly nor I suf­fer the fate of Daria Dug­i­na.

7. Fur­ther solid­i­fy­ing the con­ti­nu­ity between the Third Reich, the Gehlen Org and the Ukrain­ian dias­po­ra in the U.S., we note that, while it was the BND (the intel­li­gence ser­vice of the Fed­er­al Repub­lic) the “Org” was financ­ing the East­ern Euro­pean fas­cist groups that were part of the Eth­nic Her­itage Out­reach Coun­cil.

Gehlen: Spy of the Cen­tu­ry by E.H. Cookridge; Ran­dom House [HC]; Copy­right 1971 by Euro­pean Copy­right Com­pa­ny Lim­it­ed; ISBN 0–394-47313–2; pp. 362–363.

. . . . Gehlen even set up a num­ber of “cells” in the Unit­ed States. As ear­ly as 1963, the Sen­ate For­eign Rela­tions com­mit­tee dis­cussed the activ­i­ties of the Julius Klein pub­lic rela­tions com­pa­ny, which had estab­lished branch­es in Wash­ing­ton, New York and Los Ange­les and also in Cana­da, employ­ing a fair­ly numer­ous staff with­out appar­ent­ly engag­ing on any pub­lic­i­ty busi­ness. From this firm, the trail led to the Asso­ci­a­tion of Amer­i­can Cit­i­zens of Ger­man Ori­gin, which was receiv­ing large sub­si­dies from an unspec­i­fied Fed­er­al Ger­man gov­ern­ment department—the Bun­desnachri­ten­di­enst, it was lat­er estab­lished. This for­eign sub­sidy amount­ed to the hand­some sum of 280,000 dol­lars in 1964 and was increased in lat­er years. . . .

Not so sat­is­fac­to­ry at first were the expla­na­tions of Gehlen’s con­nec­tions with the large orga­ni­za­tions of Ukraini­ans, Poles, Lithua­ni­ans, Lat­vians and oth­er East Euro­pean immi­grants in the Unit­ed States, which received finance and advice from three “reg­is­tered” BND agents—Roman Hen­linger, alias “Dr. Grau,” Vic­tor Sale­mann and Alexan­der Wieber. . . .

8. In FTR #907, we not­ed the pro­found pres­ence of the Ukrain­ian fas­cists in the Unit­ed States, as well as their oper­a­tional con­nec­tions to the Third Reich. In FTR #1072, we not­ed the Ukrain­ian youth cadre in the U.S., and its affil­i­a­tion with the OUN/B milieu in Ukraine.

Our next item out these con­nec­tions, not­ing:

1. The CYM orga­ni­za­tion and its pres­ence in the U.S.

2. The deci­sive involve­ment of post-World War II emi­gres in the growth of that move­ment.

3. CYM’s close affil­i­a­tion with the OUN/B.

4. CYM’s uni­formed, mil­i­tary ori­en­ta­tion: ” . . . . Among the most pop­u­lar activ­i­ties are mil­i­tary-style games where campers are divid­ed into two teams that have to dodge or cap­ture their oppo­nents by mov­ing stealth­ily and orga­niz­ing ambush­es. . . . .”


“Ukrain­ian Youth Orga­ni­za­tion CYM thriv­ing in Amer­i­ca” by Askold Krushel­ny­cky; Kyiv Post; 07/29/2019

The Kyiv Post joined hun­dreds of peo­ple who came to a Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can Youth Asso­ci­a­tion camp and resort in New York state for an extend­ed week­end that includ­ed cel­e­brat­ing America’s Inde­pen­dence Day and com­mem­o­rat­ing Ukrain­ian heroes who fought through­out the ages for their country’s free­dom.

The asso­ci­a­tion is known by the Ukrain­ian acronym CYM – pro­nounced “SUM” – of its name “Spilka Ukrayin­skoyi Molo­di.” Along with the Ukrain­ian Scout­ing move­ment, Plast, it is one of the two main youth groups that flow­ered in the post-World War II dias­po­ra and taught younger gen­er­a­tions about their her­itage and ensured that the Ukrain­ian com­mu­ni­ty remained vibrant.

CYM has four camps in var­i­ous parts of the U.S. The New York one named after the near­est small town of 4,000 res­i­dents, Ellenville, is set in pic­turesque undu­lat­ing coun­try­side near the Catskill For­est Pre­serve nation­al park and its ter­ri­to­ry includes hills, woods and a stream filled with trout and bass. It was bought by the Ukrain­ian com­mu­ni­ty in the 1960s. . . .

. . . . There are ele­ments of mil­i­tary dis­ci­pline in CYM, as there are in oth­er youth orga­ni­za­tions such as the Scout­ing move­ment. They learn drill so that they can march or assem­ble in for­ma­tion.


They wear uni­forms for Sun­day church ser­vices and on some oth­er spe­cial occa­sions. Uni­forms con­sist of gray shirts with match­ing trousers or skirts. Dif­fer­ent col­ored ties denote age groups with green for the youngest, bur­gundy for teenagers, blue for young adults and brown for the over-thir­ties. CYM mem­bers around the world wear the same uni­form except for a shoul­der patch say­ing which coun­try they belong to. . . .

. . . . Among the most pop­u­lar activ­i­ties are mil­i­tary-style games where campers are divid­ed into two teams that have to dodge or cap­ture their oppo­nents by mov­ing stealth­ily and orga­niz­ing ambush­es. . . . .

. . . . The top­ics that fea­tured in talks for the old­er mem­bers this month includ­ed the his­to­ry of Ukraine’s strug­gles in the 20th cen­tu­ry for free­dom. Much time was devot­ed to the leader of the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists, Stepan Ban­dera, as 2019 sees the 110th anniver­sary of his birth and 60th anniver­sary of his assas­si­na­tion by the Sovi­et KGB. . . .

. . . . After World War II, CYM start­ed to be rebuilt by refugees from Ukraine, tens of thou­sands of whom lived for sev­er­al years in dis­placed per­sons’ camps in Ger­many and Aus­tria. Ban­dera sup­port­ers were instru­men­tal in reviv­ing CYM in the West after the war and the asso­ci­a­tion is clear­ly streaked with their style of impas­sioned Ukrain­ian patri­o­tism. . . .

. . . . It also flour­ished in every coun­try with sig­nif­i­cant Ukrain­ian com­mu­ni­ties includ­ing the Unit­ed King­dom, Cana­da, Ger­many, Bel­gium, France, the Nether­lands, Argenti­na, Brazil, Aus­tralia and New Zealand. CYM has some 1,600 mem­bers in the U.S. in its 28 branch­es in 12 of America’s states. . . . .

. . . . The man head­ing up, for the fourth time, the camp for old­er CYM mem­bers this year is Myko­la Hryck­owian. His par­ents came to the U.S. after World War Two and both had staunch­ly patri­ot­ic back­grounds.

On July 7, with CYM mem­bers in full uni­form, and vis­i­tors also tak­ing part, there was a church ser­vice at the camp’s own chapel. That was fol­lowed by a wreath-lay­ing cer­e­mo­ny at a near­by mon­u­ment ded­i­cat­ed to all Ukraine’s inde­pen­dence heroes.

Dmitri Lenzcuk, as chief instruc­tor, was respon­si­ble for work­ing out the sched­ule of lessons and activ­i­ties for the camp. He is a sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Amer­i­can whose grand­par­ents arrived in the U.S. after the war . . . .

9. Apol­o­gists for Ban­dera and his acolytes in the Zelen­sky regime have not­ed the offi­cial break between ele­ments of the Third Reich lead­er­ship and the OUN/B milieu fol­low­ing Ukraine’s dec­la­ra­tion of inde­pen­dence.

This “break” was—in essence—for PR pur­pos­es, as the UPA (OUN/B’s mil­i­tary wing) con­tin­ued to staff Nazi mil­i­tary units such as the 14th Waf­fen SS divi­sion.

Ban­dera was priv­i­leged: “ . . . .  Ban­dera had a two-room suite with paint­ings and rugs, was allowed to have con­ju­gal vis­its with his wife, per­formed no forced labor, wore no uni­form, was exempt from roll call, ate with the guards and did not lock his cell door at night. The Nazis released Ban­dera in 1944 after a meet­ing with Otto Sko­rzeny, Hitler’s top com­man­do, to car­ry out a cam­paign of ter­ror­ism against the advanc­ing Red Army. . . .”

“How Pre-WW II Ukrain­ian Fas­cists Pio­neered Bru­tal Ter­ror Tech­niques; Lat­er Improved By CIA, Now Iron­i­cal­ly Taught to Descen­dants” by Evan Reif; Covert Action Mag­a­zine; 6/9/2022.

. . . . Sev­er­al months after the dec­la­ra­tion of inde­pen­dence, which the Nazis did not accept, ten­sions would rise to such an extent that the Nazis arrest­ed Ban­dera, Stet­sko and oth­er lead­ers. After a peri­od of house arrest, they were trans­ferred to Sach­sen­hausen con­cen­tra­tion camp in 1943.

Bandera’s stay was not typ­i­cal, how­ever. Ban­dera had a two-room suite with paint­ings and rugs, was allowed to have con­ju­gal vis­its with his wife, per­formed no forced labor, wore no uni­form, was exempt from roll call, ate with the guards and did not lock his cell door at night.

The Nazis released Ban­dera in 1944 after a meet­ing with Otto Sko­rzeny, Hitler’s top com­man­do, to car­ry out a cam­paign of ter­ror­ism against the advanc­ing Red Army. The Nazis could have killed Ban­dera and Stet­sko at any time in the inter­im, but they did not. Rather, they made a great and suc­cess­ful effort to recruit them. . . .

10. Our pro­grams con­clude with excerpts of anoth­er inter­view with Swiss intel­li­gence offi­cer Jacques Baud.

Colonel Baud’s CV: Jacques Baud is a for­mer colonel of the Gen­er­al Staff, ex-mem­ber of the Swiss strate­gic intel­li­gence, spe­cial­ist on East­ern coun­tries. He was trained in the Amer­i­can and British intel­li­gence ser­vices. He has served as Pol­i­cy Chief for Unit­ed Nations Peace Oper­a­tions. As a UN expert on rule of law and secu­ri­ty insti­tu­tions, he designed and led the first mul­ti­di­men­sion­al UN intel­li­gence unit in the Sudan. He has worked for the African Union and was for 5 years respon­si­ble for the fight, at NATO, against the pro­lif­er­a­tion of small arms. He was involved in dis­cus­sions with the high­est Russ­ian mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence offi­cials just after the fall of the USSR. With­in NATO, he fol­lowed the 2014 Ukrain­ian cri­sis and lat­er par­tic­i­pat­ed in pro­grams to assist the Ukraine. He is the author of sev­er­al books on intel­li­gence, war and ter­ror­ism, in par­tic­u­lar Le Détourne­ment pub­lished by SIGEST, Gou­vern­er par les fake newsL’affaire Naval­ny. His lat­est book is Pou­tine, maître du jeu? pub­lished by Max Milo.

For the edi­fi­ca­tion of the read­er, we present the full text of the inter­view here.

In the pro­gram, we note Ukraine’s “mir­ror imag­ing” of the polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary aspects of the war, rep­re­sent­ing Ukrain­ian atroc­i­ties and war crimes as Russ­ian.

In turn, West­ern media slav­ish­ly report the Ukrain­ian pro­pa­gan­da as fact, a dynam­ic Mr. Emory has cit­ed as cement­ing the Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of Amer­i­ca, begun dur­ing the clos­ing stages of World War II.

Baud cites Ukrain­ian oper­a­tions behind Russ­ian lines: “ . . . . This is a ter­ror­ist cam­paign tar­get­ing pro-Russ­ian Ukrain­ian per­son­al­i­ties and offi­cials. It fol­lows major changes in the lead­er­ship of the SBU, in Kiev, and in the regions, includ­ing Lvov, Ternopol since July. It is prob­a­bly in the con­text of this same cam­paign that Darya Dug­i­na was assas­si­nat­ed on August 21. The objec­tive of this new cam­paign could be to con­vey the illu­sion that there is an ongo­ing resis­tance in the areas tak­en by the Rus­sians and thus revive West­ern aid, which is start­ing to fatigue. These sab­o­tage activ­i­ties do not real­ly have an oper­a­tional impact and seem more relat­ed to a psy­cho­log­i­cal oper­a­tion. It may be that these are actions like the one on Snake Island at the begin­ning of May, intend­ed to demon­strate to the inter­na­tion­al pub­lic that Ukraine is act­ing. What the inci­dents in Crimea indi­rect­ly show is that the pop­u­lar resis­tance claimed by the West in Feb­ru­ary does not exist. . . .”

Colonel Baud also high­lights Ukraine’s shelling of the Zapor­i­hizia Nuclear Pow­er Plant: “ . . . . By bomb­ing the plant, Ukraine could also be try­ing to pres­sure the West to inter­vene in the con­flict, under the pre­text that Rus­sia is seek­ing to dis­con­nect the plant from the Ukrain­ian pow­er grid before the fall. This sui­ci­dal behavior—as stat­ed by UN Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al António Guterres—would be in line with the war waged by Ukraine since 2014. There is strong evi­dence that the attacks on Ener­go­dar are Ukrain­ian. The frag­ments of pro­jec­tiles fired at the site from the oth­er side of the Dnieper are of West­ern ori­gin. It seems that they come from British BRIMSTONE mis­siles, which are pre­ci­sion mis­siles, whose use is mon­i­tored by the British. Appar­ent­ly, the West is aware of the Ukrain­ian attacks on the ZNPP. This might explain why Ukraine is not very sup­port­ive of an inter­na­tion­al com­mis­sion of inquiry and why West­ern coun­tries are putting unre­al­is­tic con­di­tions for send­ing inves­ti­ga­tors from the IAEA, an agency that has not shown much integri­ty so far. . . .”

Colonel Baud sums up the role of ter­ror cen­tral to the Naz­i­fied Ukrain­ian regime, par­rot­ed by West­ern MSM: “ . . . . Ukrain­ian crimes were begin­ning to be revealed on social net­works, and on 27 March Zelen­sky feared that this would jeop­ar­dize West­ern sup­port. This was followed—rather opportunely—by the Bucha mas­sacre on 3 April, the cir­cum­stances of which remain unclear. Britain, which then had the chair­man­ship of the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, refused three times the Russ­ian request to set up an inter­na­tion­al com­mis­sion of enquiry into the crimes of Bucha. Ukrain­ian social­ist MP Ilya Kiva revealed on Telegram that the Bucha tragedy was planned by the British MI6 spe­cial ser­vices and imple­ment­ed by the SBU. The fun­da­men­tal prob­lem is that the Ukraini­ans have replaced the ‘oper­a­tional art’ with bru­tal­i­ty. . . .”

Our Lat­est Inter­view with Jacques Baud

Sep­tem­ber 1, 2022 Jacques Baud

We are pleased to bring you this fresh inter­view with Jacques Baud, in which we cov­er what is now hap­pen­ing in the geopo­lit­i­cal strug­gle that is the Ukraine-Rus­sia war. As always, Mr. Baud brings deep insight and clear analy­sis to the con­ver­sa­tion.

The Pos­til (TP): You have just pub­lished your lat­est book on the war in Ukraine—Oper­a­tion Z, pub­lished by Max Milo. Please tell us a lit­tle about it—what led you to write this book and what do you wish to con­vey to read­ers?

Jacques Baud (JB): The aim of this book is to show how the mis­in­for­ma­tion prop­a­gat­ed by our media has con­tributed to push Ukraine in the wrong direc­tion. I wrote it under the mot­to “from the way we under­stand crises derives the way we solve them.”

By hid­ing many aspects of this con­flict, the West­ern media has pre­sent­ed us with a car­i­cat­ur­al and arti­fi­cial image of the sit­u­a­tion, which has result­ed in the polar­iza­tion of minds. This has led to a wide­spread mind­set that makes any attempt to nego­ti­ate vir­tu­al­ly impos­si­ble.

The one-sided and biased rep­re­sen­ta­tion pro­vid­ed by main­stream media is not intend­ed to help us solve the prob­lem, but to pro­mote hatred of Rus­sia. Thus, the exclu­sion of dis­abled ath­letes, cats, even Russ­ian trees from com­pe­ti­tions, the dis­missal of con­duc­tors, the de-plat­form­ing of Russ­ian artists, such as Dos­toyevsky, or even the renam­ing of paint­ings aims at exclud­ing the Russ­ian pop­u­la­tion from soci­ety! In France, bank accounts of indi­vid­u­als with Russ­ian-sound­ing names were even blocked. Social net­works Face­book and Twit­ter have sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly blocked the dis­clo­sure of Ukrain­ian crimes under the pre­text of “hate speech” but allow the call for vio­lence against Rus­sians.

None of these actions had any effect on the con­flict, except to stim­u­late hatred and vio­lence against the Rus­sians in our coun­tries. This manip­u­la­tion is so bad that we would rather see Ukraini­ans die than to seek a diplo­mat­ic solu­tion. As Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Lind­sey Gra­ham recent­ly said, it is a mat­ter of let­ting the Ukraini­ans fight to the last man.

It is com­mon­ly assumed that jour­nal­ists work accord­ing to stan­dards of qual­i­ty and ethics to inform us in the most hon­est way pos­si­ble. These stan­dards are set by the Munich Char­ter of 1971. While writ­ing my book I found out that no French-speak­ing main­stream media in Europe respects this char­ter as far as Rus­sia and Chi­na are con­cerned. In fact, they shame­less­ly sup­port an immoral pol­i­cy towards Ukraine, described by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, pres­i­dent of Mex­i­co, as “We pro­vide the weapons, you pro­vide the corpses!”

To high­light this mis­in­for­ma­tion, I want­ed to show that infor­ma­tion allow­ing to pro­vide a real­is­tic pic­ture of the sit­u­a­tion was avail­able as ear­ly as Feb­ru­ary, but that our media did not relay it to the pub­lic. My goal was to show this con­tra­dic­tion.

In order to avoid becom­ing a pro­pa­gan­dist myself in favor of one side or the oth­er, I have relied exclu­sive­ly on West­ern, Ukrain­ian (from Kiev) and Russ­ian oppo­si­tion sources. I have not tak­en any infor­ma­tion from the Russ­ian media.

TP: It is com­mon­ly said in the West that this war has “proven” that the Russ­ian army is fee­ble and that its equip­ment is use­less. Are these asser­tions true?

JB: No. After more than six months of war, it can be said that the Russ­ian army is effec­tive and effi­cient, and that the qual­i­ty of its com­mand & con­trol far exceeds what we see in the West. But our per­cep­tion is influ­enced by a report­ing that is focused on the Ukrain­ian side, and by dis­tor­tions of real­i­ty.

First­ly, there is the real­i­ty on the ground. It should be remem­bered that what the media call “Rus­sians” is in fact a Russ­ian-speak­ing coali­tion, com­posed of pro­fes­sion­al Russ­ian fight­ers and sol­diers of the pop­u­lar mili­tias of Don­bass. The oper­a­tions in the Don­bass are main­ly car­ried out by these mili­tias, who fight on “their” ter­rain, in towns and vil­lages they know and where they have friends and fam­i­ly. They are there­fore advanc­ing cau­tious­ly for them­selves, but also to avoid civil­ian casu­al­ties. Thus, despite the claims of west­ern pro­pa­gan­da, the coali­tion enjoys a very good pop­u­lar sup­port in the areas it occu­pies.

Then, just look­ing at a map, you can see that the Don­bass is a region with a lot of built-up and inhab­it­ed areas, which means an advan­tage for the defend­er and a reduced speed of progress for the attack­er in all cir­cum­stances.

Sec­ond­ly, there is the way our media por­tray the evo­lu­tion of the con­flict. Ukraine is a huge coun­try and small-scale maps hard­ly show the dif­fer­ences from one day to anoth­er. More­over, each side has its own per­cep­tion of the progress of the ene­my. If we take the exam­ple of the sit­u­a­tion on March 25, 2022, we can see that the map of the French dai­ly news­pa­per Ouest-France (a) shows almost no advance of Rus­sia, as does the Swiss RTS site (b). The map of the Russ­ian web­site RIAFAN © may be pro­pa­gan­da, but if we com­pare it with the map of the French Mil­i­tary Intel­li­gence Direc­torate (DRM) (d), we see that the Russ­ian media is prob­a­bly clos­er to the truth. All these maps were pub­lished on the same day, but the French news­pa­per and the Swiss state media did not choose to use the DRM map and pre­ferred to use a Ukrain­ian map. This illus­trates that our media work like pro­pa­gan­da out­lets.

Fig­ure 1 – Com­par­i­son of the maps pre­sent­ed in our media on 25 March 2022. It is this way of pre­sent­ing the Russ­ian offen­sive that has led to the asser­tion that the Russ­ian army is weak. It also shows that the infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed by the Russ­ian media seems clos­er to real­i­ty than that giv­en by Ukraine.

Third­ly, our “experts” have them­selves deter­mined the objec­tives of the Russ­ian offen­sive. By claim­ing that Rus­sia want­ed to take over Ukraine and its resources, to take over Kiev in two days, etc., our experts have lit­er­al­ly invent­ed and attrib­uted to the Rus­sians objec­tives that Putin nev­er men­tioned. In May 2022, Claude Wild, the Swiss ambas­sador in Kiev, declared on RTS that the Rus­sians had “lost the bat­tle for Kiev.” But in real­i­ty, there was nev­er a “bat­tle for Kiev.” It is obvi­ous­ly easy to claim that the Rus­sians did not reach their objectives—if they nev­er tried to reach them!

Fourth­ly, the West and Ukraine have cre­at­ed a mis­lead­ing pic­ture of their adver­sary. In France, Switzer­land and Bel­gium, none of the mil­i­tary experts on tele­vi­sion have any knowl­edge of mil­i­tary oper­a­tions and how the Rus­sians con­duct theirs. Their “exper­tise” comes from the rumours from the war in Afghanistan or Syr­ia, which are often mere­ly West­ern pro­pa­gan­da. These experts have lit­er­al­ly fal­si­fied the pre­sen­ta­tion of Russ­ian oper­a­tions.

Thus, the objec­tives announced as ear­ly as Feb­ru­ary 24 by Rus­sia were the “demil­i­ta­riza­tion” and “denaz­i­fi­ca­tion” of the threat to the pop­u­la­tions of Don­bass. These objec­tives are relat­ed to the neu­tral­iza­tion of capa­bil­i­ties, not the seizure of land or resources. To put it blunt­ly, in the­o­ry, to achieve their goals the Rus­sians do not need to advance—it would be enough if Ukraini­ans them­selves would come and get killed.

In oth­er words, our politi­cians and media have pushed Ukraine to defend the ter­rain like in France dur­ing the First World War. They pushed Ukrain­ian troops to defend every square meter of ground in “last stand” sit­u­a­tions. Iron­i­cal­ly, the West has only made the Rus­sians’ job eas­i­er.

In fact, as with the war on ter­ror, West­ern­ers see the ene­my as they would like him to be, not as he is. As Sun Tzu said 2,500 years ago, this is the best recipe for los­ing a war.

One exam­ple is the so-called “hybrid war” that Rus­sia is alleged­ly wag­ing against the West. In June 2014, as the West tried to explain Russia’s (imag­i­nary) inter­ven­tion in the Don­bass con­flict, Rus­sia expert Mark Gale­ot­ti “revealed” the exis­tence of a doc­trine that would illus­trate the Russ­ian con­cept of hybrid war­fare. Known as the “Gerasi­mov Doc­trine,” it has nev­er real­ly been defined by the West as to what it con­sists of and how it could ensure mil­i­tary suc­cess. But it is used to explain how Rus­sia wages war in Don­bass with­out send­ing troops there and why Ukraine con­sis­tent­ly los­es its bat­tles against the rebels. In 2018, real­iz­ing that he was wrong, Gale­ot­ti apologized—courageously and intelligently—in an arti­cle titled, “I’m Sor­ry for Cre­at­ing the Gerasi­mov Doc­trine” pub­lished in For­eign Pol­i­cy mag­a­zine.

Despite this, and with­out know­ing what it meant, our media and politi­cians con­tin­ued to pre­tend that Rus­sia was wag­ing a hybrid war against Ukraine and the West. In oth­er words, we imag­ined a type of war that does not exist and we pre­pared Ukraine for it. This is also what explains the chal­lenge for Ukraine to have a coher­ent strat­e­gy to counter Russ­ian oper­a­tions.

The West does not want to see the sit­u­a­tion as it real­ly is. The Russ­ian-speak­ing coali­tion has launched its offen­sive with an over­all strength infe­ri­or to that of the Ukraini­ans in a ratio of 1–2:1. To be suc­cess­ful when you are out­num­bered, you must cre­ate local and tem­po­rary supe­ri­or­i­ties by quick­ly mov­ing your forces on the bat­tle­field.

This is what the Rus­sians call “oper­a­tional art” (oper­a­tiv­noe isk­oust­vo). This notion is poor­ly under­stood in the West. The term “oper­a­tional” used in NATO has two trans­la­tions in Russ­ian: “oper­a­tive” (which refers to a com­mand lev­el) and “oper­a­tional” (which defines a con­di­tion). It is the art of maneu­ver­ing mil­i­tary for­ma­tions, much like a chess game, in order to defeat a supe­ri­or oppo­nent.

For exam­ple, the oper­a­tion around Kiev was not intend­ed to “deceive” the Ukraini­ans (and the West) about their inten­tions, but to force the Ukrain­ian army to keep large forces around the cap­i­tal and thus “pin them down.” In tech­ni­cal terms, this is what is called a “shap­ing oper­a­tion.” Con­trary to the analy­sis of some “experts,” it was not a “decep­tion oper­a­tion,” which would have been con­ceived very dif­fer­ent­ly and would have involved much larg­er forces. The aim was to pre­vent a rein­force­ment of the main body of the Ukrain­ian forces in the Don­bass.

The main les­son of this war at this stage con­firms what we know since the Sec­ond World War: the Rus­sians mas­ter the oper­a­tional art.

TP: Ques­tions about Russia’s mil­i­tary rais­es the obvi­ous question—how good is Ukraine’s mil­i­tary today? And more impor­tant­ly, why do we not hear so much about the Ukrain­ian army?

JB: The Ukrain­ian ser­vice­men are cer­tain­ly brave sol­diers who per­form their duty con­sci­en­tious­ly and coura­geous­ly. But my per­son­al expe­ri­ence shows that in almost every cri­sis, the prob­lem is at the head. The inabil­i­ty to under­stand the oppo­nent and his log­ic and to have a clear pic­ture of the actu­al sit­u­a­tion is the main rea­son for fail­ures.

Since the begin­ning of the Russ­ian offen­sive, we can dis­tin­guish two ways of con­duct­ing the war. On the Ukrain­ian side, the war is waged in the polit­i­cal and infor­ma­tion­al spaces, while on the Russ­ian side the war is waged in the phys­i­cal and oper­a­tional space. The two sides are not fight­ing in the same spaces. This is a sit­u­a­tion that I described in 2003 in my book, La guerre asymétrique ou la défaite du vain­queur (Asym­met­ric War, or the Defeat of the Win­ner). The trou­ble is that at the end of the day, the real­i­ty of the ter­rain pre­vails.

On the Russ­ian side, deci­sions are made by the mil­i­tary, while on the Ukrain­ian side, Zelen­sky is omnipresent and the cen­tral ele­ment in the con­duct of the war. He makes oper­a­tional deci­sions, appar­ent­ly often against the military’s advice. This explains the ris­ing ten­sions between Zelen­sky and the mil­i­tary. Accord­ing to Ukrain­ian media, Zelen­sky could dis­miss Gen­er­al Valery Zoluzh­ny by appoint­ing him Min­is­ter of Defence.

The Ukrain­ian army has been exten­sive­ly trained by Amer­i­can, British and Cana­di­an offi­cers since 2014. The trou­ble is that for over 20 years, West­ern­ers have been fight­ing armed groups and scat­tered adver­saries and engaged entire armies against indi­vid­u­als. They fight wars at the tac­ti­cal lev­el and some­how have lost the abil­i­ty to fight at the strate­gic and oper­a­tive lev­els. This explains part­ly why Ukraine is wag­ing its war at this lev­el.

But there is a more con­cep­tu­al dimen­sion. Zelen­sky and the West see war as a numer­i­cal and tech­no­log­i­cal bal­ance of forces. This is why, since 2014, the Ukraini­ans have nev­er tried to seduce the rebels and they now think that the solu­tion will come from the weapons sup­plied by the West. The West pro­vid­ed Ukraine with a few dozen M777 guns and HIMARS and MLRS mis­sile launch­ers, while Ukraine had sev­er­al thou­sand equiv­a­lent artillery pieces in Feb­ru­ary. The Russ­ian con­cept of “cor­re­la­tion of forces,” takes into account many more fac­tors and is more holis­tic than the West­ern approach. That is why the Rus­sians are win­ning.

To com­ply with ill-con­sid­ered poli­cies, our media have con­struct­ed a vir­tu­al real­i­ty that gives Rus­sia the bad role. For those who observe the course of the cri­sis care­ful­ly, we could almost say they pre­sent­ed Rus­sia as a “mir­ror image” of the sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine. Thus, when the talk about Ukrain­ian loss­es began, West­ern com­mu­ni­ca­tion turned to Russ­ian loss­es (with fig­ures giv­en by Ukraine).

The so-called “counter-offen­sives” pro­claimed by Ukraine and the West in Kharkov and Kher­son in April-May were mere­ly “counter-attacks.” The dif­fer­ence between the two is that counter-offen­sive is an oper­a­tional notion, while counter-attack is a tac­ti­cal notion, which is much more lim­it­ed in scope. These coun­ter­at­tacks were pos­si­ble because the den­si­ty of Russ­ian troops in these sec­tors was then 1 Bat­tle Group (BTG) per 20 km of front. By com­par­i­son, in the Don­bass sec­tor, which was the pri­ma­ry focus, the Russ­ian coali­tion had 1–3 BTG per km. As for the great August offen­sive on Kher­son, which was sup­posed to take over the south of the coun­try, it seems to have been noth­ing but a myth to main­tain West­ern sup­port.

Today, we see that the claimed Ukrain­ian suc­cess­es were in fact fail­ures. The human and mate­r­i­al loss­es that were attrib­uted to Rus­sia were in fact more in line with those of Ukraine. In mid-June, David Arakhamia, Zelensky’s chief nego­tia­tor and close advis­er, spoke of 200 to 500 deaths per day, and he men­tioned casu­al­ties (dead, wound­ed, cap­tured, desert­ers) of 1,000 men per day. If we add to this the renewed demands for arms by Zelen­sky, we can see that the idea of a vic­to­ry for Ukraine appears quite an illu­sion.

Because Russia’s econ­o­my was thought to be com­pa­ra­ble to Italy’s, it was assumed that it would be equal­ly vul­ner­a­ble. Thus, the West—and the Ukrainians—thought that eco­nom­ic sanc­tions and polit­i­cal iso­la­tion of Rus­sia would quick­ly cause its col­lapse, with­out pass­ing through a mil­i­tary defeat. Indeed, this is what we under­stand from the inter­view of Olek­sei Arestovich, Zelensky’s advi­sor and spokesman, in March 2019. This also explains why Zelen­sky did not sound the alarm in ear­ly 2022, as he says in his inter­view with the Wash­ing­ton Post. I think he knew that Rus­sia would respond to the offen­sive Ukraine was prepar­ing in the Don­bass (which is why the bulk of his troops were in that area) and thought that sanc­tions would quick­ly lead to Russia’s col­lapse and defeat. This is what Bruno Le Maire, the French Min­is­ter of the Econ­o­my, had “pre­dict­ed.” Clear­ly, the West­ern­ers have made deci­sions with­out know­ing their oppo­nent.

As Arestovich said, the idea was that the defeat of Rus­sia would be Ukraine’s entry tick­et to NATO. So, the Ukraini­ans were pushed to pre­pare an offen­sive in the Don­bass in order to make Rus­sia react, and thus obtain an easy defeat through dev­as­tat­ing sanc­tions. This is cyn­i­cal and shows how much the West—led by the Americans—has mis­used Ukraine for its own objec­tives.

The result is that the Ukraini­ans did not seek Ukraine’s vic­to­ry, but Russia’s defeat. This is very dif­fer­ent and explains the West­ern nar­ra­tive from the first days of the Russ­ian offen­sive, which proph­e­sied this defeat.

But the real­i­ty is that the sanc­tions did not work as expect­ed, and Ukraine found itself dragged into com­bats that it had pro­voked, but for which it was not pre­pared to fight for so long.

This is why, from the out­set, the West­ern nar­ra­tive pre­sent­ed a mis­match between media report­ed and the real­i­ty on the ground. This had a per­verse effect: it encour­aged Ukraine to repeat its mis­takes and pre­vent­ed it from improv­ing its con­duct of oper­a­tions. Under the pre­text of fight­ing Vladimir Putin, we pushed Ukraine to sac­ri­fice thou­sands of human lives unnec­es­sar­i­ly.

From the begin­ning, it was obvi­ous that the Ukraini­ans were con­sis­tent­ly repeat­ing their mis­takes (and even the same mis­takes as in 2014–2015), and sol­diers were dying on the bat­tle­field. For his part, Volodymyr Zelen­sky called for more and more sanc­tions, includ­ing the most absurd ones, because he was led to believe that they were deci­sive.

I am not the only one to have noticed these mis­takes, and West­ern coun­tries could cer­tain­ly have stopped this dis­as­ter. But their lead­ers, excit­ed by the (fan­ci­ful) reports of Russ­ian loss­es and think­ing they were paving the way for regime change, added sanc­tions to sanc­tions, turn­ing down any pos­si­bil­i­ty of nego­ti­a­tion. As the French Min­is­ter of Econ­o­my Bruno Le Maire said, the objec­tive was to pro­voke the col­lapse of the Russ­ian econ­o­my and make the Russ­ian peo­ple suf­fer. This is a form of state ter­ror­ism: the idea is to make the pop­u­la­tion suf­fer in order to push it into revolt­ing against its lead­ers (here, Putin). I am not mak­ing this up. This mech­a­nism is detailed by Richard Nephew, head of sanc­tions at the State Depart­ment under Oba­ma and cur­rent­ly Coor­di­na­tor on Glob­al Anti-Cor­rup­tion, in his book enti­tled, The Art of Sanc­tions. Iron­i­cal­ly, this is exact­ly the same log­ic that the Islam­ic State invoked to explain its attacks in France in 2015–2016. France prob­a­bly does not encour­age terrorism—but it does prac­tice it.

The main­stream media do not present the war as it is, but as they would like it to be. This is pure wish­ful think­ing. The appar­ent pub­lic sup­port for the Ukrain­ian author­i­ties, despite huge loss­es (some men­tion 70,000–80,000 fatal­i­ties), is achieved by ban­ning the oppo­si­tion, a ruth­less hunt for offi­cials who dis­agree with the gov­ern­ment line, and “mir­ror” pro­pa­gan­da that attrib­ut­es to the Rus­sians the same fail­ures as the Ukraini­ans. All this with the con­scious sup­port of the West.

TP: What should we make of the explo­sion at the Saki air­base in the Crimea?

JB: I do not know the details of the cur­rent secu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion in Crimea. . We know that before Feb­ru­ary there were cells of vol­un­teer fight­ers of Praviy Sek­tor (a neo-Nazi mili­tia) in Crimea, ready to car­ry out ter­ror­ist-type attacks. Have these cells been neu­tral­ized? I don’t know; but one can assume so, since there is appar­ent­ly very lit­tle sab­o­tage activ­i­ty in Crimea. Hav­ing said that, let us not for­get that Ukraini­ans and Rus­sians have lived togeth­er for many decades and there are cer­tain­ly pro-Kiev indi­vid­u­als in the areas tak­en by the Rus­sians. It is there­fore real­is­tic to think that there could be sleep­er cells in these areas.

More like­ly it is a cam­paign con­duct­ed by the Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty ser­vice (SBU) in the ter­ri­to­ries occu­pied by the Russ­ian-speak­ing coali­tion. This is a ter­ror­ist cam­paign tar­get­ing pro-Russ­ian Ukrain­ian per­son­al­i­ties and offi­cials. It fol­lows major changes in the lead­er­ship of the SBU, in Kiev, and in the regions, includ­ing Lvov, Ternopol since July. It is prob­a­bly in the con­text of this same cam­paign that Darya Dug­i­na was assas­si­nat­ed on August 21. The objec­tive of this new cam­paign could be to con­vey the illu­sion that there is an ongo­ing resis­tance in the areas tak­en by the Rus­sians and thus revive West­ern aid, which is start­ing to fatigue.

These sab­o­tage activ­i­ties do not real­ly have an oper­a­tional impact and seem more relat­ed to a psy­cho­log­i­cal oper­a­tion. It may be that these are actions like the one on Snake Island at the begin­ning of May, intend­ed to demon­strate to the inter­na­tion­al pub­lic that Ukraine is act­ing.

What the inci­dents in Crimea indi­rect­ly show is that the pop­u­lar resis­tance claimed by the West in Feb­ru­ary does not exist. It is most like­ly the action of Ukrain­ian and West­ern (prob­a­bly British) clan­des­tine oper­a­tives. Beyond the tac­ti­cal actions, this shows the inabil­i­ty of the Ukraini­ans to acti­vate a sig­nif­i­cant resis­tance move­ment in the areas seized by the Russ­ian-speak­ing coali­tion.

TP: Zelen­sky has famous­ly said, “Crimea is Ukrain­ian and we will nev­er give it up.” Is this rhetoric, or is there a plan to attack Crimea? Are there Ukrain­ian oper­a­tives inside Crimea?

JB: First of all, Zelen­sky changes his opin­ion very often. In March 2022, he made a pro­pos­al to Rus­sia, stat­ing that he was ready to dis­cuss a recog­ni­tion of Russ­ian sov­er­eign­ty over the penin­su­la. It was upon the inter­ven­tion of the Euro­pean Union and Boris John­son on 2 April and on 9 April that he with­drew his pro­pos­al, despite Russia’s favor­able inter­est.

It is nec­es­sary to recall some his­tor­i­cal facts. The ces­sion of Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 was nev­er for­mal­ly val­i­dat­ed by the par­lia­ments of the USSR, Rus­sia and Ukraine dur­ing the com­mu­nist era. More­over, the Crimean peo­ple agreed to be sub­ject to the author­i­ty of Moscow and no longer of Kiev as ear­ly as Jan­u­ary 1991. In oth­er words, Crimea was inde­pen­dent from Kiev even before Ukraine became inde­pen­dent from Moscow in Decem­ber 1991.

In July, Alek­sei Reznikov, the Ukrain­ian Min­is­ter of Defense, spoke loud­ly of a major counter-offen­sive on Kher­son involv­ing one mil­lion men to restore Ukraine’s ter­ri­to­r­i­al integri­ty. In real­i­ty, Ukraine has not man­aged to gath­er the troops, armor and air cov­er need­ed for this far-fetched offen­sive. Sab­o­tage actions in Crimea may be a sub­sti­tute for this “counter-offen­sive.” They seem to be more of a com­mu­ni­ca­tion exer­cise than a real mil­i­tary action. These actions seem to be aimed rather at reas­sur­ing West­ern coun­tries which are ques­tion­ing the rel­e­vance of their uncon­di­tion­al sup­port to Ukraine.

TP: Would you tell us about the sit­u­a­tion around the Zapor­izhzhia nuclear facil­i­ty?

JB: In Ener­go­dar, the Zapor­izhzhia nuclear pow­er plant (ZNPP), has been the tar­get of sev­er­al attacks by artillery, which Ukraini­ans and Rus­sians attribute to the oppos­ing side.

What we know is that the Russ­ian coali­tion forces have occu­pied the ZNPP site since the begin­ning of March. The objec­tive at that time was to secure the ZNPP quick­ly, in order to pre­vent it from being caught up in the fight­ing and thus avoid a nuclear inci­dent. The Ukrain­ian per­son­nel who were in charge of it have remained on site and con­tin­ue to work under the super­vi­sion of the Ukrain­ian com­pa­ny Ener­goatom and the Ukrain­ian nuclear safe­ty agency (SNRIU). There is there­fore no fight­ing around the plant.

It is hard to see why the Rus­sians would shell a nuclear plant that is under their con­trol. This alle­ga­tion is even more pecu­liar since the Ukraini­ans them­selves state that there are Russ­ian troops in the premis­es of the site. Accord­ing to a French “expert,” the Rus­sians would attack the pow­er plant they con­trol to cut off the elec­tric­i­ty flow­ing to Ukraine. Not only would there be sim­pler ways to cut off the elec­tric­i­ty to Ukraine (a switch, per­haps?), but Rus­sia has not stopped the elec­tric­i­ty sup­ply to the Ukraini­ans since March. More­over, I remind you that Rus­sia has not stopped the flow of nat­ur­al gas to Ukraine and has con­tin­ued to pay Ukraine the tran­sit fees for gas to Europe. It is Zelen­sky who decid­ed to shut down the Soyuz pipeline in May.

More­over, it should be remem­bered that the Rus­sians are in an area where the pop­u­la­tion is gen­er­al­ly favor­able to them and it is hard to under­stand why they would take the risk of a nuclear con­t­a­m­i­na­tion of the region.

In real­i­ty, the Ukraini­ans have more cred­i­ble motives than the Rus­sians that may explain such attacks against the ZNPP. , which are not mutu­al­ly exclu­sive: an alter­na­tive to the big counter-offen­sive on Kher­son, which they are not able to imple­ment, and to pre­vent the planned ref­er­en­dums in the region. Fur­ther, Zelensky’s calls for demil­i­ta­riz­ing the area of the pow­er plant and even return­ing it to Ukraine would be a polit­i­cal and oper­a­tional suc­cess for him. One might even imag­ine that they seek to delib­er­ate­ly pro­voke a nuclear inci­dent in order to cre­ate a “no man’s land” and thus ren­der the area unus­able for the Rus­sians.

By bomb­ing the plant, Ukraine could also be try­ing to pres­sure the West to inter­vene in the con­flict, under the pre­text that Rus­sia is seek­ing to dis­con­nect the plant from the Ukrain­ian pow­er grid before the fall. This sui­ci­dal behavior—as stat­ed by UN Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al António Guterres—would be in line with the war waged by Ukraine since 2014.

There is strong evi­dence that the attacks on Ener­go­dar are Ukrain­ian. The frag­ments of pro­jec­tiles fired at the site from the oth­er side of the Dnieper are of West­ern ori­gin. It seems that they come from British BRIMSTONE mis­siles, which are pre­ci­sion mis­siles, whose use is mon­i­tored by the British. Appar­ent­ly, the West is aware of the Ukrain­ian attacks on the ZNPP. This might explain why Ukraine is not very sup­port­ive of an inter­na­tion­al com­mis­sion of inquiry and why West­ern coun­tries are putting unre­al­is­tic con­di­tions for send­ing inves­ti­ga­tors from the IAEA, an agency that has not shown much integri­ty so far.

TP: It is report­ed that Zelen­sky is free­ing crim­i­nals to fight in this war? Does this mean that Ukraine’s army is not as strong as com­mon­ly assumed?

JB: Zelen­sky faces the same prob­lem as the author­i­ties that emerged from Euro­maid­an in 2014. At that time, the mil­i­tary did not want to fight because they did not want to con­front their Russ­ian-speak­ing com­pa­tri­ots. Accord­ing to a report by the British Home Office, reservists over­whelm­ing­ly refuse to attend recruit­ment ses­sions . In Octo­ber-Novem­ber 2017, 70% of con­scripts do not show up for recall . Sui­cide has become a prob­lem. Accord­ing to the chief Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor Ana­toly Matios, after four years of war in the Don­bass, 615 ser­vice­men had com­mit­ted sui­cide. Deser­tions have increased and reached up to 30% of the forces in cer­tain oper­a­tional areas, often in favor of the rebels.

For this rea­son, it became nec­es­sary to inte­grate more moti­vat­ed, high­ly politi­cized, ultra-nation­al­is­tic and fanat­i­cal fight­ers into the armed forces to fight in the Don­bass. Many of them are neo-Nazis. It is to elim­i­nate these fanat­i­cal fight­ers that Vladimir Putin has men­tioned the objec­tive of “denaz­i­fi­ca­tion.”

Today, the prob­lem is slight­ly dif­fer­ent. The Rus­sians have attacked Ukraine and the Ukrain­ian sol­diers are not a pri­ori opposed to fight­ing them. But they real­ize that the orders they receive are not con­sis­tent with the sit­u­a­tion on the bat­tle­field. They under­stood that the deci­sions affect­ing them are not linked to mil­i­tary fac­tors, but to polit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions. Ukrain­ian units are mutiny­ing en masse and are increas­ing­ly refus­ing to fight. They say they feel aban­doned by their com­man­ders and that they are giv­en mis­sions with­out the nec­es­sary resources to exe­cute them.

That’s why it becomes nec­es­sary to send men who are ready for any­thing. Because they are con­demned, they can be kept under pres­sure. This is the same prin­ci­ple as Mar­shal Kon­stan­tin Rokossov­ki, who was sen­tenced to death by Stal­in, but was released from prison in 1941 to fight against the Ger­mans. His death sen­tence was lift­ed only after Stalin’s death in 1956.

In order to over­shad­ow the use of crim­i­nals in the armed forces, the Rus­sians are accused of doing the same thing. The Ukraini­ans and the West­ern­ers con­sis­tent­ly use “mir­ror” pro­pa­gan­da. As in all recent con­flicts, West­ern influ­ence has not led to a mor­al­iza­tion of the con­flict.

TP: Every­one speaks of how cor­rupt Putin is? But what about Zelen­sky? Is he the “hero­ic saint” that we are all told to admire?

JB: In Octo­ber 2021, the Pan­do­ra Papers showed that Ukraine and Zelen­sky were the most cor­rupt in Europe and prac­ticed tax eva­sion on a large scale. Inter­est­ing­ly, these doc­u­ments were appar­ent­ly pub­lished with the help of an Amer­i­can intel­li­gence agency, and Vladimir Putin is not men­tioned. More pre­cise­ly, the doc­u­ments men­tion indi­vid­u­als” asso­ci­at­ed” with him, who are said to have links with undis­closed assets, which could belong to a woman, who is believed to have had a child with him.

Yet, when our media are report­ing on these doc­u­ments, they rou­tine­ly put a pic­ture of Vladimir Putin, but not of Volodymyr Zelen­sky.

Fig­ure 2 – Although he is not men­tioned in the Pan­do­ra Papers, Vladimir Putin is con­sis­tent­ly asso­ci­at­ed with them. Where­as Volodymyr Zelen­sky is nev­er men­tioned in our media, even though he is wide­ly impli­cat­ed.

I am not in a posi­tion to assess how cor­rupt Zelen­sky is. But there is no doubt that the Ukrain­ian soci­ety and its gov­er­nance are. I con­tributed mod­est­ly to a NATO “Build­ing Integri­ty” pro­gram in Ukraine and dis­cov­ered that none of the con­tribut­ing coun­tries had any illu­sions about its effec­tive­ness, and all saw the pro­gram as a kind of “win­dow dress­ing” to jus­ti­fy West­ern sup­port.

It is unlike­ly that the bil­lions paid by the West to Ukraine will reach the Ukrain­ian peo­ple. A recent CBS News report stat­ed that only 30–40% of the weapons sup­plied by the West make it to the bat­tle­field. The rest enrich­es mafias and oth­er cor­rupt peo­ple. Appar­ent­ly, some high-tech West­ern weapons have been sold to the Rus­sians, such as the French CAESAR sys­tem and pre­sum­ably the Amer­i­can HIMARS. The CBS News report was cen­sored to avoid under­min­ing West­ern aid, but the fact remains that the US refused to sup­ply MQ-1C drones to Ukraine for this rea­son.

Ukraine is a rich coun­try, yet today it is the only coun­try in the for­mer USSR with a low­er GDP than it had at the col­lapse of the Sovi­et Union. The prob­lem is there­fore not Zelen­sky him­self, but the whole sys­tem, which is deeply cor­rupt­ed, and which the West main­tains for the sole pur­pose of fight­ing Rus­sia.

Zelen­sky was elect­ed in April 2019 on the pro­gram of reach­ing an agree­ment with Rus­sia. But nobody let him car­ry out his pro­gram. The Ger­mans and the French delib­er­ate­ly pre­vent­ed him from imple­ment­ing the Min­sk agree­ments. The tran­script of the tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion of 20 Feb­ru­ary 2022 between Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin shows that France delib­er­ate­ly kept Ukraine away from the solu­tion. More­over, in Ukraine, far right and neo-Nazi polit­i­cal forces have pub­licly threat­ened him with death. Dmit­ry Yarosh, com­man­der of the Ukrain­ian Vol­un­teer Army, declared in May 2019 that Zelen­sky would be hanged if he car­ried out his pro­gram. In oth­er words, Zelen­sky is trapped between his idea of reach­ing an agree­ment with Rus­sia and the demands of the West. More­over, the West real­izes that its strat­e­gy of war through sanc­tions has failed. As the eco­nom­ic and social prob­lems increase, the West will find it hard­er to back down with­out los­ing face. A way out for Britain, the US, the EU, or France would be to remove Zelen­sky. That is why, with the dete­ri­o­rat­ing sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine, I think Zelen­sky starts to real­ize that his life is threat­ened.

At the end of the day, Zelen­sky is a poor guy, because his best ene­mies are those on whom he depends: the West­ern world.

TP: There are many videos (grue­some ones) on social media of Ukrain­ian sol­diers engag­ing in seri­ous war crimes? Why is there a “blind spot” in the West for such atroc­i­ties?

JB: First of all, we must be clear: in every war, every bel­liger­ent com­mit war crimes. Mil­i­tary per­son­nel who delib­er­ate­ly com­mit such crimes dis­hon­or their uni­form and must be pun­ished.

The prob­lem aris­es when war crimes are part of a plan or result from orders giv­en by the high­er com­mand. This was the case when the Nether­lands let its mil­i­tary allow the Sre­breni­ca mas­sacre in 1995; the tor­ture in Afghanistan by Cana­di­an and British troops, not to men­tion the count­less vio­la­tions of inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an law by the Unit­ed States in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guan­tanamo and else­where with the com­plic­i­ty of Poland, Lithua­nia or Esto­nia. If these are West­ern val­ues, then Ukraine is in the right school.

In Ukraine, polit­i­cal crime has become com­mon­place, with the com­plic­i­ty of the West. Thus, those who are in favor of a nego­ti­a­tion are elim­i­nat­ed. This is the case of Denis Kireyev, one of the Ukrain­ian nego­tia­tors, assas­si­nat­ed on March 5 by the Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty ser­vice (SBU) because he was con­sid­ered too favor­able to Rus­sia and as a trai­tor. The same thing hap­pened to Dmit­ry Demya­nenko, an offi­cer of the SBU, who was assas­si­nat­ed on March 10, also because he was too favor­able to an agree­ment with Rus­sia. Remem­ber that this is a coun­try that con­sid­ers that receiv­ing or giv­ing Russ­ian human­i­tar­i­an aid is “col­lab­o­ra­tionism.”

On 16 March 2022, a jour­nal­ist on TV chan­nel Ukraine 24 referred to the Nazi war crim­i­nal Adolf Eich­mann and called for the mas­sacre of Russ­ian-speak­ing chil­dren. On 21 March, the mil­i­tary doc­tor Gen­nadiy Druzenko declared on the same chan­nel that he had ordered his doc­tors to castrate Russ­ian pris­on­ers of war. On social net­works, these state­ments quick­ly became pro­pa­gan­da for the Rus­sians and the two Ukraini­ans apol­o­gized for hav­ing said so, but not for the sub­stance. Ukrain­ian crimes were begin­ning to be revealed on social net­works, and on 27 March Zelen­sky feared that this would jeop­ar­dize West­ern sup­port. This was followed—rather opportunely—by the Bucha mas­sacre on 3 April, the cir­cum­stances of which remain unclear.

