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US announces nearly $4 billion in new military aid for Ukraine

Press TV – January 6, 2023

The administration of US President Joe Biden has announced a new military aid package for Ukraine worth three billion dollars and nearly 700 million in Foreign Military Financing to European partner countries and allies “to help incentivize and backfill donations of military equipment to Ukraine,” deepening its involvement in the war in defiance of repeated warnings by Russia.

The White House said on Friday the package is expected to include Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored personnel carriers and self-propelled howitzers.

The United States is also planning to provide Ukraine with Bradley armored vehicles, which provide medium- and long-range firepower, with the capability of destroying other military vehicles, including tanks.

The US administration will also be sending artillery systems, armored personnel carriers, surface-to-air missiles and ammunition to Ukraine as part of the $2.85 billion drawdown from the Department of Defense.

The funds also include $225 million in Foreign Military Financing to go towards Ukraine building its “long-term capacity and support modernization,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

This will be used “to cover wartime requirements of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Blinken said, and may also be used to support the sustainment of equipment previously provided to Ukraine.

The new US military funding marks the 29th drawdown of American arms and equipment for Ukraine since August 2021, according to the Washington-based The Hill newspaper.

Another part of the nearly $4 billion package includes $682 million in Foreign Military Financing to European partner countries and allies “to help incentivize and backfill donations of military equipment to Ukraine.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video address on Friday that Bradley Fighting Vehicles are exactly what his country needs.

Zelensky said the formal announcement showed his visit to Washington last month had produced concrete results.

“For the first time we will receive Bradley armored vehicles – this is exactly what is needed,” Zelensky said. He thanked Biden and the US Congress.

Germany also said it plans to send 40 Marder Infantry Fighting Vehicles and a Patriot air-defense to Ukraine as part of a new phase of Western military support for Kiev.

Zelensky also thanked Germany. “So, as of now, there are more air defense systems, more armoured vehicles, western tanks – which is a first – more cannons and shells … and all this means more protection for Ukrainians and all Europeans against any kind of Russian terror,” he said.

The Russian embassy in Berlin on Friday condemned the German government’s move to send armored vehicles and a Patriot missile system to Ukraine to fight Russian troops.

In a statement, the embassy said: “We strongly condemn this decision and see it as another step toward escalating the conflict in Ukraine. Its adoption looks especially cynical on the eve of the Orthodox Christmas holiday, which is highly revered in the Christian world, and also against the backdrop of ceasefire unilaterally announced by the Russian President in this regard.”

Since Russia launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine in late February 24, Western countries have been flooding Ukraine with weapons and ammunition at a rate unprecedented since World War II.

Russia has repeatedly warned that supplying Kiev with more and more weapons will only exacerbate the conflict, which is now in its eleventh month.

Continuously flooding Ukraine with weapons “will only drag the conflict out and make it more painful for the Ukrainian side, but it will not change our goals and the end result,” the Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said last year.

Peskov insisted that the US was in reality engaged in the Ukraine conflict. “The US de facto has become deeply involved.”

The Kremlin spokesman’s remarks echoed those of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who also believed that the US is involved in the war.

Washington has “been participating de facto in this war for a long time,” said Lavrov, adding, “This war is being controlled by the Anglo-Saxons.”

Lavrov has also warned the arms suppliers that the shipments of weapons to Ukraine would be legitimate targets for Russian forces.

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 3 Comments

Two Serbs shot in Kosovo Christmas Eve attack

RT | January 6, 2023

Ethnic Serbs blocked a major road in the south of Kosovo on Friday, in protest over a drive-by shooting of two youths on Christmas Eve. An 11-year-old boy and his 21-year-old cousin were shot not far from Strpce from a passing car, identified as belonging to an ethnic Albanian, as they walked with oak branches traditionally used to celebrate the holiday in the Orthodox Christian tradition.

“Someone wanted to give us a bloody Christmas,” tweeted Petar Petkovic, the Serbian government’s commissioner for Kosovo. He described the shooting as “an attempted murder.”

Cousins Milos and Stefan Stojanovic were taken to a hospital in nearby Gracanica. “One was shot in the hand and the other in the shoulder, and they survived only by sheer luck,” Petkovic’s office said in a follow-up statement. They blamed the attack on the “anti-Serb policy” of the ethnic Albanian authorities in Pristina, and demanded “a swift and decisive response from the international community.”

Even though the attacker’s vehicle was positively identified by local residents, the ethnic Albanian police let the suspected shooter go, according to the outlet Kosovo Online. The outraged residents of Gotovusa, a Serb village near Strpce, have blocked the road and intend to protest until the perpetrator is brought to justice.

Serbian media said on Friday evening that a 33-year old man was detained by local authorities in connection to the shooting incident.

A group of Polish soldiers from NATO’s KFOR peacekeeping mission has set up an observation post nearby, local media reported.

NATO troops took control of Kosovo in 1999, after nearly three months of bombing Serbia on behalf of ethnic Albanian insurgents. The province’s provisional government declared independence in 2008, but Belgrade has resisted US and EU pressure to recognize it, relying on support from Russia and China.

Last month, Serbs in the north of Kosovo set up roadblocks to protest the deployment of heavily armed ethnic Albanian police in their communities. The barricades were removed shortly before the New Year holiday, after the government in Belgrade claimed it received solid guarantees from Washington and Brussels that they would keep Pristina in line.

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | | Leave a comment

Masks – again

Despite the absence of evidence, governments want us to mask up again. Why?

By Tom Jefferson and Carl Heneghan | Trust the Evidence | January 3, 2023

Those who thought they had seen the last mask mandates were badly mistaken.

It starts with the message on masking, and let’s see how the public reacts. It won’t be long before governments resort to reintroducing compulsory mask use to address the “winter crisis”. They say masks will decrease the number of respiratory infections that are the major cause of the recurring winter crisis.

Readers will recall that in early December, we challenged the evidence base cited by Lord Markham as proof that masks work. We wrote:

‘According to the UKHSA, the official scientific rationale for mask mandates in the community is based on a review last updated in the summer of 2021 of 28 studies, two of which are trials and the rest studies of abysmal quality. The review, identified through a Parliamentary Question, is in two parts: the main body and supplementary tables reporting the data. The problem is that the review is full of errors: the two parts do not match and appear to have been written separately and not even proofread.’

Most of the studies in the review are observational, making claims such as an 80 per cent reduction in cases after mask introduction – making masks use a miracle, not a human intervention. If that were the case, SARS-CoV-2 had been sent packing years ago, and with it, all the other respiratory viruses.

We also cited the co-author of Mr Hancock’s pandemic memoir, revealing that Johnson, Whitty and Hancock knew from the start that masks do not do the job, and yet they went ahead and coerced Britons to wear them.

The reality is different. Clinical trials in various settings – across vastly different ranges of circulation rates – from low influenza-like illness to pandemics have failed to show any effect. Which tallies with everyone’s personal experience of mask “protection”. So, why the sudden reintroduction?

Something odd is happening. We live in a world with more information and reactive media that fails to grasp the reality of the problem. Managing the message becomes more important than fixing the problem, particularly when you know you won’t be in your job much longer. Masks are a distraction.

The reality is a merry-go-round as new ministers, advisors, and experts pop up. They look to a simple solution to gloss over rather than fixing the long-term structural problems in the NHS.

