A Few ‘Minor’ Corrections to a Proliferating Russian Disinformation Article

Engdahl

Engdahl

The piece of Russian disinformation below showed up on 26 May in the main Yahoo News stories, as a story put out by the usually more balanced Peak Oil website. It was actually a rerun of a recent article from New Eastern Outlook, which lists a Moscow address and has nothing but anti-US anti-West articles in it. The article in question is called ‘What if Putin is telling the truth?’ and is filled with so many fabricated ‘facts’ that it is hard to figure out where to start. The article is from F. William Engdahl, a pro-Russian conspiratorial wacko who writes for many pro-Russian outlets, including Michel Chossudovsky’s Global Research in Montreal, which is perhaps the main Active Measures proliferator on the planet, and is dangerous in that it masquerades as a legitimate academic site and is all too often quoted by uni students who cannot take two minutes to do some basic fact checking. Engdahl also masquerades as an expert on many things, including as an ‘expert’ on oil who believes it is not biological in nature, but made by geology alone. He bills himself also as a strategic risk consultant (God help any companies that take his advice), and naturally is a feature on Moscow’s RT disinformation network. This article of his has naturally been picked up by all the regular conspiratorial and anti-US blogs and websites, but also by more reputable ones, which apparently have not bothered to do a basic fact check.

It is not that his article has a few factually incorrect pieces to it (which can be expected in just about any article written). It is that the article is based on a major lie as its premise, and he supports it with nothing but bold-faced lies and fabricated quotes. It is more cheap Russian propaganda, but a lot of people will believe this crap.

Here is Engdahl’s article, ‘What if Putin is telling the truth’, dissected and corrected. There are a LOT of corrections (in Bold).

 

On April 26 Russia’s main national TV station, Rossiya 1, featured President Vladimir Putin in a documentary to the Russian people on the events of the recent period including the annexation of Crimea, the US coup d’etat in Ukraine, and the general state of relations with the United States and the EU. His words were frank. And in the middle of his remarks the Russian former KGB chief dropped a political bombshell that was known by Russian intelligence two decades ago.

Putin stated bluntly that in his view the West would only be content in having a Russia weak, suffering and begging from the West, something clearly the Russian character is not disposed to. Then a short way into his remarks, the Russian President stated for the first time publicly something that Russian intelligence has known for almost two decades but kept silent until now, most probably in hopes of an era of better normalized Russia-US relations.

Putin stated that the terror in Chechnya and in the Russian Caucasus in the early 1990’s was actively backed by the CIA and western Intelligence services to deliberately weaken Russia. He noted that the Russian FSB foreign intelligence had documentation of the US covert role without giving details. [This is all false, building on false accusations made many times before about the Georgians, who supposedly were doing the same, though the Russians never provided a shred of evidence.]

What Putin, an intelligence professional of the highest order [well, according to some co-workers in the KGB he was far from that], only hinted at in his remarks, I have documented in detail from non-Russian sources. The report has enormous implications to reveal to the world the long-standing hidden agenda of influential circles in Washington to destroy Russia as a functioning sovereign state, an agenda which includes the neo-nazi coup d’etat in Ukraine [the basic Kremlin disinfo line about 'Ukrainian Nazis and coups'] and severe financial sanction warfare against Moscow. The following is drawn on my book, “The Lost Hegemon” to be published soon…

CIA’s Chechen Wars

Not long after the CIA and Saudi Intelligence-financed Mujahideen had devastated Afghanistan at the end of the 1980’s, forcing the exit of the Soviet Army in 1989, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself some months later, the CIA began to look at possible places in the collapsing Soviet Union where their trained “Afghan Arabs” could be redeployed to further destabilize Russian influence over the post-Soviet Eurasian space. [Ludicrous. The Afghanis stayed where they were, and the CIA, like the whole US Government I was working in, was gearing to the ‘peace dividend’ and redirecting intel toward possibly economic endeavours. In fact, the fall of the USSR was NOT even the desired US or NATO outcome in 1991—a reformed USSR was.]

They were called Afghan Arabs because they had been recruited from ultraconservative Wahhabite Sunni Muslims from Saudi Arabia, the Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and elsewhere in the Arab world where the ultra-strict Wahhabite Islam was practiced. They were brought to Afghanistan in the early 1980’s by a Saudi CIA recruit who had been sent to Afghanistan named Osama bin Laden. [A very old unsubstantiated lie. Actually the CIA never had any dealings with UBL because he was an Arab who did not even speak the local languages, and had no ‘street cred’ there in Afghanistan.]

With the former Soviet Union in total chaos and disarray, George H.W. Bush’s Administration decided to “kick ‘em when they’re down,” a sad error. Washington redeployed their Afghan veteran terrorists to bring chaos and destabilize all of Central Asia, even into the Russian Federation itself, then in a deep and traumatic crisis during the economic collapse of the Yeltsin era. [This is unsubstantiated bull, as once again, the US did not even want the USSR to collapse as it did.]

In the early 1990s, Dick Cheney’s company, Halliburton, had surveyed the offshore oil potentials of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and the entire Caspian Sea Basin. They estimated the region to be “another Saudi Arabia” worth several trillion dollars on today’s market. The US and UK were determined to keep that oil bonanza from Russian control by all means. The first target of Washington was to stage a coup in Azerbaijan against elected president Abulfaz Elchibey to install a President more friendly to a US-controlled Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline, “the world’s most political pipeline,” bringing Baku oil from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey and the Mediterranean. [There are so many blatant lies here which have to be set straight, since I have been intimately involved in Azerbaijan and involved in the oil and gas aspects of the Caspian for some 15 years. Firstly, Halliburton was an oilfield services company operating in Baku, rather modestly. The huge potential reserves of the Caspian had been known since Soviet times, but there were no good outlets. Elchibey was ousted in a coup by former Soviet Politburo member and Soviet Azeri First Secretary Heydar Aliyev in June 1993, because his handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh war was pitiful. This has NOTHING to do with the BTC pipeline, which was not even first considered as an option until a year after Heydar took power, was not formalized until 2002, and not under construction until 2003. ]

At that time, the only existing oil pipeline from Baku was a Soviet era Russian pipeline that ran through the Chechen capital, Grozny, taking Baku oil north via Russia’s Dagestan province, and across Chechenya to the Black Sea Russian port of Novorossiysk. The pipeline was the only competition and major obstacle to the very costly alternative route of Washington and the British and US oil majors. [The Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline was hardly a competitor to the future BTC. It has only a capacity of a couple hundred thousand barrels per day and was always plagued by Russian inefficiency, whereas BTC was built for moving one million barrels per day of new oil. Azerbaijan’s SOCAR state oil company has always been providing oil for the Baku-Novo pipeline up into Russia. BP also even considered for a couple of years the possibility of running a pipeline south from Baku through Iran and to the Persian Gulf, because Caucasus instability made Iran look like a more stable option.]

President Bush Sr. gave his old friends at CIA the mandate to destroy that Russian Chechen pipeline and create such chaos in the Caucasus that no Western or Russian company would consider using the Grozny Russian oil pipeline. [Nobody would want to use that small pipeline, as stated, and Azerbaijan WAS and IS providing oil for it. The Bush-CIA action plan on this is pure fantasy.]

Graham E. Fuller, an old colleague of Bush and former Deputy Director of the CIA National Council on Intelligence had been a key architect of the CIA Mujahideen strategy. Fuller described the CIA strategy in the Caucasus in the early 1990s: “The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Red Army. The same doctrines can still be used to destabilize what remains of Russian power.” [Fuller exists, but there is no reference found to this alleged quote of his except in this article and in various Russian government friendly and fringe political conspiracy blogs. False ‘fact’. Also, a learned CIA analyst would not refer to the Soviet forces in Afghanistan as the ‘Red Army’. Pure fabrication.]

The CIA used a dirty tricks veteran, General Richard Secord, for the operation. Secord created a CIA front company, MEGA Oil. Secord had been convicted in the 1980s for his central role in the CIA’s Iran-Contra illegal arms and drugs operations.

In 1991 Secord, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, landed in Baku and set up the CIA front company, MEGA Oil. He was a veteran of the CIA covert opium operations in Laos during the Vietnam War. In Azerbaijan, he setup an airline to secretly fly hundreds of bin Laden’s al-Qaeda Mujahideen from Afghanistan into Azerbaijan. By 1993, MEGA Oil had recruited and armed 2,000 Mujahideen, converting Baku into a base for Caucasus-wide Mujahideen terrorist operations. [Azerbaijan did for a short while fly some Afghanis Muj into Azerbaijan around this time to be experienced fighters against the Armenians in the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, but after just weeks were disillusioned with them and their religiosity, which ran counter to the secular attitudes of the Azeris, and they sent them back home. They were not brought in by the US to fight Russian in the North Caucasus. In any case, until 25 December 1991, it was still the USSR. On another note, I worked many years on security issues in the Caucasus and Azerbaijan in particular, and have never heard of MEGA Oil anywhere except in this article and in associated conspiracy blogs.]

General Secord’s covert Mujahideen operation in the Caucasus initiated the military coup that toppled elected president Abulfaz Elchibey that year and installed Heydar Aliyev, a more pliable US puppet. A secret Turkish intelligence report leaked to the Sunday Times of London confirmed that “two petrol giants, BP and Amoco, British and American respectively, which together form the AIOC (Azerbaijan International Oil Consortium), are behind the coup d’état.” [As noted, this is pure bullshit, for lack of a better word. Heyday Aliyev was far from a US puppet, he did not come to power until 93, as opposed to this supposed 1991 Secord operation, and AIOC was not formed until a year after Heydar came to power, though AIOC did in fact include BP and Amoco amongst many other companies from other countries, including Russia’s Lukoil.]

Saudi Intelligence head, Turki al-Faisal, arranged that his agent, Osama bin Laden, whom he had sent to Afghanistan at the start of the Afghan war in the early 1980s, would use his Afghan organization Maktab al-Khidamat (MAK) to recruit “Afghan Arabs” for what was rapidly becoming a global Jihad. Bin Laden’s mercenaries were used as shock troops by the Pentagon and CIA to coordinate and support Muslim offensives not only Azerbaijan but also in Chechnya and, later, Bosnia. [Unsubstantiated crap. CIA and the ‘Pentagon’ had no dealings ever with UBL, except to kill him.]