Britain, which then had the chair­man­ship of the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, refused three times the Russ­ian request to set up an inter­na­tion­al com­mis­sion of enquiry into the crimes of Bucha. Ukrain­ian social­ist MP Ilya Kiva revealed on Telegram that the Bucha tragedy was planned by the British MI6 spe­cial ser­vices and imple­ment­ed by the SBU.

The fun­da­men­tal prob­lem is that the Ukraini­ans have replaced the “oper­a­tional art” with bru­tal­i­ty. Since 2014, in order to fight the auton­o­mists, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment has nev­er tried to apply strate­gies based on “hearts & minds,” which the British used in the 1950s-1960s in South-East Asia, which were much less bru­tal but much more effec­tive and long-last­ing. Kiev pre­ferred to con­duct an Anti-Ter­ror­ist Oper­a­tion (ATO) in the Don­bass and to use the same strate­gies as the Amer­i­cans in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fight­ing ter­ror­ists autho­rizes all kinds of bru­tal­i­ty. It is the lack of a holis­tic approach to the con­flict that led to the fail­ure of the West in Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali.

Counter-Insur­gency Oper­a­tion (COIN) requires a more sophis­ti­cat­ed and holis­tic approach. But NATO is inca­pable of devel­op­ing such strate­gies as I have seen first-hand in Afghanistan. The war in Don­bass has been bru­tal for 8 years and has result­ed in the death of 10,000 Ukrain­ian cit­i­zens plus 4,000 Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary per­son­nel. By com­par­i­son, in 30 years, the con­flict in North­ern Ire­land result­ed in 3,700 deaths. To jus­ti­fy this bru­tal­i­ty, the Ukraini­ans had to invent the myth of a Russ­ian inter­ven­tion in Don­bass.

The prob­lem is that the phi­los­o­phy of the new Maid­an lead­ers was to have a racial­ly pure Ukraine. In oth­er words, the uni­ty of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple was not to be achieved through the inte­gra­tion of com­mu­ni­ties, but through the exclu­sion of com­mu­ni­ties of “infe­ri­or races.” An idea that would no doubt have pleased the grand­fa­thers of Ursu­la von der Leyen and Chrys­tia Free­land! This explains why Ukraini­ans have lit­tle empa­thy for the country’s Russ­ian, Mag­yar and Roman­ian-speak­ing minori­ties. This in turn explains why Hun­gary and Roma­nia do not want their ter­ri­to­ries to be used for the sup­ply of arms to Ukraine.

This is why shoot­ing at their own cit­i­zens to intim­i­date them is not a prob­lem for the Ukraini­ans. This explains the spray­ing of thou­sands of PFM‑1 (“but­ter­fly”) anti-per­son­nel mines, which look like toys, on the Russ­ian-speak­ing city of Donet­sk in July 2022. This type of mine is used by a defend­er, not an attack­er in its main area of oper­a­tion. More­over, in this area, the Don­bass mili­tias are fight­ing “at home,” with pop­u­la­tions they know per­son­al­ly.

I think that war crimes have been com­mit­ted on both sides, but that their media cov­er­age has been very dif­fer­ent. Our media have report­ed exten­sive­ly about crimes (true or false) attrib­uted to Rus­sia. On the oth­er hand, they have been extreme­ly silent about Ukrain­ian crimes. We do not know the whole truth about the Bucha mas­sacre, but the avail­able evi­dence sup­ports the hypoth­e­sis that Ukraine staged the event to cov­er up its own crimes. By keep­ing these crimes qui­et, our media have been com­plic­it with them and have cre­at­ed a sense of impuni­ty that has encour­aged the Ukraini­ans to com­mit fur­ther crimes.

TP: Latvia wants the West (Amer­i­ca) to des­ig­nate Rus­sia a “ter­ror­ist state.” What do you make of this? Does this mean that the war is actu­al­ly over, and Rus­sia has won?

JB: The Eston­ian and Lat­vian demands are in response to Zelensky’s call to des­ig­nate Rus­sia as a ter­ror­ist state. Inter­est­ing­ly, they come at the same time a Ukrain­ian ter­ror­ist cam­paign is being unleashed in Crimea, the occu­pied zone of Ukraine and the rest of Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ry. It is also inter­est­ing that Esto­nia was appar­ent­ly com­plic­it in the attack on Darya Dug­i­na in August 2022.

It seems that Ukraini­ans com­mu­ni­cate in a mir­ror image of the crimes they com­mit or the prob­lems they have, in order to hide them. For exam­ple, in late May 2022, as the Azovstal sur­ren­der in Mar­i­upol showed neo-Nazi fight­ers, they began to allege that there are neo-Nazis in the Russ­ian army. In August 2022, when Kiev was car­ry­ing out actions of a ter­ror­ist nature against the Ener­go­dar pow­er plant in Crimea and on Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ry, Zelen­sky called for Rus­sia to be con­sid­ered a ter­ror­ist state.

In fact, Zelen­sky con­tin­ues to believe that he can only solve his prob­lem by defeat­ing Rus­sia and that this defeat depends on sanc­tions against Rus­sia. Declar­ing Rus­sia a ter­ror­ist state would lead to fur­ther iso­la­tion. That is why he is mak­ing this appeal. This shows that the label “ter­ror­ist” is more polit­i­cal than oper­a­tional, and that those who make such pro­pos­als do not have a very clear vision of the prob­lem. The prob­lem is that it has impli­ca­tions for inter­na­tion­al rela­tions. This is why the US State Depart­ment is con­cerned that Zelensky’s request will be imple­ment­ed by Con­gress.

TP: One of the sad­der out­comes of this Ukraine-Rus­sia con­flict is how the West has shown the worst of itself. Where do you think we will go from here? More of the same, or will there be changes that will have to be made in regards to NATO, neu­tral coun­tries which are no longer neu­tral, and the way the West seeks to “gov­ern” the world?

JB: This cri­sis reveals sev­er­al things. First, that NATO and the Euro­pean Union are only instru­ments of US for­eign pol­i­cy. These insti­tu­tions no longer act in the inter­ests of their mem­bers, but in the inter­ests of the US. The sanc­tions adopt­ed under Amer­i­can pres­sure are back­fir­ing on Europe, which is the big los­er in this whole cri­sis: it suf­fers its own sanc­tions and has to deal with the ten­sions result­ing from its own deci­sions.

The deci­sions tak­en by West­ern gov­ern­ments reveal a gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers who are young and inex­pe­ri­enced (such as Finnish Prime Min­is­ter San­na Marin); igno­rant, yet think­ing they are smart (such as French Pres­i­dent Emmanuel Macron); doc­tri­naire (such as Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Ursu­la von der Leyen); and fanat­i­cal (such as the lead­ers of the Baltic States). They all share some of the same weak­ness­es, not least of which is their inabil­i­ty to man­age a com­plex cri­sis.

When the head is unable to under­stand the com­plex­i­ty of a cri­sis, we respond with guts and dog­ma­tism. This is what we see hap­pen­ing in Europe. The East­ern Euro­pean coun­tries, espe­cial­ly the Baltic States and Poland, have shown them­selves to be loy­al ser­vants of Amer­i­can pol­i­cy. They have also shown imma­ture, con­fronta­tion­al, and short-sight­ed gov­er­nance. These are coun­tries that have nev­er inte­grat­ed West­ern val­ues, that con­tin­ue to cel­e­brate the forces of the Third Reich and dis­crim­i­nate against their own Russ­ian-speak­ing pop­u­la­tion.

I am not even men­tion­ing the Euro­pean Union, which has been vehe­ment­ly opposed to any diplo­mat­ic solu­tion and has only added fuel to the fire.

The more you are involved in a con­flict, the more you are involved in its out­come. If you win, all is well. But if the con­flict is a fail­ure, you will bear the bur­den. This is what has hap­pened to the Unit­ed States in recent con­flicts and what is hap­pen­ing in Ukraine. The defeat of Ukraine is becom­ing the defeat of the West.

Anoth­er big los­er in this con­flict is clear­ly Switzer­land. Its neu­tral sta­tus has sud­den­ly lost all cred­i­bil­i­ty. Ear­ly August, Switzer­land and Ukraine con­clud­ed an agree­ment that would allow the Swiss embassy in Moscow to offer pro­tec­tion to Ukrain­ian cit­i­zens in Rus­sia. How­ev­er, in order to enter into force, it has to be rec­og­nized by Rus­sia. Quite log­i­cal­ly, Rus­sia refused and declared that “Switzer­land had unfor­tu­nate­ly lost its sta­tus as a neu­tral state and could not act as an inter­me­di­ary or rep­re­sen­ta­tive.”

This is a very seri­ous devel­op­ment because neu­tral­i­ty is not sim­ply a uni­lat­er­al dec­la­ra­tion. It must be accept­ed and rec­og­nized by all to be effec­tive. Yet Switzer­land not only aligned itself with the West­ern coun­tries but was even more extreme than them. It can be said that in a few weeks, Switzer­land has ruined a pol­i­cy that has been rec­og­nized for almost 170 years. This is a prob­lem for Switzer­land, but it may also be a prob­lem for oth­er coun­tries. A neu­tral state can offer a way out of a cri­sis. Today, West­ern coun­tries are look­ing for a way out that would allow them to get clos­er to Rus­sia in the per­spec­tive of an ener­gy cri­sis with­out los­ing face. Turkey has tak­en on this role, but it is lim­it­ed, as it is part of NATO.

Fig­ure 3 – Coun­tries and orga­ni­za­tions that applied sanc­tions to Rus­sia. Although Switzer­land is a neu­tral coun­try, it stands on the first place. Accord­ing to own sources, this was done under pres­sure and black­mail from the Unit­ed States. Nev­er­the­less, this is a severe blow to the very prin­ci­ple of neu­tral­i­ty that will have con­se­quences in oth­er future con­flicts.

The West has cre­at­ed an Iron Cur­tain 2.0 that will affect inter­na­tion­al rela­tions for years to come. The West’s lack of strate­gic vision is aston­ish­ing. While NATO is align­ing itself with US for­eign pol­i­cy and reori­ent­ing itself towards Chi­na, West­ern strat­e­gy has only strength­ened the Moscow-Bei­jing axis.

TP: What do you think this war ulti­mate­ly means for Europe, the US and Chi­na?

JB: In order to answer this ques­tion, we first must answer anoth­er ques­tion: “Why is this con­flict more con­demnable and sanc­tion­able than pre­vi­ous con­flicts start­ed by the West?”

After the dis­as­ters of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Mali, the rest of the world expect­ed the West to help resolve this cri­sis with com­mon sense. The West respond­ed in exact­ly the oppo­site way to these expec­ta­tions. Not only has no one been able to explain why this con­flict was more rep­re­hen­si­ble than pre­vi­ous ones, but the dif­fer­ence in treat­ment between Rus­sia and the Unit­ed States has shown that more impor­tance is attached to the aggres­sor than to the vic­tims. Efforts to bring about the col­lapse of Rus­sia con­trast with the total impuni­ty of coun­tries that have lied to the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, prac­ticed tor­ture, caused the deaths of over a mil­lion peo­ple and cre­at­ed 37 mil­lion refugees.

This dif­fer­ence in treat­ment went unno­ticed in the West. But the “rest of the world” has under­stood that we have moved from a “law-based inter­na­tion­al order” to a “rules-based inter­na­tion­al order” deter­mined by the West.

On a more mate­r­i­al lev­el, the con­fis­ca­tion of Venezue­lan gold by the British in 2020, of Afghanistan’s sov­er­eign funds in 2021, and then of Russia’s sov­er­eign funds in 2022 by the US, has raised the mis­trust of the West’s allies. This shows that the non-West­ern world is no longer pro­tect­ed by law and depends on the good­will of the West.

This con­flict is prob­a­bly the start­ing point for a new world order. The world is not going to change all at once, but the con­flict has raised the atten­tion of the rest of the world. For when we say that the “inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty” con­demns Rus­sia, we are in fact talk­ing about 18% of the world’s pop­u­la­tion.

Some actors tra­di­tion­al­ly close to the West are grad­u­al­ly mov­ing away from it. On 15 July 2022, Joe Biden vis­it­ed Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) with two objec­tives: to pre­vent Sau­di Ara­bia from mov­ing clos­er to Rus­sia and Chi­na, and to ask him to increase its oil pro­duc­tion. But four days ear­li­er, MbS made an offi­cial request to become a mem­ber of the BRICS, and a week lat­er, on 21 July, MbS called Vladimir Putin to con­firm that he would stand by the OPEC+ deci­sion. In oth­er words: no oil pro­duc­tion increase. It was a slap in the face of the West and of its most pow­er­ful rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

Sau­di Ara­bia has now decid­ed to accept Chi­nese cur­ren­cy as pay­ment for its oil. This is a major event, which tends to indi­cate a loss of con­fi­dence in the dol­lar. The con­se­quences are poten­tial­ly huge. The petrodol­lar was estab­lished by the US in the 1970s to finance its deficit. By forc­ing oth­er coun­tries to buy dol­lars, it allows the US to print dol­lars with­out being caught in an infla­tion­ary loop. Thanks to the petrodol­lar, the US economy—which is essen­tial­ly a con­sumer economy—is sup­port­ed by the economies of oth­er coun­tries around the world. The demise of the petrodol­lar could have dis­as­trous con­se­quences for the US econ­o­my, as for­mer Repub­li­can Sen­a­tor Ron Paul puts it.

In addi­tion, the sanc­tions have brought Chi­na and Rus­sia, both tar­get­ed by the West, clos­er togeth­er. This has accel­er­at­ed the for­ma­tion of a Eurasian bloc and strength­ened the posi­tion of both coun­tries in the world. India, which the US has scorned as a “sec­ond-class” part­ner of the “Quad,” has moved clos­er to Rus­sia and Chi­na, despite dis­putes with the lat­ter.

Today, Chi­na is the main provider of infra­struc­ture in the Third World. In par­tic­u­lar, its way of inter­act­ing with African coun­tries is more in line with the expec­ta­tions of these coun­tries. Col­lab­o­ra­tion with for­mer colo­nial pow­ers such as France and Amer­i­can impe­ri­al­ist pater­nal­ism are no longer wel­come. For exam­ple, the Cen­tral African Repub­lic and Mali have asked France to leave their coun­tries and have turned to Rus­sia.

At the Asso­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Nations (ASEAN) sum­mit, the US proud­ly announced a $150 mil­lion con­tri­bu­tion to “strength­en its posi­tion in the broad­er geopo­lit­i­cal com­pe­ti­tion with Chi­na.” But in Novem­ber 2021, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping offered $1.5 bil­lion to the same coun­tries to fight the pan­dem­ic and pro­mote eco­nom­ic recov­ery. By using its mon­ey to wage war, the US has no mon­ey left to forge and con­sol­i­date alliances.

The West’s loss of influ­ence stems from the fact that it con­tin­ues to treat the “rest of the world” like “lit­tle chil­dren” and neglects the use­ful­ness of good diplo­ma­cy.

The war in Ukraine is not the trig­ger for these phe­nom­e­na, which start­ed a few years ago, but it is most cer­tain­ly an eye-open­er and accel­er­a­tor.

TP: The west­ern media has been push­ing that Putin may be seri­ous­ly ill. If Putin sud­den­ly dies, would this make any dif­fer­ence at all to the war?

JB: It seems that Vladimir Putin is a unique med­ical case in the world: he has stom­ach can­cer, leuke­mia, an unknown but incur­able and ter­mi­nal phase dis­ease, and is report­ed­ly already dead. Yet in July 2022, at the Aspen Secu­ri­ty Forum, CIA Direc­tor William Burns said that Putin was “too healthy” and that there was “no infor­ma­tion to sug­gest that he is in poor health.” This shows how those who claim to be jour­nal­ists work!

This is wish­ful think­ing and, on the high­er end of the spec­trum, it echoes the calls for ter­ror­ism and the phys­i­cal elim­i­na­tion of Vladimir Putin.

The West has per­son­al­ized Russ­ian pol­i­tics through Putin, because he is the one who pro­mot­ed the recon­struc­tion of Rus­sia after the Yeltsin years. Amer­i­cans like to be cham­pi­ons when there are no com­peti­tors and see oth­ers as ene­mies. This is the case with Ger­many, Europe, Rus­sia and Chi­na.

But our “experts” know lit­tle about Russ­ian pol­i­tics. For in real­i­ty, Vladimir Putin is more of a “dove” in the Russ­ian polit­i­cal land­scape. Giv­en the cli­mate that we have cre­at­ed with Rus­sia, it would not be impos­si­ble that his dis­ap­pear­ance would lead to the emer­gence of more aggres­sive forces. We should not for­get that coun­tries like Esto­nia, Latvia, Lithua­nia, Poland or Geor­gia have nev­er devel­oped Euro­pean demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues. They still have dis­crim­i­na­to­ry poli­cies towards their eth­nic Rus­sians that are far from Euro­pean val­ues, and they behave like imma­ture agents provo­ca­teurs. I think that if Putin were to dis­ap­pear for some rea­son, the con­flicts with these coun­tries would take on a new dimen­sion.

TP: How uni­fied is Rus­sia present­ly? Has the war cre­at­ed a more seri­ous oppo­si­tion than what pre­vi­ous­ly exist­ed with­in Rus­sia?

JB: No, on the con­trary. The Amer­i­can and Euro­pean lead­ers have a poor under­stand­ing of their ene­my: the Russ­ian peo­ple are very patri­ot­ic and cohe­sive. West­ern obses­sion to “pun­ish” the Russ­ian peo­ple has only brought them clos­er to their lead­ers. In fact, by seek­ing to divide Russ­ian soci­ety in an effort to over­throw the gov­ern­ment, West­ern sanctions—including the dumb­est ones—have con­firmed what the Krem­lin has been say­ing for years: that the West has a pro­found hatred of Rus­sians. What was once said to be a lie is now con­firmed in Russ­ian opin­ion. The con­se­quence is that the people’s trust in the gov­ern­ment has grown stronger.

The approval rat­ings giv­en by the Lev­a­da Cen­tre (con­sid­ered by the Russ­ian author­i­ties as a “for­eign agent”) show that pub­lic opin­ion has tight­ened around Vladimir Putin and the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment. In Jan­u­ary 2022, Vladimir Putin’s approval rat­ing was 69% and the government’s was 53%. Today, Putin’s approval rat­ing has been sta­ble at around 83% since March, and the government’s is at 71%. In Jan­u­ary, 29% did not approve of Vladimir Putin’s deci­sions, in July it was only 15%.

Accord­ing to the Lev­a­da Cen­tre, even the Russ­ian oper­a­tion in Ukraine enjoys a major­i­ty of favor­able opin­ions. In March, 81% of Rus­sians were in favor of the oper­a­tion; this fig­ure dropped to 74%, prob­a­bly due to the impact of sanc­tions at the end of March, and then it went back up. In July 2022, the oper­a­tion had 76% pop­u­lar sup­port.

Fig­ure 4 – Not all Rus­sians sup­port the spe­cial oper­a­tion in Ukraine, but three quar­ters of the pop­u­la­tion do. Ukrain­ian war crimes, West­ern sanc­tions and the good man­age­ment of the econ­o­my by the Russ­ian author­i­ties explain this sup­port. [Source]

The prob­lem is that our jour­nal­ists have nei­ther cul­ture nor jour­nal­is­tic dis­ci­pline and they replace them with their own beliefs. It is a form of con­spir­a­cy that aims to cre­ate a false real­i­ty based on what one believes and not on the facts. For exam­ple, few know (or want to know) that Alek­sey Naval­ny said he would not return Crimea to Ukraine. The West’s actions have com­plete­ly wiped out the oppo­si­tion, not because of “Putin’s repres­sion,” but because in Rus­sia, resis­tance to for­eign inter­fer­ence and the West’s deep con­tempt for Rus­sians is a bipar­ti­san cause. Exact­ly like the hatred of Rus­sians in the West. This is why per­son­al­i­ties like Alek­sey Naval­ny, who nev­er had a very high pop­u­lar­i­ty, have com­plete­ly dis­ap­peared from the pop­u­lar media land­scape.

More­over, even if the sanc­tions have had a neg­a­tive impact on the Russ­ian econ­o­my, the way the gov­ern­ment has han­dled things since 2014 shows a great mas­tery of eco­nom­ic mech­a­nisms and a great real­ism in assess­ing the sit­u­a­tion. There is a rise in prices in Rus­sia, but it is much low­er than in Europe, and while West­ern economies are rais­ing their key inter­est rates, Rus­sia is low­er­ing its own.

The Russ­ian jour­nal­ist Mari­na Ovsyan­niko­va has been exem­pli­fied as an expres­sion of the oppo­si­tion in Rus­sia. Her case is inter­est­ing because, as usu­al, we do not say every­thing.

On 14 March 2022, she pro­voked inter­na­tion­al applause by inter­rupt­ing the Russ­ian First Chan­nel news pro­gram with a poster call­ing for end­ing the war in Ukraine. She was arrest­ed and fined $280.

In May, the Ger­man news­pa­per Die Welt offered her a job in Ger­many, but in Berlin, pro-Ukrain­ian activists demon­strat­ed to get the news­pa­per to end its col­lab­o­ra­tion with her. The media out­let Politi­co even sug­gest­ed that she might be an agent of the Krem­lin!

As a result, in June 2022, she left Ger­many to live in Odessa, her home­town. But instead of being grate­ful, the Ukraini­ans put her on the Mirotvorets black­list where she is accused of trea­son, “par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Kremlin’s spe­cial infor­ma­tion and pro­pa­gan­da oper­a­tions” and “com­plic­i­ty with the invaders.”

The Mirotvorets web­site is a “hit list” for politi­cians, jour­nal­ists or per­son­al­i­ties who do not share the opin­ion of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment. Sev­er­al of the peo­ple on the list have been mur­dered. In Octo­ber 2019, the UN request­ed the clo­sure of the site, but this was refused by the Rada. It should be not­ed that none of our main­stream media has con­demned this prac­tice, which is very far from the val­ues they claim to defend. In oth­er words, our media sup­port these prac­tices that used to be attrib­uted to South Amer­i­can regimes.

Fig­ure 5 – Darya Dug­i­na marked as “Liq­ui­dat­ed.”

Ovsyan­niko­va then returned to Rus­sia, where she demon­strat­ed against the war, call­ing Putin a “killer,” and was arrest­ed by the police and placed under house arrest for three months. At this point, our media protest­ed.

It is worth not­ing that Russ­ian jour­nal­ist Darya Dug­i­na, the vic­tim of a bomb attack in Moscow on 21 August 2022, was on the Mirotvorets list and her file was marked “liq­ui­dat­ed.” Of course, no West­ern media men­tioned that she was tar­get­ed by the Mirotvorets web­site, which is con­sid­ered to be linked to the SBU, as this would tend to sup­port Russia’s accu­sa­tions.

Ger­man jour­nal­ist Ali­na Lipp, whose rev­e­la­tions about Ukrain­ian and West­ern crimes in the Don­bass are dis­turb­ing, has been placed on the web­site Mirotvorets. More­over, Ali­na Lipp was sen­tenced in absen­tia to three years in prison by a Ger­man court for claim­ing that Russ­ian troops had “lib­er­at­ed” areas in Ukraine and thus “glo­ri­fied crim­i­nal activ­i­ties.” As can be seen, the Ger­man author­i­ties are func­tion­ing like the neo-Nazi ele­ments in Ukraine. Today’s politi­cians are a cred­it to their grand­par­ents!

One can con­clude that even if there are some peo­ple who oppose the war, Russ­ian pub­lic opin­ion is over­whelm­ing­ly behind its gov­ern­ment. West­ern sanc­tions have only strength­ened the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the Russ­ian pres­i­dent.

Ulti­mate­ly, my point is not to take the same approach as our media and replace the hatred of Rus­sia with that of Ukraine. On the con­trary, it is to show that the world is not either black or white and that West­ern coun­tries have tak­en the sit­u­a­tion too far. Those who are com­pas­sion­ate about Ukraine should have pushed our gov­ern­ments to imple­ment the agreed polit­i­cal solu­tions in 2014 and 2015. They haven’t done any­thing and are now push­ing Ukraine to fight. But we are no longer in 2021. Today, we have to accept the con­se­quences of our non-deci­sions and help Ukraine to recov­er. But this must not be done at the expense of its Russ­ian-speak­ing pop­u­la­tion, as we have done until now, but with the Russ­ian-speak­ing peo­ple, in an inclu­sive man­ner. If I look at the media in France, Switzer­land and Bel­gium, we are still very far from the goal.

TP: Thank you so very much, Mr. Baud, for this most enlight­en­ing dis­cus­sion.

 

 

Discussion

14 comments for “FTR#‘s 1259 and 1260 How Many Lies Before You Belong to The Lies?, Parts 21 & 22”

  1. There’s no short­age of dis­turb­ing news cat­e­gories. But few cat­e­gories of sto­ries are more fun­da­men­tal­ly dis­turb­ing than sto­ries that should have been news but was­n’t. Sto­ries that just fell down the mem­o­ry hole. Or worse, were forced down the mem­o­ry hole. No news is very bad news in those kinds of sit­u­a­tions, because when a sto­ry is forced down the mem­o­ry hole it’s usu­al­ly a very impor­tant sto­ry. Impor­tant and sen­si­tive.

    That brings us to the lat­est sto­ry about Nazis in Ukraine to be shoved down the mem­o­ry hole. A sto­ry that real­ly tells itself because it’s a sto­ry about a sim­ple pho­to­graph: a PR pho­to-op made by Ukraine’s Pres­i­dent Zelen­sky in the recent­ly recap­tured city of Izyum last week. A pho­to with a sol­dier who appears to be part of Zelenksy’s per­son­al guard stand­ing direct­ly behind him, with a Totenkopf ‘Death’s Head’ patch on his back­pack. The patch is near­ly adja­cent to Zelenksy’s head in the pho­to and not hard to make out. In fact, peo­ple on the inter­net iden­ti­fied it almost imme­di­ate­ly. It’s unmis­tak­ably the same patch. Right there next to Zelenksy in a PR pho­to op.

    The pho­to did­n’t last long on Twit­ter. Zelenksy’s Face­book and Telegram accounts qui­et­ly took it down. Twit­ter then pro­ceed­ed to cen­sors a Mint­Press tweet of the pho­to as “sen­si­tive-con­tent”. And that, for the most part, was the end of the sto­ry. The whole inci­dent came and went with­out com­men­tary oth­er than the fol­low­ing Gray­zone report. The Pres­i­dent of Ukraine was being guard­ed by overt Nazis for a pho­to op and it’s such a non-sto­ry that it was active­ly ignored, cen­sored, and shoved down the mem­o­ry inter­net hole:

    The Gray­zone

    Zelen­sky qui­et­ly deletes pho­to of his bodyguard’s pro-Hitler patch

    Alexan­der Rubin­stein
    Sep­tem­ber 15, 2022

    The Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent pub­lished a pho­to­graph on his social media chan­nels show­ing one of his secu­ri­ty escorts bear­ing a patch ref­er­enc­ing the per­son­al body­guard unit of Adolf Hitler.

    On Sep­tem­ber 13, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Vlodymyr Zelen­sky made a sur­prise trip to the city of Izyum in the Kharkov Region for a pho­to op fol­low­ing his military’s recap­ture of the town from Russ­ian forces. Dur­ing the vis­it, a sol­dier who appeared to be guard­ing Zelen­sky was pho­tographed wear­ing a Nazi-inspired patch on his uni­form.

    When the image drew crit­i­cism on social media, the Ukrain­ian president’s offi­cial Telegram and Face­book accounts qui­et­ly delet­ed it.

    In Izyum on Sep­tem­ber 14, Zelen­sky par­tic­i­pat­ed in a flag rais­ing cer­e­mo­ny to the tune of the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Anthem and took self­ies with local civil­ians and sol­diers. While most of the men on the scene wore offi­cial mil­i­tary fatigues, it was not dif­fi­cult to see which ones were for lack of a bet­ter term, work­ing, and which ones were sim­ply present to par­tic­i­pate in the event.

    One pho­to­graph post­ed on Zelensky’s Telegram and Face­book accounts (archived here and here) cap­tured the pres­i­dent as he posed for self­ies with Ukrain­ian troops. As Zelen­sky flashed a smile for the cam­era of a cheer­ful ser­vice mem­ber, he was flanked by a heav­i­ly equipped sol­dier stand­ing guard and fac­ing the oppo­site direc­tion. Just over Zelensky’s right shoul­der, a small but sig­nif­i­cant patch could be seen on the back of the soldier’s flak vest.

    Social media users quick­ly iden­ti­fied the sym­bol. It was derived from the “Totenkopf,” (Ger­man for “Death’s Head”), an insignia wide­ly used in Nazi Ger­many. Badges incor­po­rat­ing the skull and bones motif were pop­u­lar­ized by Germany’s Death’s Head Units, whose orig­i­nal task was to serve as guards at con­cen­tra­tion camps. In Octo­ber 1939, some 6,500 mem­bers were task as front­line fight­ers in the attempt­ed con­quest of Europe and the Sovi­et Union, car­ry­ing out war crimes and eth­nic cleans­ing on their way.

    Zelensky’s body­guard appeared to sport a slight­ly altered ver­sion of the SS-Totenkopf’s patch; it was miss­ing the cross­bones and the skull was wear­ing a hel­met.

    How­ev­er, this reporter was able to find three online ven­dors based in Ukraine that sell the patch, which is brand­ed the “Oper­a­tor Skull” and man­u­fac­tured by a com­pa­ny called R3ICH, an explic­it ref­er­ence to Nazi Ger­many.

    While a clear and siz­able shot of the insignia dec­o­rat­ing Zelensky’s appar­ent body­guard has yet to emerge, enhanced ren­der­ings of the image demon­strate he was clear­ly sport­ing the same design man­u­fac­tured by R3ICH. Both badges fea­ture a skull wear­ing a hel­met, the head­gear is vir­tu­al­ly iden­ti­cal, the nose and eye holes share the same amount of space between them, the sil­hou­ettes are indis­tin­guish­able, and the tal­ly marks drawn on the hel­met appear in the same loca­tion.

    A clos­er look at the R3ICH’s “Oper­a­tor Skull” patch reveals an even more dis­turb­ing detail: a skele­ton key dis­played on the top right of the hel­met is a clear ref­er­ence to SS Divi­sion Leib­stan­darte, or Leib­stan­darte SS Adolf Hitler — Hitler’s per­son­al body­guard unit. The unit lat­er evolved into a Panz­er, or armored tank divi­sion and, like the Totenkopf, par­tic­i­pat­ed in sev­er­al inva­sions through­out Europe and the Sovi­et Union.

    While the SS Divi­sion Leib­stan­darte made its way through Kharkov — where this week Zelensky’s body­guard was pho­tographed with the “Oper­a­tor Skull” patch — dur­ing the Sec­ond World War, one of its units earned the nick­name “Blow­torch Bat­tal­ion” for its habit of burn­ing down Russ­ian-speak­ing vil­lages.

    After this reporter took to social media to report that Zelensky’s body­guard appeared to be wear­ing the “Oper­a­tor Skull” patch, no less than eight Twit­ter users assert­ed the image was pho­to­shopped. Shock­ing­ly, Twit­ter even deemed Mint­Press News’ tweet about the pho­to­graph to be “sen­si­tive con­tent,” an appar­ent attempt at dam­age con­trol on Zelensky’s behalf that reduced the image’s vis­i­bil­i­ty on the plat­form.

    The sight­ing of the Nazi patch recalled a 2018 inci­dent in which then-Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko posed with sol­diers bear­ing plac­ard fea­tur­ing the Nazi Totenkopf sym­bol. Newsweek spu­ri­ous­ly claimed, “The image includ­ed a skull and bones that appear to have been Pho­to­shopped onto the pho­to­graph of the Ukrain­ian troops.” How­ev­er, as The Gray­zone report­ed, the sol­dier stand­ing direct­ly beside Poroshenko was wear­ing the Nazi-inspired patch on his chest. The para­troop­ers lat­er apol­o­gized for dis­play­ing the Nazi sym­bol, fur­ther dis­cred­it­ing Newsweek’s spin.

    ...

    ———-

    “Zelen­sky qui­et­ly deletes pho­to of his bodyguard’s pro-Hitler patch” by Alexan­der Rubin­stein; The Gray­zone; 09/15/2022

    “When the image drew crit­i­cism on social media, the Ukrain­ian president’s offi­cial Telegram and Face­book accounts qui­et­ly delet­ed it.”

    It was an after­thought. That’s the sig­nif­i­cance of this sto­ry. It’s such a rou­tine occur­rence to see sol­diers sport­ing Nazi insignia that no one even both­ered to won­der if it was a good idea to have a ‘Death’s Head’ Totenkopf patch adja­cent to Zelen­sky’s head in this pho­to. Again, this was a pho­to op. They were pos­ing to take a pic­ture that would be shown across the world. And no one thought this was a prob­lem until it was post­ed on the inter­net and a bunch of peo­ple imme­di­ate­ly point­ed out what should have been total­ly obvi­ous:

    ...
    One pho­to­graph post­ed on Zelensky’s Telegram and Face­book accounts (archived here and here) cap­tured the pres­i­dent as he posed for self­ies with Ukrain­ian troops. As Zelen­sky flashed a smile for the cam­era of a cheer­ful ser­vice mem­ber, he was flanked by a heav­i­ly equipped sol­dier stand­ing guard and fac­ing the oppo­site direc­tion. Just over Zelensky’s right shoul­der, a small but sig­nif­i­cant patch could be seen on the back of the soldier’s flak vest.

    Social media users quick­ly iden­ti­fied the sym­bol. It was derived from the “Totenkopf,” (Ger­man for “Death’s Head”), an insignia wide­ly used in Nazi Ger­many. Badges incor­po­rat­ing the skull and bones motif were pop­u­lar­ized by Germany’s Death’s Head Units, whose orig­i­nal task was to serve as guards at con­cen­tra­tion camps. In Octo­ber 1939, some 6,500 mem­bers were task as front­line fight­ers in the attempt­ed con­quest of Europe and the Sovi­et Union, car­ry­ing out war crimes and eth­nic cleans­ing on their way.
    ...

    And note the sell­er of this patch: a com­pa­ny called R3ICH. The patch even had a ref­er­ence to Hitler’s SS body­guard unit. Sub­tle:

    ...
    Zelensky’s body­guard appeared to sport a slight­ly altered ver­sion of the SS-Totenkopf’s patch; it was miss­ing the cross­bones and the skull was wear­ing a hel­met.

    How­ev­er, this reporter was able to find three online ven­dors based in Ukraine that sell the patch, which is brand­ed the “Oper­a­tor Skull” and man­u­fac­tured by a com­pa­ny called R3ICH, an explic­it ref­er­ence to Nazi Ger­many.

    ...

    A clos­er look at the R3ICH’s “Oper­a­tor Skull” patch reveals an even more dis­turb­ing detail: a skele­ton key dis­played on the top right of the hel­met is a clear ref­er­ence to SS Divi­sion Leib­stan­darte, or Leib­stan­darte SS Adolf Hitler — Hitler’s per­son­al body­guard unit. The unit lat­er evolved into a Panz­er, or armored tank divi­sion and, like the Totenkopf, par­tic­i­pat­ed in sev­er­al inva­sions through­out Europe and the Sovi­et Union.
    ...

    And as before — when Petro Poroshenko had his own ‘Death’s Head’ moment in 2018 — the main­stream media start­ed off by play­ing dam­age con­trol:

    ...
    After this reporter took to social media to report that Zelensky’s body­guard appeared to be wear­ing the “Oper­a­tor Skull” patch, no less than eight Twit­ter users assert­ed the image was pho­to­shopped. Shock­ing­ly, Twit­ter even deemed Mint­Press News’ tweet about the pho­to­graph to be “sen­si­tive con­tent,” an appar­ent attempt at dam­age con­trol on Zelensky’s behalf that reduced the image’s vis­i­bil­i­ty on the plat­form.

    The sight­ing of the Nazi patch recalled a 2018 inci­dent in which then-Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko posed with sol­diers bear­ing plac­ard fea­tur­ing the Nazi Totenkopf sym­bol. Newsweek spu­ri­ous­ly claimed, “The image includ­ed a skull and bones that appear to have been Pho­to­shopped onto the pho­to­graph of the Ukrain­ian troops.” How­ev­er, as The Gray­zone report­ed, the sol­dier stand­ing direct­ly beside Poroshenko was wear­ing the Nazi-inspired patch on his chest. The para­troop­ers lat­er apol­o­gized for dis­play­ing the Nazi sym­bol, fur­ther dis­cred­it­ing Newsweek’s spin.
    ...

    This time it was Twit­ter cen­sor­ing, which makes this a good time to recall how Twit­ter has been aggres­sive­ly hir­ing senior staff from US nation­al secu­ri­ty agen­cies. Back in 2018 it was Newsweek. But as we’ve seen so many times, part of what makes this phe­nom­e­na so dis­turb­ing is how the West­ern media has effec­tive­ly white­washed its own cov­er­age of these groups as the con­flict has deep­ened and the rules of what’s ‘accept­able’ shift­ed. And that makes this a great time to take a look back at an impor­tant piece by Christo­pher Miller pub­lished in Buz­zFeed in Jan­u­ary of this year, weeks before the war broke out. As Miller’s report makes clear, when you see a solid­er with a Totenkopf on their uni­form, you’re very like­ly look­ing at a mem­ber of the Azov Batal­lion. And as Azov mem­bers also make clear, they have big plans for Ukraine. Long-term plans that go well beyond the cur­rent con­flict. Plans for Ukraine’s future that, in the words of one of the Azov mem­bers inter­viewed for this report, are “some­thing that in your coun­try you can’t say”:

    Buz­zFeed News

    Ukraine’s Far-Right Forces See An Oppor­tu­ni­ty In Russia’s Inva­sion Threat To Grow Their Vio­lent Move­ment

    The US sees the Azov move­ment as a “nation­al­ist hate group,” and human rights groups have accused it of tor­tur­ing civil­ians. But the far-right group is also pre­pared to fight for Ukraine, which is in need of troops against Russia’s stronger forces.

    Christo­pher Miller
    Buz­zFeed News Reporter
    Map of Kyiv, Ukraine

    Report­ing From Kyiv, Ukraine
    Post­ed on Jan­u­ary 31, 2022 at 4:59 pm

    KYIV — The first weapon pulled from the brown sacks deliv­ered in the back of a van was a shoul­der-fired rock­et-pro­pelled grenade launch­er. A machine gun fol­lowed. Then came oth­er high-pow­ered guns and explo­sives.

    The weapons were dis­played by burly men wear­ing mil­i­tary uni­forms adorned with an array of Nazi sym­bols: the SS-favored Totenkopf, per­haps bet­ter known as death’s head; the son­nen­rad, or black sun; the Wolf­san­gel; and many more. One patch with a masked skull read, “Born to kill for Ukraine.”

    As more sacks streamed in, it became appar­ent that the men had brought a small arse­nal. Where the arms came from is some­what of a mys­tery. One man said he had tak­en sev­er­al from the front line in east­ern Ukraine after fight­ing there in 2014 and 2015; anoth­er said it was a “state secret.”

    The weapons didn’t belong to any offi­cial mil­i­tary force but to mem­bers of Ukraine’s far-right Azov move­ment.

    As the world waits to see whether Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin uses the more than 100,000 troops massed at Ukraine’s bor­der to esca­late his 8‑year-long war against the coun­try, Ukraini­ans are prepar­ing to fight back. Among them are far-right para­mil­i­tary forces that also see this moment as a way to raise their pro­file, secure pop­u­lar favor, and pos­si­bly gain polit­i­cal influ­ence.

    And as they pre­pare, far-right extrem­ists across the West are watch­ing close­ly to see whether they will be suc­cess­ful — in both bat­tling Russ­ian forces and cement­ing their move­ment in the main­stream.

    The US State Depart­ment has called Azov a “nation­al­ist hate group,” human rights orga­ni­za­tions have accused it of abus­ing and tor­tur­ing civil­ians, and Face­book banned it for vio­lat­ing its hate speech rules. Experts who mon­i­tor transna­tion­al extrem­ism have warned that Azov has served as inspi­ra­tion for far-right groups in the US and the EU, and Buz­zFeed News has report­ed on Amer­i­can extrem­ists who went to Ukraine to train with the move­ment and learn from it in hopes of repli­cat­ing it back home.

    But many Ukraini­ans view the group’s mem­bers favor­ably, for their role in fight­ing Russia’s army and sep­a­ratist proxy forces in 2014 and play­ing a key role in keep­ing the strate­gic east­ern port city of Mar­i­upol from falling into Moscow’s hands.

    The far right are not just attract­ed to Ukraine. Russ­ian far-right para­mil­i­tary forces with neo-Nazi mem­bers have also fought in the war. And there are some clues that per­haps they are look­ing to also return to the bat­tle­field.

    The Azov move­ment, born from the war as a vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion eight years ago, is com­posed of a para­mil­i­tary wing, a polit­i­cal branch, and youth and cul­tur­al groups. The bat­tal­ion is now an offi­cial reg­i­ment in Ukraine’s Nation­al Guard. Tak­en togeth­er, Azov has thou­sands of mem­bers, includ­ing hun­dreds of heav­i­ly armed and bat­tle-hard­ened fight­ers who enjoy a cozy rela­tion­ship with Ukraine’s secu­ri­ty struc­tures.

    On Sun­day, Buz­zFeed News got an up-close look at just how cozy, when dozens of them brought weapons to a mil­i­tary train­ing ses­sion for Ukraini­ans who want to be ready to fight Russ­ian troops if they enter the cap­i­tal. Azov’s var­i­ous fac­tions pro­mot­ed the event on Telegram with the catch­phrase, “Don’t pan­ic! Pre­pare your­self!” Some 350 par­tic­i­pants turned out for it at the movement’s sprawl­ing train­ing base on the grounds of a defunct state trac­tor fac­to­ry out­side cen­tral Kyiv.

    “Will there be a full-scale Russ­ian inva­sion? Nobody knows. But what I know for sure is that we need to pre­pare for any devel­op­ment,” Maksym Zhorin, a 32-year-old for­mer Azov Bat­tal­ion com­man­der who now serves as a leader of its polit­i­cal wing, the Nation­al Corps, told a group of trainees stand­ing in for­ma­tion. “Pan­ic comes when peo­ple do not know how to react, how to use a weapon, how to defend them­selves, what to do in case of shoot­ing.”

    But in this pre­car­i­ous moment, Azov also sees an oppor­tu­ni­ty to pol­ish its image in Ukraine and abroad, grow its ranks, and earn some polit­i­cal and social cap­i­tal.

    “I believe our role is high­ly impor­tant because it’s an exam­ple of a grass­roots Ukrain­ian move­ment that’s proven itself to be a suf­fi­cient defense force,” Ole­na Semenya­ka, a pub­lic rela­tions offi­cial for Azov, told Buz­zFeed News at the train­ing event. “I think [Azov] can also play a big­ger role [in Ukraine] in the future.”

    That prospect con­cerns experts who have tracked Azov and oth­er mil­i­ta­rized far-right groups in Ukraine that use their sta­tus as war “heroes” to attack minor­i­ty groups with impuni­ty and their street mus­cle to try to influ­ence Ukrain­ian domes­tic pol­i­cy.

    “I wor­ry that a new war with Rus­sia could not only help the Azov move­ment, but basi­cal­ly be the wind in its sails that it needs to grow its ranks and influ­ence,” Michael Col­borne, author of From the Fires of War: Ukraine’s Azov Move­ment and the Glob­al Far Right and a jour­nal­ist who cov­ers extrem­ism for Belling­cat, told Buz­zFeed News.. “A new war or some new inter­ven­tion by Rus­sia could very well pro­vide them the oppor­tu­ni­ty to fur­ther solid­i­fy their pres­ence in Ukrain­ian pol­i­tics and soci­ety, a fur­ther oppor­tu­ni­ty to brand and frame them­selves as the truest defend­ers of the nation and thus fur­ther swat away accu­sa­tions that come from peo­ple like me about their far-right nature.”

    Azov is at home at war.

    In 2014, Ukraine’s under-equipped and unpre­pared mil­i­tary fal­tered as a much larg­er and more sophis­ti­cat­ed Russ­ian army seized Crimea and foment­ed a faux sep­a­ratist war in the east­ern Don­bas region. Many Ukraini­ans believe Russ­ian forces would have tak­en more ter­ri­to­ry if it weren’t for dozens of vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions like Azov and Right Sec­tor, anoth­er far-right vol­un­teer unit, who leaped into the fray and filled the void left by Ukraine’s mil­i­tary.

    The groups quick­ly became some of Russia’s favorite tar­gets, and the coun­try used them to jus­ti­fy attacks against Ukraine as fight­ing against “fas­cists” who had seized con­trol in Kyiv after the pro-Russ­ian pres­i­dent, Vik­tor Yanukovych, was oust­ed in Feb­ru­ary 2014.

    The truth is that Azov and Right Sec­tor fight­ers nev­er came to pow­er in Kyiv, although sev­er­al mem­bers did serve stints in par­lia­ment and the Inte­ri­or Min­istry, and some cur­rent­ly serve as mil­i­tary advis­ers. And Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment was then and is still today a demo­c­ra­t­ic one, if flawed.

    But Azov’s neo-Nazi links are clear. In 2010, the battalion’s founder, Andriy Bilet­sky, said that Ukraine should “lead the white races of the world in a final cru­sade … against Semi­te-led Unter­men­schen [sub­hu­mans].” (He couldn’t be reached for com­ment.) And mem­bers of Azov boast tat­toos of swastikas and oth­er Nazi sym­bols, and they have been seen mak­ing the Hitler salute.

    That rep­u­ta­tion is what attracts many Ukraini­ans, like Dany­lo Hrabovskiy, a 21-year-old who’s study­ing to be a mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cer at the Ivan Chernyakhovsky Nation­al Defense Uni­ver­si­ty of Ukraine in Kyiv. Buz­zFeed News shad­owed him as he trudged through shin-deep snow on Sun­day. Hrabovskiy’s father, Yaroslav, a retired Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cer, was there too. He said he want­ed his son to get prac­ti­cal train­ing in bat­tle­field med­i­cine and han­dling a weapon.

    Hrabovskiy, who wore fatigues adorned with the patch of his uni­ver­si­ty, said he felt like he was among “fam­i­ly” with the Azov group. “It’s like when you come to church and you feel some­thing in your heart,” he explained.

    He said he aligned with Azov ide­o­log­i­cal­ly and hopes the group will rise to pow­er from the ash­es of a war with Rus­sia to form a “nation­al­ist-social­ist” gov­ern­ment. And if he could help in his role as a mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cer when he grad­u­ates in four months, he said, all the bet­ter.

    Some­one say­ing they are in favor of “nation­al social­ism,” Col­borne said, “whether in Eng­lish or in Russ­ian or Ukrain­ian, is an unam­bigu­ous ref­er­ence to Nazism and Nazi-inspired ide­olo­gies.”

    Asked explic­it­ly if what he meant was Nazism, Hrabovskiy said with a seri­ous stare that he want­ed to con­vey “some­thing that in your coun­try you can’t say.”

    “If the far-right forces can unite, then we will go to par­lia­ment and make laws that reflect our ideas and goals,” he added.

    Not every­one at the Azov train­ing was ide­o­log­i­cal­ly aligned with the group. Sofia and Solomiya, twin 30-year-old mil­i­tary para­medics from the west­ern city of Lviv, said they chose to come to the Azov event as opposed to oth­er sim­i­lar ones in Kyiv because of the group’s rep­u­ta­tion for being “strong” and “skilled,” Sofia said.

    Solomiya said the pair had nev­er fired a weapon, but with the threat of renewed large-scale war with Rus­sia loom­ing, they felt it was time to learn how to do so.

    Inside an aban­doned build­ing spray-paint­ed with nation­al­ist slo­gans, the pair were giv­en wood­en cutouts of Kalash­nikov rifles and instruct­ed how to hold them. The twins’ instruc­tor was a beard­ed Azov Bat­tal­ion vet­er­an with a col­lec­tion of far-right nation­al­ist patch­es on his uni­form. A black death’s head was vis­i­ble on his bul­let­proof vest beside a “Val­hal­la tick­et” that includ­ed the num­bers 88 and 14 — numer­i­cal codes for “Heil Hitler” and the 14 words, a pop­u­lar white suprema­cist slo­gan.

    The instruc­tor showed the twins how to hold their wood­en weapon with their left hand firm­ly grasp­ing the low­er guard and their right com­fort­ably wrapped around the grip with their trig­ger fin­ger straight­ened at the side.

    As the women stood in a fir­ing posi­tion, he pushed on the bar­rels of their rifles, test­ing to see whether they were in a strong stance and couldn’t be knocked over.

    “Move your left leg back a bit,” the instruc­tor said. “And bring up the rifle more.”

    Near­by, dozens of oth­ers trained to clear rooms of “ter­ror­ists.” An instruc­tor taught a young man with a shaved head and a Nazi sym­bol on his sleeve how to effec­tive­ly swing his rifle around to check his six o’clock.

    Azov is train­ing the Ukrain­ian pop­u­la­tion because, Zhorin said, Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky, who also serves as the country’s supreme com­man­der in chief, hasn’t done enough to mil­i­ta­rize soci­ety and pre­pare it for war and has down­played the threat.

    ...

    ————–

    “Ukraine’s Far-Right Forces See An Oppor­tu­ni­ty In Russia’s Inva­sion Threat To Grow Their Vio­lent Move­ment” by Christo­pher Miller; Buz­zFeed News; 01/31/2022

    “The US State Depart­ment has called Azov a “nation­al­ist hate group,” human rights orga­ni­za­tions have accused it of abus­ing and tor­tur­ing civil­ians, and Face­book banned it for vio­lat­ing its hate speech rules. Experts who mon­i­tor transna­tion­al extrem­ism have warned that Azov has served as inspi­ra­tion for far-right groups in the US and the EU, and Buz­zFeed News has report­ed on Amer­i­can extrem­ists who went to Ukraine to train with the move­ment and learn from it in hopes of repli­cat­ing it back home.”

    It was just 2018 when the US State Depart­ment called Azov a nation­al­ist hate group. And Jan­u­ary of this year, less than a month before this con­flict, when we were get­ting these reports on the dan­ger­ous nature of these groups. And then the war broke out and now every­one has to pre­tend that the pres­i­dent of Ukraine isn’t being per­son­al­ly guard­ed by Azov Nazis known for their Totenkopf patch­es:

    ...
    The weapons were dis­played by burly men wear­ing mil­i­tary uni­forms adorned with an array of Nazi sym­bols: the SS-favored Totenkopf, per­haps bet­ter known as death’s head; the son­nen­rad, or black sun; the Wolf­san­gel; and many more. One patch with a masked skull read, “Born to kill for Ukraine.”

    As more sacks streamed in, it became appar­ent that the men had brought a small arse­nal. Where the arms came from is some­what of a mys­tery. One man said he had tak­en sev­er­al from the front line in east­ern Ukraine after fight­ing there in 2014 and 2015; anoth­er said it was a “state secret.”

    The weapons didn’t belong to any offi­cial mil­i­tary force but to mem­bers of Ukraine’s far-right Azov move­ment.
    ...

    And note how the Azov mem­ber who issues that chill­ing com­men about how their goals are “some­thing that in your coun­try you can’t say,” is him­self an aspir­ing mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cer hail­ing from a fam­i­ly of mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cers. The Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of Ukraine’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cers: that’s about as big a red flag as you can get for the future of your coun­try:

    ...
    But Azov’s neo-Nazi links are clear. In 2010, the battalion’s founder, Andriy Bilet­sky, said that Ukraine should “lead the white races of the world in a final cru­sade … against Semi­te-led Unter­men­schen [sub­hu­mans].” (He couldn’t be reached for com­ment.) And mem­bers of Azov boast tat­toos of swastikas and oth­er Nazi sym­bols, and they have been seen mak­ing the Hitler salute.