We learnt this painful lesson with Tamiflu in the Swine flu Pandemic. Ministers reiterated, as did public health officials, that what mattered is they needed to be seen to be doing something. Whether it was evidence-based or not was immaterial. A complex problem requires a simple fix – a highly visible one: masking fits the bill perfectly.

Part of the problem is officials go unchallenged, no one asks for the evidence, and if they do, they feel intimidated – as an anonymous BBC reporter disclosed. You can virtually state anything in this modern era. By tomorrow the media will have moved on.

However, for now, let’s follow the jungle cry: do something! What? It does not matter; we have to be seen to be doing something!!!!

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Science and Pseudo-Science | , | 1 Comment

Review of studies: The science we’re meant to be following pervasively obfuscates the risk of mRNA jabs for young men

Of the few studies that even attempt to assess population-wide risk of myocarditis following vaccination, nearly three-fourths neglect to include proper stratifiers

eugyppius: a plague chronicle | January 6, 2023

This review, co-authored by Vinay Prasad, sets out to assess the literature on the risk of myocarditis in young men following vaccination against SARS-CoV-2. Of 758 articles considered, the vast majority (89%) didn’t attempt any systematic risk assessment at all, and only 29 looked at population-wide risk. Of this meagre number, only eight properly stratified adverse events by sex, age, dose and vaccine manufacturer. This matters enormously, because the risk of myocarditis is heavily concentrated in men under forty following their second Pfizer or Moderna vaccination.

By failing to break out these specific categories, scientists can write studies that overlook the risk of the vaccines for younger men, effectively by spreading their heightened risk across broader subgroups or even the whole population:

This chart indicates the highest myocarditis incidence found in each of the studies reviewed. The fewer the stratifiers, the lower the stated incidence. M: male, D2: dose 2.

By looking only at men, or only at which dose, or only at which vaccine, you can reduce the highest stated incidence of myocarditis enormously, putting you in an excellent position to argue that, yes, myocarditis is a rare side effect from vaccination, but the risk of myocarditis from infection is greater.1 This is a game that is played at both ends, with complementary studies that massively overestimate the rate of myocarditis from Covid by considering only documented infections. Almost everyone with a severe outcome will have an official positive test at some point, while vastly fewer people who recover without incident will bother. A similar tactic, would be inflating the risk of severe outcome by looking only at hospital patients, or inflating the case fatality rate by looking only at those receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

The problem isn’t that a memo went out from Science Headquarters instructing researchers to cover up the obvious fact that the vaccines are clearly and beyond all cavil a bad deal for males under 40. It’s rather that science is subordinate to broader political, social and cultural forces, all of which incentivise research showing that the vaccines are safe and effective, and disincentivise research showing anything else. One kind of finding will get you promotion and grant funding, the other will – in the best case – simply be ignored. Cast in this light, the sheer paucity of studies looking at population-wide risks from vaccination in the first place begins to look deeply ominous. This is an entire area nobody wants to look into, for fear of what they might find.

It will be a long time indeed before we have any clarity on exactly how risky the vaccines are, and for whom.

1 At this point, it is convenient for the vaccinators to forget that their elixirs do not actually prevent infection, in service of presenting the false alternative.

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | | 1 Comment

Where Have the Voices for Liberty Gone?

By Michael Lesher | Brownstone Institute | January 4, 2023

In early 2020, when American liberals wailed in unison that the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right of free assembly was a prescription for national suicide – and not one significant American civil rights organization protested – I should have known where we were headed.

Still, almost 3three years later, I am dumbfounded by how rapidly a nation that once boasted of its attachment to “liberty” has succumbed to the priorities of totalitarianism. Thought policing on social media, once a dystopian fantasy, is now taken for granted.

So is the massive electronic surveillance system that was hawked to Americans (and others around the world) as a “health” measure, but which actually gives Big Brother a convenient way to monitor people’s whereabouts and which has already been turned against political dissidents in Israel, India and elsewhere. Health care workers – once the heroes of the fear propaganda that rationalized illegal mass quarantines in 2020 – have now been forced from their jobs in alarming numbers for refusing to be injected with experimental drugs that demonstrably protect no one.

Mass media, far from raising questions about all this, are cheering on the juggernaut. CNN’s Michael Smerconish has confessed with chilling directness that the COVID drug experiment is essentially a lesson in Gleichschaltung:

“This is really about which people in this country are going to control virus-related behavior – the unvaccinated or the vaccinated…. [A]llowing the unvaccinated to control virus policy, that’s unjust and unhealthy.”

After all, as Congressman Jamie Raskin put it (in conversation with ex-poisoner-in-chief Deborah Birx), the most important thing for the State is to ensure “social cohesion” – even if it takes some official lying to coax the population into lockstep. Hitler could hardly have put it better.

I might readily fill this column with a catalog of the false statements about COVID-19 that have been peddled to the public over the last three years. But the chicanery of the muzzle-and-lockdown propagandists is not limited to scientific malfeasance.

I do not minimize the importance of demonstrating that we have been fed a steady diet of lies about COVID-19 since the beginning of 2020 (a task that has been ably shouldered by many other Brownstone contributors). But what’s at stake here is not just a debate about medical policy. What is happening involves nothing less than the fundamental reshaping of our body politic, a massive assault on the constitutional system of civil liberties and on the presuppositions undergirding that system.

Add to this the shameful silence of American liberal institutions as the tentacles of a police state wind ever more tightly around us all, and you will understand why my call to the incoming year is: when will I hear more voices raised in resistance?

Or, to put it more bluntly: what are you waiting for, America?

Where were your voices when the suspension of representative democracy made virtual dictators out of some four-fifths of America’s governors in 2020 – an arrangement which, according to Anthony Fauci, could be reimposed at any time?

Where were your voices when state after state discarded the Bill of Rights in favor of some version of the Emergency Health Powers Act – a bill that, when first proposed in 2001, was sharply criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union, along with conservative groups like the Free Congress Foundation and the American Legislative Exchange Council, as “a throwback to a time before the legal system recognized basic protections for fairness?”

Where were your voices when the President of the United States defied the Nuremberg Code by ordering 3.5 million federal employees to submit to the injection of untested drugs, while his administration did its level best to ensure that what little information was available about the safety of those drugs would be concealed from the public for as long as possible? Where were your voices when those who objected to this embrace of a repurposed Nazi war crime were purged from our government?

Where were your voices when the State shuttered your children’s schools, forced muzzles onto two-year-olds, and terrorized young people to the point that fully a quarter of them contemplated suicide? When as many as 23 million children were placed by American school systems under computerized surveillance that monitored their every keystroke and tracked their internet contacts, a 1984-ish scenario for which COVID-driven school closures served as the pretext?

If you ask me, the most important word in the preceding sentence is “pretext:” COVID-19, though in medical terms never nearly as dangerous as we were told it was, has been extremely effective as a battering ram to civil liberties. Once upon a time, government health policy was fashioned to achieve medical goals. Today, factitious medical “goals” are deployed on behalf of a policy aimed at dismantling American democracy.

So please remember: this is not about your health. It’s about your country, whose highest aspirations are under unprecedented assault. If you don’t object now, you may lose your right to object at all.

