Russia Gunning for More Press Freedom of Action in Donetsk

Russian action film star Porechenkov with "Donetsk rebels" firing KORD heavy MG at Ukrainian troops holding ruins of Donetsk airport, while in Press attire

Russian action film star Porechenkov with “Donetsk rebels” firing KORD heavy MG at Ukrainian troops holding ruins of Donetsk airport, while in Press attire

There has been a lot of press about Russian movie action star Mikhail Porechenkov, who showed up in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (which represents, well, some people in that region) yesterday and met with some of the Russian fighters who have been besieging the bombed out once ultramodern Donetsk airport, which is being bitterly defended by Ukrainian troops (called cyborgs for their tenacity under constant fire). While visiting the Russian “rebel” troops, video from “Novorossiya TV” showed Porechenkov committing a couple of “little” transgressions. Firstly, this star of combat action films like “Spetsnaz” and “9th Company” was dressed in blue body armour and matching blue helmet with the words “Press” clearly on them, though he was not there in any kind of media mode and certainly is not accredited to the country where he was, since it is Ukraine (which he, like many of the fighters, entered illegally under any standards.

Novorossiya TV video of actor Porechenkov firing KORD MG at Ukrainians while in Press garb

Porechenkov with SN at Donetsk AP

However, next he took over a heavy machinegun pointed at Ukrainian positions at the airport and let some rounds fly, after saying “ceasefire.” Naturally, there is a supposed ceasefire in effect and has been for nearly two months, though it has consistently been violated by the Russian side—particularly with their relentless assault on the airport.

Russian LifeNews reporter in Ilovaysk in late August with his AK-74 and underbarrel BG-25 grenade launcher

Russian LifeNews reporter in Ilovaysk in late August with his AK-74 and underbarrel BG-25 grenade launcher

Now, it is a clear violation of conduct for somebody in press markings to be engaged as a combatant. It just is not supposed to be done, though Russian “press” in the east has been doing it from day one. Russia’s LifeNews has been particularly good at sending in reporters with press markings who have been either passing information to their side, or transporting SA-18 MANPADS shoulder-fired air defence missiles as when their car was stopped in late spring, and one LifeNews reporter filing a story at the battle in Ilovaysk was wearing all green but with a press patch, while his AK-74 with BG-25 under-barrel grenade launcher was right next to him on the wall. Clear violation of press impartiality. But then, this is Putin’s regime, which also supported Yanukovych’s regime which used Berkut to fire rubber and real bullets specifically at clearly marked press on Maidan and at Hrushevskoho. So much so that most press began taking off the markings since it made them targets. Now Porechenkov’s actions are endangering legitimate press reporters, as even Pavel Gusev, the chairman of the Union of Journalists of Moscow said today, saying he believes ”this is sad and a shame, when in one moment what we fought for years to protect journalists is destroyed.” Apparently Gusev is looking to get fired or have an “accident” in Moscow.

Russian KORD 12.7 mm heavy infantry machinegun--not in the Ukrainian inventory

Russian KORD 12.7 mm heavy infantry machinegun–not in the Ukrainian inventory

One final bit. Though Porechenkov was supposedly visiting with “local DNR rebel fighters” there, the troops in the video are all clearly Russian military professionals. Young strac-looking troops (though one has not shaved for days), all wearing correctly the complete latest Russian military uniform and helmet with liner, which has only been fielded since early 2013. (Later in the video he is posing with some obvious local slovenly looking fighters wearing whatever they could come across.) Furthermore, the 12.7 mm heavy machinegun Porechenkov was firing was a KORD, which is the latest Russian infantry heavy 12.7 mm machinegun, which has only been produced for about 15 years, and was never in Ukraine’s arsenal (so could not possibly have been taken from a Ukrainian unit as Russia’s disinformation always claims is the source of “rebel” weapons). In fact, the KORD is not even fielded in the Russian military force-wide yet.

 

 

MH-17: RT’s Masterfully Idiotic Take on Russia’s Mass Murder over Ukraine

Last week the Russian international disinformation network RT put out yet another masterful piece of garbage pretending to be real investigative journalism. This was yet another piece about the Malaysian airliner (MH-17) which was shot down over eastern Ukraine on 17 July, and as to be expected, it just covered several “versions” to use Russian parlance, of what they say happened. They are all totally factually incorrect (a nice way of saying “deliberate lies”).

RT disinformation documentary on Mh-17 shootdown

At least this moronic nonsense did start off by killing one of the early Russian “versions”—that is, that the plane was deliberately flown into the war zone by an apparently suicidal Malaysian crew that apparently was workgin with the Ukrainians, CIA, or whomever, to make Russia look bad, and the plane was just filled with dead bodies brained of blood. This insensitive version which is just too stupid for words was dispelled when the documentary makers actually showed videos some of the passengers had uploaded before takeoff showing them getting on the plane. No consistency in Russian disinformation, but at least it takes that version off the plate.

It then concentrated almost exclusively on the “Ukrainian Su-25 FROGFOOT shot the plane down” version, which was of course done in a totally serious voiceover, but was so concocted that it was like a sick comedy. They rolled out one “aviation expert” after another who were telling how the Su-25 can fly up to either well over 9,000 metres, 12,000 metres, or over 14,000 metres, which shows it could have shot down the 777 at 10,000. One was the former CinC of the Russian Air Force from 2002-2007, retired General Vladimir Mikhailov, who, lying through his teeth, said that it van reach over 9,000 rapidly and he has personally operated there for over 30 minutes at a time, but one needs oxygen that high (one would hope so—brilliant deduction from an AF general). They claimed the Wikipedia page for the Su-25 had been changed at the time of the shootdown to show that a “clean” Su-25 can only reach 7,000 metres and one with wing stores can reach 5,000. Apparently they believe that Wikipedia is the only source of information on things like aircraft performance, whereas there are literally hundreds of organizations and sites with information about such things. And what they said somebody did to change the Wikipedia site is, as usual, blaming the enemy for doing what they themselves do. In this case, the Russian Wikipedia site on the Su-25 had been changed with a footnote at the time of the shootdown to reflect a possible ceiling of up to 10,000 metres if one of two super engines are used. But as mentioned, there are many sites out there, including one that I would consider somewhat authoritative, the Sukhoi website, which apparently is unaware of this super FROAGFOOT version. Since they build the plane and market it to worldwide consumers, one would even think that they would, if anything, pad the figures a bit to make it look more capable. But when the Sukhoi site was accessed earlier this week the Su-25 is shown to be able to reach (minus weapons and stores) 7 kilometres. This is pretty much the end of that argument.