    That rep­u­ta­tion is what attracts many Ukraini­ans, like Dany­lo Hrabovskiy, a 21-year-old who’s study­ing to be a mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cer at the Ivan Chernyakhovsky Nation­al Defense Uni­ver­si­ty of Ukraine in Kyiv. Buz­zFeed News shad­owed him as he trudged through shin-deep snow on Sun­day. Hrabovskiy’s father, Yaroslav, a retired Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cer, was there too. He said he want­ed his son to get prac­ti­cal train­ing in bat­tle­field med­i­cine and han­dling a weapon.

    Hrabovskiy, who wore fatigues adorned with the patch of his uni­ver­si­ty, said he felt like he was among “fam­i­ly” with the Azov group. “It’s like when you come to church and you feel some­thing in your heart,” he explained.

    He said he aligned with Azov ide­o­log­i­cal­ly and hopes the group will rise to pow­er from the ash­es of a war with Rus­sia to form a “nation­al­ist-social­ist” gov­ern­ment. And if he could help in his role as a mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cer when he grad­u­ates in four months, he said, all the bet­ter.

    Some­one say­ing they are in favor of “nation­al social­ism,” Col­borne said, “whether in Eng­lish or in Russ­ian or Ukrain­ian, is an unam­bigu­ous ref­er­ence to Nazism and Nazi-inspired ide­olo­gies.”

    Asked explic­it­ly if what he meant was Nazism, Hrabovskiy said with a seri­ous stare that he want­ed to con­vey “some­thing that in your coun­try you can’t say.”

    “If the far-right forces can unite, then we will go to par­lia­ment and make laws that reflect our ideas and goals,” he added.
    ...

    And note how, while not every­one asso­ci­at­ed with Azov, is them­selves an extrem­ist, they’re all being trained by extrem­ists. It’s a reminder that when you hear about non-extrem­ists mem­bers of Azov, it’s not a sign that the group has some­how mod­er­at­ed itself. Quite the con­trary, it’s a sign of the Azov move­men­t’s wild suc­cess at main­stream­ing itself. These non-extrem­ists are basi­cal­ly extrem­ists-in-train­ing. Pro­pa­gan­da works:

    ...
    Not every­one at the Azov train­ing was ide­o­log­i­cal­ly aligned with the group. Sofia and Solomiya, twin 30-year-old mil­i­tary para­medics from the west­ern city of Lviv, said they chose to come to the Azov event as opposed to oth­er sim­i­lar ones in Kyiv because of the group’s rep­u­ta­tion for being “strong” and “skilled,” Sofia said.

    Solomiya said the pair had nev­er fired a weapon, but with the threat of renewed large-scale war with Rus­sia loom­ing, they felt it was time to learn how to do so.

    Inside an aban­doned build­ing spray-paint­ed with nation­al­ist slo­gans, the pair were giv­en wood­en cutouts of Kalash­nikov rifles and instruct­ed how to hold them. The twins’ instruc­tor was a beard­ed Azov Bat­tal­ion vet­er­an with a col­lec­tion of far-right nation­al­ist patch­es on his uni­form. A black death’s head was vis­i­ble on his bul­let­proof vest beside a “Val­hal­la tick­et” that includ­ed the num­bers 88 and 14 — numer­i­cal codes for “Heil Hitler” and the 14 words, a pop­u­lar white suprema­cist slo­gan.
    ...

    Again, this was just back in Jan­u­ary of this year. How many more reg­u­lar Ukraini­ans have flood­ed into arms of Azov of sim­i­lar groups over the past eight months? How many tens of thou­sands of Ukraini­ans are there right now get­ting trained by fig­ures with a Totenkopf patch­es? How many mil­lions of Ukraini­ans are going to end up hav­ing gone through this kind of indoc­tri­na­tion by the time this con­flict is over? Grim ques­tions. Because it’s grim news. The kind of grim news that pre­sum­ably won’t be report­ed on until its too late to do any­thing about it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 19, 2022, 3:57 pm
  2. Once is hap­pen­stance. Twice is coin­ci­dence. Three times is ene­my action. It’s an appro­pri­ate quote for the dis­turb­ing news about the appar­ent simul­ta­ne­ous­ly bomb­ing of Nord Stream 1 and 2 yes­ter­day. Three simul­ta­ne­ous explo­sions. That’s not an acci­dent. It’s clear sab­o­tage.

    Sad­ly, it’s also already clear that the West is intent on deter­min­ing Rus­sia blew up its own pipelines. Kind of like how Rus­sia appar­ent­ly attacks its nuclear pow­er plants under its con­trol. In oth­er words, we should­n’t expect a real inves­ti­ga­tion into what hap­pened.

    This is a good time to recall how the US has basi­cal­ly become Europe’s new nat­ur­al gas sup­pli­er of choice as high ener­gy prices lead to record-break­ing prof­its for the petro­le­um indus­try. Beyond that, the US is increas­ing­ly look­ing like the new des­ti­na­tion for ener­gy-inten­sive Euro­pean indus­tries look­ing to relo­cate for cheap­er, more sta­ble ener­gy sup­plies. Trends that will pre­sum­ably accel­er­ate as a result of this attack.

    And while it’s hard to know what Rus­si­a’s response will be to an attack on a major piece of infra­struc­ture, it’s also pret­ty clear that this attack has dra­mat­i­cal­ly esca­lat­ed the range of what’s ‘accept­able’ in this inter­na­tion­al New Cold War. Attacks on major infra­struc­ture are now ‘fair game’, it seems:

    The Guardian

    Fears of sab­o­tage as gas pours into Baltic from Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines

    Seis­mol­o­gists detect spikes in under­sea activ­i­ty, pos­si­bly indi­cat­ing explo­sions, amid three simul­ta­ne­ous leaks

    Philip Olter­mann in Berlin, Peter Beau­mont in Kyiv and Dan Sab­bagh
    Tue 27 Sep 2022 08.10 EDT
    Last mod­i­fied on Tue 27 Sep 2022 17.43 EDT

    Gas is pour­ing into the Baltic Sea from three sep­a­rate leaks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines amid claims by seis­mol­o­gists in Swe­den and Den­mark of two sharp spikes in under­sea activ­i­ty, pos­si­bly indi­cat­ing explo­sions, and spec­u­la­tion about sab­o­tage.

    A seis­mo­graph on the Dan­ish island of Born­holm, near where the leaks occurred, twice record­ed spikes on Mon­day, the day on which the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines under­went dra­mat­ic falls in pres­sure, the Ger­man geo­log­i­cal research cen­tre GFZ said.

    A Dan­ish mil­i­tary flight over the leaks brought back strik­ing images from the rup­tures, includ­ing one show­ing an area of bub­bling gas a kilo­me­tre wide on the sea’s sur­face.

    The seis­mo­graph record­ed near-silence until just after mid­night GMT (2am local time), when there was a spike rep­re­sent­ing a tremor in the earth fol­lowed by a con­tin­u­ous hiss­ing wave form. The pat­tern was repeat­ed at 5pm GMT.

    Amid the spec­u­la­tion over sab­o­tage, sus­pi­cion imme­di­ate­ly turned to poten­tial cul­prits – with fin­gers point­ed at Rus­sia, whose pipelines were hit, sug­gest­ing a fur­ther weapon­i­sa­tion of ener­gy sup­plies to Europe in the midst of the con­flict in Ukraine. Not least it was seen as a pos­si­ble mes­sage about the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of oth­er marine gas infra­struc­ture.

    “There are some indi­ca­tions that it is delib­er­ate dam­age. You have to ask: Who would prof­it?” one Euro­pean secu­ri­ty source told Reuters.

    GFZ declined to be drawn on whether the tremors record­ed could have been the result of an explo­sion but sci­en­tists at the research cen­tre ruled out the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the leaks could have been caused by earth­quakes.

    “There was a spike and then reg­u­lar noise,” a GFZ spokesper­son, Josef Zens, said. “We can­not say if that could be gas stream­ing out.”

    A seis­mol­o­gist quot­ed by Swedish tele­vi­sion sug­gest­ed the activ­i­ty may have been the result of explo­sions. Björn Lund, direc­tor of the Swedish Nation­al Seis­mic Net­work, SNSN, which mea­sures Swedish earth­quakes and explo­sions, told the SVT tele­vi­sion chan­nel that the event – one of which reg­is­tered a mag­ni­tude of 2.3 – may have been caused by under­sea det­o­na­tions.

    You can clear­ly see how the waves bounce from the bot­tom to the sur­face. There is no doubt that it was a blast. We even had a sta­tion in Gnosjö that picked this up,” said Lund, who also lec­tures in seis­mol­o­gy at Upp­sala Uni­ver­si­ty.

    Ear­li­er, the Dan­ish prime min­is­ter, Mette Fred­erik­sen, said sab­o­tage could not be exclud­ed.

    Mean­while the Krem­lin spokesper­son, Dmit­ry Peskov, called the news “very con­cern­ing” and said that “no option can be ruled out right now”, includ­ing sab­o­tage.

    ...

    The steel pipe itself has a wall of 4.1 cm (1.6 inch­es) and is coat­ed with steel-rein­forced con­crete up to 11cm thick. Each sec­tion of the pipe weighs 11 tonnes, which goes to 24–25 tonnes after the con­crete is applied.

    Among those point­ing to the war in Ukraine was the Pol­ish prime min­is­ter, Mateusz Moraw­iec­ki, who was speak­ing at the open­ing of a new gas pipeline between Nor­way and Poland. “Today we faced an act of sab­o­tage. We don’t know all the details of what hap­pened but we see clear­ly that it’s an act of sab­o­tage, relat­ed to the next step of esca­la­tion of the sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine,” Moraw­iec­ki said.

    Poland’s for­eign min­is­ter was more forth­right, sug­gest­ing that the dam­age could be an act of provo­ca­tion on behalf of the Krem­lin.

    “Sad­ly our east­ern part­ner is con­stant­ly pur­su­ing an aggres­sive polit­i­cal course,” the deputy for­eign min­is­ter, Marcin Przy­dacz, said in War­saw. “If it is capa­ble of an aggres­sive mil­i­tary course in Ukraine, then it’s appar­ent that acts of provo­ca­tions in west­ern Europe also can­not be ruled out.”

    A senior Ukrain­ian offi­cial also called it a Russ­ian attack to desta­bilise Europe, with­out giv­ing proof.

    British sources said they believed it may not be pos­si­ble to deter­mine what occurred with cer­tain­ty.

    One UK insid­er spec­u­lat­ed that any explo­sions were unlike­ly to have been caused by a sub­ma­rine or under­wa­ter vehi­cle, because their pres­ence would have been detect­ed in the rel­a­tive­ly shal­low Baltic waters. Sec­tions of the pipelines are between 80 metres and 110 metres deep.

    An alter­na­tive sce­nario could be that mines were dropped from a dis­guised com­mer­cial ves­sel days or weeks ahead of the attack, then remote­ly det­o­nat­ed to cause the explo­sions. But the lat­ter sce­nario was entire­ly hypo­thet­i­cal, they stressed.

    The day of dra­ma began when the Dan­ish ener­gy agency said it had found the leaks on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline north-east of the island of Born­holm, and a third in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in Swedish waters south-east of the island. “This is not a small crack. It’s a real­ly big hole,” the ener­gy agency said.

    Under­lin­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of the event, Javier Blas, an ener­gy and com­modi­ties com­men­ta­tor for Bloomberg, described the under­sea gas pipelines in the region as one of Europe’s most impor­tant strate­gic assets. “The sub­sea pipelines link­ing the North Sea gas fields, and then Nor­way with the rest of the con­ti­nent and the UK are among the most strate­gic assets right now for Europe. High time for max­i­mum pro­tec­tion. Cyber-attacks against ener­gy assets are, too, a key risk for Europe,” Blas tweet­ed.

    The sub­sea pipelines link­ing the North Sea gas fields, and then Nor­way with the rest of the con­ti­nent and the UK are among the most strate­gic assets right now for Europe. High time for max­i­mum pro­tec­tion. Cyber­at­tacks against ener­gy assets are, too, a key risk for Europe.— Javier Blas (@JavierBlas) Sep­tem­ber 27, 2022

    A five-mile exclu­sion zone for ship­ping has been set up around Born­holm, and flights below 1,000 metres have been banned in the area. Methane, the pri­ma­ry com­po­nent of nat­ur­al gas, par­tial­ly dis­solves in water, is not tox­ic and cre­ates no haz­ard when inhaled in lim­it­ed quan­ti­ties.

    ...

    Nord Stream AG, the pipeline oper­a­tor, had on Mon­day morn­ing report­ed an unex­pect­ed overnight drop of pres­sure from 105 to 7 bar in Nord Stream 2, which is filled with gas but was can­celled by Olaf Scholz, the Ger­man chan­cel­lor, short­ly before Russia’s inva­sion of Ukraine.

    A fur­ther drop of pres­sure was report­ed on Mon­day after­noon in Nord Stream 1, which Rus­sia shut down indef­i­nite­ly at the start of Sep­tem­ber, ini­tial­ly say­ing it need­ed repairs.

    With three sep­a­rate leaks almost simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, with some dis­tance between them, it was “dif­fi­cult to imag­ine” it was a ran­dom acci­dent, Fred­erik­sen said at a short press con­fer­ence dur­ing a vis­it to Poland, where she was par­tic­i­pat­ing in the open­ing of the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline.

    Anony­mous sources in Ger­man gov­ern­ment cir­cles also said the simul­tane­ity of the three leaks made an acci­dent unlike­ly. “Our imag­i­na­tion can­not come up with a sce­nario which isn’t a delib­er­ate attack,” a per­son involved in the inves­ti­ga­tion told the Ger­man dai­ly Der Tagesspiegel.

    The news mag­a­zine Der Spiegel, quot­ing gov­ern­ment sources, said offi­cials were not rul­ing out sab­o­tage, designed to cause fur­ther uncer­tain­ty on Europe’s ener­gy mar­kets.

    Since no gas has flowed through either of the pipelines since the start of the month, Ger­man author­i­ties have been quick to reas­sure peo­ple that the leaks will not affect its plan to fill gas stor­age tanks in time for win­ter.

    Envi­ron­men­tal NGOs said the leaks were like­ly to cause large-scale dam­age to the envi­ron­ment. “As soon as methane in gas form rais­es from the sur­face of the sea into the atmos­phere, it will mas­sive­ly con­tribute to the green­house effect,” said Sascha Müller-Kraen­ner of the pres­sure group Envi­ron­men­tal Action Ger­many.

    ———-

    “Fears of sab­o­tage as gas pours into Baltic from Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines” by Philip Olter­mann, Peter Beau­mont and Dan Sab­bagh; The Guardian; 09/27/2022

    With three sep­a­rate leaks almost simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, with some dis­tance between them, it was “dif­fi­cult to imag­ine” it was a ran­dom acci­dent, Fred­erik­sen said at a short press con­fer­ence dur­ing a vis­it to Poland, where she was par­tic­i­pat­ing in the open­ing of the Baltic Pipe gas pipeline.”

    Not only is that obvi­ous­ly not an acci­dent. It’s an obvi­ous mes­sage. Who­ev­er did this want­ed the world to know it was sab­o­tage. An esca­la­tion of both ener­gy prices and inter­na­tion­al ten­sions:

    ...
    A seis­mo­graph on the Dan­ish island of Born­holm, near where the leaks occurred, twice record­ed spikes on Mon­day, the day on which the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines under­went dra­mat­ic falls in pres­sure, the Ger­man geo­log­i­cal research cen­tre GFZ said.

    A Dan­ish mil­i­tary flight over the leaks brought back strik­ing images from the rup­tures, includ­ing one show­ing an area of bub­bling gas a kilo­me­tre wide on the sea’s sur­face.

    The seis­mo­graph record­ed near-silence until just after mid­night GMT (2am local time), when there was a spike rep­re­sent­ing a tremor in the earth fol­lowed by a con­tin­u­ous hiss­ing wave form. The pat­tern was repeat­ed at 5pm GMT.

    ...

    GFZ declined to be drawn on whether the tremors record­ed could have been the result of an explo­sion but sci­en­tists at the research cen­tre ruled out the pos­si­bil­i­ty that the leaks could have been caused by earth­quakes.

    “There was a spike and then reg­u­lar noise,” a GFZ spokesper­son, Josef Zens, said. “We can­not say if that could be gas stream­ing out.”

    A seis­mol­o­gist quot­ed by Swedish tele­vi­sion sug­gest­ed the activ­i­ty may have been the result of explo­sions. Björn Lund, direc­tor of the Swedish Nation­al Seis­mic Net­work, SNSN, which mea­sures Swedish earth­quakes and explo­sions, told the SVT tele­vi­sion chan­nel that the event – one of which reg­is­tered a mag­ni­tude of 2.3 – may have been caused by under­sea det­o­na­tions.

    You can clear­ly see how the waves bounce from the bot­tom to the sur­face. There is no doubt that it was a blast. We even had a sta­tion in Gnosjö that picked this up,” said Lund, who also lec­tures in seis­mol­o­gy at Upp­sala Uni­ver­si­ty.

    ...

    One UK insid­er spec­u­lat­ed that any explo­sions were unlike­ly to have been caused by a sub­ma­rine or under­wa­ter vehi­cle, because their pres­ence would have been detect­ed in the rel­a­tive­ly shal­low Baltic waters. Sec­tions of the pipelines are between 80 metres and 110 metres deep.

    An alter­na­tive sce­nario could be that mines were dropped from a dis­guised com­mer­cial ves­sel days or weeks ahead of the attack, then remote­ly det­o­nat­ed to cause the explo­sions. But the lat­ter sce­nario was entire­ly hypo­thet­i­cal, they stressed.
    ...

    And as we should expect, fin­gers imme­di­ate­ly point­ed towards Rus­sia. What is the ratio­nal for Rus­sia attack its own major piece of infra­struc­ture? ‘Desta­bi­liz­ing Europe’. Rus­sia was, of course, already restrict­ing exports to Europe in protest of EU sanc­tions. It’s not like blow­ing up the pipelines was a nec­es­sary excuse fo cut­ting off Russ­ian gas sup­plies. The sup­plies were already cut. All this did was make them a lot more expen­sive for Rus­sia to start back up again:

    ...
    Amid the spec­u­la­tion over sab­o­tage, sus­pi­cion imme­di­ate­ly turned to poten­tial cul­prits – with fin­gers point­ed at Rus­sia, whose pipelines were hit, sug­gest­ing a fur­ther weapon­i­sa­tion of ener­gy sup­plies to Europe in the midst of the con­flict in Ukraine. Not least it was seen as a pos­si­ble mes­sage about the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of oth­er marine gas infra­struc­ture.

    “There are some indi­ca­tions that it is delib­er­ate dam­age. You have to ask: Who would prof­it?” one Euro­pean secu­ri­ty source told Reuters.

    ...

    Ear­li­er, the Dan­ish prime min­is­ter, Mette Fred­erik­sen, said sab­o­tage could not be exclud­ed.

    Mean­while the Krem­lin spokesper­son, Dmit­ry Peskov, called the news “very con­cern­ing” and said that “no option can be ruled out right now”, includ­ing sab­o­tage.

    ...

    Poland’s for­eign min­is­ter was more forth­right, sug­gest­ing that the dam­age could be an act of provo­ca­tion on behalf of the Krem­lin.

    “Sad­ly our east­ern part­ner is con­stant­ly pur­su­ing an aggres­sive polit­i­cal course,” the deputy for­eign min­is­ter, Marcin Przy­dacz, said in War­saw. “If it is capa­ble of an aggres­sive mil­i­tary course in Ukraine, then it’s appar­ent that acts of provo­ca­tions in west­ern Europe also can­not be ruled out.”

    A senior Ukrain­ian offi­cial also called it a Russ­ian attack to desta­bilise Europe, with­out giv­ing proof.

    British sources said they believed it may not be pos­si­ble to deter­mine what occurred with cer­tain­ty.
    ...

    And then we get to this intrigu­ing detail: Der Spiegel just report­ed on anony­mous Ger­man gov­ern­ment offi­cials who were also appar­ent­ly going on with the nar­ra­tive about sab­o­tage designed to cause fur­ther uncer­tain­ty in Europe’s ener­gy mar­kets. So it’s not just Poland and Ukraine push­ing the ‘Rus­sia did it’ nar­ra­tive. Ger­many is push­ing it too:

    ...
    Anony­mous sources in Ger­man gov­ern­ment cir­cles also said the simul­tane­ity of the three leaks made an acci­dent unlike­ly. “Our imag­i­na­tion can­not come up with a sce­nario which isn’t a delib­er­ate attack,” a per­son involved in the inves­ti­ga­tion told the Ger­man dai­ly Der Tagesspiegel.

    The news mag­a­zine Der Spiegel, quot­ing gov­ern­ment sources, said offi­cials were not rul­ing out sab­o­tage, designed to cause fur­ther uncer­tain­ty on Europe’s ener­gy mar­kets.
    ...

    And that brings us to the oth­er very inter­est­ing report in Der Spiegel fol­low­ing this attack: The CIA appar­ent­ly warned Ger­many three weeks ago about attacks on these pipelines:

    Reuters

    CIA warned Berlin about pos­si­ble attacks on gas pipelines in sum­mer — Spiegel

    Sep­tem­ber 27, 2022 1:00 PM CDT
    Updat­ed

    BERLIN, Sept 27 (Reuters) — The U.S. Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency (CIA) had weeks ago warned Ger­many about pos­si­ble attacks on gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, Ger­man mag­a­zine Spiegel said on Tues­day, after gas leaks in Rus­sia pipelines to Ger­many were report­ed.

    The Ger­man gov­ern­ment received the CIA tip in sum­mer, Spiegel report­ed, cit­ing unnamed sources, adding that Berlin assumes a tar­get­ed attack on Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines.

    A Ger­man gov­ern­ment spokesper­son declined to com­ment, Spiegel added.

    ———–

    “CIA warned Berlin about pos­si­ble attacks on gas pipelines in sum­mer — Spiegel”; Reuters; 09/27/2022

    That’s all we get to know at this point. The Ger­man gov­ern­ment received CIA warn­ings about exact­ly this kind of attack three weeks ago. Warn­ings that will pre­sum­ably now be used to fur­ther the nar­ra­tive about Rus­sia attack­ing its own pipelines.

    Keep in mind the tim­ing in all this: We’re told the CIA warned Ger­many three weeks ago. And it was also exact­ly three weeks when Rus­sia announced it was­n’t going to resume gas tran­sit over Nord­stream 1 until the West lifts sanc­tions against Rus­sia. So the CIA appears to have issued this warn­ing about pipeline sab­o­tage right around the same time Rus­sia made this pledge to keep the gas cut off until the sanc­tions are lift­ed

    The Guardian

    Rus­sia will not resume gas sup­plies to Europe until sanc­tions lift­ed, says Moscow

    Krem­lin blames west­ern sanc­tions for fail­ure to deliv­er gas through Nord Stream 1 pipeline

    Pjotr Sauer
    Mon 5 Sep 2022 09.37 EDT
    Last mod­i­fied on Tue 6 Sep 2022 11.17 EDT

    Rus­sia will not resume in full its gas sup­plies to Europe until the west lifts its sanc­tions against Moscow, the Krem­lin said, as con­cerns over Russ­ian gas sup­plies con­tin­ued to dri­ve up ener­gy prices.

    Speak­ing to jour­nal­ists on Mon­day, Dmit­ry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesper­son, blamed sanc­tions “intro­duced against our coun­try by west­ern coun­tries includ­ing Ger­many and the UK” for Russia’s fail­ure to deliv­er gas through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline.

    “Oth­er rea­sons that would cause prob­lems with the pump­ing don’t exist,” Peskov was cit­ed by the Inter­fax news agency as say­ing.

    Peskov added that Russia’s full resump­tion of gas sup­plies via Nord Stream 1 was “undoubt­ed­ly” depen­dent on whether the west would lift its sanc­tions on Moscow. “It is these sanc­tions imposed by the west­ern states that have brought the sit­u­a­tion to what we see now.”

    Peskov’s state­ments on Mon­day are the clear­est indi­ca­tion yet that Rus­sia intends to force the EU to lift sanc­tions imposed against Moscow over its inva­sion of Ukraine in exchange for Rus­sia restart­ing its gas deliv­er­ies.

    The lead­ing Russ­ian ener­gy sup­pli­er Gazprom announced on Fri­day evening that a sus­pen­sion of gas sup­plies head­ing west­wards through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline would be extend­ed indef­i­nite­ly, cit­ing “mal­func­tions” on a tur­bine along the pipeline.

    Gazprom has sim­i­lar­ly blamed west­ern sanc­tions for dis­rupt­ing gas deliv­er­ies, say­ing the man­u­fac­tur­er Siemens could not per­form repairs on the tur­bines used in Nord Stream 1 because of sanc­tions against the Russ­ian state ener­gy com­pa­ny.

    The EU has reject­ed Gazprom’s claims, accus­ing Putin of weapon­is­ing its gas exports.

    Nord Stream 1 is the sin­gle biggest pipeline for gas from Rus­sia to Europe and has the capac­i­ty to deliv­er 55bn cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year. Con­tin­ued sup­plies through the pipeline are seen as cru­cial to pre­vent a deep­en­ing of the ener­gy cri­sis.

    The ener­gy cri­sis in Europe, trig­gered by low­er Russ­ian gas flows, is seen as a major test of the block’s sup­port for Ukraine.

    ...

    ———–

    “Rus­sia will not resume gas sup­plies to Europe until sanc­tions lift­ed, says Moscow” by Pjotr Sauer; The Guardian; 09/05/2022

    “Nord Stream 1 is the sin­gle biggest pipeline for gas from Rus­sia to Europe and has the capac­i­ty to deliv­er 55bn cubic metres (bcm) of gas a year. Con­tin­ued sup­plies through the pipeline are seen as cru­cial to pre­vent a deep­en­ing of the ener­gy cri­sis.

    The EU can’t real­ly pull itself out of its ener­gy cri­sis with­out Nord­stream 1. So the ques­tion of whether or not Europe’s resolve would hold through a cold, expen­sive win­ter has already been answered: there’s not going to be any any Russ­ian gas this win­ter. It can’t logis­ti­cal­ly hap­pen regard­less of whether sanc­tions are lift­ed or not. At least not until the repairs are made. That’s part of the con­text of this attack. Rus­sia already had the abil­i­ty to cut off gas. Implic­it­ly. It cut the gas off itself vol­un­tar­i­ly. This attack did­n’t change that. What it did change was Rus­si­a’s abil­i­ty to ‘turn the gas back on’ eas­i­ly should the EU ever decide its had enough. It’s not clear how that ben­e­fits Rus­sia. But it’s pret­ty clear there are ben­e­fi­cia­ries in this sit­u­a­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 27, 2022, 3:50 pm
  3. Dave you’re very eth­i­cal with the research. Hon­est­ly its helped me under­stand what is going on today. The For The Record pro­grams are real­ly well done.

    Posted by Scipio | September 27, 2022, 10:59 pm
  4. Here’s an arti­cle about the sab­o­tage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines that takes on a cat­a­stroph­ic the­mat­ic rel­e­vance in the wake of the dev­as­ta­tion of Hur­ri­cane Ian and the high prospects of the US role in those attacks:

    The methane released from the Nord Stream bomb­ings was the largest methane release on record, on the scale of rough­ly a third of Den­mark’s annu­al green­house gas emis­sions and five times worse than the 2015 Aliso Canyon dis­as­ter, which set the US record for a ter­res­tri­al methane release. The Aliso Canyon dis­as­ter also took place over 112 days, while the release from the Nord Stream pipelines were more or less imme­di­ate. A giant plume of methane — which is 82.5 times more potent a green­house gas than CO2 — was just put into an atmos­phere already the verge of cross­ing into irre­versible run­away cli­mate change. Civ­i­liza­tion just got anoth­er big push towards the abyss. Or as Rob Jack­son, a cli­mate sci­en­tist at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, put it, “Who­ev­er ordered this should be pros­e­cut­ed for war crimes and go to jail”:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Record methane leak flows from dam­aged Baltic Sea pipelines

    By JAN M. OLSEN and PATRICK WHITTLE
    Wednes­day Sep­tem­ber 28, 2022 16:33:06 CST

    COPENHAGEN, Den­mark (AP) — Methane leak­ing from the dam­aged Nord Stream pipelines is like­ly to be the biggest burst of the potent green­house gas on record, by far.

    The Nord Stream pipeline leaks that were pump­ing huge vol­umes of methane into the Baltic Sea and atmos­phere could dis­charge as much as five times as much of the potent green­house as was released by the Aliso Canyon dis­as­ter, the largest known ter­res­tri­al release of methane in U.S. his­to­ry. It is also the equiv­a­lent of one third of Denmark’s total annu­al green­house gas emis­sions, a Dan­ish offi­cial warned Wednes­day.

    “Who­ev­er ordered this should be pros­e­cut­ed for war crimes and go to jail,” said Rob Jack­son, a Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty cli­mate sci­en­tist. Two sci­en­tists looked at the offi­cial worst case sce­nario esti­mates pro­vid­ed by the Dan­ish gov­ern­ment — 778 mil­lion cubic meters of gas — for The Asso­ci­at­ed Press. Jack­son and David Hast­ings, a retired chem­i­cal oceanog­ra­ph­er in Gainesville, Flori­da each cal­cu­lat­ed that would be an equiv­a­lent of rough­ly half a mil­lion met­ric tons of methane. The Aliso Canyon dis­as­ter released 90–100,000 met­ric tons.

    Andrew Bax­ter, a chem­i­cal engi­neer who for­mer­ly worked in the off­shore oil and gas indus­try, and is now at the envi­ron­men­tal group EDF thought the Dan­ish esti­mate was like­ly too high. He had a more con­ser­v­a­tive esti­mate. But it was still more than dou­ble the Aliso Canyon dis­as­ter.

    “That’s one thing that is con­sis­tent with these esti­mates,” he said, “It’s cat­a­stroph­ic for the cli­mate.”

    Kristof­fer Böttza­uw, head of the Dan­ish Ener­gy Agency, said emis­sions from the three leaks on the under­wa­ter Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines cor­re­spond to approx­i­mate­ly 32% of annu­al Dan­ish car­bon diox­ide emis­sions. Dan­ish emis­sions in 2020 were approx­i­mate­ly 45 mil­lion tonnes of CO2.

    Sab­o­tage was sus­pect­ed to have caused the leaks, and seis­mol­o­gists said Tues­day that explo­sions rat­tled the Baltic Sea before they were dis­cov­ered. Some Euro­pean offi­cials and ener­gy experts have said Rus­sia is like­ly to blame since it direct­ly ben­e­fits from high­er ener­gy prices and eco­nom­ic anx­i­ety across Europe. But oth­ers cau­tioned against point­ing fin­gers until inves­ti­ga­tors are able to deter­mine what hap­pened.

    Methane seen bub­bling at the ocean sur­face was an indi­ca­tion of “a strong upward flow,” accord­ing to Paul Bal­combe, a mem­ber of the engi­neer­ing fac­ul­ty at the depart­ment of chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing at Impe­r­i­al Col­lege Lon­don.

    The loss of pres­sure in the pipe like­ly meant a large amount of gas was already lost, he said. The impacts of the gas leak are still com­ing into focus, Bal­combe said, but are like­ly to be sig­nif­i­cant.

    “It would have a very large envi­ron­men­tal and cli­mate impact indeed, even if it released a frac­tion of this,” he said.

    Methane is a major con­trib­u­tor to cli­mate change, respon­si­ble for a sig­nif­i­cant share of the cli­mate dis­rup­tion peo­ple are already expe­ri­enc­ing. That is because it is 82.5 times more potent than car­bon diox­ide at absorb­ing the sun’s heat and warm­ing the Earth.

    Böttza­uw, told a press con­fer­ence that the agency expects the gas to be out of the pipes, that run from Rus­sia to Ger­many, by Sun­day.

    “We believe that half the gas is out by now of one of the two pipes,” Böttza­uw said. “We are talk­ing about a huge spill of sev­er­al mil­lion cubic meters of gas.”

    ...

    The inci­dents come as the EU strug­gles to keep a lid on soar­ing gas and elec­tric­i­ty prices.

    “As long as there is gas, it dan­ger­ous to be there,” Böttza­uw said, declin­ing to say when experts would be able to go down and see the pipes, which he said was made of 12-cen­time­ter (5‑inch) thick steel coat­ed with con­crete. They lie on the seabed between 70 and 90 meters (230 feet and 295 feet) deep.

    The leaks all were in inter­na­tion­al waters. Two were with­in the Dan­ish exclu­sive eco­nom­ic zone while the third is in the Swedish equiv­a­lent.

    ————

    “Record methane leak flows from dam­aged Baltic Sea pipelines” By JAN M. OLSEN and PATRICK WHITTLE; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 09/28/2022

    “Who­ev­er ordered this should be pros­e­cut­ed for war crimes and go to jail,” said Rob Jack­son, a Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty cli­mate sci­en­tist. Two sci­en­tists looked at the offi­cial worst case sce­nario esti­mates pro­vid­ed by the Dan­ish gov­ern­ment — 778 mil­lion cubic meters of gas — for The Asso­ci­at­ed Press. Jack­son and David Hast­ings, a retired chem­i­cal oceanog­ra­ph­er in Gainesville, Flori­da each cal­cu­lat­ed that would be an equiv­a­lent of rough­ly half a mil­lion met­ric tons of methane. The Aliso Canyon dis­as­ter released 90–100,000 met­ric tons.”

    Was the sab­o­tage of those pipelines just a war crime? How about a crime against human­i­ty? It’s not like who­ev­er did this was­n’t well aware of the con­se­quences of this. Con­se­quences that cli­mate researchers describe as sim­ply cat­a­stroph­ic:

    ...
    Andrew Bax­ter, a chem­i­cal engi­neer who for­mer­ly worked in the off­shore oil and gas indus­try, and is now at the envi­ron­men­tal group EDF thought the Dan­ish esti­mate was like­ly too high. He had a more con­ser­v­a­tive esti­mate. But it was still more than dou­ble the Aliso Canyon dis­as­ter.

    “That’s one thing that is con­sis­tent with these esti­mates,” he said, “It’s cat­a­stroph­ic for the cli­mate.”

    Kristof­fer Böttza­uw, head of the Dan­ish Ener­gy Agency, said emis­sions from the three leaks on the under­wa­ter Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines cor­re­spond to approx­i­mate­ly 32% of annu­al Dan­ish car­bon diox­ide emis­sions. Dan­ish emis­sions in 2020 were approx­i­mate­ly 45 mil­lion tonnes of CO2.

    ...

    Methane seen bub­bling at the ocean sur­face was an indi­ca­tion of “a strong upward flow,” accord­ing to Paul Bal­combe, a mem­ber of the engi­neer­ing fac­ul­ty at the depart­ment of chem­i­cal engi­neer­ing at Impe­r­i­al Col­lege Lon­don.

    The loss of pres­sure in the pipe like­ly meant a large amount of gas was already lost, he said. The impacts of the gas leak are still com­ing into focus, Bal­combe said, but are like­ly to be sig­nif­i­cant.

    “It would have a very large envi­ron­men­tal and cli­mate impact indeed, even if it released a frac­tion of this,” he said.

    Methane is a major con­trib­u­tor to cli­mate change, respon­si­ble for a sig­nif­i­cant share of the cli­mate dis­rup­tion peo­ple are already expe­ri­enc­ing. That is because it is 82.5 times more potent than car­bon diox­ide at absorb­ing the sun’s heat and warm­ing the Earth.
    ...

    And then we get to the fin­ger-point­ing. Fin­ger-point­ing large­ly at Rus­sia in lieu of an actu­al inves­ti­ga­tion. But an inves­ti­ga­tion is pre­sum­ably going to hap­pen at some point. And it’s hard to imag­ine that sab­o­tage isn’t going to be the con­clu­sion. Who gets blames for that sab­o­tage is more of an open ques­tion:

    ...
    Sab­o­tage was sus­pect­ed to have caused the leaks, and seis­mol­o­gists said Tues­day that explo­sions rat­tled the Baltic Sea before they were dis­cov­ered. Some Euro­pean offi­cials and ener­gy experts have said Rus­sia is like­ly to blame since it direct­ly ben­e­fits from high­er ener­gy prices and eco­nom­ic anx­i­ety across Europe. But oth­ers cau­tioned against point­ing fin­gers until inves­ti­ga­tors are able to deter­mine what hap­pened.
    ...

    And its not hard to imag­ine that the cul­prit sim­ply won’t be iden­ti­fi­able no mat­ter how intense the inves­ti­ga­tion. Sab­o­tage will be con­clud­ed with no cul­prit named while vague sus­pi­cions like­ly cast towards Rus­sia. So giv­en the high prob­a­bil­i­ty that the per­pe­tra­tor of this act is going to get away with it, it’s worth not­ing that get­ting away with it is like­ly part of ‘the mes­sage’ in this action. A mes­sage that sug­gest future ‘acci­dents’ can be arrange too.

    Anoth­er fac­tor to keep in mind here is the obvi­ous rec­i­p­ro­cal response: Russ­ian retal­ia­to­ry attacks on West­ern pipelines and ener­gy facil­i­ties. Attacks that will obvi­ous­ly have the poten­tial for more mas­sive green­house gas releas­es. The sab­o­tage of Nord Stream was a clear esca­la­tion. And esca­la­tions have a ten­den­cy of invit­ed fur­ther esca­la­tions. Major infra­struc­ture, espe­cial­ly infra­struc­ture in inter­na­tion­al waters, is now fair game. Implic­it­ly. This was a recipe for eco-dis­as­ter tit-for-tat sce­nar­ios.

    This is also a good time to recall how a lim­it­ed region nuclear war is pro­ject­ed to induce a peri­od of glob­al cool­ing due to all the dust thrown up into the atmos­phere. So if the flir­ta­tion with run­away cli­mate change as part of an esca­lat­ing con­flict between nuclear pow­ers sounds utter­ly insane, keep in mind there could be an utter­ly insane ‘sane’ end game ratio­nale at work for why we don’t have to wor­ry about run­away glob­al warm­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 29, 2022, 3:38 pm
  5. Are we already in a third world world? Yes, and attempts to nego­ti­ate our way out of this third world war are unwise and a capit­u­la­tion to Vladimir Putin’s bar­barism and nuclear blus­ter. Nuclear blus­ter designed to force the West into peace nego­ti­a­tions that must be avoid­ed. That’s the stun­ning ‘log­ic’ on dis­play in the fol­low­ing piece by Susan Glass­er in the New York­er. The piece is filled with morsels of ‘wis­dom’ from DC for­eign pol­i­cy fig­ures like ‘Rus­sia expert’ Fiona Hill and for­mer U.S. Ambas­sador to Moscow Alexan­der Ver­sh­bow.

    Accord­ing to Ver­sh­bow, the sab­o­tage of Rus­si­a’s own Nord Stream pipelines are all part and par­cel of a larg­er attempt to project a ‘mad man Putin’ image intend­ed to scare Europe to the bar­gain­ing table in response to Ukraine’s mil­i­tary gains on the bat­tle­field. As Glass­er describes it, any nego­ti­a­tions now would­n’t just be a “bad deal” but “would be an extra­or­di­nary con­ces­sion in and of itself to Putin’s bar­barism and will­ing­ness to threat­en nuclear con­flict.” In oth­er words, the more Putin threat­ens the use of nuclear weapons, the more the West needs to ignore those threats as fake blus­ter intend­ed to hide Rus­si­a’s weak­ness.

    Instead, if we fol­low the advice of Fiona Hill, we should just accept that the US and Rus­sia are in WWIII and drop the self-delu­sions about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of Wash­ing­ton and the West con­tin­u­ing to back Ukraine while avoid­ing con­flict with Putin. So Hill appears to be say­ing the West should be active­ly plan­ning now for WWIII and direct con­flict with Rus­sia. And as Glass­er observes, Hill’s line of rea­son­ing “is one rea­son that there are increased calls from many Rus­sia watch­ers not to kow­tow to Putin’s demands at a moment when both his weak­ness­es and those of his sys­tem have been so clear­ly revealed”.

    Putin’s nuclear threats are a sign of weak­ness and sig­nal that Rus­sia is about to crack. Instead of nego­ti­a­tions we need to accept that we’re already in WWIII and ratch­et up the pres­sure. That’s the DC con­sen­sus described in this arti­cle. Wel­come to the new MAD­ness. It’s tru­ly insane this time:

    The New York­er

    What if We’re Already Fight­ing the Third World War with Rus­sia?
    Putin’s lat­est provo­ca­tions once again put Wash­ing­ton in an awful bind.

    By Susan B. Glass­er
    Sep­tem­ber 29, 2022

    Nuclear black­mail, ille­gal annex­a­tion of ter­ri­to­ry, hun­dreds of thou­sands of Russ­ian men round­ed up and sent to the front lines in Ukraine, under­sea gas pipelines to Europe mys­te­ri­ous­ly blow­ing up. After end­less spec­u­la­tion, we can now say it for sure: this is how Vladimir Putin responds when he is backed into a cor­ner.

    Through­out sev­en awful months of war in Ukraine, Pres­i­dent Joe Biden has held to a stead­fast line when it comes to the Russ­ian inva­sion: his goal is to help Ukraine win while also insur­ing that vic­to­ry does not trig­ger a Third World War. But as Russ­ian forces have expe­ri­enced U.S.-aided bat­tle­field set­backs in recent days, Putin has react­ed by ratch­et­ing up the pres­sure. It’s far from clear how Wash­ing­ton will be able to con­tin­ue to pur­sue both goals simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, giv­en that Putin is hold­ing Ukraine—and the rest of the world—hostage to his demands. On Fri­day, Putin plans to affirm the results of what the Biden Admin­is­tra­tion has stern­ly termed “sham ‘ref­er­en­da’ ” as a pre­text to declare Russ­ian-occu­pied ter­ri­to­ries in Ukraine part of the Russ­ian state. How could Biden, or the Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Volodymyr Zelen­sky, or any­one else who believes in inter­na­tion­al order agree to that?

    And yet Don­ald Trump and the grow­ing fac­tion of pro-Putin cheer­lead­ers in the con­ser­v­a­tive media—Tucker Carl­son, I’m think­ing of you—are demand­ing still more con­ces­sions to Rus­sia in response to Putin’s esca­lat­ing threats. The oth­er night, Carl­son, cit­ing no evi­dence, blamed the Unit­ed States for some­how play­ing a role in attacks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines. Char­lie Kirk, one of the most out­ra­geous of the junior Trump­ists, spec­u­lat­ed that it was “a poten­tial midterm-elec­tion oper­a­tion” and that U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies should be con­sid­ered “guilty until proven innocent”—an appalling smear glee­ful­ly par­rot­ed on Russ­ian state TV. The ex-President—who dur­ing his time in office did so much to weak­en NATO and under­mine Amer­i­can allies while also prais­ing Putin—even offered him­self up as a medi­a­tor. On Wednes­day, in a post on Truth Social, his Orwellian-named social-media plat­form, he insist­ed, “get a nego­ti­at­ed deal done NOW.”

    Which, of course, is exact­ly what Putin wants Trump to say. After a Ukrain­ian counter-offen­sive in the east­ern Kharkiv region this month pushed Russ­ian forces back to their own bor­der, Putin respond­ed with new provo­ca­tions designed to force the West to the bar­gain­ing table, since his excep­tion­al­ly bru­tal yet inept appli­ca­tion of mil­i­tary force failed to do so. That, at least, is the con­sen­sus view of many of America’s smartest Krem­lin watch­ers.

    As Alexan­der Ver­sh­bow, who served as the U.S. Ambas­sador to Moscow dur­ing my tenure there as a cor­re­spon­dent for the Wash­ing­ton Post, put it to me: “Hav­ing failed to stop the Ukraini­ans on the bat­tle­field, Putin is try­ing to snatch vic­to­ry from the jaws of defeat by polit­i­cal means.” Russia’s leader, Ver­sh­bow added, hopes that “he can weak­en the Alliance con­sen­sus and scare the West into scal­ing back its mil­i­tary sup­port for Kyiv for fear of pre­cip­i­tat­ing Russ­ian use of nuclear weapons to defend the ‘home­land.’ The sab­o­tage of the Nord Stream pipelines fur­ther rein­forces the image of Putin as mad­man, which might per­suade some allies to push for a cease­fire and nego­ti­a­tions that would inevitably mean Ukraine giv­ing up sig­nif­i­cant amounts of ter­ri­to­ry.” Talk about a bad deal.

    It seems clear that nego­ti­at­ing now would be an extra­or­di­nary con­ces­sion in and of itself to Putin’s bar­barism and will­ing­ness to threat­en nuclear con­flict. Yet it’s not just Trump­ists who have been call­ing with more urgency for a nego­ti­at­ed peace ever since Putin vowed, in ear­ly Sep­tem­ber, to “make use of all weapons sys­tems avail­able to us” and warned, “This is not a bluff.”

    Or is it? Over the week­end, Biden’s nation­al-secu­ri­ty advis­er, Jake Sul­li­van, promised a “cat­a­stroph­ic” response if Putin were to deploy bat­tle­field nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Amer­i­can mil­i­tary offi­cials have no doubt pro­duced many seri­ous options for the Unit­ed States to con­sid­er in such a sce­nario, includ­ing direct­ly enter­ing the war on Ukraine’s side—just the Third World War sce­nario that Biden has been so deter­mined to avoid.

    Watch­ing all of this, it’s hard not to think of how often over the past two decades the West has col­lec­tive­ly failed to get Putin right—or to get him at all. Over the sum­mer, the Aspen Strat­e­gy Group asked me to give a pre­sen­ta­tion about Rus­sia at war, and what stood out to me in my research was the num­ber of times, and vari­ety of ways, in which the U.S. and its allies had missed the mark in under­stand­ing Putin at crit­i­cal junc­tures in his long tenure as Russia’s mod­ern tsar.

    Again and again, Putin has prof­it­ed from the appli­ca­tion of mil­i­tary force to achieve oth­er­wise unat­tain­able polit­i­cal gains. He came to pow­er by pro­mot­ing war in the sep­a­ratist Russ­ian province of Chech­nya. He sent Russ­ian troops to Geor­gia and Syr­ia and, in 2014, to Ukraine. Each time, there were end­less rounds of spec­u­la­tion in West­ern cap­i­tals about how to cre­ate an “exit ramp” that would final­ly entice Putin to end his incur­sion. Putin just kept bar­relling down the high­way.

    So, yes, I’m skep­ti­cal when I hear the lat­est round of “exit ramp” talk. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watch­ing Putin all of this time, it’s that he is not one to walk away from a fight or back down while losing—escalation is his game, and by now he is very, very prac­ticed at it. As the Moscow Times put it, in a fas­ci­nat­ing piece of report­ing from inside the Krem­lin, “Putin always choos­es esca­la­tion.”

    On Thurs­day, I spoke with the Rus­sia expert Fiona Hill. She told me she believes there’s an ele­ment of self-delu­sion to much of the cur­rent com­men­tary about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of Wash­ing­ton and the West con­tin­u­ing to back Ukraine while avoid­ing con­flict with Putin—who, after all, launched his war against Ukraine not in Feb­ru­ary but eight years ago when he invad­ed the coun­try and ille­gal­ly annexed the Crimean Penin­su­la. As far as Hill is con­cerned, we are already fight­ing in the Third World War, whether we acknowl­edge it or not. “We’ve been in this for a long time, and we’ve failed to rec­og­nize it,” she said.

    Her chill­ing thought rais­es a sear­ing ques­tion about U.S. pol­i­cy: If the goal is to avoid a con­flict in which we are already fight­ing, then does the rest of Washington’s approach to Russ­ian aggres­sion need to be recon­sid­ered? Hill’s line of think­ing is one rea­son that there are increased calls from many Rus­sia watch­ers not to kow­tow to Putin’s demands at a moment when both his weak­ness­es and those of his sys­tem have been so clear­ly revealed.

    ...

    Nuclear brinkman­ship between a wound­ed, sulk­ing Russ­ian dic­ta­tor and an increas­ing­ly alarmed NATO alliance—with Ukraine trapped in the middle—is just about a worst-case sce­nario for a world that hard­ly needs anoth­er cri­sis. Will Wash­ing­ton stay the course?

    —————

    “What if We’re Already Fight­ing the Third World War with Rus­sia?” By Susan B. Glass­er; The New York­er; 09/29/2022

    “On Thurs­day, I spoke with the Rus­sia expert Fiona Hill. She told me she believes there’s an ele­ment of self-delu­sion to much of the cur­rent com­men­tary about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of Wash­ing­ton and the West con­tin­u­ing to back Ukraine while avoid­ing con­flict with Putin—who, after all, launched his war against Ukraine not in Feb­ru­ary but eight years ago when he invad­ed the coun­try and ille­gal­ly annexed the Crimean Penin­su­la. As far as Hill is con­cerned, we are already fight­ing in the Third World War, whether we acknowl­edge it or not. “We’ve been in this for a long time, and we’ve failed to rec­og­nize it,” she said.

    We’re already in WWIII so we might as well act like it. To do oth­er­wise would be self-delud­ing. That was the sage advice from ‘Rus­sia expert’ Fiona Hill. And as Glass­er hints, Hill’s line of think­ing is increas­ing­ly the Wash­ing­ton con­sen­sus:

    ...
    Her chill­ing thought rais­es a sear­ing ques­tion about U.S. pol­i­cy: If the goal is to avoid a con­flict in which we are already fight­ing, then does the rest of Washington’s approach to Russ­ian aggres­sion need to be recon­sid­ered? Hill’s line of think­ing is one rea­son that there are increased calls from many Rus­sia watch­ers not to kow­tow to Putin’s demands at a moment when both his weak­ness­es and those of his sys­tem have been so clear­ly revealed.
    ...

    And that DC con­sen­sus appears to have con­clud­ed that the Russ­ian esca­la­tion in Ukraine and threats of nuclear war are part of Putin’s attempts to force the West to the bar­gain­ing table. To force a win through polit­i­cal means that Putin can’t extract on the bat­tle­field. That’s the con­sen­sus view “of many of America’s smartest Krem­lin watch­ers.” And as Glass­er describes it, agree­ing to nego­ti­a­tions in the face of nuclear threats would be “an extra­or­di­nary con­ces­sion in and of itself to Putin’s bar­barism and will­ing­ness to threat­en nuclear con­flict.”
    This is where we are: nego­ti­a­tions in the face of nuclear threats is now deemed to be an extra­or­di­nary con­ces­sion to bru­tal­i­ty and bar­barism. It’s like the Cold War nev­er hap­pened. This is the new MAD­ness.

    Beyond that, the DC con­sen­sus view on the bomb­ing of the Nord Stream pipelines i that Putin did it as part of his ‘mad man’ pos­tur­ing. It’s a con­sen­sus view that ignores the basic real­i­ty that the bomb­ing of those pipeline under­mined Rus­si­a’s cur­rent lever­age over exact­ly the Euro­pean coun­tries that would be most inclined to call for nego­ti­a­tions in the hopes of renew­ing cheap Russ­ian gas. But, again, that’s where we are. The new MAD­ness is tru­ly utter­ly mad. Mad­ness mas­querad­ing as cold log­ic:

    ...
    And yet Don­ald Trump and the grow­ing fac­tion of pro-Putin cheer­lead­ers in the con­ser­v­a­tive media—Tucker Carl­son, I’m think­ing of you—are demand­ing still more con­ces­sions to Rus­sia in response to Putin’s esca­lat­ing threats. The oth­er night, Carl­son, cit­ing no evi­dence, blamed the Unit­ed States for some­how play­ing a role in attacks on the Nord Stream gas pipelines. Char­lie Kirk, one of the most out­ra­geous of the junior Trump­ists, spec­u­lat­ed that it was “a poten­tial midterm-elec­tion oper­a­tion” and that U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies should be con­sid­ered “guilty until proven innocent”—an appalling smear glee­ful­ly par­rot­ed on Russ­ian state TV. The ex-President—who dur­ing his time in office did so much to weak­en NATO and under­mine Amer­i­can allies while also prais­ing Putin—even offered him­self up as a medi­a­tor. On Wednes­day, in a post on Truth Social, his Orwellian-named social-media plat­form, he insist­ed, “get a nego­ti­at­ed deal done NOW.”