And don’t think the vaunted liberal media, or civil rights “advocates,” or high-minded academics, or self-aggrandizing “progressive” politicians will speak up for you if you don’t speak up for yourselves.

A few years ago, CNN’s Jim Acosta made his reputation posing as a champion of press freedom (supposedly under mortal threat because Donald Trump had said some unflattering things about American reporters). Yet by the summer of 2021 Acosta was out-Trumping Trump, claiming that Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis had caused the COVID-19 Delta variant and denouncing people who dared to think they had a right to breathe in public.

Have Acosta’s fellow liberals objected to his hypocrisy? On the contrary: his public media profile is a virtual hagiography, even while he’s attacking the free speech rights of press outlets like Fox News for airing commentary he doesn’t agree with. Trusting such people with defending the Bill of Rights is like leaving your wallet with Bernie Madoff.

Nor can you plead a lack of adequate knowledge. Even if you ignore the sources of genuine information about COVID policy – and several are available via internet – there have been epiphanic moments when the propagandists have actually exposed themselves, as when New York’s Governor Kathy Hochul told a megachurch audience that God had commanded Americans to take the COVID-19 “vaccines,” or when an unrepentant Colonel Birx admitted to Congress that she had misrepresented facts when ordering the public to submit to the same experimental drugs.

Do you really need any more evidence of the megalomaniac lust for power driving these democracy-haters, as they dismantle the US Constitution piece by piece?

There can be no doubt about where State power is drifting – if we do nothing to stop it. Writing as far back as 1935, Albert Jay Nock predicted the future of the accelerating centralization of authority:

What we… shall see is a steady progress in collectivism running off into a military despotism of a severe type. Closer centralization; a steadily growing bureaucracy; State power and faith in State power increasing;… the State absorbing a continually larger proportion of the national income…. Then at some point in this progress, a collision of State interests… will result in an industrial and financial dislocation too severe for the asthenic social structure to bear; and from this the State will be left to “the rusty death of machinery”…

As we enter 2023, we don’t need to read deeply into political theory to understand the threat we face. We only have to review the record of the previous three years.

An accurate assessment of that record, it seems to me, will tell us that we are quite possibly on the cusp of the dissolution of the American republic. Maybe it is already too late to resist the authoritarian Zeitgeist. But I suggest we all ponder the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn about the failure of the Soviet public to resist the repression that had included his own arrest in the 1940s: “If only we had stood together against the common threat, we could easily have defeated it. So, why didn’t we? We didn’t love freedom enough.”

For us, that “common threat” is much weaker than the one Solzhenitsyn had in mind. We don’t need weapons to fight it; in fact, weapons would only get in the way. What we need are voices – lots of them – raised in protest every time a bureaucrat or a tame Ivy League “expert” or a lying “journalist” or a shyster in sheep’s clothing tries to rob us of one more bit of our human dignity, one more inch of our civil rights.

Then we need to clamor for all we’re worth. While there is still time.

Do we love freedom enough for that?

Michael Lesher is an author, poet and lawyer whose legal work is mostly dedicated to issues connected with domestic abuse and child sexual abuse. A memoir of his discovery of Orthodox Judaism as an adult – Turning Back: The Personal Journey of a “Born-Again” Jew – was published in September 2020 by Lincoln Square Books. He has also published op-ed pieces in such varied venues as Forward, ZNet, the New York Post and Off-Guardian.

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment

US meddled in Saudi-Yemen peace process

The Cradle | January 6, 2023

Lebanese daily newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on 6 January that Saudi Arabia has expressed its readiness to end the status quo in Yemen and withdraw under the conditions set by Ansarallah.

The kingdom agreed to lift the blockade, and pay compensations for the war after retreating under a pledge not to interfere in the country’s political process.

For that, Riyadh demanded the government in Sanaa present a set of “guarantees” that it will not threaten Saudi Arabia and its security, nor allow hostilities to originate from Yemeni soil.

According to Al-Akhbar, these demands were reiterated by Iran and the Sultanate of Oman, who assured the kingdom of Ansarallah’s willingness to meet Riyadh’s demands.

Despite that, no progress has been made to end the current state, which has left Yemen torn between peace and war. This lack of progress has prompted Ansarallah’s leadership to publicly reject that this limbo becomes a permanent reality.

In an interview with Al-Masirah TV on 1 January, Ansarallah’s spokesman and peace envoy, Mohammed Abdel Salam, demanded a permanent ceasefire between Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

“We are working to reach a point of clarity in Yemen, in which we move into either a truce or permanent ceasefire, and we have presented our point of view to the Omani mediator,” said Abdel Salam.

He added that this would require opening all ports, airports, and roads, and paying salaries with the revenue generated from Yemen’s oil and gas exports.

A source close to Ansarallah in Sanaa revealed to The Cradle that Saudi Arabia agreed to this demand in October 2022, and was ready – along with Qatar – to finance the salaries of all government employees in northern Yemen.

However, the US sabotaged this agreement and blocked the solution by pressuring Riyadh to cease its efforts.

The leader of Ansarallah, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, has ordered the military to prepare for a scenario in which all prospects for peace diminish, as the status quo is no longer acceptable.

On the other hand, the UN coordinator for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, and US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Arabian Gulf Affairs, Tim Lenderking, met in Riyadh on 5 January, to discuss the developments with the head of the Yemeni Presidential Leadership Council, Rashad al-Alimi.

According to local media, the meeting tackled the UN’s efforts to coordinate with the international community to keep the peace process on track and explore ways to end Yemeni suffering.

However, progress has yet to materialize, and no plan has been set to find ways to establish communication with the Sanaa government, as a key to peace.

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

US assassination of Gen. Soleimani, PMU deputy chief ‘brazen attack’ on Iraq’s sovereignty: PM

Press TV – January 6, 2023

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani has paid tribute to top Iranian anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, who were killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad airport three years ago, stating that their targeted killings were actually “a brazen attack” on Iraq’s sovereignty.

“The crime of assassinating the ‘Commanders of Victory’ and their companions represented a flagrant violation of Iraq’s territorial integrity and national sovereignty. The targeted killings of the commanders, who had a leading role in elimination of the scourge of terrorism, is an utter disrespect to bilateral agreements [signed between Baghdad and Washington],” Sudani said at a Thursday ceremony in the capital Baghdad in commemoration of the two legendary commanders.

“We woke up on January 3, 2020 to hear the terrible news about assassination of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), and Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who was on an official visit to Iraq,” he added.

The Iraqi prime minister went on to denounce the administration of former US president Donald Trump over its brazen attack on Iraq’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“The fight against dark terrorism requires power and resilience, and this came through the national spirit of all Iraqis and the fatwa (religious edict) issued by Iraq’s leading religious authority [Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani],” Sudani pointed out.

He highlighted that his government is working to build a solid foundation for Iraqi sovereignty, is independent in decision-making, forges relations on the basis of common interests, safeguards the sovereignty of the country’s soil and territorial waters, and spares no effort to repel any act of aggression against the Iraqi nation and its guests.

Moreover, Chairman of the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council Faiq Zidane decried the assassination of Muhandis and Gen. Soleimani as “a vile and cowardly act.”