Su-25 tech specs from Sukhoi's website (its manufacturer)

Su-25 tech specs from Sukhoi’s website (its manufacturer)

The rest of the programme was the usual garbage, but shows that the Russian government will go the extra mile to demonstrate their version of the truth, taking reporters to a firing range where a FROGFOOT attacked a couple of derelict planes on the ground with its GSh-30-2 cannon to demonstrate that the cannon round exit holes resembles those in the left cockpit panel of MH-17. Yes, there were some similarities, except that the MH-17 panel showed holes of various sizes, including one large one, from the proximity explosion to the starboard front side of the aircraft which is fully consistent with the SA-11 having been fired from Russian-controlled Torez, which is of course where it WAS fired from as shown by photos of the launch contrail there, videos of an SA-11 TELAR there before and after (minus one missile) the shootdown, and US press conference-mentioned technical collection (Overhead Persistent IR, or “launch detection satellites”) which said an SA-11 BUK missile was launched from there at that time. It was not a magical evil Ukrainian Su-25, which would have had to attack the Boeing from its 2 o’clock position to shred the cockpit like that (and as noted, many of the holes are far too big or small to have been from a 30mm cannon).

Left cockpit panel from MH17 showing massive shrapnel blowthrough that originated from right side of the aircraft

Left cockpit panel from MH17 showing massive shrapnel blowthrough that originated from right side of the aircraft

Russian fantasy to keep doubts in the heads of the clueless about a plane that was shot down by a professional Russian military crew in an SA-11 from the 53rd AD Missile Brigade in Kursk. Not on loan to some “Joe 6-Pack” rebels, but by a real trained Russian army crew.

 

 

Typical Russian Disinformation Regarding Singer Ruslana’s Donbas Trip

Ruslana photo on Russian (Soviet) propaganda website rusvesna.su

Ruslana photo on Russian (Soviet) propaganda website rusvesna.su

Russian disinformation is so predictable and sick at the same time. Like its Soviet predecessor, it relies on taking bits out of context and mixing them with a healthy portion of pure fabrication in the belief that many (foreigners as well as the Russian audience) will believe it without doing the slightest fact check to see if it is real. As usual, it is not real.

Ukrainian singer Ruslana, who was regarded as a hero of Maidan and camped out there for about 100 days last winter, and sang the Ukrainian national anthem from the stage there hourly, has since been a sort of unofficial Ukrainian ambassador, traveling the world pushing the Ukrainian cause. In early September she went out to eastern Ukraine to see what was happening there, and came back critical of government support for the Ukrainian troops (army and volunteer battalion forces) and incompetence of some military commanders, and calling for the war to end (or at least for there to be a real ceasefire, which is hardly what is currently in effect), but making it clear that Russian troops must leave Ukraine one way or another, and making it extra clear that Putin’s regime is the source of the war in the east. Russian propaganda turned her visit on its head, however.

Here is the version from the Russkaya Vesna (Russian Spring) website, which like Putin’s Nashi youth group, tellingly does not use the .ru internet address, but rather, .su (rusvesna.su) for Soviet Union. This right there shows where their heads are—and certainly’ Putin’s too. In any case, this version is full of the usual—takign bits of a news conference totally out of context and presenting false “facts” attributed to dubious sources:

http://rusvesna.su/english/1410115507

Ukrainian singer Ruslana: a visit to Donetsk was an eye-opener

07.09.2014 – 22:45

Renowned singer and unofficial «symbol» of Maidan Ruslana said a visit to Donbass «opened her eyes».

The singer returned from Donetsk and immediately held a press conference where she declared she was wrong, supporting the policy of the Government of Ukraine.

— I came to Donetsk and saw something that I never expected to see. It literally «blew my mind» There are shells falling on our people! — the outraged Ruslana said. — It is necessary and simple -initiate a cease-fire, end the war and bloodshed. And if the politicians think otherwise it means there’s something fishy, there are some dirty games being played.

According to Ruslana, Ukrainian journalists must go to the front to find out what is true and what is false.

— If you’re so brave, then come with me next time, — the singer invited of one of Kiev reporters. — Then you’ll be able to see everything and understand me.

Artiste told that her car, in which she was traveling with DNR Prime Minister Alexander Zaharchenko, came under fire.

— Who was shooting and whom, whose bullets were those — it’s impossible to make out. But it is quite clear that we shoot our own people. I was the first one to beat my chest and scream that there is no civil war in Ukraine. I was so wrong, — admitted Ruslana.

The singer said that she was greatly disappointed by the Ukrainian leader Petr Poroshenko. Ruslana told how she went to participate in a demonstration in front of the presidential administration in Kiev on August 28. The rally was arranged by relatives and friends of the Ukrainian military, surrounded in Ilovaisk. Singer was shocked and angered that nobody from the Poroshenko’s people came out to talk to activists.

— You have to work with people, to talk, to convey your position. And let me tell you the shocking phrase, but, nevertheless, I was not heard by Poroshenko, when I stood at the presidential administration. When I arrived at the Donbass, it was Zaharchenko who listened to me and heard me — summed up the singer.

Ruslana, known as the winner of «Eurovision — 2004» actively participated in the Maidan protests. In early December, the singer even threatened to burn herself on the main square of Kiev, if things in the country «do not change». Her active civil position won her unofficial title «symbol of the Maidan,” among its activists, and in February, Ukrainian politicians promised her a place in the new parliament.

————————————————

That was Russia’s fiction. Now here is what Ruslana actually wrote, verbatim, on her Facebook page after the trip. It differs almost totally from what the Russian propaganda site said she said:

About trip to Donetsk

September 2, 2014 at 6:21am

I just returned from Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk, where I went deliberately, because understood that we do not see much, and we are also not heard by many.

The amount of information I received and seen with my own eyes, is too shocking and unexpected. I have a lot requests and questions. But not to stray for a long emotional speech, I will use short exact phrase to be heard and to be understood.