Khattab (the greasy one)

Khattab (the greasy one)

Bin Laden brought in another Saudi, Ibn al-Khattab, to become Commander, or Emir of Jihadist Mujahideen in Chechnya (sic!) together with Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev. No matter that Ibn al-Khattab was a Saudi Arab who spoke barely a word of Chechen, let alone, Russian. He knew what Russian soldiers looked like and how to kill them. [Actually Khattab was Jordanian and was supported by various mullahs in Saudi, though UBL may have given his blessing.]

Chechnya then was traditionally a predominantly Sufi society, a mild apolitical branch of Islam. Yet the increasing infiltration of the well-financed and well-trained US-sponsored Mujahideen terrorists preaching Jihad or Holy War against Russians transformed the initially reformist Chechen resistance movement. They spread al-Qaeda’s hardline Islamist ideology across the Caucasus. Under Secord’s guidance, Mujahideen terrorist operations had also quickly extended into neighboring Dagestan and Chechnya, turning Baku into a shipping point for Afghan heroin to the Chechen mafia. [Having dealt with Azerbaijan professionally, this is utter crap. This alleged Secord operation to destabilize Chechnya via Baku was supposed to have happened after 91, though the second ‘religious’ Chechen War did not start until 1999. The allegations of Afghan heroin transiting Baku to Chechnya are not based on fact, as most Afghan heroin has gone through Central Asia into Russia.]

Basayev

Basayev

From the mid-1990s, bin Laden paid Chechen guerrilla leaders Shamil Basayev and Omar ibn al-Khattab the handsome sum of several million dollars per month, a King’s fortune in economically desolate Chechnya in the 1990s, enabling them to sideline the moderate Chechen majority. US intelligence remained deeply involved in the Chechen conflict until the end of the 1990s. According to Yossef Bodansky, then Director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Washington was actively involved in “yet another anti-Russian jihad, seeking to support and empower the most virulent anti-Western Islamist forces.” [Again, the alleged quote from Bodansky cannot be found anywhere except in this article and repeats of it in conspiratorial blogs, and runs contrary to his way of speaking. Basayev was somewhat active in the first Chechen War in the mid 1990s, but in an essentially secular mode, whereas Khattab did not show up there till the late 1990s before the second war. Facts.]

Bodansky revealed the entire CIA Caucasus strategy in detail in his report, stating that US Government officials participated in,

“a formal meeting in Azerbaijan in December 1999 in which specific programs for the training and equipping of Mujahideen from the Caucasus, Central/South Asia and the Arab world were discussed and agreed upon, culminating in Washington’s tacit encouragement of both Muslim allies (mainly Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia) and US ‘private security companies’. . . to assist the Chechens and their Islamist allies to surge in the spring of 2000 and sustain the ensuing Jihad for a long time…Islamist Jihad in the Caucasus as a way to deprive Russia of a viable pipeline route through spiraling violence and terrorism.” [Again, there seem to be no references anywhere to this alleged quote, or to any parts of it, except in this original article and a large number of conspiratorial blogs which have re-barfed it. It is, like the rest of this article, pure fiction.]

The most intense phase of the Chechen wars wound down in 2000 only after heavy Russian military action defeated the Islamists. It was a pyrrhic victory, costing a massive toll in human life and destruction of entire cities. The exact death toll from the CIA-instigated Chechen conflict is unknown. Unofficial estimates ranged from 25,000 to 50,000 dead or missing, mostly civilians. Russian casualties were near 11,000 according to the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers. [Actually the second war, which Putin instigated in late 1999 with his FSB apartment bombings in various Russian cities, did not wind down until 2009—quite a few years after 2000. It was not CIA-instigated by any means, and estimates of dead, which include mostly civilians subject to Russian military bombardments and sweeps which took out entire villages, range generally to over 100,000.]

The Anglo-American oil majors and the CIA’s operatives were happy. They had what they wanted: their Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan oil pipeline, bypassing Russia’s Grozny pipeline. [Again, BTC had nothing to do with the wars in Chechnya, which were a purely Russian affair, though there were a lot of foreign jihadists in the second one—not recruited by the US, which as you may remember, had been actively fighting against related jihadists after September 2001.]

The Chechen Jihadists, under the Islamic command of Shamil Basayev, continued guerrilla attacks in and outside Chechnya. The CIA had refocused into the Caucasus.

Basayev’s Saudi Connection

Basayev was a key part of the CIA’s Global Jihad. In 1992, he met Saudi terrorist Ibn al-Khattag in Azerbaijan. From Azerbaijan, Ibn al-Khattab brought Basayev to Afghanistan to meet al-Khattab’s ally, fellow-Saudi Osama bin Laden. Ibn al-Khattab’s role was to recruit Chechen Muslims willing to wage Jihad against Russian forces in Chechnya on behalf of the covert CIA strategy of destabilizing post-Soviet Russia and securing British-US control over Caspian energy. [Actually Basayev was fighting in 1992 and 1993 in Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia region in a North Caucasus militia group allied with the Russian military, actively fighting against Georgians. This, even though in 1991 he and some other Chechens had hijacked an airliner. There is a mountain of evidence that Basayev was recruited by the Russian GRU after the hijacking and cooperated with it while fighting against Georgia. Like so many others in the region, he later defected and turned on his masters.]

Once back in Chechnya, Basayev and al-Khattab created the International Islamic Brigade (IIB) with Saudi Intelligence money, approved by the CIA and coordinated through the liaison of Saudi Washington Ambassador and Bush family intimate Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Bandar, Saudi Washington Ambassador for more than two decades, was so intimate with the Bush family that George W. Bush referred to the playboy Saudi Ambassador as “Bandar Bush,” a kind of honorary family member. [Not a shred of proof that this group had any CIA backing, and is again illogical given the US being busy fighting against these people post 9/11.]

Basayev and al-Khattab imported fighters from the Saudi fanatical Wahhabite strain of Sunni Islam into Chechnya. Ibn al-Khattab commanded what were called the “Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya,” his own private army of Arabs, Turks, and other foreign fighters. He was also commissioned to set up paramilitary training camps in the Caucasus Mountains of Chechnya that trained Chechens and Muslims from the North Caucasian Russian republics and from Central Asia. [This is actually the very first factual paragraph. Amazing.]

The Saudi and CIA-financed Islamic International Brigade was responsible not only for terror in Chechnya. They carried out the October 2002 Moscow Dubrovka Theatre hostage seizure and the gruesome September 2004 Beslan school massacre. In 2010, the UN Security Council published the following report on al-Khattab and Basayev’s International Islamic Brigade:

Islamic International Brigade (IIB) was listed on 4 March 2003. . . as being associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf or in support of” Al-Qaida. . . The Islamic International Brigade (IIB) was founded and led by Shamil Salmanovich Basayev (deceased) and is linked to the Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM). . . and the Special Purpose Islamic Regiment (SPIR). . .

On the evening of 23 October 2002, members of IIB, RSRSBCM and SPIR operated jointly to seize over 800 hostages at Moscow’s Podshipnikov Zavod (Dubrovka) Theater.

In October 1999, emissaries of Basayev and Al-Khattab traveled to Usama bin Laden’s home base in the Afghan province of Kandahar, where Bin Laden agreed to provide substantial military assistance and financial aid, including by making arrangements to send to Chechnya several hundred fighters to fight against Russian troops and perpetrate acts of terrorism. Later that year, Bin Laden sent substantial amounts of money to Basayev, Movsar Barayev (leader of SPIR) and Al-Khattab, which was to be used exclusively for training gunmen, recruiting mercenaries and buying ammunition. [Again a factual paragraph quoting a UNSC article that actually exists, though has nothing to do with the allegations in this pro-Russian disinformation piece about the US being behind Caucasus destabilization.]

The Afghan-Caucasus Al Qaeda “terrorist railway,” financed by Saudi intelligence, had two goals. One was a Saudi goal to spread fanatical Wahhabite Jihad into the Central Asian region of the former Soviet Union. The second was the CIA’s agenda of destabilizing a then-collapsing post-Soviet Russian Federation. [Again the baseless CIA allegation.]

Beslan

On September 1, 2004, armed terrorists from Basayev and al-Khattab’s IIB took more than 1,100 people as hostages in a siege that included 777 children, and forced them into School Number One (SNO) in Beslan in North Ossetia, the autonomous republic in the North Caucasus of the Russian Federation near to the Georgia border.

On the third day of the hostage crisis, as explosions were heard inside the school, FSB and other elite Russian troops stormed the building. In the end, at least 334 hostages were killed, including 186 children, with a significant number of people injured and reported missing. It became clear afterward that the Russian forces had handled the intervention poorly. [Factual.]

The Washington propaganda machine, from Radio Free Europe to The New York Times and CNN, wasted no time demonizing Putin and Russia for their bad handling of the Beslan crisis rather than focus on the links of Basayev to Al Qaeda and Saudi intelligence. That would have brought the world’s attention to the intimate relations between the family of then US President George W. Bush and the Saudi billionaire bin Laden family. [The typical Russian accusation that the US media belong to the US Government. RFE does, but is a thousand times more objective than any Russian news outlet will ever be. Also, I remember plenty of US and European news outlets reporting on the horrors of AQ and Basayev during the crisis. Russian state TV, which I watch, also naturally reported on that aspect, but also said in the hours after the storming that only a few people had been killed, while the ‘unreliable US propaganda channels’ were reporting on the truly staggering death toll.]

On September 1, 2001, just ten days before the day of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, Saudi Intelligence head US-educated Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, who had directed Saudi Intelligence since 1977, including through the entire Osama bin Laden Mujahideen operation in Afghanistan and into the Caucasus, abruptly and inexplicably resigned, just days after having accepted a new term as intelligence head from his King. He gave no explanation. He was quickly reposted to London, away from Washington. [Posted from Saudi to London to avoid Washington?]

The record of the bin Laden-Bush family intimate ties was buried, in fact entirely deleted on “national security” (sic!) grounds in the official US Commission Report on 911. The Saudi background of fourteen of the nineteen alleged 911 terrorists in New York and Washington was also deleted from the US Government’s final 911 Commission report, released only in July 2004 by the Bush Administration, almost three years after the events. [Same allegations that have been around in conspiracy ‘Truther’ sites since 9/11. And the Commission report most certainly did mention that the hijackers were Saudi nationals.]

Basayev claimed credit for having sent the terrorists to Beslan. His demands had included the complete independence of Chechnya from Russia, something that would have given Washington and the Pentagon an enormous strategic dagger in the southern underbelly of the Russian Federation. [Nothing to do with Washington—since the first 1994 Chechen War this had been the goal of the Chechens.]

By late 2004, in the aftermath of the tragic Beslan drama, President Vladimir Putin reportedly ordered a secret search and destroy mission by Russian intelligence to hunt and kill key leaders of the Caucasus Mujahideen of Basayev. Al-Khattab had been killed in 2002. The Russian security forces soon discovered that most of the Chechen Afghan Arab terrorists had fled. They had gotten safe haven in Turkey, a NATO member; in Azerbaijan, by then almost a NATO Member; or in Germany, a NATO Member; or in Dubai–one of the closest US Allies in the Arab States, and Qatar-another very close US ally. In other words, the Chechen terrorists were given NATO safe haven. [This is pure bullshit. There were foreign fighters still in Chechnya until 2009, and the reason most left in the mid 2000s was because they migrated to the fights in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they could try to kill Americans and Brits. Possibly a few went to Turkey or to European countries, since some had been from those countries in the first place, just as now there are some radicalized Muslims from Europe who have gone to fight in Syria. This all has absolutely nothing to do with NATO, or the US.]

F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.  First appeared: http://journal-neo.org/2015/05/15/what-if-putin-is-telling-the-truth/

 

Latest Smoking Gun: Russian Military UAV (Drone) Shot Down in Ukraine

It is incomprehensible how anyone (especially Western officials) can keep letting Putin off the hook with regards to Ukraine, when the evidence of direct Russian military operations there is beyond question.

Russian Army Forpost UAV wreckage in Ukrainian hangar

Russian Army Forpost UAV wreckage in Ukrainian hangar

The latest was the shoot-down on 20 May by Ukrainian forces of a Russian military Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (called drones incorrectly by many) near Peski, west of Donetsk airport on the line of contact.  While they have previously bagged some small tactical UAVs, this was a large 8.5 metre wingspan Forpost UAV–the newest in the Russian military arsenal. These have only been in service since early 2014 with the Russian army, and they only have (or rather had) 11 of them in service. They are actually a Russian-made version of the Israeli Searcher II UAV, being made under license, produced at the Ural Civil Aviation Works. The wreckage is most definitely a Forpost, complete with the data plates from Ural and from some Israeli components such as antennas. The UAV was reportedly equipped with multiple GPS units to probably enable it to return on autopilot in case of loss of signal–barring a shoot-down that is.

Russian Forpost UAV at manufacturer

Russian Forpost UAV at manufacturer

Operational radius is 250 kilometres, so these have easily been flown in across the border from Russia, giving some plausible deniability. However, having one get shot down removes that deniability. These are aircraft flown by pilots on the ground, which is not something a ‘Donbas separatist volunteer’ would be capable of doing, much less Russia trusting some Rambo locals with their most current $6 million recce asset. These are nearly as new as the smaller tactical Granat-4 UAV which was shot down by Ukraine in November last year. Similarly, those had only been in service with the Russian Army since late 2013.

Russian Army Forpost UAV data plate

Russian Army Forpost UAV data plate

Ukrainian article on shoot-down of UAV

Such large UAVs have been noted previously flying regularly over Ukraine, and in particular over the line of contact, where they are probably doing recce of Ukrainian positions. Naturally, in conjunction with the Russian invasion of that part of Ukraine, this is just another violation of sovereignty, and of course will be denied by Moscow, despite the rather large $6 million piece of mangled wreckage.

Russian Army Granat-4 UAV shot down over Ukraine in November 2014

Russian Army Granat-4 UAV shot down over Ukraine in November 2014

Liveleak article on Russian UAV shoot-down

Israeli antenna data plate from shot down Russian Army Forpost UAV

Israeli antenna data plate from shot down Russian Army Forpost UAV

Russia’s Pathetic Disavowal of its Soldiers

 

Russian Spetsnaz prisoners in Ukrainian hospital

Russian Spetsnaz prisoners in Ukrainian hospital

On 16 May, two Russian Army Spetsnaz soldiers from the GRU’s 3rd Spetsnaz Brigade based out of Tolyatti (Samara) on the Volga River were wounded in a shoot-out at a power plant in Schastya, Luhansk region, Russian-occupied Ukraine. The two were captured by Ukraine’s 92nd Brigade. One soldier was carrying a Vintorez silenced sniper rifle (a specifically Russian Spetsnaz special piece of kit), while the other had lost or ditched his weapon. True to the propaganda Putin’s apparatus dishes out, they refused to be sedated when getting medical treatment because they believed the Ukrainians wanted to harvest their kidneys for selling wherever. Both are now in a Kyiv hospital, with their kidneys, and a Red Cross visit is being set up.

Russian Spetsnaz sergeant getting field medical care

Russian Spetsnaz sergeant getting field medical care

The sergeant, Aleksandr Anatolevich Aleksandrov, later told an interviewer from his hospital bed that he was part of a 14-person recon group scouting the front lines, and was under the command of the other prisoner, Captain Evgeniy Vladimirovich Erofeev, and that the teams on the front rotated about every four days with others out of Luhansk (where there were some 6-8 such groups. The Groups he refers to are specific to Spetsnaz organisation.

 

Sergeant Aleksandrov's fake LNR military ID

Sergeant Aleksandrov’s fake LNR military ID

Article with video of Russian Spetsnaz sergeant talking of his brigade’s operations in Ukraine

Their status is unclear, given that like the other Russian regular forces and mercenaries operating in Donbas, they wear no insignia, and the Russian government is as usual claiming that they are not Russian military.

 

CPT Erofeev's fake LNR military ID

CPT Erofeev’s fake LNR military ID

The disinfo effort began almost immediately. Russian presidential spokesman Peskov as usual denied there are any Russian military in Ukraine, while the ‘Luhansk People’s Republic’ First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the People’s Militia stated in a news conference that the two were actually new soldier volunteers in his command, and as usual, standing the truth on its head, said they were captured by a Ukrainian Special Forces unit (not that they themselves were special forces). To prove who the soldiers were, they then produced their military ID booklets issued by Luhansk, signed by the Chief of the Cadre Department, V/Ch (military unit) L-77077. The IDs were issued allegedly in Jan and Feb 2015, and had both assigned to V/Ch L-55055. The fact that both made-up units had the same pattern of field post numbers (this is not how it is done) loudly says ‘fake’. Interestingly, though, the captain’s position is ‘Group Commander’ and the sergeant’s is ‘Section Commander’. Both are standard Spetsnaz subunit designatoins, and match what the sergeant said in the video. In both ID documents, the soldiers’ pictures show them in the tell-tale telnyashka stripy t-shirt favored by Spetsnaz and other special units. Both of the ID booklets are not signed by the bearers. Furthermore they are both brand new, and for some odd reason, the ID booklets were in the custody of the ‘LNR’ government instead of being with the soldiers they belonged to. But Russian blatant disinformation efforts and forgeries never need to be explained, as usual. Many idiots will believe them because they produced some improbable documents with numerous errors.

Ukrainian military show Russian Spetsnaz Vintorez silenced sniper rifle

Ukrainian military show Russian Spetsnaz Vintorez silenced sniper rifle

Of note, the press conference and the revelation of the ID booklets was made by the Russian government-linked ultranationalist website Russkaya Vesna, which tellingly uses the web digraph ‘su’ instead of ‘ru’—that is, Soviet Union vice Russia.

Russkaya Vesna (Russian Spring) article first showing fake LNR military IDs

In sum, this is just the latest in a mountain of evidence that Russian regular forces continue to operate in eastern Ukraine. As usual, the Russian government is immediately resorting to cheap denials and disinformation to try to show they are not Russian soldiers, and it has disowned them, as Russia has not acknowledged the many hundreds of their soldiers killed in Ukraine and then buried in secret, with families getting usually nothing.

The difference between Putin and Hitler? At least Hitler admitted when he was fighting a war of conquest. Putin does not reach even that lowly standard.

 

 

 

 

Fascism 101–Great Leader Worship (Putin as World’s Greatest Hockey Player)

Putin scores!

Putin scores!

Article and full game video of Putin scoring 8 times against NHL greats

More of the usual Fascistic leader worship. Yesterday in Sochi, Putin (who skates and shoots like a total beginner, to put it nicely), played in a game with Russian NHL players on a team called NHL Stars in an 18-6 “victory” over Team NHL (which included the likes of Pavel Bure), and amazingly scored 8 goals. In a leader love exhibition worthy of Kim Jong-un, he was totally left in the open in front of the net and constantly fed the puck to pull off his amazing feat.

Putin in "action"

Putin in “action”

Surely he is the best player to ever hit the ice! Gretzky, move over!

 

 

Putin’s Parade—The Height of Hypocrisy and Lies

'Colonel' Zakharchenko at Donetsk parade

‘Colonel’ Zakharchenko at Donetsk parade

The shameless nature of Putin’s fascism really showed itself yesterday. Everything was over the top, and much of it fake. First he had his giant military parade, to which countless Russians on social media are gushing with sentiments about how great Russia is, and how everyone now fears Russia so much. Of course this is a typically Russian trait—confusing respect and fear.

 

Strela-1- SA-13 AD systems in Donetsk parade, with Russian military parade banners and stars

Strela-1- SA-13 AD systems in Donetsk parade, with Russian military parade banners and stars

During the parade, attended by a number of mainly authoritarian and dictatorial world leaders who are understanding of Putin’s ways, a number of veterans were seen in the stands, including one next to Putin’s biker buddy ‘Xirurg’ Zaldostanov, wearing medals they could not possibly have won, adding to the fakeness of everything. This was seen even more in Donbas, where the invader leaders watched a large military parade that was in clear violation of the Minsk Agreement. In that parade, amazingly the nice clean vehicles ranging from T-72B tanks to BMP-2s to Strela-10 (SA-13) air defence systems all sported amazingly exactly the same large St George (Colorado) ribbon with stylised red and white star. This banner was used on the vehicles in Moscow, but not in the regional parades in Russia, but amazingly all the vehicles in Donetsk sported this Russian Defence Ministry banner. This is another way of Putin giving the finger to to world by showing that it is indeed his people fighting there. The very good parade roadmarch discipline also indicates these were not some local coal miners who happened to learn to drive a BMP.

 

Motorola weighted down with fake medals at Donetsk parade

Motorola weighted down with fake medals at Donetsk parade

Speaking of coal miners, the parade was overseen by ‘DNR’ head Zakharchenko, wearing a Russian dress uniform full of medals and complete with colonel epaulettes. Not bad for a guy who was a coal mine electrician just over a year earlier. Making rank and medals seems quick in Donbas. His sidekick, Spartak Battalion commander Arseny Pavlov (Motorola), who recently said in a radio interview that he summarily murdered 15 Ukrainian prisoners of war just because he felt like it, was lurking around holding a huge dagger and looking ridiculous in his dress combat uniform with lieutenant colonel epaulettes and weighted down with medals including Hero of Donetsk and others including 4th Class Order of St George (given in Russia for senior officers who conduct military operations to protect the Motherland), the 4th Class Cross of St George (given to soldiers, sergeants, and junior officers who show distinction in battle for the defence of the Motherland), and apparently the medal for Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War (given only to participants). Funny, he doesn’t look that old. Seems like just a year earlier he was working at a Rostov car wash getting in trouble with the police there for taking a car on a drunken joyride. Again, making rank is fast when you are one of Putin’s useful idiots.

 

Putin with 'spontaneous' Immortal Regiment' march

Putin with ‘spontaneous’ Immortal Regiment’ march

Next after the main parade, Putin took part in the Moscow march of the ‘Immortal Regiment’. These marches took place all around Russia and brought out millions who were to carry pictures of their relatives who fought in WW-II. The Moscow march was about 500,000. Putin was interviewed on the night of 9 May on Rossiya state TV, where he shamelessly said that he had not known about the marches, but just happened to come across the one in Moscow and decided on the spot to take part. Another bold-faced lie from the top liar. Spontaneously he just happened to have a sign on a pole with his father’s wartime photo on it, in a navy uniform and with the name nicely stenciled on the bordered sign. Not unlike most of the photos carried by participants of their supposed relatives. Most were of a couple of designs with the same size, borders, print, and on the same sticks. Granted, there were some participants who had clearly taken photos off the shelves at home and were carrying them, but most were the mass-produced ones on poles. And after the march broke up, stacks of these were seen near Tverskaya metro station and elsewhere in Moscow, tossed into piles by their ‘relatives’ who obviously had no need anymore for the sacred portraits. Indeed, some trash dumpsters were also seen afterwards full of the St George ribbons. Appears to have been a lot of mandatory participation and a lot of fake war hero relatives amongst the real ones. Just more fakery. Also, cynically, the very name of the Immortal Regiment seems to have been lifted form the Ukrainians on Maidan who coined the term ‘Heavenly Hundred’ (Nebesna Sotnya) after the roughly hundred demonstrators who were murdered by the Russian-backed Yanukovych regime through February 2014.

 

Immortal Regiment march--lots of identical signs

Immortal Regiment march–lots of identical signs

Immortal Regiment discarded relative signs afterwards

Immortal Regiment discarded relative signs afterwards

Lastly, Russian TV network RBK posted a story of the visit to the parade of UN Secretary General Ban ki-moon, and probably totally fabricating what he supposedly told to Putin in a meeting in the Kremlin. The verbiage was repeated on the page of the Russian President, but the RT/Ruptly video of the meeting cuts off right after Ban’s introductory words in Russian. According to the network and the Kremlin, Ban said, ‘Today I was pleased to see the proud faces of the people who participated in the event – not only soldiers but also ordinary people, viewers – and to see their commitment to peace. So I would like to congratulate you on this event on this achievement.’ He supposedly added that, in his opinion, Putin earned the love of the people, and RBK said that the UN Secretary General saw the pride on the faces of people when they welcomed the Russian government. He supposedly continued that ‘After the parade, in the streets were hundreds of thousands of people. At first I thought they were demonstrating against your government, but I realized that, on the contrary, they welcomed your government. I saw that they did it with pride, and saw it in their faces. They waved their hands to us, when the UN delegation passed by them, which I thought was also very nice. So I really think that you deserve this love of the people’.

RBK article on what Ban ki-moon allegedly told Putin

If the UN Secretary General actually said these things, he is sick and delusional and cannot tell fakery from the truth. However, more likely is that this is more blatant fakery, and attributing such sentiments, which are the height of Fascism (the people gushing with love for the beloved great leader who is in the process of invading a neighbour) to the UN Secretary General, is a new low. This is Fascism 101.

But anyhow, nothing says ‘we defeated Fascism’ better than a massive military parade complete with thousands of goosestepping troops.

 

 

 

 

Fascist State Takes Down Another Nonconformist

MVD officer pointing to an "offensive" exhibit in the art gallery

MVD officer pointing to an “offensive” exhibit in the art gallery

There can be no doubt that Putin has built a state that now resembles a fascist one worthy of Mussolini’s 1932 definition. He is the supreme power and the people must do what is expected of them. Their purpose is to serve the state, and like Louis XIV, the state is he. Dissonance is not permitted, including, of course, in the run-up to Putin’s personal Victory Day parade today (9 May). It was his personal glorification of the war victory meant to rally the people more than ever around his brand of sickly excessive nationalism (which has led to things like invading and annexing parts of unruly neighbours it considers its own).

 

One of the nonconformist pieces

One of the nonconformist pieces

An exhibition in a small cellar art gallery was raided yesterday and the artist arrested and taken away. The ostensibly private REN TV channel (which is now actually controlled almost entirely by Putin loyalists and toes the line) had publicized the exhibition there, leading to a raid by the MVD’s Centre for Combating Extremism and Terrorism. The ‘crime’ by artist Oleg Basov was to exhibit some pieces of work that did not conform to the patriotic norm. His pictures and exhibits extensively used the orange and black St George ribbon (originally from the 18th century, but then used as a symbol for victory in the Great Patriotic War, and tainted more recently as the symbol of occupation and invasion of Ukraine) in ways calling into question the unbridled nationalism Putin has released. One showed a meat grinder with toy Nazi and Soviet soldiers being fed into it and George ribbons coming out. Given Soviet tactics in the war which wasted ‘worthless’ soldiers, and in keeping with the English term of a meat grinder, this has some relevance. But in Putin’s world this is ‘extremism’ and has to be dealt with. Lawyer Aleksey Domnikov was present and filmed a lot of the MVD interaction at the gallery, and the arrest of the artist.

REN TV’s story banner on the raid read very Putonian nationalistically: ‘On the initiative of REN TV, the exhibition-provocation was liquidated’. This is as Orwellian as it gets.

REN TV story on art museum raid

So anyone who thinks differently and does not agree with the state line, is an extremist and will be punished. Regardless of worthless constitutional guarantees. Welcome to Rome 1932, Berlin 1937, and Moscow 2015. Victory over Fascism?

 

 

 

Putin’s Parades, Burning BUK, and Arrested Armata

Armata before...

Armata before…

During one of the rehearsals on 7 May for today’s Victory Day parade in Moscow, one of the eight highly praised T-14 Armata supertanks (supposedly a rival to the Abrams) being shown for the first time broke down in front of the reviewing stand. Even a BREhM-1 recovery vehicle could not budge it, and actually spun its tracks trying to move the thing.

... Armata after...

… Armata after…

Defence Minister Shoigu in his dress uniform even came out to supervise (a job that typicallyy a sergeant would accomplish in a normal army), and eventually a specialist from the producer, Uralvagonzavod was able to start it and limp it away. At the actual parade today they rearranged the order and there were, surprise surprise, only 7 Armatas. There must have been some kind of catastrophic failure, and this also indicates they had no spares. Certainly in Putin’s Russian conspiratorial world, GOSDEP must have been behind it…

Armata breakdown Red Square 7 May

But today the actual parade came off without any major problems. Putin and his visitors, mainly CIS and world authoritarians and dictators like Mugabe, watched his version of Russian imperial greatness excess as his military leaders prepare for deeper assaults on ‘fraternal’ Ukraine.

SA-11 BUK burning in Chita Victory parade, 9 May 2015

SA-11 BUK burning in Chita Victory parade, 9 May 2015

Less successful was the parade in far eastern Chita, where one of the SA-11 BUK TELARS caught on fire. Too bad it was not TELAR 312 from the 53rd AD Missile Brigade in Kursk, which shot down MH-17 on 17 July last year in eastern Ukraine. But maybe a bit of technical karma.

Putin’s KGB Biker Rally through EU Nixed

People keep raining on Putin’s parade.

His biker buddy Aleksandr Zaldostanov, known as Surgeon, had been trumpeting a ride to be made by a bunch of bikers from the Night Wolves motorcycle club from Moscow through Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and on to Berlin to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the victory over fascism at Karlshorst, where the 9 May 1945 second Nazi surrender was signed. Today it was announced that the German government was revoking some Schengen visas issued to participants, and the Polish Foreign Ministry also issued a statement saying the group was not going to be allowed into Poland (while noting that other Russian commemoration groups were going to be allowed).

Polish MFA announcement of Night Wolves trip not being allowed

This is fitting, since this is not a normal biker group. Putin belongs to it (even though in PR shots he rides, of all things given his anti-Americanism, a Harley Davidson Lehman Trike–apparently the world’s top dictator cannot balance on two wheels), and it is heavily made up of former KGB, FSB, and GRU Spetsnaz personnel. It was involved in the takeover of Crimea and has openly participated in fighting in Donbas, Ukraine. Zaldostanov is nothing more than a crude thug ultra-nationalist (well, a neo-Nazi for all practical purposes).

 

The only drawback is that there were lots of groups, mainly in Poland, who were ready to confront them, which could have been mildly entertaining. We also will not be able to watch them shamelessly parade through Berlin to the Karlshorst museum (though they might feel at home, since up until 1994 just adjacent to the museum was the installation of a KGB Border Guards brigade).

So now Zaldostanov and his Chekist biker friends will have to stay in Moscow for Putin’s parade on 9 May. Nothing like a celebration of victory over fascism done by–fascists. Maybe they can keep some of the only high-level attendees company in the reviewing stands–basically the rogues’ gallery.

 

Zaldostanov and Putin

Zaldostanov and Putin

 

 

DNR Zakharchenko an MH-17 Witness (and other Lies)

Great video from Vice News of an interview done a few days ago with Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the Kremlin-anointed leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic. Interview done by Vice’s star reporter Simon Ostrovsky, a Soviet-born American who has worked extensively in the war zone since the start. He was taken captive for four days in April 2014 there by some of the Russians/separatists.

Zakh

Zakharchenko (by profession a coal mine electrician) was rather slick, though did not give a single answer that was not a bold-faced lie. Spoke of how his economy was crap compared to that of the rest of Ukraine because of the war (wonder who started that?) and because they were so busy fighting (imaginary) Kyivan fascists. His handler, or chief of staff, objected when Ostrovsky asked a question about the extensive video of the Buryat tanker from the 15th Tank Brigade (of the Russian Army) who was badly burned when his tank was blown up fighting in Debaltseve, saying the question was not approved in advance and he would be thrown out if he asked any more like that. But Zakh obliged and answered, saying there are lots of volunteers fighting in Donbas from Russia (ignoring the well-established fact that he was part of a Russian Army tank battalion fighting there form the 15th OTB).

His greatest bit of BS, however, was when Ostrovsky asked about his thoughts on the Dutch MH-17 commission findings that the Boeing was destroyed by an SA-11 Buk missile fired from Russian-held territory. Zakh repeated one of the Kremlin ‘versions’ saying that he himself had witnessed it, and said he saw two Ukrainian fighter planes pulling away after having shot down the 777. (Incredible eyesight apparently since the Boeing was at 10,000 metres, even though an Su-25 can only reach 5,000 with weapons mounted, and the fact that it was a fairly cloudy day.) He also said the aircraft clearly showed bullet holes. This is the long-debunked Kremlin version of a Ukrainian Su-25 ground attack aircraft having shot it with cannon (different than other versions including the really badly faked ‘satellite’ photo of a Ukrainian fighter firing an air-to-air missile at it). The holes in the wreckage were of widely varying sizes and came from an SA-11 warhead detonation. Fact. In short, Zakharchenko made up yet another lie, but his is par for the Kremlin and its useful idiots.

Vice News Interview with Zakharchenko

Oles Buzina Murder—Reality TV for Putin’s Q&A

Buzina called hero in Moscow by those who days earlier probably never heard of him

Buzina called hero in Moscow by those who days earlier probably never heard of him

Last Thursday, 16 April 2015, pro-Russian Ukrainian journalist Oles Buzina was shot and killed near his home in Kyiv. He was the latest in a string of murders and suicides of Yanukovych allies in Ukraine, with former Party of Regions deputy Oleg Kalashnikov having been gunned down in Kyiv just a day earlier.

The string that unites all the dead is that they were not high-visibility officials, but mainly normal Party of Regions deputies. Buzina was a journalist who had written pro-Russian columns and articles for several publications and had made some appearances on Russian political talk shows. He is not someone that could be called well-known, though Russian spin changed all that and made him instantly into a ‘well-known journalist’.

He was killed at 1320 local time in Kyiv (which is in summer now on the same time as Moscow). This occurred during the middle of Putin’s ‘Direct Line’ annual question and answer marathon. He was notified about the murder by moderator Kirill Kleymenov within nine minutes of the murder, who felt necessary to interrupt the Q&A (which was then on a totally different subject) to let Putin know that a journalist in Ukraine who most Russians had never heard of had been killed. He said ‘Mr. Putin, we have been receiving tragic news from Kiev just as we are holding the Direct Line with you. We have just received a report that Oles Buzina, one of Ukraine’s most prominent observers and journalists, has been killed. The Russian audience surely knows him, since he took part in talk shows on Russian TV networks on multiple occasions. This tragedy has just taken place. Former Member of Parliament from the Party of Regions Oleg Kalashnikov was killed yesterday. All in all, this situation is absolutely monstrous.

Vladimir Putin: This is not the first political assassination. In Ukraine, we have seen a whole series of such assassinations.

Irina Khakamada here asked a question about the investigation into Boris Nemtsov’s assassination – an assassination which I consider to be an absolute disgrace for this country. Law enforcement agencies must do all they can to track down the criminals. As we know, the perpetrators have been arrested.

In Ukraine, which is laying claim to the status of a democratic state and is seeking to become part of a democratic Europe, we are seeing none of this. Where are the killers of these people? There is no sign of them – neither the perpetrators nor those who have ordered these killings. Both Europe and North America choose to turn a blind eye to this.

Kirill Kleymenov: Of course, we express our profound condolences, above all, to Oles’s family and all of his colleagues.

Vladimir Putin: I join in completely.’

Putin direct line 15

A number of observers have commented on how this killing seemed made for TV and for immediate shock effect. Why would the moderator interrupt the Q&A with news of an unrelated event that had just taken place? Puti nwas also obviously totally prepared with his rant, which the moderator set up by the lead-in that these killings were monstrous.

Furthermore, Ukrainian political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko received an e-mail the next day from a group taking credit for the Buzina murder, Kalashnikov’s, and all the Party of Regions underlings’ murders and suicides going back to February. The group was the Ukrainian Insurgent Army–UPA (Українська Повстанська Армія) which battled both the Nazis and Soviets in WW-II, was inspired (though never led) by Stepan Bandera (the Russians’ main bogeyman, but who for most of the war was in a Nazi prison camp near Berlin), and was disbanded in 1956. It has only been out of existence for 58 years, but facts such as these never stopped Russian propagandists. The e-mail claiming credit and threatening all opponents of the Kyiv regime (which actually none of these ‘victims’ really were) was sent from Germany through an anonymiser that transited two IP addresses in the UK and US. Also, though it was written in Ukrainian by allegedly Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, it contained a lot of glaring grammatical and spelling errors, leading analysts to conclude that it definitely was not written by a native Ukrainian speaker.

But the murder (and that of some other sacrificed expendable former POR cadre) achieved its goal. A real-time Ukrainian ‘atrocity’ could be trumpeted by Putin on national live TV and contrasted with how he was able to find the Nemtsov murderers in a matter of days (or at least a couple of Kadyrov’s Chechen stooges to be the fall guys for a murder Putin himself obviously ordered to happen right outside the Kremlin). Two points for Putin’s propaganda show. Lots of idiots will believe him.

Ukrainska Pravda article on SBU analysis of e-mail

 

 

What? Putin Lied?

2008 Putin interview with German ARD TV

2008 Putin interview with German ARD TV

A couple of TV interviews of Putin have now surfaced from a few years ago where it made it very clear that Russia would not question Ukraine’s territorial integrity whatsoever. In fact, in the September 2008 interview (just after Russia’s invasion of Georgia) he got testy with the German ARD TV correspondent for even asking such a question. The relevant bits:

RFE Article with Putin ARD TV interview video

ARD: The French Foreign Minister, Mr Kouchner, recently expressed concern that the next conflict could be in Ukraine, more precisely in Crimea and Sevastopol, as a base for Russia’s naval fleet. Are Crimea and Sevastopol a target for Russia?

Putin: You said the next target. We did not have a target here [meaning Georgia] either. So I think talking about some kind of next target is inappropriate.

ARD: So you rule it out?

Putin: If you allow me to answer, you will be satisfied. Crimea is not a disputed territory. There has been no ethnic conflict there, unlike the conflict between South Ossetia and Georgia. Russia has long recognized the borders of modern-day Ukraine. On the whole, we have completed our talks on borders. The issue of demarcation stands, but this is just a technicality. I think questions about such goals for Russia have provocative undertones.

Interestingly he did leave some wiggle room as usual, noting that in Georgia they did not have a target either, but invaded anyhow. At least after creating the thinnest of pretexts, as in Ukraine. The difference of course is that with regards to Ukraine, Russia had signed the Budapest Memorandum in 1994 guaranteeing Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its existing borders in exchange for Ukraine giving its 1,200 nuclear warheads and delivery vehicles to Russia. That treaty and Putin’s own indignant denials should have been enough to guarantee Ukraine’s sovereignty, but of course Putin is not a normal person.

 

 

 

Fascist Fest Convention in St Petersburg (Russia Fighting Neo-Nazis You Say?)

Conference attendee in some sort of uniform

Conference attendee in some sort of uniform

Sunday, 22 March, the International Russian Conservative Forum was held in St Petersburg (in a Holiday Inn, of all places), which brought together a motley group of mainly European far rightwing extremists, Holocaust deniers, white supremacists, and outright neo-Nazis from some 15 countries. Hosted by the Kremlin-linked Rodina Party which was founded by ultra-nationalist Dmitriy Rogozin, former Russian ambassador to NATO, virulent American and Europe hater, and not Russian Deputy Prime Minister in charge of armaments and Moldovan separatism, the event was little more than, as expected, US, Ukraine, and Europe bashing, with a lot of Putin lauding.

Italian Forza Nuova

Italian Forza Nuova

Participants included Jared Taylor, an American white supremacist, Nicholas Griffin, head of the British National Party and a prominent Holocaust denier, Roberto Fiore, head of the Italy’s New Force (Forza Nuova) party which is unabashedly fascist, Udo Voigt, former head of the right-wing extremist National Democratic Party of Germany known for his anti-Semitic and xenophobic views, Georgios Epitidios from Greece’s Golden Dawn party which is neo-fascist and neo-Nazi and whose party’s emblem is a stylized swastika, Stefan Jakobsen, the head of the Party of Swedes and who is widely considered a neo-Nazi, Daniel Karlsen, the head of the Party of Danes and one of the founding members of the National Socialist Movement of Denmark who loves to pose in front of Nazi flags, Gonsalo Martin Garcia, a leader of the ultra-right Spanish National Democracy Party, and Horatio Maria Guerre, president of the European Communist Party Millennium which seeks the dissolution of NATO (showing again that ultra left and right are pretty much the same). Of course it would not have been complete without some fringe wacko representative of a group advocating secession of Texas from the US. There were numerous Russian right extremists and ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ representatives. One Russian attendee Alexey Milchakov, who has fought in Ukraine, is a young neo-Nazi from St. Petersburg who heads a rebel storm unit of fellow skinheads who deny Christianity as a ‘Jewish religion’ and adhere to the pagan beliefs of the ancient Slavs. He gained notoriety in 2012 after publishing photos that show him decapitating a puppy.

Daniel Carlson of Denmark's National Socialist Party--one of the speakers

Daniel Carlson of Denmark’s National Socialist Party–one of the speakers

The resolution of the conference was a masterpiece of Soviet Orwellian Doublespeak that must have been drafted by some ancient USSR propagandist longing for his old job at the Soviet Foreign Ministry. The wording, with the exception of some ultra-nationalistic words about Christian values and references to Ukraine and US sanctions, would have been written in the 70s or 80s. Some nuggets (from their own imperfect official English translation, kept in its original form):

Spanish National Democratic Party

Spanish National Democracy Party

‘We demand the World Community to stop the “Cold War” concerning Russian Federation, the cancellation of all political and economic sanctions…’ (So apparently sanctions are biting if they want them taken away so badly.)

‘We declare that friendly and partner relationships with Russia is the most important condition of strong world and dynamic development of all the countries.’ (Russia, the cornerstone of peace and world development.)

Regarding NATO, ‘We will make all necessary efforts to eliminate the military-political pressure instrument to Europe and free European nations. We will achieve the fastest withdrawal of expeditionary cases of USA army from Europe, and eliminating prospecting potential USA on the territory of EU.’ (Could have been right out of a 1982 Soviet slogan book.)

There are numerous references in the document, of course, to the ‘peaceful policies of the Russian Federation (word for word from the past if you swapped Russia for Soviet Union).

‘We ask USA and its allies to stop the vicious practice of intervention in internal affairs of sovereign countries, to stop the export of “color revolutions” and to stop the creation puppet antinational regimes in independent countries.’ (Actually, as usual, they accuse the West of doing precisely what Russia is doing.)

‘The conflict in Ukraine is recognized us an internal affair of the country. But undoubtedly, this conflict concerns Russia more than the other countries: the biggest part of Ukraine consists of territories, that belonged earlier to Russia and were occupied by Russians. These territories were attached to Ukraine by forcible decision of totalitarian Bolshevist leaders. Nobody asked the opinion of people who lived there. Many years Russians were exposed to violent “Ukrainisation”.’ (This is almost word for word from some of Putin’s statements which cast doubt the existence of Ukraine and laying Russian claims to virtually all of it.)

Greek Golden Dawn

Greek Golden Dawn

Some of the main participants are listed here in the schedule (again, their English translation):

PLANAR MEETING – THE SCHEDULE CAN UNDERGO CHANGES

Speakers, Organization, Time

Lyubomirsky Yury, Organizator, 10:00-10:05

Alexander Sotnichenko, Host, 10:05-10:10

Igor Morozov, Federation Council, 10:10-10:20

Alexey Zhuravlyov, Party “Rodina”, 10:20-10:35

Roberto Fiore, Chairman of the APF, Italy, 10:35-10:50

Udo Voigt, Chairman of the NPD, Member of the European Parliament, Germany, 10:50-11:05

Mikhail Remizov, “Institute of National Strategy” (Russia), 11:05-11:20

General Eleftherios Synadinos, Member of the European Parliament, Greece, 11:20-11:35

General Georgios Epitideios, Member of the European Parliament, Greece, 11:35-11:50

Jim Dowson, LifeLeague – anti-abortion campaign, Northern-Ireland, 11:50-12:05

Nadezhda Shalimova, Expert (Russia), 12:05-12:20

Egor Kholmogorov, Expert (Russia), 12:20-12:30

LUNCH — 12:30-13:30

Stefan Jacobsson, Svenskarnars Parti (Chairman of the SvP), Sweden, 13:30-13:45

Daniel Carlsen, Danskernes Parti (Chairman of the DP), Denmark, 13:45-14-:00

Pavel Svyatenkov, Expert (Russia), 14:00-14:15

Сris Roman, Euro Russia (Belgium), 14:15-14:30

Alexander Ionov, Expert (Russia), 14:30-14:45

Gonzalo Martin Garcia, Democracia Nacional (responsible for foreign relations of the DN), Spain, 14:45-15:00

Luka Bertoni, League of Lombardy (Italy), 15:00-15:15

Irina Osipova, League of Lombardy (Italy), 15:15-15:30

Stanislav Vorobyyov, Russian Imperial Movement, 15:30-15:45

Yukka Davidson, National Party (Finland), 15:45-16:00

Olivier Wyssa, Lawyer and Member of the Rhone-Alpes Regional Parliament, France, 16:00-16:15

Sam Dickson, Expert (USA), 16:15-16:30

Jared Taylor, Expert (USA), 16:30-16:45

Alexander Sotnichenko, Expert (Russia), 16:45-17:00

Alexander Cofman, MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF DNR, 17:00-17:15

Nathan Smith, TEXNAT (USA), 17:15-17:30

Orazio Maria Gnerre, Millennium (Italy), 17:30-17:45

Nick Griffin British unity, former Member of the European Parliament, United Kingdom, 17:45-18:00

Vadim Zazimko, Expert (Russia), 18:00-18:15

Termination. Signing of the Resolution — 18:15-19:00

British National Party

National Democratic Party of Germany

Conference Website

Russian language article on the conference

In a way this is a continuation of Putin’s track record. He has been funding both extreme leftist and rightist parties in Europe, and the Kremlin hand-picked odd mixes of European Communists and ultra-nationalists/neo-Nazis to be the ‘impartial’ observers at his bogus referendums in Crimea and Donbas. He has also made use of the most neo-Nazi groups in Russia to do some of his dirty work in Ukraine and elsewhere (along with the Chechens, whose Islamic revolution he co-opted and turned via local dictator Kadyrov into a potent support and dirty deeds fighting force to do the bidding of the Russian Orthodox-fascist Kremlin). Interesting bedfellows.

But the conference was a fascistic success.

 

Crimea Annexation Celebrations, Tskhinvali Annexation Inked, Paid Attendance, and Russian Arrogance

Large Moscow crowd 18 March at Nemtsov murder bridge

Large Moscow crowd 18 March at Nemtsov murder bridge

Putin officially celebrated the first anniversary of his illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula today with a concert on the Kremlin wall attended by about 100,000. Given the cynicism of his comments and of the entire event, it was cynically fitting that it was held on the corner of the Kremlin right at the end of the bridge where his top foe Boris Nemtsov was murdered nearly three weeks ago.

 

Putin addresses crowd 18 Mar 15

Putin addresses crowd 18 Mar 15

Attendance was probably largely regular brainwashed Russian nationalists reveling in the annexation of part of another country against international law commitments and human decency. However there were websites meant to boost attendance in the event that not enough showed up, promising participants 350 Rubles (about EUR 5). Not a few obviously non-Russians were seen attending, including Central Asian migrants.

 

Central Asian 'RUssian nationalists' at Moscow rally 18 Mar supporting Putin and Crimea annexation

Central Asian ‘Russian nationalists’ at Moscow rally 18 Mar supporting Putin and Crimea annexation

Website advertising money for attendance at rally

Putin did his usual, in the wake of the over two and a half hour special a few days earlier called ‘Crimea—Path to the Motherland’, in which Putin was extensively interviewed and even said he was prepared to use all means including nuclear weapons if anyone tried to stop his planned takeover of Crimea. Today he again said that Ukrainians are Russians and should get used to it (basically denying the existence of a Ukraine or Ukrainian people—the ones he and most Russians despise so much and are busy murdering), saying ‘Friends, we in Russia always saw the Russians and Ukrainians as a single people. I still think this way now. Radical nationalism is always harmful and dangerous of course. I am sure that the Ukrainian people will yet come to an objective and worthy appraisal of those who brought their country to the state in which it is in today.’ Indeed, the Ukrainian people are objectively assessing how the country got in the rough destroyed state it is in now, but it is because of Russia’s invasions. Putin cynically continued, ‘For our part, we will do everything we can to help Ukraine get through this difficult period in its development as soon as possible and establish normal interstate ties.’ This means that Ukraine must reconcile itself to being a vassal buffer state with no will of its own—full stop.

"I am Crimea" and ... (true)

“I am Crimea” and … (true)

Putin was joined by his favourite entertainers and of course by the Head of Crimea, Sergey Aksenov (who found it better to be in Moscow than in his own fiefdom). This is the guy Moscow installed as Prime Minister after Russian Spetsnaz took over the Crimean Rada and forced deputies to vote for him at gunpoint—the same guy whose pro-anschluss Russian Unity Party got a whole 4% of the vote in Crimea’s 2010 election. Truly representative government. Notably, the celebrations were on the same day as the signing in the Kremlin of a treaty with Georgia’s breakaway Russian-occupied Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia) which gives Russia full control over the region’s defence and security and removes customs and border controls, being just a step away from outright annexation. The symbology of the signing on Crimea annexation day is not accident.

Thin older crowd at Sevastopol celebration rally and concert, 18 Mar 2015

Thin older crowd at Sevastopol celebration rally and concert, 18 Mar 2015

Memorial guards in Sevastopol 16 March with presents of bread (how Soviet)

Memorial guards in Sevastopol 16 March with presents of bread (how Soviet)

'Tell me who Crimea belongs to and I will tell you who you are'

‘Tell me who Crimea belongs to and I will tell you who you are’

As for the actual celebrations in Crimea, they were about on par with those Russian TV showed in other parts of Russia, where a few thousand turned out. The crowds at the celebrations and free concert in Sevastopol were thin and overwhelmingly made up of pensioners longing for the old days (not a few Soviet flags were in evidence), and the military parade through the city was barely attended. But this is much like the official Russian TV footage of the annexation celebration free concert in Simferopol Crimea a year ago, where despite their best attempts at creative camera angles, it was apparent only a few thousand showed up. This, two days after 97% allegedly voted to joining Russia in the world’s fastest referendum (duly observed by a Kremlin hand-picked collection of European Commies and neo-Nazi party members).

 

Sevastopol 16 Mar 2015

Sevastopol 16 Mar 2015

Mil parad in Sevastopol with animated Russian state reporter and nobody on sidelines watching

Mil parad in Sevastopol with animated Russian state reporter and nobody on sidelines watching

Thin crowd 18 Mar 15 at Simferopol Lenin statue

Thin crowd 18 Mar 15 at Simferopol Lenin statue

'Crimea is saved!'

‘Crimea is saved!’

Medal for return of Crimea with starting date of operation 20 Feb 2014--when Yanukovych was still in power and his forces were gunning down protesters on Maidan

Medal for return of Crimea with starting date of operation 20 Feb 2014–when Yanukovych was still in power and his forces were gunning down protesters on Maidan

 

RT Continues Clutching Straw of Su-25 Shootdown of MH-17

MH-17 crash on largely overcast day

MH-17 crash on largely overcast day

How utterly moronic. Russian disinformation network RT, which first made up the story in July about how Malaysian flight MH-17 was supposedly shot down by Ukrainian Su-25 FROGFOOT ground attack aircraft, continues putting out new versions featuring the increasingly versatile Su-25. The latest comes after the chief constructor who designed the plane, a certain Vladimir Babak (who RT naturally point out was born in Kyiv—supposedly to cheapen his information), noted that the Su-25 can only fly up to 5,000 metres with weapons loaded, so could not have shot down an airliner flying at double that altitude. He noted an Su-25 could have attacked it up to about 4,000 metres but no higher, and that even if an air-to-air IR-homing missile were used to somehow bring down the 777, it would have only caused damage but not destroyed a plane of that size. This perfectly matched the sales literature from Sukhoi, which built the plane and markets it, which shows it can reach 5K with stores (weapons) and 7K clean. And sales literature normally tries to embellish capabilities for prospective buyers, if anything. Now that the constructor also weighed in, it should be a non issue, right? Wrong. RT brought in its own ‘experts’ to show how the designer of the plane knows nothing about it.

RT story 12 March on amazing Su-25 capabilities

 

Su-25 tech specs--from the manufacturer's website

Su-25 tech specs–from the manufacturer’s website

RT quoted various former Russian air force pilots, including former former commander of an aviation division, Major General Sergey Borysyuk, who noted that the jet would have had the capability to ‘maneuver comfortably’ even at such a high altitude. LIE (ask the plane’s designer and manufacturer!) He said ‘I personally flew, and not once, at an altitude of 12,000 metre….My colleagues have risen to an altitude of 14,000 meters.’ The former commander of Russia’s Air Force, Vladimir Mikhailov, also said he flew the Su-25, reaching an altitude of 14,000 metres.

But it gets better. RT brought in regular contributor and Veterans Today senior editor Gordon Duff who idiotically said ‘The claimed service ceiling is based on the oxygen supply in the aircraft.’ WHAT? So Su-25 pilots, who wear oxygen masks, wear some that only are good to 5,000 metres? And this somehow, if remotely true, would restrict the flying capabilities of the aircraft? In his end analysis, he claimed the Su-25 can reach 52,000 feet (nearly 16,000 feet). So much for the designer. Surely the next claims will be that the Su-25 has successfully made suborbital space flights.

 

But it gets even better. He said one cannot be entirely sure the detected fighter jet was an Su-25 at all, as modern radar spoofing counter-measures – such as those designed by BAE Systems and employed by NATO – are able to mask any other aircraft, be it an Su-27 or F-15, as another plane. ECM pods that change the plane type on radar? This is pure nonsense (otherwise known as BS). His allegation of course is meant to leave dangling the possibility that not only might the ‘evil’ US have given some most modern (so modern that they don’t exist) ECM pods to the Ukrainians for part of their evil plan to shoot down an airliner and blame it on poor Russia, but that the US might have done it with one if its planes instead. This is pure garbage.

He says any launch of a missile with a huge contrail would have been filmed by ‘thousands’. Fact is, the 777 was brought down by a Russian Army-crewed SA-11 Buk from the 53rd ZRBr out of Kursk, which is well documented (by Russians posting video and stills) moving from there to the Ukrainian border area, and the identical vehicle seen in Torez on a HET just before the shootdown, and then scooting through there later that day on the HET minus one missile. As for the lack of photos or video of the launch or contrail, there have been a couple, but in any case, this was a war zone with the Russians there popping off AD missiles and countless MRL and arty barrages daily, so another stupid launch and contrail is not something most locals would be concerned with. Also, the damage to the aircraft was caused by the Buk warhead detonating to the right front of the aircraft (consistent with a launch from Torez), with the worst damage seen in the cockpit. The massive damage to the left cockpit panel was made by fragments of sizes ranging from a centimetre to about 20 cm–not uniform 30mm rounds as bogus RT and Kremlin propagandist Kiselev kept putting out. The blast to the right front blew all these ‘high-speed’ pieces easily through the cockpit and out the left side, which is why as per the black boxes, there was no indication of what hit the plane and nothing on the voice recorder, since the crew was blown away in a millisecond.

Duff said he also discussed the possibility of the MH-17 flight having been shot by a surface-to-air missile with some of his imaginary experts from the Federal Aviation Administration, the FBI, the Air Line Pilots Association, as well as air traffic and air operational officers – and they all agreed that no proof of anti-aircraft missile use has been provided to the public. Point is, Duff just invents stuff and has no ‘sources’, because he is not a top acknowledged intelligence expert like he claims to be.

Duff’s ridiculous Veterans Today conspiracy disinformation website

Robert Duff of Veterans Today--supreme bullshitter and RT 'expert'

Gordon Duff of Veterans Today–supreme bullshitter and RT ‘expert’

So who is thie Duff that is one of RT’s ‘expert’ consultants? Gordon Duff runs the sickly named website Veterans Today, which is nothing but a Russian disinformation front and an insult to American veterans. Duff’s bio has him as a former Marine from Vietnam, a former accredited diplomat (for Russia maybe, but no record of him having been one for the US), and one of the world’s foremost recognized intelligence analysts. (Given the fact that he apparently has never been one, unlike many of us, this is just another lie of his.) He also consults with governments facing security risks and appears regularly in international media (meaning most likely Russia’s RT and Iran’s PressTV, which he regularly contributes to). But then again, he is a major conspiracy theorist and a major anti-Semite. His top claims are that US government mini nukes are what destroyed the WTC on 9/11 (though in other articles he claims the ‘Truthers’ assertion that some fantastical version of thermite melted the towers), and these nukes were even were part of the London terror attacks in 2005 (since apparently it is impossible to destroy a metro carriage or a bus with conventional explosives. He also has written that the Paris Charlie Hebdo slaughter was a ‘false flag’ (of course—everything is) and that that Sandy Hook school murders and Boston Marathon bombing were government staged events and nobody was even hurt, much less killed in them. This guy is a pure sicko, knows NOTHING about aircraft or weaponry or Russia (except maybe that he gets a paycheck from someone there perhaps), and is, of course, a top ‘expert’ for RT.

Duff and RT have reached rock bottom and continue digging.

 

Pozner Live—NATO Enemy at the Gates, and Ukraina Nash!

Vladimir Pozner

Vladimir Pozner

Feel like our minds were just assaulted for 80 minutes. Went to Cambridge University on the 9th of March to hear Vladimir Pozner speak. The lecture hall was packed with probably over 300, largely students, and mostly sympathetic Russian ones, whose ultranationalistic way of thinking came through quite clearly.

His slick talk boiled down to: Russia is encircled and threatened and Ukraine is ours.

For those who don’t know of him, he is 80 years old, and has been a major Soviet and Russian TV and journalism personality for many decades. He has long lived in the US, whee he first moved with his parents until his father was deported due to being a Soviet NKVD (predecessor of the KGB) agent. After stints in East Berlin, young Pozner went to work in the USSR as a journalist in a department of disinformation under the KGB (though he claims he didn’t know it was KGB) and spent a long time as a broadcaster for Radio Moscow World Service. He was one of those working in the 80s to get the US and USSR to understand each other, co-hosting the Spacebridge programmes with Phil Donahue (another KGB-inspired effort). More recently he has done travel shows about the US and France and has his own Larry King-style show now on Russian First Channel. But on to his presentation.

He began by trying to establish his neutral credentials, though rapidly this went out the window. First he said he would not be like RT, which is nothing but government propaganda according to him. Then he said that although he holds three citizenships—US, French, and Russian—he does not take any particular side. This would soon be shown to be a lie.

He used an alleged quote by Harry Truman to show how the West despises Russia, with the quote saying how Truman would support Russia or Nazi Germany to keep the other from becoming too strong, and so they would all kill each other. This quote is indeed easy to find on the internet, but not from any primary source, and cannot be found on the site of the Truman Presidential Library, so is most likely an internet proliferation. In any case, it was allegedly said when the US was already supplying the Soviet Union under Lend-Lease and is at odds with what Truman said later in the war when he lauded Generalissimo Stalin and the Soviet effort. But it fits in with the old Soviet line that the US and UK just wanted the Nazis and Soviets to kill each other off.

He said there is no desire in the West to understand Russia. Pozner pointed to a Time magazine cover from August 2014 which was all in red, with a small Putin in the right bottom corner, casting a large shadow of an airliner—obviously MH-17. Pozner pointed to this as a lack of wanting to understand Russia and just the US sensationalizing everything to do with Putin or Russia. During the evening this was his only oblique reference to MH-17, which was shot down by a Russian SA-11 Buk crew from the 53rd Air Defence Missile Brigade of the Russian military. It was obvious from the outset that this plane was shot down by the Russians, given the immediate claims by Russian fighters in eastern Ukraine on social media (before they realized it was an airliner instead of a Ukrainian transport plane) and the videos of an SA-11 coming to the area of the shooting and departing minus one missile later that same day. But to Pozner this was ‘bad journalism’ and a sign that the US was just looking for enemies in the Russians. Truth hurts apparently.

time-putin

The Western criticism of Russia’s anti-gay legislation is unfair, because nobody is arrested or killed in Russia for homosexual propaganda, unlike countries like India where it is illegal and you can go to jail, but nobody criticizes India. The difference, which he fails to point out, is that in places like India, as bad as it is, it is a standalone issue, whereas in Russia it is a part of an integrated government control effort. He noted that the problem, apparently, is that Russian look like Westerners, so the West expects them to act the part. This is not really true though, since the West (which is generally understood to include countries like Japan and South Korea) also expects any other country to act according to commonly-accepted 21st century rules of behaviour, albeit with regional peculiarities. Also, for someone who lived so long in the US, he must have missed the fact that Americans (a land of immigrants from everywhere) don’t all look like Russians, including the current American President.

He went into a short selective history of the USSR to show how rough times were then, noting that people sacrificed in the hopes that future generations would live better. Also made a few Soviet jokes at their expense to establish his credentials.

He upfront made it clear that the US did not like the USSR or Russia, noting how US school kids practiced ducking under their desks in the event of a Soviet nuclear attack, and how the US treated them as the enemy. Of course unstated was that the Soviets did precisely the same thing at that time and even had dedicated political training.

Pozner mentioned that today the way of thinking about Russia in the UK is much like in earlier times when a certain Fletcher had written about the often bad peculiarities of Russia. He went on to say that it seemed that they today believed it to be much the same as what Fletcher wrote, as an example of how the West do not care to understand Russia. The person he was referring to was Giles Fletcher, who was the British envoy to the Russian court in 1588, and who returned having written a critical book about the Tsar, the aristocracy there, and the average Russian. In actuality many of his observations were spot on, and are still absolutely relevant today.

Importantly, he said that in 1962 the USSR and Cuba made an agreement that was fully legal under international law to install Soviet missiles in Cuba, but the US used illegal means to prevent their emplacement. He said to remember this point, since it would be important later in the talk (about Ukraine). (Actually it can be argued that Cuba was nothing more than a Soviet satellite, so not really a sovereign country in any agreement.)

His first major lie was the typical Russian one used again and again. He noted that when Gorbachev agreed to reunification of Germany after the Berlin Wall fell, that the US agreed that there would be no eastward expansion of NATO. He said that after 1991 the West rationalized the expansion (which didn’t start till 1997) by saying the agreement was with the USSR, which no longer existed. This is patently false. Numerous participants of the talks note that the only agreement was that NATO would not post any non-NATO troops in the former East Germany. I was privy to some of the negotiation information at the time and that is indeed true. In fact, given that the Warsaw Pact still existed then as well as the USSR, nobody could have envisioned a case where NATO would advance to the east, which was all still under Soviet control. Gorbachev himself said in an October 2014 Russian interview, when asked about this alleged agreement, that ‘The topic of “NATO expansion” was not discussed at all, and it wasn’t brought up in those years. I say this with full responsibility. Not a singe Eastern European country raised the issue, not even after the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist in 1991. Western leaders didn’t bring it up, either. Another issue we brought up was discussed: making sure that NATO’s military structures would not advance and that additional armed forces from the alliance would not be deployed on the territory of the then-GDR after German reunification. Baker’s statement, mentioned in your question, was made in that context.’ So the only agreement was to not station non-German troops in the former GDR. Nothing about not expanding NATO, which in any case was done at the behest of the countries that had been under the Soviets for decades, and did not want to be in that position again. The US and NATO for years tried to hold them at arms’ length and offer things like the Partnership for Peace Programme instead, though they clammored for the real deal. But in any case, this disingenuous Russian disinformation invention is still getting mileage today.

He notes Russia is fearful of NATO expansion. As for installing missiles in eastern Europe, who is NATO trying to protect from—North Korea, or Iran, or Kosovo? (Actually the interceptors in question are anti-missile missiles—not offensive—and have only a range of a few hundred miles so cannot remotely come close to Russian ICBMs launched on a polar trajectory.)

He noted that Russia will not allow NATO into Ukraine (or Ukraine to be in NATO), even if Ukraine wants that. Therefore, Pozner was openly saying that Russia does not care what a sovereign country wants. It is not allowed to decide what it wants. (But in any case, there has been no serious talk of Ukraine being in NATO—at least not in the next decades.)

He said Russia had mentioned in the 1990s that there should be a new security organization to replace NATO but that the US refused the offer. I never heard of this, though in the 90s NATO did mention a few times maybe that Russia should think about joining NATO, but Moscow always refused. In this context, he said it was odd that NATO rejected Russian membership, and then in a sarcastic voice said that NATO did accept countries like Poland, Romania, and a host of other eastern European countries he named, which got hearty laughter from the mainly nationalistic young Russian audience, showing their true colours of thinking that these former eastern European satellite states are some kind of pathetic trash. Untermenschen. Very telling, and disturbing, giving that they are supposed to be getting an education at one of the top universities in the world known for free thought (vice blind nationalism and belittling ‘inferior’ nations).

He continued that Russia believes it is a great power with a mission, but was treated as a third-rate country after the fall of the USSR, while the US went about doing things unilaterally, such as bombing Serbia and carving out Kosovo, which he contends is no different thant Crimea or Abkhazia. These are blatant lies, as in the 90s the US and West were looking for a partner in Russia, and more recently with Obama’s ‘reset’, which Moscow took to be a sign of weakness so worthy of despising). The actions in the former Yugoslavia were taken with UNSC resolutions which largely (but not totally) covered the actions, which were not vetoed by Russia, which easily could have. They are also totally different than the cases of Crimea and Abkhazia, as the Serbs, backed by Russia, had an establiehed track record of being the worst in an area of bad actors, who had committed mass murders in Croatia and Bosnia, and were moving on to Kosovo. Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Crimea were not under threat from anyone, and Russia’s actions there were fully unilateral, and rammed through at world-record speed.

He continued from the fall of the USSR and the dismal 1990s to the rise of Putin, who created the power vertical, got the oligarchs under control (except for Khodorkovsky, who he claimed refused to get out of politics—not quite, since his ‘crime’ was actually calling out some shady Rosneft takeover deals he did not realise Putin was involved in), and rebuilt the country. This led to Putin’s (in)famous Munich conference speech in 2007 when he proclaimed Russia’s greatness and set up the break from the West.

On this point, Pozner noted that Russians do not need things like democracy, liberal thought, or concepts like freedom of speech and even foreign travel—all they need is the greatness and stability and protection Putin provides. His inference is that Russians are not as shallow as Westerners who need these comforts and vague concepts. He claimed that there was no grassroots anti-US/anti-Western feeling in the Soviet Union, but there is a lot of it now in Russia (and of course it is the West’s fault).

Moving to current times, he wondered what the use of sanctions was, since they do not hurt Putin and the top people—only regular Russians, who see them as unjust (though he later contradicted himself saying sanctions are not effective). He claimed they only make Putin stronger and increase his support. He said sanctions are an ‘ill-advised policy that will lead to the opposite’ (like what? Russia invading Ukraine or hating the US? It already has and does).

On the subject of Ukraine, he claimed Ukraine is part of Russia and has been since the 1600s (off and on parts were, but this was territorial land-grabbing, and Ukraine was part of Poland for centuries previously and parts were historically under Greek control longer than any other), and that the Ukrainian language is nearly the same as Russian (which it is not, since Ukrainian has as much in common with Polish as it does with Russian, and most Russians have a hard time deciphering a lot of Ukrainian text).

He then used a bizarre example to show what Russia is feeling. Imagine, he said, if there was a revolution in Mexico, and afterwards it was feeling worried about the US, so let troops from a foreign country take up positions on the Mexican-US border. This ridiculous example has nothing to do with reality. The Maidan revolution got rid of a murderous kleptocrat and his government, who happened to be in Russia’s pocket. There was no talk of Ukraine joining NATO, or foreign troops being permanently based in Ukraine. In fact, the Yanukovych opposition had long contended that his 2010 agreement with Russia on extending the Black Sea Fleet’s basing in Crimea for decades was a violation of the Ukrainian Constitution, which forbids permanent basing of foreign troops in Ukraine.

He claimed we all get our ideas from TV and media, which is largely true, especially in a place like Russia where there is no real non-state version of ‘reality’ in the media.

During his actual talk, he did not touch at all on the Russian annexation of Crimea, invasion of Ukraine, or even the fact that this was the basis of the current sanctions. He just left most things in a vacuum, with no context, which is the regular Russian disinformation method. When question time came, he just got some benign queries from mostly Russian students wanting to know things like whether it was worth going back to Russia after graduation (to which he said of course it should be considered, since no matter how well you speak English you will not be accepted as British).

During one question on patriotism, he compared the Russian variant (which he admitted was based on negatives, such as everyone is ganging up on poor Russia) with that in the US. He mentioned how over the years he noticed that at all professional sports events in the US, they are preceded by the singing of the national anthem with everyone standing and ‘putting their hand over where their heart is supposed to be.’ This again drew big nationalistic laughter from the room (the heartless Americans apparently). This was so cheap and Soviet in a way, but normal for Putin’s Russia. But it was right in a way, since the US version of patriotism is shallow, because we just don’t do the aggressive nationalism thing the way the Russians do.

On the Nemtsov murder, he called it a tragedy (as does everyone), but the question is ‘why’. He said that Putin had nothing to gain since Nemtsov had a tiny following like the rest of the opposition, so it would make no sense. He said Putin is calculating, so why would he decide to kill him. But he suggested a nebulous ‘party of war’ might want to, whoever that might be. This was straight from the Kremlin playbook and could have been said word for word by Putin’s spokesman Peskov. It also ignores the fact that Putin is vindictive and seemingly does things merely to get back at his enemies, big and small. After all, he had people like Litvinenko and Politkovskaya (and many others—mainly journalists) murdered, even though they were just minor irritants, and invaded Ukraine leading to the devastation of the Russian economy. So yes, the question is ‘why’, but there is no good answer when dealing with a fascist sociopath like Putin.

One question was on whether Russia should fear NATO or economic collapse more. Naturally, per Pozner, Russians will put up with any economic woes, the US is responsible for inflation in Russia, people don’t care about imported goods (since most he said are not privileged and hence do not buy all these imported things), and ‘Russia says go to Hell’. It will never give Ukraine or Crimea back, so he said, and NATO is the worse threat. He noted that NATO is already on the borders with Russia in Estonia and Lithuania, ignoring the fact that for the entire Cold War the US, in the form of Alaska, Norway, and Turkey were on the USSR’s borders, and also apparently forgetting that Poland—another of his despised former satellite shit countries—also borders Kaliningrad.

He claimed things are better in Russia now under Putin and that citizens do not care about criticizing the government. They don’t care about such rights or freedom of speech.

In sum, for a guy who said he would not represent any viewpoint in particular, he represented Putin’s entirely, though far smoother than someone like chief Kremlin TV propagandist Kiselev who is a blatant liar and does not pretend to build any credentials to show how ‘neutral’ he is. Though Pozner noted at the start that he had three citizenships (US, French, and Russian), he represented only one and constantly referred to ‘we’ and ‘us’, as in threats to ‘us’. It was clear where he stood and for whom.

His talk in a few sentences: Russia is being encircled, NATO is on its borders with its missiles and whatnot, and Russians will sacrifice what they have to in order to keep this enemy at bay. This mentality is so 19th century, but so Russian. It has to have an enemy on its doorstep, because for some odd reason it seems that everyone wants Russia. Oh, and Ukraine is Russia and must do what Russia tells it to do.