    Which, of course, is exact­ly what Putin wants Trump to say. After a Ukrain­ian counter-offen­sive in the east­ern Kharkiv region this month pushed Russ­ian forces back to their own bor­der, Putin respond­ed with new provo­ca­tions designed to force the West to the bar­gain­ing table, since his excep­tion­al­ly bru­tal yet inept appli­ca­tion of mil­i­tary force failed to do so. That, at least, is the con­sen­sus view of many of America’s smartest Krem­lin watch­ers.

    As Alexan­der Ver­sh­bow, who served as the U.S. Ambas­sador to Moscow dur­ing my tenure there as a cor­re­spon­dent for the Wash­ing­ton Post, put it to me: “Hav­ing failed to stop the Ukraini­ans on the bat­tle­field, Putin is try­ing to snatch vic­to­ry from the jaws of defeat by polit­i­cal means.” Russia’s leader, Ver­sh­bow added, hopes that “he can weak­en the Alliance con­sen­sus and scare the West into scal­ing back its mil­i­tary sup­port for Kyiv for fear of pre­cip­i­tat­ing Russ­ian use of nuclear weapons to defend the ‘home­land.’ The sab­o­tage of the Nord Stream pipelines fur­ther rein­forces the image of Putin as mad­man, which might per­suade some allies to push for a cease­fire and nego­ti­a­tions that would inevitably mean Ukraine giv­ing up sig­nif­i­cant amounts of ter­ri­to­ry.” Talk about a bad deal.

    It seems clear that nego­ti­at­ing now would be an extra­or­di­nary con­ces­sion in and of itself to Putin’s bar­barism and will­ing­ness to threat­en nuclear con­flict. Yet it’s not just Trump­ists who have been call­ing with more urgency for a nego­ti­at­ed peace ever since Putin vowed, in ear­ly Sep­tem­ber, to “make use of all weapons sys­tems avail­able to us” and warned, “This is not a bluff.”

    Or is it? Over the week­end, Biden’s nation­al-secu­ri­ty advis­er, Jake Sul­li­van, promised a “cat­a­stroph­ic” response if Putin were to deploy bat­tle­field nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Amer­i­can mil­i­tary offi­cials have no doubt pro­duced many seri­ous options for the Unit­ed States to con­sid­er in such a sce­nario, includ­ing direct­ly enter­ing the war on Ukraine’s side—just the Third World War sce­nario that Biden has been so deter­mined to avoid.
    ...

    Final­ly, in this piece that lays out the ‘log­ic’ for why any any nego­ti­a­tions would be an unwise capit­u­la­tion to Putin’s threats and blus­ter designed to scare the West to the bar­gain­ing table, Glass­er notes how Putin has a his­to­ry of mil­i­tar­i­ly dou­bling down to extract vic­to­ries and express­es doubt that Putin will shy from fur­ther esca­la­tions:

    ...
    Watch­ing all of this, it’s hard not to think of how often over the past two decades the West has col­lec­tive­ly failed to get Putin right—or to get him at all. Over the sum­mer, the Aspen Strat­e­gy Group asked me to give a pre­sen­ta­tion about Rus­sia at war, and what stood out to me in my research was the num­ber of times, and vari­ety of ways, in which the U.S. and its allies had missed the mark in under­stand­ing Putin at crit­i­cal junc­tures in his long tenure as Russia’s mod­ern tsar.

    Again and again, Putin has prof­it­ed from the appli­ca­tion of mil­i­tary force to achieve oth­er­wise unat­tain­able polit­i­cal gains. He came to pow­er by pro­mot­ing war in the sep­a­ratist Russ­ian province of Chech­nya. He sent Russ­ian troops to Geor­gia and Syr­ia and, in 2014, to Ukraine. Each time, there were end­less rounds of spec­u­la­tion in West­ern cap­i­tals about how to cre­ate an “exit ramp” that would final­ly entice Putin to end his incur­sion. Putin just kept bar­relling down the high­way.

    So, yes, I’m skep­ti­cal when I hear the lat­est round of “exit ramp” talk. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watch­ing Putin all of this time, it’s that he is not one to walk away from a fight or back down while losing—escalation is his game, and by now he is very, very prac­ticed at it. As the Moscow Times put it, in a fas­ci­nat­ing piece of report­ing from inside the Krem­lin, “Putin always choos­es esca­la­tion.”
    ...

    So what should the West do when Putin dou­bles and triples down on the esca­la­tions as pre­dict­ed? Fur­ther esca­late the sit­u­a­tion. At least that’s what the West should do if we fol­low­ing the ‘log­ic’ laid out in this arti­cle.

    Stay tuned for future pieces about how lim­it­ed nuclear war will remain lim­it­ed and won’t actu­al­ly be all that bad.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 1, 2022, 3:49 pm
  6. The Russ­ian use of nukes will man­date an unprece­dent­ed response by NATO and the US. A strate­gic response of over­whelm­ing con­ven­tion­al weapons that destroy all Russ­ian forces inside Ukraine.Even if that response ends up esca­lat­ing the sit­u­a­tion. In prin­ci­ple. That appears to be the strate­gic thought at work in West­ern pol­i­cy-mak­ing cir­cles in response to the grow­ing threats from Vladimir Putin about the pos­si­ble use of nuclear weapons in the defense of Rus­si­a’s new­ly annexed ter­ri­to­ries.

    At least that’s the response sug­gest­ed by two fig­ures in a posi­tion to have a sense of how the US might response to the Russ­ian use of nukes: nation­al secu­ri­ty ana­lyst and lead­ing expert on nuclear war­fare Joseph Cir­in­cione and retired general/former direc­tor of the CIA David Petraeus. Both fig­ures gave inter­views in recent days describ­ing their rec­om­mend­ed response to the Russ­ian use of tac­ti­cal nukes and both gave strik­ing­ly sim­i­lar advice: the US and NATO would have destroy Rus­si­a’s forces in Ukraine should nukes get used. Petraeus added that Rus­sian’s entire Black Sea fleet would have to be sunk too. And while the lan­guage of ‘inside Ukraine’ rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not that includes the four new­ly annexed ter­ri­to­ries, Petraeus was explic­it that Crimea should get hit too. Petraeus also hint­ed at the pos­si­bil­i­ty that radi­a­tion mov­ing into NATO-mem­ber space could be seen as an Arti­cle 5 trig­ger.

    Petraeus and Cir­in­cione were also both can­did about how such a response could end up esca­lat­ing the sit­u­a­tion. But both insist­ed that such a response would nonethe­less be nec­es­sary on prin­ci­ple even if Arti­cle 5 was­n’t for­mal­ly trig­gered. As Petraeus put it, “You don’t want to, again, get into a nuclear esca­la­tion here. But you have to show that this can­not be accept­ed in any way.” And that more or less cap­tures the under­ly­ing per­il in this sit­u­a­tion: there are no good moves with nuclear stand­offs. It’s a mat­ter of choos­ing the least worst move, which is obvi­ous­ly a mat­ter of pri­or­i­ties. Is it the ‘least worst’ option to not esca­late the sit­u­a­tion in response to the use of tac­ti­cal nukes — set­ting the prece­dent of the use of such weapons in mod­ern com­bat — or is an over­whelm­ing con­ven­tion­al response that risks WWIII the ‘least worst’ option? That will be up to pol­i­cy­mak­ers to decide in the event of the use of nuke, and based on these arti­cles it sounds like they’ve already made that deci­sion:

    Yahoo! News

    Expert: If Putin uses nukes, U.S. could wipe out Russ­ian forces in Ukraine

    Michael Isikoff·Chief Inves­tiga­tive Cor­re­spon­dent
    Mon, Octo­ber 3, 2022 at 4:16 PM

    WASHINGTON — If Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin makes good on his threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the Unit­ed States would like­ly respond with a sweep­ing eco­nom­ic embar­go com­bined with a mas­sive con­ven­tion­al attack on Russ­ian mil­i­tary posi­tions that could quick­ly wipe out the Russ­ian president’s invad­ing mil­i­tary forces, said Joseph Cir­in­cione, a nation­al secu­ri­ty ana­lyst and lead­ing expert on nuclear war­fare.

    The U.S. and NATO “could destroy the Russ­ian forces in Ukraine in a mat­ter of days,” said Cir­in­cione, author of the book “Nuclear Night­mares: Secur­ing the World Before It Is Too Late,” in an inter­view on the Yahoo News “Skull­dug­gery” pod­cast. “That would be the end of the Russ­ian army in this.”

    But Cir­in­cione also acknowl­edged that such a direct U.S. or NATO mil­i­tary strike against the Russ­ian mil­i­tary — even in response to the Russ­ian use of tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons on the bat­tle­field — could also spi­ral out of con­trol. “There are no good respons­es once you start down the nuclear path,” he said. “It’s extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to ter­mi­nate it for the same rea­son that a pok­er play­er los­ing a hand is hes­i­tant to fold. They keep think­ing there’s one more move they could make, one more bet they could raise to try to cause the oth­er side to fold. So there’s no good respons­es.

    Cir­in­cione said that if Putin were to actu­al­ly make good on his threat to go nuclear, it would not be a large-scale ther­monu­clear bomb attack, but a more lim­it­ed deploy­ment of tac­ti­cal weapons — far more lim­it­ed in scope but still a major and unprece­dent­ed esca­la­tion. And Cir­in­cione said that the U.S. mil­i­tary response would not be lim­it­ed to the bat­tle­field. There would also like­ly be a sharp esca­la­tion in psy­cho­log­i­cal war­fare such as was used to unnerve Iraqi gen­er­als on the eve of the U.S. inva­sion of that coun­try. “The U.S. was call­ing Iraqi gen­er­als in their home and telling them to stand down. And they did that for two rea­sons. One, to let them know we know where you live, right? Two, we can reach out and touch you,” said Cir­in­cione, pre­dict­ing that the U.S. might well adopt such a tac­tic in the Ukraine cri­sis.

    ...

    But even as Sul­li­van has gone pub­lic on the issue, Cir­in­cione acknowl­edged that the threats have not deterred Putin from talk­ing up a nuclear sce­nario. Last Fri­day, Putin gave a speech at the Krem­lin in which he announced the annex­a­tion of four regions of Ukraine most­ly occu­pied by Rus­sia but where it is get­ting pushed back by Kyiv’s forces. Putin said that Rus­sia would use “all means avail­able” to defend its ter­ri­to­ry. In a chill­ing pas­sage, he not­ed that the Unit­ed States was the only coun­try to use nuclear weapons in wartime — drop­ping atom­ic bombs on Hiroshi­ma and Nagasa­ki towards the end of World War II — and then added: “By the way, they cre­at­ed a prece­dent.”

    When asked about the fact that U.S. warn­ings have not in any way curbed Putin’s talk of nuclear weapons, Cir­in­cione replied: “It tells me that he’s des­per­ate and he’s con­vinced of his own pow­er and that the pres­sure on him is not enough yet. So you’re absolute­ly right. He hasn’t stopped. Would he real­ly do this? I think the answer to that is we don’t know.”

    But one rea­son to be alarmed, said Cir­in­cione, is that Russ­ian mil­i­tary doc­trine now explic­it­ly con­tem­plates the use of nuclear weapons, not just to respond to a nuclear attack on the coun­try, but also in the event of a large-scale con­ven­tion­al mil­i­tary attack that endan­gers Russia’s nation­al secu­ri­ty. “They call this strat­e­gy ‘esca­late to deesca­late,’” said Cir­in­cione. “We will use a nuclear weapon in a vari­ety of ways.” As the Rus­sians see it, if they used tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons in such a sce­nario, they would argue: “‘We won’t be start­ing a nuclear war. We’ll be end­ing a con­ven­tion­al war,’” said Cir­in­cione. “That’s how their think­ing goes. And that’s why you have to wor­ry about this more and more as Putin con­tin­ues to lose the war in Ukraine. It’s exact­ly in these kinds of cir­cum­stances that the use of nuclear weapons comes into play in doc­trine and in Putin’s think­ing.”

    “I con­sid­er Putin a fas­cist,” he added. “I think he has built a fas­cist regime in Rus­sia. We have nev­er seen a fas­cist regime with nuclear weapons before. We’ve had author­i­tar­i­ans. We’ve had some bru­tal dic­ta­tors, but noth­ing on this scale before. So this is very dan­ger­ous ter­ri­to­ry.”

    ———-

    “Expert: If Putin uses nukes, U.S. could wipe out Russ­ian forces in Ukraine” by Michael Isikoff; Yahoo! News; 10/03/2022

    The U.S. and NATO “could destroy the Russ­ian forces in Ukraine in a mat­ter of days,” said Cir­in­cione, author of the book “Nuclear Night­mares: Secur­ing the World Before It Is Too Late,” in an inter­view on the Yahoo News “Skull­dug­gery” pod­cast. “That would be the end of the Russ­ian army in this.””

    The destruc­tion of all Russ­ian forces ‘in Ukraine’ in a mat­ter of days. That’s the kind of response from the US and NATO that pol­i­cy­mak­ers are prob­a­bly con­sid­er­ing accord­ing to nuclear war­fare ana­lyst Joseph Cir­in­cione. Would this include the Russ­ian forces inside the four new­ly annexed regions? Let’s hope we don’t ever have to get clar­i­ty on that detail.

    But Cir­in­cione was­n’t pre­dict­ing that the destruc­tion of Russ­ian forces would some­how deesca­late the sit­u­a­tion. Quite the oppo­site. Cir­in­cione read­i­ly acknowl­edges that such a response to spi­ral out of con­trol, in part because large con­ven­tion­al attacks can be a trig­ger for the use of nuclear weapons under Russ­ian mil­i­tary doc­trine. There are no good options:

    ...
    But Cir­in­cione also acknowl­edged that such a direct U.S. or NATO mil­i­tary strike against the Russ­ian mil­i­tary — even in response to the Russ­ian use of tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons on the bat­tle­field — could also spi­ral out of con­trol. “There are no good respons­es once you start down the nuclear path,” he said. “It’s extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to ter­mi­nate it for the same rea­son that a pok­er play­er los­ing a hand is hes­i­tant to fold. They keep think­ing there’s one more move they could make, one more bet they could raise to try to cause the oth­er side to fold. So there’s no good respons­es.

    ...

    When asked about the fact that U.S. warn­ings have not in any way curbed Putin’s talk of nuclear weapons, Cir­in­cione replied: “It tells me that he’s des­per­ate and he’s con­vinced of his own pow­er and that the pres­sure on him is not enough yet. So you’re absolute­ly right. He hasn’t stopped. Would he real­ly do this? I think the answer to that is we don’t know.”

    But one rea­son to be alarmed, said Cir­in­cione, is that Russ­ian mil­i­tary doc­trine now explic­it­ly con­tem­plates the use of nuclear weapons, not just to respond to a nuclear attack on the coun­try, but also in the event of a large-scale con­ven­tion­al mil­i­tary attack that endan­gers Russia’s nation­al secu­ri­ty. “They call this strat­e­gy ‘esca­late to deesca­late,’” said Cir­in­cione. “We will use a nuclear weapon in a vari­ety of ways.” As the Rus­sians see it, if they used tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons in such a sce­nario, they would argue: “‘We won’t be start­ing a nuclear war. We’ll be end­ing a con­ven­tion­al war,’” said Cir­in­cione. “That’s how their think­ing goes. And that’s why you have to wor­ry about this more and more as Putin con­tin­ues to lose the war in Ukraine. It’s exact­ly in these kinds of cir­cum­stances that the use of nuclear weapons comes into play in doc­trine and in Putin’s think­ing.”
    ...

    And if it seems like this might just be the views of a sin­gle nuclear war­fare ana­lyst, here’s a recent piece about an inter­view of retired army gen­er­al and for­mer CIA direc­tor David Petraeus about how the US and NATO should respond to the use of tac­ti­cal nukes. And as we can see, Petraeus is more or less pre­dict­ing the same response as Cir­in­cione, albeit a more expand­ed ver­sion that includes sink­ing all of Rus­si­a’s Black Sea fleet. And also explic­it­ly men­tions strikes in Crimea. Petraeus did­n’t envi­sion this response as being part of a trig­gered Arti­cle 5 NATO response but instead being the response that just has to hap­pen ‘on prin­ci­ple’, although he did also hint at the pos­si­bil­i­ty that radi­a­tion from nuclear weapons mov­ing into NATO coun­tries could be seen as an Arti­cle 5 trig­ger. As Petraeus puts it, “You don’t want to, again, get into a nuclear esca­la­tion here. But you have to show that this can­not be accept­ed in any way.” And that more or less cap­tures the psy­cho­log­i­cal dynam­ic at work here: A response is required even at the risk of esca­lat­ing the sit­u­a­tion. It’s just part of the nature of nuclear war­fare and why ‘strate­gic’ nuclear arse­nals are effec­tive­ly a recipe for no one sit­u­a­tions. They can’t be used respon­si­bly, whether we’re talk­ing about irre­spon­si­ble first-strike sce­nar­ios or irre­spon­si­ble counter-strike response sce­nar­ios. It’s appar­ent­ly a les­son we’re going to have to learn the hard way.

    But the fol­low­ing arti­cle also hints at anoth­er grim sce­nario was should keep an eye out for: Sen­a­tor Mar­co Rubio is appar­ent­ly very con­cerned about Rus­sia decid­ing to strike logis­ti­cal hubs and trans­porta­tion depots on the bor­der of Ukraine in NATO coun­tries like Poland. While Rubio acknowl­edged the nuclear threat, he said he most wor­ries about “a Russ­ian attack inside Nato ter­ri­to­ry, for exam­ple, aim­ing at the air­port in Poland or some oth­er dis­tri­b­u­tion point”. He added that, “He may strike one of these logis­ti­cal points. And that logis­ti­cal point may not be inside … Ukraine. To me, that is the area that I focus on the most, because it has a tac­ti­cal aspect to it. And I think he prob­a­bly views it as less esca­la­to­ry. Nato may not.” So Rubio is putting out the idea that Putin might strike Poland or anoth­er NATO mem­ber under the assump­tion that it would­n’t be an esca­la­to­ry act. Do we have to be wor­ry about Russ­ian attacks on the NATO mem­ber bor­der­ing Ukraine? That seems like a mas­sive esca­la­tion should Putin decide to do it. But when we’re being told that Putin may not view such attacks as trig­ger­ing Arti­cle 5, we have to ask: Do we also have to wor­ry about Arti­cle 5‑triggering false flag attacks? It’s a dark sce­nario to con­tem­plate. But giv­en the rel­a­tive­ly casu­al approach we’re see­ing across the West to the risk of a nuclear exchange, such dark sce­nar­ios seem like the kinds of sce­nar­ios we have to keep in mind. Because a lot of peo­ple seem to be very open to sce­nar­ios that turn this proxy con­flict into a full blown Rus­sia vs NATO war

    The Guardian

    Petraeus: US would destroy Russia’s troops if Putin uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine

    For­mer CIA direc­tor and retired army gen­er­al says Moscow’s leader is ‘des­per­ate’ and ‘bat­tle­field real­i­ty he faces is irre­versible’

    Edward Hel­more
    Sun 2 Oct 2022 14.56 EDT
    Last mod­i­fied on Mon 3 Oct 2022 09.55 EDT

    The US and its allies would destroy Russia’s troops and equip­ment in Ukraine – as well as sink its Black Sea fleet – if the Russ­ian pres­i­dent, Vladimir Putin, uses nuclear weapons in the coun­try, for­mer CIA direc­tor and retired four-star army gen­er­al David Petraeus warned on Sun­day.

    Petraeus said that he had not spo­ken to nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Jake Sul­li­van on the like­ly US response to nuclear esca­la­tion from Rus­sia, which admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials have said has been repeat­ed­ly com­mu­ni­cat­ed to Moscow.

    He told ABC News: “Just to give you a hypo­thet­i­cal, we would respond by lead­ing a Nato – a col­lec­tive – effort that would take out every Russ­ian con­ven­tion­al force that we can see and iden­ti­fy on the bat­tle­field in Ukraine and also in Crimea and every ship in the Black Sea.”

    ...

    Asked if the use of nuclear weapons by Rus­sia in Ukraine would bring Amer­i­ca and Nato into the war, Petraeus said that it would not be a sit­u­a­tion trig­ger­ing the alliance’s Arti­cle 5, which calls for a col­lec­tive defense. That is because Ukraine is not part of Nato – nonethe­less, a “US and Nato response” would be in order, Petraeus said.

    Petraeus acknowl­edged that the like­li­hood that radi­a­tion would extend to Nato coun­tries under the Arti­cle 5 umbrel­la could per­haps be con­strued as an attack on a Nato mem­ber.

    “Per­haps you can make that case,” he said. “The oth­er case is that this is so hor­rif­ic that there has to be a response – it can­not go unan­swered.”

    Yet, Petraeus added, “You don’t want to, again, get into a nuclear esca­la­tion here. But you have to show that this can­not be accept­ed in any way.”

    Nonethe­less, with pres­sure mount­ing on Putin after Ukrain­ian gains in the east of the coun­try under last week’s annex­a­tion dec­la­ra­tion and resis­tance to mobi­liza­tion efforts with­in Rus­sia mount­ing, Petraeus said Moscow’s leader was “des­per­ate”.

    “The bat­tle­field real­i­ty he faces is, I think, irre­versible,” he said. “No amount of sham­bol­ic mobi­liza­tion, which is the only way to describe it; no amount of annex­a­tion; no amount of even veiled nuclear threats can actu­al­ly get him out of this par­tic­u­lar sit­u­a­tion.

    “At some point there’s going to have to be recog­ni­tion of that. At some point there’s going to have to be some kind of begin­ning of nego­ti­a­tions, as [Ukrain­ian] Pres­i­dent [Volodymyr] Zelen­skiy has said, will be the ulti­mate end.”

    But, Petraeus warned, “It can still get worse for Putin and for Rus­sia. And even the use of tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons on the bat­tle­field won’t change this at all.” Still, he added, “You have to take the threat seri­ous­ly.”

    Sen­a­tor Mar­co Rubio, the rank­ing Repub­li­can mem­ber of the Sen­ate for­eign rela­tions com­mit­tee, told CNN that Putin was down to two choic­es: estab­lished defen­sive lines or with­draw and lose ter­ri­to­ry.

    Rubio said he believed it “quite pos­si­ble” that Putin could strike dis­tri­b­u­tion points where US and allied sup­plies are enter­ing Ukraine, includ­ing inside Poland. The sen­a­tor acknowl­edged the nuclear threat, but he said most wor­ries about “a Russ­ian attack inside Nato ter­ri­to­ry, for exam­ple, aim­ing at the air­port in Poland or some oth­er dis­tri­b­u­tion point”.

    “Nato will have to respond to it,” he said. “How it will respond, I think a lot of it will depend on the nature of the attack and the scale and scope of it.”

    But as a sen­a­tor privy to Pen­ta­gon brief­in­gs, Rubio resist­ed being drawn on whether he’d seen evi­dence that Rus­sia is prepar­ing to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

    “Cer­tain­ly, the risk is prob­a­bly high­er today than it was a month ago,” Rubio said, pre­dict­ing that Rus­sia would prob­a­bly take an inter­me­di­ate step.

    “He may strike one of these logis­ti­cal points. And that logis­ti­cal point may not be inside … Ukraine. To me, that is the area that I focus on the most, because it has a tac­ti­cal aspect to it. And I think he prob­a­bly views it as less esca­la­to­ry. Nato may not.”

    ———–

    “Petraeus: US would destroy Russia’s troops if Putin uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine” Edward Hel­more; The Guardian; 10/02/2022

    “He told ABC News: “Just to give you a hypo­thet­i­cal, we would respond by lead­ing a Nato – a col­lec­tive – effort that would take out every Russ­ian con­ven­tion­al force that we can see and iden­ti­fy on the bat­tle­field in Ukraine and also in Crimea and every ship in the Black Sea.””

    David Petraeus sure sounds a lot like Joseph Cir­in­cione in his pre­dic­tions of a US/NATO response: tak­ing out all of Rus­si­a’s con­ven­tion­al forces in Ukraine, includ­ing in Crimea and every ship in the Black Sea. This would­n’t be part of an NATO Arti­cle 5 trig­ger. It would just be part of a response on the prin­ci­ple that the Russ­ian use of a tac­ti­cal nuke “can­not go unan­swered”. It points to a big part of what makes this sit­u­a­tion so wild­ly dan­ger­ous: the response is going to be dri­ven large­ly based on the prin­ci­ple of “this can­not go answered”, which might feel good at the moment but isn’t a great recipe for avoid­ing WWIII:

    ...
    Asked if the use of nuclear weapons by Rus­sia in Ukraine would bring Amer­i­ca and Nato into the war, Petraeus said that it would not be a sit­u­a­tion trig­ger­ing the alliance’s Arti­cle 5, which calls for a col­lec­tive defense. That is because Ukraine is not part of Nato – nonethe­less, a “US and Nato response” would be in order, Petraeus said.

    Petraeus acknowl­edged that the like­li­hood that radi­a­tion would extend to Nato coun­tries under the Arti­cle 5 umbrel­la could per­haps be con­strued as an attack on a Nato mem­ber.

    “Per­haps you can make that case,” he said. “The oth­er case is that this is so hor­rif­ic that there has to be a response – it can­not go unan­swered.”

    Yet, Petraeus added, “You don’t want to, again, get into a nuclear esca­la­tion here. But you have to show that this can­not be accept­ed in any way.”
    ...

    And then there’s the omi­nous warn­ings Sen­a­tor Mar­co Rubio seems to be fix­at­ed on: Rus­sia attack­ing a logis­ti­cal point in a NATO mem­ber like Poland. Rus­sia might view such an attack as less esca­la­to­ry, accord­ing to Rubio, despite the fact that it would pre­sum­ably trig­ger Arti­cle 5. Is Rus­sia actu­al­ly think­ing about attack­ing sites in Poland or are we being prepped for some sort of false flag? A false flag that would obvi­ous­ly trig­ger Arti­cle 5. It’s part of what makes the rel­a­tive­ly non-alarmed West­ern response to Rus­sian’s nuclear threats so dis­turb­ing: there’s prob­a­bly a lot of pol­i­cy-mak­ers who would love to see a full scale war between Rus­sia and NATO in part because they don’t see the risk of a full scale nuclear exchange as being all that seri­ous:

    ...
    Sen­a­tor Mar­co Rubio, the rank­ing Repub­li­can mem­ber of the Sen­ate for­eign rela­tions com­mit­tee, told CNN that Putin was down to two choic­es: estab­lished defen­sive lines or with­draw and lose ter­ri­to­ry.

    Rubio said he believed it “quite pos­si­ble” that Putin could strike dis­tri­b­u­tion points where US and allied sup­plies are enter­ing Ukraine, includ­ing inside Poland. The sen­a­tor acknowl­edged the nuclear threat, but he said most wor­ries about “a Russ­ian attack inside Nato ter­ri­to­ry, for exam­ple, aim­ing at the air­port in Poland or some oth­er dis­tri­b­u­tion point”.

    “Nato will have to respond to it,” he said. “How it will respond, I think a lot of it will depend on the nature of the attack and the scale and scope of it.”

    But as a sen­a­tor privy to Pen­ta­gon brief­in­gs, Rubio resist­ed being drawn on whether he’d seen evi­dence that Rus­sia is prepar­ing to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

    “Cer­tain­ly, the risk is prob­a­bly high­er today than it was a month ago,” Rubio said, pre­dict­ing that Rus­sia would prob­a­bly take an inter­me­di­ate step.

    He may strike one of these logis­ti­cal points. And that logis­ti­cal point may not be inside … Ukraine. To me, that is the area that I focus on the most, because it has a tac­ti­cal aspect to it. And I think he prob­a­bly views it as less esca­la­to­ry. Nato may not.”
    ...

    Final­ly, note the inver­sion of real­i­ty encap­su­lat­ed in Petraeus’s calls for “some kind of begin­ning of nego­ti­a­tions, as [Ukrain­ian] Pres­i­dent [Volodymyr] Zelen­skiy has said, will be the ulti­mate end.” As we’ve seen through­out this con­flict, Zelen­skiy has insist­ed that there be no nego­ti­a­tions or even cease­fires until Rus­sia with­drawals from all ter­ri­to­ries. It’s a stance Zelen­skiy has repeat­ed­ly reit­er­at­ed. But Petraeus is cor­rect: nego­ti­a­tions are the only real way of deesca­lat­ing the sit­u­a­tion. Too bad that’s nev­er going to be allowed to hap­pen:

    ...
    “At some point there’s going to have to be recog­ni­tion of that. At some point there’s going to have to be some kind of begin­ning of nego­ti­a­tions, as [Ukrain­ian] Pres­i­dent [Volodymyr] Zelen­skiy has said, will be the ulti­mate end.

    But, Petraeus warned, “It can still get worse for Putin and for Rus­sia. And even the use of tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons on the bat­tle­field won’t change this at all.” Still, he added, “You have to take the threat seri­ous­ly.”
    ...

    It’s an iron­ic grim reminder of one of the things we aren’t hear­ing about at all in this con­flict: seri­ous nego­ti­a­tions. Sure, we’ve heard call for nego­ti­a­tions. But no actu­al nego­ti­a­tions. But don’t for­get what Cir­in­cione point­ed out: Rus­sia already has an “esca­late to deesca­late” nuclear doc­trine in the face of over­whelm­ing con­ven­tion­al forces. Ukraine’s demand of no nego­ti­a­tions before Rus­sia is expelled from its ter­ri­to­ry is its own kind of “esca­late to deesca­late” doc­trine. Let’s hope we don’t have to expe­ri­ence a ‘esca­late to deesca­late’ kind of pre­lude to nego­ti­a­tions. But it’s sure look­ing like that’s the plan. Well, nego­ti­a­tions aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly part of the plan. Esca­la­tion is def­i­nite­ly a big part of plan at this point.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 5, 2022, 4:30 pm
  7. “Now, All of You Are Azov.” Those were some of the more dis­turb­ing words uttered at a ‘char­i­ty event’ in Detroit recent­ly where three Azov wolf­san­gel patch­es were auc­tioned off. Anoth­er ‘char­i­ty’ event held in Chica­go fea­tured the auc­tion­ing of an Azov bat­tle flag. Both events were orga­nized by OUN‑B affil­i­at­ed char­i­ties and part of the Azov move­men­t’s celebri­ty tour of the US. A tour that includ­ed a vis­it to DC and numer­ous vis­its with mem­bers of Con­gress. At least 50 mem­bers, accord­ing to one of the mem­bers of the del­e­ga­tion.

    And with that cel­e­bra­tion of con­gres­sion­al con­tacts came an omi­nous pre­dic­tion from one of these Azov mem­bers dur­ing the event in Detroit: the con­gres­sion­al ban on US fund­ing for the arm­ing and train­ing of the Azov bat­tal­ion is going to be lift­ed this year. Recall how Con­gress­man Ro Khan­na man­aged to get than ban pushed through con­gress in 2018, only to get slammed in the US press for being a Russ­ian dupe. That ban is set to expire in 2025, but it’s going to be lift­ed lat­er this year accord­ing to this Azov del­e­ga­tion.

    So is Azov going to see its con­gres­sion­al ban lift­ed in the com­ing months? We’ll see. But as the arti­cle makes clear, any lift­ing at this point is large­ly a for­mal­i­ty. Because when it comes to the ques­tion of whether or not Azov is viewed as a dan­ger­ous extrem­ist group or a valu­able ally, the deci­sion has already been made: Azov is a valu­able ally. So valu­able that any­thing that threat­ens that alliance needs to be elim­i­nat­ed, include knowl­edge of its Nazi nature. Because we’re all Azov now. The trans­for­ma­tion is com­plete:

    The Gray­zone

    ‘Now, All of You Are Azov’: ‘open­ly neo-Nazi’ Ukrain­ian del­e­ga­tion meets Con­gress, tours US

    MOSS ROBESON
    OCTOBER 5, 2022

    After meet­ing with at least 50 mem­bers of Con­gress, sol­diers of the neo-Nazi Azov Reg­i­ment toured the US to auc­tion off swasti­ka-inspired patch­es and lob­by for an end to restric­tions on US arms and train­ing.

    This arti­cle was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished by Moss Robeson’s Ukes, Kooks and Spooks blog and light­ly edit­ed by The Gray­zone.

    Read part one of Robeson’s series on Azov’s US tour here.

    This Sep­tem­ber, a del­e­ga­tion of the Ukrain­ian neo-Nazi-led Azov move­ment arrived in the Unit­ed States, at a time when myth mak­ing about the far-right network’s “depoliti­ciza­tion” had reached a fever pitch. By this time, the New York Times had ceased refer­ring to Azov as “open­ly neo-Nazi,” and was refer­ring to the ultra-nation­al­ist orga­ni­za­tion as “cel­e­brat­ed.”

    ...

    The Azov del­e­ga­tion includ­ed three vet­er­ans of the reg­i­ment for­mer­ly holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in Mar­i­upol. They were led by Gior­gi Kuparashvili, the only fight­er not tak­en pris­on­er by the Rus­sians.

    Accord­ing to Kuparashvili, a cofounder and instruc­tor of the Azov Reg­i­ment, his del­e­ga­tion met over fifty mem­bers of Con­gress, far more than any­one has real­ized. Among those who showed up to greet Azov on Capi­tol Hill was Rep. Adam Schiff, the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­rat who spent the Trump era lead­ing Rus­si­a­gate the­atrics and clam­ored for ship­ments of offen­sive US weapons to Ukraine.

    Almost missed this: Adam Schiff, chair­man of the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, also met the Azov del­e­ga­tion https://t.co/lm2naH74zx— Moss Robe­son (@mossrobeson__) Sep­tem­ber 28, 2022

    The trio was accom­pa­nied by two spous­es and a moth­er of POWs cap­tured at Azovstal. This includ­ed Katery­na Prokopenko, the wife of the far-right com­man­der of the Azov Reg­i­ment, Denys Prokopenko, who was freed in a pris­on­er exchange and declared a Hero of Ukraine dur­ing her vis­it to the Unit­ed States. The delegation’s oth­er Azov wife was Yulia Fedosyuk, the leader of “Sil­ver of the Rose,” an anti-fem­i­nist, anti-gay group linked to the Azov move­ment, accord­ing to jour­nal­ist Olek­siy Kuz­menko.

    Anti-fem­i­nist grou­pus­cule “Sil­ver of the Rose” that appears in @5050oD video has been embraced by ????’s influ­en­tial anti-LGBT, “pro-fam­i­ly” “Vsi Razom” org. In a recent inter­view SOR’s leader Fedosyuk https://t.co/gBQeDz4hd7 says “fem­i­nism is ready to muti­late and sell women” pic.twitter.com/iktwqi7PPv— Olek­siy Kuz­menko (@kooleksiy) May 4, 2020

    Ear­li­er this year, Prokopenko and Fedosyuk met with Pope Fran­cis. While in the Unit­ed States, they spoke at a small ral­ly in front of the White House, appeared for an inter­view on the pro-Trump chan­nel News­max, and took meet­ings with numer­ous mem­bers of Con­gress. News­max sep­a­rate­ly inter­viewed two of the Azov vet­er­ans, includ­ing Kuparashvili.

    On Sat­ur­day, Sep­tem­ber 24, half of the del­e­ga­tion includ­ing Kuparashvili appeared before a siz­able audi­ence at a Ukrain­ian church in Detroit. The Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can Cri­sis Response Com­mit­tee of Michi­gan (UACRCM), a lob­by­ing out­fit formed ear­li­er this year, live-streamed the event, which was orga­nized by US part­ners of the Azov movement’s char­i­ty wing.

    Among the more promi­nent Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists present for the event was Borys Potapenko, a mem­ber of the UACRCM and an inter­na­tion­al coor­di­na­tor of the Stepan Ban­dera-found­ed Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN‑B), which col­lab­o­rat­ed with Nazi Ger­many through­out much of World War Two. Potapenko is also among the lead­ers of the far-right “Capit­u­la­tion Resis­tance Move­ment” in Ukraine, which allied with Azov’s Nation­al Corps against Volodymyr Zelen­sky in 2019–22. (More about this com­ing soon on the “Ban­dera Lob­by Blog”…)

    Gior­gi Kuparashvili spoke to the audi­ence in Eng­lish, focus­ing large­ly on the Azov delegation’s suc­cess in Wash­ing­ton. “We went to the Sen­a­tors, Con­gress­men, from both par­ties. Hon­est­ly, the major­i­ty we met, there were like over fifty of them, and head of their frac­tions [Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans], they all gave 100% sup­port. They start­ed to work right from their office in front of us, picked up the phone, and start­ed call­ing to dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tions which can influ­ence — right now, we’re hav­ing prob­lems with the Gene­va Con­ven­tions. Gene­va Con­ven­tions is not work­ing, not for Rus­sia…”

    Lat­er, Kuparashvili indi­cat­ed that the del­e­ga­tion had more on its polit­i­cal agen­da than detail­ing Russ­ian war crimes, crit­i­ciz­ing the Inter­na­tion­al Red Cross, and secur­ing the release of Azov POWs. He pre­dict­ed that this year, Con­gress will lift its ban on the U.S. sup­ply­ing arms and train­ing to the Azov Reg­i­ment.

    In his clos­ing remarks, Gior­gi Kuparashvili appeared to take aim at his least two favorite mem­bers of Con­gress: Ro Khan­na, a lib­er­al Demo­c­rat from Sil­i­con Val­ley, thanks to whom Con­gress cur­tailed U.S. sup­port for the Azov Reg­i­ment in 2018, and Max Rose, a for­mer Con­gress­man and right-wing Demo­c­rat from Stat­en Island, who called on the State Depart­ment to label the Azov Reg­i­ment a “For­eign Ter­ror­ist Orga­ni­za­tion” in 2020.

    “From year ’14, ’15, ’16, until today,” claimed Kuparashvili, “there is a bill which, I don’t remem­ber the name, but the Con­gress­man who lob­bied, I don’t know how… He left Con­gress a cou­ple years ago, he ini­ti­at­ed to put the Azov as a restric­tion in a bill. This week, we talked to all the Con­gress­men and Sen­a­tors, every­body under­stands, because when you bring the bill to Con­gress, they have to read it. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, nobody read it, so they approved it again.”

    Now we told them, ‘are you sup­port­ing this?’ And every­body knows it’s just a mis­take in it. As the Con­gress­men and Sen­a­tors says, this bill goes until 2025. They’re not going to wait until 2025, and gonna make the cor­rec­tion on this year, to remove it from there… We’re deal­ing with the sit­u­a­tion and fix­ing it, and major­i­ty of the job is already done, and Con­gress and Sen­ate, both par­ties are sup­port­ing this.

    Before Kuparashvili’s clos­ing remarks, his hosts held an auc­tion on behalf of the Azov char­i­ty project, ulti­mate­ly rais­ing $33,416. The auc­tion end­ed with bid­ding on three Azov Reg­i­ment patch­es fea­tur­ing a wolf­san­gel, or Nazi runic sym­bol.

    Before the bid­ding com­menced, Kuparashvili insist­ed that things were not as they appear. “If you know, there is a sym­bol,” he said, tap­ping the patch on his left arm, “which I’m gonna explain now, because they call us Nazis, all this crap.” At that point he mock­ing­ly put his hand over his mouth, and said, “sor­ry my lan­guage — ha!”

    “This is actu­al­ly two let­ters, two Latin let­ters, N and I. The N stands for Nation­al; I, it’s Idea. Nation­al Idea. Nation­al Idea. For reg­i­ment, it’s our slo­gan. Nation­al Idea. Every coun­try, it doesn’t mat­ter, it’s U.S., Ukraine, what­ev­er. When the coun­try was in prob­lem, cen­ter of grav­i­ty always became the nation­al­ists. The Nation­al Idea. All the nation gath­ers around the nation­al­ists, and around the Nation­al Idea. For us, Nation­al Idea is Ukraine. If they don’t like what is Ukraine, and what it’s Nation­al Idea, hell with them…” Kuparahsvili, touch­ing on the total­i­tar­i­an Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ist con­cept of “Nati­oc­ra­cy,” all but admit­ted Azov’s affin­i­ty for white nation­al­ists in the West.

    With the myth-mak­ing about Azov’s sup­posed depoliti­ciza­tion reach­ing new heights, this cofounder of the reg­i­ment could­n’t even get the sto­ry straight whether they “got rid” of their far-right ele­ments or nev­er had them to begin with. https://t.co/As3xHlAgvV— Moss Robe­son (@mossrobeson__) Octo­ber 5, 2022

    Accord­ing to Kuparashvili, before, only Azov mem­bers could wear their wolf­san­gel patch­es, but he bestowed per­mis­sion on the audi­ence to place their bids, because “now, all of you are Azov.” There was anoth­er dis­claimer that Kuparashvili shared only after the win­ners emerged. “It’s a respon­si­bil­i­ty,” he said.

    “We’re just hand­ing over it,” Kuparashvili told the audi­ence about the Azov Reg­i­ment patch­es. “We’re giv­ing to those our respon­si­bil­i­ty. We have the sol­diers where they go through the basic train­ing, go through all the train­ings, and dif­fi­cul­ties. If they don’t deserve, you can’t grad­u­ate… But if you deserve it, with this comes a respon­si­bil­i­ty… Your Nation­al Idea is Ukraine. You got­ta fight for it. Not just put it in a room or a shelf some­where, but you got­ta fight for it. Fight for your Nation­al Idea…” The win­ners each salut­ed Kuparashvili in the Azov fash­ion.

    There was a char­i­ty auc­tion of three Azov Reg­i­ment wolf­san­gel patch­es at the recent Azov event in Detroit. Azov Reg­i­ment cofounder Gior­gi Kuparashvili then informed the win­ners, “you got­ta fight for it,” and appeared to sym­bol­i­cal­ly swear them in. pic.twitter.com/VY1vCnECTt— Moss Robe­son (@mossrobeson__) Octo­ber 5, 2022

    Two days lat­er, the Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Mod­ern Art in Chica­go host­ed anoth­er Azov char­i­ty auc­tion, co-spon­sored by the Ban­derite-led Illi­nois Divi­sion of the Ukrain­ian Con­gress Com­mit­tee of Amer­i­ca. Its most influ­en­tial mem­ber, Pavlo Ban­dri­wsky, an OUN‑B leader in Chica­go known as “the Strate­gist”, took pic­tures with the Azov vet­er­ans. This event fea­tured a bat­tle flag of the Azov Reg­i­ment that was appar­ent­ly auc­tioned off with the promise that every sur­viv­ing mem­ber will sign it after the war is won. The Con­sul Gen­er­als of Ger­many and Poland also spoke at the event.

    On Sat­ur­day, Octo­ber 1, after return­ing to Wash­ing­ton, the full del­e­ga­tion, except for Katery­na Prokopenko, who left to be reunit­ed with her hus­band in Turkey, made an appear­ance at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty. Yulia Fedosyuk con­clud­ed her remarks, “Glo­ry to the Azov Reg­i­ment.” At one point, Stan­ford pro­fes­sor Michael McFaul, the famous­ly daft for­mer US Ambas­sador to Rus­sia (2012–14) and proud own­er of a “giant home,” stopped byto offer words of sup­port for Ukraine, if not the Azov Reg­i­ment itself.

    Ear­li­er this year, Stanford’s Cen­ter for Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty and Coop­er­a­tion (CISAC) pub­lished a detailed report on the “Azov Move­ment… a far-right nation­al­ist net­work.” Michael McFaul directs the Free­man Spogli Insti­tute for Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies, of which the CISAC is part. He appar­ent­ly took no issue with the neo-Nazi sym­bol pro­ject­ed behind him.

    ...

    —————

    “‘Now, All of You Are Azov’: ‘open­ly neo-Nazi’ Ukrain­ian del­e­ga­tion meets Con­gress, tours US” by MOSS ROBESON; The Gray­zone; 10/05/2022

    Accord­ing to Kuparashvili, a cofounder and instruc­tor of the Azov Reg­i­ment, his del­e­ga­tion met over fifty mem­bers of Con­gress, far more than any­one has real­ized. Among those who showed up to greet Azov on Capi­tol Hill was Rep. Adam Schiff, the Cal­i­for­nia Demo­c­rat who spent the Trump era lead­ing Rus­si­a­gate the­atrics and clam­ored for ship­ments of offen­sive US weapons to Ukraine.”

    Over 50 mem­bers of Con­gress appar­ent­ly decid­ed it was a good idea to cel­e­brate the Azov move­ment. But it was­n’t just a trio of Azov vet­er­ans engaged in this pub­lic rela­tions stunt. Their wives came along too, like Yulia Fedosyuk, the “Sil­ver of the Rose” anti-fem­i­nists who stat­ed that “fem­i­nism is ready to muti­late and sell women” in recent inter­view. It’s quite a guest of hon­or for a new­ly post-Roe Amer­i­ca.

    But note who else decid­ed to meet­ing with this Azov del­e­ga­tion ear­li­er this year: Pope Fran­cis. This is a good time to recall how, when­ev­er peo­ple point out all the Nazi sym­bols used by the group, Azov mem­bers almost always dis­miss those Nazi sym­bols as mere­ly be “Nordic runes”. Which rais­es the ques­tion: how many ‘Nordic Runes’ were there on dis­play dur­ing their meet­ing with the Pope?

    ...
    The Azov del­e­ga­tion includ­ed three vet­er­ans of the reg­i­ment for­mer­ly holed up in the Azovstal steel plant in Mar­i­upol. They were led by Gior­gi Kuparashvili, the only fight­er not tak­en pris­on­er by the Rus­sians.

    ...

    The trio was accom­pa­nied by two spous­es and a moth­er of POWs cap­tured at Azovstal. This includ­ed Katery­na Prokopenko, the wife of the far-right com­man­der of the Azov Reg­i­ment, Denys Prokopenko, who was freed in a pris­on­er exchange and declared a Hero of Ukraine dur­ing her vis­it to the Unit­ed States. The delegation’s oth­er Azov wife was Yulia Fedosyuk, the leader of “Sil­ver of the Rose,” an anti-fem­i­nist, anti-gay group linked to the Azov move­ment, accord­ing to jour­nal­ist Olek­siy Kuz­menko.

    Anti-fem­i­nist grou­pus­cule “Sil­ver of the Rose” that appears in @5050oD video has been embraced by ????’s influ­en­tial anti-LGBT, “pro-fam­i­ly” “Vsi Razom” org. In a recent inter­view SOR’s leader Fedosyuk https://t.co/gBQeDz4hd7 says “fem­i­nism is ready to muti­late and sell women” pic.twitter.com/iktwqi7PPv— Olek­siy Kuz­menko (@kooleksiy) May 4, 2020

    Ear­li­er this year, Prokopenko and Fedosyuk met with Pope Fran­cis. While in the Unit­ed States, they spoke at a small ral­ly in front of the White House, appeared for an inter­view on the pro-Trump chan­nel News­max, and took meet­ings with numer­ous mem­bers of Con­gress. News­max sep­a­rate­ly inter­viewed two of the Azov vet­er­ans, includ­ing Kuparashvili.
    ...

    But the meet­ings with Con­gress were just one part of this pub­lic rela­tions effort. It appears that mul­ti­ple Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can char­i­ties also held events for the del­e­ga­tion. And as we should expect, it turns out these char­i­ties are basi­cal­ly exten­sions of the OUN‑B. Both the events in Michi­gan and Chica­go were orga­nized by char­i­ties led by OUN‑B coor­di­na­tors. And at the Chica­go event we find that the Con­sul Gen­er­als of both Ger­many and Poland spoke. It’s a chill­ing exam­ple of how the Ukrain­ian fas­cist net­works from WWII did­n’t just sur­vive in the post-war peri­od but have thrived as self-appoint­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives of ‘Ukraini­ans’ at home and abroad:

    ...

    On Sat­ur­day, Sep­tem­ber 24, half of the del­e­ga­tion includ­ing Kuparashvili appeared before a siz­able audi­ence at a Ukrain­ian church in Detroit. The Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can Cri­sis Response Com­mit­tee of Michi­gan (UACRCM), a lob­by­ing out­fit formed ear­li­er this year, live-streamed the event, which was orga­nized by US part­ners of the Azov movement’s char­i­ty wing.

    Among the more promi­nent Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists present for the event was Borys Potapenko, a mem­ber of the UACRCM and an inter­na­tion­al coor­di­na­tor of the Stepan Ban­dera-found­ed Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN‑B), which col­lab­o­rat­ed with Nazi Ger­many through­out much of World War Two. Potapenko is also among the lead­ers of the far-right “Capit­u­la­tion Resis­tance Move­ment” in Ukraine, which allied with Azov’s Nation­al Corps against Volodymyr Zelen­sky in 2019–22. (More about this com­ing soon on the “Ban­dera Lob­by Blog”…)

    ...

    Two days lat­er, the Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Mod­ern Art in Chica­go host­ed anoth­er Azov char­i­ty auc­tion, co-spon­sored by the Ban­derite-led Illi­nois Divi­sion of the Ukrain­ian Con­gress Com­mit­tee of Amer­i­ca. Its most influ­en­tial mem­ber, Pavlo Ban­dri­wsky, an OUN‑B leader in Chica­go known as “the Strate­gist”, took pic­tures with the Azov vet­er­ans. This event fea­tured a bat­tle flag of the Azov Reg­i­ment that was appar­ent­ly auc­tioned off with the promise that every sur­viv­ing mem­ber will sign it after the war is won. The Con­sul Gen­er­als of Ger­many and Poland also spoke at the event.
    ...

    And at the Chica­go char­i­ty event, where an Azov bat­tle flag was auc­tioned off, we get this omi­nous warn­ing from one of the Azov speak­ers: a pre­dic­tion that the con­gres­sion­al ban on direct­ly arm­ing and train­ing the Azov reg­i­ment will be lift­ed. The ban is already set to expire in 2025, but they’re pre­dict­ing it’s going to be lift­ed lat­er this year. He then went on to slam Con­gress­man Ro Khan­na and for­mer Con­gress­man Max Rose who were behind that ban. Recall how Khan­na suc­ceed­ed in get­ting that ban passed in 2018, only to expe­ri­ence a wave of neg­a­tive press cov­er­age sug­gest­ing he was duped by Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da and act­ing as “Putin’s man in Con­gress”. Flash for­ward to 2022 and we find Azov mem­bers pub­licly call­ing Khan­na out dur­ing a US celebri­ty tour. It’s the kind of behav­ior that sug­gests an immense degree of con­fi­dence on the part of Azov. Under­stand­ably so giv­en the cir­cum­stances:

    ...
    Gior­gi Kuparashvili spoke to the audi­ence in Eng­lish, focus­ing large­ly on the Azov delegation’s suc­cess in Wash­ing­ton. “We went to the Sen­a­tors, Con­gress­men, from both par­ties. Hon­est­ly, the major­i­ty we met, there were like over fifty of them, and head of their frac­tions [Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans], they all gave 100% sup­port. They start­ed to work right from their office in front of us, picked up the phone, and start­ed call­ing to dif­fer­ent orga­ni­za­tions which can influ­ence — right now, we’re hav­ing prob­lems with the Gene­va Con­ven­tions. Gene­va Con­ven­tions is not work­ing, not for Rus­sia…”

    Lat­er, Kuparashvili indi­cat­ed that the del­e­ga­tion had more on its polit­i­cal agen­da than detail­ing Russ­ian war crimes, crit­i­ciz­ing the Inter­na­tion­al Red Cross, and secur­ing the release of Azov POWs. He pre­dict­ed that this year, Con­gress will lift its ban on the U.S. sup­ply­ing arms and train­ing to the Azov Reg­i­ment.

