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Influenza Vaccine Fails to Stop Hospitalization and Death

Large Japanese Study Shows No Benefit on Hard Outcomes

By Peter A. McCullough, MD, MPH | Courageous Discourse | May 12, 2023

Influenza vaccination has become a mainstay in American medicine largely as measure to protect the elderly. However in recent decades the FluShot has been pushed on healthcare workers, the general adult public, and starting in 2017 the CDC ACIP Panel stated: “Routine annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all persons age 6 months and older who do not have a contraindication.” I wondered if the FluShot even did what it was supposed to do originally in the elderly — protect against hospitalization and death. I was disappointed by real world data.

Uemura and coworkers from the Department of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics, Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, University of Tokyo, Japan reported on 83,146 individuals who were aged 65 years or older at baseline and were followed up between April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2020.

Uemura K, Ono S, Michihata N, Yamana H, Yasunaga H. Duration of influenza vaccine effectiveness in the elderly in Japan: A retrospective cohort study using large-scale population-based registry data. Vaccine. 2023 May 5;41(19):3092-3098. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2023.03.066. Epub 2023 Apr 10. PMID: 37045684.

The multivariable analysis showed a lower incidence of influenza in vaccinated individuals (hazard ratio [HR], 0.47; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.43-0.51; P < 0.001), however the incidence of hospitalization for influenza did not differ significantly by vaccination status (HR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.53-1.18; P = 0.249). Protective effectiveness against incidence waned quickly after 4 or 5 months.

These data suggest the massive effort on vaccination in the general population is a waste of time and effort. If the frail and elderly get no overall direct reduction in hospitalization and death, influenza vaccination should be individualized based on pulmonary and systemic risks.

Uemura K, Ono S, Michihata N, Yamana H, Yasunaga H. Duration of influenza vaccine effectiveness in the elderly in Japan: A retrospective cohort study using large-scale population-based registry data. Vaccine. 2023 May 5;41(19):3092-3098. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2023.03.066. Epub 2023 Apr 10. PMID: 37045684.

May 12, 2023 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

FBI Contractor Created Fake Online IDs to Join Chatrooms Run by Groups Organizing Against Vaccine Mandates

By Brenda Baletti, Ph.D. | The Defender | May 12, 2023

An FBI surveillance contractor infiltrated the chatrooms of two airline industry groups opposed to vaccine mandates to collect intelligence on the groups’ organizing activities, investigative journalist Lee Fang reported.

The contractor, Flashpoint, which in the past infiltrated Islamic terror groups, now focuses on “anti-vaccine” groups and other domestic political organizations, according to Fang.

In a webinar presentation for clients last year, which Fang analyzed on his Substack, Flashpoint analyst Vlad Cuiujuclu demonstrated his company’s methods for identifying and entering encrypted Telegram chat groups.

He explained how the company attempted to join chatrooms of transportation workers resisting the COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Fang described the presentation:

“‘In this case, we’re searching for a closed channel of U.S. Freedom Flyers,’ said Cuiujuclu. ‘It’s basically a group that opposed vaccination and masks.’

“As he clicked through a database, Cuiujuclu showed a chat group on Telegram sponsored by Airline Professionals For Justice, another group formed by airline industry workers opposed to the mandate. The forum, he added, provided useful insights, including Zoom links for meetings of the grassroots organization.

“‘Private chats,’ said Cuiujuclu, ‘require for you to have an invite link,’ which he noted can often either be found by scrolling through public forums or by ‘engag[ing] the admin of that channel.’”

Flashpoint also offers clients artificial intelligence and internet scraping tools.

According to Fang, the firm is a leader in the “threat intelligence industry,” a growing number of security and surveillance firms that create fake online identities to infiltrate Discord chats, WhatsApp groups, Reddit forums and dark web message boards to gather information for clients, including corporations and the FBI, to monitor potential threats.

Joshua Yoder, president of US Freedom Flyers, said he is aware that Flashpoint infiltrated private chat groups associated with his organization.

Yoder told The Defender :

“Tradecraft and other strategies are often used to gain inside knowledge of conservative organizations with the intent to disrupt, mislead and otherwise thwart effective campaigns.

“Infiltration is a tactic used by the deep state to prevent the truth from being told by attempting to destroy the advancement of the message. The team at US Freedom Flyers has been successful in recognizing these attacks and we have taken decisive actions to protect the organization and our members.”

Aviation industry workers were some of the most vocal and organized against COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

They wrote an open letter to the aviation industry signed by thousands of organizations, physicians and pilots. They also organized research on the risks of vaccines for pilots, spoke publicly about the “culture of fear and intimidation” around the mandates in the industry, and filed multiple lawsuits in Canada, the Netherlands, and the U.S.

US Freedom Flyers brought a lawsuit against Atlas Air, one of the largest air cargo carriers in the aviation industry, in May 2022.

Fang told The Defender the targeting of American citizens resisting the vaccine mandates fits into a long history of surveillance being used to subvert democracy. He said:

“There is a long sordid history of informants and surveillance contractors working to undermine democratic engagement in this country.

“The push against regular citizens opposed to COVID-19 vaccine mandates has come in many forms: censorship, demonization and in this case, surveillance.”

The growing market for spying on domestic dissent

Flashpoint advertises its surveillance success on its website, providing examples of its work undermining environmental activism, G20 protests and protests against the aviation industry.

The webpages describing these activities were taken down after Fang published his investigation, but they can be found on the Wayback Machine internet archive.

For example, Flashpoint described its capacity to monitor activists organizing against pollution and the aviation industry. The website said:

“By monitoring the situation and assessing tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTP’s), Flashpoint was able to assess the impact of upcoming protests, and determine that these groups would likely continue to protest and attempt to impede airport construction and expansion projects through direct action. …

“Based on this information, Flashpoint customers were able to take actions to help control the impact to business operations, and to ensure the safety of their employees and facilities as well as the safety of those protesting.”

Flashpoint was founded by Evan Kohlmann, former NBC News contributor who investigated Islamic terror groups and whom The Intercept described as “the U.S. government’s go-to expert witness in terrorism prosecutions.”

Jack Poulson of Tech Inquiry, a group that researches the surveillance industry, told Fang that “Flashpoint has been selling its chatroom infiltration services to companies and governments for years.”

But, he said, it has shifted its focus from “surveilling Muslims after September 11” and “followed the money into both the Pentagon’s information warfare programs and the business of monitoring domestic protest groups.”

Last year, Flashpoint acquired Echosec Systems, another intelligence contractor, and last month it formalized a partnership with Google Cloud.