The purpose of my trip

On Thursday I, along with hundreds, maybe thousands of Kyiv residents, family members of our military and volunteer battalions stood in front of President’s Administration and demanded: “Save the life of our guys, give them aid, help them survive!”

I didn’t know if we were heard. None of those with whom we have actively communicated and called each other “brothers at Maidan, contacted me, gave any information, found necessary to develop a common position and action.

So I first went to Dnipropetrovsk to see our troops who are fighting in the area of ATO, then to the hospital, and then, with Colonel-General Vladimir Ruban, to Donbas.

About Dnipropetrovsk

Such patriotic enthusiasm. Such Ukrainian spirit and will to Independence and Victory I didn’t experience for a very long time. It was as if I ended up in Lviv during early 90s or Kyiv during Maidan.

About hospital

Our men – are Heroes. These words stop being just words when there are actual facts. We have to preserve memory of their heroism for the future generations.

About Donetsk

I saw Donetsk. I was surprised, if not shocked. It differs from the Russian lies; it also differs from what we imagine. The city is alive. I saw writings in Ukrainian. During the whole time I was there, I spotted only one tri-color.

About hostages

Oleksandr Zaharchenko gave up 16 men who were taken into captivity. Unconditionally. With no bargains. After we left he released another 10.

About the victims

Of those of whom we spoke in Donetsk – 150 were killed, maybe even more. Number of victims of Ilovaysk may exceed 400. Exact figures should be given by the military experts. And they should be honest.

I don’t want this to become statistics!

In recent days, Russian troops are destroying our best men, patriotic volunteers of battalions Dnipro, Donbas, Krivbas. We might not have more of those young and dedicated, they are brave and trustworthy – the gene pool of the nation. They should have been saved in every way possible…

Effects of the victims.

In place of young patriots, will come those who will not forgive and will want revenge. They will accept the challenge and uncivilized methods of Moscow hordes. They will become alike….

I am getting terrible information via think nerves of human misery. People say, word-by-word: “We will not be the state army, we will be the Army of the People.

Without mercy. And without conscience. This is scary. Idea will be replaced by Revenge.

About those who destroyed

Our men were destroyed by Russian troops…and politicians.

About politicians

“Politicians will fight for our land to the last Ukrainian”. These are not my words.

Maybe it is time to unite?

About Russian troops

Russian troops replaced and are replacing mercenaries who are already demoralized, because they do not see any sense or support for their actions, and separatists who have ceased to execute Kremlin commands.

Russian troops need to withdraw from Ukraine themselves, or taken back to their homeland in humanitarian convoy, there is no other way out.

Our task is to make sure that they withdraw themselves. This will save hundreds, maybe thousands of lives.

About Putin

This Ukrainian massacre is beneficial for Putin. Now he called to give our military men corridor, and then shot them using Russian forces. Corresponding wave of hatred and aggression can demolish those who are now in Donetsk and Luhansk, and who no longer take his orders.

This is his solution to many problems. From fight against “unorthodox views” among separatists to justifying entry of troops and its legitimization.

About Russia

Russia – is not Putin. There are millions of people. They have sons, brothers, parents who are dying in foreign country. They are buried secretly and shamefully as criminals. We can and must talk with Russians. When official diplomacy is not working, people’s diplomacy must work. After all, we are all people. Even those whose brain has turned into “liquid”.

About people of Donetsk

People of Donetsk, even though it is difficult to understand, are on both side of the border, yet they are still UKRAINIAN. Not DPR, not LPR, not Novorussian, and not other products of Kremlin propaganda or folk art. They are Ukrainians, and we are one nation, even if we differ from each other. After all, Ukrainians of Sumy region or Slobozhanschina region also vary from Ukrainians of Podillya or Zakarpattya. But we are one nation and need to protect each other and our country. Otherwise, we will not have nation or country.

About our volunteers and their commanders

Men are ready to sacrifice their lives, sometimes without thinking and without hesitation. But it is time to start thinking, if you give up your life, who will remain after you are gone? Who will build and defend Ukraine? Commanders, you have the most sacred in your hands, the most important for Ukraine – lives of her sons.

About Donbas

Donbas was, is and will be Ukraine.

About Oleksandr Zaharchenko

I build my own impression of this man with only one meeting. I don’t want to and will not comment. Only quotes from our conversation.

“Human life is above everything…. This horror and bloodshed must be stopped. Ruslana, please do everything to accomplish this…”

“I propose to stop the senseless fire and find out – who really needs deaths of thousands of Ukrainians.”

“I will not go beyond the limits of the Donetsk region with any onset – this is horror story against me.”

“I need for Donbas to have normal life, and I am happy that you have cleared all of us from Yanukovich with Maidan. Half of Donbas applauded standing up when you were saying what Yanukovich’s and his gang’s place is…and then everything got confused…”

“I am as Ukrainian as you, but can’t see or hear that.”

About the truth

I am tired of Putin’s lies and half-truths of our spokespersons.

About Ukrainian people

Ukrainian people are and will be UNITED.

Why am I sure of this?

Because it can’t be otherwise.

 

My conclusion

All military actions must be re-thought.

Military force – is the last argument, if it is not invasion or aggression.

Operations are unprofessional.

Generals are really “eating up battalions”.

Our military men must be protected from the stigma “Deserter”.

And to some generals and officers that “miraculously left the captivity” without their men, it is time ask questions, as well as their management.

Military and political corruption – is now my goal.

My mission – is public diplomacy and efforts to stop the deaths of hundreds of people who are willing to give their lives for their country.

Ukraine is bleeding under the criminal scenario of many centers of influence.

The fire must stop in order to find out and see who really needs this war.

Ukraine needs PEACE.

People need to LIVE, and not DIE.

I heard Donbas.

 

More Smoking Guns (as if Needed) Showing Russian Military Active in Ukraine

 

Burned out Russian T-64BM in Ukraine

Burned out Russian T-72BM in Ukraine

Some excellent reporting from Reuters on 23 October actually went into depth and they consulted some weapons experts to show that Russian military equipment from Russia was used in eastern Ukraine. Of course, there has been no shortage of videos from Russians matching perfectly with videos and pictures shot by people in Ukraine over the past months showing conclusively that identical tanks and other vehicles were driven from Rostov Training Area to the Ukrainian border and then moved across into Ukraine. This is just the latest evidence.