He underscored that the Iraqi Judiciary bears the responsibility to shed light on all circumstances surrounding the US assassination, calling on the country’s security institutions to provide judicial authorities with all necessary documents and findings in this regard.

‘Iraq judicial chief highlights arrest warrant for Trump’

Zidan went on to note that Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council has issued an arrest warrant for former US president Donald Trump over the assassination of General Soleimani and the PMU deputy chief.

The council’s president said that Trump has confessed to his “crime” in relation to the assassination of the “Leaders of Victory.”

He called upon all Iraqi officials involved in investigations over the targeted killings to try their utmost, and identify all related architects, organizers and culprits.

Chairman of Hashd al-Sha’abi Falih al-Fayyadh also stated that Muhandis devoted his life for the protection of Iraq, and the ‘Commanders of Victory’ fought enemies when the country was behest with its worst problems.

General Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), Muhandis, and their companions were assassinated in a US drone strike authorized by Trump near Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.

Two days after the attack, Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill that required the government to end the presence of all foreign military forces led by the US in the country.

Both commanders were highly revered across the Middle East because of their key role in fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

On January 8, 2020, the IRGC targeted the US-run Ain al-Asad base in Iraq’s western province of Anbar with a wave of missile attacks in retaliation for the assassination of Gen. Soleimani.

According to the Pentagon, more than 100 American forces suffered “traumatic brain injuries” during the counterstrike on the base. The IRGC, however, says Washington uses the term to mask the number of the Americans who perished during the retaliation.

Iran has described the missile attack on Ain al-Assad as a “first slap”.

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

What foreign policy elites really think about you

If public opinion doesn’t match up with the Washington program then it must be wrong, misunderstood, or worse, irrelevant.

By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos | Responsible Statecraft | January 6, 2023

Tell us, Washington, how do you really feel about American public opinion?

For years now, Beltway establishmentarians have been trying desperately to countermand the idea that they are in fact, elites: out of touch, impervious to what regular Americans want and need, and slaves to conventional foreign policy doctrine and dogma.

But it is wartime again, and that’s when the masks slip. It began with the steady stream of Eliot Cohen and Anne Applebaum columns from the start of the Russian invasion, all demanding that Americans see the war in Ukraine as our fight, a struggle for democracy, the liberal world order. If Americans do not have the stomach for it, there is something wrong with us, a moral failing.

These ham-fisted approaches befit the neoconservatives who wield them, as they did the same in the Global War on Terror, and to a great extent, worked to keep the Iraq War going for almost a decade and the war in Afghanistan shambling on for a full 20 years.

In addition to the destruction of two countries, trillions of dollars, a massive refugee crisis, a new generation of U.S. veterans dependent on lifetime assistance, and countless dead and wounded, these “elites” are in great part responsible for the mistrust of Washington that has eaten away at the culture and politics here to the core.

Poll after poll show a plunging lack of faith in American institutions, including the once-vaunted military. That’s what going to war based on liesdistortions, and rhetorical bullying will do to an already strained and tribalized society. Add a financial collapse (2008) that Washington addressed with an unprecedented bank bailout, while homeowners and workers struggled to survive, and you have the basis for major populist movements — on the left, and the right.

The rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were buoyed in part by a continuing skepticism of the ongoing wars and of the elites at the helm of U.S. foreign policy, which had become as self-serving and disconnected from American interests as they were.

You would have thought they had learned their lesson.

But the war in Ukraine has given them new purpose and in that vein, to both patronize and ignore the wants and needs of the American public. A new commentary by Gian Gentile and Raphael S. Cohen, deputy director of the Rand Corporation’s Army Research Division, and Air Force Strategy and Doctrine Program, respectively, says it all. Clearly written for Beltway practitioners and politicians, the takeaway from “The Myth of America’s Ukraine Fatigue” is clear: don’t mind the polls, or even American public opinion. Ukraine’s (and in effect, Washington’s) long war will go on no matter what the hoi polloi is thinking, or feeling.

In war, from a purely political perspective, it’s usually safer for politicians to stay the course.

Perhaps this is why democracies’ track records of playing the long game in armed conflicts is actually pretty good. From the ancient Athenians during the Peloponnesian War on through to the present day, democracies have not usually been the fickle, shrinking violets their detractors make them out to be. In the United States, the wars in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan were all eventually deeply unpopular. Yet the United States fought for three years in Korea, almost nine years in Iraq (before going back in after the initial withdrawal), and almost 20 years in both Vietnam and Afghanistan. All these campaigns involved significantly more investment of American blood and treasure than the U.S. commitment to Ukraine has demanded thus far.

The authors are referring to a number of recent polls that would appear to show that Americans’ unconditional support for Ukraine against the Russian invasion has its limits and in some cases, may be flagging. To start, Cohen and Gentile say that isn’t true, that Americans support Ukrainian sovereignty and the fight for it. Absolutely. What the authors don’t say is that the polls indicate that Americans are also concerned about a protracted war that could lead to more death and a direct U.S. confrontation with the Russians. That they are less enthusiastic about supporting Ukraine “as long as it takes,” and have shown a growing interest in negotiations to end the war sooner than later, even if that ultimately means concessions for both sides.

Instead of recognizing the nuance and giving credit to Americans for understanding the implications of another long war (whether they are directly involved on the ground or not), the authors blame the media for hyping up what they believe is the negative messaging from the surveys. Furthermore, they suggest that — citing the cases of Vietnam and our recent wars — conflicts will go on (and rightly so!) no matter where public opinion is at.

“If past is precedent, and present trends continue, it could be years before any of the declines in the American public’s support actually result in a change of policy,” the authors contend. Cohen and Gentile (much like their counterparts in the Iraq and Afghanistan War eras, did) diminish those “amplifying the Ukraine fatigue narrative,” claiming they fit into neat little categories: 1) “America First” Republicans who’d rather focus on domestic issues 2) “knee-jerk” anti-war activists on the left, and 3) those who “may genuinely sympathize with Russian talking points” that Americans will tire of the war.

Meanwhile, “some Americans may really believe that they are paying more of a price for the conflict than they in fact are, but this is primarily based on perceptions—not facts.”

Right. That is exactly what Fred Kagan, the AEI neoconservative who helped to craft the Iraq War Surge plan said in this lengthy National Review piece in 2008, entitled “Why Iraq matters: Talking back to anti-war party talking points,” in which he deployed this fatuous bromide:

Americans have a right to be weary of this conflict and to desire to bring it to an end. But before we choose the easier and more comfortable wrong over the harder and more distasteful right, we should examine more closely the two core assumptions that underlie the current antiwar arguments: that we must lose this war because we cannot win it at any acceptable cost, and that it will be better to lose than to continue trying to win.

Which makes this all very ironic, since (Col.) Gian Gentile was one of the few brave souls in the active duty military who were openly speaking out against Fred Kagan’s “Surge” and the counterinsurgency craze that was rocking the Blob during that period. He was an arch critic of Washington’s hyper-message management and selective history machinations. It is head scratching that he would oversimplify the effects of public opinion on recent wars — and suggest its relative unimportance — while offering the thinnest of arguments for in essence, “staying the course.”

“The leaders of the free world need to remind their publics what is at stake in Ukraine—not just for European and global security, but for democracy at large,” Gentile exclaims in his recent piece with Cohen.