These acquisitions come in addition to “a steady stream of contracts to Flashpoint in recent years from the FBI, the Department of Defense, Treasury Department, and Department of Homeland Security, among other agencies,” Fang wrote.

Fang also spoke to Jay Bhattacharya, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine at Stanford University, research associate at the National Bureau of Economics Research and one of the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration.

Bhattacharya said:

“This kind of domestic spying violates the implicit protection Americans have in these kinds of settings.

“This isn’t terrorism, this doesn’t have anything to do with national security.

“This is a private set of employees, workers who are trying to maintain their jobs in the face of unscientific demands for COVID vaccinations.”

Brenda Baletti Ph.D. is a reporter for The Defender. She wrote and taught about capitalism and politics for 10 years in the writing program at Duke University. She holds a Ph.D. in human geography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s from the University of Texas at Austin.

This article was originally published by The Defender — Children’s Health Defense’s News & Views Website under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Please consider subscribing to The Defender or donating to Children’s Health Defense.

May 12, 2023 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , , | Leave a comment

Robert Kennedy Jr. is the only presidential candidate to still be banned from Instagram

By Tom Parker | Reclaim The Net | May 12, 2023

Robert Kennedy Jr., a Democratic candidate for the 2024 United States presidential election, revealed that his account is till banned from Instagram and accused the tech giant of preventing him from accessing the site, despite him being a contender for the White House.

This makes him the only 2024 US presidential candidate that’s unable to post to the influential social media platform and currently being subjected to direct Big Tech censorship.

Former President Donald Trump, who is running for president in 2024 as a Republican candidate, was suspended from Instagram on January 6, 2023 and banned on January 7. However, his ban was lifted on January 25, 2023.

The other 2024 presidential candidates, Joe Biden (D), Marianne Williamson (D), Larry Elder (R), Nikki Haley (R), Asa Hutchinson (R), Vivek Ramaswamy (R), and Corey Stapleton (R), all have active Instagram accounts.

Kennedy was banned from Instagram in February 2021 for violating the platform’s strict speech rules related to the coronavirus and vaccines. The ban came after several Democratic senators and 12 state attorneys general demanded that Kennedy and other Covid vaccine skeptics be deplatformed by Big Tech. Before the ban, Kennedy had over 800,000 Instagram followers.

Instagram’s failure to reinstate Kennedy since announcing his presidential campaign means that he won’t be able to directly post his message to the social media platform’s sizeable audience of two billion monthly active users.

May 12, 2023 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | | Leave a comment

Israeli ploy to divide PIJ and Hamas in Gaza a grave miscalculation

By Robert Inlakesh | Press TV | May 12, 2023

The Israeli regime’s new assassination campaign in the besieged Gaza Strip has essentially sought to isolate the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) resistance movement from Hamas, in what Palestinian resistance leaders, across the board, believe is a miscalculation.

The Israeli occupation military carried out a barrage of deadly strikes on the residences of PIJ leaders in the Gaza Strip in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

The strikes were carried out just after 2:00 AM local time and claimed the lives of Khalil Bahtini, Jihad Ghanem and Tariq Ezz Ad-Din, three senior leaders of the Gaza-based PIJ movement, along with their spouses and children.

The three resistance leaders were reportedly supposed to head to the Egyptian capital Cairo that day to discuss rising tension in the occupied territories and the regime’s relentless aggression, due to which PIJ had loosened its state of emergency a day earlier.

On Thursday, two more PIJ officials, part of the al-Quds brigades, were assassinated in Israeli drone strikes, prompting a massive barrage of rockets from Gaza towards Tel Aviv and other occupied areas in retaliation.

According to a PIJ military source, who spoke to the Press TV website on the condition of anonymity, Zionists launched the attack to “save their image” and to “isolate the resistance groups”.

“They wanted to see Islamic Jihad isolated from our brothers in Hamas. This has failed and we fight as one force, an attack on one is an attack on all,” he said.

Divide and conquer fails

This statement reflects the sentiment of the PIJ leadership too, who view this battle as a means to demonstrate unity among the resistance movements, which has been established through the Joint Room for the resistance factions in Gaza, which rose to prominence during the Battle of Saif al-Quds in May 2021.

Head of the Islamic Jihad’s political department, Muhammad al-Hindi asserted that there is political communication at the highest level between the two movements and “attempts to drive wedge will fail”.

Hamas has also explicitly said that it is part of the response and its armed wing, the Qassam brigades, is the most powerful force in the Palestinian Joint Room.

The Joint Room also released a statement affirming that the resistance “will remain on all fronts of the homeland as one unit, a sword and a shield for our people, our land, and our sanctities.”

The component of dividing the Palestinian resistance factions has been integral to the Zionist entity’s assassination campaign in Gaza, with the Israeli military warning Hamas to stay out of the confrontation after it carried out its initial strikes.

Yoav Gallant, the Israeli minister of war, stated after the first extrajudicial killings were carried out that “the goals of the operation have been achieved; the leadership of Islamic Jihad in Gaza has been eliminated”, without mentioning Hamas.

Calculated response

However, the resistance forces managed to flip the script on their enemy, waiting for over a day before retaliating, despite continued Israeli missile strikes.

The decision to make the Israelis wait for the response caused hysteria, keeping bomb shelters open for settlers throughout occupied Palestine, as they waited for the anticipated response to high-profile assassinations.

Notably, the response of the resistance forces was not anticipated in the way that it happened. Although there were preparations made for rocket fire toward Tel Aviv, many Israeli analysts believed that past strategies of slowly expanding the range of fire would be adopted.

The wait was perhaps the most important component of the initial retaliatory rocket fire, building anticipation and causing bickering amongst Israelis.

Another key component of the Israeli offensive has been the game of political point scoring, claiming imaginary victories and making tall and deceptive statements following the assassination strikes.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right coalition partners – Likud and Otzma Yehudit – had been in dispute over what was labeled by Israel’s security minister Itamar Ben Gvir as a “feeble” response to the PIJ rocket fire last week.

Adnan’s murder

The rocket fire came as a response from the Joint Room to the custodial murder of Palestinian political icon and PIJ West Bank spokesperson, Khader Adnan, who was allowed to die a slow death inside his cell in an Israeli military prison, denied basic medical aid.

Adnan went on hunger strike for 86 consecutive days and according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society organization his custodial murder came as a result of deliberate medical negligence by prison authorities, therefore making it an assassination, or as one Palestinian group said, “cold-blooded execution”.

Before the killing of Adnan, another exchange of fire occurred between the occupation forces and Gaza’s resistance groups during the holy month of Ramadan.

After the Israeli forces stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, attacked worshippers, desecrated the holy site, and arrested and injured over 400 Palestinians, rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip.

The following day, a barrage of rockets also came from southern Lebanon, followed by two batches of rockets fired from Syria into the occupied Golan Heights.

Israeli strikes in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria were lackluster against the backdrop of major threats from the Zionist entity at the time. In both Gaza and Lebanon, Israeli strikes hit open areas of no strategic value, which even made it to social media memes.

Wary of backlash

It is because of the two previous exchanges that the Zionist regime has gone through a process of repeated embarrassments. Its leadership is wary of the political backlash that would come with the outbreak of a real war with all sides, so it settled for a low-scale battle.

In the case of the latest aggression on the besieged Gaza Strip, the PIJ movement has been chosen as what Israel believes to be an easier target, however, as Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh stated this Tuesday, the regime has “severely miscalculated” and instead of being able to isolate PIJ, they have been dragged into a battle with a unified resistance front this time.

On November 12, 2019, the Zionist regime carried out a brief military operation that targeted only the PIJ movement, assassinating the group commander Baha Abu Atta, which sparked days of fierce fighting.

At that time, Palestinian Islamic Jihad fought separately from Hamas even though the relations between both groups remained friendly, contrary to the hideous Israeli propaganda.

Last year, in August, under former Israeli prime minister, Yair Lapid, the Zionist military launched another military operation to assassinate leading members of PIJ, managing to kill Khaled Mansour and Tayseer Jabaari.

In response, the PIJ movement, as part of the Joint Room, launched “Operation Unity of Squares”, which involved heavy coordination with Hamas throughout.

The aim of dividing the groups failed, yet the Zionist regime managed to keep Hamas from getting involved with full force.

It was using this model that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu launched an attack this time, however, what was planned to be a short assassination campaign failed to isolate the PIJ movement from the other resistance groups and rather unified the resistance front against the occupying entity.

Robert Inlakesh is a journalist, writer and political analyst, who has lived in and reported from the occupied West Bank.

May 12, 2023 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

Erdogan scolds rival over ‘Russian interference’ claim

RT | May 12, 2023

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned rival Kemal Kilicdaroglu for claiming without evidence that Moscow is interfering in Türkiye’s upcoming elections. Erdogan claimed that the West, and not Russia, is “manipulating the elections in Türkiye.”

“[Kilicdaroglu said that] Russia is manipulating the elections in Türkiye. Shame on you!” Erdogan told a crowd of supporters in Istanbul on Friday.

In a Twitter post a day earlier, Kilicdaroglu accused the country’s “Russian friends” of being “behind the montages, conspiracies, deep fakes and tapes that were exposed in this country yesterday.”

“Get your hands off the Turkish state,” Kilicdaroglu warned the supposed Russian meddlers.

Kilicdaroglu was likely referring to the publication of a video showing another presidential candidate, Muharrem Ince, allegedly engaging in an extramarital affair. Ince dropped out of the race on Thursday, blaming followers of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose political movement Ankara claims orchestrated a failed coup in 2016.

There is zero evidence linking Russia with the publication or production of the tape, and the Kremlin said that it “firmly rejects” Kilicdaroglu’s claims.

“If I say ‘America is manipulating the elections in Türkiye, Germany is manipulating it, France is manipulating it, England is manipulating it’, what would you say?” Erdogan continued, addressing his remarks to Kilicdaroglu.

While Erdogan did not attempt to tie the leak of Ince’s sex tape with any of the Western countries he mentioned, his interior minister, Suleyman Soylu, did. “It is clear who produced it,” he told CNN Turk earlier on Friday. “The perpetrator is the Gulen movement and the US.”

Soylu claimed that “America has been interfering in this election from the very beginning,” and produced the tape to force Ince out of the race and move his voters to Kilicdaroglu.

Erdogan did, however, accuse Western media outlets of trying to shift public opinion in Türkiye against him.

“What do all the magazines say on their covers? ‘Erdogan must go.’ [Those published] in Germany, France and England say so,” he said at Friday’s rally. “How do you put these words on the covers of these magazines? It’s not you, the West! It’s my nation that will decide!”

This week’s edition of The Economist features the slogans “Erdogan must go” and “save democracy” on its cover, while France’s Le Point and L’Express magazines also featured anti-Erdogan covers.

Türkiye’s presidential and parliamentary elections will take place on Sunday. Recent polling shows Erdogan – a social conservative who steered his country away from integration with the EU – and Kilicdaroglu – a centrist who favors realignment with the West – within single digits of each other.

May 12, 2023 Posted by | Russophobia | | Leave a comment

What are Storm Shadow Missiles and How Can Russia Defeat Them?

By Ilya Tsukanov – Sputnik – 12.05.2023

The NATO-Russia proxy war in Ukraine witnessed another escalation this week, with the UK announcing the delivery of long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Kiev. What are these weapons? How do they differ from missiles already supplied to Ukraine? And what can Russia do about them? Sputnik explains.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken distanced the State Department from the UK’s decision to send Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine after the Kremlin warned that it considers the development “very negatively” and said it would require an “adequate response” by the Russian side.

“Different countries will do different things, depending on their own capabilities, depending on their own technology, depending on what makes the most sense. So we’ve provided some things uniquely to Ukraine through this process. Other countries may do things different than what we’re doing. The question is: Does the whole thing add up to what Ukraine needs? And we’re determined that it does so,” Blinken told US media on Thursday.

Asked point blank whether the State Department supports the escalatory step, Blinken deferred to Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin on the matter, adding that besides weapons, “support” for Ukraine can include training, maintenance, and “understanding how to use all these things in a cohesive and effective plan – combined arms, as it’s called in the business.”

This isn’t the first time London has decided to think “differently” from its allies across the Atlantic. Earlier this year, the UK became the first NATO power to agree to send current-generation main battle tanks to Kiev. Then in March, the Ministry of Defense revealed that the tanks would be armed with depleted uranium munitions – highly toxic weapons which have devastated wide swathes of the former Yugoslavia and Iraq, and have given rise to a host of cancers and other deadly diseases among both local populations and NATO servicemen.

What are Storm Shadow Missiles?

Storm Shadows, which defense Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed this week are either “going into” or are already “in the country itself,” are cruise missiles with a range of up to 250 km for the export version and up to 560 km for the domestic variant. If fired over northeastern Ukraine, the export variant Anglo-French weapons would have sufficient range to target major Russian cities like Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh or Sevastopol, as well much of Belarus – including its capital, Minsk.

UK officials privately assured that Kiev has promised that the missiles would not be used to attack targets inside Russia. But that’s little consolation to Moscow, given that Ukraine’s government moved to turn the crisis into a terror bombing free-for-all over a year ago, not only indiscriminately and deliberately targeting cities in Donbass, but attempting to launch missile, artillery, and drone attacks on targets deep inside Russia.