T-72BM as part of Russian column in eastern Ukraine 26 Aug

T-72BM as part of Russian column in eastern Ukraine 26 Aug

During fighting in late August near Starobeshevo, where Ukrainian forces suffered great losses, two burned out tanks were also noted that were not Ukrainian. This was a T-72BM and another T-72B model, both fitted with Kontakt-5 reactive armour typical for those models. Notable since T-72B models, which appeared in the late 1980s, were never in the Ukrainian inventory, so could not have come from “stolen Ukrainian stocks” as Russian disinformation always claims.

Russian 9M133 KORNET (AT-14) ATGM missile tube discarded in eastern Ukraine fighting

Russian 9M133 KORNET (AT-14) ATGM missile tube discarded in eastern Ukraine fighting

Even more evidence is in the form of some discarded antitank guided missile tubes which were for the 9M133 KORNET (AT-14), which is a modern laser-beam rider ATGM that came out in 1994 and has never been in the Ukrainian inventory. Additionally, hundreds of wrappers from Russian military field rations of recent production were left discarded in some of the vehicle revetments from which the ambush on the Ukrainian forces took place.

Russian Army MRE wrapper from the battlefield--hundreds collected there

Russian Army MRE wrapper from the battlefield–hundreds collected there

This was right at the time when Russia had changed the dynamics on the ground by introducing around 10 regular army battalions (some from the Ground Forces and some from various Airborne formations) into eastern Ukraine. Though they had great success against Ukrainian forces more used to fighting the well-equipped Russian government mercenaries, these Russian forces also suffered some casualties. They also were sloppy with their OPSEC by leaving behind trash that shows their involvement. Or maybe they just did not care because Russia will just deny it and most people will believe their lies.

 

Putin Outdoes Himself with Vile Valdai Diatribe–But Please Stop Calling Us “Colleagues, Friends, or Partners” Since for You We are the Enemy

valdai 23 Oct

Nobody ever thought that Putin could outdo his performance at the Munich Security Conference in 2007, where he lambasted the US and West for being the source of everything bad in the world. However, at the 22-24 October 11th version of his ridiculous annual PR event, the Valdai Club, held in (where else) Sochi, he gave a masterful performance virtually devoid of the slightest elements of truth. Goebbels would feel shamed by the master.

Russian Presidential Website Text of Putin Valdai Speech

Naturally his monologues and Q&A by an all-too-friendly audience (maybe thinking they might just get the Polonium-210 tea) had a lot to do with Ukraine. However, he launched first into spouting off against mainly the US (he just said the US forces all its allies to do its bidding), saying it has invaded countries with impunity in the post-Soviet era, imposing its will and creating chaos wherever it went. Some slight truth in the case of Iraq, but he raised other cases like Afghanistan (from which the US and later others were attacked), though he also mentioned Libya and Egypt (where the governments had taken to machinegunning peaceful demonstrators, leading to popular uprisings). Point he seems to have deliberately missed is that while the US and its allies have done these interventions, we strive to get out as soon as possible and do not annex an inch of territory. Not to mention that the governments left in place can hardly be called pawns of US or NATO foreign policies. But such is his warped reality.

He continued saying the US wants and needs an enemy, which Russia now has filled the role as. “Today, we are seeing new efforts to fragment the world, draw new dividing lines, put together coalitions not built for something but directed against someone, anyone, create the image of an enemy as was the case during the Cold War years, and obtain the right to this leadership, or diktat if you wish.” This is pure BS, since as usual Russia routinely accuses others of precisely the things it is doing itself. Frankly, most people in the US don’t care anything about Russia or Ukraine and know virtually nothing about them. Same goes for many in government I can authoritatively say. The US does not need an enemy. However, watch just an hour or Russian state TV channels and you will hear nothing but how the US is evil, the EU is horrible, America is spreading or even created Ebola. On US TV it is virtually impossible to see any mentions of Ukraine or Russia on a news programme for more than 15 seconds.

He said the sanctions against Russia are undermining WTO trade rules. Give me a break. This is the guy who has used Rostrebnadzor, his “consumer protection” organization, for ages to

On Ukraine put bogus restrictions on any products from a country that rubs Russia the wrong way, starting with the 2006 bans on Georgian wine and Borjomi water and on Moldovan wine when both countries did some actions (Georgia arrested a few GRU agents in Tbilisi) Russia found objectionable. It does the same to this day. Georgia made a grave mistake when it gave into US pressures to allow Russia to join the WTO (even as Russia was already flagrantly violating many WTO standards), throwing away a trump card, and getting nothing but more Russian hatred in return.

A typically contradictory statement was this one on respecting others. “The allegations and statements that Russia is trying to establish some sort of empire, encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbours, are groundless. Russia does not need any kind of special, exclusive place in the world – I want to emphasise this. While respecting the interests of others, we simply want for our own interests to be taken into account and for our position to be respected.” So, you respect others like Georgia and Ukraine who you have invaded and annexed territory from. But it makes sense, sort of, with your qualifier that everyone has to take your interests into account. So as you said before, Ukraine was free to sign an EU Association Agreement, but your perception that this was bad to you in your tiny zero-sum world meant that it would have to face the consequences for its actions (like that little invasion thing). Right.

On Ukraine, which he called a result of a “misbalance in international relations” (the new term for invading a neighbor apparently), he mentioned Crimean secession as being fully legal in line with Article I of the UN Charter which says peoples have the right to national self-determination (though didn’t mention the same Charter’s prohibitions about invading others). He said as usual that if it was OK for Kosovo, why not for Crimea. Difference is that Kosovo had been next in line for a Serb cleansing of the majority locals, which was indeed underway as it previously was in Croatia and Bosnia, and it had been a UN protectorate for over a decade before being given gradual independence. Putin invaded Crimea, held a bogus referendum, and annexed it in a space of three weeks, with no UN mandate. Big difference. Naturally he mentions the need to protect the Russians and Russian-speaking population of Crimea. From what, he doesn’t say, since there is no credible evidence whatsoever that the “post-coup” interim government in Kyiv or Ukrainian ethnics in general did anything whatsoever against ethnic Russians in Crimea or elsewhere.