This, from an historian who in his 2013 book, “America’s Deadly Embrace of Counter-Insurgency,” not only took on what he called the “myths” of Iraq and Afghanistan, but the shibboleths of the U.S. counterinsurgency in Vietnam and the British military’s “success” in Malaya (1948-60) as well.

Gentile’s “Ukraine fatigue myth” article is elite thinking, which reads as a pep talk for Beltway insiders in the wake of recent polling. For the rest of us, it is a cogent reminder that the same people who did not want regular Americans to actually think about foreign policy during the Iraq War, are still out there, whether they want to call themselves “elites” or not.

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

January 6 Two Years On: What Dems Would Risk by Trying to Prosecute Trump After Nothingburger Probe

By Ilya Tsukanov – Samizdat – 06.01.2023

Friday marks the second anniversary of the January 6, 2021 riots at the Capitol by an enraged mob convinced the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” from Donald Trump. Democrats have milked the event for political purposes for two straight years, with President Biden characterizing it as the “worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War.”

Two years since the 2021 unrest outside the Capitol complex, Democrats have failed to provide any rock-solid evidence of Donald Trump’s planning of an “insurrection” in Washington to try to remain in power; still, the governing party may just prove brazen enough to try to prosecute the former president, notwithstanding the tremendous political risks involved, observers have told Sputnik.

On December 22, the House January 6 Committee Investigating the Attack on the Capitol released its final report, charging Donald Trump with a “multi-part conspiracy” to overturn the 2020 election and “block the transfer of power,” and accusing him of orchestrating the spectacular riot at the seat of US legislative power.

Several days prior, the nine-member committee voted to refer Donald Trump and several of his allies to the Justice Department on criminal charges including insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to defraud the United States government, and making false statements to the United States government. If an investigation proceeds and Trump is tried, convicted, and locked up, he could spend the rest of his life in jail, and be permanently barred from ever running for office again.

Much Ado About Nothing?

Trump dismissed the probe’s conclusions and the criminal referral, accusing what he dubbed as the “Democratic Bureau of Investigation” of being out to get him, and comparing the year-and-a-half long, $9 million January 6 investigations to his failed twin impeachments.

“The criminal referrals that the January 6 Committee made regarding President Trump are an exercise in political persecution and wish fulfillment,” says Dr. Nicholas Waddy, a political analyst and associate professor of history at the State University of New York’s Alfred State College.

According to the academic, the January 6 probe failed to provide any solid evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Trump ahead of and during the Capitol riots. At the same time, Trump’s complaining about the 2020 election outcome is an expression of free speech, not criminal behavior, the professor believes.

“He did not encourage anyone to use violence or to violate the law. In fact, he specifically advised his supporters to march ‘peacefully and patriotically’ to the Capitol to lodge a protest against the election results. He did not by any means advise them to use violence or criminal means to overthrow the government,” Waddy said.

Even if one were to discount the former president’s election “fraud” claims, “Trump never did anything in reference to the 2020 election except criticize it and complain about it, and poor sportsmanship is not now, nor has it ever been, a violation of the law,” according to the academic.

Skeletons in Your Closet

Sergio Arellano, an advisory board member of Latinos for Trump, told Sputnik that the January 6 investigation has demonstrated itself to be the “political witch hunt” that Trump has repeatedly described it as, and said that the long-promised “smoking gun” evidence of criminal behavior by the former president and his allies never materialized in the year-and-a-half long probe.

Suggesting there were many politicians who truly deserve to be held criminally liable over allegations far more serious than those against Trump – such as Nancy Pelosi and her husband over their alleged insider trading, Hunter and Joe Biden over their suspected pay to play scandal, and Hillary Clinton over her deleted emails, Arellano lamented that Trump, “the one person who called out the politicians and their BS” and “exposed what really happens in politics,” has been targeted instead.

“We saw it with the ‘Dossier’ and we see it with the weaponization of federal law enforcement agencies who are against not only Donald Trump, but against conservatives in general,” Arellano said – referring to the “Steele Dossier” opposition research commissioned by the Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, which would go on to serve as part of the basis of initial US intelligence probes into the Trump campaign’s suspected ties to Russia (claims which have long since been debunked).

Dr. Waddy believes that the Biden Justice Department may move forward with trying to prosecute Trump on the basis of the January 6 Committee’s conclusions, suggesting that for the governing party, the reasoning may be that the more ordinary Americans talk about Trump instead of the substantive issues affecting their lives, the better.

“For Democrats… the calculation may be as simple as this: They believe that Trump deserves to be prosecuted and convicted, and they believe that, the longer the nation is talking about Trump rather than the sever problems that afflict [the country] (inflation, crime, the border, etc.), the better it will be for Democrats. Democrats have already ridden Trump-hatred to something like ‘victory’ in three consecutive US elections. Why not, they will reason, try for number four?” Waddy said.

Republican political commentator Marc Little echoed Waddy’s sentiments on the case, accusing the January 6 Committee of having “lost all credibility… after recent records revealed internal email communications that place the January 6 debacle squarely on the doorstep of former Speaker Pelosi, who we know refused the protection of the National Guard. Secondly, former President Trump’s emails, formerly concealed, make clear his intentions were not to promote an ‘insurrection’ – a crime requiring intention, but rather just the opposite. His tweet encouraged peace.”

“There is no solid proof to date that shows President Trump as the chief architect and responsible party of the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Look no further than the ‘Twitter Files’ and its exposure of the abrasive, biased and reckless approach toward all conservatives,” Arellano said, referring to the recent media revelations on the chaotic internal debates at the social media company to justify banning Trump after January 6 even though he was not shown to have violated any rules.

Risky Business

Citing Democrats’ desire to see Trump “rot in a jail cell,” even if it means “grasping at straws” to try to prosecute him, Waddy pointed out that there are extreme political risks involved in doing so, even if prosecutors would have a difficult time arguing their case, given the dearth of evidence.

“The evidence that Trump broke the law will revolve around the fact that he allegedly did not take aggressive enough steps to prevent potential violence from threatening lawmakers on January 6, 2021. Prosecutors would have to argue that the events of that day were clearly foreseeable by Trump, and that he sought to achieve them. The problem is that the Capitol riot was foreseen by no one, including Democrats in Congress, who took few if any steps to increase security on what was bound to be a tense day,” Waddy explained. “Prosecutors might also argue that Trump contemplated taking extra-constitutional measures to prolong his term in office, although he did not actually follow through on any of the proposed actions.”

The professor believes the fact that the evidence against Trump is “spectacularly weak” is no guarantee that the justice system will clear him. “The DoJ is populated by Trump haters, and so are large portions of the court system, not to mention the potential pool of jurors in Washington, DC, the most deep blue jurisdiction in America. It is highly questionable whether the most hated man in America, and probably the world, can get a fair trial.”

“Nevertheless,” Waddy notes, prosecuting Trump would carry risks for both the Justice Department and the Democrats, particularly in the event of a trial ending in acquittal or an embarrassing mistrial. Furthermore, a trial would likely increase public sympathy for Trump, including among Republicans who have moved on, “turning him, in effect, into a ‘political prisoner’ and a martyr.”

If Trump is prosecuted and jailed, this would also “effectively reset” the GOP’s field of 2024 candidates, increasing the likelihood of a more electable Republican – like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, taking his place, the professor believes.