The Storm Shadow is the most potent NATO missile delivered to Kiev to date, and has a range well beyond the 75 km that the HIMARS rockets that have been delivered in the thousands over the past year.

The $2.5 million-apiece cruise missile weighs 1.3 tons, has a length of 5.1 meters, a diameter of about 0.4 meters, and a 450 kg tandem warhead – enough to destroy heavy fortifications, or level apartment buildings, industrial facilities, railway junctions, or columns of vehicles and troops. A warship-fired derivative exists, with that variant having a range of up to 1,400 km, and a 300 kg warhead. The missiles feature inertial navigation, combined with GPS and terrain referencing.
The UK is estimated to have been 700 and 1,000 Storm Shadows in stock.

“This is an air-launched rocket that uses stealth technology. The warhead can be a cassette munition or a penetrating warhead, and has a 450 kg weight…As a rule, it’s installed on European-produced aircraft…It’s not installed on US aircraft. The French version differs from the British one only in the interface for installation on the corresponding fighters,” Dmitry Drozdenko, editor-in-chief of Arsenal of the Fatherland, a Russian defense news and analysis portal, told Sputnik.

Who Developed the Storm Shadow?

Created jointly by Matra BAe Dynamics – a British-French missile-focused defense giant created in the 1990s, the Storm Shadow was first introduced into service in 2002, just in time for the US and NATO-led decade-and-a-half long campaign of invasions and bombings in the Middle East.

Where Have Storm Shadows Been Used?

UK forces first used Storm Shadows in Iraq during the 2003 invasion, with the British, French, and Italian air forces using them again during the NATO air war of aggression in Libya in 2011. The missiles were then used by French and British forces in Syria in 2015, 2016, and 2018, including strikes purportedly targeting Daesh (ISIS)*, and targeting Syrian forces based on false flag evidence of a chemical attack by the Syrian government (the pretext for the latter attack was later revealed to have been a hoax).

In addition to delivery to NATO countries like Italy and Greece, Storm Shadows have been exported to India, Egypt, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, with the latter using them against Houthi militia fighters in Yemen.

What are the Storm Shadow’s Limitations and Weaknesses?

Storm Shadows are designed to operate from Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafale, Mirage 2000, and Tornado jets. Ukraine has none of these planes, and the UK and NATO have so far been reluctant to hand over advanced aircraft to Kiev amid reported fears that Russia would quickly decimate them.

Getting them to operate would require Ukraine’s Air Force to adapt them to their MiG-29 or Su-27 fighters, Su-25 close air support bombers, or Su-24 strike jets. Either of these options carries limitations, with all of these planes apart from the Su-24 facing payload restrictions that would limit how many Storm Shadows the planes would actually be able to carry (payload weight limits range from 2,500-4,500 kg, depending on plane and modification).

On top of that are fundamental design differences between the NATO and Warsaw Pact planes (all of Ukraine’s combat aircraft are designs left over from the Soviet period).
“Adapting these planes to a fundamentally different guidance and target designation system will be quite difficult. It’s not as simple as strapping it on, flying out, firing and flying away,” says Sergey Khatylev, former head of the anti-aircraft missile forces of the Moscow Air Defense Special Forces Command.

“They would need a flight and navigation complex, a special program with data on range, altitude, thrust, g-forces, turn angle. It will be necessary to pick and somehow select targets,” the retired colonel explained to Russian media. “If you attach them to the Su-27 or MiG-29, serious revisions would need to be made. A large number of questions arise about how this will all be organized, and in what time frame.”

The other option is a ground-based platform – but that would require an entire new command and control system, according to Khatylev. “In addition to the launcher, you would need a command and control vehicle. You’d need to get the target designation from somewhere,” he said.

How Will Russia Respond?

In addition to targeting the weapons on route to their destinations, air bases, or Ukraine’s remaining inventory of fighters and bombers, Russia can respond to the delivery of Storm Shadows by further shoring up its layered missile defenses.

Khatylev pointed out that delivery means for the Storm Shadows are only one part of the equation. The other is Russian air power and air defenses. “We aren’t allowing Ukraine’s Air Force to fly. Russian aviation has won air superiority. If they use these missiles from aircraft, it would actually be good for us, because it’s easier to target airplanes than missiles themselves. We’ll hit the carriers. The kill zone of the S-400 is several hundred kilometers; upon entering this zone, it will simply destroy the carrier,” the reserve colonel said.

If the missiles are launched, detecting and targeting them in a timely manner would be crucial, he added, noting that systems capable of targeting the Storm Shadow include the S-400, S-300, and shorter-range Buk-M3 and Buk-M2 systems operating in tandem.

The defenses around Crimea are a perfect example of layered anti-aircraft and anti-missile defenses, Khatylev emphasized. “There, the Black Sea Fleet, air defense units, the air force, the army corps, special forces have brought together all of their reconnaissance capabilities, as well as their fire systems, into a single system. All of this in accordance with a single plan, from one command post… And all of this has an effect.”

In other words, using Storm Shadows in an imperialist war against war-torn developing countries with limited or non-existent air and missile defenses is one thing – trying to use them against a nation like Russia is something else.

May 12, 2023 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Multipolarity is the future for the Arab world

By Ebrahim Hashem | Global Times | May 9, 2023

Until recently, some in the old world hoped that the Arab world would become hopeless and mired in forever chaos so that they could forever exploit it. However, considering the recent tectonic economic and geopolitical shifts, many are now starting to view the region differently.

While the Chinese, Indians, Russians, Africans, South Asians and many others already consider Arabs as a pole, some hegemonists in the West hubristically demand that the Arabs abandon their national interests and be subordinated to foreign powers. They are out of touch with reality; their mindset is still stuck in the 19th and 20th centuries. While the Arab leaders, supported by most Arab people, want to maintain strategic autonomy, and make the Arabs a pole in the current fluid world order, some in the West want to hijack Arab sovereignty and bring back their hegemony to the region.

Over the last 20 years, they have futilely tried to force the Arabs to give up their sovereignty and subordinate their strategic objectives to those of foreign powers. They misjudge Arabs’ pride in their identity and place in world history. They underestimate the strong desire and high aspirations of the Arabs to be an important player in the new world order. When dealing with the Arabs, they still use the outdated mental models of a bygone era.

Those who are covertly trying to subvert Arab societies and working against Arab unity and regional integration are not afraid of what the Arab world is today. They are terrified by the positive prospect of what the Arab world is becoming; they are intimidated by what the Arab world can become if the Arabs continue to successfully pursue and achieve their ambitious development plans. They narrow-mindedly think that a strong Arab world is bad for them and delusionally believe they can stop Arab progress.