On the current situation in the east and the not-so-ceasefire he said ” The most important thing is to immediately stop the war and move the troops away. If Ukraine wants to keep its territorial integrity, and this is something we want as well, they need to understand that there is no sense in holding on to some village or other – this is pointless. The idea is to stop the bloodshed and to start normal dialogue, to build relations based on this dialogue and restore at least some communication, primarily in the economy, and gradually other things will follow.” Really? You want Ukraine’s territorial integrity? Calling bullshit on this one as well. Why did you then send in Spetsnaz groups, train Russian government mercenaries (many right out of the military and signed on contract) in Rostov and send them into Ukraine with T-64Bs, MRLs, BMPs, BTRs, and the latest antitank missiles and a variety of air defence systems, and then about a dozen Russian military battalion tactical groups when you mercs and some local wannabes were getting their asses handed to them by the Ukrainian military? You started this where there were no problems to begin with, your state media publish and broadcast endless disinformation about the situation while calling the region “Novorossiya,” and you are holding a Ukrainian woman hostage whom you kidnapped and brought across the state border to hold as a trophy. Bold-faced liar.

More on the Crimea fairy tale. He said that after the “violent overthrow” of the Yanukovych regime in Kyiv, and people in Crimea saw the blood events that had happened there (presumably he does not mean 100 Maidan protesters being murdered by government snipers, but I am unsure what he refers to since nothing happened from the Maidan side in this regard), “Seeing these developments, people in Crimea almost immediately took to arms and asked us for help in arranging the events they intended to hold. I will be frank; we used our Armed Forces to block Ukrainian units stationed in Crimea, but not to force anyone to take part in the elections. This is impossible, you are all grown people, and you understand it. How could we do it? Lead people to polling stations at gunpoint?

People went to vote as if it were a celebration, everybody knows this, and they all voted, even the Crimean Tatars. There were fewer Crimean Tatars, but the overall vote was high. While the turnout in Crimea in general was about 96 or 94 percent, a smaller number of Crimean Tatars showed up. However 97 percent of them voted ‘yes’. Why? Because those who did not want it did not come to the polling stations, and those who did voted ‘yes’.” No Mr Xuilo, the vast majority of the Tatars did not take part. You know this and are lying as usual. The turnout was not anywhere near 90 percent, though of course the Crimean CEC released figures showing that a full 123% of the population of Sevastopol, of all ages, had voted in the referendum. Not my figures. Theirs. Mass celebrations? Some indeed, but mostly underwhelming. When Crimea was annexed, Russian state TV live feed showed the “massive crowd in Simferopol celebrating with a live concert. I know large crowds very well, and there were perhaps about 2,000. Meanwhile Crimean Tatars who he claims voted overwhelmingly for separatism, continue to disappear weekly and are often found tortured and murdered.

There was a lot of BS in his account of Yanukovych’s ouster and flight to Russia, though finally another admission of Russia having orchestrated this (as he finally did in April admitting his “polite little green men” in Crimea were in fact Russian military–the last person in the world to realize this). On the 21 February agreement between Yanukovych and some Maidan opposition leaders, he said “On February 21, Viktor Yanukovych signed the well-known documents with the opposition. Foreign ministers of three European countries signed their names under this agreement as guarantors of its implementation.” The usual Russian disinfo lie. There were three FMs present but they signed as witnesses–not guarantors of anything. In any case this bad agreement was not agreed to by Maidan itself (who were literally under sniper fire all day and were just a wee bit pissed off as a result), as the agreement only went back to some of the points originally proposed by the movement months earlier which were rejected repeatedly by the government.

“On the same day, President Yanukovych called me to say he signed the agreement, the situation had stabilized and he was going to a conference in Kharkov. I will not conceal the fact that I expressed my concern: how was it possible to leave the capital in this situation. He replied that he found it possible because there was the document signed with the opposition and guaranteed by foreign ministers of European countries.” The same lies. Also, this conversation did not happen as he says because already from 18-21 February, hours of clear video evidence show Yanuk and his girlfriend supervising removal from his Mezhihirye mansion truckloads of art and other items to be shipped to Russia with him. He was finishing the looting and scooting and had no intention of agreeing to anything.

“Yanukovych called me and said he would like us to meet to talk it over. I agreed. Eventually we agreed to meet in Rostov because it was closer and he did not want to go too far. I was ready to fly to Rostov. However, it turned out he could not go even there. They were beginning to use force against him already, holding him at gunpoint. They were not quite sure where to go.” Really? There are no indications that Yanuk went to Kharkiv for a conference–he was on his way to Russia for good. Nobody from the opposition held him at gunpoint. If they had, he would have never made it to Russia. Pure fabrications.

Now the admission: “I will not conceal it; we helped him move to Crimea, where he stayed for a few days. That was when Crimea was still part of Ukraine. However, the situation in Kiev was developing very rapidly and violently, we know what happened, though the broad public may not know – people were killed, they were burned alive there. They came into the office of the Party of Regions, seized the technical workers and killed them, burned them alive in the basement. Under those circumstances, there was no way he could return to Kiev. Everybody forgot about the agreements with the opposition signed by foreign ministers and about our telephone conversations. Yes, I will tell you frankly that he asked us to help him get Russia, which we did. That was all.” More lies as usual. There was an attack on a POR building in Kyiv days earlier but the attackers wee most likely government titushki meant to give more “legitimacy” to mass shootings of protesters in the ensuing days. These damn Russian officials always seem to take great liberties with timelines. But at least it is good to see that Putin has now come clean on interfering in a neighbouring country by moving its murderous leader about and giving him asylum. No details on how they did this or what actions they took there, but he admitted involvement.

There were plenty of other pieces of cerebral barf that he spread at his little Valdai propaganda meeting, but these were just some of the lowlites.

 

 

Donetsk Commander “Motorola” Demonstrates his Idiocy

 

Motorola wedding in July--Nothing says love like Colorado ribbons, an RPK machinegun, and a rebranded Confederate flag

Motorola wedding in July–Nothing says love like Colorado ribbons, an RPK machinegun, and a rebranded Confederate flag

What a dipshit. Russian commander “Motorola,” who leads the Sparta Battalion in the east (currently attacking Donetsk airport during the not-so-ceasefire), decided to have some fun by firing an AGS-17 grenade launcher (30mm, vice the 40mm claimed in the video) at some of his troops in an observation point in order to see if they were awake. What a total moron. By his initial actions with the grenade launcher, it is clear he has not had practice with this particular weapon, so he cannot have been expected to have fired very accurately. But he has the same beard and look as Chechen dictator and Putin puppet Kadyrov, and certainly seems to have the same sadistic and overall sick streak in him. If his actions with his own men are like this, what can be expected with regards to his actions towards Ukrainians?

Motorola firing AGS-17 grenade launcher at own troops for fun

Motorola wedding in Donetsk in July with Girkin in attendance

Motorola wedding in Donetsk in July with Girkin in attendance

 

Lavrov Claims “Brotherly” Ukraine Needs Russian Guiding Hand

lavrov

Continuing the theme of lows in Russian propaganda, Russian Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop–I mean Lavrov–gave the most ridiculous interview yesterday with Russian TV channel NTV. Known for spouting pure disinformation, he nevertheless outdid himself in this particular interview. Some of his “wisdom” nuggets and revelations about his warped view of history and reality:

“We cannot lose Ukraine because it is not confined to a group of persons who committed a state coup and seized power; it is not confined to the Nazis who continue marching in Kiev and other big cities committing acts of vandalism, destroying monuments and glorifying Hitler’s accomplices,” Lavrov said. “Ukraine is the closest to us, fraternal nation, with which we share common historical, cultural and civilization roots, the same world outlook, let alone the language and literature.”

OK, reality check. Firstly–Ukraine is not yours to “lose” since it is an independent country–not part of Russia. Group of “Nazis” who committed a state coup? Maidan was up to a million and deposed a power-hungry kleptocrat who had his Gestapo kidnap, torture, and lose opponents and then gunned down about a hundred demonstrators. The accusations of them being “Fascists” are blatant demonstrably false Russian lies, particularly given that the post “coup” interim government had numerous ethnic Russians, Armenians, and Jews in the most senior positions. Committing vandalism and destroying monuments? Monuments of Lenin maybe. And vandalism? Even at the height of the riots on Hrushevskoho not a single one of the posh shops there was touched by the protesters. Ukraine with common historical roots, world outlook and language? Definitely some historical commonality, like Norway and Sweden (which however are not the same country anymore), some big differences in outlook to be sure, and languages have some serious differences. Actually there probably are as many common elements with Polish as there are with Russian. But typical “Great Russian” lies.

“…we are going to find the way out of the crisis anyway and will help the Ukrainian brothers to agree on how they should build and develop their country,” Really? They are your little lost brothers that you have to show the way and the light to? This demonstrates a lot about your imperial mindset.

Lastly, the interview was reported on by the recently renamed state news agency TASS. After the fall of the Soviet Union TASS (Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union) was renamed ITAR-TASS, with the ITAR standing for Information and Telegraph Agency of Russia. But that add-on is no longer really needed, so now like so many other things making a comeback they can just go back to the good ol’ USSR name. Maybe that’s why Lavrov hates toppling statues.

Russian Propaganda New Low–Black American Mercenaries in Kharkiv

15 Oct bogus RS vid of US merc negroes in Kharkov

Russian propaganda continues to reach for new lows. Today one of their dissemination sources, Диванные войска России (Russian Couch Forces) which prides itself on being an info dissemination source serving Russia, posted yet another asinine video alleging to show about 18 “American mercenary negroes” having arrived in Kharkiv. The only problem is that the totally out of context video

shows the “soldiers” in a sloppy three rank formation, and all are wearing purely green military fatigues and wearing berets. Now, Russian propaganda does, for some reason, seem to believe that all US military forces are black, though having been in and working for the military for decades I can attest that the US forces are mainly non-black. In any case, those shown in the long-distance video clearly resemble some rag-tag element in some African country where this attire is normal. This is NOT in Kharkiv and is NOT any kind of US forces or mercenaries or whatever the Russians are trying to show it is. Still, this footage will obviously make it onto Kiselev’s Vesti Nedeli this coming Sunday.

Bogus Russian Video of Alleged US Black Mercenaries in Kharkiv

It is very reminiscent of the ridiculous propaganda the Kremlin pulled out in the 2008 Georgia war, where they claimed to have video of black US forces (once again) fighting alongside the Georgians (since I was very involved in that region at the time I know full well that the small number of US trainers who were training Georgian forces on a long-term assignment at the Vaziani base were all pulled back to Tbilisi hotels during the war and there were no groups of US advisers fighting with the Georgians–white, black, or mixed. They also produced a passport of a US citizen who they claim was fighting with the Georgians in South Ossetia, but it turns out this was the passport of a US person who had been working in China two years earlier as an English teacher and had had his passport stolen at the time. It obviously made its way to Russia and they conveniently salted it in South Ossetia as part of a cheap propaganda ploy. (But who knows–maybe some of the Georgian forces were simultaneously preparing for their IELTS exams so he had to accompany them to the front.)

The garbage they stoop to get more and more ridiculous, even as their own people in eastern Ukraine continue to proudly break the not-so-ceasefire.

 

Russian Military Tells Concerned Soldiers’ Mothers Their Sons are Not dying in Ukraine

VDV letter to mothers

If you repeat a bigger and bigger lie enough, some idiots will believe it, though it is doubtful the Russian soldiers’ mothers will believe their sons all died in some continuing series of training accidents in Rostov, which has apparently become the most dangerous training range in history.

The September letter from the Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) to a head of the Soldiers’ Mothers’ Committee states: “Your appeal, which was addressed to the Chief of the Directorate of Social Work of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation has been evaluated by the Command of the Air Assault Forces. The information to which you have been made privy does not accord with reality. Your suppositions are based on information being propagandised by “pro-Western” mass media with a hostile stance towards the Russian Federation. Maintain calm and respect the defenders of our Motherland. Respectfully, The Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the VDV for Work with Personnel, Colonel V. Kupchishin.”

So soldiers coming home in Gruz-200 refrigerator trucks and being secretly buried with no military honours (maybe because as the official version goes, those fighting in Ukraine were all just on “leave”) are just figments of their mothers’ or wives’ or girlfriends’ imaginations. Maybe they never existed. George Orwell never even conceived of some of the garbage Putin’s creation is putting out as reality.

Russians Firing From Apartments at Ukrainian-Held Donetsk Airport During “Ceasefire”

ags17 firing at donetsk apt

Russian ORT TV (First Channel) yesterday ran a piece on the fighting in eastern Ukraine (during the alleged ceasefire) where Russian and allied force have been trying to retake the airport in Donetsk for over a week from Ukrainian forces. Not much of a ceasefire actually, But in this report the ORT correspondent goes into an apartment building, complete with resident babushka, and takes up a position in someone’s living room to fire an AGS-17 automatic grenade launcher at the airport. As many have noted, it is no wonder then that any return fire from the Ukrainians would be directed at the source of the shooting, with the possibility that innocent would be hit. This is far from the first video taken by Russian correspondents there showing them firing from apartments and even from school buildings. As for why these forces (who in the video seem to be very well outfitted “local” fighters–most likely some at least are real Russian military forces) have been attacking the airport with a vengeance for over a week during a supposed ceasefire, one would have to ask their boss, Mr Putin, who naturally has vastly different definitions than the rest of the world for a number of concepts–ceasefire and invasion included.

Russian forces fire AGS-17 at Donetsk Airport–Russian State TV Report

 

T-Shirt Putler Zombies

Typical brute force Russian mindset. “Sanctions? Don’t make my Iskender (SS-26 operational-tactical ballistic missiles) laugh” and “Topol (SS-25/27 ICBM) are not afraid of sanctions” (worn by Russian Duma member, boxer, simian, and Putin cheerleader Valuev). But then again, these are the only things in addition to natural gas that make Russia a power whatsoever.

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Shady Minsk Agreements

It seems as though Ukraine’s govt has been making some catastrophic mistakes relating to the negotiations with Russia and the “separatists” in the east. Not sure what Poroshenko’s game plan is, but it looks capitulatory or shady, at least. All the Minsk deals were negotiated on Kyiv’s part by Kuchma, who is the murderous former president who first helped get Yanuk elected in 2004 before the Orange Revolution, and then has also been a mostly supporter of Yanuk while he was in power. He has always been closely tied to Russia. Why him as choice of a negotiator? Certainly he has the Russian links, but far too many, it would seem, and he seems to be selling out Ukraine’s interests. Working out last week the deal giving high degree of autonomy to Luhansk and Donetsk is merely rewarding aggression. Period. Not to mention an amnesty for the scumbags there who kidnapped, tortured, and murdered locals they did not like, as well as holding journalists and OSCE teams (some with diplomatic status) hostage. They deserve nothing but contempt and hard jail time. As for today’s agreement in Minsk for pulling Ukrainian and “separatist” troops back and making a 30 km buffer zone—precisely in who’s interest is this? Ukrainian troops are being told to vacate parts of Ukraine and rewarding the Russian insurgents (who are Russian, or were totally installed by them). Again, this looks like capitulation. The regions in question are less than a third ethnic Russian, and February polling showed that even those were largely not in favor of separatism. So we are talking about a minority of less than a sixth of the population (even less than that) determining (thanks to the “vanguard” of Russian Spetsnaz troops, “on leave” Russian soldier mercenaries, a handful of Russian neo-Nazis with Putin’s blessing, and then a large number of actual Russian military battalion task forces) that these regions will be marginally independent and then certainly annexed in a short time by Russia after the appropriate bogus referenda are held? This is sick. Yes, things did not go well for Ukrainian forces in the final week of fighting due to the introduction of a large number of regular Russian forces, but instead of staying the course and fighting on, this smacks of surrendering part of Ukraine’s territory (another piece after Crimea). 19th century style aggression (with the proper denials) seems to pay. And this is not the end of Putin’s game plan.

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MH17 Shootdown Update—As Expected, Professional Russian Military Crew Did it

Left cockpit panel from MH17 showing massive shrapnel blowthrough that originated from right side of the aircraft

Left cockpit panel from MH17 showing massive shrapnel blowthrough that originated from right side of the aircraft

On 9 September the Dutch accident investigation team released its preliminary report on the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. The results were based on the evidence seen by them and Australian investigators at the crash site (despite Russian “rebel” efforts to delay their entry for as long as possible), as well as the findings from the cockpit voice recorder and flight date recorders, which they have and had been exploiting (despite nonsensical Russian and Russian troll baseless accusations that the black boxes had been either taken away to the US or were falsified). It turns out that they contained little information anyway, because there were no discussions of any problem in the cockpit since the plane was essentially instantly destroyed in flight.

For those who say MH17 was in a place where planes should not have been, here are the ATC radar tracks for 16 and 17 July over that part of Ukraine

For those who say MH17 was in a place where planes should not have been, here are the ATC radar tracks for 16 and 17 July over that part of Ukraine

More useful were the recordings of the Dnipropetrovsk ATC radar with MH17 before the shootdown and concurrent phone conversations between that ATC and the Russian ATC centre in Rostov, to which Dnipropetrovsk was handing off control at the time of the shootdown. This is an important point—Russian ATC was taking control of the plane at the time. One interesting note is that when the Ukrainian ATC could no longer raise MH17 by radio, Rostov said “No, it seems that its target started falling apart.” Odd choice of words, but considering that ATC personnel talke amongst themselves and with aircraft in English, it could just have been an unfortunate word choice. But as the radar screen shots provided at the July Russian MOD propaganda briefing on the downing of MH17 showed, the plane did indeed start showing about five distinct returns as it then disappeared from the radar.

ATC transcript

This is consistent with the Dutch findings that the cockpit area had been hit by “multiple high-energy objects from outside the aircraft.” This is fully consistent with findings reported here previously on 29 July that showed the left cockpit panel was riddled with scores of shrapnel holes that had entered the right side, ripping through the cockpit, and exiting the left side. The instantaneous structural damage ripped the plane apart, per the investigators.

Dutch preliminary report story

As for the ridiculous multiple variations of Russian theories thrown out in public to confuse the discussion, mislead the gullible, and just say “it was anybody but us,” those versions can go into the dustbin where they belonged all along. There was no phantom Ukrainian Su-25 (ground attack) plane that shot it down (which in any case was not on radar and can only reach half the altitude of the 777). Even if some plane had used an air-to-air missile to bring it down (which was not the case), those IR homing missiles would have hit one of the engines, which would have resulted in relatively low-energy shrapnel hitting parts of the rear of the plane—not the cockpit. It was hit with an SA-11 BUK missile that proximity detonated to the right front of the aircraft. A hit from that position would have indicated a launch point near where a SA-11 TELAR had been seen that morning and then the next day leaving toward the Russian border, in the town of Torez—an area under Russian “rebel” control.

It happens that an intrepid Russian investigator has done what so many others have done in the previous months, and sifted through photos and videos people (often Russians) have uploaded, and matched up particular unique marks on vehicles to come up with a perfect match.

Another match on the vehicle that shot down MH17. Seen fleeing after the shootdown minus one missile and same vehicle a few weeks earlier during roadmarch from Kursk down to the Ukrainian border

Another match on the vehicle that shot down MH17. Seen fleeing after the shootdown minus one missile and same vehicle a few weeks earlier during roadmarch from Kursk down to the Ukrainian border

Russian investigative journalist identifies SA-11 TELAR form shootdown

The Russian investigative journalist Iggy Ostanin dug into videos people had uploaded from 23 and 24 June showing a convoy of SA-11 vehicles moving south from Kursk to the area near Belgorod, close to the Ukrainian border. Thanks to VKontakte page uploads from a sergeant in the 53rd Air Defense Missile Brigade from Kursk, and shots form the convoy movements, it was possible to absolutely determine the SA-11 unit moving toward Ukraine was the 53rd. Moreover, paint markings, including one partial bit from a side (bort) number on the SA-11 TELAR videoed in Torez on 17 July—the day MH17 was shot down—clearly show the TELAR there was one of those from the 53rd Brigade seen a few weeks earlier on the Russian roadmarch.

SA-11 match--roadmarching in Russia late June and in Torez Ukraine hours before MH17 shot down

SA-11 match–roadmarching in Russia late June and in Torez Ukraine hours before MH17 shot down

As if the evidence were not compleelign enough before, not there is a perfect matchup. Moreover, this was, as previously stated here, not some equipment the Russians provided to the “rebels,” since it takes many months to years to become proficient at operating an SA-11 TELAR—particularly in singleton mode–but was manned by fully professional Russian military crews. But Russia sticks to its story line that it was the Ukrainians who shot down the 777. Unabashed bold-faced liars.

SNOWDRIFT radar from 53rd Brigade in motorpool shot on brigade member's VKontakte page, and same one seen roadmarching toward Ukraine 23 and 24 June

SNOWDRIFT radar from 53rd Brigade in motorpool shot on brigade member’s VKontakte page, and same one seen roadmarching toward Ukraine 23 and 24 June

 

More Russian Fabrications—A Bogus Ukrainian Poll Now

Maksim Shevchenko

Maksim Shevchenko

A retweet today by Maksim Shevchenko—a Russian journalist and opinion leader who is a shameless cheerleader for Putin who puts out the most ludicrous nonsense when he appears all too often on Ekho Moskvy—forwarded an item from Konstantin Rykov. He is a Russian Duma member and one of Putin’s top propaganda henchmen (along with Dmitry Kiselev). Rykov, who runs numerous websites as his profession, including his “Internet Review” and internet sites for Russian state ORT First Channel TV,  posted an article that originated with Kiselev’s RIA-Novosti, and was titled “’Special Operation’ Considered Inappropriate by 58% of Ukrainians, 35% Crave Victory By the Powers” and noted a nationwide poll taken from 26 August to 1 September that asked 1,820 people in all regions except Crimea and Luhansk whether they considered continuing the AntiterroristOperation as appropriate. As the title says, a majority of Ukrainians said it was not, and said “no, Ukrainians need peace.” The poll was conducted, according to the article, by a company called USS Research.

Rykov's site with "poll" article

Rykov’s site with “poll” article

Rykov’s website with article on “poll”

The only minor problem with the poll and the story is that a rudimentary internet search comes up with absolutely no information on any polling company called USS Research. The closest things were a research department of US Steel and a business listing with no information at all on some company called USS Research in Pennsylvania. This is just another cheap Russian propaganda attempt to show that the majority of Ukrainians are against fighting for the country’s territorial integrity. Another Kremlin lie to be added to the list.

As for Rykov, he might have to think this one over at his luxury villa near Nice on the Cote d’ Azur. Like so many in the Duma and Putin’s inner circle who spout all their anti-EU and anti-US propaganda, they tend to have luxury property in Europe or places like Miami.

 

 

Putin’s In Your Face Challenge in Estonia

Presidents Ilves and Obama in Tallinn on 3 Sep

Presidents Ilves and Obama in Tallinn on 3 Sep

Just two days after US President Obama was in Estonia talking about security guarantees, with the NATO Summit in Wales reinforcing the point, Putin has begun his campaign against the Balts and essentially flipped the US and NATO off. On Friday an Estonian counterintelligence and counter-smuggling officer, Eston Kohver, who was operating in the southeast of the country, was kidnapped at gunpoint by some Russians and spirited over the border. The Estonian Internal Inelligence Service (KAPO in Estonian) claim radio jammers and a smoke grenade were used in the detention. Russia’s FSB claims he was detained in Russia with a pistol, 5,000 Euros, secret recording equipment, and documents that were some kind of spying plan. (This is about as believable as the FSB detention last year of an alleged CIA agent in Moscow apprehended with a 1970s wig, written instructions for the Russian he was allegedly going to recruit, and equipment including a boyscout compass, since apparently the CIA does not own any smartphones with GPS.)

This is a clear Putin “in your face” challenge to Obama and NATO in general. Indeed this is the danger. Not that Russian forces will roll into Baltic countries. That is the kind of thing that NATO is prepared for and is beefing up its defences for, and what Article 5 is all about. The real danger is that Putin will try something much like what has worked in Crimea and eastern Ukraine—send in some GRU or other professional teams to play the role of “concerned ethnic Russians” there, bring in some local ethnic Russians as support, and gradually increase the number of Russian forces there in the guise of mercenaries (equipped naturally with the latest Russian weaponry). How NATO would react is hard to tell, since even with tones of evidence, as they have in the case of Russian military involvement in Ukraine, Russia will keep denying and saying “it’s not us—you’re lying.” Given the pitiful response of NATO, the EU, and US in Ukraine (or rather lack thereof), I would wager that the response in the face of Putin’s new style of warfare would be underwhelming.