“DoJ prosecutors and Democratic Party officials will thus have to ask themselves: is trying to nail Trump to the wall via the justice system truly worth it?” the professor asks.

On the flip side, the president’s party may calculate that a trial would keep Trump occupied “and drag him through the mud – possibly even placing him in prison pending trial,” which would likely limit his effectiveness as a candidate in 2024, and justify the risks.

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Russophobia | | Leave a comment

Time to Get Real About Ukraine

By James Rickards | Daily Reckoning | January 4, 2023

The war in Ukraine remains the most important story in the world today.

Don’t believe the incessant U.S. government and media propaganda about Ukraine. Ukraine is not winning the war; they are losing badly.

But wait, hasn’t the news been talking up Ukrainian gains in recent months, while Russia is retreating and being badly beaten? That’s the mainstream, pro-Ukrainian narrative. Here’s the reality:

Most of the Ukrainian gains were against lightly defended positions that the Russians quickly abandoned because they were not worth fighting to defend.

Those Russian troops (really Donbas militias) were ordered to retreat to fortified Russian lines while Ukrainian forces rushing to fill the void were slaughtered by Russian artillery bombardments.

Most people think of war in terms of territory. If you lose territory, it must mean you’re losing the war. But it’s not always that simple.

The Russian Strategy

The Russians will willingly cede territory in order to fight again at a later time under more favorable circumstances. They’ll simply retake it when the terms favor them. They’re not primarily concerned about the territory per se. The primary Russian objective is to grind down and destroy the Ukrainian armed forces.

And if the Ukrainians want to keep hurling themselves against Russian positions in order to recapture land and score a propaganda coup, that’s fine with the Russians. They’ll just grind the attacking forces down with heavy artillery fire (artillery kills far more people in war than bullets or bombs).

And despite Ukrainian government claims, the best intelligence says Russia is presently enjoying an 8–10:1 casualty rate. In other words, Russia is inflicting eight–10 casualties on Ukraine for every casualty it’s suffering.

That kind of ratio isn’t sustainable for Ukraine.

Russia Prepares to Lower the Boom on Ukraine

Meanwhile, Russia has reinforced its positions with 300,000 or more fresh troops (about 30 divisions) who are rested and resupplied. That’s in addition to the number of troops already in Ukraine.

Evidence indicates they’re backed by at least 1,500 tanks, 5,000 armored fighting vehicles, 1,000 rocket artillery systems, hundreds of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters plus thousands of tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and drones.

At the same time, all indications are that Russia is changing its strategy.

The initial Russian invasion was ill-conceived and took place in a piecemeal fashion. Contrary to mainstream opinion, Putin never intended to conquer Kyiv and occupy Ukraine. The invasion force was far too small to accomplish those objectives.

Also contrary to mainstream opinion, Putin didn’t target Ukraine’s civilian population. He wanted to avoid civilian casualties to the greatest possible extent. Of course some civilian targets were hit, but that’s going to happen in war.

Putin instead believed that the “special military operation” would tell Kyiv and Washington that Russia was serious about enforcing its red lines in Ukraine, that it was willing to use force. But he thought his show of force would bring them to the negotiating table.

He badly miscalculated. Rather than bring Kyiv and Washington to the negotiating table, they resolved to aggressively defend Ukraine. Russia’s ill-prepared forces were pushed back and routed in many instances.

“Russia Means Business This Time”

But now Russia is taking the gloves off. It’s already launched heavy, sustained attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, including the power grid and energy nodes. Its army is also regrouping and preparing for massive counteroffensives.

It won’t make the same mistakes it made during last February’s ill-planned attacks. Russia means business this time.

It’s not interested in bringing Ukraine to the negotiating table anymore. It’s focused instead on destroying Ukraine’s military forces and imposing a settlement on Kyiv.

A major winter offensive will begin soon, likely when the ground in southern Ukraine is fully frozen (muddy ground will bog down Russian forces). A successful counteroffensive will consolidate Russian control of Donbas (the heartland of Ukrainian industry and natural resources), give Russia control of Zaporizhzhya (the largest nuclear power plant in Europe) and possibly include the conquest of Odessa, the most important Ukrainian Black Sea port.

The cost on the rest of Ukraine from Kyiv to Lviv will be horrendous, including the near-complete degradation of its power-generating capacity, transportation lines and food supplies. U.S. and U.K. weapons supplies won’t mean much because they are too little, too late and the Ukrainians are scarcely trained to use them.

But these prospects make no impact at all on the anti-Russian warhawks, both Democrat and Republican, who are determined to prolong the war at all costs — even if it means fighting Russia to the last Ukrainian.

A Great Deal for the Military-Industrial Complex

It seems that every week or so the U.S. announces a new multibillion-dollar package of aid for Ukraine. These aid packages fall into two categories: Some are simple financial transfers to keep the oligarchs in Ukraine supplied with funds to keep their government going.

Others consist of weapons including drones, anti-missile batteries like the Patriot, long-range artillery and most recently an announcement that the U.S. may supply Ukraine with Bradley Fighting Vehicles, or BFVs.

The total of such Ukraine aid, including the $1.7 trillion budget boondoggle passed by the U.S. Congress two weeks ago, is now approaching $100 billion.

When it comes to weapons, there’s a lot less than meets the eye in terms of helping Ukraine. It appears that Ukraine is getting billions of dollars in equipment, but in fact, Ukraine is getting castoffs from U.S. inventories.

What’s really going on is the U.S. is dumping old or obsolete systems on Ukraine (the original BFV was built in 1981, over forty40 years ago) and then using the appropriations to order new weapons for itself.

Meanwhile, the U.S. will likely send Ukraine an older version of the Patriot air defense system — and only one battery at that, consisting of eight missile launchers. It’s not the game-changer many seem to think it is. The Russians will simply overwhelm the system with numbers, and then take it out. It probably won’t last long whenever it’s deployed, which could be several months from now.

The real winners of these weapons transfers will be U.S. defense contractors like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, who are getting the money to build new advanced systems for the U.S.

The real losers will be the Ukrainian people, who will continue to die needlessly in the absence of a negotiated settlement that recognizes the reality on the ground.

How Much Western Military Aid Actually Makes It Into the Field?

To make this racket even more absurd, much of the equipment that does make it to Ukraine is quickly blown up by Russia.

Russia has very good intelligence on the whereabouts of these weapons systems once they reach Ukraine. Using global satellite imaging, laser guidance and a blend of drones and cruise missiles, Putin has had success preventing these weapons from reaching the battlefield or destroying them if they do.

But the U.S. has already spent so much money on Ukraine and committed itself so strongly to a complete Russian defeat, a Russian victory would represent another strategic defeat for the U.S., still smarting from the debacle in Afghanistan.

What remains of U.S. credibility is on the line.

Brinksmanship

What happens if Russia brings Ukraine to the verge of defeat? Will Biden and his strongly anti-Russian administration simply throw up their hands and concede victory to Russia? Based on their maximalist rhetoric and commitment to Ukrainian victory, that appears unlikely.

Biden has shown no signs of relenting and recently said he will supply Ukraine with weapons as long as it takes. On the other hand, Putin will also not back down and seems determined to secure the entire seacoast of Ukraine, including the critical port of Odessa.