Just as they consider China’s development and prosperity a problem for their position in the world, they consider the Arab world’s development and prosperity a problem for their regional and global position. This is something both the Arabs and Chinese recognize. However, the Chinese are more vocal than the Arabs in expressing their opposition to this myopic worldview. This is also one reason the Arabs and Chinese empathize with each other. They see the same forces, using different tactics and strategies, trying to disrupt their legitimate development.

It is too late now to stop the Arabs from developing and fulfilling their aspirations. The covert operations of the “Arab Spring” have failed miserably to achieve the Western agenda in the region. Instead, they have caused a sharp political reawakening among the Arabs. The Arabs’ rising agency and strengthening strategic independence in the current great power rivalry is proving that it is terribly hard for external factors to prevent the Arabs from achieving their rightful goals of development and prosperity.

The Arabs have what it takes to be an important player in the new emerging world. Their natural and human resources, geography, history, and civilization enable them to be an independent pole that can confidently deal with the rest of the world based on mutual respect and interest. With a population of more than 450 million – around 60 percent of whom are under the age of 25 – and a geographic area of over 13 million square kilometers, the Arabs would be ranked the 3rd and 2nd in the world, respectively. Most Arabs share the same religion, history, culture, and language.

The Arab world’s combined nominal GDP of around $3 trillion would make the Arabs among the top eight economies in the world. When measured in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) terms, the combined economic output of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt alone would make them one of the top six global economies. The Arab world is in the center of global trade routes; it is the place where the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe intersect. The Arabs administer some strategically important maritime trade chokepoints such as Bab Al-Mandab and Suez Canal, through which around 12 percent of global trade and approximately 30 percent of global container traffic pass.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter and three other Arab countries, namely the UAE, Iraq and Kuwait, are constantly among the top oil producers in the world. The Arab region contains more than 40 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves and supplies more than 31 percent of importing countries’ oil needs. It has a quarter of the world’s proven reserves of gas and generates more than 15 percent of the world’s total gas production.

The world is already in a de facto multipolar state. While most nations accept this reality and try to make it work, some in the US, supported by a tiny group of peers in the West, still have the delusion of bringing back unipolarity and hegemony. This delusion is one reason why there are conflicts in the Middle East and the world today.

If the Arabs are serious about their intention to be a pole in the new multipolar world, they should never ever allow any power to have dominance in their region. Recent regional trends bode well for the Arabs. In addition to the traditional powers of the West, re-emerging and rising powers such as China, India and Russia are becoming important players in the region. Both China and Russia have confirmed their status as serious power brokers in the Middle East for their important contribution to Saudi-Iran reconciliation and Syria’s regional renormalization, respectively. Recently, the freeze on Syria’s Arab League membership has been lifted, adding impetus to the positive momentum that has been building up across the Arab world.

The Arabs have learnt some hard lessons over the last 20 years. To be a well-established pole in the increasingly multipolar world, the first step the Arabs should take is to diversify their sources of security – never ever rely on one partner or one bloc of partners for security. Moreover, drawing on the comparative advantages of various Arab countries, the Arabs must accelerate the process of building indigenous capabilities and expedite the implementation of regional integration initiatives. The new emerging world demands that Arabs join forces and rally behind this new vision. For the world order to be truly multipolar, the Arabs must coalesce and unite as one pole in it.

The author is former adviser to the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, an authority responsible for Abu Dhabi’s long-term strategies, and former head of the strategy division of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC). He is a China-based strategist and Asia Global Fellow at the Asia Global Institute of the University of Hong Kong. This is the first piece of the “Quest for multipolarity” series.

May 12, 2023 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

US mulls sanctioning Arab League for Syria normalization efforts

By Drago Bosnic | May 12, 2023

There are very few things that have been as unifying for America’s political establishment as the belligerent thalassocracy’s propensity to impose sanctions. Republicans and Democrats will almost always be at each other’s throats for virtually any issue, but when it comes to sanctions, particularly against the Syrian people, their unity is unquestionable. For well over a decade, the unfortunate Middle Eastern country has been at the forefront of Washington DC’s regime change efforts, with the United States using everything from sanctions and financing various “moderate democratic opposition forces” (i.e. head-chopping terrorists) to direct attacks on Syria and its armed forces.

Unfortunately, the Arab League actively took part in this comprehensive attack on a fellow Arab country and it took years of active Russian and Chinese diplomatic efforts to have the organization reengage with Damascus. In the last couple of months, there have been several major breakthroughs in this regard, culminating with announcements that Syria will be readmitted into the organization. President Bashar al-Assad even visited several prominent Arab countries, some of which previously played an extremely active role in attempts to oust him. The likes of the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia went from “Assad must go!” to “We’re happy to see Assad stay” in mere months.

And while Damascus must tread carefully when reengaging countries that actively took part in a comprehensive aggression against it, this opportunity is something that should not be missed. As previously mentioned, it was only thanks to the sustained diplomatic efforts of the multipolar world that this inter-Arabic conflict came to an end, inflicting a devastating blow to US plans for Syria’s destruction. However, the warhawks in Washington DC are far from giving up. Top GOP and DNC members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee are pushing for a bipartisan initiative to sanction anyone taking part in Syria’s full diplomatic reinstatement. Since May 8, they made several announcements about this.

The bipartisan group is now urging President Joe Biden and his deeply troubled administration to impose “crippling sanctions” on any state or entity engaged in attempts of normalizing relations with Syria. Expectedly, the initiative is led by one of the most prominent neocon warmongers, Texas Republican Michael McCaul.

“Readmitting Assad to the Arab League is a grave strategic mistake that will embolden Assad, Russia, and Iran to continue butchering civilians and destabilizing the Middle East,” McCaul and Gregory Meeks (NY DNC Rep.) said in a statement, further adding: “The United States must fully enforce the Caesar Act and other sanctions to freeze normalization efforts with this war criminal.”

The aforementioned Caesar Act, hypocritically designated as the so-called Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019, is a US legislation that sanctions the Syrian government, including President Bashar al-Assad himself, for bogus “war crimes”. It was signed into law in December 2019 and came into force on June 17, 2020. The illegal exterritorial legislation targets virtually the entire Syrian industrial capacity, including its ability to build and maintain infrastructure, as well as energy production. It also targets individuals and businesses accused of allegedly “funding or assisting the President of Syria”. This also includes entities from other countries, including Russian and Iranian companies taking part in the reconstruction efforts in Syria.

Essentially, the Caesar Act adds insult to injury in terms of well-over-a-decade-long unprovoked US aggression on Syria by imposing economic sanctions that are specifically designed to prevent the rebuilding of the devastated country, further prolonging the suffering of the Syrian people. Worse yet, all this is done under the endlessly hypocritical pretext of “protecting” the same people whose lives it has been destroying for more than ten years. The US political establishment decided to keep enforcing the illegal sanctions even after the disastrous earthquake that killed thousands and left tens of thousands homeless in the already ravaged country. It has also prevented or at least significantly complicated international relief efforts.

However, it seems the Caesar Act will soon be used against US “partners” that have been nearly 100% compliant up until recently. This includes Saudi Arabia and Jordan, both of which still have extremely close relations with the Pentagon. On May 9, Damascus and Riyadh formally announced the restoration of their official diplomatic relations. The move is directly tied to Syria’s readmission to the Arab League.

“The State Department denounces Syria’s readmission to the Arab League. We do not believe that Syria merits this decision by the Arab League at this time,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said on May 8, adding: “We continue to believe that we will not normalize our relations with the Assad regime, and we don’t support our allies and partners doing so either.”

As previously mentioned, sanctions are not the only way in which the US is conducting its well-over-a-decade-long and truly unprovoked aggression on Syria. The Pentagon has approximately 1000 soldiers illegally occupying nearly all of eastern Syria, as well as an occupation force in the area around their base of Al-Tanf. The forces deployed in the east are openly stealing Syrian oil, while those in Al-Tanf are training and equipping several US-backed terrorist groups whose sole purpose is to continue destabilizing the country. If Syria normalizes relations with virtually the entire Middle East, this could severely undermine US efforts to keep its war on Syria going on indefinitely. This is yet another proof that war, death and destruction are the primary “export commodities” of the world’s terrorist No. 1.

Drago Bosnic is an independent geopolitical and military analyst.

May 12, 2023 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

What’s Our Best Bet in 2024?

By Dan McKnight | The Libertarian Institute | May 12, 2023

Did you see what Donald Trump said about Ukraine?

At a CNN town hall on Wednesday evening, the former president and current candidate announced:

“If I’m president, I will have that war settled in one day, 24 hours. I’ll meet with Putin, I’ll meet with Zelensky, they both have weaknesses and they both have strengths, and within 24 hours that war will be settled. It’ll be over…I don’t think in terms of winning or losing. I think in terms of getting it settled so we stop killing all these people and breaking them.”

When CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins asked Trump if he wanted Ukraine or Russia to win this war, he responded, “I want everybody to stop dying. They’re dying, Russians and Ukrainians. I want them stop dying. And I’ll have that done in 24 hours, I’ll have it done. You need the power of the presidency to do it.”

That’s a damn good answer. And a much better one than anyone in the Biden White House has presented for why we’ve spent over a hundred billion dollars to fight a war with Russia.

These corporate press stand-ins never explain what “victory” conditions look like for Ukraine. Volodymyr Zelensky has said his aims include the recapture of Crimea and the decapitation of the Russian state.

But should those be America’s war aims? Should America even be a participant in this Eastern European war? I don’t think so. And I doubt you think so either.

We are eighteen months away from the 2024 United States presidential election, and none of us can say with certainty who will win.

Will Donald Trump return to the Oval Office? Will Joe Biden receive a second term? Will Ron DeSantis or even Robert F. Kennedy Jr. tip over expectations?

My organization, Bring Our Troops Home, does not endorse or campaign for political candidates, so I don’t have a say in those results.

But I am confident, whomever is elected, that a president does not have the power to single-handedly defeat the War Party; the swamp is too deep, the DC bureaucracy too hostile.

The future of our Constitution will not be decided by a single election, but by a decentralized movement which can stop our next endless war before it starts.

The Defend the Guard Act would keep your state’s National Guard out of unconstitutional wars that haven’t been declared by Congress.

I’ve already gotten this bill introduced in 24 states, passed through multiple committees and even the Arizona Senate.

So whenever you’re watching a town hall on the news, or listening to a clip of a presidential debate on the radio, or reading an article about a new campaign update—remember that you have the power to change U.S. foreign policy in your own backyard first.

Have you called your state representative and state senator and told them to sponsor a Defend the Guard bill?

Have you asked your family and friends to make that same call?

Have you joined one of our phone banking operations?

Have you written a letter to the editor of your local paper about Defend the Guard?

Have you shared Bring Our Troops Home content and Defend the Guard material on your social media?

Most importantly, have you joined our supporters’ group and made a financial contribution to the cause?

In my opinion, Defend the Guard is the most important cause happening in these United States. And every morning I wake up wondering what more I can do to make it successful. You must have the same mindset.

Enlist in the Defend the Guard movement so that no matter who wins in 2024, the War Party is still defeated.

May 12, 2023 Posted by | Militarism | , | 2 Comments

UK Shipment of Long Range Cruise Missiles to Ukraine Radically Changes the Conflict

By Gilbert Doctorow | May 12, 2023

Americans have taken umbrage at the now commonplace habit of Russian media personalities to speak of “Anglo-Saxons” as the principal opponents, or enemies if you will, of their country. In Russia the term is meant to include the USA. Given the high percentage of Blacks, Hispanics and Orientals in the U.S. population, there is some substance to American objections. However, as regards the British, they have not a leg to stand on: they are Anglo-Saxons like it or not. And by their behavior towards Russia right to the present day, they have well earned the intense dislike bordering on hatred that a large swathe of influential Russians feel towards them.

First you had Boris Johnson, who ruined the nearly agreed peace accord between Russia and Ukraine back in March 2022. Boris threatened to put a stop to Western assistance to Kiev if Zalensky took the draft treaty through to signature. Zelensky then backed out of the negotiations and went all out for war.

Now we have Prime Minister Sunak sending long range cruise missiles to Ukraine supposedly to help them succeed with their counteroffensive and recapture lost territory from the Russians. The missiles are to be fitted onto existing Ukrainian Soviet era jets and have a 250 km range. This will theoretically enable Ukrainian forces based in Kharkov or Zaporozhie to deliver highly destructive warheads to anywhere in Crimea, for example.

Yes, you may say, but the Ukrainians already have been making daily drone attacks on Sevastopol. However, the new missiles will be far more deadly and less easy for air defense to bring down because of the inherent advantages of their speed, very low altitude and variable flight paths.

The new weapons are potentially a game changer in a way that the Leopard or Abrams tanks that have attracted so much public attention over recent months are not.

Why a game changer? Because with each incrementally more powerful artillery or tank delivered to Ukraine the Russians could say they only meant that Russia would have to push the Ukrainian border back that much further to keep Russian territories safe from attack. But there is no way for the Russians to push back the line of confrontation with Ukraine 250 km in the short term. That might be possible in a matter of months if not years. But in the meantime the missiles could do vast damage in purely Russian territories and create enormous numbers of casualties among both civilians and military.

I can easily imagine the popular reaction in Russia of a Ukrainian rocket attack on Sevastopol that killed, say 400 civilians. There would be a great public uproar and it is hard to see how the Kremlin could avoid responding with its own devastating counter blow. But counter blow against whom? Against the Ukrainians or against those truly responsible for the atrocity, namely the British? Here is where the current strong dislike for “Anglo-Saxons” in Russia may come into play. It comes on top of the recent Russian outrage over delivery of depleted uranium artillery shells to Ukraine by Britain.

In effect, by delivering these weapons to Ukraine Britain is wrecking the hitherto generally accepted notion that the war between Russia and Ukraine will be decided on the battlefield. That is precisely how the EU’s foreign policy and security chief Borrell put it more than half a year ago. Instead the outcome in Ukraine may now be decided by a war between Russia and Britain. This is a war that Britain is as likely to lose as the ongoing war being fought by Ukraine. And what comes after that? A full NATO-Russia war? A nuclear war?

The dangers have now been vastly raised by Mr. Sunak’s ill-conceived decision on arms shipments to Ukraine. It would be a positive step towards their own survival if EU authorities took cognizance of this British idiocy and brought their British colleagues to their senses.

©Gilbert Doctorow, 2023

May 12, 2023 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 6 Comments

As Donetsk civilians live in constant fear of Ukrainian shelling, a reporter on the ground details the terror

By Eva Bartlett | RT | May 11, 2023

Heavy Ukrainian shelling of central Donetsk on April 28 killed nine civilians – including an eight-year-old girl and her grandmother – and injured at least 16 more. The victims were burned alive when the minibus they were in was hit by a shell.

The attack also targeted a major hospital, apartment buildings, houses, parks, streets, and sidewalks. All civilian areas – not military targets.

According to the Donetsk People’s Republic’s (DPR) Representative Office in the JCCC (Joint Monitoring and Co-ordination Center on Ukraine’s War Crimes), Kiev’s forces fired high-explosive fragmentation missiles “produced in Slovakia and transferred to Ukraine by NATO countries.” Regarding an earlier shelling on the same day, the JCCC noted that US-made HIMARS systems were used, targeting “exclusively in the residential, central quarter of the city.”

I was outside of Donetsk interviewing refugees from Artyomovsk (also known as Bakhmut) when both rounds of intense shelling occurred, the first starting just after 11am. I returned to see a catastrophic scene, with a burnt-out bus – still smoking – and some of its passengers’ charred bodies melted onto the frame. This tragic picture was sadly not a one-off event.

Elsewhere, city workers were already removing debris and had begun repaving damaged sections of the roads. I’ve seen this following Ukrainian shelling many times, including on January 1 this year, when Ukraine fired 25 Grads into the city centre. Similarly, in July 2022, Ukrainian shelling downtown killed four civilians, including two in a vehicle likewise gutted by flames. When I arrived at the scene about an hour later, workers were repaving the affected section of the street.

The damage to the Republican Trauma Center hospital was quickly cleaned up, but videos shared on Telegram immediately after the shelling show a gaping hole in one of the walls. The room concerned contained what was, apparently, Donetsk’s sole MRI machine.

Along Artyoma street, the central Donetsk boulevard targeted countless times by Ukrainian attacks, the destruction was evident: Two cars caught up in the bombing, residents of an apartment building boarding up shattered windows and doors, the all-too-familiar sound of glass and debris being swept away. In the residential area, the first to be targeted that day, in a massive crater behind one house, the walls and roof of another home were intermixed with rocket fragments.

Another year of Ukrainian war crimes

In April 2022, following strikes on a large market area in Kirovsky district, in western Donetsk, which killed five civilians and injured 23, I went there to document the aftermath, not expecting to see two of the five dead still lying in nearby lanes. This shelling was just before noon, a busy time of day in the area. Bombing at such periods is an insidious tactic to ensure more civilians are maimed or killed.

Double and triple striking the same areas is another method used by Ukrainian forces. In an interview last year, the director of the Department of Fire and Rescue Forces of the DPR Ministry of Emergency Situations, Sergey Neka, told me, “Our units arrive at the scene and Ukraine begins to shell it. A lot of equipment has been damaged and destroyed.”

Andrey Levchenko, chief of the emergency department for the Kievsky district of Donetsk, also hit by Ukrainian attacks, said: “They wait for 30 minutes for us to arrive. We arrive there, start assisting people, and the shelling resumes. They wait again, our guys hide in the shelters, as soon as we go out, put out the fire, help people, then shelling resumes.”

I was here in Donetsk in mid-June, during a day of particularly intense Ukrainian shelling of the very centre of the city, which killed at least five civilians. The DPR authorities reported that “within two hours, almost 300 MLRS rockets and artillery shells were fired.” One Grad rocket hit a maternity hospital, tearing through the roof.

The following month, Ukraine fired rockets containing internationally-banned ‘petal’ mines. The streets of central Donetsk, as well as the western and northern districts and other cities, were littered with the hard-to-spot mines designed to grotesquely maim, but not necessarily kill, anyone stepping on them. These mines keep claiming new victims to this day – when I last wrote about them here, 104 civilians had been maimed, including this 14-year-old boy. Three had died of their injuries. Since then, the number of victims has risen to 112.

In August, heavy Ukrainian shelling of the centre of Donetsk hit directly next to the hotel I was staying in, along with dozens of other journalists and cameramen. Six civilians were killed that day, including one woman outside the hotel, as well as a child. She been a talented ballerina due to leave to study in Russia soon, and along with her grandmother, her ballet teacher was also killed that day, herself a world-famous former ballerina.

Three bouts of Ukrainian shelling of the city centre in a span of just five days in September killed 26 civilians. Four were killed on September 17, among them two people burned alive inside a vehicle on the same central Artyoma Street. Two days later, 16 civilians were killed, the remains of their bodies strewn along the street or in unrecognizable piles of flesh. Three days later, Ukraine struck next to the central market, killing six civilians, two in a minibus, the rest on the street.

In my subsequent visits to Donetsk and surrounding cities in November and December, I filmed the aftermath of more Ukrainian shelling (using HIMARS) of civilian areas of Donetsk and the settlement of Gorlovka to the north. The November 7 shelling of central Donetsk could have killed the toddler of the young mother I interviewed. Fortunately, after hearing the first rockets hit, she ran with her son to the bathroom. When calm returned, she found shrapnel on his bed.

The November 12 shelling of Gorlovka damaged a beautiful historic cultural building, destroying parts of the roof and the theatre hall within. According to the centre’s director, it was one of the best movie theatres in Donetsk Region, one of the oldest, most beautiful, and most beloved buildings in the city. He noted that the HIMARS system is a very precise weapon, so the attack was not accidental.

The shelling goes on

Early morning during Easter Mass on April 16, the Ukrainian army fired 20 rockets near the Cathedral of the Holy Transfiguration in the centre of Donetsk, French journalist Christelle Neant reported, noting that one civilian was killed and seven injured. The shelling extended to the central market just behind the cathedral. Just over a week prior, on April 7, another shelling of that market killed one civilian and injured 13, also considerably damaging the market itself.

Ukraine continues to shell the western and northern districts of Donetsk, also pounding Gorlovka, as well as Yasinovatya just north of Donetsk (killing two civilians some days ago).

On April 23, shelling in Petrovsky, a hard-hit western Donetsk district, killed one man and injured five more. The same day, in a village northeast of Donetsk, a rocket killed two women in their 30s. Security camera footage shows the moment when the women attempted to take cover. The munition that killed them hit directly next to where they huddled.

A few days later, on my way to interview refugees from Artyomovsk sheltering in another city, I passed along the tiny village where those women were killed. It’s a road I’ve driven a dozen times or more, a quiet, calm, scenic region of rolling hills, a lovely river, a beautiful church. It’s far from any front line. The murder of these two women was another Ukrainian war crime.

The people here are constantly terrorized by Ukrainian shelling or the threat of it, and have been since Kiev started its war on the Donbass in 2014.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and Palestine (where she lived for nearly four years).

May 12, 2023 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Kiev tries to disguise the failure of its counteroffensive plan

By Lucas Leiroz | May 12, 2023

In a recent interview to a Western media outlet, the head of the Kiev regime stated that his country needs more time before starting the counteroffensive against Russian troops. According to Vladimir Zelensky, the Ukrainian forces would be “ready” to start the move, but before that they need to receive more equipment and wait for the ideal conditions for action to emerge – which is obviously a contradictory, ambiguous and unsubstantiated narrative.

Zelensky’s words were spoken during a conference with the Eurovision News Network and were then reported by the BBC. The Ukrainian president claims that he could give orders to launch the counteroffensive now, but that would mean too many casualties for Kiev, which is why it seems more prudent to wait for more favorable conditions to arise in the future. At the time, Zelensky also emphasized the importance of receiving more armored vehicles from the West, which would operationally facilitate the counteroffensive.

Another interesting point of the interview was Zelensky’s response when asked if he has been under pressure from his western partners to resume negotiations in case the counterattack plans fail. The president suggested that his army would continue fighting regardless of the outcome of the counter-offensive and said that no Western country could pressure Ukraine to surrender territories to Russian forces. Zelensky also said that Moscow intends to “freeze” the conflict, as it would be territorially favored, which supposedly will be prevented by the counteroffensive.

“We’d lose a lot of people [if we started the counteroffensive now] (…) I think that’s unacceptable. So, we need to wait. We still need a bit more time (…) [Western powers] can’t pressure Ukraine into surrendering territories”, he said.

The most curious thing about Zelensky’s narrative is how extremely contradictory it is. At one moment the president says that his country is “ready” to start the maneuver and at another he says it needs to wait. Either Kiev is ready to start an effective counterattack, or in fact it is not and needs to wait for better conditions in the future. There is no possible synthesis between both possibilities. This confused and irrational rhetoric sounds like a desperate attempt to have control over the military situation of the conflict, when in fact this control does not exist.

Also, by reaffirming that Kiev will continue to fight to recover the territories liberated by Russia, Zelensky makes it clear to the Western media that, in practice, the outcome of the counteroffensive does not matter. Even if the plans fail, Ukrainian forces will continue to be forced to fight and keep looking for virtually unattainable results. And, as Zelensky himself stated, no western power is opposed to that – which was already well known, since NATO countries are the most interested in keeping Kiev active in the conflict.

In the same sense, Zelensky lies when he says that Russia wants to freeze the conflict. Moscow’s position is clear on achieving an effective and lasting resolution to the crisis. However, Russia does not see the fight against Ukrainian forces as a war, but as a special military operation inserted in a broader context – the war with NATO, which is the organization that uses Kiev as a proxy. Russia avoids escalations and big maneuvers because it wants to avoid as much as possible the death of Ukrainian civilians, seen as part of the same people by most Russian citizens. So, Russia does not want to freeze – it really wants to win and end the problem, but it wants to do it in the least harmful way possible for Ukraine itself.

However, what is most interesting about Zelensky’s speech is to see how Ukrainian rhetoric has changed in a few days. In the most recent wave of terrorist attacks launched by the regime, several officials claimed that the moves were part of the counteroffensive, which had already begun. Zelensky even promised that he would launch more attacks on Crimea, until he “recovered” it, virtually assuming the terrorist nature of such a counteroffensive. Now, however, the rhetoric has changed and apparently the move has not yet started, with the Ukrainians waiting for a more opportune moment to avoid casualties.

In fact, what seems to be happening is the formulation of a narrative by Zelensky and the western media to disguise the failure. Many analysts, citing sources on the battlefield, believe that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has already begun. The intensity of Kiev’s attacks – both on the trenches and in terrorist operations – has already escalated. The special troops that had reportedly been sent to Poland for training during the winter have already returned to the country and there have been practical results of their work. For example, the head of Russian PMC Wagner Group recently showed on his social networks several Russian soldiers killed after Ukrainian massive attacks in Bakhmut.

The problem is that, contrary to what was promised by the regime’s propaganda, this counteroffensive has been weak, inefficient and incapable of guaranteeing territorial gains. Kiev managed to increase combat capability and generate more casualties on the Russians, but this had no military relevance. The regime’s forces are still unable to capture and occupy territories, which is why the media has run out of arguments to maintain its previous narrative and is now changing it, stating that the move has not yet started.

In a realistic analysis, it seems evident that Kiev is incapable of reversing the military scenario of the conflict with its counterattack. The promise of occupation of Donbass and Crimea is absolutely inconsistent with the reality of Ukrainian troops, which have been weakened, demoralized, and poorly equipped since 2022. So, indeed, the counteroffensive is happening, but it is not what the propagandists promised.

Lucas Leiroz is a journalist, researcher at the Center for Geostrategic Studies, geopolitical consultant.

You can follow Lucas on Twitter and Telegram.

May 12, 2023 Posted by | Militarism | , | Leave a comment