Author Topic: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...  (Read 2153 times)

almarh0m

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #10 on: July 23, 2022, 06:04:44 PM »
   

   Servant of the Corrupt
July 22, 2022
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Pedro Gonzalez details the connections among Zelensky, oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky and Washington, D.C.


Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky in April. (President Of Ukraine, Flickr)

By Pedro Gonzalez
IM—1776

In February 2021, by order of President Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine shut down three domestic television channels, accusing them of spreading Russian “propaganda.”

Three months later, Zelenksky arrested Viktor Medvedchuk, who was at the time leading the second-biggest party in Ukraine’s national parliament, the pro-Russia and Eurosceptic Opposition Platform for Life (OPZZh).

Zelensky didn’t have trouble incinerating vaunted democratic norms well-before Russia crossed the Rubicon into Ukraine this year. So it was no surprise when he did it again amid the war in late March, invoking emergency powers under martial law to nationalize TV channels and ban 11 opposition parties, including OPZZh — all supposedly done in the name of combatting Russian misinformation and Russian sympathizers, even though OPZZh’s then-chairman, Yuriy Boyko, denounced the war and called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.

Zelensky, however, wouldn’t miss another opportunity to clip the wings of political opposition in his country, certainly not now that Western media rationalizes and glorifies his every move.

The portrait of the Ukraine president as a democratic paragon whitewashes the real Zelensky and conceals a vast web of corruption and international skullduggery of which Ukraine is situated in the center.

Understanding the real Zelensky, requires seeing him as a creation of Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. He is, in truth, a puppet of intrigue.

The Pandora Papers


Ihor Kolomoyskyi in 2013. (CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

It might be hard to believe now, but revelations from documents in the Pandora Papers — millions of files from offshore service providers leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and shared with partners around the world — sent Zelensky reeling last year, threatening to end his political career. Though the actor-turned-politico campaigned as an anti-corruption reformer, the Pandora Papers showed him to be just as crooked as his predecessors.

Of more than 300 politicians and public officials, including several current and former national leaders, in more than 91 countries and territories to whom the documents were linked, Ukraine was home to more secret offshore holdings than any other, including Russia.

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which contributed to the investigation, found that just before Zelensky was elected president,

“he gifted his stake in a key offshore company, the British Virgin Islands-registered Maltex Multicapital Corp., to his business partner — soon to be his top presidential aide. And in spite of giving up his shares, the documents show that an arrangement was soon made that would allow the offshore to keep paying dividends to a company that now belongs to his wife.”

As it was with crackdowns on free speech and political opposition, Zelensky’s office attempted to justify the use of offshores by blaming the specter of Russian aggression.

An adviser to Zelensky’s chief of staff said the offshores were necessary to “protect” the group’s incomes against the “aggressive actions” of the “corrupt” regime of former President Viktor Yanukovych, who was ousted in a U.S.-backed color revolution in 2014.

The expensive properties acquired by Zelensky associates in the center of London with the offshores, it seems, were but humble havens for persecuted Ukrainians.

It was true that Zelensky and his partners in a television production company, Kvartal 95, set up a network of offshore firms dating back to at least 2012. That was also the year the company began producing regular content for TV stations owned by Kolomoisky, Ukraine’s most flamboyant oligarch and Zelensky’s key backer.

The Raider

Kolomoisky is known to have intimidated guests by feeding a live shark he kept in a huge aquarium at his Dnipropetrovsk office and has even reportedly ordered contract killings. If he did not exist, Richard Marcinko would likely have invented him as a villain in one of his Rogue Warrior novels.

Kolomoisky co-founded and was until 2016 the main owner of PrivatBank, Ukraine’s largest commercial bank, as well as PrivatBank Group, a global business coalition whose control extends across thousands of companies in virtually every industry from Ukraine, the European Union, Georgia, Russia, the United States and elsewhere.


Corporate headquarters of PrivatBank in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, 2010. (Olga Vaganova, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

He denies having or needing influence over the president, but when the International Monetary Fund ended talks with Zelensky’s government after failing to reach a new lending agreement in 2019 (citing pervasive corruption) Kolomoisky, asked in an interview who would win if Zelensky was forced to choose between him and IMF loans, answered: “I would.”

Ukrainian media has noted that Kolomoisky has not denied financing Zelensky’s campaign.

Kolomoisky built his enormous fortune atop PrivatBank primarily as a “raider.” In a 2015 story for Harper’s Magazine about Zelensky’s backer, Andrew Cockburn colored in the meaning of that term with the help of Matthew Rojansky, director of the Kennan Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars.

There are firms in Ukraine “registered with offices and business cards, firms [that specialize in] various dimensions of the corporate raiding process, which includes armed guys to do stuff, forging documents, bribing notaries, bribing judges,” Rojansky told Cockburn.

And according to Rojansky, Kolomoisky is “the most famous oligarch-raider, accused of having conducted a massive raiding campaign over the roughly ten years up to 2010.” At some point, he managed to end up on the United States’ visa ban list, prohibiting him from entering the country.

But the interests of the oligarch go well-beyond cutthroat business dealings, overlapping with Washington’s affairs in the region.

Between 2013 and 2014, the U.S. backed a color revolution in Ukraine that resulted in regime change. It also triggered a civil war between government forces and pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country who declared independence from Kiev.

Amid this crisis, acting President Oleksandr Turchynov appointed Kolomoisky governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. He turned his workforce into a private army to combat the separatists. Yet even as Kolomoisky morphed into a warlord, he did not neglect his business empire.

Washington-Approved Oligarch


National Bank of Ukraine in Kiev, 2013. (A1, CC0, Wikimedia Commons)

In 2014, the IMF approved emergency aid to Ukraine and injected billions into the National Bank of Ukraine — the country’s central bank — to support local commercial banks.

Through a globe-spanning scheme involving PrivatBank accounts and PrivatBank Group companies and a corrupt Ukrainian court system, Kolomoisky looted billions in IMF aid. The con, as revealed in a series of court judgments, was outlined as follows by Cockburn:

“Forty-two Ukrainian firms owned by 54 offshore entities registered in Caribbean, American and Cypriot jurisdictions and linked to or affiliated with the Privat group of companies, took out loans from PrivatBank in Ukraine to the value of $1.8 billion. The firms then ordered goods from six foreign “supplier” companies, three of which were incorporated in the United Kingdom, two in the British Virgin Islands, one in the Caribbean statelet of St. Kitts & Nevis.

Payment for the orders — $1.8 billion — was shortly afterwards prepaid into the vendors’ accounts, which were, coincidentally, in the Cyprus branch of PrivatBank. Once the money was sent, the Ukrainian importing companies arranged with PrivatBank Ukraine that their loans be guaranteed by the goods on order.

But the foreign suppliers invariably reported that they could not fulfill the order after all, thus breaking the contracts, but without any effort to return the money.


Joe Biden, foreground, and son Hunter during inauguration of President Barack Obama, Jan. 20, 2009. (acaben, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Finally, the Ukrainian companies filed suit, always in the Dnipropetrovsk Economic Court, demanding that the foreign supplier return the prepayment and also that the guarantee to PrivatBank be cancelled. In 42 out of 42 such cases the court issued the identical judgment: the advance payment should be returned to the Ukrainian company, but the loan agreement should remain in force.”

During this period, Kolomoisky kept his portfolio of activities diverse. Twenty fourteen was also the year when then-Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, reportedly joined the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company to which Kolomoisky has been connected with a controlling interest, according to The New York Post.

Emails obtained by the Post revealed that Vadym Pozharskyi, a Kolomoisky protégé, communicated with Hunter in 2015 about a meeting between Pozharskyi and then-Vice President Biden. Further, bank records of Hunter (lawfully obtained according to D&A Investigations) show payments made to him by PrivatBank.

By 2015, Kolomoisky was onto his next controversy, the one that would ultimately lead to Zelensky’s rise.

In March of that year, Kolomoisky’s men physically seized control of Ukrnafta, the largest oil and gas producer in the country, and UkrTransNafta, which controls virtually all oil pipelines in Ukraine. This was Kolomoisky’s way of showing his disapproval of the government’s timid reform efforts, which posed a direct threat to then-President Petro Poroshenko’s power.

Poroshenko thus turned to Washington for help — namely, then-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, who was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine at the time.

Nuland is an interventionist married to arch-neoconservative Robert Kagan. She’s been called “the architect of American influence in Ukraine,” was instrumental in regime change and has served in every presidential administration except Trump’s since Bill Clinton’s days. People like Nuland are why presidents come and go, but interventionist foreign policy always remains.

With D.C.’s help, in exchange for Kolomoisky backing down in April 2015, Poroshenko successfully had the oligarch removed from a years-long, U.S. visa ban two weeks later. Importantly, Pyatt and Nuland looked the other way on Kolomoisky’s IMF scheme, even as Washington persecuted other oligarchs.


Oct. 8, 2014:  U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland at a Ukrainian State Border Guard Service Base in Kiev. (U.S. Embassy Kyiv, Flickr)

Meanwhile, at the same time that it ignored Kolomoisky’s corruption, the State Department attempted to extradite Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash for a bribery incident that allegedly took place in India. However, his real crime was holding ties to the government Nuland had a role in toppling as well as his association with deposed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

When Firtash appealed against his extradition, a European judge agreed and concluded that “America obviously saw Firtash as somebody who was threatening their economic interests.” Nevertheless, Washington has a long memory and Firtash may end up standing trial in the U.S after all.

Even as he was removed from the U.S. banned list, Kolomoisky allegedly continued to embezzle and defraud PrivatBank of huge sums. Some of his schemes spilled over onto American soil.

According to the Justice Department, from approximately 2008 through 2016, Kolomoisky obtained fraudulent loans and lines of credit as part of a massive scheme totaling at least $5.5 billion, i.e. roughly equal to 5 percent of Ukraine’s gross domestic product at the time.

In the U.S., millions of those dollars were allegedly laundered through commercial real estate purchases from Ohio to Kentucky and Texas. Furthermore, Zelensky’s benefactor allegedly purchased a dozen steel mills in small towns across America, leaving in his wake bankrupt factories, unpaid taxes, rotting buildings and hundreds of steelworkers out of jobs.

By nationalizing PrivatBank in 2016, Ukraine effectively put the burden of a multi-billion dollar bailout on the shoulders of taxpayers.

‘Servant of the People’

Kolomoisky would have his revenge for what happened in his domain. The confrontation with Poroshenko, which was seen as humiliating for the oligarch, concluded in March 2015.

By October, the first episode of a new show, Servant of the People aired on Ukraine’s 1+1 channel, in which Zelensky played the leading role: a high-school history teacher who unexpectedly becomes president of Ukraine and is committed to fighting government corruption. 1+1 is owned by the 1+1 Media Group, one of the largest Ukrainian media conglomerates, whose owner, according to the Atlantic Council, is none other than Kolomoisky himself, giving him “significant political influence in today’s Ukraine. His media assets were used to promote the 2019 presidential election campaign of President Zelenskyy, whose hit shows previously aired on Kolomoisky’s network.”

The Servant of the People series itself was produced by Kvartal 95, the company founded by Zelensky, whose partners were implicated in a network of offshores by the Pandora Papers. After Zelensky’s ascension, key figures of Kvartal 95 joined Zelensky’s administration.

Ivan Hennadiyovych Bakanov, for example, went from head of the production studio to the leader of the Security Service of Ukraine under Zelensky.

The show literally created Zelensky’s presidential persona, effectively allowing him to build an unofficial campaign against the incumbent administration until March 2018, when a political party named after the television series was registered with the Ministry of Justice.

In December 2018, Zelensky officially announced his presidential candidacy on 1+1.


Zelensky, in a 2016 episode of Ukrainian TV comedy “Servant of the People.” (YouTube)

Zelensky, the creation of an oligarch, campaigned for president as the character he played in a comedy series with a party named after the show to victory in 2019.

During the race, Volodymyr Ariev, a political ally of incumbent President Poroshenko, posted a chart on Facebook claiming it showed how Zelensky and his television production partners were beneficiaries of a constellation of offshore firms which allegedly received millions from Kolomoisky’s PrivatBank.

The allegations were dismissed as baseless at the time, but the Pandora Papers revealed that information on several companies in the network corresponded with Ariev’s chart, the OCCRP noted.

Shortly after taking the reins, Zelensky and his Servant of the People party began firing, supposedly for inefficiency, Ukrainian ministers with reputations as anti-corruption reformers.

Daria Kaleniuk, head of Ukraine’s Anti-Corruption Action Center, told The Washington Post in March 2020 that the affair sent the message that Zelensky “can fire a person who takes a risk, for doing the right things, and blame this person for inefficiency.”

Kiev-based reform reporter Oleg Sukhov echoed the sentiment last year, writing that “Zelensky has consistently protected corrupt officials from prosecution and killed anti-corruption reforms.” On the other hand, when faced with a petition calling for his dismissal, Zelensky refused to fire Oleh Tatarov, his deputy chief of staff, who had been charged with bribery.

The people put on the chopping block were also the ones most likely to threaten the power of oligarchs like Kolomoisky, from whom Zelensky may have learned a thing or two.

In a 2020 press conference, he remarked that he wanted to be “remembered as the president who built good roads in Ukraine.” One of the handful of construction companies that have received a significant share of state funds for building public roads during his tenure is PBS LLC, which is linked to Skorzonera LLC, a company co-owned by Kolomoisky, according to corporate records.

PBS has been accused by Ukrainian investigators of misappropriating millions in state funds for road work. A ruling by a court in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast noted that together with the Kolomoisky-controlled Skorzonera it is connected as part of a web of related business entities with overlapping addresses and personnel. PBS and Skorzonera had even sent their tax declarations from the same IP address.

Notably, former Customs Minister Maxim Nefyodov was one of the reformers fired by Zelensky. Nefyodov is most well-known for having created ProZorro, a system designed to tackle corruption in Ukraine’s public procurement sector.

After dismissing Nefyodov, Zelensky’s party used its majority to pass legislation that would allow the most expensive road construction project in modern Ukrainian history to be built with zero oversight, ProZorro exempt.

Last June, the Kyiv Post reported how Zelensky “has doubled spending on road repairs, reaching into the pocket of the COVID relief fund and spending money Ukraine has won in international courts.” An interesting source of cash, considering that the IMF approved a multi-billion dollar aid package in 2020 “to help Ukraine to cope with COVID-19 pandemic challenges by providing balance of payments and budget support.”

Is it possible that Zelensky has taken a page out of Kolomoisky’s book by taking liberties with international aid? It’s hard to say for certain.

Also unclear, is why the State Department decided to once again sanction Kolomoisky last March after he was taken off the bad list despite his own international scheming. In a press statement, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said the reason was “due to his involvement in significant corruption.” But they were aware of that when they put him on and took him off the list the first time.

Stranger still, Blinken specifically cited the years 2014 to 2015, when Kolomoisky “was involved in corrupt acts that undermined rule of law and the Ukrainian public’s faith in their government’s democratic institutions and public processes, including using his political influence and official power for his personal benefit.”

Again, this is not a revelation, considering that Nuland played a role in getting Kolomoisky off the list the first time during that period, back when Blinken served as deputy national security advisor under Obama. Blinken didn’t even mention Kolomoisky’s alleged plundering in America.

Puppet of Intrigue

In 2019, just after Zelensky won his election, Kolomoisky signaled that he was prepared to pour oil over troubled waters and make peace with Russia.

The civil war in eastern Ukraine has so far claimed more than 14,000 lives. The oligarch said it was enough: “They’re stronger anyway. We have to improve our relations,” he said about Russia and Ukraine according to The New York Times.

But he also saw an obstacle: “People want peace, a good life, they don’t want to be at war. And you [Washington] are forcing us to be at war, and not even giving us the money for it.”

Did the U.S. sanction Zelensky’s patron, the way it did Firtash, to nudge him in the right direction?

In the latter case, the U.S. threatened to arrest Firtash for bribery to pressure Yanukovych into signing a trade deal with the E.U. But the deal was, in reality, a ploy to destabilize Russia’s economy.


Dmitry Firtash appearing on TV in 2015. (CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Despite being characterized as merely “pro-Russian,” Yanukovych, as The Economist explained, preferred “to preserve the status quo and refrain from joining either camp while continuing to milk [the EU and Russia].” And so the United States squeezed his friend to encourage Yanukovych to tilt in the desired direction.

“If Yanukovych were to be persuaded to change his mind, threatening to put his sponsor Dmitry Firtash behind bars was a potent lever to apply,” wrote Cockburn. “Four days later, Yanukovych signaled he was ready to sign, whereupon Washington lifted the request to shackle his billionaire ally.”

But Yanukovych changed course and accepted a counteroffer from Moscow, a moment that became the flashpoint for a color revolution. Per Cockburn: “Street protests in Kiev followed, eagerly endorsed by Nuland, who subsequently distributed cookies in gratitude to the demonstrators.”

Yanukovych fled Kiev on Feb. 22. Four days later, Washington renewed its efforts to arrest Firtash. “They duly did. Briefly imprisoned, Firtash posted the equivalent of $174 million bail and waited for a court to rule on his appeal against extradition.”

Whether something similar happened with Zelensky’s oligarch is another good question; likely one that won’t be answered anytime soon.

The Big Lie

The war has completely reinvented Zelensky, thus saving his scandal-plagued presidency marked by broken promises. As a Kyiv International Institute of Sociology poll showed, just 24 percent of voters supported him in late January.

But now, thanks to the West’s embracement of the actor’s new persona which often places him beyond reproach, Zelensky has become the recipient of unqualified adoration and enormous amounts of international aid money.

“Before the war the U.S. was sending $300 million per year to Ukraine,” Mark Cancian, a senior adviser at the Center for International and Strategic Studies,  told  NPR. Now, we’re providing $100 million a day to what was until recently considered “the most corrupt nation in Europe.“

As of today, the United States government alone is on track to deliver more than $50 billion in total aid to Ukraine. For comparison, the Department of Homeland Security estimated that Trump’s proposed border wall would cost roughly $21.6 billion.

Republicans in particular, spent the first two years of Trump’s term resisting his efforts to fund and build the wall, before reluctantly agreeing to support just a fraction of what they approved for Ukraine at the drop of a hat, even challenging the patriotism of their critics.

What is the likelihood that those billions in international aid will vanish into well-connected pockets?

No one is asking these or any other important questions. Just as no one asked if it was odd when Zelensky stated that Russia would have to “kill all residents” in Ukraine’s capital to take it and get to him.

That, seems the high price that the ‘servant of the people’ is willing to let Ukrainians pay; and one that Washington is happy to let Americans subsidize.

Pedro Gonzalez is a senior writer at Chronicles: a magazine of American culture, and the author of the Contra newsletter.

This article is from IM—1776.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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almarh0m

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2022, 04:15:05 PM »

  SCOTT RITTER: Washington’s Russian Drone Fantasy
July 26, 2022
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The information warfare campaign by the U.S. and its allies on behalf of Ukraine appeared to engulf Putin’s visit to Iran last week.


U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, center, with NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana, left, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Oct. 7, 2021. (NATO)

By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News

According to the official U.S. government narrative, a “desperate” Russia — suffering significant battlefield reversals in Ukraine including the loss of “large numbers” of reconnaissance drones while its own military industrial capacity lacks the ability to provide adequate replacements due to Russia’s “economic isolation” — has turned to Iran for assistance.

“Our information,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan declared, “indicates that the Iranian government is preparing to provide Russia with up to several hundred UAV’s [unmanned aerial vehicles], including weapons-capable UAVs on an expedited timeline.” Sullivan said. “It’s unclear whether Iran has delivered any of these UAVs to Russia already.”

Sullivan’s assessment was drawn from U.S. intelligence reports indicating that Russian officials had twice visited Iran — on June 8 and July 5 — for the purpose of observing at least two versions of Iranian UAVs in operation.

Both visits took place at Kashan Airbase, in central Iran. The Kashan facility has been publicly identified by Israel as the main training facility for Iran’s UAV program. According to Sullivan, these visits represent the first by Russian officials. “This suggests ongoing Russian interest in acquiring Iranian attack-capable UAVs,” Sullivan noted.

The Biden administration believes that Russia is seeking to acquire “hundreds” of the Iranian UAVs and that Iran is prepared to begin training Russian operators on their use in the near future.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby put the final spin on the story: “It was important to make it clear to the world that we know that Russia needs these additional capabilities,” Kirby said. “They are expanding their resources at an accelerated rate.”

C.I.A. Director William Burns echoed this assessment during a recent presentation at the Aspen Institute. “It’s important to remind ourselves,” Burns told attendees, speaking about the alleged Russian effort to procure Iranian UAVs, “that it’s a reflection, in some ways, of the deficiencies of Russia’s defense industry today, and the difficulties they’re having after significant losses so far in the war against Ukraine.”


William Burns in 2019, while president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
(World Economic Forum, Ciaran McCrickard, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Information Warfare

The announcements by Sullivan, Kirby and Burns appear to be part of an ongoing information warfare campaign being waged by the United States and its allies on behalf of Ukraine, where, according to NBC News, the National Security Council “deploys” declassified intelligence — “even when confidence in the accuracy of the information wasn’t high” — in order to “undermine Moscow’s propaganda and prevent Russia from defining how the war is perceived in the world,” or, more simply put, “to get inside [Russia President Vladimir] Putin’s head.”

The timing of the release of the drone intelligence, coming as it did on the eve of Putin’s visit to Tehran to meet with the Iranian leadership and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, suggests that Sullivan was applying the information warfare template to this trip in an attempt to shift the narrative away from Putin’s real goals — addressing the ongoing Syrian crisis and expanding diplomatic, military and economic ties with two of the region’s most critical state actors. Putin’s Tehran visit, taken at face value, undermined U.S. policy objectives in so far as it showed Russia to be confidently assertive and actively engaged in regional security and economic affairs.

[Related: PATRICK LAWRENCE: 21st Century Order]

By releasing the drone intelligence, the Biden administration sought to show the Russian leader as weakened and desperate for outside assistance to offset a looming military defeat in Ukraine. Based upon the results of Putin’s Tehran visit — furtherance of a political versus a military solution to the Syrian crises and the signing of a series of oil-and-gas development projects worth some $40 billion in total — the U.S. goal was not met. This is especially the case when the strong showing of Putin is contrasted with the relatively weak performance of U.S. President Joe Biden during his four-day sojourn through Israel and Saudi Arabia, which took place on the eve of Putin’s Tehran jaunt.

The issue of UAVs as a symbol of Russian military weakness has been a centerpiece of anti-Russian propaganda promulgated by Western intelligence services for some time now. Back in May, the British Defense Intelligence Service published a report detailing its assessment of the role played by UAV technology in the Russian military operation. “The Russia-Ukraine war has seen Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) playing a pivotal role for both sides,” the report noted, “although they have suffered a high rate of attrition. UAVs have proved vulnerable both to being shot down and to electronic jamming.”


U.S. government satellite imagery of Russian delegation viewing Iranian drones, including the Shahed 129 and the Shahed Saegheh, at Kashan Airfield in June. (U.S. government,  Wikimedia Commons)

The British highlighted their assessment that Russia was seeking to replicate an operational concept known as “Reconnaissance Strike” that had been developed and refined by its forces in Syria. This concept, the British declared, “uses reconnaissance UAVs to identify targets to be struck by combat jets or artillery.” What worked well in Syria, the British assessed, wasn’t working in Ukraine, due to the high casualty rate that the British alleged Russia to be suffering.

“Russia is likely experiencing a shortage of appropriate reconnaissance UAVs for this task, which is exacerbated by limitations in its domestic manufacturing capacity resulting from sanctions.”

Russia’s Orion UAV

The main problem with the British assessment, however, is that it hasn’t withstood the test of time, which is the ultimate discriminator when it comes to the quality of intelligence analysis. “Reconnaissance Strike,” it seems, is alive and well and living in Ukraine, courtesy of the very tool — the Orion medium-altitude, long-duration UAV — tested in Syria since 2019.

While the Ukrainian air defense forces appear to have shot down an Orion UAV on April 7, the system continues to fly over Ukraine, providing critical reconnaissance and strike capability for the Russians.

The Orion, it seems, has been very effective in tracking down the various heavy weapons — French-made Caesar howitzers, U.S.-made M777 howitzers and HIMARS rocket systems —that have been provided to Ukraine in an effort to help reverse Ukrainian military fortunes on the battlefield. (U.S. officials deny that any HIMARS systems have been destroyed by Russia.) The Orion has also been used to great effect to strike other targets as well.

Russia has also made extensive (and effective) use of  “loitering UAVs” — “suicide drones” —in Ukraine. Two models in wide use are both made by a subsidiary of the Kalashnikov arms factory. These UAVs — the KUB and the Lancett-3 — are state of the art, capable of autonomous targeting (i.e., they seek out targets by themselves) and are ubiquitous over the Ukrainian battlefield.

The British intelligence assessment, echoed in turn by the U.S. intelligence and national security establishment, was and is flat-out wrong. But what makes the error even more egregious is that neither intelligence service — the U.K. nor the U.S. — seemed bothered by trying to at least craft a logical narrative to back-up their erroneous claims.

The Iranian drones that were imaged by U.S. satellites at Kashan air base — the Shahid-129 and Shahid-191 — are both derivatives of U.S. UAV technology, and do not in any way, shape, or form advance Russia’s demonstrated UAV prowess. The Russian drones are newer and more advanced than the drones alleged to have been demonstrated by Iran.

Moreover, the Russia drones have been built according to Russian needs and specifications and adapted to developing Russian UAV doctrine that has been extensively tested under combat conditions in Syria.

By all indications, Russia has readily adapted both the doctrine and the weapons systems involved to the new realities of the Ukrainian battlefield. Unless Russia was facing a catastrophic shortfall in the availability of drones (and no hard evidence has been provided by either the U.K. or U.S. to sustain such a premise), there is absolutely no reason for the Russian Ministry of Defense to undertake a crash program to acquire foreign-made UAVs that could not be readily integrated into the operational forces of the Russian military under combat conditions.

Then there is the issue of verification of the U.S. claims. For its part, Iran has denied the American allegations, with Iran’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian declaring that while Iran has “defense agreements with Russia,” it “will not help any of the parties involved in this conflict,” which includes providing weapons to either side.

For its part, Russia has remained characteristically silent on the issue, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov noting, prior to Putin’s arrival in Tehran, that the Russian president would not be discussing Iranian drones while in Iran.

So, what is behind the Russian interest in Iranian drones? The answer may lie in their U.S. origins. As the U.S. increases the scope and scale of its military assistance to Ukraine, and as Russia confronts the all-too-real possibility of a wider conflict in Europe where its forces would be compelled to face off against U.S.-manufactured drone technology, Russia would be foolish not to take advantage of its improving ties with Iran to gain invaluable insights into U.S. drone technology, as well as how Iran has adapted this technology to the modern battlefield, to include successful operations against U.S.-designed air defense systems.

This scenario makes far more sense that the fanciful “Russia is losing the drone war” narrative being pushed by U.S. and British intelligence and parroted without any real effort at anything that remotely resembles sound analysis by the compliant stenographers in the mainstream Western media. All any reporter had to do was ask the Ukrainian military about what was happening all along the frontlines in Ukraine — or at least, ask those who had not been killed at the hands of Russia’s very dangerous, and very active, UAV force.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. His most recent book is Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, published by Clarity Press.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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almarh0m

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #12 on: July 29, 2022, 06:30:21 PM »

29 Jul, 2022 14:52
HomeRussia & FSU
If telling the truth puts me on Ukraine’s ‘Russian propagandist’ blacklist, I’ll wear that tag proudly
When it comes to fact-based analysis, I’ll take so-called ‘Russian propaganda’ over ‘Ukrainian truth’ every day
Scott Ritter
Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of 'Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika: Arms Control and the End of the Soviet Union.' He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector.

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@ScottRitter
If telling the truth puts me on Ukraine’s ‘Russian propagandist’ blacklist, I’ll wear that tag proudly
Scott Ritter © AFP PHOTO / Ramzi HAIDAR
In 1997, I flew into Kiev, on-mission with the United Nations Special Commission to seek the assistance of the Ukrainian government in investigating the activities of a Ukrainian citizen suspected of illegally selling ballistic missile components and manufacturing capabilities to Iraq in violation of Security Council-imposed economic sanctions. During my visit, I held several meetings with senior officials from the Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council, including its Secretary, Vladimir Horbulin. I left on good terms, with the Ukrainians agreeing to cooperate (they ultimately did not) and hoping that I would pass on their good attitude to US authorities in hopes that it would assist their desire for NATO membership (I did, in fact, do this.)

Twenty-five years later, this same National Security and Defense Council, through its “Center for Countering Disinformation,” has published a blacklist of individuals deemed to be “promoting Russian propaganda.”

My name is on this list. My “crimes” include describing Ukraine as a base of NATO, challenging the narrative surrounding the Bucha massacre, and defining the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia as a “proxy war between NATO and Russia.”

I am guilty on all three charges, and more.

Hungary spreading ‘Russian propaganda’ – Ukraine
Read more Hungary spreading ‘Russian propaganda’ – Ukraine
But I am no Russian propagandist.

The Center for Countering Disinformation was established in 2021 on the order of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky. It is headed by Polina Lysenko, a lawyer who received her law degree in 2015, and whose resumé includes time with the National Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Office of the Prosecutor General (where she received a commendation from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation) and, up until her current appointment, as the Director of the Information Policy and Public Relations Department at a state-owned railway operator. 

Lysenko unveiled the work of the Center for Countering Disinformation to the ambassadors of the G7 countries, as well as to Finland, Israel, and NATO shortly after her appointment. Her boss, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Aleksey Danilov, emphasized “the importance of coordinating actions with strategic partners in combating hostile information operations and fighting disinformation,” while the head of the Office of the President, Andrey Yermak, indicated that he hoped “that the Center will become not only a Ukrainian center for countering disinformation, but also an international one.” According to Yermak, the center was “fully operational.”

Polina Lysenko, in outlining the goals and mission of her organization, emphasized that “the truth will be the main weapon.”

She should have started by fact-checking Yermak – two months after he’s declared her center “fully operational,” Ukrainian media was reporting that the center lacked “premises, funding, and staff.” Lysenko was the only employee, and “she has not been paid her salary for several months.” The Center was supposed to have a staff of 52, who were to be paid some $2,000 per month. The Ministry of Finance was responsible for finding the funds for the center, something it had not done as of mid-June 2021. Lysenko worked by herself from a “tiny office on the ground floor of the National Security and Defense Council building.”

It's tough to tell the truth when you’re not being paid, it seems.

A year later, while funding and staff do not seem to be a problem (thanks in large part to the underwriting of the Ukrainian government payroll by the US taxpayer), quality control is. Take, for example, the case outlined by Lysenko and her new agency on disinformation against me. If “describing Ukraine as a base of NATO” makes one a Russian propogandist, then I should have been joined by Ben Watson, an editor with the notoriously pro-Russian (sarcasm emphasized) web-based journal, Defense One, who in October 2017 published an article with the self-explanatory headline “In Ukraine, the US Trains an Army in the West to Fight in the East.” The article detailed the work done by US and NATO military personnel at the Joint Multinational Training Group – Ukraine’s Yavoriv Combat Training Center in western Ukraine – literally a NATO base inside Ukraine – where every 55 days a Ukrainian Army battalion was trained to NATO standards for the sole purpose of being deployed into eastern Ukraine to fight Russian-backed separatists in Donbass.

Journalist branded enemy of state by Ukraine
Read more Journalist branded enemy of state by Ukraine
Pro hint, Ms. Lysenko – when your country hosts a permanent contingent of NATO troops on its soil, that makes it a base of NATO.

Lysenko’s staff of top-notch disinformation-countering analysts (again, sarcasm) likewise highlighted my assessment of the massacre of civilians in Bucha in late March-early April as having been committed by Ukrainian forces. Lysenko was in good company here – I was banned from Twitter for this same analysis. Some four months removed from the atrocities committed in Bucha, I stand by my analysis – the fact set has not changed. I am prepared to debate this issue with Polina Lysenko and her entire staff, live on Ukrainian television, anytime she likes. I’ll debate it with anyone, anywhere – that’s how confident I remain in my original analysis. Truth, after all, is my main weapon.

The last charge levelled against me by Lysenko’s intrepid truth sleuths, that I’ve labelled the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia as a “proxy war between NATO and Russia,” again brings to question the professionalism of her staff. After all, the Moscow-born self-hating Russian, Max Boot, in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post on June 22, called the Ukraine conflict “our war, too.” It’s one of the few times I will agree with Max Boot on anything. Boot, however, was merely echoing US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s articulation of US policy regarding the Ukraine conflict as being focused on weakening Russia by supporting Ukraine – sort of the textbook definition of a “proxy conflict.”

Do better, Polina Lysenko – at least try to score some cheap points by highlighting the fact that much of my analysis regarding Ukraine is published by Russia Today (for instance, this article.) At least then you could say that I was being paid by Russia. Of course, you’d have to wrestle with the fact that my analysis is also published in numerous non-Russian outlets – I mean, what kind of Russian propagandist gets published by American and British publishers?

And then, of course, there is the tricky issue of the controlling Russian editorial staff. The following exchange serves as a guide:

Me: Any interest in me doing a deep dig on Stoltenberg’s presentation on “paying the price”?

Controlling Russian Editor: What’s your take?

Me: I don’t think Stoltenberg understands the scope of the price tag.

Controlling Russian Editor: It’s the same speech where he said ‘stop complaining’, yeah?

Me: Yes.

Controlling Russian Editor: Cool, let’s do it.

Russia blacklists British media and military figures
Read more Russia blacklists British media and military figures
The strategic intent of the Russian propaganda machine is well documented there. I can’t believe I fell for it.

All sarcasm aside, the publication by Lysenko’s Center of a blacklist of so-called “Russian propagandists” should be an insult to anyone who believes in the concepts of free speech. I’m proud to be associated with many of those who joined me on that list – Ray McGovern, Tulsi Gabbard, Douglas MacGregor, John Mearsheimer, and others. I’m confident everyone named here would say that their motivations in taking the stance they have about the Ukraine conflict is to pursue the truth – real truth, not the confused version promulgated by Polina Lysenko and her American-paid analysts. None consider themselves to be Russian propagandists, but rather American practitioners of free speech, the kind protected by the same US Constitution many of the named individuals (and myself) have taken an oath to uphold and defend.

I’ll conclude by speaking for myself – if adhering to fact-based analysis that has withstood the test of time is the new definition of 'Russian propaganda', then count me in. It certainly is better than the Orwellian version of free speech being bandied about by the US government and its proxies in Ukraine (see what I did there?).

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.



"He who Created me, it is He who Guides me"

almarh0m

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2022, 01:57:43 AM »
 Caitlin Johnstone: Ukraine Gets CBS to Retract Critical Report
August 12, 2022
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It’s not just critical commentators who see the Western press as propagandists. It’s how they see themselves.


By Caitlin Johnstone
CaitlinJohnstone.com

Listen to a reading of this article.

Following objections from the Ukrainian government, CBS News has removed a short documentary which had reported concerns from numerous sources that a large amount of the supplies being sent to Ukraine aren’t making it to the front lines.

The Ukrainian government has listed its objections to the report on a government website, naming Ukrainian officials who objected to it and explaining why each of the CBS news sources it dislikes should be discounted. After the report was taken down and the Twitter post about it removed, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said this was a good start but still not enough.

“Welcome first step, but it is not enough,” Kuleba tweeted. “You have misled a huge audience by sharing unsubstantiated claims and damaging trust in supplies of vital military aid to a nation resisting aggression and genocide. There should be an internal investigation into who enabled this and why.”


 

The CBS News article about the documentary was renamed, from “Why military aid to Ukraine doesn’t always get to the front lines: ‘Like 30% of it reaches its final destination’” to the far milder “Why military aid in Ukraine may not always get to the front lines.”

An editor’s note on the new version of the article explicitly admits to taking advisement on its changes from the Ukrainian government, reading as follows:

“This article has been updated to reflect changes since the CBS Reports documentary ‘Arming Ukraine’ was filmed, and the documentary is also being updated. Jonas Ohman says the delivery has significantly improved since filming with CBS in late April. The government of Ukraine notes that U.S. defense attaché Brigadier General Garrick M. Harmon arrived in Kyiv in August 2022 for arms control and monitoring.”

CBS News does not say why it has taken so long for this report to come out, why it didn’t check to see if anything had changed in the last few months during a rapidly unfolding war before releasing its report, or why it felt its claims were good enough to air before Kiev raised its objections but not after.

Someone uploaded the old version of the documentary on YouTube here, or you can watch it on Bitchute here if that one gets taken down. It was supportive of Ukraine and very oppositional to Russia, and simply featured a number of sources saying they had reason to believe a lot of the military supplies being sent to Ukraine aren’t getting where they’re supposed to go.



The original article quotes the aforementioned Jonas Ohman as follows:

“‘All of this stuff goes across the border, and then something happens, kind of like 30% of it reaches its final destination,’ said Jonas Ohman, founder and CEO of Blue-Yellow, a Lithuania-based organization that has been meeting with and supplying frontline units with military aid in Ukraine since the start of the conflict with Russia-backed separatists in 2014.

 “ ‘30-40%, that’s my estimation,’ he said in April of this year.”

“The U.S. has sent tens of thousands of anti-aircraft and anti-armor systems, artillery rounds, hundreds of artillery systems, Switchblade armored drones and tens of millions of rounds of small arms ammunition,” CBS’ Adam Yamaguchi tells us at 14:15 of the documentary.

“But in a conflict where frontlines are scattered and conditions change without warning, not all of those supplies reach their destination. Some also reported weapons are being hoarded, or worse fear that they are disappearing into the black market, an industry that has thrived under corruption in post-Soviet Ukraine.”

“I can tell you unarguably that on the frontline units these things are not getting there,” the Mozart Group‘s Andy Milburn tells Yamaguchi at 17:40. “Drones, Switchblades, IFAKs. They’re not, alright. Body armor, helmets, you name it.”

“Is it safe to characterize this as a little bit of a black hole?” Yamaguchi asked him, perhaps in reference to an April report from CNN whose source said the equipment that’s being sent “drops into a big black hole, and you have almost no sense of it at all after a short period of time.”

“I suppose if you don’t have visibility of where this stuff is going, and if you’re asking that question, then it would appear that it’s a black hole, yeah,” Milburn replied.

“We don’t know,” Amnesty International’s Donatella Rovera tells Yamaguchi at 18:45 when asked if it’s known where the weapons being sent to Ukraine are going.

“There is really no information as to where they’re going at all,” Rovera says. “What is more worrying is that at least some of the countries that are sending weapons do not seem to think that it is their responsibility to put in place a very robust oversight mechanism to ensure that they know how they’re being used today, but also how they might and will be used tomorrow.”


We’ve already seen that the Western media will uncritically report literally any claim made by the government of Ukraine in bizarre instances like the recent report that Russia was firing rockets at a nuclear power plant it had already captured, or its regurgitation of claims that Russians are raping babies to death from a Ukrainian official who ended up getting fired for promoting unevidenced claims about rape.

Now we see a Western media outlet retracting claims of their own when the Ukrainian government tells them to.

It’s not just commentators like me who see the Western press as propagandists: that’s how they see themselves.

If you think it’s your job to always report information that helps one side of a war and always omit any information which might hinder it, then you have given yourself the role of propagandist. You might not call yourself that, but that’s what you are by any reasonable definition of that word.

And a great many Western Zelenskyites honestly see this as the media’s role as well. They’ll angrily condemn anyone who inserts skepticism of the U.S. empire’s narratives about Ukraine into mainstream consciousness, but then they’ll also yell at you if you say we’re not being told the truth about Ukraine. They demand to be lied to, and call you a liar if you say that means we’re being lied to.


You can’t have it both ways. Either you want the mass media to serve as war propagandists or you want them to tell the truth. You cannot hold both of those positions simultaneously. They are mutually exclusive. And many actually want the former.

This can’t lead anywhere good.

Caitlin Johnstone’s work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, following her on Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud or YouTube, or throwing some money into her tip jar on Ko-fi, Patreon or Paypal. If you want to read more you can buy her books. The best way to make sure you see the stuff she publishes is to subscribe to the mailing list at her website or on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything she publishes.  For more info on who she is, where she stands and what she’s trying to do with her platform, click here. All works are co-authored with her American husband Tim Foley.

This article is from CaitlinJohnstone.com and re-published with permission.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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almarh0m

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #14 on: August 29, 2022, 06:53:28 PM »
Chris Hedges: Ukraine & the Politics of Permanent War
August 29, 2022
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Critics, already shut out from the corporate media, are relentlessly attacked and silenced for threatening the public’s quiescence while the U.S. Treasury is pillaged and the nation is disemboweled.


“War Inc.” – by Mr. Fish.

By Chris Hedges
ScheerPost.com

No one, including the most bullish supporters of Ukraine, expect the nation’s war with Russia to end soon. The fighting has been reduced to artillery duels across hundreds of miles of front lines and creeping advances and retreats. Ukraine, like Afghanistan, will bleed for a very long time. This is by design.

On Aug. 24, the Biden administration announced yet another massive military aid package to Ukraine worth nearly $3 billion. It will take months, and in some cases years, for this military equipment to reach Ukraine. In another sign that Washington assumes the conflict will be a long war of attrition it will give a name to the U.S. military assistance mission in Ukraine and make it a separate command overseen by a two- or three-star general. Since August 2021, Biden has approved more than $8 billion in weapons transfers from existing stockpiles, known as drawdowns, to be shipped to Ukraine, which do not require congressional approval.

Including humanitarian assistance, replenishing depleting U.S. weapons stocks and expanding U.S. troop presence in Europe, Congress has approved over $53.6 billion ($13.6 billion in March and a further $40.1 billion in May) since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion. War takes precedence over the most serious existential threats we face. The proposed budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in fiscal year 2023 is $10.675 billion while the proposed budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is $11.881 billion. Our approved assistance to Ukraine is more than twice these amounts.

The militarists who have waged permanent war costing trillions of dollars over the past two decades have invested heavily in controlling the public narrative. The enemy, whether Saddam Hussein or Vladimir Putin, is always the epitome of evil, the new Hitler. Those we support are always heroic defenders of liberty and democracy. Anyone who questions the righteousness of the cause is accused of being an agent of a foreign power and a traitor.


Protesting the war in Ukraine, “Three Tyrants Stalin Putin Hitler.” (Amaury Laporte, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The mass media cravenly disseminates these binary absurdities in 24-hour news cycles. Its news celebrities and experts, universally drawn from the intelligence community and military, rarely deviate from the approved script. Day and night, the drums of war never stop beating. Its goal: to keep billions of dollars flowing into the hands of the war industry and prevent the public from asking inconvenient questions.

In the face of this barrage, no dissent is permitted. CBS News caved to pressure and retracted its documentary which charged that only 30 percent of arms shipped to Ukraine were making it to the front lines, with the rest siphoned off to the black market, a finding that was separately reported upon by U.S. journalist Lindsey Snell. CNN has acknowledged there is no oversight of weapons once they arrive in Ukraine, long considered the most corrupt country in Europe. According to a poll of executives responsible for tackling fraud, completed by Ernst & Young in 2018, Ukraine was ranked the ninth-most corrupt nation from 53 surveyed.

There is little ostensible reason for censoring critics of the war in Ukraine. The U.S. is not at war with Russia. No U.S. troops are fighting in Ukraine. Criticism of the war in Ukraine does not jeopardize our national security. There are no long-standing cultural and historical ties to Ukraine, as there are to Great Britain. But if permanent war, with potentially tenuous public support, is the primary objective, censorship makes sense.

War is the primary business of the U.S. empire and the bedrock of the U.S. economy. The two ruling political parties slavishly perpetuate permanent war, as they do austerity programs, trade deals, the virtual tax boycott for corporations and the rich, wholesale government surveillance, the militarization of the police and the maintenance of the largest prison system in the world. They bow before the dictates of the militarists, who have created a state within a state. This militarism, as Seymour Melman writes in The Permanent War Economy: American Capitalism in Decline, [published in 1985]  “is fundamentally contradictory to the formation of a new political economy based upon democracy, instead of hierarchy, in the workplace and the rest of society.”

“The idea that war economy brings prosperity has become more than an American illusion,” Melman writes. “When converted, as it has been, into ideology that justifies the militarization of society and moral debasement, as in Vietnam, then critical reassessment of that illusion is a matter of urgency. It is a primary responsibility of thoughtful people who are committed to humane values to confront and respond to the prospect that deterioration of American economy and society, owing to the ravages of war economy, can become irreversible.”

If permanent war is to be halted, as Melman writes, the ideological control of the war industry must be shattered. The war industry’s funding of politicians, research centers and think tanks, as well as its domination of the media monopolies, must end. The public must be made aware, Melman writes, of how the federal government “sustains itself as the directorate of the largest industrial corporate empire in the world; how the war economy is organized and operated in parallel with centralized political power — often contradicting the laws of Congress and the Constitution itself; how the directorate of the war economy converts pro-peace sentiment in the population into pro-militarist majorities in the  Congress; how ideology and fears of job losses are manipulated to marshal support in Congress and the general public for war economy; how the directorate of the war economy uses its power to prevent planning for orderly conversion to an economy of peace.”

Rampant, unchecked militarism, as historian Arnold Toynbee notes, “has been by far the commonest cause of the breakdown of civilizations.”

This breakdown is accelerated by the rigid standardization and uniformity of public discourse. The manipulation of public opinion, what Walter Lippman calls “the manufacture of consent,” is imperative as the militarists gut social programs; let the nation’s crumbling infrastructure decay; refuse to raise the minimum wage; sustain an inept, mercenary for-profit health care system that resulted in 25 percent of global Covid deaths — although we are less than 5 percent of the world’s population — to gouge the public; carries out deindustrialization; do nothing to curb the predatory behavior of banks and corporations or invest in substantial programs to combat the climate crisis.

Critics, already shut out from the corporate media, are relentlessly attacked, discredited and silenced for speaking a truth that threatens the public’s quiescence while the U.S. Treasury is pillaged by the war industry and the nation disemboweled.

You can watch my discussion with Matt Taibbi about the rot that infects journalism here and here.

The war industry, deified by the mass media, including the entertainment industry, is never held accountable for the military fiascos, cost overruns, dud weapons systems and profligate waste. No matter how many disasters — from Vietnam to Afghanistan — it orchestrates, it is showered with larger and larger amounts of federal funds, nearly half of all the government’s discretionary spending. The monopolization of capital by the military has driven the U.S. debt to over $30 trillion, $6 trillion more than the U.S. GDP of $24 trillion. Servicing this debt costs $300 billion a year. We spend more on the military, $813 billion for fiscal year 2023, than the next nine countries, including China and Russia, combined.

An organization like NewsGuard, which has been rating what it says are trustworthy and untrustworthy sites based on their reporting on Ukraine, is one of the many indoctrination tools of the war industry. Sites that raise what are deemed “false” assertions about Ukraine, including that there was a U.S.-backed coup in 2014 and neo-Nazi forces are part of Ukraine’s military and power structure, are tagged as unreliable. Consortium News, Daily Kos, Mint Press News and The Grayzone have been given a red warning label. Sites that do not raise these issues, such as CNN, receive the “green” rating” for truth and credibility.  (NewsGuard, after being heavily criticized for giving Fox News a green rating of approval in July revised its rating for Fox News and MSNBC, giving them red labels.)


Crowd control training at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany, Feb. 18, 2016. (U.S. government)

The ratings are arbitrary. The Daily Caller, which published fake naked pictures of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, was given a green rating, along with a media outlet owned and operated by The Heritage Foundation. NewsGuard gives WikiLeaks a red label for “failing” to publish retractions despite admitting that all of the information WikiLeaks has published thus far is accurate. What WikiLeaks was supposed to retract remains a mystery. The New York Times and The Washington Post, which shared a Pulitzer in 2018 for reporting that Donald Trump colluded with Vladimir Putin to help sway the 2016 election, a conspiracy theory the Mueller investigation imploded, are awarded perfect scores. These ratings are not about vetting journalism. They are about enforcing conformity.

NewsGuard, established in 2018, “partners” with the State Department and the Pentagon, as well as corporations such as Microsoft. Its advisory board includes the former director of the C.I.A. and NSA, Gen. Michael Hayden; the first U.S. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a former secretary general of NATO.

Readers who regularly go to targeted sites could probably care less if they are tagged with a red label. But that is not the point. The point is to rate these sites so that anyone who has a NewsGuard extension installed on their devices will be warned away from visiting them. NewsGuard is being installed in libraries and schools and on the computers of active-duty troops. A warning pops up on targeted sites that reads: “Proceed with caution: This website generally fails to maintain basic standards of accuracy and accountability.”

Negative ratings will drive away advertisers, which is the intent. It is also a very short step from blacklisting these sites to censoring them, as happened when YouTube erased six years of my show On Contact that was broadcast on RT America and RT International. Not one show was about Russia. And not one violated the guidelines for content imposed by YouTube. But many did examine the evils of U.S. militarism.

In an exhaustive rebuttal to NewsGuard, which is worth reading, Joe Lauria, the editor-in-chief of Consortium News, ends with this observation:

“NewsGuard’s accusations against Consortium News that could potentially limit its readership and financial support must be seen in the context of the West’s war mania over Ukraine, about which dissenting voices are being suppressed. Three CN writers have  been kicked off Twitter.

PayPal’s cancellation of Consortium News’ account is an evident attempt to defund it for what is almost certainly the company’s view that CN violated its restrictions on “providing false or misleading information.” It cannot be known with 100 percent certainty because PayPal is hiding behind its reasons, but CN trades in information and nothing else. 

CN supports no side in the Ukraine war but seeks to examine the causes of the conflict within its recent historical context, all of which are being whitewashed from mainstream Western media.

Those causes are: NATO’s expansion eastward despite its promise not to do so; the coup and eight-year war on Donbass against coup resisters; the lack of implementation of the Minsk Accords to end that conflict; and the outright rejection of treaty proposals by Moscow to create a new security architecture in Europe taking Russia’s security concerns into account. 

Historians who point out the onerous Versailles conditions imposed on Germany after World War I as a cause of Nazism and World War II are neither excusing Nazi Germany nor are they smeared as its defenders.”

The frantic effort to corral viewers and readers into the embrace of the establishment media — only 16 percent of Americans have a great deal/quite a lot of confidence in newspapers and only 11 percent have some degree of confidence in television news — is a sign of desperation.

[Related: WATCH: Joe Lauria on Democracy Now!: ‘More Than One Side of Story’]

As the persecution of Julian Assange illustrates, the throttling of press freedom is bipartisan. This assault on truth leaves a population unmoored. It feeds wild conspiracy theories. It shreds the credibility of the ruling class. It empowers demagogues. It creates an information desert, one where truth and lies are indistinguishable. It frog-marches us towards tyranny. This censorship only serves the interests of the militarists who, as Karl Liebknecht reminded his fellow Germans in World War I, are the enemy within.

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and NPR.  He is the host of show “The Chris Hedges Report.”

Author’s Note to Readers: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waiver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, “The Chris Hedges Report.”

This column is from Scheerpost, for which Chris Hedges writes a regular column. Click here to sign up for email alerts.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

"He who Created me, it is He who Guides me"

almarh0m

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2022, 07:56:20 PM »
SCOTT RITTER: Getting it Wrong on Ukraine
September 1, 2022
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Newsweek’s William Arkin is a prisoner of his sources, a problem that pervades Western reporting on the conflict in Ukraine. 



Ukrainian soldiers training at the Yavoriv Combat Training Center at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center, near Yavoriv, Ukraine, March 16, 2017. (Anthony Jones, Public Domain)

By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News

Six months into Russia’s “Special Military Operation,” fact-challenged reporting that constitutes Western media’s approach to covering the conflict in Ukraine has become apparent to any discerning audience. Less understood is why anyone would sacrifice their integrity to participate in such a travesty. The story of William Arkin is a case in point.

On March 30 (a little more than a month into the war), Arkin penned an article which began with the following sentence: “Russia’s armed forces are reaching a state of exhaustion, stalemated on the battlefield and unable to make additional gains, while Ukraine is slowly pushing them back, continuing to inflict destruction on the invaders.”

Arkin went on to quote a “high-level officer of the Defense Intelligence Agency,” who spoke on condition of anonymity, who declared that “The war in Ukraine is over.”

A little less than three months later, on June 14, Arkin wrote a piece for Newsweek with the headline: “Russia Is Losing the Ukraine War. Don’t Be Fooled by What Happened in Severodonetsk.”

Apparently neither Arkin nor his editorial bosses at Newsweek felt any need to explain how Russia could be losing the war twice.

Anyone who has been following what I’ve been writing and saying since the beginning of Russia’s “Special Military Operation” in Ukraine knows I hold the exact opposite view. Russia, I maintain, is winning the Ukraine conflict, in decisive fashion.

But I don’t write for Newsweek.

William Arkin does.


William Arkin in 2013. (C-Span still)

Arkin proclaims that Russia is losing though it had, at the time the article was published, just taken the strategic city of Severdonetsk, killing and capturing thousands of Ukrainian forces, and rendering thousands more combat ineffective since they had to abandon their equipment to flee for their lives. (Russia has since captured all of the territory encompassing the Lugansk People’s Republic, including the city of Lysychansk, inflicting thousands of additional casualties on the Ukrainian military.)

“The Russian army’s so-called victory,” Arkin proclaimed at the time, “is the latest installment in its humiliating military display and comes with a crushing human cost.”

The humiliating display instead is Arkin’s lack of acumen in conducting an independent assessment of the military situation on the ground in Ukraine.

This was again reinforced last week when Arkin penned another article in which he helps disseminate the outlandish claims of his Pentagon sources.

“[F]rom late February through August, with only a moderate infusion of weapons from the West, some supportive declarations from Western leaders and a smattering of ‘We Stand with Ukraine’ signs on U.S. lawns,” Arkin writes, Ukraine has been able to “hold at bay the mighty Russian military,” something apparently none thought it could do.

Ignore the jaw-dropping contention by Arkin that the tens of billions of dollars in military assistance provided by the U.S. and its NATO and European allies constitutes but “a moderate infusion of weapons.” No, don’t ignore it — focus on it. This is the signature style of Arkin and his Pentagon handlers, a sort of Orwellian double-speak where one can rest assured whatever bold statement is made, the truth is the exact opposite.

Arkin quotes “U.S. intelligence officials who have been watching the war,” writing that “Russian troops have had to contend with bad battlefield leaders, inferior weapons and an unworkable supply chain.”

Anyone who has been tracking the events in Ukraine might have thought that this was the situation as it applies to the Ukrainian military. Not so, says Arkin and his source. Moreover, it is not Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky who has been interfering with his Ministry of Defense, but Russian President Vladimir Putin with his. These same Russian troops, Arkin declares, have “also been hobbled by Putin himself,” who has “ignored, overruled and fired his own generals.”


Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and President Vladimir Putin at a parade in Saint-Petersburg, July 30, 2017. (Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

This is baseless fiction, written by a man who seems determined to cement himself in the annals of the Russian-Ukraine conflict as an unabashed Ukraine partisan and vehicle for Pentagon information warriors. Arkin’s narrative of the war to date is so far removed from the factual record it belongs in The Onion.

What Arkin writes cannot even be called propaganda, because for propaganda to be effective it needs to be both believable at the moment of consumption, and able to sustain a narrative over time. Arkin’s work fulfills neither criterion.

His Sources

Like most erstwhile journalists covering the conflict for western media outlets, Arkin appears to be a prisoner to his sources, which in this case are a combination of anonymous U.S. defense intelligence personnel and pro-Ukrainian propagandists.

I used the term “erstwhile” in describing Western journalists because normal journalistic standards dictate that one seeks to report a story — any story — from a position of dispassionate neutrality, drawing on sources which reflect all sides of the story.

There is nothing wrong about drawing conclusions from such reporting, even assigning weight when it comes to which aspects of the coverage are deemed more credible than others. But before such conclusions can be made, foundational reporting needs to take place. Simply parroting what you’re being told from sources exclusively drawn from one part of the story is stenography.

In the interests of full disclosure, Arkin and I were colleagues for a brief period in late 1998-early 1999, when we were both contracted to NBC News as “on air talent” to talk about the situation in Iraq. Arkin apparently did not hold my analysis in high regard then. I have no idea what he thinks today — Consortium News has reached out for an answer, but as of publication has not received a reply.

Arkin did not respond to an invitation to debate me on Ukraine on a weekly podcast I do with Jeff Norman.

I’ll let our respective track records speak for themselves, especially when it comes to Iraq and the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. Arkin says he is “proud to say that I also was one of the few to report that there weren’t any WMD in Iraq and remember fondly presenting that conclusion to an incredulous NBC editorial board.”

I’m pretty sure I was saying something similar to an equally incredulous Congress and to the entire mainstream U.S. media (NBC included), as well as the international press corps.

Congratulations, Bill — we once were on the same page.

But no more.

Arkin’s Achievements

Arkin is no run-of-the mill journalist. He’s a smart guy. He got accepted to New York University, although he dropped out to join the Army, claiming NYU “wasn’t for me.” While stationed in Berlin, he completed his undergraduate studies, getting a bachelor’s degree in government and politics. After leaving the Army he got a master’s degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University.

For the next 40 years, Arkin worked for numerous employers, specializing in nuclear issues and military affairs, before landing his current gig as Newsweeks‘ senior editor for intelligence.

For The Washington Post in 2010, after a two-year investigation, he wrote a ground-breaking story with Dana Priest about the vast and until then little-understood explosive growth of the national security state post 9/11.

Arkin then showed integrity when he resigned from MSNBC and NBC News in 2019. His reasons for leaving, spelled out here, include how he was “especially disheartened to watch NBC and much of the rest of the news media somehow become a defender of Washington and the system.”

In March this year he wrote a startling story that questioned the dominant Western reporting that Russia was committing repeated war crimes by wantonly slaughtering huge numbers of civilians just for the hell of it.

“As destructive as the Ukraine war is, Russia is causing less damage and killing fewer civilians than it could, U.S. intelligence experts say. Russia’s conduct in the brutal war tells a different story than the widely accepted view that Vladimir Putin is intent on demolishing Ukraine and inflicting maximum civilian damage,” he wrote.

The article corroborated what Russia had been saying all along, which until that point was dismissed in the West as propaganda.

So how does Arkin transition from debunking Ukrainian and Western propaganda about Moscow deliberately killing huge numbers of civilians, to embracing the fanciful notion that Russia is losing the war? (Further underscoring Arkin’s assessment of Russia’s battlefield performance is the uninterrupted string of battlefield successes by Russia in the Donbass since that June article was published, further undermining his argument.)

It’s not a lack of education that has led Arkin down the path so many of his colleagues in mainstream media have stumbled down; there is no doubting the man is not only well educated, but also innately intelligent, something that doesn’t necessarily follow the other.

Military ‘Expertise’


Russian helicopters in a field during the invasion of Ukraine, March 2022. (Mil.ru, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Arkin can be said to be a victim of his own CV, which is light on relevant military experience for someone selling himself as an expert in military affairs based on his time in the U.S. Army.

Arkin purports to be one of the foremost military analysts of our times, a man whose track record in military affairs dates to his time as a junior enlisted soldier in the U.S. Army where, from 1974 to 1978, he served in occupied West Berlin as an intelligence analyst working for the Deputy Chief of Staff Intelligence (DCSI), U.S. Commander Berlin (USCOB).

On his WordPress page, Arkin writes that in the army he “rose to be senior intelligence analyst for the Berlin military occupation authorities and served under civilian cover as part of a number of clandestine human and technical intelligence collection efforts.”

In Berlin, Arkin adds in his LinkIn bio, “I worked on a number of clandestine projects and was an analyst of Soviet and East German activities in East Germany.”


Alexanderplatz in Berlin, 1978. (Bundesarchiv, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

He was not just any military analyst, mind you, but someone who, according to himself, “was once one of the world’s leading experts on two military forces that don’t even exist anymore.” I worked closely with military officers who were in fact the foremost experts on both the Soviet and East German militaries during the time Arkin served. This Newsweek senior editor has engaged in more than a little self-promotion.

That someone of the rank of specialist or sergeant (I have no idea what rank Arkin achieved, but four years’ time in service is a self-limiting reality when it comes to advancement) being the “senior intelligence analyst” in all of Berlin on matters pertaining to the Soviet military is patently absurd; Berlin was home to numerous specialized intelligence units and organizations, any one of which would have been staffed with personnel far more senior and, as such, experienced, in intelligence analysis on the Soviet and East German target than Arkin. Simply put, Arkin was not, nor has he ever been, one of the world’s leading experts on the Soviet military.

Not even close.

Arkin was never involved in combat arms, nor did he serve in combat. Without that experience he cannot understand the military realities of war — logistics, communications, maneuvering, fire support, etc. Berlin was, from everything I’ve heard, a fascinating place to serve — but it wasn’t combat.

Not even close.

As Arkin has no combat experience, his military analysis is held hostage to his sources within the Defense Intelligence Agency who pass along such cutting-edge insights as the notion that Russia is suffering ten casualties for every Ukrainian soldier lost since the Donbass offensive began in April.

Arkin seemed unaware of documents alleged to have been leaked from the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, dated April 21, which state that Ukraine had, as of the date, suffered 191,000 combined killed and wounded. According to Arkin’s math, this would mean Russia has suffered nearly 2 million casualties of its own.

Despite the absurdity, Arkin keeps parroting what his Defense Intelligence Agency sources tell him.


Defense Intelligence Agency headquarters viewed from the Potomac water taxi in 2019. (Antony-22, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

He repeats, without hesitation, his intelligence source’s assessment of Ukraine’s “greater morale and motivation, better training and leadership, superior knowledge and use of the terrain, better maintained and more reliable equipment, and even greater accuracy.”

It doesn’t matter that literally every assertion made by Arkin’s intelligence source is demonstrably false. If Arkin knew about artillery (the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine is primarily an extended artillery duel), he would understand the concepts of probability of hit and probability of kill, and how the volume of artillery fired increases both.

He might then understand how absurd it is to think that an artillery duel where one side fires 6,000 rounds and the other 60,000 rounds could produce an outcome where the side firing 10 times fewer rounds achieves a 10-fold advantage in lethality.

Any expert on Soviet/Russian military affairs would have known that artillery was going to be a major factor in any large-scale combat operation involving Russian forces. By way of example, three days before the Russian operation began, I tweeted (when I could still tweet):

“If you haven’t done a schedule of fires for at least three artillery battalions in the field using live rounds while maneuvering, I’m probably not interested in your military opinion about Ukraine.”

Arkin, to the best of my knowledge, has never done a schedule of fires for multiple battalions of artillery. His apparent lack of knowledge of artillery shows when he repeats verbatim the dreck fed him by his intelligence sources.

Arkin’s has to be aware that NBC News reported about the deliberate declassification and release by the U.S. intelligence community of intelligence information that intelligence officials knew was not true. And yet, Arkin still relies on these types of sources to provide the fodder for his headline-grabbing tales. The question of Arkin’s motives in writing such stories now remains.

That someone with Arkin’s background would allow a lifetime of diligent work to be squandered by serving as little more than a shill for U.S. intelligence is one thing. That media outlets like Newsweek keep printing it is another. Together, these twin phenomena represent what I call “The Arkin Effect,” which is nothing less than the total debasement of journalism in the U.S. when it comes to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Six months into Russia’s “Special Military Operation”, most military analysts admit that Russia enjoys the upper hand on the battlefield, despite the billions of dollars in military aid that has been sent to Ukraine by the U.S. and its European allies.

But not Bill Arkin and his employers at Newsweek. They seem to be content with serving as the Defense Intelligence Agency’s stenographers, putting out stories which have not, and will not, stand the test of time.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. His most recent book is Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, published by Clarity Press.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Tags: Defense Intelligence Agency Newsweek Scott Ritter William Arkin
"He who Created me, it is He who Guides me"

almarh0m

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2022, 06:17:38 AM »
The EU brought to its knees by the Straussians
by Thierry Meyssan
A US grouping, constituted around the thought of the philosopher Leo Strauss, controls from now on both the Secretariat of Defense and the Secretariat of State. After having organized many wars since those of Yugoslavia, they imagined the one in Ukraine. It is now manipulating the European Union and is preparing to deprive it of energy sources. If European leaders do not open their eyes, their alliance with Washington will lead to the collapse of the Union’s economy. There is no point in believing that Europeans will be spared because they are developed. The Straussians wrote, as early as 1992, that they would not hesitate to destroy Germany and the EU.

VOLTAIRE NETWORK | PARIS (FRANCE) | 13 SEPTEMBER 2022
DEUTSCH ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΆ ESPAÑOL FRANÇAIS ITALIANO NEDERLANDS NORSK PORTUGUÊS РУССКИЙ


For Professor Leo Strauss, it was better to be Hitler than to fall into his hands.
Beginning in 1949, the German Jewish philosopher Leo Strauss taught at the University of Chicago. He soon formed a small group of Jewish disciples from among his students. He taught them orally, which was quite different from his writings. According to him, the democracies had shown their inability to protect the Jews from the Nazi final solution. To prevent this tragedy from happening again and the hammer from falling on them, his disciples had to be on the other side of the handle.

He advised them to build their own dictatorship.

Organizing his followers, Leo Strauss called them his "hoplites" (soldiers of Sparta). He trained them to disrupt the classes of some of his fellow teachers.

Several of the members of this sect have held very high positions in the United States and Israel. The operation and ideology of this grouping were the subject of controversy after the attacks of September 11, 2001. An abundant literature has opposed the supporters and opponents of the philosopher. However, the facts are indisputable [1].

Anti-Semitic authors have wrongly lumped together Straussians, Jewish communities in the Diaspora and the State of Israel. However, the ideology of Leo Strauss was never discussed in the Jewish world before 9/11. From a sociological point of view, it is a sectarian phenomenon, not at all representative of Jewish culture. However, in 2003, Benjamin Netanyahu’s "revisionist Zionists" made a pact with the US Straussians, in the presence of other Israeli leaders [2]. This alliance was never made public.

One of the characteristics of this group is that they are ready for anything. For example, they wanted to return Iraq to the stone age. This is indeed what they did. For them, all sacrifices are possible, including for themselves, as long as they remain the first; not the best, the first [3]!


Paul Wolfowitz
In 1992, an advisor to the Secretary of Defense, the Straussian Paul Wolfowitz, wrote the Defense Planning Guidance. It was the first official US document reflecting the thinking of Leo Strauss [4]. Wolfowitz was introduced to Strauss’ thought by the American philosopher Allan Bloom (a friend of the Frenchman Raymond Aron), but he himself only briefly knew the master at the end of his teaching in Chicago. However, the US ambassador to the UN, Jeane Kirkpatrick, recognized him as "one of the great Straussian figures" [5].

In the context of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Wolfowitz developed a strategy to maintain US hegemony over the entire rest of the world.

The Defense Planning Guidance should have remained confidential, but the New York Times revealed its main lines and published extracts [6]. Three days later, the Washington Post revealed further details [7]. In the end, the original text was never made public, but a version edited by the Secretary of Defense (and future Vice President), Dick Cheney, was circulated.

It is known that the original document was based on a series of meetings in which two other people, all three Straussian, participated: Andrew Marshall, the Pentagon’s "thinker" (who was replaced three years after his death by Arthur Cebrowski), Albert Wohlstetter, the thinker of the atomic deterrence strategy, and his son-in-law Richard Perle, the future director of the Defense Policy Board. The Defense Planning Guidance was written by a student of Wohlstetter, Zalmay Khalilzad (future ambassador to the UN).

The document speaks of a new "world order [...] ultimately supported by the United States", in which the sole superpower would only have temporary alliances, depending on the conflict. The UN and even NATO would be increasingly sidelined. More broadly, the Wolfowitz Doctrine theorizes the need for the United States to block the emergence of any potential competitor to U.S. hegemony, especially "advanced industrial nations" such as Germany and Japan. Particularly targeted is the European Union: "While the United States supports the European integration project, we must be careful to prevent the emergence of a purely European security system that would undermine NATO, and particularly its integrated military command structure. The Europeans will thus be asked to include in the Maastricht Treaty a clause subordinating their defense policy to that of NATO, while the Pentagon report recommends the integration of the new Central and Eastern European states into the European Union, while giving them the benefit of a military agreement with the United States that would protect them against a possible Russian attack [8].

For thirty years, this document has been patiently implemented.
 The Maastricht Treaty includes a paragraph 4 in Title V, Article J4, which stipulates: "The policy of the Union within the meaning of this Article shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States and shall respect the obligations of certain Member States under the North Atlantic Treaty and be compatible with the common security and defence policy established within that framework. These provisions have been included in the various texts up to Article 42 of the Treaty on European Union.
 The former Warsaw Pact member states have almost all joined the European Union. This decision was a choice imposed by Washington and announced by Secretary of State James Baker just before the European Council meeting that endorsed it.

In 2000, Paul Wolfowitz was, together with Zbignew Brzezinki, the main speaker at a large Ukrainian-US symposium in Washington, organized by Ukrainian "integral nationalists" who had taken refuge in the USA. There he pledged to support independent Ukraine, to provoke Russia to go to war with it, and ultimately to finance the destruction of the resurgent rival of the USA [9].

These commitments were implemented with the passage of the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 on April 28, 2022 [10]. Ukraine is now exempt from all arms control procedures, including end-use certificates. Very expensive weapons are leased by the USA to the EU to defend Ukraine. When the war is over, the Europeans will have to pay for what they have consumed. And the bill will be heavy.


Victoria Nuland and Anthony Blinken in John Kerry’s office
Although the European elites have benefited from their alliance with the United States so far, they should not be surprised that the United States is now trying to destroy them under the Defense Planning Guidance. They have already seen what Washington was capable of after the 9/11 attacks: Paul Wolfowitz forbade countries that had expressed reservations about the war, such as Germany and France, to conclude contracts for the reconstruction of Iraq [11].

At present, the rise in the price of energy sources and their increasing scarcity threaten not only the heating and transportation of individuals, but above all the survival of all their industries. If this phenomenon continues, it is the economy of the European Union as a whole that will suddenly collapse, taking its population back at least a century.

This phenomenon is difficult to analyze because the prices and availability of energy sources vary according to many factors.

First, prices depend on supply and demand. As a result, they have risen with the overall economic recovery from the end of the Covid-19 epidemic.

Second, energy sources are the main targets of speculators. Even more so than currencies. The world price of oil can be multiplied by 2.5 just by the effect of speculation.

So far, everything is usual and known. But the Western sanctions against Russia, following its application of the Minsk II Agreement, for which it was the guarantor before the Security Council, have broken the world market. From now on, there is no longer a global price, but different prices according to the countries of the sellers and the customers. There are still prices quoted on the stock exchange in Wall Street and the City, but they bear no relation to those in Beijing and New Delhi.

Above all, oil and gas, which were abundant in the European Union, are starting to run out, while globally they are still in overabundance.

All our reference points have been turned upside down. Our statistical tools, designed for the global market, are not at all adapted to the current period. We can therefore only make assumptions, without any means of verifying them. This situation allows many people to talk nonsense with an air of authority; in fact, we are all evolving at a guessing pace.

One of the current factors is the reflux of dollars which were used for trade and speculation and which are no longer usable for these transactions in certain countries. This mostly virtual currency is leaving Russia and its allies to go to or return to the countries where it is still used. This is a gigantic phenomenon that the Federal Reserve and the US military have always wanted to avoid, but which the Straussians in the Biden administration (Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his deputy Victoria Nuland) have deliberately provoked.

Wrongly convinced that Russia has invaded Ukraine and is trying to annex it, the Europeans forbid themselves to trade with Moscow. In practice, they still consume Russian gas, but they are convinced that Gazprom will cut off their gas supply. For example, their press announced that the Russian company was closing the Nord Stream pipeline, although it had announced a three-day technical interruption. Normally, gas pipeline deliveries are interrupted for maintenance for two days every two months. Here, Gazprom was hampered in its maintenance by the Western blockade, which prevented the return of the turbines it had sent for repair to Canada. However, the population understood that the evil Russians had cut off their gas on the eve of winter.

The European propaganda aims to prepare public opinion for a definitive closure of the gas pipeline and to put the responsibility on Russia.

In this case, the leaders of the Union are simply implementing the directives of the Straussians. In doing so, they are scuttling European industry to the detriment of their citizens. Already some energy-intensive factories have reduced their production or even closed.

Ladislav Vrábel organisierte die erste pro-russische Demonstration in der Europäischen Union. Dieser 44-jährige Unternehmer hatte sich bereits einen Namen gemacht, als er die restriktiven Maßnahmen Brüssels gegen die Covid-19-Epidemie in Frage stellte.
The process of decrepitude of the European Union will continue as long as no one dares to oppose it. To everyone’s surprise, a first pro-Russian demonstration was held on September 3 in Prague. The police admitted to 70,000 people (for a country of 10 million), but there were probably many more. Political commentators despise them and consider them "Putin’s useful idiots". But these insults do not mask the unease of European elites.

Energy experts consider power cuts throughout the Union inevitable. Only Hungary, which has previously obtained exemptions, could escape the rules of the single energy market. Those who can produce electricity will have to share it with those who cannot. It doesn’t matter whether this inability is the result of bad luck or short-sightedness.

Brussels should start with voltage reductions, then cut off at night, and finally during the day. Individuals will have difficulties to maintain elevators, to heat their homes in winter, to cook if they use electric plates and, those who use trains, buses or electric cars, should have difficulties to move. Energy-intensive businesses, such as blast furnaces, are expected to close. Infrastructures are expected to become impassable, such as long tunnels that can no longer be ventilated. Above all, electronic installations designed for continuous operation will not be able to withstand repeated interruptions. This will be the case, for example, for antennas that are essential for cell phone networks, which will be thrown away after three months of this treatment.

In third world countries where electricity is scarce, battery powered leds are used for lighting and UPS to power low consumption machines, such as computers or televisions. But these materials are currently not available in the EU.

The EU’s GDP has already fallen by almost 1%. Will this recession continue as the Straussians plan, or will the citizens of the Union interrupt it, as part of the Czech people are trying to do?

The Straussians will go all the way. They have taken advantage of the decadence of the United States to take over the real power. Since a junkie, never elected, can use official planes galore to do business all over the world [12], they have quietly moved into the shadow of President Biden and are governing in his place. European leaders, on the other hand, are either blind or too committed to stop, acknowledge their thirty years of mistakes and turn back.

What to remember:
 The Straussians are a fanatical sect ready to do anything to maintain the supremacy of the United States over the world. They imagined the wars that have plagued the world for the past thirty years and the one in Ukraine today.
 They persuaded the European Union that Moscow wanted to annex first Ukraine and then all of Central Europe. With that, they convinced Brussels to stop all trade with Russia.
 The energy crisis that is beginning is leading the European Union towards electricity and power cuts that will wreak havoc on the way of life of its citizens and on its economy.

Thierry Meyssan
Translation
Roger Lagassé
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[1] Specialists of Leo Strauss’ political thought interpret it in a very contradictory way. For my part, I am not interested in what the philosopher thought of classical authors, but in what those who, rightly or wrongly, claim to be his followers at the Pentagon and, from now o
"He who Created me, it is He who Guides me"

almarh0m

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #17 on: September 21, 2022, 06:54:39 PM »
How the War Changed Overnight
September 21, 2022
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By declaring referenda in four Ukrainian regions and vowing to defend new Russian territory with all means necessary, Vladimir Putin has created a whole new war.


Putin speaking at the Kremlin on Wednesday. (Screenshot/kremlin.ru)

By Joe Lauria
Special to Consortium News



From Russia’s perspective, the war in Ukraine until now has been a “special military operation” intended to defend the self-declared independent republics of Luhansk and Donetsk.

For eight years Moscow had rebuffed entreaties from Donbass to recognize those republics. Now Russia is prepared to absorb them as part of the Russian Federation itself, along with the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions.

On Wednesday in Moscow President Vladimir Putin announced that referenda to decide whether to join Russia would be held in those four places from this Friday until next Wednesday. After that, the Russian Duma must decide whether to accept the results and formally annex those territories into Russia.

All that is expected to happen, and once it does the game on the battlefield will change dramatically.  From Russia’s point of view, it will no longer be assisting the militia of independent republics with Russian regular units against attacks by Ukraine.  It will now be defending Russian territory, against attacks by Ukraine.

Putin did not threaten offensive nuclear war as his remarks in the West are being spun, but said Russia would defend its own territory with nuclear weapons if necessary. It isn’t known what level of Ukrainian attack against what Russia would now consider its own territory would be needed to bring about such a response.

But the nuclear warning will surely have Pentagon planners for Ukrainian troops thinking twice about whether to launch major offensives to recapture Ukrainian territory from Russia.

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe 

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Tags: Donbass Donetsk Joe Lauria Kherson Luhansk Vladimir Putin Zaporozhye

"He who Created me, it is He who Guides me"

almarh0m

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #18 on: September 26, 2022, 12:17:09 AM »
John Pilger’s 2014 Warning About Ukraine
September 24, 2022
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In an article on May 13, 2014 in The Guardian, republished here, John Pilger warned the “U.S. is threatening to take the world to war” over Ukraine, words that have taken on new meaning.


Maidan coup in Ukraine, 2014. (Wikipedia)

The Guardian
Tue 13 May 2014 15.30 EDT

By John Pilger



Why do we tolerate the threat of another world war in our name? Why do we allow lies that justify this risk? The scale of our indoctrination, wrote Harold Pinter, is a “brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis”, as if the truth “never happened even while it was happening”.

Every year the American historian William Blum publishes his “updated summary of the record of U.S. foreign policy” which shows that, since 1945, the U.S. has tried to overthrow more than 50 governments, many of them democratically elected; grossly interfered in elections in 30 countries; bombed the civilian populations of 30 countries; used chemical and biological weapons; and attempted to assassinate foreign leaders.

In many cases Britain has been a collaborator. The degree of human suffering, let alone criminality, is little acknowledged in the west, despite the presence of the world’s most advanced communications and nominally most free journalism. That the most numerous victims of terrorism – “our” terrorism – are Muslims, is unsayable. That extreme jihadism, which led to 9/11, was nurtured as a weapon of Anglo-American policy (Operation Cyclone in Afghanistan) is suppressed. In April the U.S. state department noted that, following Nato’s campaign in 2011, “Libya has become a terrorist safe haven“.

The name of “our” enemy has changed over the years, from communism to Islamism, but generally it is any society independent of western power and occupying strategically useful or resource-rich territory, or merely offering an alternative to U.S. domination.

The leaders of these obstructive nations are usually violently shoved aside, such as the democrats Muhammad Mossedeq in Iran, Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and Salvador Allende in Chile, or they are murdered like Patrice Lumumba in the Democratic Republic of Congo. All are subjected to a western media campaign of vilification – think Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez, now Vladimir Putin.

“If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained ‘pariah’ role will justify a Nato-run guerrilla war that is likely to spill into Russia itself.”

Washington’s role in Ukraine is different only in its implications for the rest of us. For the first time since the Reagan years, the U.S. is threatening to take the world to war. With eastern Europe and the Balkans now military outposts of Nato, the last “buffer state” bordering Russia – Ukraine – is being torn apart by fascist forces unleashed by the U.S. and the EU. We in the west are now backing neo-Nazis in a country where Ukrainian Nazis backed Hitler.

Having masterminded the coup in February against the democratically elected government in Kiev, Washington’s planned seizure of Russia’s historic, legitimate warm-water naval base in Crimea failed. The Russians defended themselves, as they have done against every threat and invasion from the west for almost a century.

But Nato’s military encirclement has accelerated, along with U.S.-orchestrated attacks on ethnic Russians in Ukraine. If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained “pariah” role will justify a Nato-run guerrilla war that is likely to spill into Russia itself.

Instead, Putin has confounded the war party by seeking an accommodation with Washington and the EU, by withdrawing Russian troops from the Ukrainian border and urging ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine to abandon the weekend’s provocative referendum.

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These Russian-speaking and bilingual people – a third of Ukraine’s population – have long sought a democratic federation that reflects the country’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous of Kiev and independent of Moscow. Most are neither “separatists” nor “rebels”, as the western media calls them, but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland.

Like the ruins of Iraq and Afghanistan, Ukraine has been turned into a C.I.A. theme park – run personally by C.I.A. director John Brennan in Kiev, with dozens of “special units” from the C.I.A. and F.B.I. setting up a “security structure” that oversees savage attacks on those who opposed the February coup. Watch the videos, read the eye-witness reports from the massacre in Odessa this month. Bussed fascist thugs burned the trade union headquarters, killing 41 people trapped inside. Watch the police standing by.


A doctor described trying to rescue people, “but I was stopped by pro-Ukrainian Nazi radicals. One of them pushed me away rudely, promising that soon me and other Jews of Odessa are going to meet the same fate. What occurred yesterday didn’t even take place during the fascist occupation in my town in world war two. I wonder, why the whole world is keeping silent.” [see footnote]

Russian-speaking Ukrainians are fighting for survival. When Putin announced the withdrawal of Russian troops from the border, the Kiev junta’s defence secretary, Andriy Parubiy – a founding member of the fascist Svoboda party – boasted that attacks on “insurgents” would continue. In Orwellian style, propaganda in the west has inverted this to Moscow “trying to orchestrate conflict and provocation“, according to William Hague. His cynicism is matched by Obama’s grotesque congratulations to the coup junta on its “remarkable restraint” after the Odessa massacre. The junta, says Obama, is “duly elected”. As Henry Kissinger once said: “It is not a matter of what is true that counts, but what is perceived to be true.”

In the U.S. media the Odessa atrocity has been played down as “murky” and a “tragedy” in which “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) attacked “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine). Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal damned the victims – “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says“. Propaganda in Germany has been pure cold war, with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung warning its readers of Russia’s “undeclared war”. For the Germans, it is a poignant irony that Putin is the only leader to condemn the rise of fascism in 21st-century Europe.

A popular truism is that “the world changed” following 9/11. But what has changed? According to the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, a silent coup has taken place in Washington and rampant militarism now rules. The Pentagon currently runs “special operations” – secret wars – in 124 countries. At home, rising poverty and a loss of liberty are the historic corollary of a perpetual war state. Add the risk of nuclear war, and the question is: why do we tolerate this?

_______________
FOOTNOTE: The Guardian attached the following footnote to Pilger’s story, which Pilger says suggests “that a quote of a witness to the Odessa atrocity is unverified. This appeared only in the last edition. In fact, the quote didn’t come from a Facebook entry, but from a Voice of America broadcast and was verified.” This is The Guardian‘s footnote: ” The following footnote was appended on 16 May 2014: The quotation from a doctor who says he was ‘stopped by pro-Ukrainian Nazi radicals’ was from an account on a Facebook page that has subsequently been removed.”

John Pilger has twice won Britain’s highest award for journalism and has been International Reporter of the Year, News Reporter of the Year and Descriptive Writer of the Year. He has made 61 documentary films and has won an Emmy, a BAFTA and the Royal Television Society prize. His ‘Cambodia Year Zero’ is named as one of the ten most important films of the 20th century. He can be contacted at www.johnpilger.com

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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Re: A useful background to understand the present conflict in Ukraine...
« Reply #19 on: September 26, 2022, 05:59:39 PM »
SCOTT RITTER: Reaping the Whirlwind
September 22, 2022
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Putin’s order to begin partial mobilization of Russian military forces continues a confrontation between Russia and a U.S.-led coalition of Western nations that began at the end of the Cold War.


U.S. President Joe Biden, left, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Madrid summit on June 29. (NATO)

By Scott Ritter
Special to Consortium News

War is never a solution; there are always alternatives that could have — and should have —been pursued by those entrusted with the fate of global society before the order was given to send the youth of a nation to go off to fight and die. Any national leader worth his or her salt should seek to exhaust every other possibility to resolve issues confronting their respective countries.

If viewed in a vacuum, the announcement of Russian President Vladimir Putin Wednesday, in a televised address to the Russian people, that he was ordering the partial mobilization of 300,000 military reservists to supplement some 200,000 Russian personnel currently engaged in combat operations on the soil of Ukraine would appear to be the antithesis of seeking an alternative to war.

This announcement was made in parallel with one that authorized referendums to take place on the territory of Ukraine currently occupied by Russian forces regarding the question of joining these territories with the Russian Federation.

Seen in isolation, these actions would appear to represent a frontal assault on international law as defined by the United Nations Charter, which prohibits acts of aggression by one nation against another for the purpose of seizing territory by force of arms. This was the case made by U.S. President Joe Biden when speaking at the United Nations General Assembly hours after Putin’s announcement.

“A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council invaded its neighbor, attempted to erase a sovereign state from the map,” Biden said. “Russia has shamelessly violated the core tenets of the United Nations Charter.”

History, however, is a harsh mistress, where facts become inconvenient to perception. When viewed through the prism of historical fact, the narrative being promulgated by Biden becomes flipped. The reality is that since the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, the U.S. and its European allies have been conspiring to subjugate Russia in an effort to ensure that the Russian people are never again able to mount a geopolitical challenge to an American hegemony defined by a “rules based international order” that had been foisted on the world in the aftermath of the Second World War.

For decades, the Soviet Union had represented such a threat. With its demise, the U.S. and its allies were determined to never again allow the Russian people — the Russian nation — to manifest themselves in a similar manner.


West Germany joined NATO in 1955, which led to the formation of the rival Warsaw Pact during the Cold War. (Bundesarchiv, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

When Putin spoke about the need for “necessary, urgent steps to protect the sovereignty, security and territorial integrity of Russia” from “the aggressive policies of some Western elites who try by any means necessary to maintain their supremacy,” he had this history in mind.

The aim of the U.S. and its Western allies, Putin declared, was “to weaken, divide and ultimately destroy our country” by promulgating policies designed to cause “Russia itself to disintegrate into a multitude of regions and territories that are deadly enemies with one another.” According to Putin, the U.S.-led West “purposefully incited hatred of Russia, particularly in Ukraine, for which they destined the fate of an anti-Russian beachhead.”

Newton’s Third Law of Motion, that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, applies to geopolitics as well.

On Feb. 24, Putin issued orders for the armed forces of Russia to initiate what he termed a “Special Military Operation” (SMO) in Ukraine. Putin declared that this decision was in keeping with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter and the principles of collective preemptive self-defense as defined by international law.

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The goals of this operation were to protect the newly independent republics of Lugansk and Donetsk (referred collectively as the Donbass region) from an imminent danger posed by a build-up of Ukrainian military forces which were, according to Russia, poised to attack.

The stated goal of the SMO was to safeguard the territory and people of the Lugansk and Donetsk republics by eliminating the threat posed by the Ukrainian military. To accomplish this, Russia embraced two primary objectives — demilitarization and denazification. 

Demilitarization of Ukraine would be accomplished through the elimination of all infrastructure and organizational structures affiliated with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO; denazification would involve a similar eradication of the odious ideology of the Ukrainian ultra-nationalist, Stepan Bandera, who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews, Poles and ethnic Russians during the Second World War and in a decade of anti-Soviet resistance after the war ended.


Stepan Bandera torchlight parade in Kiev, Jan. 1, 2020. (A1/Wikimedia Commons)

Beginning in 2015, NATO had been training and equipping the Ukrainian military for the purpose of confronting pro-Russian separatists that had seized power in the Donbass following the ouster of pro-Russian Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich in a violent insurrection, known as the “Maidan Revolution,” spearheaded by right-wing Ukrainian political parties professing loyalty to the memory of Stepan Bandera.

Ukraine had been pursuing NATO membership since 2008, enshrining this goal in its constitution. While actual membership still eluded Ukraine as of 2022, the level of involvement of NATO with the Ukrainian armed forces made it a de facto extension of the NATO alliance.

Russia viewed the combination of NATO membership with the anti-Russian posturing of the post-Maidan Ukrainian government, linked as it was to the ideology of Bandera, as a threat to its national security. The SMO was designed to eliminate that threat.

Two Phases of Russian Operation

For roughly the first six months, the Russian military operation could be broken down into two distinct phases. The first was a blitzkrieg-style effort designed to shock the Ukrainian military and government into submission. Failing that, it was meant to shape the battlefield in a manner that isolated the Ukrainian forces assembled near the Donbass region prior to their decisive engagement by the Russian military in the second phase, which began on March 25.

Phase two of the SMO, the “battle for the Donbass,” unfolded through April, May, June and July, and involved brutal, meat-grinding style warfare in urban terrain and among defensive fortifications that had been prepared by Ukrainian forces over the course of the past eight years.

Russia made slow, agonizing gains, in a war of attrition which saw Russia inflict horrific losses on the Ukrainian armed forces. Such was the extent of the damage done by Russia on the army of Ukraine that by the end of July nearly the entire inventory of Soviet-era weapons that Ukraine possessed at the start of the SMO had been destroyed, along with over 50 percent of its active-duty military component.

Normally, when assessing casualty figures of this magnitude, any professional military analyst would be right to conclude that Russia had, in effect, accomplished its goal of demilitarization, which logically should have been followed by the surrender of the Ukrainian government on terms which would have resulted in the kinds of fundamental political change necessary to implement the Russian goal of denazification and, with it, securing Ukrainian neutrality.


Chechen Kadyrovites alongside Russian regular troops and separatist militiamen in the Donbass in June. (CC BY 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

But the very forces which Putin had described in his mobilization address conspired to further their anti-Russian agenda by pouring in tens of billions of dollars of military aid (exceeding, in a manner of months, the entire annual defense budget of Russia) designed not to promote a Ukrainian victory, but rather hasten a strategic Russian defeat.

“Whereas once the primary Western objective was to defend against the [Russian] invasion,” journalist Tom Stevenson noted in an OpEd in The New York Times, “it has become the permanent strategic attrition of Russia.”

The provision of military aid on this scale was a game changer, one which the Russian military forces responsible for implementing the SMO were not able to overcome. This new reality manifested itself in the first half of September, when Ukraine launched a major counteroffensive which succeeded in evicting Russian forces from the territory of the Kharkov region that had been occupied since the SMO began.

New Threat Paradigm


President of Russia Vladimir Putin with Defense Minister of Russia Sergey Shoigu after wreath-laying ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in June. (Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

While Russia was able to stabilize its defenses and ultimately halt the Ukrainian offensive, inflicting huge numbers of casualties on the attacking force, the reality that Russia was facing a new threat paradigm in Ukraine, one which saw the Russian military fighting a reconstituted Ukrainian military that had become a de facto proxy of the U.S.-led NATO alliance.

Confronted with this new reality, Putin informed the Russian people that he considered it “necessary to take the following decision, which is fully responsive to the threats we face: In order to defend our homeland, its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the security of our people and that of the population and to ensure the liberated areas, I consider it necessary to support the proposal of the Ministry of Defense and the General Staff to introduce partial mobilization in the Russian Federation.”

The U.S. and its NATO allies would do well to reflect on the lesson inherent in Hosea 8:7—sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

Or, put another way, Newton’s Third Law has come back with a vengeance.

Putin’s decision to order a partial mobilization of the Russian military, when combined with the decision to conduct the referendums in the Donbass and occupied Ukraine, radically transforms the SMO from a limited-scope operation to one linked to the existential survival of Russia. Once the referenda are conducted, and the results forwarded to the Russian parliament, what is now the territory of Ukraine will, in one fell swoop, become part of the Russian Federation — the Russian homeland.

All Ukrainian forces that are on the territory of the regions to be incorporated into Russia will be viewed as occupiers; and Ukrainian shelling of this territory will be treated as an attack on Russia, triggering a Russian response. Whereas the SMO had, by design, been implemented to preserve Ukrainian civil infrastructure and reduce civilian casualties, a post-SMO military operation will be one configured to destroy an active threat to Mother Russia itself. The gloves will come off.

US & NATO Face a Decision


April 7, 2021: An honor guard in Ukraine during a visit by a NATO military committee. (NATO)

The U.S. and NATO, having committed to a program designed to defeat Russia via proxy, must now decide whether they continue to follow through with their political and material support for Ukraine and, if so, to what extent. Does the goal remain the “strategic defeat” of Russia, or will the aid be tailored simply to assist Ukraine in defending itself?

These are two completely different goals.

One allows for the continued attrition of any Russian force that seeks to project power from Russian territory into Ukraine but, in doing so, respects the reality, if not the legitimacy, of the Russian incorporation of the Donbass and southern Ukrainian territories under occupation into the Russian Federation.

The other continues to sustain the current policy of the Ukrainian government and its Western allies of evicting Russia from the Donbass, occupied Ukraine and Crimea. This means attacking Mother Russia. This means war with Russia.

For its part, Russia considers itself already to be in a war with the West. “We are really at war with…NATO and with the collective West,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a statement that followed Putin’s announcement regarding partial mobilization.

“We mean not only the weapons that are supplied in huge quantities. Naturally, we find ways to counter these weapons. We have in mind, of course, the Western systems that there exist: communication systems, information processing systems, reconnaissance systems, and satellite intelligence systems.”

Put in this context, the Russian partial mobilization isn’t designed to defeat the Ukrainian military, but to defeat the forces of NATO and the “collective West” that have been assembled in Ukraine.

And if these NATO resources are configured in a way that is deemed by Russia as constituting a threat to the Russian homeland…

“Of course,” Putin said in his address on partial mobilization, “if the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will use all means at our disposal to defend Russia and our people,” a direct reference to Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

“This is not a bluff,” Putin emphasized. “The citizens of Russia can rest assured that the territorial integrity of our homeland, our independence, and our freedom, I reiterate, will be safeguarded with all the means at our disposal. And those who are trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons need to know that the compass rose can turn in their direction, too.”

This is what the world has come to — a mad rush toward nuclear apocalypse predicated on the irrational expansion of NATO and hubris-laced Russophobic policies seemingly ignorant of the reality that the Ukraine conflict has now become a matter of existential importance to Russia.

The U.S. and its allies in the “collective West” now have to decide if the continued pursuit of a decades-long policy of isolating and destroying Russia is a matter of existential importance to them, and if the continued support of a Ukrainian government that is little more than the modern-day manifestation of the hateful ideology of Stepan Bandera is worth the lives of their respective citizenry, and that of the rest of the world.

The doomsday clock is literally one second to midnight and we in the West have only ourselves to blame.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. His most recent book is Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, published by Clarity Press.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
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