The great danger could arise if the U.S. foolishly continues escalation to the bitter end in order to stave off a Ukrainian defeat. I’m not predicting it’ll happen, but things could escalate to the point where tactical nuclear weapons are employed out of desperation. From that point, it’s a short step toward the broader use of strategic nuclear weapons.

Again, I’m not specifically predicting that will happen. But it is a realistic possibility based on the logic of escalation, and we seem to be sleepwalking into a nuclear confrontation unless we wake up.

Will we?

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Prince Harry reveals how many people he killed in Afghanistan

“It’s a joy for me because I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think that I’m probably quite useful”

Press TV – January 6, 2023

The UK’s Prince Harry says he killed 25 people in Afghanistan when he was acting as an Apache helicopter pilot during the invasion of Afghanistan, noting that these killings do not “embarrass” him.

The Duke of Sussex acknowledged this in an autobiography that is set to be published in the UK on January 10. The Telegraph quoted extracts from the Spanish version of the autobiography it obtained after the book was mistakenly put on sale in bookshops on Thursday before being withdrawn.

Harry served as a forward air controller in Afghanistan’s Helmand province in 2007-8 and then as an Apache helicopter pilot in the British Army Air Corps deployed to Camp Bastion in the south of the country in 2012-13.

According to the soon-to-be-published book Spare, Harry undertook six missions as a pilot that led to him “taking human lives”.

The 38-year-old described killing the targets as removing “chess pieces”, noting that he was not ashamed of doing so.

“My number is 25. It’s not a number that fills me with satisfaction, but nor does it embarrass me,” he wrote.

He said he counted the number of people he killed by reviewing videos taken from the nose of his Apache helicopter.

The prince writes that he did not see the Taliban militants “as a person” because such a view would have made it impossible to kill them. The British Army, he writes, had “trained me to ‘other’ them, and they had trained me well.”

The prince also named his fondness for video games as one of the reasons behind his claimed effectiveness as an Apache gunner. “It’s a joy for me because I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think that I’m probably quite useful,” he said.

Harry also named the 9/11 attacks as one of the main reasons that he did not feel guilt over his killings. He had the thought that those responsible and their sympathizers were “enemies of humanity”.

The US-led foreign forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001 with the claim of confronting Al-Qaeda. The military campaign killed at least 70,000 Afghan and Pakistani civilians, living Afghanistan in a state of turmoil ever since.

There have been security concerns because of Harry’s military service, which are likely to increase after he revealed the number of people he has killed during that time.

Elsewhere in the book, Harry accused his brother William of knocking him to the floor during a 2019 argument about Harry’s wife Meghan.

William “grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and… knocked me to the floor,” he writes, according to a report in the Guardian.

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, War Crimes | , , | 3 Comments

Nuclear Ukraine?

Kiev is capable of building an atomic device, and its leaders often outline such thoughts

By Olga Sukharevskaya | RT | January 6, 2023

Last year, Western media and high-ranking politicians actively discussed the possibility of Russian troops using atomic weapons in Ukraine. There has even been speculation on the likelihood of a nuclear war breaking out. However, it could be said that the risk is probably a lot higher on the other side of the barricades.

Ukraine’s Atomic History

Ukraine was a nuclear state after the collapse of the USSR, when 1,700 active atomic warheads remained in the country. Its politicians of that time had the prudence to abandon this status. The weapons were taken to Russia under international control, and their means of delivery were destroyed. Ukraine’s missile silos, with the exception of one which is now a museum near Kiev, were blown up, while its strategic bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons were either transferred to Russia or destroyed.

Despite this, there were still many nuclear specialists in Ukraine, as research into nuclear fission has been conducted in Kharkov since the 1930s. In addition, five nuclear power plants were built in Ukraine during the Soviet years: Zaporozhye, Rovno, Khmelnitsky, and South-Ukrainian, as well as the infamous Chernobyl, where an accident involving a power unit led to an explosion that spewed radioactive fallout throughout Europe.

In addition, uranium is extracted at a deposit in Ukraine’s Kirovograd Region and enriched at a plant in the city of Zheltye Vody. In the 2010s, there were plans with Russia’s Rosatom to build a plant in Ukraine that would produce fuel for nuclear power stations. However, these were abandoned after the Maidan coup in 2014, when the country adopted an adversarial stance towards Russia.

At present, three of Ukraine’s five original nuclear power plants remain under its control. Chernobyl, which continued to generate electricity even after the 1986 accident, was finally decommissioned in 2020, while Zaporozhye, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, has been guarded by Russian troops since last year. It is currently being run by Rosatom but does not produce electricity, largely for safety reasons. This is due to regular rocket and artillery attacks by Ukrainian troops, which have damaged numerous pieces of auxiliary equipment.

Push to Reobtain Nuclear Weapons

It should be noted that not everyone in Ukraine was happy that the country gave up its nuclear weapons. Ukrainian politicians have often failed to hide the fact that their dream of reobtaining nuclear weapons is not so much connected with their country’s security, as the desire to dictate their will to the rest of the world. Radical Ukrainian nationalists were particularly dissatisfied with the abandonment of the country’s nuclear status, and many of their manifestos contain a clause calling for it to be restored.

For example, “the return of nuclear weapons” is specifically cited as a goal in paragraph 2 of the Military Doctrine section in the program statement of the Patriot of Ukraine organization, while paragraph 7 of its Foreign Policy section reads: “The ultimate goal of Ukrainian foreign policy is world domination.” Patriot of Ukraine was created in 2014 by the notorious Andrey Biletsky, who formed it based on the ideology of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and had dreamed of Ukraine possessing nuclear weapons as far back as 2007.

In 2009, the Ternopil Regional Council, which was then dominated by Oleg Tianibok’s neo-Nazi Svoboda Party (called the Social-National Party until 2004), demanded that Ukraine’s president, prime minister, and head of the Verkhovna Rada “terminate the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 and restore Ukraine’s nuclear status.”

Ukraine’s longing for an atomic bomb especially increased after February 2014. In an interview with USA Today in March of that year, Ukrainian MP Pavel Rizanenko called Ukraine’s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons a “big mistake.” And that was not just the opinion of one MP. Just a few days later, representatives of the Batkivshchyna party, headed by ex-Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, and UDAR, headed by Kiev’s current mayor, Vitaly Klitschko, including the secretary of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense, Sergey Kaplin, submitted a bill on withdrawing from the non-proliferation treaty. Kaplin claimed that Ukraine could create nuclear weapons in just two years because it already had almost everything necessary: The fissile materials, equipment (except centrifuges), technology, specialists, and even means of delivery. In September of the same year, Ukraine’s minister of defense, Valery Geletey, also expressed the desire to develop nuclear weapons.

In December 2018, the former representative of the Ukrainian mission to NATO, Major General Pyotr Garashchuk, announced the real possibility of Ukraine creating its own nuclear weapons. In 2019, Aleksandr Turchinov, who usurped power in Ukraine in February of 2014, called Ukraine’s renunciation of nuclear weapons a “historic mistake.” Following him, in April 2021, the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andrey Melnik, stated that if the West did not help Ukraine in its confrontation with Russia, the country would launch a nuclear program and create an atomic bomb. And on February 19, 2022, before the start of Russia’s special military operation, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky announced at the Munich Security Conference that Ukraine has the right to abandon the Budapest Memorandum, which proclaimed the country’s nuclear-free status.