    In his clos­ing remarks, Gior­gi Kuparashvili appeared to take aim at his least two favorite mem­bers of Con­gress: Ro Khan­na, a lib­er­al Demo­c­rat from Sil­i­con Val­ley, thanks to whom Con­gress cur­tailed U.S. sup­port for the Azov Reg­i­ment in 2018, and Max Rose, a for­mer Con­gress­man and right-wing Demo­c­rat from Stat­en Island, who called on the State Depart­ment to label the Azov Reg­i­ment a “For­eign Ter­ror­ist Orga­ni­za­tion” in 2020.

    “From year ’14, ’15, ’16, until today,” claimed Kuparashvili, “there is a bill which, I don’t remem­ber the name, but the Con­gress­man who lob­bied, I don’t know how… He left Con­gress a cou­ple years ago, he ini­ti­at­ed to put the Azov as a restric­tion in a bill. This week, we talked to all the Con­gress­men and Sen­a­tors, every­body under­stands, because when you bring the bill to Con­gress, they have to read it. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, nobody read it, so they approved it again.”

    Now we told them, ‘are you sup­port­ing this?’ And every­body knows it’s just a mis­take in it. As the Con­gress­men and Sen­a­tors says, this bill goes until 2025. They’re not going to wait until 2025, and gonna make the cor­rec­tion on this year, to remove it from there… We’re deal­ing with the sit­u­a­tion and fix­ing it, and major­i­ty of the job is already done, and Con­gress and Sen­ate, both par­ties are sup­port­ing this.
    ...

    But the Azov bat­tle flag was­n’t the only ‘piece of his­to­ry’ being auc­tioned at this char­i­ty. Three Azov patch­es with the Nazi runic wolf­san­gel sym­bol were also auc­tioned, but not before the audi­ence got a talk about how these were Nazi sym­bols at all. No, the wolf­san­gel was actu­al­ly an “N” and “I” over­lap­ping to rep­re­sent the phrase “nation­al idea”. All of the nation­al is sim­ply ral­ly­ing around the “nation­al idea” of Ukraine. That’s all. And to hell with any­one who does­n’t agree with this idea. As the arti­cle reminds us, this is basi­cal­ly the Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ist con­cept of a Nati­oc­ra­cy. And as jour­nal­ist Leonid Ragozin has point­ed out, Azov spokesper­son Ole­na Semenya­ka — who has open­ly wel­comed Euro­pean neo-Nazis into the Azov move­ment and a track­record of soft-ped­al­ing the group’s Nazi ide­ol­o­gy — direct attrib­ut­es the con­cept of a “Nati­oc­ra­cy” to Ger­man and Aus­tri­an nation­al­ist ori­gins. Also recall how we’ve seen this far­ci­cal ‘Nation­al Idea’ meme pro­mot­ed in the West­ern media this year. For exam­ple, there was that Reuters arti­cle from back in May that not only pro­mot­ed the “Nation­al idea” meme went so far as to white­wash­ing the overt­ly Nazi ideas of Azov found Andriy Bilet­skiy. Bilet­skiy was allowed to claim in the arti­cle that he was­n’t a racist at all and mere­ly believes in val­ues-based nation­al­ism. This is the kind of word games at work here. Word games being ampli­fied by the US gov­ern­ment at this point:

    ...
    Before Kuparashvili’s clos­ing remarks, his hosts held an auc­tion on behalf of the Azov char­i­ty project, ulti­mate­ly rais­ing $33,416. The auc­tion end­ed with bid­ding on three Azov Reg­i­ment patch­es fea­tur­ing a wolf­san­gel, or Nazi runic sym­bol.

    Before the bid­ding com­menced, Kuparashvili insist­ed that things were not as they appear. “If you know, there is a sym­bol,” he said, tap­ping the patch on his left arm, “which I’m gonna explain now, because they call us Nazis, all this crap.” At that point he mock­ing­ly put his hand over his mouth, and said, “sor­ry my lan­guage — ha!”

    “This is actu­al­ly two let­ters, two Latin let­ters, N and I. The N stands for Nation­al; I, it’s Idea. Nation­al Idea. Nation­al Idea. For reg­i­ment, it’s our slo­gan. Nation­al Idea. Every coun­try, it doesn’t mat­ter, it’s U.S., Ukraine, what­ev­er. When the coun­try was in prob­lem, cen­ter of grav­i­ty always became the nation­al­ists. The Nation­al Idea. All the nation gath­ers around the nation­al­ists, and around the Nation­al Idea. For us, Nation­al Idea is Ukraine. If they don’t like what is Ukraine, and what it’s Nation­al Idea, hell with them…” Kuparahsvili, touch­ing on the total­i­tar­i­an Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ist con­cept of “Nati­oc­ra­cy,” all but admit­ted Azov’s affin­i­ty for white nation­al­ists in the West.

    With the myth-mak­ing about Azov’s sup­posed depoliti­ciza­tion reach­ing new heights, this cofounder of the reg­i­ment could­n’t even get the sto­ry straight whether they “got rid” of their far-right ele­ments or nev­er had them to begin with. https://t.co/As3xHlAgvV— Moss Robe­son (@mossrobeson__) Octo­ber 5, 2022

    Accord­ing to Kuparashvili, before, only Azov mem­bers could wear their wolf­san­gel patch­es, but he bestowed per­mis­sion on the audi­ence to place their bids, because “now, all of you are Azov.” There was anoth­er dis­claimer that Kuparashvili shared only after the win­ners emerged. “It’s a respon­si­bil­i­ty,” he said.

    “We’re just hand­ing over it,” Kuparashvili told the audi­ence about the Azov Reg­i­ment patch­es. “We’re giv­ing to those our respon­si­bil­i­ty. We have the sol­diers where they go through the basic train­ing, go through all the train­ings, and dif­fi­cul­ties. If they don’t deserve, you can’t grad­u­ate… But if you deserve it, with this comes a respon­si­bil­i­ty… Your Nation­al Idea is Ukraine. You got­ta fight for it. Not just put it in a room or a shelf some­where, but you got­ta fight for it. Fight for your Nation­al Idea…” The win­ners each salut­ed Kuparashvili in the Azov fash­ion.
    ...

    And then there was the appear­ance at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty. As the arti­cle points out, it was Stan­ford’s CISAC that put out a report on Azov’s extrem­ism ear­li­er this year. That report cites info from August of 2022, sug­gest­ing it was put out in August or at least updat­ed in August. And the very next month we not only find Azov invit­ed to Stan­ford, but Michael McFaul — who directs an insti­tute that oper­ates under the CICAC — was there to wel­come the uni­ver­si­ty’s Nazi guests:

    ...
    On Sat­ur­day, Octo­ber 1, after return­ing to Wash­ing­ton, the full del­e­ga­tion, except for Katery­na Prokopenko, who left to be reunit­ed with her hus­band in Turkey, made an appear­ance at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty. Yulia Fedosyuk con­clud­ed her remarks, “Glo­ry to the Azov Reg­i­ment.” At one point, Stan­ford pro­fes­sor Michael McFaul, the famous­ly daft for­mer US Ambas­sador to Rus­sia (2012–14) and proud own­er of a “giant home,” stopped byto offer words of sup­port for Ukraine, if not the Azov Reg­i­ment itself.

    Ear­li­er this year, Stanford’s Cen­ter for Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty and Coop­er­a­tion (CISAC) pub­lished a detailed report on the “Azov Move­ment… a far-right nation­al­ist net­work.Michael McFaul directs the Free­man Spogli Insti­tute for Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies, of which the CISAC is part. He appar­ent­ly took no issue with the neo-Nazi sym­bol pro­ject­ed behind him.
    ...

    It’s dou­ble­think in action. Under the best case sce­nario. Dou­ble­think at least implies some­one is unwit­ting­ly falling for some sort of intel­lec­tu­al bind. And while it’s not hard to imag­ine that a lot of peo­ple who fall for this kind of pro­pa­gan­da are doing so in an unwit­ting man­ner, that’s a much hard­er assump­tion to arrive at when it comes to mem­bers of Con­gress or the peo­ple who made that invi­ta­tion at Stan­ford. These are choic­es made wit­ting­ly. Wit­ting choic­es to pull the wool over our own eyes about our new Nazi friends. Or new for some. They’re rather old Nazi friends for oth­ers.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 7, 2022, 4:10 pm
  8. How much esca­la­tion is too much esca­la­tion? That’s the dis­turb­ing ques­tion raised by the fol­low­ing Gray­zone about the attack on the Kerch Bridge in Crimea. The piece is based on anony­mous­ly leaked doc­u­ments of an April 2022 pre­sen­ta­tion cre­at­ed by a UK mil­i­tary offi­cer, Hugh Ward, at the request of a senior British Army intel­li­gence oper­a­tive and vet­er­an high rank­ing NATO advi­sor, Chris Don­nel­ly. The pre­sen­ta­tion describes a plan to blow up the Kerch Bridge. And while the plot described in the pre­sen­ta­tion was­n’t the actu­al plot that end­ed up get­ting used to destroy the bridge, it was indeed report­ed­ly shared with the high­est lev­els of Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment.

    But this was­n’t just a plot shared between the UK and Ukraine. The for­mer Lithuan­ian Min­is­ter of Defense Audrius Butke­vi­cius also received a copy of the plot. Butke­vi­cius is report­ed­ly involved with a com­pa­ny that’s been mov­ing weapons into Ukraine through Bul­gar­ia. But he’s also a “senior fel­low” as the “Insti­tute for State­craft”, a shady ‘char­i­ty’ set up by Don­nel­ly that appears to be involved with man­ag­ing var­i­ous intel­li­gence oper­a­tions includ­ing the Integri­ty Ini­tia­tive. Recall Jacques Baud’s obser­va­tion how, in France, some of the most influ­en­tial ‘Rus­sia experts’ also work for the Integri­ty Ini­tia­tive. Also recall how the Integri­ty Ini­tia­tive has been involved with the dis­sem­i­na­tion of alle­ga­tions about Uighur geno­cide in Chi­na in coor­di­na­tion with the Aus­tralian Strate­gic Pol­i­cy Insti­tute (ASPI). And don’t for­get how Face­book, Twit­ter, and Face­boook-owned Insta­gram end­ed up purg­ing thou­sands left-wing accounts in the days before last Novem­ber’s elec­tions in Nicaragua. The deci­sion was pred­i­cat­ed on the charge that these were fake accounts despite the fact that these were very real peo­ple who came for­ward to prove their exis­tence. The author of the report from Face­book’s “Threat Intel­li­gence Team” that car­ried out this purge was ex-NATO press offi­cer Ben Nim­mo, a for­mer con­sul­tant for the Integri­ty Ini­tia­tive. So this plot to blow of the Kerch Bridge appears to be a prod­uct from the same net­work being that Integri­ty Ini­tia­tive.

    As we’re also going to see, when the civ­il war first broke out in Ukraine, Don­nel­ly has a num­ber of remark­able rec­om­men­da­tions for what the West should do in response to a Russ­ian annex­a­tion of Crimea. Don­nel­ly’s advice includ­ed not just shift­ing Europe away from Russ­ian oil and gas — which final­ly hap­pened fol­low­ing the out­break of war this year — but poten­tial attacks on Rus­si­a’s space infra­struc­ture like satel­lites. Don’t for­get how SpaceX’s Star­link has been play­ing a crit­i­cal role in Ukraine’s mil­i­tary strat­e­gy, pro­vid­ing inter­net con­nec­tiv­i­ty to the bat­tle­field and mak­ing Star­link a poten­tial mil­i­tary tar­get. The kind of mil­i­tary tar­get that could trig­ger a “Kessler’s Syn­drome” cas­cade of low orbit space junk that could end up destroy­ing much of the world’s satel­lites. So the main UK intel­li­gence fig­ure behind this Kerch Bridge attack plot that was shared withe Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment is some­one who pre­vi­ous­ly rec­om­mend­ed actions that could have trig­gered WWIII back in 2014. Because of course:

    The Gray­zone

    EXPOSED: Before Ukraine blew up Kerch Bridge, British spies plot­ted it

    Kit Klaren­berg
    Octo­ber 10, 2022

    The secret British intel­li­gence plot to blow up Crimea’s Kerch Bridge is revealed in inter­nal doc­u­ments and cor­re­spon­dence obtained exclu­sive­ly by The Gray­zone.

    The Gray­zone has obtained an April 2022 pre­sen­ta­tion drawn up for senior British intel­li­gence offi­cers hash­ing out an elab­o­rate scheme to blow up Crimea’s Kerch Bridge with the involve­ment of spe­cial­ly trained Ukrain­ian sol­diers. Almost six months after the plan was cir­cu­lat­ed, Kerch Bridge was attacked in an Octo­ber 8th sui­cide bomb­ing appar­ent­ly over­seen by Ukraine’s SBU intel­li­gence ser­vices.

    Detailed pro­pos­als for pro­vid­ing “auda­cious” sup­port to Kiev’s “mar­itime raid­ing oper­a­tions” were draft­ed at the request of Chris Don­nel­ly, a senior British Army intel­li­gence oper­a­tive and vet­er­an high rank­ing NATO advi­sor. The wide-rang­ing plan’s core com­po­nent was “destruc­tion of the bridge over the Kerch Strait.”

    Doc­u­ments and cor­re­spon­dence plot­ting the oper­a­tion were pro­vid­ed to The Gray­zone by an anony­mous source.

    The truck bomb­ing of the Kerch Bridge dif­fered oper­a­tional­ly from the plot sketched there­in. Yet, Britain’s evi­dent inter­est in plan­ning such an attack under­scores the deep involve­ment of NATO pow­ers in the Ukraine proxy war. At almost pre­cise­ly the time that Lon­don report­ed­ly sab­o­taged peace talks between Kiev and Moscow in April this year, British mil­i­tary intel­li­gence oper­a­tives were draw­ing up blue­prints to destroy a major Russ­ian bridge crossed by thou­sands of civil­ians per day.

    The roadmap was pro­duced by Hugh Ward, a British mil­i­tary vet­er­an. A num­ber of strate­gies for help­ing Ukraine “pose a threat to Russ­ian naval forces” in the Black Sea are out­lined. The over­rid­ing objec­tives are stat­ed as aim­ing to “degrade” Russia’s abil­i­ty to block­ade Kiev, “erode” Moscow’s “warfight­ing capa­bil­i­ty”, and iso­late Russ­ian land and mar­itime forces in Crimea by “deny­ing resup­ply by sea and over­land via Kerch bridge.”

    Read the com­plete blue­print: Sup­port for Mar­itime Raid­ing Oper­a­tions – Pro­pos­al

    [see image of Strate­gic Objec­tives slide of the blue­print]

    In an email, Ward asked Don­nel­ly to “please pro­tect this doc­u­ment,” and it’s easy to see why. Of these assort­ed plans, only the “Kerch Bridge Raid CONOPS [con­cept of oper­a­tion]” is sub­ject to a ded­i­cat­ed annex at the con­clu­sion of Ward’s report, under­lin­ing its sig­nif­i­cance.

    The con­tent amounts to direct, detailed advo­ca­cy for the com­mis­sion of what could con­sti­tute a grave war crime. Marked­ly, in plot­ting ways to destroy a major pas­sen­ger bridge, there is no ref­er­ence to avoid­ing civil­ian casu­al­ties.

    Across three sep­a­rate pages, along­side dia­grams, the author spells out the terms of the “mis­sion” – “[dis­abling] the Kerch Bridge in a way that is auda­cious, dis­rupts road and rail access to Crimea and mar­itime access to the Sea of Azov.”

    Ward sug­gests that destroy­ing the bridge “would require a cruise mis­sile bat­tery to hit the two con­crete pil­lars either side of the cen­tral steel arch, which will cause a com­plete struc­tur­al fail­ure,” and “pre­vent any road re-sup­ply from the Russ­ian main­land to Crimea and tem­po­ral­ly [sic] dis­rupt the ship­ping lane.”

    [see image of Kerch Bridge Raid CONOPS slide of the blue­print]

    An alter­na­tive “scheme” entails a “team of attack divers or UUVs [unmanned under­wa­ter vehi­cles] equipped with limpet mines and lin­ear cut­ting charges” tar­get­ing a “key weak­ness” and “design flaw” in the bridge’s pil­lars.

    [see image of alter­na­tive Kerch Bridge scheme slide of the blue­print]

    This “flaw” is “sev­er­al thin pylons used to sup­port the main span,” which were intend­ed to allow strong cur­rents to flow under­neath the Bridge with min­i­mal fric­tion. Ward pin­points a par­tic­u­lar area in which the depth of water around a set of pil­lars was just 10 meters, mak­ing it the “weak­est part” of the struc­ture.

    [see image of Kerch Bridge struc­tur­al vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties slide of the blue­print]

    In relat­ed emails obtained by The Gray­zone, Chris Don­nel­ly, the senior British army intel­li­gence oper­a­tive and for­mer NATO advi­sor, declared the pro­pos­als to be “very impres­sive indeed.

    [see image of screen­shot of an email where Chris Don­nel­ly calls the pro­pos­als “very impres­sive indeed.”]

    Reached by phone, Hugh Ward did not deny that he had pre­pared the Kerch Bridge destruc­tion blue­print for Chris Don­nel­ly.

    “I’m going to have a chat with Chris [Don­nel­ly] and con­firm with him what he’s pre­pared for me to release,” Ward told The Gray­zone, when asked direct­ly if he draft­ed the “auda­cious” plan.

    Asked again to con­firm his role in the blue­print, Ward paused, then said: “I can not con­firm that. I’ll have a chat with Chris first.”

    A sui­cide attack on a $4 bil­lion trans­porta­tion artery

    At dawn on Octo­ber 8th, an incen­di­ary attack dam­aged the Kerch Bridge. A truck explod­ed, set­ting two oil tankers ablaze, caus­ing two Crimea-bound spans of the road­way to col­lapse into the sea below, and killing three.

    ...

    The Bridge has been heav­i­ly defend­ed since Feb­ru­ary 24th, not least because it serves as a major trans­port route for mil­i­tary equip­ment to Russ­ian sol­diers in Ukraine. Rus­sia has pre­vi­ous­ly promised major reprisals in response to any strike on the struc­ture.

    Fol­low­ing the attack, wide­spread eupho­ria erupt­ed among Ukraini­ans, Ukrain­ian author­i­ties, and Ukraine sup­port­ers on social media. Olek­siy Danilov, head of Ukraine’s nation­al secu­ri­ty and defense coun­cil, post­ed a video of the burn­ing bridge along­side a black-and-white clip of Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe singing Hap­py Birth­day, Mr. Pres­i­dent — a ref­er­ence to Putin turn­ing 70 the same day.

    Fur­ther­more, Ukrain­ian media has report­ed via an anony­mous source “in law enforce­ment agen­cies” that the attack was car­ried out by the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine. Yet, high-rank­ing Ukrain­ian offi­cials, includ­ing chief pres­i­den­tial advis­er Mykhai­lo Podolyak, are now back­track­ing, claim­ing instead that the inci­dent was a Russ­ian false flag.

    Such alle­ga­tions have become com­mon­place in the wake of inci­dents in which Ukrain­ian – or West­ern – cul­pa­bil­i­ty seems like­ly or indeed cer­tain, such as the Nord Stream pipeline explo­sions.

    Lay­ing the foun­da­tions of World War III

    While the attack on Kerch Bridge did not involve spe­cial­ist divers, under­wa­ter drones or cruise mis­siles, there are indi­ca­tions that Ward’s plans were shared with the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment at the high­est lev­els. In fact, Chris Don­nel­ly for­ward­ed them to for­mer Lithuan­ian Min­is­ter of Defense Audrius Butke­vi­cius, before intro­duc­ing the pair by email.

    [see image of screen­shot of an email by Chris Don­nel­ly for­ward­ed them to for­mer Lithuan­ian Min­is­ter of Defense Audrius Butke­vi­cius, before intro­duc­ing the pair by email]

    A lead­ing fig­ure in Lithuania’s anti-Com­mu­nist move­ment, Butke­vi­cius has admit­ted to delib­er­ate­ly lead­ing pro-inde­pen­dence fight­ers into Sovi­et snipers’ line of fire on Jan­u­ary 13th 1991. This inci­dent is some­times referred to to as Vil­nius’ “Bloody Sun­day,” and is offi­cial­ly observed as the Day of the Defend­ers of Free­dom. Butke­vi­cius and his con­fed­er­ates knew the maneu­ver would pro­voke mass casu­al­ties, fur­ther inflam­ing the local pop­u­la­tion against Sovi­et lead­er­ship and encour­age regime change, which is why they orches­trat­ed it.

    More recent­ly, Butke­vi­cius co-owned Bul­com­merce KS, a com­pa­ny that served as “the main inter­me­di­ary in the sup­ply of Bul­gar­i­an weapons and ammu­ni­tion to Ukraine through third coun­tries,” for use in the civ­il war in Don­bas.

    Butke­vi­cius has been cred­i­bly accused of work­ing for British intel­li­gence. Email exchanges with Don­nel­ly con­firm he is in con­tact with Guy Spindler, a long-time MI6 offi­cer who was post­ed in London’s Moscow Embassy con­cur­rent­ly with the infa­mous Trump-Rus­sia “dossier” author Christo­pher Steele.

    Reached by phone and asked if he reviewed the “Auda­cious” plan to destroy Kerch Bridge, Spindler told The Gray­zone: “I have absolute­ly no idea what you’re talk­ing about.”

    Con­tem­po­rary accounts sug­gest Spindler direct­ly coor­di­nat­ed with Boris Yeltsin at the time of a failed coup against Mikhail Gor­bachev in August 1991.

    [see image of screen­shot of an email by Chris Don­nel­ly estab­lish­ing his ties to Guy Spindler]

    Butke­vi­cius was also for many years a “senior fel­low” at the Insti­tute for State­craft, a shad­owy “char­i­ty” found­ed by Don­nel­ly that man­ages a num­ber of arm’s length mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence oper­a­tions on behalf of the British state and NATO, includ­ing the now noto­ri­ous For­eign Office black pro­pa­gan­da unit, the Integri­ty Ini­tia­tive.

    Leaked Ini­tia­tive files name Butke­vi­cius as the organization’s key con­tact in Ukraine at the time of the country’s 2019 elec­tion. Three years ear­li­er, he was one of the “escort­ing per­son­nel” for five Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence oper­a­tives whisked to Lon­don by the Insti­tute for State­craft in order to brief the British mil­i­tary on Russ­ian “hybrid war­fare” tech­niques. Along­side him was Vid­man­tas Eitutis, who at the time trained Ukraine’s army to con­duct “active coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence oper­a­tions” in Luhan­sk.

    [see image of doc­u­ment dec­scrib­ing for­mer Lithuan­ian Min­is­ter of Defense Audrius Butke­vi­cius as a “senior fel­low” for Insti­tute for State­craft, a char­i­ty set up by Chris Don­nel­ly]

    In the Kerch Bridge sab­o­tage pro­pos­al com­mis­sioned by Don­nel­ly, Ward asks whether the Russ­ian mil­i­tary knew how vul­ner­a­ble the bridge sup­pos­ed­ly was, and “what coun­ter­mea­sures could be expect­ed” in response to its destruc­tion (see image above).

    The blitz of retal­ia­to­ry mis­sile strikes on Ukraine on Octo­ber 10th pro­vides a like­ly answer. It is also prob­a­ble that if Ward’s out­line was fol­lowed, Moscow’s reprisal would have been even more dead­ly, putting the lives of count­less Ukraini­ans – and Rus­sians – at sig­nif­i­cant risk.

    Don­nel­ly was clear­ly unmoved by such con­cerns, declar­ing the plans to be “very impres­sive indeed.”

    [see image of Chris Don­nel­ly’s pass­port]

    A sim­i­lar dis­re­gard for cat­a­stroph­ic con­se­quences was evi­dent in a pri­vate memo authored by Don­nel­ly in March 2014, out­lin­ing “mil­i­tary mea­sures” that Ukraine should take fol­low­ing Moscow’s seizure of Crimea.

    Stat­ing that, “if I were in charge I would get the fol­low­ing imple­ment­ed,” Don­nel­ly advo­cat­ed min­ing Sev­astopol har­bor using a “car fer­ry,” destroy­ing fight­er jets on Crimean air­fields “as a ges­ture that they are seri­ous,” using a “big microwave anti-satel­lite weapon” to take down Russ­ian space instal­la­tions, and turn­ing to the West for oil and gas sup­plies.

    “I am try­ing to get this mes­sage across,” he con­clud­ed. These pre­scrip­tions have yet to be imple­ment­ed, per­haps because they risk trig­ger­ing an apoc­a­lyp­tic sit­u­a­tion. Indeed, such “ges­tures” would amount to brazen provo­ca­tions against a nuclear pow­er, from which Ukraine’s oil and gas net­work was and remains exclu­sive­ly designed to receive ener­gy.

    Yet it appears Don­nel­ly and those around him would be con­tent to see World War III erupt over Crimea. In fact, as the leaked doc­u­ments obtained by The Gray­zone will con­tin­ue to demon­strate, pro­vok­ing con­flict between the West and Rus­sia has long-been one of his ulti­mate objec­tives.

    ———-

    “EXPOSED: Before Ukraine blew up Kerch Bridge, British spies plot­ted it” by Kit Klaren­berg; The Gray­zone; 10/10/2022

    “Yet it appears Don­nel­ly and those around him would be con­tent to see World War III erupt over Crimea. In fact, as the leaked doc­u­ments obtained by The Gray­zone will con­tin­ue to demon­strate, pro­vok­ing con­flict between the West and Rus­sia has long-been one of his ulti­mate objec­tives.

    The goal is clear. It’s insane, but it’s clear: A dra­mat­ic esca­la­tion of the con­flict between Rus­sia and the West. That’s been the goal of the net­work fig­ures behind the leaked plans to attack the Kerch bridge. A plan with dis­tinct UK ori­gins, devised by UK mil­i­tary vet­er­an Hugh Ward at the request of Chris Don­nel­ly, a senior British Army intel­li­gence oper­a­tive and vet­er­an high rank­ing NATO advi­sor:

    ...
    Detailed pro­pos­als for pro­vid­ing “auda­cious” sup­port to Kiev’s “mar­itime raid­ing oper­a­tions” were draft­ed at the request of Chris Don­nel­ly, a senior British Army intel­li­gence oper­a­tive and vet­er­an high rank­ing NATO advi­sor. The wide-rang­ing plan’s core com­po­nent was “destruc­tion of the bridge over the Kerch Strait.”

    Doc­u­ments and cor­re­spon­dence plot­ting the oper­a­tion were pro­vid­ed to The Gray­zone by an anony­mous source.

    The truck bomb­ing of the Kerch Bridge dif­fered oper­a­tional­ly from the plot sketched there­in. Yet, Britain’s evi­dent inter­est in plan­ning such an attack under­scores the deep involve­ment of NATO pow­ers in the Ukraine proxy war. At almost pre­cise­ly the time that Lon­don report­ed­ly sab­o­taged peace talks between Kiev and Moscow in April this year, British mil­i­tary intel­li­gence oper­a­tives were draw­ing up blue­prints to destroy a major Russ­ian bridge crossed by thou­sands of civil­ians per day.

    The roadmap was pro­duced by Hugh Ward, a British mil­i­tary vet­er­an. A num­ber of strate­gies for help­ing Ukraine “pose a threat to Russ­ian naval forces” in the Black Sea are out­lined. The over­rid­ing objec­tives are stat­ed as aim­ing to “degrade” Russia’s abil­i­ty to block­ade Kiev, “erode” Moscow’s “warfight­ing capa­bil­i­ty”, and iso­late Russ­ian land and mar­itime forces in Crimea by “deny­ing resup­ply by sea and over­land via Kerch bridge.”

    Read the com­plete blue­print: Sup­port for Mar­itime Raid­ing Oper­a­tions – Pro­pos­al

    ...

    In relat­ed emails obtained by The Gray­zone, Chris Don­nel­ly, the senior British army intel­li­gence oper­a­tive and for­mer NATO advi­sor, declared the pro­pos­als to be “very impres­sive indeed.”

    [see image of screen­shot of an email where Chris Don­nel­ly calls the pro­pos­als “very impres­sive indeed.”]

    Reached by phone, Hugh Ward did not deny that he had pre­pared the Kerch Bridge destruc­tion blue­print for Chris Don­nel­ly.

    “I’m going to have a chat with Chris [Don­nel­ly] and con­firm with him what he’s pre­pared for me to release,” Ward told The Gray­zone, when asked direct­ly if he draft­ed the “auda­cious” plan.

    Asked again to con­firm his role in the blue­print, Ward paused, then said: “I can not con­firm that. I’ll have a chat with Chris first.”
    ...

    And while the attack ulti­mate­ly exe­cut­ed on the Kerch Bridge was­n’t the same attack described in Don­nel­ly’s pro­pos­al, the fact that this pro­pos­al was indeed shared with the high­est lev­els of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment at a min­i­mum sig­ni­fies that the attack was endorsed and desired by the UK and points towards like­ly coor­di­na­tion in plan­ning the truck bomb­ing.

    But then there’s the fact that the plans were for­ward­ed to Audrius Butke­vi­cius, the for­mer Lithuan­ian Min­is­ter of Defense. Beyond Butke­vi­cius’s appar­ent ties to MI6 offi­cer Guy Spindler — some­one with a his­to­ry of involve­ment with the 1991 failed coup against Mihail Gor­bachev — Butke­vi­cius also appears to be direct­ly involved in the fun­nel­ing of weapons into Ukraine. So while UK intel­li­gence clear­ly put its stamp of approval on the Kerch Bridge attack, when you have for­mer NATO offi­cers Don­nel­ly and for­eign offi­cials like Butke­vi­cius involved, you can’t just call this an MI6 scheme. It’s part of what makes this such a dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tion in terms of esca­lat­ing the con­flict:

    ...
    While the attack on Kerch Bridge did not involve spe­cial­ist divers, under­wa­ter drones or cruise mis­siles, there are indi­ca­tions that Ward’s plans were shared with the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment at the high­est lev­els. In fact, Chris Don­nel­ly for­ward­ed them to for­mer Lithuan­ian Min­is­ter of Defense Audrius Butke­vi­cius, before intro­duc­ing the pair by email.

    [see image of screen­shot of an email by Chris Don­nel­ly for­ward­ed them to for­mer Lithuan­ian Min­is­ter of Defense Audrius Butke­vi­cius, before intro­duc­ing the pair by email]

    A lead­ing fig­ure in Lithuania’s anti-Com­mu­nist move­ment, Butke­vi­cius has admit­ted to delib­er­ate­ly lead­ing pro-inde­pen­dence fight­ers into Sovi­et snipers’ line of fire on Jan­u­ary 13th 1991. This inci­dent is some­times referred to to as Vil­nius’ “Bloody Sun­day,” and is offi­cial­ly observed as the Day of the Defend­ers of Free­dom. Butke­vi­cius and his con­fed­er­ates knew the maneu­ver would pro­voke mass casu­al­ties, fur­ther inflam­ing the local pop­u­la­tion against Sovi­et lead­er­ship and encour­age regime change, which is why they orches­trat­ed it.

    More recent­ly, Butke­vi­cius co-owned Bul­com­merce KS, a com­pa­ny that served as “the main inter­me­di­ary in the sup­ply of Bul­gar­i­an weapons and ammu­ni­tion to Ukraine through third coun­tries,” for use in the civ­il war in Don­bas.

    Butke­vi­cius has been cred­i­bly accused of work­ing for British intel­li­gence. Email exchanges with Don­nel­ly con­firm he is in con­tact with Guy Spindler, a long-time MI6 offi­cer who was post­ed in London’s Moscow Embassy con­cur­rent­ly with the infa­mous Trump-Rus­sia “dossier” author Christo­pher Steele.

    Reached by phone and asked if he reviewed the “Auda­cious” plan to destroy Kerch Bridge, Spindler told The Gray­zone: “I have absolute­ly no idea what you’re talk­ing about.”

    Con­tem­po­rary accounts sug­gest Spindler direct­ly coor­di­nat­ed with Boris Yeltsin at the time of a failed coup against Mikhail Gor­bachev in August 1991.

    [see image of screen­shot of an email by Chris Don­nel­ly estab­lish­ing his ties to Guy Spindler]
    ...

    And note Butke­vi­cius’s work as a “senior fel­low” for Don­nel­ly’s “Insti­tute for State­craft” which man­ages, among oth­er things, the MI‑6 “Integri­ty Ini­tia­tive”. Recall Jacques Baud’s obser­va­tion how, in France, some of the most influ­en­tial ‘Rus­sia experts’ also work for the Integri­ty Ini­tia­tive. Also recall how the Integri­ty Ini­tia­tive has been involved with the dis­sem­i­na­tion of alle­ga­tions about Uighur geno­cide in Chi­na in coor­di­na­tion with the Aus­tralian Strate­gic Pol­i­cy Insti­tute (ASPI). And don’t for­get how Face­book, Twit­ter, and Face­boook-owned Insta­gram end­ed up purg­ing thou­sands left-wing accounts in the days before last Novem­ber’s elec­tions in Nicaragua. The deci­sion was pred­i­cat­ed on the charge that these were fake accounts despite the fact that these were very real peo­ple who came for­ward to prove their exis­tence. The author of the report from Face­book’s “Threat Intel­li­gence Team” that car­ried out this purge was Ben Nim­mo, a for­mer con­sul­tant for the Integri­ty Ini­tia­tive. So as we can see, MI-6’s Integri­ty Ini­tia­tive has had exten­sive help for for­eign assets, which is part of why we should­n’t at all be sur­prised to find Butke­vi­cius’s involve­ment with the ‘char­i­ty’ that’s man­ag­ing the ini­tia­tive. He fits the pro­file:

    ...
    Butke­vi­cius was also for many years a “senior fel­low” at the Insti­tute for State­craft, a shad­owy “char­i­ty” found­ed by Don­nel­ly that man­ages a num­ber of arm’s length mil­i­tary and intel­li­gence oper­a­tions on behalf of the British state and NATO, includ­ing the now noto­ri­ous For­eign Office black pro­pa­gan­da unit, the Integri­ty Ini­tia­tive.

    Leaked Ini­tia­tive files name Butke­vi­cius as the organization’s key con­tact in Ukraine at the time of the country’s 2019 elec­tion. Three years ear­li­er, he was one of the “escort­ing per­son­nel” for five Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence oper­a­tives whisked to Lon­don by the Insti­tute for State­craft in order to brief the British mil­i­tary on Russ­ian “hybrid war­fare” tech­niques. Along­side him was Vid­man­tas Eitutis, who at the time trained Ukraine’s army to con­duct “active coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence oper­a­tions” in Luhan­sk.

    [see image of doc­u­ment dec­scrib­ing for­mer Lithuan­ian Min­is­ter of Defense Audrius Butke­vi­cius as a “senior fel­low” for Insti­tute for State­craft, a char­i­ty set up by Chris Don­nel­ly]
    ...

    That’s all part of the what makes the attack on this bridge such a poten­tial­ly dan­ger­ous esca­la­tion in this con­flict: this was­n’t just a Ukrain­ian attack on a major piece of Russ­ian infra­struc­ture. It was an attack that clear­ly took place with the bless­ing and pos­si­ble coor­di­na­tion of Ukraine’s allies and it hap­pened not long after the Nord­stream attack that was like­ly car­ried out by Ukraine and/or its allies. These are two major attacks on major pieces of Russ­ian infra­struc­ture. Both car­ried with no one accept­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty but all signs point­ing towards Ukraine and its back­ers as the cul­prits. And both car­ried out despite Rus­si­a’s promis­es of major reprisals in response to these kinds of attacks. This was­n’t just an esca­la­tion of the con­flict between Ukraine and Russ­ian. It was the kind of esca­la­tion that increas­ing­ly makes this an overt con­flict between Rus­sia and NATO, implau­si­ble denials notwith­stand­ing:

    ...
    The Bridge has been heav­i­ly defend­ed since Feb­ru­ary 24th, not least because it serves as a major trans­port route for mil­i­tary equip­ment to Russ­ian sol­diers in Ukraine. Rus­sia has pre­vi­ous­ly promised major reprisals in response to any strike on the struc­ture.

    Fol­low­ing the attack, wide­spread eupho­ria erupt­ed among Ukraini­ans, Ukrain­ian author­i­ties, and Ukraine sup­port­ers on social media. Olek­siy Danilov, head of Ukraine’s nation­al secu­ri­ty and defense coun­cil, post­ed a video of the burn­ing bridge along­side a black-and-white clip of Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe singing Hap­py Birth­day, Mr. Pres­i­dent — a ref­er­ence to Putin turn­ing 70 the same day.

    Fur­ther­more, Ukrain­ian media has report­ed via an anony­mous source “in law enforce­ment agen­cies” that the attack was car­ried out by the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine. Yet, high-rank­ing Ukrain­ian offi­cials, includ­ing chief pres­i­den­tial advis­er Mykhai­lo Podolyak, are now back­track­ing, claim­ing instead that the inci­dent was a Russ­ian false flag.

    Such alle­ga­tions have become com­mon­place in the wake of inci­dents in which Ukrain­ian – or West­ern – cul­pa­bil­i­ty seems like­ly or indeed cer­tain, such as the Nord Stream pipeline explo­sions.

    ...

    In the Kerch Bridge sab­o­tage pro­pos­al com­mis­sioned by Don­nel­ly, Ward asks whether the Russ­ian mil­i­tary knew how vul­ner­a­ble the bridge sup­pos­ed­ly was, and “what coun­ter­mea­sures could be expect­ed” in response to its destruc­tion (see image above).

    The blitz of retal­ia­to­ry mis­sile strikes on Ukraine on Octo­ber 10th pro­vides a like­ly answer. It is also prob­a­ble that if Ward’s out­line was fol­lowed, Moscow’s reprisal would have been even more dead­ly, putting the lives of count­less Ukraini­ans – and Rus­sians – at sig­nif­i­cant risk.

    Don­nel­ly was clear­ly unmoved by such con­cerns, declar­ing the plans to be “very impres­sive indeed.”

    [see image of Chris Don­nel­ly’s pass­port]
    ...

    And that’s also what makes this net­work of fig­ures beyond the MI6 Kerch Bridge plot so omi­nous: esca­la­tion of the con­flict to the point where it’s an open con­flict between Rus­sia and NATO is the goal and has been the goal since 2014. That’s appar­ent when we see Don­nel­ly’s 2014 pri­vate rec­om­men­da­tions that includ­ed turn­ing to the West for oil and gas sup­plies — a direct con­se­quence of the war — and even tak­ing down Russ­ian space instal­la­tions. Don’t for­get how SpaceX’s Star­link has been play­ing a crit­i­cal role in Ukraine’s mil­i­tary strat­e­gy, pro­vid­ing inter­net con­nec­tiv­i­ty to the bat­tle­field and mak­ing Star­link a poten­tial mil­i­tary tar­get. The kind of mil­i­tary tar­get that could trig­ger a “Kessler’s Syn­drome” cas­cade of low orbit space junk that could end up destroy­ing much of the world’s satel­lites. So Chris Don­nel­ly, the high rank­ing UK intel­li­gence offi­cer and NATO advi­sor who order the cre­ation of the Kerch Bridge attack plot, appears to be of a mind­set where NATO attacks on Russ­ian satel­lites is fair game. At least that was his stance in 2014. You have to won­der if he’s mod­i­fied his ‘satel­lite attack’ rules of engage­ment now that Ukraine is reliant on a high­ly vul­ner­a­ble low orbit satel­lite clus­ter:

    ...
    A sim­i­lar dis­re­gard for cat­a­stroph­ic con­se­quences was evi­dent in a pri­vate memo authored by Don­nel­ly in March 2014, out­lin­ing “mil­i­tary mea­sures” that Ukraine should take fol­low­ing Moscow’s seizure of Crimea.

    Stat­ing that, “if I were in charge I would get the fol­low­ing imple­ment­ed,” Don­nel­ly advo­cat­ed min­ing Sev­astopol har­bor using a “car fer­ry,” destroy­ing fight­er jets on Crimean air­fields “as a ges­ture that they are seri­ous,” using a “big microwave anti-satel­lite weapon” to take down Russ­ian space instal­la­tions, and turn­ing to the West for oil and gas sup­plies.

    “I am try­ing to get this mes­sage across,” he con­clud­ed. These pre­scrip­tions have yet to be imple­ment­ed, per­haps because they risk trig­ger­ing an apoc­a­lyp­tic sit­u­a­tion. Indeed, such “ges­tures” would amount to brazen provo­ca­tions against a nuclear pow­er, from which Ukraine’s oil and gas net­work was and remains exclu­sive­ly designed to receive ener­gy.
    ...

    You also have to won­der if all the sto­ries and denials about Elon Musk hav­ing talked with Putin before he sent out a tweet call­ing for peace have any truth behind them. Because it’s not like Putin does­n’t have immense lever­age in any con­ver­sa­tions with Musk. All Rus­sia would poten­tial­ly need to do is cause a cou­ple of those Star­link satel­lites to lose con­trol and crash into each oth­er to poten­tial­ly get the “Kessler’s Syn­drome” cas­cade start­ed. And it’s not like you can entire­ly blame Rus­sia if we do end up with Kessler’s Syn­drome as a result. No one forced SpaceX to build Star­link and cre­ate this enor­mous orbital time bomb. And as the repeat­ed troll­ish response to both the the Kerch Bridge attack and the Nord­stream attack make clear, it’s not like the attack­er needs to claim respon­si­bil­i­ty. Anony­mous attacks are pos­si­ble. Although, as this sto­ry also reminds us, they aren’t actu­al­ly anony­mous. But that’s the game being played accord­ing to the rules of engage­ment laid out by peo­ple who clear­ly want a much greater esca­la­tion of this con­flict.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 12, 2022, 4:31 pm
  9. Yikes! What kind of night­mare sit­u­a­tion did Swe­den stum­ble into?! We don’t know and we may nev­er know. All we know at this point is that Swe­den just announced a refusal to share the results of its inves­ti­ga­tion into the Nord­stream pipeline attacks with any­one. Includ­ing Ger­many and Den­mark, who had pre­vi­ous­ly been tapped to be part­ners with Swe­den on this inves­ti­ga­tion. Swe­den is keep it all secret, cit­ing undis­closed “secu­ri­ty con­cerns”. Again, yikes:

    The Local.de

    Swe­den opts out of joint Nord Stream probe with Ger­many and Den­mark

    Swe­den has decid­ed against tak­ing part in a joint inves­ti­ga­tion of the Nord Stream gas pipeline leak­ages with Den­mark and Ger­many.

    Pub­lished: 14 Octo­ber 2022 14:37 CEST

    Swe­den will no longer take part in a joint inves­ti­ga­tion of the Nord Stream pipeline leaks, Ger­man mag­a­zine Der Spiegel report­ed on Fri­day, cit­ing Ger­man secu­ri­ty sources.

    The Nordic coun­try does not want to share results of its own inves­ti­ga­tions with oth­er coun­tries, accord­ing to the report. The exact secu­ri­ty con­cerns that have result­ed in Swe­den drop­ping out of the joint inves­ti­ga­tion are unclear.

    Ger­man police have com­plet­ed inves­ti­ga­tions of the sus­pect­ed sab­o­tage of the Nord Stream pipelines and have sub­mit­ted their con­clu­sions to the joint inves­ti­ga­tion, a spokesper­son for the Ger­man inte­ri­or min­istry said on Fri­day.

    Ear­li­er this week, Swe­den said it would not allow Rus­sia to join the ongo­ing probe of the pipeline leaks but added that Moscow could car­ry out its own inspec­tions.

    ...

    ———-

    “Swe­den opts out of joint Nord Stream probe with Ger­many and Den­mark”; The Local.de; 10/14/2022

    “The Nordic coun­try does not want to share results of its own inves­ti­ga­tions with oth­er coun­tries, accord­ing to the report. The exact secu­ri­ty con­cerns that have result­ed in Swe­den drop­ping out of the joint inves­ti­ga­tion are unclear.”

    Yes, Swe­den is refus­ing to share its probe results due to mys­te­ri­ous secu­ri­ty con­cerned. Secu­ri­ty con­cerns that are appar­ent­ly so con­cern­ing that they can’t even be shared with any­one. Even allies. It’s more than a lit­tle sus­pi­cious. Because of course it is. Every­thing about this sto­ry is more than a lit­tle sus­pi­cious. Includ­ing all the omi­nous state­ments made by Joe Biden back in Feb­ru­ary about how the US was going to “bring an end to” Nord Stream in the event of an inva­sion and Antony Blinken’s crow­ing about how the attacks cre­at­ed a great “oppor­tu­ni­ty” for the EU to tran­si­tion away from Russ­ian gas. Or the NATO exer­cis­es back in June involv­ing UUVs and a ‘dem­i­ning’ exer­cise in the imme­di­ate vicin­i­ty of the attacks. Or the US Naval heli­copters capa­ble of oper­at­ing UUVs spot­ted in that same area in Sep­tem­ber. This kind of cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence point­ing towards some sort of NATO-backed act is just irrefutably sit­ting out there, whether its ignored or not.

    And while ignor­ing all this cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence has worked for the West so far, you have to won­der how long that’s going to be a viable strat­e­gy now that Swe­den has adopt­ed the high­ly sus­pi­cious pos­ture of refus­ing to share its results with any­one. What did Swe­den find? We don’t know, but it obvi­ous­ly did­n’t find evi­dence of a Russ­ian attack because that would have been released imme­di­ate­ly. It’s obvi­ous that some­thing scan­dalous was dis­cov­ered and its pret­ty obvi­ous as to the nature of this scan­dal.

    And that’s why we also need to start ask­ing what kind of dam­age all these bla­tant­ly fake denials are going to end up doing to the col­lec­tive rep­u­ta­tion of ‘the West’ in the eyes of the broad­er glob­al pub­lic. Because this isn’t just the US or a hand­ful of coun­tries engaged in a coverup. This is a bla­tant open coverup being car­ried out on the world stage under the ban­ner of ‘democ­ra­cy’ as part of what is being framed to the world as a ‘democ­ra­cy vs author­i­tar­i­an­ism’ exis­ten­tial con­flict. Which does­n’t bode well for the fate of ‘democ­ra­cy’ when this is all over:

    Con­sor­tium News

    SCOTT RITTER: Pipelines v. USA

    Intent, motive and means: Peo­ple serv­ing life sen­tences in U.S. pris­ons have been con­vict­ed on weak­er grounds than the cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence against Wash­ing­ton for the attack on the Nord Stream pipelines.

    By Scott Rit­ter
    Octo­ber 12, 2022

    Spe­cial to Con­sor­tium News

    Cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence, just like direct proof, can be used to prove the ele­ments of a crime, the exis­tence or com­ple­tion of cer­tain acts and the intent or men­tal state of a defen­dant. Gen­er­al­ly speak­ing, a pros­e­cu­tor, to obtain a con­vic­tion, needs to show beyond a rea­son­able doubt that a defen­dant com­mit­ted a cer­tain act and that the defen­dant act­ed with spe­cif­ic intent.

    Nord Stream 1 is a mul­ti-nation­al project oper­at­ed by Swiss-based Nord Stream AG intend­ed to sup­ply some 55 bil­lion cubic meters (bcm) of Russ­ian nat­ur­al gas annu­al­ly to Europe by direct­ly trans­port­ing it from Rus­sia, through twin 1,224 kilo­me­ter-long pipelines laid beneath the Baltic Sea, to a Ger­man hub, from which the gas would be dis­trib­uted to oth­er Euro­pean con­sumers.

    The first of the twin pipelines was com­plet­ed in June 2011 and began sup­ply­ing gas in Novem­ber 2011. The sec­ond was com­plet­ed in April 2012 and began sup­ply­ing gas in Octo­ber 2012. Gazprom, the Russ­ian gas giant, owns 51 per­cent inter­est in the Nord Stream 1 pipeline project.

    Nord Stream 2 is a near clone of the Nord Stream 1 project, con­sist­ing of twin 1,220-kilometer pipelines laid beneath the Baltic Sea con­nect­ing Rus­sia to Ger­many. Start­ed in 2018, it was com­plet­ed in Sep­tem­ber 2021. Like Nord Stream 1, the Nord Stream 2 is designed to deliv­er approx­i­mate­ly 55 bcm of nat­ur­al gas from Rus­sia to Europe through Ger­many. Nord Stream 2, like Nord Stream 1, is oper­at­ed by a multi­na­tion­al com­pa­ny in which Gazprom has 51 per­cent own­er­ship.

    Unlike Nord Stream 1, Nord Stream 2 was nev­er allowed to begin sup­ply­ing gas.

    The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines are anath­e­ma to U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy, which for decades has been sour on the degree to which Russ­ian nat­ur­al gas dom­i­nates the Euro­pean ener­gy mar­ket. This ani­mus was per­haps best cap­tured by a col­umn pub­lished in the Ger­man news­pa­per DieWelt in July 2019.

    The piece, co-authored by Richard Grenell, Car­la Sands, Gor­don Sond­land (respec­tive­ly, the U.S. ambas­sadors to Ger­many, Den­mark and the Euro­pean Union), was enti­tled “Europe must retain con­trol of its ener­gy secu­ri­ty” and made the argu­ment that the “Nord Stream 2 pipeline will dras­ti­cal­ly increase Russia’s ener­gy lever­age over the EU,” not­ing that “[s]uch a sce­nario is dan­ger­ous for the bloc and the West as a whole.”

    Observ­ing that “a dozen Euro­pean coun­tries rely on Rus­sia for more than 75 per­cent of their nat­ur­al gas needs,” the ambas­sadors con­clud­ed “This makes Unit­ed States allies and part­ners vul­ner­a­ble to hav­ing their gas shut off at Moscow’s whim.”

    More­over, the ambas­sadors claimed,

    “Euro­pean Union reliance on Russ­ian gas presents risks for Europe and the West as a whole and makes U.S. allies less secure. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will height­en Europe’s sus­cep­ti­bil­i­ty to Russia’s ener­gy black­mail tac­tics. Europe must retain con­trol of its ener­gy secu­ri­ty.”

    The ambas­sadors also wove in some crit­i­cal geopo­lit­i­cal con­text as well, declar­ing

    “Make no mis­take: Nord Stream 2 will bring more than just Russ­ian gas. Russ­ian lever­age and influ­ence will also flow under the Baltic Sea and into Europe, and the pipeline will enable Moscow to fur­ther under­mine Ukrain­ian sov­er­eign­ty and sta­bil­i­ty.”

    Russia’s “weaponiza­tion” of ener­gy against Europe was the top­ic of a “debate” that Gary Peach and I car­ried out in Decem­ber 2018 on the pages of Ener­gy Intel­li­gence, which mon­i­tors issues per­tain­ing to glob­al ener­gy secu­ri­ty. Gary, one of EI’s senior writ­ers, cov­ers Russ­ian ener­gy.

    I argued that “Rus­sia has nev­er sought to use its sta­tus as a major sup­pli­er of ener­gy to Europe as a vehi­cle of pol­i­cy influ­ence,” not­ing that:

    “[t]he weaponiza­tion of Russ­ian ener­gy comes in the form of sanc­tions imposed against Moscow and the pur­suit of poli­cies designed to cur­tail devel­op­ment of Russia’s ener­gy sec­tor. It is far eas­i­er to make a case that the U.S. and Europe pose a threat to Russ­ian ener­gy secu­ri­ty rather than vice ver­sa.”

    Gary, on the oth­er hand, not­ed that

    “Gazprom’s sup­ply con­tracts exhib­it the under­ly­ing eco­nom­ic threat from Moscow: The pric­ing for­mu­la is rough­ly the same for all coun­tries, but those coun­tries in Russia’s good graces receive an arbi­trary ‘dis­count.’” He con­clud­ed that “when Gazprom is the only con­ceiv­able gas sup­pli­er, it has shame­less­ly abused the monop­oly.”

    In Decem­ber 2019 the admin­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump imposed sanc­tions in a des­per­ate last-sec­ond bid to pre­vent the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from being com­plet­ed.

    These sanc­tions were waived by the admin­is­tra­tion of Pres­i­dent Joe Biden in May 2021 in an effort to be seen as repair­ing rela­tions with Ger­many that had been severe­ly frayed dur­ing the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. How­ev­er, upon com­ple­tion, Nord Stream 2 was pre­vent­ed from oper­at­ing by objec­tions raised by Ger­man reg­u­la­tors regard­ing licens­ing issues, which were not expect­ed to be resolved until mid-2022.

    In the lead up to the Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine, the Biden admin­is­tra­tion devised a plan to pun­ish Rus­sia by impos­ing severe eco­nom­ic sanc­tions which would tar­get the Russ­ian ener­gy sec­tor, includ­ing mea­sures designed to halt the deliv­ery of gas from Rus­sia to Ger­many via the Nord Stream pipelines.

    One of the issues con­fronting U.S. pol­i­cy mak­ers was find­ing the right mix of sanc­tions that would suc­ceed in harm­ing Rus­sia with­out destroy­ing the Euro­pean econ­o­my in the process. Pol­i­cy mak­ers on both sides of the Atlantic, how­ev­er, rec­og­nized that mean­ing­ful sanc­tions which tar­get­ed Russ­ian ener­gy con­tained col­lat­er­al risk to the Euro­pean econ­o­my which could not be avoid­ed.

    One of the mech­a­nisms that U.S. and E.U. pol­i­cy mak­ers were hop­ing would alle­vi­ate the eco­nom­ic con­se­quences of sanc­tion­ing Russ­ian ener­gy was to increase the sup­ply of U.S. liqui­fied nat­ur­al gas (LNG) to Europe. Since 2016 the amount of LNG sup­plied by the U.S. to Europe has increased, with more than 21 bcm deliv­ered in 2021.

    But 21 bcm couldn’t begin to off­set the quan­ti­ty of nat­ur­al gas being shipped by Rus­sia to Europe in case of any large-scale dis­rup­tion of Russ­ian ener­gy sup­plies brought on by the impo­si­tion of eco­nom­ic sanc­tions that tar­get­ed the Russ­ian ener­gy sec­tor.

    After the Russ­ian inva­sion of Ukraine — and the real­iza­tion that the ener­gy dis­rup­tion to Europe was going to be far greater than had been antic­i­pat­ed — Biden made good on his promise to increase the sup­ply of U.S. LNG to Europe. But the quan­ti­ties still fell far short of demand, and at prices that were, lit­er­al­ly, bank­rupt­ing all of Europe.

    The Vic­tims

    With Ger­many block­ing the oper­a­tion of Nord Stream 2 and sanc­tions pre­clud­ing the repair of the Nord Stream 1, the Ger­man pop­u­la­tion began bear­ing the brunt of the sanc­tions on Russ­ian ener­gy.

    Despite their government’s insis­tence that it would remain res­olute in con­fronting what it per­ceived as Russ­ian aggres­sion against Ukraine, the Ger­man peo­ple had oth­er plans. By Sept. 26 they began tak­ing to the streets in large num­bers to demand that their gov­ern­ment open the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and pro­vide the Ger­man peo­ple and econ­o­my with the ener­gy need­ed to sur­vive.

    Ger­many’s largest protests of this fallThe footage shows Berlin and Hannover.The par­tic­i­pants are demand­ing the lift­ing of anti-Russ­ian sanc­tions and access to ener­gy. One of the posters reads “I want Russ­ian gas and oil.” pic.twitter.com/Rl7UJQ6dSb— ????Jacob????Charite???? (@jaccocharite) Octo­ber 8, 2022

    The Crime

    On Sept. 26, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline report­ed a mas­sive drop in pres­sure. The next day, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline report­ed the same. A Dan­ish fight­er jet, fly­ing over the pipeline route, report­ed see­ing a one-kilo­me­ter diam­e­ter dis­tur­bance in the water off the island of Born­holm, direct­ly over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, cre­at­ed by the mas­sive release of nat­ur­al gas under­wa­ter. (Dan­ish author­i­ties have esti­mat­ed that between the two pipelines the total amount of methane released into the atmos­phere was around 500,000 met­ric tons.)

    The inci­dent took place in the exclu­sive eco­nom­ic zone of Swe­den, and the Swedish Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice took the lead in inves­ti­gat­ing what had hap­pened. (Curi­ous­ly, Rus­sia was not invit­ed to par­tic­i­pate, despite hav­ing a vest­ed eco­nom­ic and secu­ri­ty inter­est in the mat­ter.)

    “After com­plet­ing the crime scene inves­ti­ga­tion,” the Swedes report­ed, “the Swedish Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice can con­clude that there have been det­o­na­tions at Nord Stream 1 and 2 in the Swedish eco­nom­ic zone,” not­ing that the blasts had caused “exten­sive dam­age” to the lines.

    The Swedes also declared that they had retrieved some mate­ri­als from the inci­dent site, which were being ana­lyzed to deter­mine who was respon­si­ble. This evi­dence, the Swedes stat­ed, “strength­ened the sus­pi­cions of gross sab­o­tage.”

    While all par­ties involved with the Nord Stream pipeline “sab­o­tage” con­cur that the cause was man­made, no nation out­side Rus­sia has named a sus­pect. (Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin has attrib­uted the attack, which Rus­sia has labeled an act of “inter­na­tion­al ter­ror­ism,” on the “Anglo-Sax­ons” — the British and Amer­i­cans.)

    Biden dis­missed the Russ­ian claims. The pipeline attack “was a delib­er­ate act of sab­o­tage and the Rus­sians are pump­ing out dis­in­for­ma­tion and lies,” the U.S. pres­i­dent said. “At the appro­pri­ate moment, when things calm down, we’re going to be send­ing divers down to find out exact­ly what hap­pened. We don’t know that yet exact­ly.”

    But we do know. Biden told us him­self. So did Sec­re­tary of State Antony Blinken. So did the U.S. Navy. Between the three, we have incon­tro­vert­ible evi­dence of intent, motive and means — more than enough need­ed to prove guilt beyond any rea­son­able doubt in a court of law.

    Intent

    Speak­ing to reporters on Feb. 7, Biden declared “If Rus­sia invades, that means tanks or troops cross­ing the bor­der of Ukraine again, there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”

    Pres. Biden: “If Rus­sia invades...then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.“Reporter: “But how will you do that, exact­ly, since...the project is in Ger­many’s control?“Biden: “I promise you, we will be able to do that.” https://t.co/uruQ4F4zM9 pic.twitter.com/4ksDaaU0YC— ABC News (@ABC) Feb­ru­ary 7, 2022

    When a jour­nal­ist asked how Biden could do such a thing, giv­en that Ger­many was in con­trol of the project, Biden retort­ed: “I promise you: We will be able to do it.”

    No pros­e­cu­tor has ever had a more con­cise state­ment of intent — a ver­i­ta­ble con­fes­sion before the event — than this. Joe Biden should be tak­en at his word.

    Motive

    When asked by reporters on Oct. 3 to com­ment on the Nord Stream pipeline attacks, Blinken respond­ed in part by not­ing that the attack was “a tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ty to once and for all remove the depen­dence on Russ­ian ener­gy and thus to take away from Vladimir Putin the weaponiza­tion of ener­gy as a means of advanc­ing his impe­r­i­al designs.”

    Blinken fur­ther declared that the U.S. would work to alle­vi­ate the “con­se­quences” of the pipeline attack on Europe, allud­ing to the pro­vi­sion of U.S. LNG at exor­bi­tant prof­it mar­gins for U.S. sup­pli­ers — anoth­er “oppor­tu­ni­ty.”

    Pros­e­cu­tors often speak of cui bono, a Latin phrase that means “who ben­e­fits,” when seek­ing to import motive for a crime com­mit­ted, under the pre­sump­tion that there is a high prob­a­bil­i­ty that those respon­si­ble for a spe­cif­ic crime are the ones who stand to gain from it.

    Blinken. Tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ty.

    Cui Bono.

    Means

    In ear­ly June, in sup­port of a major NATO exer­cise known as BALTOPS (Baltic Oper­a­tions) 2022, the U.S. Navy employed the lat­est advance­ments in unmanned under­wa­ter vehi­cle, or UUV, mine hunt­ing tech­nol­o­gy to be test­ed in oper­a­tional sce­nar­ios.

    Accord­ing to the U.S. Navy, it was able to eval­u­ate “emerg­ing mine hunt­ing UUV tech­nol­o­gy,” focus­ing on “UUV nav­i­ga­tion, team­ing oper­a­tions, and improve­ments in acoustic com­mu­ni­ca­tions all while col­lect­ing crit­i­cal envi­ron­men­tal data sets to advance the auto­mat­ic tar­get recog­ni­tion algo­rithms for mine detec­tion.”

    One of the UUV’s used by the U.S. Navy is the Seafox.

    In Sep­tem­ber, spe­cial­ized U.S. Navy heli­copters — the MH-60R, capa­ble of employ­ing the Seafox UUV — were tracked fly­ing off the Dan­ish island of Born­holm, direct­ly over the seg­ments of the Nord­stream 1 and 2 pipelines that were lat­er dam­aged in the sab­o­tage inci­dents.

    To quote TASS,

    “On Novem­ber 6, 2015, the NATO Seafox mine dis­pos­al unmanned under­wa­ter vehi­cle was found dur­ing the sched­uled visu­al inspec­tion of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline. It lay in space between gas pipelines, clear­ly near one of strings. NATO said the under­wa­ter mine dis­pos­al vehi­cle was lost dur­ing exer­cis­es. Such NATO exer­cis­es when the com­bat explo­sive device turned out to be exact­ly under our gas pipeline. The explo­sive device was deac­ti­vat­ed by Swedish Armed Forces at that time.”

    Guilty Beyond Rea­son­able Doubt

    The bur­den that exists to prove guilt beyond a rea­son­able doubt “is ful­ly sat­is­fied and entire­ly con­vinced to a moral cer­tain­ty that the evi­dence pre­sent­ed proves the guilt of the defen­dant.” In the mat­ter of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 attacks, this bur­den has been met when it comes to assign­ing blame to the Unit­ed States.

    Biden all but con­fessed the crime before­hand, and his sec­re­tary of state, Blinken, crowed about the “tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ty” that was cre­at­ed by the attack. Not only did the U.S. Navy active­ly rehearse the crime in June 2022, using the same weapon that had been pre­vi­ous­ly dis­cov­ered next to the pipeline, but employed the very means need­ed to use this weapon on the day of the attack, at the loca­tion of the attack.

    Guilty as Charged

    The prob­lem is, out­side of Rus­sia, no one is charg­ing the Unit­ed States. Jour­nal­ists run away from the evi­dence, cit­ing “uncer­tain­ty.” Europe, afraid to wake up to the real­i­ty that its most impor­tant “ally” has com­mit­ted an act of war against its crit­i­cal ener­gy infra­struc­ture, con­demn­ing mil­lions of Euro­peans to suf­fer the depra­va­tions of cold, hunger and unem­ploy­ment —all the while goug­ing Europe with prof­it mar­gins from the sale of LNG that rede­fine the notion of “wind­fall” — remains silent.

    There is no doubt in any think­ing person’s brain as to who is respon­si­ble for the attacks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. The cir­cum­stan­tial case is over­whelm­ing and ful­ly capa­ble of win­ning a con­vic­tion in any U.S. court of law.

    But no one will bring the case, at least not at this moment.

    ...

    ————

    “SCOTT RITTER: Pipelines v. USA” By Scott Rit­ter; Con­sor­tium News; 10/12/2022

    “There is no doubt in any think­ing person’s brain as to who is respon­si­ble for the attacks on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines. The cir­cum­stan­tial case is over­whelm­ing and ful­ly capa­ble of win­ning a con­vic­tion in any U.S. court of law.”

    Now, in fair­ness, there should a rea­son­able doubt in terms of who actu­al­ly exe­cut­ed the attacks on these pipelines. Sure, the US or UK are obvi­ous sus­pects giv­en the cir­cum­stances, but so is Ukraine and Poland. What is obvi­ous beyond a rea­son­able doubt is that this attack was not in Rus­si­a’s inter­ests but very much in the inter­ests of all of those obvi­ous sus­pects. That’s why they’re the obvi­ous sus­pects. That and all the high­ly incrim­i­nat­ing state­ments made before and the attacks. State­ments like Joe Biden’s omi­nous threat that “there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it” made on Feb 7. It sound­ed omi­nous at the time. Now it just sounds incrim­i­nat­ing. Even more incrim­i­nat­ing after Antony Blinken’s Octo­ber 3 com­ments about what a great oppor­tu­ni­ty the attacks cre­at­ed. It just looks guilty:

    ...
    Speak­ing to reporters on Feb. 7, Biden declared “If Rus­sia invades, that means tanks or troops cross­ing the bor­der of Ukraine again, there will no longer be a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”

    Pres. Biden: “If Rus­sia invades...then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.“Reporter: “But how will you do that, exact­ly, since...the project is in Ger­many’s control?“Biden: “I promise you, we will be able to do that.” https://t.co/uruQ4F4zM9 pic.twitter.com/4ksDaaU0YC— ABC News (@ABC) Feb­ru­ary 7, 2022

    When a jour­nal­ist asked how Biden could do such a thing, giv­en that Ger­many was in con­trol of the project, Biden retort­ed: “I promise you: We will be able to do it.”

    No pros­e­cu­tor has ever had a more con­cise state­ment of intent — a ver­i­ta­ble con­fes­sion before the event — than this. Joe Biden should be tak­en at his word.

    Motive

    When asked by reporters on Oct. 3 to com­ment on the Nord Stream pipeline attacks, Blinken respond­ed in part by not­ing that the attack was “a tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ty to once and for all remove the depen­dence on Russ­ian ener­gy and thus to take away from Vladimir Putin the weaponiza­tion of ener­gy as a means of advanc­ing his impe­r­i­al designs.”

    Blinken fur­ther declared that the U.S. would work to alle­vi­ate the “con­se­quences” of the pipeline attack on Europe, allud­ing to the pro­vi­sion of U.S. LNG at exor­bi­tant prof­it mar­gins for U.S. sup­pli­ers — anoth­er “oppor­tu­ni­ty.”

    Pros­e­cu­tors often speak of cui bono, a Latin phrase that means “who ben­e­fits,” when seek­ing to import motive for a crime com­mit­ted, under the pre­sump­tion that there is a high prob­a­bil­i­ty that those respon­si­ble for a spe­cif­ic crime are the ones who stand to gain from it.

    Blinken. Tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ty.

    Cui Bono.
    ...

    And then there’s the mys­te­ri­ous Sep­tem­ber oper­a­tion involv­ing spe­cial­ized US Navy Heli­copters capa­ble of deploy UUV’s observed hov­er­ing direct­ly over one of the sites of the attack weeks lat­er. That Sep­tem­ber oper­a­tion fol­lowed an ear­ly June NATO exer­cise in the area as part of UUV mine-hunt­ing oper­a­tion. These are irrefutable facts. And while they aren’t direct evi­dence of a US or NATO plot to sab­o­tage the pipelines, there’s also no deny­ing now sus­pi­cious these details are in light of what hap­pened. Any real inves­ti­ga­tion would hone in on these events:

    ...
    In ear­ly June, in sup­port of a major NATO exer­cise known as BALTOPS (Baltic Oper­a­tions) 2022, the U.S. Navy employed the lat­est advance­ments in unmanned under­wa­ter vehi­cle, or UUV, mine hunt­ing tech­nol­o­gy to be test­ed in oper­a­tional sce­nar­ios.

    Accord­ing to the U.S. Navy, it was able to eval­u­ate “emerg­ing mine hunt­ing UUV tech­nol­o­gy,” focus­ing on “UUV nav­i­ga­tion, team­ing oper­a­tions, and improve­ments in acoustic com­mu­ni­ca­tions all while col­lect­ing crit­i­cal envi­ron­men­tal data sets to advance the auto­mat­ic tar­get recog­ni­tion algo­rithms for mine detec­tion.”

    One of the UUV’s used by the U.S. Navy is the Seafox.

    In Sep­tem­ber, spe­cial­ized U.S. Navy heli­copters — the MH-60R, capa­ble of employ­ing the Seafox UUV — were tracked fly­ing off the Dan­ish island of Born­holm, direct­ly over the seg­ments of the Nord­stream 1 and 2 pipelines that were lat­er dam­aged in the sab­o­tage inci­dents.

    To quote TASS,

    “On Novem­ber 6, 2015, the NATO Seafox mine dis­pos­al unmanned under­wa­ter vehi­cle was found dur­ing the sched­uled visu­al inspec­tion of the Nord Stream 1 gas pipeline. It lay in space between gas pipelines, clear­ly near one of strings. NATO said the under­wa­ter mine dis­pos­al vehi­cle was lost dur­ing exer­cis­es. Such NATO exer­cis­es when the com­bat explo­sive device turned out to be exact­ly under our gas pipeline. The explo­sive device was deac­ti­vat­ed by Swedish Armed Forces at that time.”

    ...

    On top of all it all is the tim­ing: this hap­pened right as a cold expen­sive win­ter was approach­ing and Ger­mans were set­tling into a mood to protest the ongo­ing sanc­tions. Protests that became utter­ly futile with those sab­o­tage attacks:

    ...
    With Ger­many block­ing the oper­a­tion of Nord Stream 2 and sanc­tions pre­clud­ing the repair of the Nord Stream 1, the Ger­man pop­u­la­tion began bear­ing the brunt of the sanc­tions on Russ­ian ener­gy.

    Despite their government’s insis­tence that it would remain res­olute in con­fronting what it per­ceived as Russ­ian aggres­sion against Ukraine, the Ger­man peo­ple had oth­er plans. By Sept. 26 they began tak­ing to the streets in large num­bers to demand that their gov­ern­ment open the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and pro­vide the Ger­man peo­ple and econ­o­my with the ener­gy need­ed to sur­vive.

    Ger­many’s largest protests of this fallThe footage shows Berlin and Hannover.The par­tic­i­pants are demand­ing the lift­ing of anti-Russ­ian sanc­tions and access to ener­gy. One of the posters reads “I want Russ­ian gas and oil.” pic.twitter.com/Rl7UJQ6dSb— ????Jacob????Charite???? (@jaccocharite) Octo­ber 8, 2022

    The Crime

    On Sept. 26, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline report­ed a mas­sive drop in pres­sure. The next day, the Nord Stream 1 pipeline report­ed the same. A Dan­ish fight­er jet, fly­ing over the pipeline route, report­ed see­ing a one-kilo­me­ter diam­e­ter dis­tur­bance in the water off the island of Born­holm, direct­ly over the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, cre­at­ed by the mas­sive release of nat­ur­al gas under­wa­ter. (Dan­ish author­i­ties have esti­mat­ed that between the two pipelines the total amount of methane released into the atmos­phere was around 500,000 met­ric tons.)
    ...

    And yet, despite this damn­ing cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence that, at min­i­mum, should have neu­tral observers strong­ly sus­pect­ing some sort of West­ern-sanc­tioned attack, we’ve seen a vir­tu­al Iron Cur­tain of bad takes across the West­ern press. Either every­one played dumb or, more like, Rus­sia got the blame. It’s like The Onion goes main­stream:

    ...
    The bur­den that exists to prove guilt beyond a rea­son­able doubt “is ful­ly sat­is­fied and entire­ly con­vinced to a moral cer­tain­ty that the evi­dence pre­sent­ed proves the guilt of the defen­dant.” In the mat­ter of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 attacks, this bur­den has been met when it comes to assign­ing blame to the Unit­ed States.

    Biden all but con­fessed the crime before­hand, and his sec­re­tary of state, Blinken, crowed about the “tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ty” that was cre­at­ed by the attack. Not only did the U.S. Navy active­ly rehearse the crime in June 2022, using the same weapon that had been pre­vi­ous­ly dis­cov­ered next to the pipeline, but employed the very means need­ed to use this weapon on the day of the attack, at the loca­tion of the attack.

    ...

    The prob­lem is, out­side of Rus­sia, no one is charg­ing the Unit­ed States. Jour­nal­ists run away from the evi­dence, cit­ing “uncer­tain­ty.” Europe, afraid to wake up to the real­i­ty that its most impor­tant “ally” has com­mit­ted an act of war against its crit­i­cal ener­gy infra­struc­ture, con­demn­ing mil­lions of Euro­peans to suf­fer the depra­va­tions of cold, hunger and unem­ploy­ment —all the while goug­ing Europe with prof­it mar­gins from the sale of LNG that rede­fine the notion of “wind­fall” — remains silent.

    ...

    But no one will bring the case, at least not at this moment.
    ...

    It’s not like Rus­sia and ‘the West’ were the only par­ties involved with this attack. The whole world got to wit­ness it. Just as the whole world is get­ting to wit­ness this farce of a coverup. What kind of dam­age does this do to the cred­i­bil­i­ty of ‘the West’ and democ­ra­cy in gen­er­al? Because that’s how this con­flict is being pre­sent­ed to the world: as an exis­ten­tial con­flict between a total­i­tar­i­an Rus­sia and a demo­c­ra­t­ic West. That’s the fram­ing at work here. ‘Democ­ra­cy’ vs Rus­sia. And ‘Democ­ra­cy’ just pulled some sort of gang­ster stunt with a troll­ish coverup.

    So what kind of dam­age is being done to the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the democ­ra­cy with dan­ger­ous stunts like this? One mem­ber of this coali­tion of democ­ra­cies after anoth­er has embraced this big obvi­ous lie, with vir­tu­al­ly all of the media duti­ful­ly uphold­ing that big obvi­ous lie. This is can­cer­ous stuff. The world is watch­ing. Open obvi­ous lies like this don’t just get swept under the rug. They linger and fes­ter. This is the kind of stuff that fuels fig­ures like Alex Jones and Tuck­er Carl­son. Bla­tant lies are free pow­er­ful pro­pa­gan­da avail­able to any­one who does­n’t go along with the obvi­ous lies that only the high­ly moti­vat­ed or high­ly gullible would buy.

    And how many more ‘Rus­sia did it to itself!’ events like this are we going to expe­ri­ence before this con­flict is over? It’s hard to imag­ine this was a one-off. Who­ev­er did this must be feel­ing embold­ened. So we’ll see when the next ‘Rus­sia sab­o­taged itself’ act takes place. But try not to be super shocked if the nar­ra­tive in the West for how WWIII start­ed goes some­thing like, “First Rus­sia blew up a bunch of its own stuff. Then, after many such attacks against itself, Rus­sia decid­ed to launched pre­emp­tive strikes against the West for no rea­son. It’s all such a mys­tery.” That’s assum­ing the inves­ti­ga­tions into the cause of WWIII don’t get clas­si­fied due to unspec­i­fied secu­ri­ty con­cerns.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 15, 2022, 3:30 pm
  10. That’s not good: the Zapor­izhzhia nuclear pow­er plant in the recent­ly annexed Zapor­izhzhia ter­ri­to­ry was forced to oper­ate off of emer­gency back­up pow­er for the past cou­ple of days. Exter­nal pow­er sup­plies have now been restored, accord­ing to the IAEA, but it was a legit­i­mate scare. One more bad event and the largest nuclear plant in Europe could have expe­ri­enced a melt­down.

    Both sides are accus­ing each oth­er of caus­ing the pow­er cut. The actu­al dam­age to pow­er lines and an elec­tri­cal sub­sta­tion that caused the pow­er loss took place in Ukrain­ian-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ry. Ukraine is blam­ing it on Russ­ian shelling. So was it actu­al­ly Russ­ian shelling? Or did Ukraine stage some sort of provo­ca­tion? That’s the ques­tion cov­ered in the fol­low­ing arti­cle excerpts. Because as we’re going to see, this mys­te­ri­ous pow­er cut­off to the Zapor­izhzhia nuclear pow­er plant is made all the more mys­te­ri­ous by its tim­ing. Specif­i­cal­ly, this hap­pened two weeks into a flur­ry of mutu­al accu­sa­tions between Rus­sia and Ukraine of ‘dirty-bomb’ plots in the works. As we’re going to see, the accu­sa­tions start­ed in the last week of Octo­ber with Russ­ian alarms over intel­li­gence it received about a Ukrain­ian dirty-bomb being pos­si­bly con­struct­ed at nuclear sites in Ukraine. Rus­si­a’s defense min­is­ter report­ed­ly made a flur­ry of calls to his coun­ter­parts in the US, UK, France, and Turkey, fol­lowed up with the call­ing of a UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil meet­ing where Rus­si­a’s ambas­sador lev­eled the charges — includ­ing charges that Ukraine had the back­ing of its West­ern part­ners in this plot — and called for IAEA inves­ti­ga­tions of three nuclear sites.

    Ukraine respond­ed to the accu­sa­tions with counter-accu­sa­tions of its own: that Rus­si­a’s dirty-bomb claims were just a cov­er for its own dirty-bomb plot. Accord­ing to Ukraine, Rus­sia is plan­ning on flow­ing up a large num­ber of spent fuel rods at the Zapor­izhzhia nuclear plant, con­t­a­m­i­nat­ing hun­dreds of kilo­me­ters of the sur­round­ing area. That’s part of the con­text of the cut­off of the Zapor­izhzhia pow­er sup­ply.

    But then there’s the response from West­ern gov­ern­ments: a nar­ra­tive is emerg­ing about Russ­ian plans for using tac­ti­cal nukes, based on reports sourc­ing US gov­ern­ment offi­cials. That tac­ti­cal nuke sto­ry is now get­ting effec­tive­ly merged with the ‘dirty-bomb’ accu­sa­tions into a nar­ra­tive about Rus­sia plan­ning a dirty-bomb false flag event in order to jus­ti­fy the use of tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons.

    That’s the hor­rif­ic con­text of this Zapor­izhzhia nuclear scare that just tran­spired. Mutu­al accu­sa­tions of nuclear dirty-bomb false flags and loose talk of tac­ti­cal nukes. Fol­lowed up with mys­te­ri­ous attacks on the Zapor­izhzhia pow­er sup­ply. A nuclear false flag esca­la­tion has been play­ing out over the last two week and it appears to have already result­ed in a very real nuclear scare. How does this esca­late from here?

    Oh, and Rus­sia is con­tin­u­ing to press for a UN inves­ti­ga­tion of Ukrain­ian bio­labs. It sounds like only Chi­na sup­port­ed its pro­pos­al at the most recent UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil meet­ing where this nuclear scare was being dis­cussed.

    Ok, first, here’s a VOA piece on the pow­er loss at the Zapor­izhzhia nuclear plant due to phys­i­cal dam­age in Ukrain­ian-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ry in two dif­fer­ent loca­tions:

    Voice of Amer­i­ca

    IAEA: Nuclear Plant in Ukraine Lost Pow­er After Shelling

    Mar­garet Besheer
    Novem­ber 03, 2022 1:41 PM

    The Inter­na­tion­al Atom­ic Ener­gy Agency says the Zapor­izhzhia nuclear pow­er plant in south­ern Ukraine lost all access to exter­nal elec­tric­i­ty fol­low­ing overnight shelling and is cur­rent­ly receiv­ing back­up pow­er from its emer­gency diesel gen­er­a­tors.

    Nuclear oper­a­tor Ener­goatom blamed Rus­sia for shelling in the area that dam­aged pow­er lines and elec­tri­cal sub­sta­tions. Rus­sia put the blame on Ukraine.

    The IAEA said in a state­ment that senior Ukrain­ian oper­at­ing staff informed their experts of indi­ca­tions that the pow­er lines were phys­i­cal­ly dam­aged “at two dif­fer­ent loca­tions about 50–60 kilo­me­ters from the plant itself, in Ukrain­ian-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ry.” Repair work was under way at one of the loca­tions.

    IAEA Direc­tor Gen­er­al Rafael Grossi said in a state­ment that the devel­op­ment is “extreme­ly con­cern­ing” and “again demon­strates the plan­t’s frag­ile and vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tion.” He has been work­ing with both sides to estab­lish a demil­i­ta­rized pro­tec­tion zone around the nuclear plant.

    “Mea­sures are need­ed to pre­vent a nuclear acci­dent at the site. The estab­lish­ment of a nuclear safe­ty and secu­ri­ty pro­tec­tion zone is urgent­ly need­ed,” he said.

    ...

    Mean­while, Rus­sia failed to gain trac­tion in the U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil on Wednes­day for its pro­pos­al to send a for­mal com­mis­sion to inves­ti­gate its alle­ga­tion that the Unit­ed States and Ukraine have a secret bio­log­i­cal weapons pro­grams in Ukraine. A res­o­lu­tion it put for­ward call­ing for the com­mis­sion was sup­port­ed only by Chi­na.

    U.N. dis­ar­ma­ment offi­cials have long said they are not aware of any bio­log­i­cal weapons pro­grams in Ukraine, while Kyiv and Wash­ing­ton deny the accu­sa­tion.

    ...

    ———–

    “IAEA: Nuclear Plant in Ukraine Lost Pow­er After Shelling” by Mar­garet Besheer; Voice of Amer­i­ca; 11/03/2022

    Nuclear oper­a­tor Ener­goatom blamed Rus­sia for shelling in the area that dam­aged pow­er lines and elec­tri­cal sub­sta­tions. Rus­sia put the blame on Ukraine.”

    Rus­sia is at it again. When it’s not blow­ing up its own strate­gic nat­ur­al gas pipelines it’s risk­ing a nuclear melt­down at the largest nuclear plant in Europe now in new­ly annexed Russ­ian ter­ri­to­ry. That’s the now-pre­dictable nar­ra­tive we got from Ukraine nuclear oper­a­tor Ener­goatom.

    Now, giv­en that the cause for the pow­er loss was phys­i­cal dam­age to pow­er lines and sub­sta­tions in Ukrain­ian-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ry, it’s pos­si­ble that Russ­ian shelling did inad­ver­tent­ly cause that dam­age. But that’s assum­ing some extreme­ly care­less shelling. If there’s one thing Rus­si­a’s pre­ci­sion-strikes on Ukrain­ian infra­struc­ture over the last month have demon­strat­ed it’s that Rus­sia has the capac­i­ty to avoid hit­ting key infra­struc­ture when it desires. That’s why the recent strikes on Ukraine’s elec­tri­cal infra­struc­ture in response to the bomb­ing of the Kerch Bridge was so impact­ful. Rus­sia had­n’t real­ly been hit­ting Ukraine’s elec­tri­cal infra­struc­ture until that point. So if Russ­ian shelling into Ukrain­ian-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ry was indeed the cause of dam­aged elec­tri­cal infra­struc­ture it prob­a­bly was­n’t an acci­dent. Which is why Russ­ian prob­a­bly was­n’t actu­al­ly the cul­prit unless it active­ly want­ed to force the Zapor­izhzhia plant onto emer­gency back­up pow­er, putting the whole area at risk for a nuclear acci­dent. Don’t for­get that a melt-down at that plant would be one hell of a ‘dirty-bomb’. And one direct­ly impact­ing ter­ri­to­ry Rus­sia now claims:

    ...
    The IAEA said in a state­ment that senior Ukrain­ian oper­at­ing staff informed their experts of indi­ca­tions that the pow­er lines were phys­i­cal­ly dam­aged “at two dif­fer­ent loca­tions about 50–60 kilo­me­ters from the plant itself, in Ukrain­ian-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ry.” Repair work was under way at one of the loca­tions.

    IAEA Direc­tor Gen­er­al Rafael Grossi said in a state­ment that the devel­op­ment is “extreme­ly con­cern­ing” and “again demon­strates the plan­t’s frag­ile and vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tion.” He has been work­ing with both sides to estab­lish a demil­i­ta­rized pro­tec­tion zone around the nuclear plant.

    Mea­sures are need­ed to pre­vent a nuclear acci­dent at the site. The estab­lish­ment of a nuclear safe­ty and secu­ri­ty pro­tec­tion zone is urgent­ly need­ed,” he said.
    ...

    Also note how a UN inves­ti­ga­tion of the US-backed Ukrain­ian bio­labs is also being pur­sued by Rus­sia at the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil meet­ing but only Chi­na is sup­port it so far:

    ...
    Mean­while, Rus­sia failed to gain trac­tion in the U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil on Wednes­day for its pro­pos­al to send a for­mal com­mis­sion to inves­ti­gate its alle­ga­tion that the Unit­ed States and Ukraine have a secret bio­log­i­cal weapons pro­grams in Ukraine. A res­o­lu­tion it put for­ward call­ing for the com­mis­sion was sup­port­ed only by Chi­na.

    U.N. dis­ar­ma­ment offi­cials have long said they are not aware of any bio­log­i­cal weapons pro­grams in Ukraine, while Kyiv and Wash­ing­ton deny the accu­sa­tion.
    ...

    And as the fol­low­ing NY Times arti­cle also from Thurs­day describes, the cut­ting off of pow­er at the Zapor­izhzhia plant came on the same day the IAEA gave its ‘all clear’ on three Ukrain­ian nuclear sites Russ­ian alleged might be the loca­tions of secret work by Ukraine on a dirty-bomb plot. A plot to stage a false flag dirty bomb attack that will be used to fur­ther iso­late Rus­sia. Rus­si­a’s alle­ga­tions did­n’t start as pub­lic alle­ga­tions. Instead, it sounds like Rus­si­a’s Defense Min­is­ter Sergei Shoigu called his coun­ter­parts in the US, UK, France, and Turkey. Rus­sia then took this up at the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil and called for IAEA inspec­tions at the three sites, cit­ing intel­li­gence about the plot. Those are the three sites just giv­en the ‘all clear’ by the IAEA. On the same day of the ‘Russ­ian shelling’ of the pow­er to the Russ­ian-con­trolled Zapor­izhzhia plant. This is what a nuclear esca­la­tion looks like:

    The New York Times

    The U.N.’s nuclear watch­dog finds no evi­dence for Russia’s claim that Ukraine is ready­ing a ‘dirty bomb.’

    The Inter­na­tion­al Atom­ic Ener­gy Agency said its inspec­tions had found no evi­dence of ille­gal nuclear activ­i­ty at three sites that fig­ured in Russia’s claims.

    By Matthew Mpoke Bigg
    Pub­lished Nov. 3, 2022 Updat­ed Nov. 4, 2022, 8:14 a.m. ET

    The Unit­ed Nations’ nuclear watch­dog said on Thurs­day that it had inspect­ed three Ukrain­ian facil­i­ties and found no evi­dence of ille­gal nuclear activ­i­ty, debunk­ing claims Russ­ian offi­cials made last week that Ukraine was using the sites to pre­pare a “dirty bomb.”

    Dirty bombs are impro­vised bombs that use con­ven­tion­al high explo­sives to spread radioac­tive mate­r­i­al into the sur­round­ing area. Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin of Rus­sia joined his senior mil­i­tary lead­ers in mak­ing the asser­tion that Ukraine planned to use one.

    But the top diplo­mats of the Unit­ed States, Britain and France have firm­ly reject­ed the Russ­ian claims, which were unac­com­pa­nied by any evi­dence. Last week, the diplo­mats issued a rare joint state­ment say­ing that the Krem­lin could be using the false claim as a pre­text to esca­late its war on Ukraine.

    Ukraine also reject­ed Russia’s claim and, in a bid to show that it was not pro­duc­ing such a weapon, invit­ed the U.N. watch­dog, the Inter­na­tion­al Atom­ic Ener­gy Agency, to inspect the three facil­i­ties fea­tured in Russia’s accu­sa­tion. The sites are a mine in the cen­ter of the coun­try, a machine build­ing plant in Dnipro Province and a nuclear research insti­tute in the cap­i­tal, Kyiv.

    “Our tech­ni­cal and sci­en­tif­ic eval­u­a­tion of the results we have so far did not show any sign of unde­clared nuclear activ­i­ties and mate­ri­als at these three loca­tions,” the agency’s direc­tor gen­er­al, Rafael Mar­i­ano Grossi, said in a state­ment on Thurs­day, after the agency’s inspec­tion.

    ...

    Ukraine has been keen to show that it is coop­er­at­ing with inter­na­tion­al author­i­ties like the I.A.E.A., which has warned about the per­ils of dirty bombs. Such bombs, though they lack the explo­sive pow­er of a nuclear weapon, can con­t­a­m­i­nate local­ized areas — a few city blocks or a vil­lage — and make them unin­hab­it­able.

    Russia’s claim came amid height­ened fears in the West that Moscow could be seek­ing a pre­text to esca­late the war fol­low­ing a recent series of bat­tle­field loss­es in Ukraine’s north­east and a Ukrain­ian coun­terof­fen­sive in the south­ern, strate­gi­cal­ly impor­tant Kher­son region.

    A day before Mr. Putin made his unsub­stan­ti­at­ed accu­sa­tions, Pres­i­dent Biden warned him that it would be “an incred­i­bly seri­ous mis­take” to use a tac­ti­cal nuclear weapon in the con­flict.

    ———-

    “The U.N.’s nuclear watch­dog finds no evi­dence for Russia’s claim that Ukraine is ready­ing a ‘dirty bomb.’” By Matthew Mpoke Bigg; The New York Times; 11/03/2022

    “Russia’s claim came amid height­ened fears in the West that Moscow could be seek­ing a pre­text to esca­late the war fol­low­ing a recent series of bat­tle­field loss­es in Ukraine’s north­east and a Ukrain­ian coun­terof­fen­sive in the south­ern, strate­gi­cal­ly impor­tant Kher­son region.”

    The cut­ting off of pow­er to the Zapor­izhzhia nuclear plant was far from the only nuclear scare over the last week. Mutu­al accu­sa­tions of “dirty bomb” plans have been lev­eled over the past week. It start­ed with the Krem­lin’s claims last week that it received intel­li­gence Ukraine was work­ing on a “dirty bomb” false flag inci­dent at one of its nuclear site, result­ing in a rare joint diplo­mat­ic state­ment by the US, France, and the UK reject­ing the alle­ga­tions. But note how that rejec­tion did­n’t just dis­miss Moscow’s con­cern as Russ­ian dis­in­for­ma­tion. It warned that Moscow might be plan­ning on using the claim as a Russ­ian excuse to esca­late the sit­u­a­tion. As we’re going to see, the par­tic­u­lar esca­lat­ing the US has been sug­ges­tion Rus­sia has in mind is the use of tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons. In oth­er words, Russ­ian claims of a Ukrain­ian nuclear false flag plot is, itself, as false plot intend­ed to jus­ti­fy the use of tac­ti­cal nukes. That dra­mat­ic esca­la­tion of nuclear ten­sions — mutu­al accu­sa­tions of false-flag nuclear plots — is part of the chill­ing con­text of the cut­off of pow­er to Zapor­izhzhia nuclear plant:

    ...
    But the top diplo­mats of the Unit­ed States, Britain and France have firm­ly reject­ed the Russ­ian claims, which were unac­com­pa­nied by any evi­dence. Last week, the diplo­mats issued a rare joint state­ment say­ing that the Krem­lin could be using the false claim as a pre­text to esca­late its war on Ukraine.
    ...

    But there’s anoth­er impor­tant con­text in all of this: Ukraine’s own counter-alle­ga­tions that it’s Rus­sia who is in fact plan­ning a dirty bomb false flag at the Zapor­izhzhia Nuclear Pow­er Plant. Yes, this attack on the Zapor­izhzhia Nuclear Pow­er Plan­t’s pow­er sup­ply was a week after Ukraine made its dirty bomb claims and the US, UK, and France start­ed sug­gest­ing that Rus­sian’s dirty bomb plot claims are part of its own false flag plot to car­ry out its own nuclear esca­la­tion. A plot that involves blow­ing up spent fuel rods at the Zapor­izhzhia plant itself in an attempt to con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed the adja­cent ter­ri­to­ry:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Ukraine alleges Russ­ian dirty bomb decep­tion at nuke plant

    Octo­ber 25, 2022

    KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s nuclear ener­gy oper­a­tor said Tues­day that Russ­ian forces were per­form­ing secret work at Europe’s largest nuclear pow­er plant, activ­i­ty that could shed light on Russia’s claims that the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary is prepar­ing a “provo­ca­tion” involv­ing a radioac­tive device.

    Russ­ian Defense Min­is­ter Sergei Shoigu made an unsub­stan­ti­at­ed alle­ga­tion that Ukraine was prepar­ing to launch a so-called dirty bomb. Shoigu lev­eled the charge over the week­end in calls to his British, French, Turk­ish and U.S. coun­ter­parts. Britain, France and the Unit­ed States reject­ed it out of hand as “trans­par­ent­ly false.”

    Ukraine also dis­missed Moscow’s claim as an attempt to dis­tract atten­tion from the Kremlin’s own alleged plans to det­o­nate a dirty bomb, which uses explo­sives to scat­ter radioac­tive waste in an effort to sow ter­ror.

    Ener­goatom, the Ukrain­ian state enter­prise that oper­ates the country’s four nuclear pow­er plants, said Russ­ian forces have car­ried out secret con­struc­tion work over the last week at the occu­pied Zapor­izhzhia Nuclear Pow­er Plant in Ukraine.

    Russ­ian offi­cers con­trol­ling the area won’t give access to Ukrain­ian staff run­ning the plant or mon­i­tors from the U.N.’s atom­ic ener­gy watch­dog that would allow them to see what the Rus­sians are doing, Ener­goatom said Tues­day in a state­ment.

    Ener­goatom said it “assumes” the Rus­sians “are prepar­ing a ter­ror­ist act using nuclear mate­ri­als and radioac­tive waste stored at” the plant. It said there were 174 con­tain­ers at the plant’s dry spent fuel stor­age facil­i­ty, each of them con­tain­ing 24 assem­blies of spent nuclear fuel.

    “Destruc­tion of these con­tain­ers as a result of explo­sion will lead to a radi­a­tion acci­dent and radi­a­tion con­t­a­m­i­na­tion of sev­er­al hun­dred square kilo­me­ters (miles) of the adja­cent ter­ri­to­ry,” the com­pa­ny said.

    It called on the Inter­na­tion­al Atom­ic Ener­gy Agency to assess what was going on.

    The U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil held closed-door con­sul­ta­tions Tues­day about the dirty-bomb alle­ga­tions at Russia’s request.

    Russia’s U.N. Ambas­sador Vass­i­ly Neben­zia sent a five-page let­ter to coun­cil mem­bers before the meet­ing claim­ing that accord­ing to the Russ­ian Min­istry of Defense, Ukraine’s Insti­tute for Nuclear Research of the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences in Kyiv and Vos­tochniy Min­ing and Pro­cess­ing Plant “have received direct orders from (Pres­i­dent Volodymyr) Zelenskyy’s regime to devel­op such a dirty bomb” and “the works are at their con­clud­ing stage.”

    Neben­zia said the min­istry also received word that this work “may be car­ried out with the sup­port of the West­ern coun­tries.” And he warned that the author­i­ties in Kyiv and their West­ern back­ers “will bear full respon­si­bil­i­ty for all the con­se­quences” of using a “dirty bomb,” which Rus­sia will regard as “an act of nuclear ter­ror­ism.”

    Russia’s deputy U.N. ambas­sador Dmit­ry Polyan­sky was asked by reporters after the coun­cil meet­ing what evi­dence Rus­sia has that Zelen­skyy gave orders to devel­op a “dirty bomb.” He replied, “it is intel­li­gence infor­ma­tion.”

    “We shared it in our tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion with coun­ter­parts who have the nec­es­sary lev­el of clear­ance,” he said. “Those who want­ed to under­stand that the threat is seri­ous, they had all the pos­si­bil­i­ties to under­stand that. Those who want to reject it as Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da, they will do it any­way.”

    Polyan­sky said the IAEA can send inspec­tors to inves­ti­gate alle­ga­tions of a “dirty bomb.”

    Britain’s deputy U.N. ambas­sador James Kar­iu­ki told reporters after the meet­ing that “we’ve seen and heard no new evi­dence” and the U.K., France and the U.S. made clear “this is a trans­par­ent­ly false alle­ga­tion” and “pure Russ­ian mis­in­for­ma­tion.” He said, “Ukraine has been clear it’s got noth­ing to hide” and “IAEA inspec­tors are on the way.”

    In a relat­ed mat­ter, Rus­sia asked the Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil to estab­lish a com­mis­sion to inves­ti­gate its claims that the Unit­ed States and Ukraine are vio­lat­ing the con­ven­tion pro­hibit­ing the use of bio­log­i­cal weapons at lab­o­ra­to­ries in Ukraine.

    Soon after Russia’s Feb. 24 inva­sion of Ukraine, its U.N. ambas­sador, Vass­i­ly Neben­zia, claimed that secret Amer­i­can labs in Ukraine were engaged in bio­log­i­cal war­fare — a charge denied by the U.S. and Ukraine.

    Rus­sia has called a Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil meet­ing Thurs­day on Ukraine’s bio­log­i­cal lab­o­ra­to­ries and its alle­ga­tions.

    ...

    At the White House, U.S. Pres­i­dent Joe Biden was asked Tues­day if Rus­sia is prepar­ing to deploy a tac­ti­cal nuclear weapon after mak­ing its claims that Ukraine will use a dirty bomb.

    “I spent a lot of time today talk­ing about that,” Biden told reporters.

    The pres­i­dent was also asked whether the claims about a Ukrain­ian dirty bomb amount­ed to a false-flag oper­a­tion.

    “Let me just say, Rus­sia would be mak­ing an incred­i­bly seri­ous mis­take if it were to use a tac­ti­cal nuclear weapon,” Biden said. “I’m not guar­an­tee­ing you that it’s a false-flag oper­a­tion yet ... but it would be a seri­ous, seri­ous mis­take.”

    Dirty bombs don’t have the dev­as­tat­ing destruc­tion of a nuclear explo­sion but could expose broad areas to radioac­tive con­t­a­m­i­na­tion.

    ————

    “Ukraine alleges Russ­ian dirty bomb decep­tion at nuke plant”; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 10/25/2022

    “Ukraine also dis­missed Moscow’s claim as an attempt to dis­tract atten­tion from the Kremlin’s own alleged plans to det­o­nate a dirty bomb, which uses explo­sives to scat­ter radioac­tive waste in an effort to sow ter­ror.”

    “I know you are but what am?” That was more or less Ukraine’s response to the Russ­ian dirty bomb alle­ga­tions. Ukraine’s nuclear ener­gy oper­a­tor, Ener­goatom, “assumes” that Rus­sia is “are prepar­ing a ter­ror­ist act using nuclear mate­ri­als and radioac­tive waste stored at” the plant. Prepa­ra­tions that involved secret con­struc­tion work at the plant. And it’s not like Ukraine was accus­ing Rus­sia of build­ing a dirty-bomb that will be explod­ed in Ukrain­ian-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ry. On the con­trary, Ukraine appears to be pre­dict­ing that Rus­sia is going to build a dirty-bomb out of the spent-fuel rods at the plot and blow them up in a man­ner that “lead to a radi­a­tion acci­dent and radi­a­tion con­t­a­m­i­na­tion of sev­er­al hun­dred square kilo­me­ters (miles) of the adja­cent ter­ri­to­ry.” So Ukraine is pre­dict­ing that Rus­sia is going to dirty-bomb itself. Those were the alle­ga­tions we were get­ting from Ukraine one week before the alle­ga­tions that Rus­sia shelled the pow­er sup­ply to the plant:

    ...
    Ener­goatom, the Ukrain­ian state enter­prise that oper­ates the country’s four nuclear pow­er plants, said Russ­ian forces have car­ried out secret con­struc­tion work over the last week at the occu­pied Zapor­izhzhia Nuclear Pow­er Plant in Ukraine.

    Russ­ian offi­cers con­trol­ling the area won’t give access to Ukrain­ian staff run­ning the plant or mon­i­tors from the U.N.’s atom­ic ener­gy watch­dog that would allow them to see what the Rus­sians are doing, Ener­goatom said Tues­day in a state­ment.

    Ener­goatom said it “assumes” the Rus­sians “are prepar­ing a ter­ror­ist act using nuclear mate­ri­als and radioac­tive waste stored at” the plant. It said there were 174 con­tain­ers at the plant’s dry spent fuel stor­age facil­i­ty, each of them con­tain­ing 24 assem­blies of spent nuclear fuel.

    “Destruc­tion of these con­tain­ers as a result of explo­sion will lead to a radi­a­tion acci­dent and radi­a­tion con­t­a­m­i­na­tion of sev­er­al hun­dred square kilo­me­ters (miles) of the adja­cent ter­ri­to­ry,” the com­pa­ny said.

    It called on the Inter­na­tion­al Atom­ic Ener­gy Agency to assess what was going on.
    ...

    It’s worth not­ing the kind of diplo­mat­ic mea­sures that were report­ed­ly tak­en by Moscow in issu­ing its warn­ings about the plot: Russ­ian Defense Min­is­ter Sergei Shoigu called his coun­ter­parts in the UK, US, France, and Turkey and then Moscow held U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil held closed-door con­sul­ta­tions at Rus­si­a’s request. If that’s just the­ater on Rus­si­a’s part that’s the­ater that goes well above and beyond what typ­i­cal­ly pass­es for pro­pa­gan­da designed for pub­lic con­sump­tion.

    But also note the addi­tion­al alle­ga­tions Rus­si­a’s UN ambas­sador made beyond the Ukrain­ian plot: that it “may be car­ried out with the sup­port of the West­ern coun­tries” and the author­i­ties in Kyiv and their West­ern back­ers “will bear full respon­si­bil­i­ty for all the con­se­quences”. Keep in mind that Gray­zone report from last month show­ing how UK spies were active­ly devel­op­ing plans to blow up the Kerch Bridge. An act that was undoubt­ed­ly an esca­la­tion, whether it was an esca­la­tion con­duct­ed pri­mar­i­ly by Ukraine alone or with NATO help. It’s more of the grim con­text of this sit­u­a­tion. Both sides are accus­ing each oth­er of esca­la­to­ry acts amidst a series of major esca­la­to­ry acts. And now each side is accus­ing the oth­er side of cre­at­ing a pre­text for the use of nuclear weapons. It’s hard to imag­ine how this con­tin­ues esca­lat­ing at this rate with­out lead­ing to actu­al nukes:

    ...
    Russ­ian Defense Min­is­ter Sergei Shoigu made an unsub­stan­ti­at­ed alle­ga­tion that Ukraine was prepar­ing to launch a so-called dirty bomb. Shoigu lev­eled the charge over the week­end in calls to his British, French, Turk­ish and U.S. coun­ter­parts. Britain, France and the Unit­ed States reject­ed it out of hand as “trans­par­ent­ly false.”

    ...

    The U.N. Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil held closed-door con­sul­ta­tions Tues­day about the dirty-bomb alle­ga­tions at Russia’s request.

    Russia’s U.N. Ambas­sador Vass­i­ly Neben­zia sent a five-page let­ter to coun­cil mem­bers before the meet­ing claim­ing that accord­ing to the Russ­ian Min­istry of Defense, Ukraine’s Insti­tute for Nuclear Research of the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences in Kyiv and Vos­tochniy Min­ing and Pro­cess­ing Plant “have received direct orders from (Pres­i­dent Volodymyr) Zelenskyy’s regime to devel­op such a dirty bomb” and “the works are at their con­clud­ing stage.”

    Neben­zia said the min­istry also received word that this work “may be car­ried out with the sup­port of the West­ern coun­tries.” And he warned that the author­i­ties in Kyiv and their West­ern back­ers “will bear full respon­si­bil­i­ty for all the con­se­quences” of using a “dirty bomb,” which Rus­sia will regard as “an act of nuclear ter­ror­ism.”
    ...

    Also note how Rus­si­a’s ambas­sador to the UN is the one who called for the IAEA inspec­tors to inves­ti­ga­tion the three Ukrain­ian nuclear sites. Now, as we now know, the IAEA is say­ing it did­n’t find any­thing any any of the three sites. But Rus­sia sure seemed spooked. Why would Rus­sia make up base­less alle­ga­tions and then go to the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil and call for IAEA inves­ti­ga­tions when those inves­ti­ga­tions were obvi­ous­ly going to hap­pen and reveal no plot? In oth­er words, the way this played out sug­gests Rus­sia thought it had real intel­li­gence on a bomb plot, whether that was cor­rect or not:

    ...
    Polyan­sky said the IAEA can send inspec­tors to inves­ti­gate alle­ga­tions of a “dirty bomb.”

    Britain’s deputy U.N. ambas­sador James Kar­iu­ki told reporters after the meet­ing that “we’ve seen and heard no new evi­dence” and the U.K., France and the U.S. made clear “this is a trans­par­ent­ly false alle­ga­tion” and “pure Russ­ian mis­in­for­ma­tion.” He said, “Ukraine has been clear it’s got noth­ing to hide” and “IAEA inspec­tors are on the way.”
    ...

    And, again, note how the US isn’t just dis­miss­ing Rus­si­a’s alle­ga­tions about a dirty-bomb plot. The dis­missal of those alle­ga­tions are inter­twined with a nar­ra­tive about how Rus­sia is devel­op­ing a pre­text for the use of tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons, with threats of a grave response should Rus­sia do so. The rhetoric at an offi­cial lev­el is about as esca­la­to­ry as it gets right now:

    ...
    At the White House, U.S. Pres­i­dent Joe Biden was asked Tues­day if Rus­sia is prepar­ing to deploy a tac­ti­cal nuclear weapon after mak­ing its claims that Ukraine will use a dirty bomb.

    “I spent a lot of time today talk­ing about that,” Biden told reporters.

    The pres­i­dent was also asked whether the claims about a Ukrain­ian dirty bomb amount­ed to a false-flag oper­a­tion.

    “Let me just say, Rus­sia would be mak­ing an incred­i­bly seri­ous mis­take if it were to use a tac­ti­cal nuclear weapon,” Biden said. “I’m not guar­an­tee­ing you that it’s a false-flag oper­a­tion yet ... but it would be a seri­ous, seri­ous mis­take.”
    ...

    When asked if Rus­si­a’s alle­ga­tions amount­ed to a false-flag oper­a­tion, Biden warned about the Russ­ian use of tac­ti­cal nukes. And as the fol­low­ing Moon of Alaba­ma blog post points out, the ‘dirty-bomb false-flag for tac­ti­cal nukes’ nar­ra­tive Biden is echo­ing is com­ing at the same time there’s reports based on anony­mous US offi­cial sources that Russ­ian gen­er­als were talk­ing about using tac­ti­cal nukes. There’s a full court press com­ing from the US gov­ern­ment about a Russ­ian tac­ti­cal nuke plot in response to Rus­sians alle­ga­tions. It’s been high­ly escla­to­ry so far. And as the blog post asks at the end, what kind of esca­la­tion can we expect should the pre­dic­tions of a Rus­sia win­ter cam­paign after the mobi­lized reserves arrive comes to fruition and Ukraine starts look­ing like a coun­try out of options? It’s one of the many very grim ‘what’s next?’ ques­tions raised by this nuclear hall-of-mir­rors false-flag sit­u­a­tion:

    Moon of Alaba­ma

    Biden Admin­is­tra­tion Again Plants False Nuclear Scare Sto­ries

    Post­ed by b on Novem­ber 2, 2022 at 16:16 UTC

    Last month I dis­sect­ed the fear mon­ger­ing the Biden admin­is­tra­tion released over alleged Russ­ian nuclear threads:

    [The report] quotes Biden as say­ing: “[Putin] is not jok­ing when he talks about poten­tial use of tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons or bio­log­i­cal or chem­i­cal weapons because his mil­i­tary is you might say is sig­nif­i­cant­ly under­per­form­ing.”

    Fact is that Putin has not talked about the “poten­tial use of tac­ti­cal nuclear weapons or bio­log­i­cal or chem­i­cal weapons.” Not. At. All.
    ...
    All the war mon­ger­ing talk and reports about Rus­si­a’s alleged threat of nuclear weapon use in Ukraine is total­ly unfound­ed. That ‘west­ern’ media sud­den­ly engage in it shows that it is part of a well direct­ed pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign.
    ff

    I spec­u­lat­ed that the intent of the cam­paign was to pre­pare for some false flag inci­dent in Ukraine.

    Two weeks lat­er the Russ­ian secret ser­vices found out that Ukraine was prepar­ing a ‘dirty bomb’ which would spread radioac­tive sub­stances with the help of chem­i­cal explo­sives. Such bombs are not a mean­ing­ful mil­i­tary threat but have a high ‘scare’ val­ue. If it would use one of those the Ukraine would sure­ly blame Rus­sia for launch­ing such a bomb.

    When the Krem­lin found out what Ukraine had planned it order Rus­si­a’s Min­is­ter of Defense Sergei Shoigu and Chief of its Gen­er­al Staff Valery Gerasi­mov to call their peers in the U.S., Turkey, Britain and France. Shoigu called U.S. Defense Sec­re­tary Lloyd Austin even twice:

    Russ­ian Defence Min­is­ter Sergei Shoigu spoke with U.S. Defense Sec­re­tary Lloyd Austin on Sun­day for the sec­ond time in three days and held a flur­ry of calls with three oth­er coun­ter­parts from NATO coun­tries.
    Moscow pro­vid­ed no details on the con­ver­sa­tion with Austin, which came after the two men spoke on Fri­day for the first time since May. Its read­outs on the oth­er calls said Shoigu had said the sit­u­a­tion in Ukraine was wors­en­ing.
    ...
    Shoigu spoke sep­a­rate­ly to Turkey’s defence min­is­ter, Hulusi Akar, and Britain’s Ben Wal­lace.

    Shoigu’s min­istry said he had told his French, Turk­ish and British coun­ter­parts of Moscow’s con­cern that Ukraine could det­o­nate a “dirty bomb” — a device laced with radioac­tive mate­r­i­al. Rus­sia has pro­vid­ed no evi­dence to sub­stan­ti­ate such a claim.

    Calls on such high lev­els are only done for seri­ous busi­ness. They are not done for pro­pa­gan­da val­ue or to warn of non-exist­ing threats. The fact that these calls hap­pened means that the threat from Ukraine was real.

    The calls seemed to have had the desired effect. For a few days the talk of a ‘dirty bomb’ calmed down. It has now been revived.

    Today the Wash­ing­ton Post as well as the New York Times are back fear mon­ger­ing about alleged threats which Rus­sia has nev­er made. Both sto­ries are based on ‘admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials’ mean­ing that the Biden admin­is­tra­tion has plant­ed these sto­ries.

    Russia’s ‘dirty bomb’ threats chal­lenge the nuclear cal­cu­lusWaPo
    U.S. offi­cials still main­tain that Moscow is unlike­ly to go nuclear in Ukraine. But Wash­ing­ton doesn’t have many good options to pre­vent Putin’s worst inten­tions.

    The dirty bomb spec­u­la­tion is tied to com­ments made by Russ­ian Defense Min­is­ter Sergei Shoigu, and repeat­ed last week by Putin, sug­gest­ing Ukraine planned to det­o­nate a device loaded with fis­sile mate­r­i­al on its own ter­ri­to­ry. U.S. offi­cials believe it is more like­ly that Russia’s warn­ings were in fact the open­ing steps of a false flag oper­a­tion, sig­nal­ing the Kremlin’s inten­tions to use such a weapon and blame Ukraini­ans for the fall­out, lit­er­al­ly.

    Russ­ian Mil­i­tary Lead­ers Dis­cussed Use of Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Offi­cials SayNYT
    The con­ver­sa­tions alarmed the Biden admin­is­tra­tion because they showed how frus­trat­ed Moscow had become over its bat­tle­field set­backs in Ukraine.

    Senior Russ­ian mil­i­tary lead­ers recent­ly had con­ver­sa­tions to dis­cuss when and how Moscow might use a tac­ti­cal nuclear weapon in Ukraine, con­tribut­ing to height­ened con­cern in Wash­ing­ton and allied cap­i­tals, accord­ing to mul­ti­ple senior Amer­i­can offi­cials.
    ...
    Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin was not a part of the con­ver­sa­tions, which were held against the back­drop of Russia’s inten­si­fy­ing nuclear rhetoric and bat­tle­field set­backs.

    Rus­sia has not inten­si­fied its nuclear rhetoric and, since the Ukraine’s push into the emp­ty east Kharkov region came to a halt in late Sep­tem­ber, has not seen any recent bat­tle­field set­backs. All attempts by Ukraine to break through the front lines have since been defeat­ed at high cost for the attack­ing Ukrain­ian units.

    Rus­sia is in fact strength­en­ing its front lines as more and more of the 300,000 mobi­lized reservists join its forces. It has degrad­ed the Ukraine’s trans­port and com­mu­ni­ca­tion infra­struc­ture by destroy­ing some 40% of the coun­tries 330 kilo­volt elec­tric sub­sta­tions. The destroyed trans­form­ers are Sovi­et era equip­ment with­out a ‘west­ern’ sub­sti­tute and there is no time­ly way for Ukraine to replace them. Rus­sia has done this on the cheap by using Iran­ian sui­cide drones. In exchange Iran will receive SU-35 fight­er jets. The finan­cial dam­age of these strikes to Ukraine is much high­er than the costs are for Rus­sia.

    ...

    The core ques­tion in all this remains the same as a month ago. Why is the Biden admin­is­tra­tion doing this? Why is plant­i­ng sto­ries about non-exist­ing ‘Russ­ian threats’?

    Dur­ing a recent talk Rus­si­a’s pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin gave at the Val­dai Club he was asked the same ques­tion. He answered it:

    Ivan Safranchuk: Ivan Safranchuk, MGIMO Uni­ver­si­ty.
    ...
    Nuclear rhetoric has inten­si­fied great­ly as of late. Ukraine has moved from irre­spon­si­ble state­ments to the prac­ti­cal prepa­ra­tion of a nuclear provo­ca­tion; rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Unit­ed States and the Unit­ed King­dom are mak­ing state­ments with sug­ges­tions of the pos­si­ble use of nuclear weapons.
    Biden, let’s say, speaks about nuclear Armaged­don, and straight away there are com­ments in the US that there is noth­ing to fear. At the same time, the Unit­ed States is hur­ry­ing to deploy mod­ernised tac­ti­cal nuclear bombs in Europe. It looks like they are rat­tling the sabre while refus­ing to acknowl­edge the lessons of the Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis.

    Mr Pres­i­dent, could you please com­ment, is it true that the world is on the verge of the pos­si­ble use of nuclear weapons? How will Rus­sia act in these cir­cum­stances, giv­en that it is a respon­si­ble nuclear state?

    Thank you.

    Vladimir Putin: Look, as long as nuclear weapons exist, there will always be a dan­ger that they could be used. This is the first thing.

    Sec­ond, the goal of the cur­rent fuss around such threats and the poten­tial use of nuclear weapons is very prim­i­tive, and I would prob­a­bly be not mis­tak­en when I explain what this is about.

    I already said that the dic­tate of the West­ern coun­tries and their attempts to apply pres­sure on all the par­tic­i­pants of inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion, includ­ing coun­tries that are neu­tral or friend­ly to us, are achiev­ing noth­ing, and they are look­ing for addi­tion­al argu­ments to con­vince our friends or neu­tral states that they all need to con­front Rus­sia col­lec­tive­ly.

    Nuclear provo­ca­tion and the inflam­ing of the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Rus­sia might the­o­ret­i­cal­ly use nuclear weapons are being used to reach these goals: to influ­ence our friends, our allies, and neu­tral states by telling them, look at whom you sup­port; Rus­sia is such a scary coun­try, do not sup­port it, do not coop­er­ate with it, do not trade with it. This is, in fact, a prim­i­tive goal.

    What is hap­pen­ing in real­i­ty? After all, we have nev­er said any­thing proac­tive­ly about Rus­sia poten­tial­ly using nuclear weapons. All we did was hint in response to state­ments made by West­ern lead­ers.
    ...
    As for Russia…We have the Mil­i­tary Doc­trine, and they should read it. One of its arti­cles explains the cas­es when, why, in rela­tion to what and how Rus­sia con­sid­ers it pos­si­ble to use weapons of mass destruc­tion in the form of nuclear weapons to pro­tect its sov­er­eign­ty, ter­ri­to­r­i­al integri­ty and to ensure the safe­ty of the Russ­ian peo­ple.

    The answer Putin gave seems plau­si­ble to me. I still have to find a bet­ter one.

    To me this looks all very low-brow, dement­ed and indeed prim­i­tive. When one reads these plant­ed sto­ries and checks their verac­i­ty one ends up shak­ing ones head. No seri­ous per­son or for­eign coun­try will be influ­enced by such non­sense.

    What the sto­ries real­ly show is that the neo­cons in the Biden admin­is­tra­tion have no real instru­ments left and no abil­i­ties to influ­ence the exe­cu­tion of fur­ther Russ­ian plans in Ukraine. In a month or two, when Russ­ian troops will throw the Ukrain­ian army out of Donet­sk and oth­er regions, there will be noth­ing left for them to say.

    ———-

    “Biden Admin­is­tra­tion Again Plants False Nuclear Scare Sto­ries” by b; Moon of Alaba­ma; 11/02/2022

    “What the sto­ries real­ly show is that the neo­cons in the Biden admin­is­tra­tion have no real instru­ments left and no abil­i­ties to influ­ence the exe­cu­tion of fur­ther Russ­ian plans in Ukraine. In a month or two, when Russ­ian troops will throw the Ukrain­ian army out of Donet­sk and oth­er regions, there will be noth­ing left for them to say.”

    What kind of esca­la­to­ry provo­ca­tion can we expect months from now should the pre­dic­tions of a Russ­ian win­ter offen­sive prove cor­rect? How much more esca­la­to­ry can the sit­u­a­tion get with­out actu­al­ly be pushed to the nuclear brink? Or some sort of gen­uine nuclear acci­dent? That plant is on emer­gency back­up pow­er as a result of this brinks­man­ship. How many gam­bles that risk a nuclear melt­down can we expect over the com­ing months? And if Putin’s answer at a recent Val­dai Club appear­ance was cor­rect, the alarm­ing answer to the ques­tion of “how many more gam­bles” appears to be “as many as it takes to com­plete­ly eco­nom­i­cal­ly iso­late Rus­sia.” Some sort of event that is so awful that no coun­try, bar­ring maybe North Korea, is will­ing to do busi­ness with Rus­sia. That’s the sce­nario that has Moscow oper­at­ing like its hair is on fire over the past cou­ple of weeks:

    ...
    The core ques­tion in all this remains the same as a month ago. Why is the Biden admin­is­tra­tion doing this? Why is plant­i­ng sto­ries about non-exist­ing ‘Russ­ian threats’?

    Dur­ing a recent talk Rus­si­a’s pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin gave at the Val­dai Club he was asked the same ques­tion. He answered it:

    Ivan Safranchuk: Ivan Safranchuk, MGIMO Uni­ver­si­ty.
    ...
    Nuclear rhetoric has inten­si­fied great­ly as of late. Ukraine has moved from irre­spon­si­ble state­ments to the prac­ti­cal prepa­ra­tion of a nuclear provo­ca­tion; rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Unit­ed States and the Unit­ed King­dom are mak­ing state­ments with sug­ges­tions of the pos­si­ble use of nuclear weapons.
    Biden, let’s say, speaks about nuclear Armaged­don, and straight away there are com­ments in the US that there is noth­ing to fear. At the same time, the Unit­ed States is hur­ry­ing to deploy mod­ernised tac­ti­cal nuclear bombs in Europe. It looks like they are rat­tling the sabre while refus­ing to acknowl­edge the lessons of the Cuban Mis­sile Cri­sis.

    Mr Pres­i­dent, could you please com­ment, is it true that the world is on the verge of the pos­si­ble use of nuclear weapons? How will Rus­sia act in these cir­cum­stances, giv­en that it is a respon­si­ble nuclear state?

    Thank you.

    Vladimir Putin: Look, as long as nuclear weapons exist, there will always be a dan­ger that they could be used. This is the first thing.

    Sec­ond, the goal of the cur­rent fuss around such threats and the poten­tial use of nuclear weapons is very prim­i­tive, and I would prob­a­bly be not mis­tak­en when I explain what this is about.

    I already said that the dic­tate of the West­ern coun­tries and their attempts to apply pres­sure on all the par­tic­i­pants of inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion, includ­ing coun­tries that are neu­tral or friend­ly to us, are achiev­ing noth­ing, and they are look­ing for addi­tion­al argu­ments to con­vince our friends or neu­tral states that they all need to con­front Rus­sia col­lec­tive­ly.

    Nuclear provo­ca­tion and the inflam­ing of the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Rus­sia might the­o­ret­i­cal­ly use nuclear weapons are being used to reach these goals: to influ­ence our friends, our allies, and neu­tral states by telling them, look at whom you sup­port; Rus­sia is such a scary coun­try, do not sup­port it, do not coop­er­ate with it, do not trade with it. This is, in fact, a prim­i­tive goal.

    What is hap­pen­ing in real­i­ty? After all, we have nev­er said any­thing proac­tive­ly about Rus­sia poten­tial­ly using nuclear weapons. All we did was hint in response to state­ments made by West­ern lead­ers.
    ...
    As for Russia…We have the Mil­i­tary Doc­trine, and they should read it. One of its arti­cles explains the cas­es when, why, in rela­tion to what and how Rus­sia con­sid­ers it pos­si­ble to use weapons of mass destruc­tion in the form of nuclear weapons to pro­tect its sov­er­eign­ty, ter­ri­to­r­i­al integri­ty and to ensure the safe­ty of the Russ­ian peo­ple.

    The answer Putin gave seems plau­si­ble to me. I still have to find a bet­ter one.
    ...

    Rus­sia is mak­ing its fears clear to the world: “It’s a nuclear set up and we are the tar­get”. That’s been Rus­si­a’s mes­sage to the world. A mes­sage first deliv­ered between defense min­is­ters and at the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil. Some sort of nuclear event was being pre­dict­ed weeks before a mys­te­ri­ous inter­rup­tion to the Zapor­izhzhia nuclear plant. That was fol­lowed by Ukraine pre­dict­ing Rus­sia is going to dirty-bomb itself at the Zapor­izhzhia plant. And now here we are hop­ing there isn’t an inter­rup­tion to that back­up emer­gency pow­er.

    Let’s also not for­get about some of the obvi­ous con­se­quences should such a plot suc­ceed: for starters, if you think glob­al infla­tion is bad now just wait until after the West actu­al­ly suc­ceeds in block­ing Russ­ian com­modi­ties from the glob­al econ­o­my. West­ern oil pro­duc­ers will be gen­er­at­ing fur­ther record prof­its, no doubt, but how about the rest of the world? We could eas­i­ly be look­ing at a glob­al depres­sion from a shock like that. And then there’s the fact that, while the sto­ry of what hap­pened in the ‘nuclear event’ might ulti­mate­ly be fake, the radi­a­tion will be very real.

    Where will the pre­dict­ed ‘nuclear event’ tran­spire? Will there be some sort or appar­ent Russ­ian radi­o­log­i­cal attack on Ukrain­ian-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ry? That’s what Russ­ian was pre­dict­ing. But then we got Ukraine’s counter-accu­sa­tions of Russ­ian plans to dirty-bomb the Zapor­izhzhia plant. We’ll see, but don’t be sur­prised if there’s reports about some sort of radi­o­log­i­cal event in com­ing weeks. Fol­lowed up with reports of a dra­mat­ic break­down in diplo­mat­ic rela­tions and a dooms­day esca­la­tion of nuclear ten­sions. And, even­tu­al­ly, no more reports. There won’t be a lot of reports after dooms­day.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 5, 2022, 3:53 pm
  11. With the US mid-term elec­tions cur­rent­ly under­way, poised to deliv­er the US with a renewed form of sociopo­lit­i­cal melt­down, here’s a reminder that the very real melt­down risk at the Zapor­izhzhia Nuclear Pow­er Plant in Ukraine con­tin­ues to grow. And if the lat­est accu­sa­tions from the Krem­lin are true, Ukraine is using US-pro­vid­ed HIMARs to trig­ger that melt­down. Recall how the past two weeks have involved a series of back-and-forth accu­sa­tions between Ukraine and Rus­sia about ‘false-flag’ dirty-bomb plots, with Ukraine accus­ing Russ­ian or build­ing a dirty-bomb at the Zapor­izhzhia Nuclear Pow­er Plant near Kher­son. Those accu­sa­tions formed the rhetor­i­cal back­drop for the very real threat to the Zapor­izhzhia Nuclear Pow­er Plant over the week­end when the plant was forced to fall back to emer­gency back­up pow­er fol­low­ing the loss of exter­nal pow­er sup­plies caused by phys­i­cal dam­age to elec­tri­cal sub­sta­tions and pow­er­lines at two dif­fer­ent loca­tions inside Ukrain­ian-con­trolled ter­ri­to­ry.

    And that brings us to the new scare: Rus­sia is accus­ing Ukraine of using US-pro­vid­ed HIMARs to attack the Kakhov­ka dam. Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Zelen­skiy has of course already accused Rus­sia of plan­ning to blow up the dam and blame it one Rus­sia. It’s the new mutu­al false-flag accu­sa­tion.

    As we’re going to see, that dam is “inex­tri­ca­bly tied” to the prop­er func­tion­ing of the nuclear pow­er plant. It’s not a sur­prise. Pow­er plants require lit­er­al tons of water. And that’s where this sto­ry con­nects to the ‘dirty-bomb’ false-flag accu­sa­tions already made by Ukraine about the Zapor­izhzhia Nuclear Pow­er Plant. Because those Ukrain­ian claims appeared to be claims that Rus­sia was going to stage some sort of radi­o­log­i­cal “dirty-bomb” event at the plant as a pre­text for using tac­ti­cal nukes. Well, induc­ing a melt­down via cut­ting the plan­t’s water sup­ply by blow­ing up the dam sounds like anoth­er way cre­ate a radi­o­log­i­cal event at the plant. And sure enough, that’s the sce­nario Ukraine appears to be warn­ing against.

    Beyond the direct risk to the nuclear plan, the destruc­tion of the dam threat­ens to flood a vast region of Ukraine cur­rent­ly under both Ukrain­ian and Russ­ian con­trol. That’s the appar­ent direct mil­i­tary ben­e­fit to Rus­sia in blow­ing up the dam: it will bog down Ukrain­ian troops and buy Rus­sia a few weeks to retreat from Kher­son. That’s one of the nar­ra­tives we’re hear­ing. At the same time, we’re also hear a nar­ra­tive about how Rus­si­a’s appar­ent with­draw­al from Kher­son might be a trick intend­ed to lure Ukraini­ans into dead­ly urban com­bat. Yep, Rus­sia is plan­ning to blow up the dam to slow Ukraine’s advances at the same time Rus­sia is plan­ning on lur­ing Ukrain­ian troops into Kher­son where they will face bru­tal urban com­bat. At least that’s the nar­ra­tive that has now emerged.

    Ok, first, here’s a look at the new mutu­al false-flag accu­sa­tions about attacks on the dam. Attacks that, accord­ing to Rus­sia, were car­ried out using US-pro­vid­ed HIMARs:

    The Hill

    Rus­sia claims Ukraine hit dam near Kher­son with US mis­siles

    by Zach Schon­feld — 11/06/22 4:56 PM ET

    Russ­ian state media on Sun­day claimed Ukraine struck a dam near the strate­gic city of Kher­son with U.S.-made mis­siles, cit­ing offi­cials in the region.

    Ukraine has not yet com­ment­ed on the reports, but Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent pre­vi­ous­ly accused Moscow of plant­i­ng mines at the dam for a poten­tial “false flag” attack that Moscow would blame on Ukraine.

    RIA Novosti and oth­er state media said Ukrain­ian troops in the pur­port­ed attack used six high-mobil­i­ty artillery rock­et sys­tems, a key sys­tem the U.S. has sup­plied to Kyiv as they fight against Russia’s inva­sion, includ­ing one rock­et that dam­aged the dam lock.

    “The Armed Forces of Ukraine are not aban­don­ing their attempts to destroy the dam of the Kakhovskaya hydro­elec­tric pow­er sta­tion and cre­ate the pre­req­ui­sites for a human­i­tar­i­an cat­a­stro­phe,” region­al author­i­ties told RIA Novosti.

    ...

    “The dam of this hydro­elec­tric pow­er plant holds about 18 mil­lion cubic meters of water,” Zelen­sky said last month. “If Russ­ian ter­ror­ists blow up this dam, more than 80 set­tle­ments, includ­ing Kher­son, will be in the zone of rapid flood­ing. Hun­dreds, hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple may be affect­ed.”

    ...

    Ukrain­ian forces have been mak­ing piece­meal gains in the region as part of a sweep­ing autumn coun­terof­fen­sive that includ­ed major ter­ri­to­r­i­al advances in the north­east.

    Russ­ian forces in recent days have moved some troops and equip­ment across the Dnieper Riv­er and out of Kher­son, but Ukrain­ian offi­cials sus­pect Rus­sia may be set­ting a trap, cre­at­ing the illu­sion of sur­ren­der while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly ramp­ing up rein­force­ments for a major bat­tle to come.

    Ukraine’s defense min­istry over the week­end accused Rus­sia of destroy­ing “en masse” pri­vate boats locat­ed on the banks of the Dnieper Riv­er in the region.

    ————-

    “Rus­sia claims Ukraine hit dam near Kher­son with US mis­siles” by Zach Schon­feld; The Hill; 11/06/2022

    RIA Novosti and oth­er state media said Ukrain­ian troops in the pur­port­ed attack used six high-mobil­i­ty artillery rock­et sys­tems, a key sys­tem the U.S. has sup­plied to Kyiv as they fight against Russia’s inva­sion, includ­ing one rock­et that dam­aged the dam lock.”

    Were US-pro­vid­ed HIMARs used to attack the Kakhovskaya hydro­elec­tric pow­er sta­tion, risk­ing a human­i­tar­i­an and envi­ron­men­tal cat­a­stro­phe? That’s what Rus­sia is alleg­ing in the lat­est round of ‘false-flag’ fin­ger-point­ing, com­ing after Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Zelen­sky claimed that it was the Krem­lin that was plan­ning on blow­ing up the dam and then blam­ing it on Ukraine:

    ...
    Ukraine has not yet com­ment­ed on the reports, but Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent pre­vi­ous­ly accused Moscow of plant­i­ng mines at the dam for a poten­tial “false flag” attack that Moscow would blame on Ukraine.
    ...

    But also note the par­al­lel claims we’re get­ting from the Ukrain­ian side: that Rus­sia might be set­ting a trap in Kher­son by cre­at­ing the illu­sion of retreat in the hopes of draw­ing Ukraine into a cost­ly urban bat­tle:

    ...
    Russ­ian forces in recent days have moved some troops and equip­ment across the Dnieper Riv­er and out of Kher­son, but Ukrain­ian offi­cials sus­pect Rus­sia may be set­ting a trap, cre­at­ing the illu­sion of sur­ren­der while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly ramp­ing up rein­force­ments for a major bat­tle to come.
    ...

    So which is it? Is Rus­sia plan­ning on blow­ing up the dam and flood­ing Kher­son? Or is Rus­sia plan­ning a fake retreat designed to draw Ukraini­ans into Kher­son? Because we’re hear­ing pre­dic­tions of both sce­nar­ios.

    But also note how all of these accu­sa­tions direct­ly tie into the mutu­al ‘dirty-bomb false-flag’ accu­sa­tions: as Major Gen­er­al Kyry­lo Budanov, the Ukrain­ian chief of defense intel­li­gence, points out in the fol­low­ing inter­view, you can’t sep­a­rate the prop­er func­tion­ing of the Zapor­izhzhia nuclear plant to that dam. In oth­er words, blow­ing up that dam is ask­ing for a nuclear melt­down

    Meduza

    Zapor­izhzhia nuclear plant is ‘inex­tri­ca­bly con­nect­ed’ to the Kakhov­ka dam Kyry­lo Budanov, Ukraine’s chief of defense intel­li­gence, explains what may hap­pen in the bat­tle for Kher­son.

    Adapt­ed for Meduza in Eng­lish by Anna Razum­naya
    10:36 am, Octo­ber 24, 2022

    In the face of the advanc­ing Ukrain­ian army, the Russ­ian mil­i­tary are get­ting ready to defend their foothold in Kher­son. At the same time, they’re evac­u­at­ing the area and prepar­ing for their own “very rapid” retreat, in case it becomes nec­es­sary. In an inter­view to Ukrain­s­ka Prav­da, Major Gen­er­al Kyry­lo Budanov, the Ukrain­ian chief of defense intel­li­gence, explained Russia’s cur­rent strat­e­gy in Kher­son, and whether there’s any rea­son to think that the Russ­ian troops might destroy the Kakhov­ka dam as part of their retreat.

    ******************

    “In many ways,” Budanov said about the Russ­ian-orga­nized evac­u­a­tion of Kher­son,

    this is a manip­u­la­tive info-oper­a­tion. We have cer­tain facts. For instance, Promsvyazbank and some oth­er finan­cial insti­tu­tions are leav­ing. The seri­ous­ly wound­ed are being moved out. Hos­pi­tals are speed­i­ly dis­charg­ing patients who can walk. And then there’s this insane pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign, “we care for the peo­ple” and so on.

    They’re cre­at­ing this illu­sion that all is lost. At the same time, they’re bring­ing in new mil­i­tary units, and get­ting the streets com­bat-ready. They real­ize that if we take con­trol of the Kakhov­ka dam, they’ll have to act fast. Either they’ll have to leave the city very quick­ly, or they will risk find­ing them­selves in the same sit­u­a­tion as our Mar­i­upol defend­ers’.

    Because of this, Budanov said, the Russ­ian side is prepar­ing at once to fight — and to retreat “very rapid­ly,” if nec­es­sary.

    Budanov also com­ment­ed on the spec­u­la­tions that the Russ­ian troops might try to explode the Kakhov­ka hydro­elec­tric dam to cov­er their retreat. The dam, he said, has been par­tial­ly mined since last spring, but there isn’t enough explo­sives to destroy it com­plete­ly. Besides, the dam’s total destruc­tion would not be an advan­tage to Rus­sia:

    What they’d get would be flood­ing across the entire left-bank Kher­son. They’d lose, then, even the hypo­thet­i­cal pos­si­bil­i­ty of water sup­ply to the North Crimean Canal and Crimea. Rebuild­ing the dam would take a long time.

    “And the most inter­est­ing thing,” Budanov said of the prospect of the Russ­ian mil­i­tary explod­ing the Kakhov­ka dam, “is that they would destroy the very pos­si­bil­i­ty of the Zapor­izhzhia Nuclear Pow­er Plant’s exis­tence, since it’s inex­tri­ca­bly con­nect­ed with that dam.” “Of course, they’re com­pli­cat­ing our advance­ment for a cer­tain peri­od of time,” Budanov acknowl­edged, “but they will have to retreat all the way to the Crimea.”

    ...

    ————

    “Zapor­izhzhia nuclear plant is ‘inex­tri­ca­bly con­nect­ed’ to the Kakhov­ka dam Kyry­lo Budanov, Ukraine’s chief of defense intel­li­gence, explains what may hap­pen in the bat­tle for Kher­son” by Anna Razum­naya; Meduza; 10/24/2022

    “And the most inter­est­ing thing,” Budanov said of the prospect of the Russ­ian mil­i­tary explod­ing the Kakhov­ka dam, “is that they would destroy the very pos­si­bil­i­ty of the Zapor­izhzhia Nuclear Pow­er Plant’s exis­tence, since it’s inex­tri­ca­bly con­nect­ed with that dam.” “Of course, they’re com­pli­cat­ing our advance­ment for a cer­tain peri­od of time,” Budanov acknowl­edged, “but they will have to retreat all the way to the Crimea.””

    You can’t run the Zapor­izhzhia Nuclear Pow­er Plant with­out that dam. They are inex­tri­ca­bly con­nect­ed. Blow up that damn and you’re ask­ing for a melt­down. That’s the sit­u­a­tion. And in case it’s not clear just how dire a threat that dam break would be to the plan, here’s a Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists piece from back in August look­ing at the risks fac­ing that plant. Major risks like a total black­out that force the plant to rely sole­ly on its diesel back­up gen­er­a­tors, which is of course exact­ly what hap­pened over the week­end. And as the arti­cle notes, it’s this peri­od when the plant is depen­dent on diesel back­up gen­er­a­tors that a dam break could turn into a melt­down. A one-two punch:

    The Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists

    Can the Zapor­izhzhia Nuclear Plant Avoid a Major Dis­as­ter?

    Ed Lyman
    Direc­tor, Nuclear Pow­er Safe­ty
    August 26, 2022 | 1:14 pm

    As the pos­si­bil­i­ty of an all-out mil­i­tary con­flict engulf­ing the Zapor­izhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine becomes even more like­ly, the sit­u­a­tion there is grow­ing increas­ing­ly dire. It has been report­ed that on August 25, the plant tem­porar­i­ly lost all of its off-site elec­tri­cal pow­er from the grid, which is essen­tial for its safe oper­a­tion, forc­ing it to rely on on-site back­up pow­er. Despite con­tin­ued shelling, it does not appear that its safe­ty sys­tems have suf­fered sig­nif­i­cant dam­age. But that could change quick­ly if the con­flict escalates—and that could spell dis­as­ter if emer­gency mea­sures fail. Depend­ing on the nature and extent of the dam­age, the plant could expe­ri­ence one or more core melt­downs or spent nuclear fuel pool fires, which could trig­ger a radi­o­log­i­cal release rival­ing that of the 2011 Fukushi­ma Dai­ichi acci­dent or even the larg­er release from the 1986 Cher­nobyl acci­dent.

    For­tu­nate­ly, a long-over­due Inter­na­tion­al Atom­ic Ener­gy Agency (IAEA) mis­sion to Zapor­izhzhia may soon become pos­si­ble. While the IAEA has lim­it­ed author­i­ty over nuclear safe­ty even in peace­time, there are prac­ti­cal steps it could take to help the plant cope with any dam­age that would dis­rupt the sys­tems that keep its high­ly radioac­tive reac­tor cores and spent nuclear fuel cool.

    To iden­ti­fy the actions that would be most help­ful to reduce the risk of a large radi­o­log­i­cal release, it’s impor­tant to under­stand the main vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties of the six Sovi­et-era 950-megawatt-elec­tric VVER-1000/V‑320 (V‑320) Zapor­izhzhia reac­tors. As many news reports have not­ed, the V‑320 is a light-water reac­tor with more in com­mon with West­ern-designed pres­sur­ized-water reac­tors (PWRs) than Chernobyl’s RBMK. A major dif­fer­ence is that unlike the Cher­nobyl reac­tor, the V‑320 has a pres­sure-resist­ing, low-leak­age, rein­forced con­crete con­tain­ment struc­ture. Nev­er­the­less, the V‑320 lacks cer­tain safe­ty fea­tures that are stan­dard in West­ern-designed light-water reac­tors, and there have long been con­cerns that the V‑320 con­tain­ment could be breached or bypassed in a severe acci­dent more eas­i­ly than the con­tain­ments at most West­ern-designed PWRs.

    One con­cern is the rel­a­tive­ly high like­li­hood that a dam­aged core could quick­ly melt through the ele­vat­ed con­tain­ment floor into a com­part­ment below that is not leak-tight. While this would not nec­es­sar­i­ly lead to a large, rapid release of radioac­tiv­i­ty into the envi­ron­ment, it could result in a sit­u­a­tion sim­i­lar to that of Fukushi­ma today, where dam­aged cores in the base­ments of the con­tain­ment build­ings con­tin­ue to release radi­a­tion into the ground­wa­ter. More­over, although the con­tain­ment pro­vides some pro­tec­tion against exter­nal impacts, such as an air­plane crash, such an impact could cause “heavy con­crete frag­ments … and oth­er debris [to] impinge upon the oper­at­ing floor above the pri­ma­ry coolant sys­tem,” accord­ing to the US Depart­ment of Ener­gy.

    A sta­tion black­out, where all alter­nat­ing-cur­rent (AC) elec­tri­cal pow­er is lost, is one of the most severe events that could affect a light-water reac­tor. Such an event could be trig­gered by wide­spread fires and explo­sions result­ing from a sus­tained mil­i­tary engage­ment at Zapor­izhzhia that dam­ages the plant’s switch­yard and oth­er elec­tri­cal equip­ment. If the plant lost all off-site pow­er, the reac­tors will shut down, and the site would be depen­dent sole­ly on back­up sources.

    The first line of defense is the set of 20 emer­gency diesel gen­er­a­tors at the site—three at each reac­tor unit and two com­mon units in a sep­a­rate build­ing sup­port­ing reac­tors 5 and 6. Sce­nar­ios in which all diesel gen­er­a­tors fail are improb­a­ble, but they do exist. For exam­ple, the tsuna­mi at Fukushi­ma Dai­ichi flood­ed and dis­abled all but one of the plant’s emer­gency diesel gen­er­a­tors, as well as the elec­tri­cal dis­tri­b­u­tion systems—what is called a com­mon-cause fail­ure. Oth­er com­mon-cause fail­ures could affect Zaporizhzhia’s diesel gen­er­a­tors, such as the fail­ure of the dam at a near­by hydro­elec­tric plant. That could lead to loss of the cool­ing ponds, which are need­ed to cool the plant’s diesel gen­er­a­tors, enabling them to func­tion.

    Oth­er back­up pow­er sources may be avail­able at Zapor­izhzhia in the event of a com­mon-cause diesel gen­er­a­tor fail­ure, such as a fos­sil fuel plant near the site. But if they are unavail­able, the site’s only recourse would be to imple­ment the emer­gency mea­sures that Ukraine estab­lished in response to the Fukushi­ma acci­dent. These mea­sures involve the use of portable diesel gen­er­a­tors and diesel-pow­ered pumps to pro­vide emer­gency cool­ing when all else fails. How­ev­er, the like­li­hood of suc­cess is uncer­tain, giv­en that both the equip­ment and the per­son­nel need­ed to car­ry out these tasks are high­ly vul­ner­a­ble giv­en the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. And the reli­a­bil­i­ty of such equip­ment depends on how well it has been test­ed and main­tained since the Russ­ian occu­pa­tion in March—a big ques­tion mark. At US nuclear plants, such equip­ment has occa­sion­al­ly been found to be non-func­tion­al because of lax main­te­nance require­ments.

    ...

    ———–

    “Can the Zapor­izhzhia Nuclear Plant Avoid a Major Dis­as­ter?” by Ed Lyman; The Union of Con­cerned Sci­en­tists; 08/26/2022

    The first line of defense is the set of 20 emer­gency diesel gen­er­a­tors at the site—three at each reac­tor unit and two com­mon units in a sep­a­rate build­ing sup­port­ing reac­tors 5 and 6. Sce­nar­ios in which all diesel gen­er­a­tors fail are improb­a­ble, but they do exist. For exam­ple, the tsuna­mi at Fukushi­ma Dai­ichi flood­ed and dis­abled all but one of the plant’s emer­gency diesel gen­er­a­tors, as well as the elec­tri­cal dis­tri­b­u­tion systems—what is called a com­mon-cause fail­ure. Oth­er com­mon-cause fail­ures could affect Zaporizhzhia’s diesel gen­er­a­tors, such as the fail­ure of the dam at a near­by hydro­elec­tric plant. That could lead to loss of the cool­ing ponds, which are need­ed to cool the plant’s diesel gen­er­a­tors, enabling them to func­tion.

    Those 20 diesel gen­er­a­tors that had to get switched on over the week­end are the first line of defense against a black­out-induced melt­down. A line of defense that can get flood­ed out of com­mis­sion by a dam break. How close did we get to that exact sce­nario? First we had the mys­te­ri­ous black­out, and then an appar­ent attack on that dam. It’s one melt­down risk after anoth­er involv­ing events each side is blam­ing on the oth­er.

    So did Ukraine real­ly use US-pro­vid­ed HIMARs to attack that dam, risk­ing a down­stream melt­down? It will be inter­est­ing to see what addi­tion­al evi­dence Rus­sia pro­duces. At the same time, it’s not at all clear why Rus­sia would want to ‘Fukushi­ma’ its new­ly annexed ter­ri­to­ry. Or blow up its own dam. But that’s the accu­sa­tions that are being lev­eled by the Ukraini­ans and it’s pret­ty clear that the West is more than hap­py to go along with that nar­ra­tive. Which is basi­cal­ly a green light for Ukraine to induce that melt­down. It’s an incred­i­bly ter­ri­fy­ing new devel­op­ment in this war. Some­one appears to real­ly, real­ly, real­ly want a melt­down at that plant, and they have all the ingre­di­ents to make that hap­pen, includ­ing a cov­er sto­ry.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 8, 2022, 3:02 pm
  12. @Pterrafractyl–

    ” . . . . it’s not at all clear why Rus­sia would want to ‘Fukushi­ma’ its new­ly annexed ter­ri­to­ry. Or blow up its own dam. . . .”

    Actu­al­ly, it could­n’t be clear­er: U.S./Ukraine/West is set­ting up a major provo­ca­tion and dis­as­ter to inter­dict not only an immi­nent Rus­sia vic­to­ry but to pol­lute the new­ly-annexed ter­ri­to­ries, there­by negat­ing their pro­found eco­nom­ic val­ue.

    The sit­u­a­tion is as crys­tal clear as it is omi­nous.

    More lies, and with increas­ing sever­i­ty.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | November 8, 2022, 5:44 pm
  13. @Dave: It’s worth not­ing one of the oth­er nar­ra­tives get­ting pushed right now that appears to be part of the over­ar­ch­ing goal of get­ting glob­al sanc­tions imposed on Rus­sia and not just West­ern sanc­tions: The US has been accus­ing Rus­sia of buy­ing weapons from North Korea. Specif­i­cal­ly, the US alleged that Rus­sia and North Korea were car­ry­ing out clan­des­tine arms trans­ac­tions in the Mid­dle East and North Africa. Now, as the fol­low­ing Moon of Alaba­ma post reminds us, Rus­sia and North Korea share a bor­der that is con­nect­ed via rail­way. So if Rus­sia want­ed to buy a bunch of North Kore­an arms, it seems like a pret­ty straight­for­ward trans­ac­tion. The kind of trans­ac­tion that should­n’t require secret trans­fers in parts of the world where nei­ther North Korea or Rus­sia have oper­a­tional con­trol.

    Now, accord­ing to West­ern intel­li­gence, Rus­sia and North Korea took these steps because they did­n’t want to get caught. And as we’re remind­ed of in the sec­ond arti­cle excerpt below, North Korea is under UN sanc­tions. So there is a hypo­thet­i­cal rea­son for Russ­ian and North Korea to keep and such trans­ac­tions a secret. But that still does­n’t explain why secret trans­ac­tions in the Mid­dle East or North Africa are a bet­ter way to car­ry­ing out this trade in secret, as opposed to just doing it via rail­way.

    Now, as we’re also going to see, there was a twist to this sto­ry days after the reports on those US intel­li­gence claims: The DC-based 38 North Project think-tank issued a report of its own cit­ing satel­lite images show­ing a train trav­el­ing from Rus­sia to North Korea. This was the first such observed train trav­el between the two coun­tries since North Korea shut that bor­der in Feb­ru­ary 2020 in response to the pan­dem­ic. So that sto­ry about secret Mid­dle East and North African weapons trades hap­pened days before the post-pan­dem­ic reopen­ing of the Russian/North Kore­an bor­der. It’s the kind of coin­ci­dence in tim­ing that rais­es the ques­tion: did US intel­li­gence of pri­or knowl­edge of this bor­der reopen­ing? In oth­er words, was the reopen­ing of that bor­der done in response to Wash­ing­ton’s alle­ga­tions? Or were those alle­ga­tions made in antic­i­pa­tion of the reopen­ing of that bor­der? Either way, a major wrin­kle in the ‘secret Mid­dle East and North African weapons trans­fers’ nar­ra­tive just tran­spired.

    So what was actu­al­ly trans­fer in those rail­cars? We don’t know because the satel­lite images could­n’t deter­mine that. Russ­ian claims it was thor­ough­bred hors­es, which the North Kore­an lead­er­ship does have a his­to­ry of pur­chas­ing from Rus­sia. But it’s the fact that no one can real­ly deter­mine what was on those trains that under­score the absur­di­ty of the ‘secret Mid­dle East and North African weapons trans­fers’ nar­ra­tive. It was a nar­ra­tive that only poten­tial­ly made sense if we assume no trade was pos­si­ble between Rus­sia and North Kore­a’s shared bor­der. Which demon­stra­bly was­n’t the case.

    Final­ly, as the last arti­cle excerpt below points out, when it comes to the full impacts of the exist­ing West­ern sanc­tions on Russ­ian gas, it’s not actu­al­ly Europe that’s pay­ing the biggest price. It’s the devel­op­ing world that is find­ing itself frozen out of the liq­uid nat­ur­al gas (LNG) mar­kets. That’s because Europe has respond­ed to its own gas cri­sis by turn­ing to the glob­al spot mar­kets to buy vir­tu­al­ly all of the short-term sup­plies on the globe, pric­ing out devel­op­ing coun­tries that are reliant on these short-term sup­plies. Beyond that, LNG exporters have become so enticed by the surg­ing prices on the spot mar­kets that they are mak­ing the deci­sion to break long-term sup­ply con­tracts with devel­op­ing coun­tries and just pay the fines for break­ing those con­tracts. That’s why it’s not actu­al­ly Europe pay­ing the high­est price. Yes, Europe is pay­ing high prices. But it’s the coun­tries that are lit­er­al­ly being priced out of the mar­kets that are ulti­mate­ly going to pay the high­est prices in the forms of fac­to­ry shut­downs and social insta­bil­i­ty.

    And let’s not for­get that it’s the devel­op­ing world that large­ly still has yet to sign on to the West­’s sanc­tions against Rus­sia. It points toward the omi­nous chal­lenge West­ern gov­ern­ments have in cre­at­ing events that effec­tive­ly force a glob­al sanc­tions regime against Rus­sia: the parts of the world that have yet to sign onto those sanc­tions are the parts of the world that will be most dev­as­tat­ed should a glob­al sanc­tions regime actu­al­ly come to fruition. Which means Rus­sia is going to have to have to ulti­mate­ly take the blame for some­thing so hor­rif­ic that the the poor­est coun­tries in the world are will­ing to com­mit eco­nom­ic sui­cide in response to that hor­rif­ic act:

    Moon of Alaba­ma

    Anoth­er Day, Anoth­er False Scare Sto­ry

    Post­ed by b on Novem­ber 3, 2022 at 11:23 UTC
    Novem­ber 03, 2022

    The Biden admin­is­tra­tion believes that every­one is stu­pid enough to eat the bull­shit it pro­duces.

    Con­sid­er this lat­est non­sense:

    North Korea has secret­ly shipped muni­tions to Rus­sia through the Mid­dle East and North Africa, the U.S. says. — NYT

    The Unit­ed States on Wednes­day accused North Korea of covert­ly ship­ping a “sig­nif­i­cant num­ber” of artillery shells to Rus­sia to aid its war effort in Ukraine, a sign that Moscow is increas­ing­ly turn­ing to pari­ah states for mil­i­tary sup­plies as the grind­ing con­flict per­sists.

    The White House’s nation­al secu­ri­ty spokesman, John Kir­by, said that it was unclear if the artillery muni­tions, which are being trans­ferred through the Mid­dle East and North Africa, had reached Rus­sia. The Unit­ed States does not believe that the addi­tion­al weapons will alter the tra­jec­to­ry of the war.

    “Our indi­ca­tions are the DPRK is covert­ly sup­ply­ing and we’re going to mon­i­tor to see whether ship­ments are received,” Mr. Kir­by told reporters on Wednes­day, refer­ring to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic People’s Repub­lic of Korea. “Our infor­ma­tion indi­cates that they’re try­ing to obscure the method of sup­ply by fun­nel­ing them through oth­er coun­tries in the Mid­dle East and North Africa.”

    Rus­sia and North Korea have a com­mon bor­der. Artillery ammu­ni­tion is heavy and one needs lots of it. That is why it is prefer­able to trans­port it in bulk — by ship or rail­way.

    Rus­si­a’s and North Kore­a’s rail­ways are con­nect­ed.

    In 2019 Kim Jong Un vis­it­ed Rus­sia by train. While the pas­sen­ger traf­fic had been closed down due to Covid quar­an­tine mea­sures it has recent­ly been reopened. The U.S. has no means to know what prod­ucts are in the box­cars and con­tain­ers that trav­el across that bor­der.

    There are also ships. In 2017 the U.S. accused North Korea of export­ing coal via Rus­sia to third par­ties:

    [T]he secre­tive Com­mu­nist state has at least three times since then shipped coal to the Russ­ian ports of Nakhod­ka and Kholm­sk, where it was unloaded at docks and reloaded onto ships that took it to South Korea or Japan, the sources said.

    Now tell me: Why would North Korea or Rus­sia put any deliv­er­ies between them in jeop­ardy by trans­fer­ring them via a third par­ty far away from their areas of influ­ence and oper­a­tion?

    They won’t.

    My hunch is that Rus­sia does not buy ammu­ni­tion from North Korea. But it could do so. North Korea has, in con­stant prepa­ra­tion for war, over decades accu­mu­lat­ed lots of ammu­ni­tion that is get­ting old and should be replaced by new­er one. To sell off the old stuff for cheap would be a ratio­nal move. Rus­sia is unlike­ly to need it but, if the price is right and the qual­i­ty still accept­able, there is no rea­son to reject any such offer.

    Most like­ly though the Biden admin­is­tra­tion is just mak­ing this up to some­how put Rus­sia as well as North Korea into a bad light.

    As the Russ­ian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin explained:

    I already said that the dic­tate of the West­ern coun­tries and their attempts to apply pres­sure on all the par­tic­i­pants of inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion, includ­ing coun­tries that are neu­tral or friend­ly to us, are achiev­ing noth­ing, and they are look­ing for addi­tion­al argu­ments to con­vince our friends or neu­tral states that they all need to con­front Rus­sia col­lec­tive­ly.

    The U.S. pub­lic and some dull inhab­i­tants of U.S. colonies in Europe may well fall for such non­sense. But no one out­side of that closed club will believe such claims with­out being shown some rea­son­able evi­dence.

    There is of course none.

    ———–

    “Anoth­er Day, Anoth­er False Scare Sto­ry” by b; Moon of Alaba­ma; 11/3/2022

    “Now tell me: Why would North Korea or Rus­sia put any deliv­er­ies between them in jeop­ardy by trans­fer­ring them via a third par­ty far away from their areas of influ­ence and oper­a­tion?”

    Rus­sia isn’t just buy­ing North Kore­an arms, but doing so in risk­ing clan­des­tine swaps in the Mid­dle East, instead of just trans­port­ing what­ev­er they want via direct rail­ways. That’s the non­sense charge com­ing from the US:

    ...
    As the Russ­ian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin explained:

    I already said that the dic­tate of the West­ern coun­tries and their attempts to apply pres­sure on all the par­tic­i­pants of inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion, includ­ing coun­tries that are neu­tral or friend­ly to us, are achiev­ing noth­ing, and they are look­ing for addi­tion­al argu­ments to con­vince our friends or neu­tral states that they all need to con­front Rus­sia col­lec­tive­ly.

    The U.S. pub­lic and some dull inhab­i­tants of U.S. colonies in Europe may well fall for such non­sense. But no one out­side of that closed club will believe such claims with­out being shown some rea­son­able evi­dence.

    There is of course none.
    ...

    Nor was this the first time we’ve heard this charge from the US. Pyongyang was deny­ing charges of clan­des­tine weapons sales to Rus­sia back in Sep­tem­ber. And as the fol­low­ing WaPo piece reminds us, a big part of the pro­pa­gan­da val­ue of these claims comes from the fact that North Korea is cur­rent­ly under UN-imposed sanc­tions over its nuclear weapons pro­gram. That’s part of the con­text of the non­sense claims of Mid­dle East­ern weapons sales:

    Wash­ing­ton Post

    North Korea denies U.S. claims it sup­plies arms to Rus­sia

    By Min Joo Kim
    Sep­tem­ber 22, 2022 at 4:21 a.m. EDT

    SEOUL — North Korea has denied U.S. intel­li­gence reports that it sup­plied weapons to Rus­sia, accus­ing Wash­ing­ton of spread­ing rumors aimed at tar­nish­ing Pyongyang’s image.

    “We have nev­er export­ed weapons or ammu­ni­tion to Rus­sia before and we will not plan to export them,” a senior North Kore­an defense offi­cial was quot­ed as say­ing in state media on Thurs­day. The offi­cial accused “the U.S. and oth­er hos­tile forces” of spread­ing “a rumor of arms deal­ings between the DPRK and Rus­sia,” refer­ring to North Korea by its offi­cial name.

    Thursday’s state­ment, car­ried by North Korea’s Cen­tral News Agency, fol­lows a new­ly declas­si­fied intel­li­gence assess­ment from Wash­ing­ton that Rus­sia was seek­ing to buy North Kore­an weapons for its war in Ukraine. Ear­li­er this month, State Depart­ment deputy spokesman Vedant Patel said “the Russ­ian Min­istry of Defense is in the process of pur­chas­ing mil­lions of rock­ets and artillery shells from North Korea for use in Ukraine.”

    ...

    While deny­ing any arms sales to Rus­sia, the offi­cial defend­ed North Korea’s right to make such mil­i­tary deals. “Not only the devel­op­ment, pro­duc­tion, pos­ses­sion of mil­i­tary equip­ment, but also their export and import are the law­ful right pecu­liar to a sov­er­eign state, and nobody is enti­tled to crit­i­cize it.”

    Biden admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials said the weapons trans­fer plan indi­cates that sanc­tions-strapped Rus­sia was forced to approach the regime of Kim Jong Un to help source weapon­ry for its inva­sion of Ukraine. Moscow respond­ed to the U.S. intel­li­gence reports by call­ing them “fake.”

    Even amid wide­spread inter­na­tion­al con­dem­na­tion of the war, North Korea has open­ly sup­port­ed its Cold War ally Rus­sia. Ear­li­er this year, Kim exchanged mes­sages with his Russ­ian coun­ter­part, Vladimir Putin, promis­ing to expand rela­tions to “new strate­gic heights.” North Korea is one of a hand­ful of coun­tries that offi­cial­ly rec­og­nized the inde­pen­dence of the Moscow-backed break­away regions in east­ern Ukraine. North Korea and Rus­sia share land and mar­itime bor­ders, which served as trade routes before coro­n­avirus bor­der lock­downs.

    Any weapons trade with North Korea would be in vio­la­tion of U.N. sanc­tions imposed on the regime to curb its nuclear and mis­sile activ­i­ties. In defi­ance of the sanc­tions, the Kim regime has con­tin­ued its mil­i­tary pur­suits, includ­ing an unprece­dent­ed flur­ry of bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests this year. Offi­cials in Seoul and Wash­ing­ton said ear­li­er this year that North Korea was prepar­ing for its first nuclear test in five years.

    ———–

    “North Korea denies U.S. claims it sup­plies arms to Rus­sia” by Min Joo Kim; Wash­ing­ton Post; 09/22/2022

    Any weapons trade with North Korea would be in vio­la­tion of U.N. sanc­tions imposed on the regime to curb its nuclear and mis­sile activ­i­ties. In defi­ance of the sanc­tions, the Kim regime has con­tin­ued its mil­i­tary pur­suits, includ­ing an unprece­dent­ed flur­ry of bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests this year. Offi­cials in Seoul and Wash­ing­ton said ear­li­er this year that North Korea was prepar­ing for its first nuclear test in five years.”

    It was­n’t just an alle­ga­tion of Russ­ian buy North Kore­an arms. It was a charge of Rus­sia vio­lat­ing UN-imposed sanc­tions on North Korea. Which, of course, makes the accu­sa­tions of clan­des­tine trans­fers in the Mid­dle East all the more absurd. Why not just stick the arms in a train and roll it across the Russ­ian-North Korea bor­der with no one the wis­er?

    And that brings us to the fol­low­ing report that came just days after the US released its claims about secret weapons trans­fers in the Mid­dle East and North Africa: satel­lite images show a train crossed the bor­der from Rus­sia into North Korea. That was the report from the DC-based 38 North Project think-tank.

    So what was that train car­ry­ing? Well, accord­ing to Rus­sia and North Korea, it was car­ry­ing hors­es. As the arti­cle notes, North Kore­a’s lead­er­ship has a his­to­ry of pur­chas­ing Russ­ian thor­ough­breds. But, notably, this was the first train trav­el between Russ­ian and North Korea since that bor­der was closed in Feb­ru­ary 2020 with the out­break of the pan­dem­ic.

    But as the arti­cle also notes, the think-tank can’t actu­al­ly deter­mine what the train was car­ry­ing based on the satel­lite images. So while that think-tank can make all the alle­ga­tions about weapons ship­ments that it wants, this sto­ry just under­scores the luna­cy of sug­gest­ing Russ­ian and North Korea need­ed to use the Mid­dle East and North Africa to car­ry out weapons ship­ments. It was a nar­ra­tive that only poten­tial­ly made sense if, for some rea­son, Rus­sia and North Korea could­n’t open back up that rail­way bor­der cross­ing or just use trucks instead. Which obvi­ous­ly was­n’t the case:

    Reuters

    Train cross­es North Korea bor­der into Rus­sia after arms report, think tank says

    Reuters
    Novem­ber 5, 2022 11:03 AM UTC
    Updat­ed

    WASHINGTON, Nov 4 (Reuters) — A train crossed from North Korea into Rus­sia on Fri­day, two days after the Unit­ed States said it had infor­ma­tion indi­cat­ing Pyongyang is covert­ly sup­ply­ing Rus­sia with artillery shells for its war in Ukraine, a Wash­ing­ton think tank said, cit­ing com­mer­cial satel­lite imagery.

    The 38 North project, which mon­i­tors North Kore­an devel­op­ments, said it was the first time such a train move­ment had been observed on the route in sev­er­al years, although Rus­si­a’s vet­eri­nary ser­vice report­ed on Wednes­day that a train had crossed the bor­der into North Korea car­ry­ing hors­es.

    It is impos­si­ble to deter­mine the pur­pose of the train from the imagery, but the cross­ing comes amid reports of arms sales from North Korea to Rus­sia and a gen­er­al expec­ta­tion of the resump­tion of trade between the two coun­tries,” 38 North said.

    It said North Korea closed the 800-meter (yard) Tuman­gang Friend­ship Bridge (Korea-Rus­sia Friend­ship Bridge), the only land link between the coun­tries, in Feb­ru­ary 2020 dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic.

    ...

    “Whether a trans­fer of mate­r­i­al was in progress could not be deter­mined, and the parked loca­tions of these train sets may have been unre­lat­ed,” the report said.

    The White House said on Wednes­day that Wash­ing­ton had infor­ma­tion indi­cat­ing North Korea was covert­ly sup­ply­ing Rus­sia with a “sig­nif­i­cant” num­ber of artillery shells for its war in Ukraine and was attempt­ing to obscure the ship­ments by fun­nel­ing them through coun­tries in the Mid­dle East and North Africa.

    North Korea said in Sep­tem­ber it had nev­er sup­plied weapons or ammu­ni­tion to Rus­sia and has no plans to do so. read more

    Accord­ing to a state­ment from Rus­si­a’s state vet­eri­nary ser­vice on Wednes­day, Rus­sia and North Korea restart­ed train trav­el for the first time since the pan­dem­ic with a car­go of 30 grey thor­ough­bred “Orlov Trot­ter” hors­es into North Korea.

    North Kore­an leader Kim Jong Un is known as a keen horse­man. He was shown in 2019 by North Kore­an media trekking through moun­tain snows astride a white stal­lion. Russ­ian cus­toms data shows North Korea has spent thou­sands of dol­lars on thor­ough­bred hors­es from Rus­sia in pre­vi­ous years.

    ———-

    “Train cross­es North Korea bor­der into Rus­sia after arms report, think tank says”; Reuters; 11/05/2022

    “The 38 North project, which mon­i­tors North Kore­an devel­op­ments, said it was the first time such a train move­ment had been observed on the route in sev­er­al years, although Rus­si­a’s vet­eri­nary ser­vice report­ed on Wednes­day that a train had crossed the bor­der into North Korea car­ry­ing hors­es.”

    Yes, just a day or so after the White House accus­es Rus­sia and North Korea of engag­ing in clan­des­tine arms trans­fers in the Mid­dle East and North Africa, we get reports of a train trav­el­ing from direct­ly from Rus­sia into North Korea. And sure enough, there was no way to assess the con­tents of the car­go. Easy peasy:

    ...
    It is impos­si­ble to deter­mine the pur­pose of the train from the imagery, but the cross­ing comes amid reports of arms sales from North Korea to Rus­sia and a gen­er­al expec­ta­tion of the resump­tion of trade between the two coun­tries,” 38 North said.

    ...

    “Whether a trans­fer of mate­r­i­al was in progress could not be deter­mined, and the parked loca­tions of these train sets may have been unre­lat­ed,” the report said.
    ...

    And if the tim­ing of the first train trav­el in years between the two coun­tries sounds some­how sus­pi­cious, note the rea­son for the lack of trav­el: COVID. So with COVID look­ing increas­ing­ly like a virus that no long threat­ens the North Kore­an regimes sta­bil­i­ty, we had to expect those COVID-era restric­tions to be lift­ed at some point. It rais­es the intrigu­ing ques­tion: giv­en that we got that bizarre sto­ry about clan­des­tine arms ship­ments between Rus­sia and North Korea in the Mid­dle East and North Africa just days before the first train trav­el between North Korea and Rus­sia since the pan­dem­ic, did West­ern intel­li­gence know that train trip was planned? If so, that might explain the strange ‘clan­des­tine arms trans­fers’ nar­ra­tive as a sto­ry intend­ed to frame the upcom­ing train trip as evi­dence of secret weapons deals:

    ...
    It said North Korea closed the 800-meter (yard) Tuman­gang Friend­ship Bridge (Korea-Rus­sia Friend­ship Bridge), the only land link between the coun­tries, in Feb­ru­ary 2020 dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic.

    ...

    The White House said on Wednes­day that Wash­ing­ton had infor­ma­tion indi­cat­ing North Korea was covert­ly sup­ply­ing Rus­sia with a “sig­nif­i­cant” num­ber of artillery shells for its war in Ukraine and was attempt­ing to obscure the ship­ments by fun­nel­ing them through coun­tries in the Mid­dle East and North Africa.

    North Korea said in Sep­tem­ber it had nev­er sup­plied weapons or ammu­ni­tion to Rus­sia and has no plans to do so. read more

    Accord­ing to a state­ment from Rus­si­a’s state vet­eri­nary ser­vice on Wednes­day, Rus­sia and North Korea restart­ed train trav­el for the first time since the pan­dem­ic with a car­go of 30 grey thor­ough­bred “Orlov Trot­ter” hors­es into North Korea.

    North Kore­an leader Kim Jong Un is known as a keen horse­man. He was shown in 2019 by North Kore­an media trekking through moun­tain snows astride a white stal­lion. Russ­ian cus­toms data shows North Korea has spent thou­sands of dol­lars on thor­ough­bred hors­es from Rus­sia in pre­vi­ous years.
    ...

    Are we in store for a series of alle­ga­tions about weapons trans­fers with every­one instance of train trav­el between the coun­tries? Time will tell.

    But as the fol­low­ing Bloomberg piece describes, if the under­ly­ing goal of eco­nom­i­cal­ly iso­lat­ing Rus­sia glob­al­ly, and not just from the West, should even­tu­al­ly come to fruition, the con­se­quences are going to be felt for years. At least that what glob­al oil and nat­ur­al gas mar­kets are sig­nal­ing. And as the arti­cle describes, we should­n’t assume that means years of socioe­co­nom­ic tur­moil for just Europe. Wealthy Europe will be rel­a­tive­ly fine. It’s the devel­op­ing world that’s going to be supreme­ly harmed by a mul­ti-year round of glob­al sanc­tions on Russ­ian:

    Bloomberg News via BNNBloomberg.ca

    Europe’s Ener­gy Crunch Will Trig­ger Years of Short­ages and Black­outs

    Stephen Stapczyn­s­ki, Anna Shiryaevskaya and Faseeh Man­gi,
    Nov 7, 2022

    (Bloomberg) — Bills will be high, but Europe will sur­vive the win­ter: It’s bought enough oil and gas to get through the heat­ing sea­sons.

    Much deep­er costs will be borne by the world’s poor­est coun­tries, which have been shut out of the nat­ur­al gas mar­ket by Europe’s sud­den­ly rav­en­ous demand. It’s left emerg­ing mar­ket coun­tries unable to meet today’s needs or tomorrow’s, and the most like­ly con­se­quences — fac­to­ry shut­downs, more fre­quent and longer-last­ing pow­er short­ages, the foment of social unrest — could stretch into the next decade.

    “Ener­gy secu­ri­ty con­cerns in Europe are dri­ving ener­gy pover­ty in the emerg­ing world,” said Saul Kavon­ic, an ener­gy ana­lyst at Cred­it Suisse Group AG. “Europe is suck­ing gas away from oth­er coun­tries what­ev­er the cost.”

    After a sum­mer of rolling black­outs and polit­i­cal tur­moil, cool­er weath­er and heavy rains have alle­vi­at­ed the imme­di­ate ener­gy cri­sis in Pak­istan, India, Bangladesh and the Philip­pines. But any relief promis­es to be tem­po­rary. Cold­er tem­per­a­tures are on the way — parts of South Asia can be more bit­ter than Lon­don — and the chances of secur­ing long-term sup­plies are slim. The strong US dol­lar has only com­pli­cat­ed the sit­u­a­tion, forc­ing nations to choose between buy­ing fuel and mak­ing debt pay­ments. Under the cir­cum­stances, glob­al fuel sup­pli­ers are increas­ing­ly wary of sell­ing to coun­tries that could be head­ing for default.

    The cen­ter of the issue is Europe’s response to tight­en­ing fuel sup­plies and the war in Ukraine. Cut off from Russ­ian gas, Euro­pean coun­tries have turned to the spot mar­ket, where ener­gy that isn’t com­mit­ted to buy­ers is made avail­able for short-notice deliv­ery. With prices soar­ing, some sup­pli­ers to South Asia have sim­ply can­celed long-sched­uled deliv­er­ies in favor of bet­ter yields else­where, traders say.

    “Sup­pli­ers don’t need to focus on secur­ing their LNG to low afford­abil­i­ty mar­kets,” Raghav Math­ur, an ana­lyst at Wood Macken­zie Ltd. said. The high­er prices they can get on the spot mar­ket more than make up for what­ev­er penal­ties they might pay for shirk­ing planned ship­ments. And that dynam­ic is like­ly to hold for years, Math­ur says.

    Dam­age caused by glob­al warm­ing, such as the dev­as­tat­ing floods in Pak­istan, is also wreak­ing eco­nom­ic hav­oc on emerg­ing nations, prompt­ing lead­ers at UN cli­mate talks in Egypt this month to dis­cuss how rich­er coun­tries can help pro­vide more sup­port.

    At the same time, Europe is speed­ing up con­struc­tion of float­ing import ter­mi­nals to bring in more fuel in the future. Ger­many, Italy and Fin­land have secured the plants. The Nether­lands start­ed import­ing LNG from new float­ing ter­mi­nals in Sep­tem­ber. Euro­pean demand for nat­ur­al gas is expect­ed to surge by near­ly 60% through 2026, accord­ing to BloombergNEF.

    Exporters in Qatar and the Unit­ed States are now enter­tain­ing bids from Euro­pean importers look­ing to buy fuel to fill the new capac­i­ty. For the first time, emerg­ing nations like Pak­istan, Bangladesh and Thai­land are forced to com­pete on price with Ger­many and oth­er economies sev­er­al times their size.

    “We are bor­row­ing oth­er people’s ener­gy sup­plies,” said Vitol Group Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer Rus­sell Hardy. “It’s not a great thing.”

    Usu­al­ly when there’s a short-term short­age, nations can sign long-term sup­ply con­tracts, pay­ing a fixed rate for the assur­ance of reli­able deliv­er­ies for years. That hasn’t worked this time. Even bids for deliv­er­ies start­ing years into the future are being reject­ed.

    India failed in its lat­est attempt to lock in ship­ments start­ing in 2025. Bangladesh and Thai­land essen­tial­ly aban­doned efforts to get con­tracts that start before 2026, when mas­sive new export plants in Qatar and the US plan to start ship­ping fuel. Pak­istan last month was unable to close an six-year deal that would have start­ed next year, after sev­er­al attempts at short-term pur­chas­es also failed.

    “We’d thought the cri­sis would be over by the end of the year, but it isn’t,” said Kulit Som­bat­siri, per­ma­nent sec­re­tary of Thailand’s ener­gy min­istry, at a brief­ing on Mon­day. If LNG prices con­tin­ue to rise, he added, the gov­ern­ment would have to con­sid­er mea­sures such as clos­ing down con­ve­nience stores and oth­er high-ener­gy busi­ness­es.

    LNG sup­pli­ers fear that these nations won’t be able to pay for promised deliv­er­ies. Fuel is priced in US dol­lars, and a sin­gle ship­ment cur­rent­ly costs near­ly $100 mil­lion. For com­par­i­son, LNG ship­ments aver­aged $33 mil­lion dur­ing the 2010s. And costs are high­er still in domes­tic cur­ren­cies because the dol­lar has been rapid­ly appre­ci­at­ing, adding to pres­sure on the coun­tries’ belea­guered finances.

    Pakistan’s for­eign exchange reserves dropped to the low­est lev­el in three years last month, push­ing the nation’s cred­it rat­ing by Moody’s Investors Ser­vice deep­er into junk. Reserves for Bangladesh, India and the Philip­pines are at two-year lows. In Thai­land, where infla­tion is already at a 14-year high and reserves at a five-year low, the cen­tral bank warned that the sit­u­a­tion will wors­en if the baht doesn’t sta­bi­lize soon.

    With­out Russ­ian gas flow­ing into Europe, the glob­al gas mar­kets will stay tight. Spot prices will remain high, and with­out the abil­i­ty to secure long-term sup­plies, devel­op­ing coun­tries may look to dirt­i­er fuels or oth­er part­ners.

    Momen­tum behind nat­ur­al gas growth in devel­op­ing economies has slowed, notably in South and South­east Asia, putting a dent in the cre­den­tials of gas as a tran­si­tion fuel, the Inter­na­tion­al Ener­gy Agency said in its World Ener­gy Out­look 2022. Nat­ur­al gas is the clean­est burn­ing fos­sil fuel, and emits less CO2 than coal when com­bust­ed.

    The ener­gy short­age has already brought the emerg­ing world and Rus­sia clos­er togeth­er. Russia’s been more than hap­py to offer fuel to Pak­istan, India and oth­ers who’ve been shut out of the spot mar­ket.

    “We have estab­lished con­tact with the Russ­ian side. We are, of course, very much inter­est­ed in pro­cure­ment of LNG,” Shafqat Ali Khan, Pakistan’s ambas­sador to Rus­sia, told the state-run Tass news agency. “If the rich coun­tries take away all the LNG, what is going to hap­pen to us?”

    While China’s LNG imports have dropped over­all in part because of high spot prices, the nation has increased pur­chas­es of Russ­ian LNG at a deep dis­count. Deliv­er­ies from Rus­sia to Chi­na are up about 25% so far this year, accord­ing to ship-track­ing data com­piled by Bloomberg.

    Poor­er coun­tries may also turn to cheap­er fuels like coal and oil. Or they’ll look to devel­op their own domes­tic resources. The Inter­na­tion­al Cham­ber of Com­merce-Bangladesh urged the gov­ern­ment to move faster with nat­ur­al gas explo­ration both on-shore and off-shore to replace expen­sive LNG. Crit­ics of Pakistan’s gov­ern­ment are ask­ing why they haven’t tapped gas reserves in parts of the coun­try.

    “The only sav­ing grace will be if it doesn’t get too cold,” said Shaiq Jawed, man­ag­ing direc­tor at JK Group, a Pak­istan-based sup­pli­er of tex­tiles to glob­al hotel chains. This sum­mer, for the first time in 25 years, the com­pa­ny only received half of the gas it need­ed, he said. If it needs to, it can rely on elec­tric­i­ty and coal-gen­er­at­ed pow­er. “This is the last resort, but clos­ing down is not an option.”

    For peo­ple wor­ried about cli­mate change and the envi­ron­ment, none of those are good options. Coal and oil are much dirt­i­er than gas. The process of extract­ing new fos­sil fuels is ener­gy-inten­sive and linked to increased pol­lu­tion and earth­quake activ­i­ty.

    ...

    Renew­ables, like solar, could pro­vide relief even­tu­al­ly. Until then, high prices will do some of the work. Emerg­ing Asia’s gas demand growth slowed “marked­ly” between Jan­u­ary and July as sky-high prices dragged down con­sump­tion, accord­ing to the IEA. Thai­land, the region’s top gas user, saw a 12% drop in demand over that peri­od as high prices squeezed pow­er sec­tor use and falling domes­tic pro­duc­tion reduced sup­ply.

    Gov­ern­ments will have to do the rest, rationing fuel and sched­ul­ing black­outs when there isn’t enough ener­gy to go around.

    It will take up to four years for the mar­ket to bal­ance, said WoodMac’s Math­ur. Until then, volatile prices will be the norm and, he said, “LNG will belong first to the ‘devel­oped,’ with the left­overs for the ‘devel­op­ing.’”

    Coun­tries in South Amer­i­ca, like Brazil and Argenti­na, may be slight­ly more insu­lat­ed, giv­en invest­ments in hydropow­er. Even so, Brazil’s import bill more than dou­bled dur­ing the first sev­en months of this year to $3.7 bil­lion, the result of surg­ing over­seas prices and delays on a domes­tic pipeline project. If the rainy sea­son is late this year, Brazil may need to buy time with still more LNG imports.

    ...

    Mean­while, the Philip­pines and Viet­nam are rethink­ing plans to start import­ing LNG. The Philip­pines con­tin­ues to delay the start of their first import ter­mi­nal, while the gov­ern­ment in Viet­nam is con­sid­er­ing cut­ting capac­i­ty for planned gas-fired pow­er plants. Those projects were designed to meet surg­ing domes­tic demand. Pol­i­cy­mak­ers have yet to put for­ward an alter­na­tive.

    –With assis­tance from Ann Koh and Pat­picha Tanakasem­pi­pat.

    ————

    “Europe’s Ener­gy Crunch Will Trig­ger Years of Short­ages and Black­outs” by Stephen Stapczyn­s­ki, Anna Shiryaevskaya and Faseeh Man­gi; Bloomberg News via BNNBloomberg.ca; 11/07/2022

    “Much deep­er costs will be borne by the world’s poor­est coun­tries, which have been shut out of the nat­ur­al gas mar­ket by Europe’s sud­den­ly rav­en­ous demand. It’s left emerg­ing mar­ket coun­tries unable to meet today’s needs or tomorrow’s, and the most like­ly con­se­quences — fac­to­ry shut­downs, more fre­quent and longer-last­ing pow­er short­ages, the foment of social unrest — could stretch into the next decade.”

    Fac­to­ry shut­downs, longer-last­ing pow­er short­ages and moments of social unrest are expect­ed into the next decade across the devel­op­ing world as a result of these sanc­tions on Russ­ian gas. Recall how EU com­pa­nies are report­ed­ly con­sid­er­ing relo­cat­ing fac­to­ries to the US in antic­i­pa­tion that these sanc­tions are going to be in place for years to come. Sanc­tions that are still large­ly lim­it­ed to the West. What kind of glob­al tur­moil can we expect should some sort of cat­a­stroph­ic event tran­spire that effec­tive­ly forces the rest of the world to join in on those sanc­tions? Europe is already “suck­ing gas away from oth­er coun­tries what­ev­er the cost.” And LNG sup­pli­ers are already mak­ing the deci­sion to sim­ply pay the fines of break­ing their long-term sup­ply con­tracts with devel­op­ing nations. How much worse can this get?

    ...
    “Ener­gy secu­ri­ty con­cerns in Europe are dri­ving ener­gy pover­ty in the emerg­ing world,” said Saul Kavon­ic, an ener­gy ana­lyst at Cred­it Suisse Group AG. “Europe is suck­ing gas away from oth­er coun­tries what­ev­er the cost.”

    ...

    The cen­ter of the issue is Europe’s response to tight­en­ing fuel sup­plies and the war in Ukraine. Cut off from Russ­ian gas, Euro­pean coun­tries have turned to the spot mar­ket, where ener­gy that isn’t com­mit­ted to buy­ers is made avail­able for short-notice deliv­ery. With prices soar­ing, some sup­pli­ers to South Asia have sim­ply can­celed long-sched­uled deliv­er­ies in favor of bet­ter yields else­where, traders say.

    “Sup­pli­ers don’t need to focus on secur­ing their LNG to low afford­abil­i­ty mar­kets,” Raghav Math­ur, an ana­lyst at Wood Macken­zie Ltd. said. The high­er prices they can get on the spot mar­ket more than make up for what­ev­er penal­ties they might pay for shirk­ing planned ship­ments. And that dynam­ic is like­ly to hold for years, Math­ur says.

    ...

    Exporters in Qatar and the Unit­ed States are now enter­tain­ing bids from Euro­pean importers look­ing to buy fuel to fill the new capac­i­ty. For the first time, emerg­ing nations like Pak­istan, Bangladesh and Thai­land are forced to com­pete on price with Ger­many and oth­er economies sev­er­al times their size.

    “We are bor­row­ing oth­er people’s ener­gy sup­plies,” said Vitol Group Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer Rus­sell Hardy. “It’s not a great thing.”

    Usu­al­ly when there’s a short-term short­age, nations can sign long-term sup­ply con­tracts, pay­ing a fixed rate for the assur­ance of reli­able deliv­er­ies for years. That hasn’t worked this time. Even bids for deliv­er­ies start­ing years into the future are being reject­ed.

    ...

    It will take up to four years for the mar­ket to bal­ance, said WoodMac’s Math­ur. Until then, volatile prices will be the norm and, he said, “LNG will belong first to the ‘devel­oped,’ with the left­overs for the ‘devel­op­ing.’”
    ...

    And at the same time Europe is suck­ing up what­ev­er gas it can on the spot mar­kets, it’s con­tin­u­ing to make new invest­ments in LNG ter­mi­nals to ensure that this can all con­tin­ue at an even faster pace in com­ing years:

    ...
    Dam­age caused by glob­al warm­ing, such as the dev­as­tat­ing floods in Pak­istan, is also wreak­ing eco­nom­ic hav­oc on emerg­ing nations, prompt­ing lead­ers at UN cli­mate talks in Egypt this month to dis­cuss how rich­er coun­tries can help pro­vide more sup­port.

    At the same time, Europe is speed­ing up con­struc­tion of float­ing import ter­mi­nals to bring in more fuel in the future. Ger­many, Italy and Fin­land have secured the plants. The Nether­lands start­ed import­ing LNG from new float­ing ter­mi­nals in Sep­tem­ber. Euro­pean demand for nat­ur­al gas is expect­ed to surge by near­ly 60% through 2026, accord­ing to BloombergNEF.
    ...

    Then there’s the role of the ris­ing US dol­lar in all this. Devel­op­ing coun­tries with vul­ner­a­ble cur­ren­cies are active­ly being shunned by LNG sup­pli­ers over fears over the abil­i­ty of poor­er clients to actu­al­ly meet their con­tract oblig­a­tions years into the future when the dol­lar might have appre­ci­at­ed even more. It’s the kind of dynam­ic that only fuels the ten­den­cy of LNG sup­pli­ers to just break their long-term con­tracts in the pur­suit of high prof­its on the short-term spot mar­kets:

    ...
    After a sum­mer of rolling black­outs and polit­i­cal tur­moil, cool­er weath­er and heavy rains have alle­vi­at­ed the imme­di­ate ener­gy cri­sis in Pak­istan, India, Bangladesh and the Philip­pines. But any relief promis­es to be tem­po­rary. Cold­er tem­per­a­tures are on the way — parts of South Asia can be more bit­ter than Lon­don — and the chances of secur­ing long-term sup­plies are slim. The strong US dol­lar has only com­pli­cat­ed the sit­u­a­tion, forc­ing nations to choose between buy­ing fuel and mak­ing debt pay­ments. Under the cir­cum­stances, glob­al fuel sup­pli­ers are increas­ing­ly wary of sell­ing to coun­tries that could be head­ing for default.

    ...

    LNG sup­pli­ers fear that these nations won’t be able to pay for promised deliv­er­ies. Fuel is priced in US dol­lars, and a sin­gle ship­ment cur­rent­ly costs near­ly $100 mil­lion. For com­par­i­son, LNG ship­ments aver­aged $33 mil­lion dur­ing the 2010s. And costs are high­er still in domes­tic cur­ren­cies because the dol­lar has been rapid­ly appre­ci­at­ing, adding to pres­sure on the coun­tries’ belea­guered finances.
    ...

    Final­ly, let’s not for­get that this whole devel­op­ment is a giant dis­as­ter for the envi­ron­ment. Civ­i­liza­tion isn’t sim­ply going to respond to the sud­den dis­rup­tion of Russ­ian gas sup­plies by invest­ing in renew­ables or con­serv­ing. The poor­est coun­tries of the world are going to be forced to fall back in the dirt­i­est sources of ener­gy. It will be that or let their economies grind to a halt:

    ...
    With­out Russ­ian gas flow­ing into Europe, the glob­al gas mar­kets will stay tight. Spot prices will remain high, and with­out the abil­i­ty to secure long-term sup­plies, devel­op­ing coun­tries may look to dirt­i­er fuels or oth­er part­ners.

    Momen­tum behind nat­ur­al gas growth in devel­op­ing economies has slowed, notably in South and South­east Asia, putting a dent in the cre­den­tials of gas as a tran­si­tion fuel, the Inter­na­tion­al Ener­gy Agency said in its World Ener­gy Out­look 2022. Nat­ur­al gas is the clean­est burn­ing fos­sil fuel, and emits less CO2 than coal when com­bust­ed.

    ...

    Poor­er coun­tries may also turn to cheap­er fuels like coal and oil. Or they’ll look to devel­op their own domes­tic resources. The Inter­na­tion­al Cham­ber of Com­merce-Bangladesh urged the gov­ern­ment to move faster with nat­ur­al gas explo­ration both on-shore and off-shore to replace expen­sive LNG. Crit­ics of Pakistan’s gov­ern­ment are ask­ing why they haven’t tapped gas reserves in parts of the coun­try.
    ...

    Time to fire up those coal plants. And not only is this going to remain ‘coal time’ for years to come if cur­rent trends con­tin­ue as expect­ed, but this whole process could get kicked into over­drive should the glob­al sanc­tions on Rus­sia end up get­ting imposed.

    And as this arti­cle makes clear, it’s the devel­op­ing world — the part of the world that large­ly has yet to get on board with the West­’s desired Russ­ian sanc­tions — that is going to be bear­ing the brunt of the sanc­tions’ impact. In oth­er words, if the West is going to con­vince the devel­op­ing world to join those Russ­ian sanc­tions, some­thing unspeak­ably hor­rif­ic is going to have to be blamed on Rus­sia. Some­thing so awful that even coun­tries fac­ing fac­to­ry shut­downs and social unrest refuse to buy Russ­ian exports. Exports that go beyond fos­sil fuels. Rus­sia is the largest exporter of grain, after all. What will the impact on the devel­op­ing world’s food sup­plies be when all that grain is banned from the mar­kets? More social unrest, pre­sum­ably. But what else? What’s the plan for the years of glob­al social unrest that these sanc­tions are going to pro­duce hit­ting the poor­est and most vul­ner­a­ble coun­tries in the world? It’s omi­nous. On the one hand, it’s ter­ri­fy­ing to imag­ine there’s no plan. On the oth­er hand, hav­ing a plan to send the devel­op­ing world into years of socioe­co­nom­ic tur­moil is arguably a lot more ter­ri­fy­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 10, 2022, 4:02 pm
  14. Oh look, the Pen­ta­gon just failed anoth­er audit. This time, the audi­tors were unable to account for 61 per­cent of the Pen­tagon’s $3.5 tril­lion in assets. It’s not great, but more or less what to expect.

    It’s those appalling­ly low expec­ta­tions that are part of the con­text of the fol­low­ing sto­ry about the grow­ing inter­est in audit­ing the Pen­tagon’s flood of aid to Ukraine. As the arti­cle describes, account­abil­i­ty for that aid is expect­ed to be a focus of the House GOP after the Repub­li­cans take con­trol in Jan­u­ary. And while bet­ter over­sight of that aid is expect­ed, we’re also get­ting warn­ings that there’s a lim­it to the kind of inspec­tions the US can con­duct. Specif­i­cal­ly, there’s a deep hes­i­tan­cy over send­ing inspec­tors any­where close to the front lines where they might be expose to hos­tile forces. As a result of those lim­its, the inspec­tions that are even hap­pen­ing are only tak­ing place at the point where the weapons are being hand­ed over to the Ukraini­ans. Only the Ukraini­ans know what hap­pens to the weapons at that point. A total of two in-per­son inspec­tions have tak­en place at all between the start of the con­flict in Feb­ru­ary and ear­ly Novem­ber. And in what is prob­a­bly the most dis­turb­ing detail in this sto­ry, we are also being assured that there isn’t any­thing to wor­ry about because the Ukraini­ans have been read­i­ly report­ing back to the US how the weapons have been used and are fac­ing such an exis­ten­tial threat that they can’t afford to allow weapons to be siphoned off to the black mar­ket.

    But also keep in mind some of the oth­er rel­e­vant con­text here: Ukraine is increas­ing­ly becom­ing a bat­tle­field for beta-test­ing next-gen­er­a­tion NATO weapons sys­tems, includ­ing a grow­ing num­ber of weaponized drones. What’s being done to keep those tech­nolo­gies out of the black mar­ket? Not much, appar­ent­ly.

    And then there’s the sto­ry about the Ital­ian “Order of Hagal” alleged ter­ror cell with close ties to Ukrain­ian fas­cist groups like Azov and Right Sec­tor. How much of the deliv­ered aid is end­ed up in the hands of groups like that? We don’t know and haven’t real­ly checked it seems.

    So to sum­ma­rize, we’re being told that the US has lim­it­ed options for track­ing how the mil­i­tary aid to Ukraine — a coun­try flood­ed with both cut­ting-edge weapons and Nazi fel­low trav­el­ers — but not to wor­ry any­way because they’re pret­ty sure Ukraine is being hon­est. Which seems like a very big rea­son to wor­ry:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Pres­sure builds to step up weapons track­ing in Ukraine

    Leg­is­la­tion would require greater scruti­ny of the $20 bil­lion in mil­i­tary aid Pres­i­dent Biden has sent Ukraine, and it has bipar­ti­san sup­port

    By Karoun Demir­jian
    Novem­ber 27, 2022 at 2:00 a.m. EST

    Embold­ened by their suc­cess in the midterm elec­tions, House Repub­li­cans, who will hold a slim major­i­ty in the next Con­gress, have warned the Biden admin­is­tra­tion to expect far tougher over­sight of the exten­sive mil­i­tary assis­tance it has pro­vid­ed Ukraine.

    The admin­is­tra­tion, antic­i­pat­ing such demands as the com­mit­ment of mil­i­tary aid under Pres­i­dent Biden fast approach­es $20 bil­lion, has worked in recent weeks to pub­li­cize its efforts to track weapons ship­ments. Both the State Depart­ment and the Pen­ta­gon have out­lined plans, includ­ing more inspec­tions and train­ing for the Ukraini­ans, meant to pre­vent U.S. arms from falling into the wrong hands — ini­tia­tives that have failed thus far to quell Repub­li­can skep­tics call­ing for audits and oth­er account­abil­i­ty mea­sures.

    Most in Wash­ing­ton are in agree­ment that, gen­er­al­ly, the push for more over­sight is a good thing. But experts cau­tion there are cred­i­ble lim­i­ta­tions to ensur­ing an air­tight account of all weapons giv­en to Ukraine that are like­ly to leave Biden’s harsh­est crit­ics unsat­is­fied.

    “There are short­com­ings of end-use mon­i­tor­ing in the best of cir­cum­stances, and of course Ukraine isn’t in the best of cir­cum­stances,” said Elias Yousif, a researcher on the glob­al arms trade with the Stim­son Cen­ter. “There has to be some will­ing­ness to be prac­ti­cal about what we can achieve.”

    To date, the mega­phone for demand­ing change has been con­trolled pri­mar­i­ly by the GOP. Con­gress “will hold our gov­ern­ment account­able for all of the fund­ing for Ukraine,” Rep. Mar­jorie Tay­lor Greene (R‑Ga.) said this month in announc­ing a mea­sure to audit the aid pro­gram after Biden request­ed anoth­er $37 bil­lion for the gov­ern­ment in Kyiv. “There has to be account­abil­i­ty going for­ward,” Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), House Repub­li­cans’ cur­rent leader, told CNN in the inter­view in which he warned against giv­ing Ukraine a “blank check” to fight off Russia’s inva­sion.

    Yet the reck­on­ing could begin before the Repub­li­can takeover. A series of pro­vi­sions on offer in the House-passed ver­sion of this year’s annu­al defense autho­riza­tion bill would require a web of over­lap­ping reports from the Pen­ta­gon and the inspec­tors gen­er­al who police trans­fers of arti­cles of war, plus the estab­lish­ment of a task force to design and imple­ment enhanced track­ing mea­sures.

    And unlike the ris­ing GOP cho­rus of Ukraine skep­ti­cism, such line items — while yet to be rec­on­ciled with the Senate’s ver­sion of the bill, which is still pend­ing in that cham­ber — large­ly enjoy bipar­ti­san sup­port.

    “The tax­pay­ers deserve to know that invest­ment is going where its intend­ed to go,” Rep. Jason Crow (D‑Colo.), a vet­er­an-turned-law­mak­er, said in an inter­view.

    Crow led an effort in the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee to include in the defense bill instruc­tions to the Defense Depart­ment Inspec­tor Gen­er­al to review, audit, inves­ti­gate and oth­er­wise inspect the Pentagon’s efforts to sup­port Ukraine. He called the direc­tive “nec­es­sary,” even if he does not count him­self among the crit­ics insin­u­at­ing the Defense Depart­ment and the Ukraini­ans have failed to take the mat­ter seri­ous­ly enough.

    “In any war, there can be mis­steps and mis­al­lo­ca­tion of sup­plies,” he explained. But Crow also acknowl­edged that there were like­ly to be lim­i­ta­tions to the scope of account­ing that the Unit­ed States can pro­vide.

    ...

    Law­mak­ers, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials and experts all note that, thus far, there are few tan­gi­ble rea­sons for con­cern. Ukraine, they said, has been a proac­tive stew­ard of the assis­tance it has received, read­i­ly report­ing back about how U.S. mil­i­tary aid has been put to use — a ges­ture offi­cials believe is in no small part a func­tion of Kyiv’s effort to secure more of it. There also is a sense the Ukraini­ans have too much exis­ten­tial nation­al pride at stake to risk com­pro­mis­ing their effort to dri­ve out the Rus­sians by siphon­ing off weapons to the black mar­ket.

    But even the specter of dead­ly materiel falling through the cracks has many alarmed — espe­cial­ly with the West pour­ing small­er, less-trace­able arms into the coun­try as Ukrain­ian civil­ians face des­per­ate chal­lenges to their basic sur­vival.

    Part of the con­cern is due to prac­ti­cal lim­i­ta­tions. Accord­ing to Pen­ta­gon press sec­re­tary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Unit­ed States con­ducts weapons inspec­tions in Ukraine “when and where secu­ri­ty con­di­tions per­mit,” at loca­tions that “are not near the front line of Russia’s war against Ukraine.” Ryder declined to offer fur­ther details about the inspec­tions pro­gram, cit­ing con­cerns about oper­a­tional secu­ri­ty and force pro­tec­tion.

    Yet the State Depart­ment has a lim­it­ed bud­get for weapons inspec­tors posi­tioned in Ukraine, and thus can­not exam­ine every incom­ing ship­ment, accord­ing to offi­cials. As of ear­ly Novem­ber, U.S. mon­i­tors had per­formed just two in-per­son inspec­tions since the war began in Feb­ru­ary — account­ing for about 10 per­cent of the 22,000 U.S.-provided weapons, includ­ing Stinger sur­face-to-air mis­siles and Javelin anti­tank mis­siles, that require enhanced over­sight.

    Crow and oth­ers want to see the State Depart­ment expand its ros­ter of spe­cial­ists to con­duct more reg­u­lar checks at in-coun­try depots and trans­fer points.

    Anoth­er rea­son is the law. “End-use mon­i­tor­ing” is gov­erned by the Arms Export Con­trol Act, which requires the pres­i­den­tial admin­is­tra­tion to pro­vide “rea­son­able assur­ance” that recip­i­ents of mil­i­tary assis­tance are using the weapons for the pur­pose they were intend­ed, and com­ply­ing with any con­di­tions set by the Unit­ed States.

    In most cas­es, that check­up hap­pens sole­ly at the point where weapons are trans­ferred to Ukrain­ian cus­tody. Only in spe­cial cas­es, usu­al­ly when the weapons in ques­tion con­tain sen­si­tive tech­nol­o­gy, is “enhanced” mon­i­tor­ing required of the recip­i­ent nation. That entails track­ing ser­i­al num­bers and sub­mit­ting reports from the field. In Ukraine, such items include Stingers, Javelins, Avenger air defens­es and night-vision devices.

    The exist­ing sys­tem is not good enough, some law­mak­ers argue, not­ing that before the war, Ukraine ranked fair­ly low on glob­al cor­rup­tion index­es.

    “With the vol­umes of goods that we’re push­ing, it’s our respon­si­bil­i­ty to have third-par­ty over­sight. We do it all over the world,” Rep. Mike Waltz (R‑Fla.) said in an inter­view. He point­ed out that such prac­tices are used every­where from India to Israel and in coun­tries “that are much high­er on the cor­rup­tion and trans­paren­cy index” than Ukraine.

    Waltz, who worked with Crow and oth­ers to push sev­er­al of the defense bill’s bipar­ti­san mea­sures call­ing for increased over­sight, sup­ports keep­ing Ukrain­ian fight­ers well armed. But he believes the Biden admin­is­tra­tion has been too skit­tish about using Amer­i­cans to get a clear­er view of how U.S. weapons are being han­dled.

    “There are vet­er­ans’ groups run­ning all over the coun­try right now,” Waltz said, sug­gest­ing that they could be sub­con­tract­ed to report back to the Pen­ta­gon and State Depart­ment on how weapons are being used clos­er to the front. Short of that, Waltz argues it ought to be pos­si­ble to send U.S. inspec­tors not just to Ukraine’s cen­tral weapons depots, but “down to the brigade or even the bat­tal­ion head­quar­ters lev­el,” with­out undue risk.

    Thus far, the Biden admin­is­tra­tion has resist­ed pres­sure to send inspec­tors or oth­er mil­i­tary per­son­nel too deeply into Ukraine, for fear of foment­ing a wider con­flict. Accord­ing to U.S. offi­cials, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss oper­a­tional mat­ters, Amer­i­can spe­cial­ists cur­rent­ly con­duct weapons inspec­tions unarmed — a con­di­tion that would like­ly be unsus­tain­able if they were sent clos­er to the front lines.

    The Biden admin­is­tra­tion has been adamant, offi­cials and law­mak­ers who have been briefed by them say, that it will not tip­toe into a sit­u­a­tion that risks being inter­pret­ed by the Krem­lin as direct Amer­i­can involve­ment in the war.

    But Waltz not­ed that Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin is wag­ing a pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign accus­ing the Unit­ed States and NATO of clan­des­tine­ly oper­at­ing in Ukraine to turn the pop­u­la­tion against Moscow. “That’s a self-lim­i­ta­tion on the administration’s part,” he argued. “There is an accept­able risk to hav­ing peo­ple behind the front lines check­ing on where all this aid is going and help­ing the Ukraini­ans use it more effec­tive­ly.”

    ————-

    “Pres­sure builds to step up weapons track­ing in Ukraine” By Karoun Demir­jian; The Wash­ing­ton Post; 11/27/2022

    The admin­is­tra­tion, antic­i­pat­ing such demands as the com­mit­ment of mil­i­tary aid under Pres­i­dent Biden fast approach­es $20 bil­lion, has worked in recent weeks to pub­li­cize its efforts to track weapons ship­ments. Both the State Depart­ment and the Pen­ta­gon have out­lined plans, includ­ing more inspec­tions and train­ing for the Ukraini­ans, meant to pre­vent U.S. arms from falling into the wrong hands — ini­tia­tives that have failed thus far to quell Repub­li­can skep­tics call­ing for audits and oth­er account­abil­i­ty mea­sures.”

    Some sort of account­ing for the bil­lions of dol­lars in lethal aid is inevitable with the GOP tak­ing con­trol of the House, hence the pre­emp­tive steps we’re see­ing to pub­li­cize the exist­ing efforts to track weapons ship­ments:

    ...
    Most in Wash­ing­ton are in agree­ment that, gen­er­al­ly, the push for more over­sight is a good thing. But experts cau­tion there are cred­i­ble lim­i­ta­tions to ensur­ing an air­tight account of all weapons giv­en to Ukraine that are like­ly to leave Biden’s harsh­est crit­ics unsat­is­fied.

    “There are short­com­ings of end-use mon­i­tor­ing in the best of cir­cum­stances, and of course Ukraine isn’t in the best of cir­cum­stances,” said Elias Yousif, a researcher on the glob­al arms trade with the Stim­son Cen­ter. “There has to be some will­ing­ness to be prac­ti­cal about what we can achieve.”

    ...

    Yet the reck­on­ing could begin before the Repub­li­can takeover. A series of pro­vi­sions on offer in the House-passed ver­sion of this year’s annu­al defense autho­riza­tion bill would require a web of over­lap­ping reports from the Pen­ta­gon and the inspec­tors gen­er­al who police trans­fers of arti­cles of war, plus the estab­lish­ment of a task force to design and imple­ment enhanced track­ing mea­sures.
    ...

    At the same time, we’re hear­ing all these warn­ings about the lim­its to what the US can do to actu­al­ly track where and how weapons are used. Lim­i­ta­tions that include a resis­tance against send­ing inspec­tors any­where close to the front lines. As a result, it sounds like the only inspec­tions are hap­pen­ing sole­ly at the point where weapons are trans­ferred to Ukrain­ian cus­tody. And it does­n’t sound like many of those inspec­tions are even hap­pen­ing. As of ear­ly Novem­ber, just two in-per­son inspec­tions had tak­en place since the start of the con­flict in Feb­ru­ary:

    ...
    Part of the con­cern is due to prac­ti­cal lim­i­ta­tions. Accord­ing to Pen­ta­gon press sec­re­tary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder, the Unit­ed States con­ducts weapons inspec­tions in Ukraine “when and where secu­ri­ty con­di­tions per­mit,” at loca­tions that “are not near the front line of Russia’s war against Ukraine.” Ryder declined to offer fur­ther details about the inspec­tions pro­gram, cit­ing con­cerns about oper­a­tional secu­ri­ty and force pro­tec­tion.

    Yet the State Depart­ment has a lim­it­ed bud­get for weapons inspec­tors posi­tioned in Ukraine, and thus can­not exam­ine every incom­ing ship­ment, accord­ing to offi­cials. As of ear­ly Novem­ber, U.S. mon­i­tors had per­formed just two in-per­son inspec­tions since the war began in Feb­ru­ary — account­ing for about 10 per­cent of the 22,000 U.S.-provided weapons, includ­ing Stinger sur­face-to-air mis­siles and Javelin anti­tank mis­siles, that require enhanced over­sight.
    ...

    In most cas­es, that check­up hap­pens sole­ly at the point where weapons are trans­ferred to Ukrain­ian cus­tody. Only in spe­cial cas­es, usu­al­ly when the weapons in ques­tion con­tain sen­si­tive tech­nol­o­gy, is “enhanced” mon­i­tor­ing required of the recip­i­ent nation. That entails track­ing ser­i­al num­bers and sub­mit­ting reports from the field. In Ukraine, such items include Stingers, Javelins, Avenger air defens­es and night-vision devices.

    The exist­ing sys­tem is not good enough, some law­mak­ers argue, not­ing that before the war, Ukraine ranked fair­ly low on glob­al cor­rup­tion index­es.

    ...

    Thus far, the Biden admin­is­tra­tion has resist­ed pres­sure to send inspec­tors or oth­er mil­i­tary per­son­nel too deeply into Ukraine, for fear of foment­ing a wider con­flict. Accord­ing to U.S. offi­cials, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss oper­a­tional mat­ters, Amer­i­can spe­cial­ists cur­rent­ly con­duct weapons inspec­tions unarmed — a con­di­tion that would like­ly be unsus­tain­able if they were sent clos­er to the front lines.

    The Biden admin­is­tra­tion has been adamant, offi­cials and law­mak­ers who have been briefed by them say, that it will not tip­toe into a sit­u­a­tion that risks being inter­pret­ed by the Krem­lin as direct Amer­i­can involve­ment in the war.
    ...

    And here we get to what is per­haps the most alarm­ing detail in this sto­ry: the assur­ances that we should­n’t real­ly be too con­cerned about how these weapons are being used or whose hands they are falling into because the Ukraini­ans are being very proac­tive about report­ing how the weapons are used. It’s the kind of assur­ance that should­n’t actu­al­ly be all that assur­ing if you take a moment to think about it:

    ...
    Law­mak­ers, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials and experts all note that, thus far, there are few tan­gi­ble rea­sons for con­cern. Ukraine, they said, has been a proac­tive stew­ard of the assis­tance it has received, read­i­ly report­ing back about how U.S. mil­i­tary aid has been put to use — a ges­ture offi­cials believe is in no small part a func­tion of Kyiv’s effort to secure more of it. There also is a sense the Ukraini­ans have too much exis­ten­tial nation­al pride at stake to risk com­pro­mis­ing their effort to dri­ve out the Rus­sians by siphon­ing off weapons to the black mar­ket.

    But even the specter of dead­ly materiel falling through the cracks has many alarmed — espe­cial­ly with the West pour­ing small­er, less-trace­able arms into the coun­try as Ukrain­ian civil­ians face des­per­ate chal­lenges to their basic sur­vival.
    ...

    We are told that “Law­mak­ers, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials and experts all note” how there are few tan­gi­ble rea­sons for con­cern. That appears to be a wide­ly shared atti­tude. The kind of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ atti­tude that’s pre­sum­ably going to ensure Ukraine remains a place where Nazi fel­low trav­el­ers can get their hands on next-gen­er­a­tion NATO weapons sys­tems for years to come.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 29, 2022, 2:28 pm

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