Perhaps the most striking statement by a Ukrainian politician was made by David Arakhamia, the head of the Ukrainian parliament’s ruling parliamentary faction, Servant of the People. “We could blackmail the whole world, and we would be given money to service (nuclear weapons), as is happening in many other countries now,” he said in mid-2021.

Range of Possibilities

Is Ukraine technically capable of creating an atomic bomb? Absolutely. Yes, enriching uranium-235 to the purity necessary to set off a chain reaction would cost a lot, primarily to create centrifuges for separating isotopes. However, though this may be the most effective way to separate isotopes, it’s not the only one. The first American bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were created without the use of this technology.

In addition, it should not be forgotten that there are not only uranium, but also plutonium bombs. Breeder reactors are used to synthesize this chemical element, most often using heavy-water reactor technology, and research reactors are capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium. There is presently a nuclear research installation at the Kharkov Institute of Physics and Technology, and a VVR-M reactor suitable for plutonium production at the Institute for Nuclear Research of Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences in Kiev. Until March 2022, there was a US-built facility in Kharkov that could produce isotopes by irradiating the starting materials with a powerful neutron flux, which could also be used to develop fissile materials for a bomb.

In addition, Ukraine has the technical capability to create a nuclear weapon based on uranium-233, rather than uranium-235, which is usually used. A similar bomb was tested by the US in 1955 during Operation Teapot, and its power was comparable to that of the Fat Man bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Nagasaki. To obtain uranium-233, it is enough to replace one of the fuel assemblies of a conventional nuclear power plant reactor with a thorium-232 cassette, a supply of which is located near Mariupol, a city that was fiercely defended by Ukrainian nationalists from the Azov regiment earlier this year.

There is another indirect sign that both uranium and plutonium versions of nuclear weapons have been secretly developed at the direction of the post-Maidan authorities. At the beginning of 2021, Ukraine completely banned the export of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) to Russia, as was required by an agreement on its supply by Rosatom. SNF, among other things, is a source of weapons-grade plutonium, which can be isolated from fuel cells that have been in a nuclear power plant reactor.

Nuclear Power on the Brink of Disaster

Just as dangerous is the nuclear power policy pursued by the Ukrainian government.

Ukraine inherited five nuclear power plants with 18 active reactors from the USSR. Three of them located at the Chernobyl NPP were decommissioned by 2000. Five of the six reactors at the Zaporozhye NPP, three of the four reactors at the Rovno NPP, one of the two reactors at the Khmelnitsky NPP, and all three reactors at the South Ukraine NPP have exceeded their original lifespans and received extensions of their operating lives for another 10 to 15 years. The license extensions have sometimes been granted with violations of existing regulations since, after 2015, Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate stopped cooperating with Russian vendors and has not overhauled reactor vessels, which become brittle after prolonged exposure to neutron radiation. Back in 2015, independent experts noted the critical condition of Reactor 1 of the South Ukraine NPP, which, nevertheless, has had its service life extended until 2025.

Ukraine’s Union of Veterans of Nuclear Energy and Industry sent a warning letter to the government in April 2020, arguing that the country’s nuclear energy sector was faced with a “threatening situation,” which, according to the authors of the letter, could well result in “a new Chernobyl.”

The lack of accountability, which led to the 1986 disaster, does not stop at neglecting the technical condition of the reactors that are not being properly monitored and maintained by their developers. During Viktor President Yushchenko’s administration, the decision was made to replace some of the standard fuel rods in Ukrainian reactors with unlicensed fuel assemblies supplied by Westinghouse Electric Company. In 2012, that experiment led to an emergency shutdown of Reactor 3 of the South Ukraine NPP, after Westinghouse fuel assemblies were damaged due to the specific design features of the American counterfeits.

That fuel assemblies fabricated by Westinghouse tend to malfunction in Soviet-designed reactors was not a revelation. They have repeatedly caused emergencies at NPPs in Finland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, but that did not deter the Ukrainian leadership. Not even losses of around $175 million caused by using non-standard assemblies persuaded Ukraine against conducting risky experiments with its nuclear assets.

The new ‘revolutionary’ government, which came to power in 2014, was quick to plunge into its own experiments with nuclear power together with Westinghouse, which was suffering from financial distress. For the company, which filed for bankruptcy in 2017, the Ukrainian market could have been a much-needed lifeline – however, it wasn’t to be, because it once again emerged that the counterfeit fuel assemblies were dangerous for VVER-type reactors. Emergencies at Ukrainian NPPs became a routine event, and yet Westinghouse assemblies accounted for 46% of all nuclear fuel used in Ukraine by the end of 2018.

These risky experiments went beyond using non-standard fuel assemblies. In the fall of 2014, Kiev sent direct orders to boost electricity production at the South Ukraine NPP by 5 to 7%. To achieve this, three VVER-1000 reactors were supposed to operate in “controlled runaway mode,” and a whole algorithm was developed by Ukrainian and British engineers. It was this type of experiment that resulted in the explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986. A potential disaster was only averted by an ‘Italian strike’ organized by the NPP personnel, who refused to fulfil outsiders’ orders. This might have been what former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen meant when he said: “We have, upon Ukrainian request, sent a small team of civilian experts to Ukraine to assist the Ukrainians in improving security of their civilian nuclear plants.”

‘Revolutionary expedience’ was used as a pretext for a mass exodus of experienced nuclear engineers from Ukrainian NPPs. As Ukrainian MP Viktoria Voytsitska said in 2018, literally all categories of workers were thinking of leaving Ukrainian NPPs, from steam engine drivers and riggers to engineers who controlled reactors and other high-tech equipment.

Provocation for Nuclear Escalation

After Russian forces assumed control of the Zaporozhye NPP, it became a target for incessant Ukrainian shelling, sometimes with the use of Western-made multiple launch rocket systems, heavy artillery, and attack drones. The plant sustained significant damage and was forced to stop generating electricity due to the destruction of auxiliary equipment and the threat to the reactors themselves. At the same time, an IAEA mission “was unable” to establish who was firing on the nuclear site, where Russian soldiers were present.

As the Western media was busy whipping up hysteria over the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons by Russia in Ukraine, it transpired that Ukraine was allegedly plotting a provocation of exactly that nature. According to Russian intelligence services, in October 2022, the Eastern Mining and Enrichment Combine in the town of Zheltye Vody and the Kiev Institute for Nuclear Research were in the final stages of developing a dirty bomb on the orders of the Ukrainian government. A missile plant in Dnepropetrovsk built a mock-up of the Russian Iskander missile, which was supposed to carry a radioactive charge and be “shot down” over the Chernobyl exclusion zone. The goal was to accuse Russia of using nuclear weapons and push NATO to retaliate in kind. In other words, to start a nuclear war in Europe.

All these facts mean that present-day Ukraine is arguably a real threat to nuclear security not just in Europe, but on a global scale. It has everything it would take, from irresponsible people in charge of safety and security at nuclear sites, to the technical capabilities.

Olga Sukharevskaya is an ex-Ukrainian diplomat.

January 6, 2023 Posted by | Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments