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Putin: Kiev would rather play the ‘victim’ than work for peace

Reunification with Donbass now nearly a lost cause

RT | July 12, 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin has blasted Ukraine’s apparent lack of interest in striking a deal to resolve the bloody civil war in the east of the country, saying that Kiev politicians are using it to score political points.

In a lengthy article published on the Kremlin’s website on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that much of modern Ukraine had been formed out of his country’s historical territories, and at Moscow’s expense. Arguing that the two nations shared deep historical and cultural roots, he said that modern conflicts were derived from the fact that Ukraine was “the brainchild of the Soviet era” and effectively an experiment by “Bolsheviks” who drew its borders.

However, Putin said, the implications of ongoing disputes within the Eastern European nation were catastrophic. “According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the total number of victims associated with the conflict in Donbass has exceeded 13,000 people,” he said. “Among them are elderly people and children. Terrible, irreparable losses.”

“Russia did everything to stop fratricide,” he went on, arguing that Moscow sees no other way out of the bitter dispute than for Kiev to honor the Minsk Agreements that were intended to provide a roadmap to ending the conflict. However, he said, talks with Ukrainian officials have fallen flat because “they prefer to exploit the image of a ‘victim of external aggression’ and trade in Russophobia.”

Insisting that Kiev is using the conflict to its advantage in dealing with the West, Putin also claimed that “they arrange bloody provocations in the Donbass” and, “in a word, are trying to attract the attention of their external patrons and masters by any means necessary.”

“I am more and more convinced that Kiev simply does not need Donbass,” the president went on. “Why? Because, firstly, the inhabitants of these regions will never accept the rule they are trying to impose by force, blockades and threats.” In addition, he said, the Minsk protocols could be readily implemented but, in his words, “contradict the whole logic of the anti-Russia project” and would undermine “the constant cultivation of the image of an internal and external enemy.”

Fighting between Kiev’s forces and those loyal to the two breakaway self-proclaimed Donbass Republics has escalated in recent months, with a number of civilian casualties reported. A tense standoff between Ukrainian forces and Russian soldiers across the frontier sparked concerns of an all-out conflict earlier this year, until Moscow announced that its units would be redeployed and that readiness exercises had been concluded.

Last month, Putin said that he saw little point in meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, to discuss the situation in the east of Ukraine given, he alleged, that much of the country’s policies were imposed from abroad.

“Why should I meet Zelensky?” the Russian leader asked. “If he has given up his country to full external control, the key issues about life in Ukraine are resolved not in Kiev but in Washington, and, to some extent, in Berlin and Paris. What then would we talk about?”

July 13, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Russophobia | , , , | 3 Comments

Britain wants to turn Ukraine into its stronghold but now realizes its limitations in the Black Sea

By Paul Antonopoulos, | June 28, 2021

Kiev and London have signed a Memorandum of Intent in the field of military shipbuilding. The partnership envisions joint design, as well as the construction of ships and naval bases in Ukraine. If the plan comes to fruition, this could maybe pose as a security risk for Russia in the Black Sea as NATO countries will have access to newly constructed naval bases, but after last week’s incident, London has likely come to the realization that its power is limited.

The memorandum was signed on the British Royal Navy HMS Defender frigate in the Ukrainian city of Odessa, just two days before the UK provoked a near-crisis by violating Russian territorial waters. The “Defender” intentionally violated Russian borders, resulting in the Russian military firing warning shots and forcing the British warship to change its course. The incident was such an embarrassment for the British that they are still denying Russia’s strong reaction.

If new naval bases are built in Ukraine, it would be to serve the ships of non-Black Sea NATO countries, such as the U.S. and the UK. It must be stressed though that for now this is a memorandum, which is not binding, and thus it calls into question its implementation.

Signing the memorandum on behalf of the UK, Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin said: “The UK and Ukraine have a close defence relationship, and we continue to strengthen this partnership to help deter shared threats” and “I am delighted that British and Ukrainian industry will work together on these projects, which will provide world-leading capabilities and provide opportunities for both our nations to boost our shipbuilding enterprises.”

London has long been strengthening cooperation with Kiev in the defense sector in its attempt to create a stronghold for itself in the region – this is to spread its influence and spy on Russia. With UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempting to build a “Global Britain”, creating a stronghold in Ukraine is part of its long-term strategy given London’s belief that it is a powerbroker all across Europe. London sees the post-Soviet space as one of the regions where British influence should expand. However, as last week’s incident between the Russian and British Navies demonstrated, the UK is not even remotely close to achieving a “Global Britain.”

The main message of the memorandum is to demonstrate Britain’s power. However, Russia, as another global player, is perceived as a direct competitor and this is why British authorities are attempting to weaken it. Ukraine is a suitable stronghold for British ambitions against Russia given the pervasive and obsessive Russophobic ideology that permeates Kiev. Therefore, London is just merely using Kiev for its own interests.

The British provocation in Russian territorial waters last week was an attempt to portray the British Navy as a global power in the 21st century. However, even U.S. President Joe Biden was not impressed with London’s action, but none-the-less, was still accused of emboldening Russia. Sources told The Telegraph that the U.S. decided against sailing close to Crimea alongside the British.

According to media reports, London and Kiev plan to build eight missile boats. In addition, the Ukrainian Navy could get two modern British minesweepers in a joint project with Ukrainian companies. It was announced that the work will be financed by Britain, and Kiev hopes that British experts will complete the “Vladimir the Great” corvette. The parties expect to confirm the agreements in August.

When it comes to bases, it is assumed that one could be built on the Sea of ​​Azov, and the other on the Black Sea. Keeping in mind the condition of the Ukrainian fleet, experts estimate that Ukraine does not need two new military bases, especially since serious military shipbuilding has not existed in the country since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Ukrainian fleet is nearly obsolete, with most vessels stemming back to the Soviet era, along with only a few gunboats from the U.S.

The signing of the memorandum was done in order to strengthen the general impression that Britain is not only an independent player, but also an important ally of Ukraine. However, London would be seriously considering their capabilities in the Black Sea, especially since the signing of the memorandum was done before their provocations against Russia spectacularly failed and embarrassed the country to the extent that they had to deny that such an event occurred.

Paul Antonopoulos is an independent geopolitical analyst.

June 28, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Ahead of crucial Putin-Biden summit, Washington raises stakes by announcing $150 million in additional military aid for Ukraine

RT | June 12, 2021

The Pentagon has announced a new $150 million military aid package for Ukraine, potentially raising tensions with Moscow just days before President Joe Biden’s summit meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

The latest gift from Washington aims to boost the “lethality, command and control, and situational awareness” of Kiev’s forces, the Pentagon said in a statement on Friday. In practice, that translates into counter-artillery radars, counter-drone systems, secure communications technology and electronic warfare equipment.

Ukraine will also receive medical evacuation gear, as well as training and equipment to improve the safety and capacity of its air force bases. The new systems are meant to complement a $125 million aid package that was announced in March, which included counter-artillery radars and Mark VI patrol boats the US is phasing out.

Washington has pledged more than $2.5 billion in military assistance to Ukraine since 2014, when the government in Kiev was overthrown with the assistance of far-right nationalists. The fallout from the US-backed ‘Maidan’ triggered a chain of events which led to the Crimean peninsula seceding and voting to rejoin Russia. A situation which US refuses to recognize to this day.

The two aid packages have been authorized by the US Congress as part of the defense funding bill, but it was contingent upon the Pentagon certifying that Kiev was making sufficient progress on recommended reforms.

The two regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in the Donbass area of east Ukraine also rebelled, and defeated two attempts to crush them by force. Kiev claims this amounts to “Russian aggression.” However, Moscow also doesn’t recognise the two self-declared states.

Tensions have risen in recent months, with fighting in the Donbass region escalating and both Russia and NATO conducting large-scale military exercises in Europe.

Biden is scheduled to meet with Putin on June 16. Ukraine is expected to be on the agenda, along with issues such as arms control, cybersecurity and nuclear cooperation.

June 13, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

I’m on a ‘hit list’ Kiev allows to silence dissent & journalism. That’s all you need to know about Ukrainian ‘democracy’

By Eva Bartlett | RT | June 12, 2021

Address issues which Ukraine, the West’s client state, does not like and you could end up on a ‘hit list’. Because that’s apparently how flourishing democracies roll…

Last week, photojournalist Dean O’Brien participated in a United Nations meeting to give his perspective on the war in Donbass, Ukraine’s breakaway region in the east. Shortly after the discussion, O’Brien came under fire from the Ukrainian embassy in the UK.

However, smears from Ukrainian officials are nothing compared to what the controversial ‘enemies of Ukraine’ database, the Mirotvorets (Peacekeeper) website, could bring.

In May, O’Brien and I discussed this hit list, noting that we were both on it, with photos of us published on the witch-hunt website.

“It’s a website called ‘Peacemaker.’ It’s anything but, really. It seems to be a hit list, a target for journalists or anybody that goes against the grain in Ukraine. If you’re reporting on them, they see you as some kind of threat and put you on this list,” he said.

The platform was created in 2014, shortly after Crimea was reabsorbed by Russia and the Kiev government’s military campaign in eastern Ukraine was launched. As TASS noted in 2019, Mirotvorets “aims to identify and publish personal data of all who allegedly threaten the national security of Ukraine. In recent years, the personal data of journalists, artists or politicians who have visited Crimea, Donbass, or for some other reason have caused a negative assessment of the authors of the site, have been blacklisted by Peacemaker.”

Talking about the horrors that Donbass civilians endure under Ukrainian shelling is, according to this rationale, a threat to Ukraine’s national security. As is going to Crimea, maintaining that Crimeans chose to be a part of Russia (or, as many in Crimea told me, to return to Russia) and criticising the influence neo-Nazis wield in Kiev.

“The most worrying thing is that they seem to be able to get a hold of people’s passports, visas,” O’Brien told me. “The fact that they can get ahold of your passport photo, your visa photocopies, these can only come from official government offices in Ukraine. This is a governmental website, it’s been discussed in parliament, to close it down. They’re not interested in closing it down. This website is kind of like a hit list, really.”

That might seem like an exaggeration, but people listed on Mirotvorets have been targeted and even killed.

A report by the Foundation for the Study of Democracy titled “Ukrainian War Crimes and Human Rights Violations (2017-2020)” gave the example of a Ukrainian journalist assassinated in 2015 after his personal details were published on the website.

“A few days before his death, Oles Buzina’s details, including his home address, had been posted on the Canadian-based Mirotvorets website, created with the initiative of Anton Gerashchenko, the Ukrainian deputy minister of internal affairs. The people listed on it are recommended for liquidation and arrest, and the total number of people listed are in the tens of thousands.

According to many experts, it was the listing on the site and the publication of the home address that prompted the murder of Oles Buzina, Oleg Kalashnikov, and many other opposition figures by members of the Ukrainian ‘death squads’.

Back in 2015, Georgiy Tuka, who participated in the creation and operation of the site, stated that, of the people listed on the site, “more than 300 were either arrested or destroyed,” the report states.

When in April 2015 the Ukrainian parliament’s Commissioner for Human Rights Valeriya Lutkovskaya launched an effort to shut the list down, the then-adviser to Minister of Internal Affairs Anton Gerashchenko threatened her position and stated that the work of the site was “extremely important for the national security of Ukraine.” He said that “anyone who does not understand this or tries to interfere with this work is either a puppet in the hands of others or works against the interests of national security.”

So the website remains active, with Ukraine’s security service reportedly stating that it did not see any violations of Ukrainian law in the activities of the Mirotvorets website.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, too, has refused to have the website shut down, ironically claiming that it’s wrong to interfere with the work of websites and the media.

Let’s remember that in Ukraine, untold numbers of journalists, activists and civilians have been imprisoned, and killed, for their crimes of voicing criticism of the government and neo-Nazi groups.

Ukraine isn’t the only country to host such a hit list. Although Stop the ISM (International Solidarity Movement) – the project of crazed US-based journalist, Lee Kaplan – named activists, including myself, for our crimes of reporting on Israel’s brutal bombardment of Gaza in 2008/09, the website has since changed format and is far less detailed. But cached versions show the extent of its insanity, including a clear call for our murders:

“ALERT THE IDF MILITARY TO TARGET ISM

“Number to call if you can pinpoint the locations of Hamas with their ISM members with them. Help us neutralise the ISM that is now definitely a part of Hamas since the war began.”

Others on the kill list were named for their crimes of reporting Israel’s systematic abuse and killing of Palestinians. Their personal details, including passport information, were published.

An article on this heinous website noted: “The dossiers are openly addressed to the Israeli military so as to help them eliminate ‘dangerous’ targets physically, unless others see to it first.”

Although arguably that website was the project of one lunatic and their allies, the fact that for many years it stayed active and called for the murders of international peace activists speaks volumes on America’s own values.

I’m sure these two hit-list examples are not isolated ones. Quite likely, there are similar lists targeting journalists reporting on the crimes of other countries. But they are the height of absurdity, and fascism: targeting people whose reporting aims to help persecuted civilians.

Meanwhile in Donbass, Ukraine reportedly continues its shelling of civilian areas. Recently in Gorlovka, a northern city hammered by Ukrainian bombing over the years, a mine blew off part of a woman’s leg as she gathered mushrooms.

In spite of the hit list, journalists, rightly, continue to report on these war crimes.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. 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).

June 12, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

SUCCESS IS CONFRONTATION

By Paul Robinson | IRRUSIANALITY | JUNE 11, 2021

Yes, you read the title correctly, “Success is confrontation.” So says one-time US Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker in an article for the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA), one of the more reliably Russophobic think tanks in Washington. “Success is confrontation.” Think about the implications for a while.

The subject of Mr Volker’s article is the forthcoming meeting between America’s president Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Volker wants you to know how should measure the meeting’s “success”. The basic answer is that the meeting will be a success from the American point of view if it fails utterly, miserably, and totally. The worse the outcome, the better it will be.

Now, with relations between two heavily armed nuclear powers about as bad as anyone can remember, one might imagine that success would be if the leaders of the two powers found some way of patching up their difficulties, or at least reaching agreement on some minor matters of mutual interest while leaving major differences between them unresolved. But Mr Volker views things rather differently.

For you see, if the meeting between Biden and Putin ends without a major bust-up, or worse produces some minor agreements that overall contribute to “predictability and stability”, that will be a victory for Putin. And what is good for Putin must by necessity be bad for America. As Volker puts it,

It is surely not in the interests of the US, the EU, NATO, and other allies to see a summit in which Putin leaves convinced that he has blunted the United States and faces no consequences for his behavior. It would send a signal that authoritarians can get away with aggressive acts at home and abroad, and that the US and the West will not take any meaningful action to stop them. … any outcome that seems reassuring and benign on the surface actually works in Putin’s favor.

Consequently, Volker concludes that:

For the US, therefore, the best possible outcome is not one of modest agreements and a commitment to “predictability,” but one of a lack of agreement altogether. Success is confrontation.

Volker points out that Biden and Putin might discuss issues such as climate change, Iran, and Afghanistan. Is it really better that they fail to reach agreement on those issues? Whose interests would that actually serve? I damned if I have an answer. And Volker doesn’t provide one either. His view seems to be that the world can go to hell in a handcart as far as he’s concerned, if the alternative is failure to confront the evil dictator Putin. Frankly, it’s nuts.

In fact, it’s obvious that Volker doesn’t want the meeting to go ahead at all. He writes that, “an ideal scenario would have the US Administration announce tough, new sanctions against Russia and its enablers in Western Europe in advance of the Geneva summit.” Of course, were that to happen, Putin would cancel the meeting there and then. But I guess that’s the point. Volker thinks it’s wrong not only to come to agreement with the Russians but even to talk to them. To reverse-quote Churchill: In the eyes of Volker, “War, war is always better than jaw jaw.”

One can argue that one should prepare for the possibility of conflict. But the idea that one should actively prefer it to agreement on the international stage, especially when dealing with the largest country in the world, a nation endowed with some 1,500 nuclear warheads, is, in my opinion, quite staggeringly irresponsible.

Now, you might say that this is just one guy’s opinion. We can ignore it. It doesn’t mean anything. But Volker isn’t just some guy. From 2017 to 2019, he was the US Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations – so in effect America’s point guy for its relationship with Ukraine and for negotiations concerning a peace settlement for that country’s civil war. On the basis of this article, one shudders to think what advice he was giving the Ukrainian government. Certainly not advice conducive to peace, I imagine. It’s more than a little scary.

So, this is more than just one man. This article is a window into the way that an influential part of the American foreign policy establishment thinks. It rejects negotiation. It regards compromise as dangerous. It openly prefers conflict. “Success is confrontation” – the worse the better. Wow!

June 11, 2021 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Sorry Ukraine, US won’t be riding to your rescue: Essential wake-up call to Kiev, ending years of delusion

By Paul Robinson | RT | June 9, 2021

Since 2014, the US has encouraged Kiev’s leaders to believe that it has their back, come what may. Now, as the Nord Stream 2 pipeline nears completion, the Ukrainian president is screaming betrayal as he realizes he was misled.

A while back, it used to be popular in some circles to play up talk of the “Putinsliv” – the impending sell-out in which Russian President Vladimir Putin was apparently destined to throw the rebels of Donbass under the bus and surrender them to the tender mercies of the Ukrainian government. The irony is that, while Putinsliv never happened, the fury coming out of Kiev this week suggests that Ukraine itself has suffered a dramatic and unexpected “Bidensliv,” being sold out by US President Joe Biden.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, had a troubled relationship with the country, which he accused of trying to undermine his election campaign in 2016. Republicans also used the business dealings of Biden’s son, Hunter, in Ukraine to paint Trump’s Democratic opponent as corrupt. Consequently, Ukrainians generally welcomed Biden’s election as president and have viewed him as a much more reliable ally.

Until this week, that is. Now, things are looking a little different.

For the past few months, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been pressing Biden for a meeting. His position was that this should take place before Biden holds talks with Putin. Otherwise, the argument goes, the Russian and American leaders might stitch up Ukraine’s fate and then present Kiev with a fait accompli. Better that Zelensky gets to Biden first, they say, so as to forestall any attempt by the Americans to betray Ukraine to the Russians.

This, however, was not to be. Speaking to Zelensky by phone on Monday, Biden offered to host him in Washington later this summer, after Biden meets Putin in Geneva on 16 June. Apparently, the White House has decided that managing relations with Russia takes precedence over keeping Ukraine happy – a not unreasonable position given that Moscow has nearly 1,500 nuclear warheads in its arsenal, whereas Ukraine has not a single one. The safety of the world tends to focus the mind on what is really a priority.

In another blow to Zelensky, the Biden administration has finally given up its campaign to sabotage the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is designed to bring natural gas directly from Russia to Germany. At present, Russia exports natural gas to the rest of Europe largely through an old Soviet pipeline system running through Ukraine, and pays Kiev some $3 billion a year for the privilege. Kiev fears that, once the new underwater link is up and running, Russia will be able to stop the supply of gas through the country, thereby depriving it of much-needed cash.

For this reason, Zelensky and his allies have been lobbying the Americans to prevent the pipeline from being finished. To that end, the Trump administration imposed numerous sanctions on companies involved in the project. Now, though, the Biden government has waived those sanctions on the main German company involved, in effect giving the pipeline a green light for completion.

This was little more than a recognition of reality: Nord Stream 2 was going to be completed no matter what America did. So it made little sense for the US to degrade its relations with Berlin any more than it has already. Given a choice between the goodwill of rich and powerful Germany on the one hand, or of weak and impoverished Ukraine on the other, it was fairly obvious which one Washington would side with. The only surprise was that it took so long to work it out.

Adding insult to injury, Putin announced last week that the first section of the pipeline had been completed. This news provoked Zelensky into a mini tantrum. Speaking to the Axios news website, he complained that he was “confused” and “disappointed” by the American decision to waive sanctions on the project. He was “positive” that America could stop construction if it wanted, he said. Zelensky was also angered by the fact that the Americans didn’t tell him about their decision, and that he had to learn about it from a White House press briefing. “How many Ukrainian lives does the relationship between the United States and Germany cost?” he asked.

The Ukrainian president’s comments reveal a remarkable naivety. It seems he truly believed both that the United States is all-powerful; and that the Americans would prioritize relations with Kiev over relations with Moscow and Berlin. Now he is learning the hard way that in international politics, as Thucydides said, “the strong do what they will, and the weak suffer as they must.”

If the episode acts as a wake-up call for Zelensky’s government, that will be a good thing. For too long, Ukrainian leaders have given the impression they are living in a fantasy world in which the West will in due course induce Russia to abandon any support for the rebellion in Donbass with a campaign of massive economic, military and diplomatic pressure. This vision has manufactured an unwillingness in Kiev to make the concessions required to bring peace to Donbass under the Minsk II Agreement of February 2015, most notably the granting of “special status” to the provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk. As a result, it has played a major role in perpetuating the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.

To be fair to Zelensky, the Americans have done everything they can to encourage the fantasy that Russia can be pressured into surrender. As he notes in his interview with Axios, Biden had offered him “direct signals” that the US was prepared to block the [Nord Stream 2] pipeline. This is plausible. It fits a pattern of behavior in which Washington has led Kiev’s ruling elite to believe it will have their back come what may, including in its efforts to ignore the Minsk Agreement.

Consequently, it is perhaps not surprising that Zelensky feels betrayed. The American government has misled Ukraine’s leaders into thinking that it will go the whole hog on the country’s behalf. To an outside observer, this was never plausible. But in the desperate world of Ukrainian politics, it may well have appeared otherwise. Kiev’s bubble has long since needed bursting. To the extent that the Nord Stream 2 debacle has done that, it has paradoxically been a rather good week for Ukraine – no matter what Zelensky or his supporters may think.

Paul Robinson is a professor at the University of Ottawa. He writes about Russian and Soviet history, military history, and military ethics, and is author of the Irrussianality blog

June 10, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

As US regime-change agency NED admits interference in Belarus, leaked documents also implicate UK Foreign Office

By Kit Klarenberg | RT | May 21, 2021

The full extent of Western meddling in Belarus prior to the country’s contested August 2020 election may never be known. Yet the outlines of a wide-ranging foreign effort to destabilize the government are becoming ever clearer.

As RT reported earlier this week, a pair of Russian pranksters posing as Belarusian opposition figures have duped high-ranking representatives of US regime-change arm the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) into exposing the extent of Washington’s clandestine involvement in the unrest that erupted across the country throughout 2020.

Among other bombshell disclosures, Nina Ognianova, who oversees the NED’s work with local groups in the country, suggested “a lot of the people” who were “trained” and “educated” via the organization’s various endeavors there were pivotal to “the events, or the build-up to the events, of last summer.”

Long-time NED chief Carl Gershman – who in September 2013, less than six months prior to the coup that shifted Kiev’s political orientation, dubbed Ukraine “the biggest prize” for Washington – added that his organization was working with controversial opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya and her team “very, very closely.” In all, the agency bankrolled at least 159 civil society initiatives in Belarus, costing $7,690,689, from 2016 to 2020 alone.

The team’s unguarded comments represent a rare public admission of the insidious, destabilizing role played by the NED – in 1991, its then-president acknowledged, “a lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” However, leaked UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) files indicate that the US is far from the only foreign power attempting to undermine the country’s government.

In 2017, then-Prime Minister Theresa May unveiled a £100 million kitty, ostensibly for battling Kremlin disinformation. In practice, internal FCDO files leaked by hacktivist collective Anonymous made clear the effort was primarily concerned with “weakening the Russian state’s influence,” particularly in its “near abroad.” As a close neighbor and arguably most important ally of Moscow, Belarus was unsurprisingly very much in the FCDO’s crosshairs.

In January of that year, Whitehall commissioned an extensive analysis of Belarusian citizens’ perceptions, motivations, and habits, in order to “identify opportunities” to “appropriately communicate” with them. In particular, London was interested in “existing or potential grievances against their national government” that could be exploited, and “channels and messages” by which the UK government could “appropriately engage with different sub-groups.”

The analysis was conducted by shadowy FCDO contractor Albany Associates, which has, in recent years, also conducted numerous information warfare operations in the Baltic states, in order to “develop greater affinity” among the region’s Russian-speaking minority for the UK, European Union and NATO. While carrying out another Whitehall-funded project targeted at Moscow, the firm closely collaborated with NED-connected French NGO IREX Europe.

An accompanying bio notes IREX has been working in Belarus since 2006 “with print, online and radio outlets,” to “improve the quality of their coverage,” and “increase their understanding of the EU and EU member states.” As part of its youth audience offering in the country, the organization was said to have founded the Warsaw-based Euroradio, along with online outlet 34mag.

Footage produced by Euroradio of violent crackdowns on protesters in Minsk was regularly aired by the Western media, including the BBC, during the strife. The outlet even specifically amplified calls from the British state broadcaster for activists to submit pictures and videos for use in news coverage. Franak Viacorka – an Atlantic Council senior fellow, and now senior advisor to Svetlana Tikhanovskaya – prominently hailed its “fearless” reporting of the upheaval.

Euroradio also repeatedly crops up in documents related to the Open Information Partnership (OIP), which is the “flagship” strand within Whitehall’s multi-pronged propaganda assault on Russia. Bankrolled by the FCDO to the tune of £10 million, the organization maintains a network of 44 partners across Central and Eastern Europe, including “journalists, charities, think tanks, academics, NGOs, activists, and factcheckers.” One of the collective’s primary, covert objectives is influencing “elections taking place in countries of particular interest” to the FCDO.

The classified files make clear the OIP has engaged in numerous astroturfing initiatives throughout the region, helping organizations and individuals produce slick propaganda masquerading as independent citizen journalism, which is then amplified globally via its network.

For instance, in Ukraine, the OIP worked with a 12-strong group of online ‘influencers’ “to counter Kremlin-backed messaging through innovative editorial strategies, audience segmentation, and production models that reflected the complex and sensitive political environment,” in the process allowing them to “reach wider audiences with compelling content that received over four million views.”

In Russia and Central Asia, the OIP established a covert network of YouTubers, helping them create videos “promoting media integrity and democratic values.” Participants were also taught how to “make and receive international payments without being registered as external sources of funding” and “develop editorial strategies to deliver key messages,” while the consortium minimized their “risk of prosecution” and managed “project communications” to ensure the existence of the network, and indeed the OIP’s role, were kept “confidential.”

It would be entirely unsurprising if similar efforts were being undertaken in Belarus. After all, the country – along with Moldova and Ukraine – is referred to in the leaked documents as “the most vital space in the entire network,” and a “high-impact priority” for London, suggesting its 2020 election was very much “of interest” to Whitehall. If so, it would likewise be entirely unsurprising if many of the alleged so-called citizen journalists and media outlets covering the unrest in Minsk received funding and training from the OIP.

All along, too, MEMO 98, an OIP member coincidentally also funded by NED, kept a close eye on the incendiary proceedings, publishing several analyses of media coverage and social media activity related to the protests. It drew particular attention to the output of Belsat TV, a Warsaw-based channel – founded in December 2007 by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it seeks to influence political change in Belarus. MEMO 98 praised the station’s “extensive coverage of protests and related intimidation of activists.”

Strikingly, the leaked FCDO files indicate that Belsat TV received intensive, Whitehall-financed support from the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the newswire’s international “charitable” wing, including 150 days’ consultancy in improving “TV output quality and audience reach.”

While the protests have largely fizzled out in recent months, and Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s calls for Western leaders to recognise her as the legitimate president of Belarus continue to fall on deaf ears, there are clear signs many other media platforms in Belarus receive life-giving sponsorship from London to this day.

In March 2021, the FCDO published an update on the progress of its global ‘Media Freedom Campaign’, which revealed that, over the past year, Whitehall had allocated £950,000 in financing to Belarusian news outlets, enabling them to “remain open and maintain a functional level of equipment.”

“Without this support, they would otherwise have been forced to close by government measures,” the document stated. “The funding has saved jobs and ensured that independent media can still hold the government to account during a period of increasingly violent action by the security forces.”

Evidently, even during a global pandemic, the regime-change show must go on – and the UK government is committed to ensuring people the world over continue to receive a steady deluge of slanted agitprop from the streets of Minsk, in order to turn public opinion against the government not only of Belarus, but of Russia too.

Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions.

May 21, 2021 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , , , | Leave a comment

Partners Don’t Use Blackmail: Top German Lawmaker Slams US Attempts to Block Nord Stream 2

By Tim Korso – Sputnik – 13.05.2021

Washington has been strongly opposed to the Nord Stream 2, a joint project by Russia’s Gazprom and European energy giants, trying to stop its construction with sanctions. The European beneficiaries of the project have condemned the US meddling in the bloc’s economic and energy affairs.

The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is an economic project beneficial to German interests and thus must be completed in the shortest term possible, parliamentary co-leader of the German party The Left, Dietmar Bartsch has stated. The lawmaker, who is expected to fight for the chancellor’s seat in this year’s election, added that the US must not create obstacles for the project’s completion.

“Washington must not make decisions for Germany and Europe regarding their energy security. Partners do not resort to blackmail and threats in their relations”, Bartsch stressed.

The US has repeatedly objected to the plans of European countries to complete and certify the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which was designed to deliver up to 55 million cubic metres of Russian natural gas per year. Washington claims the pipeline undermines European energy security, making it dependent upon Moscow, and suggests buying American or Israeli LNG instead. The White House also expressed concern that Nord Stream 2 will deprive Ukraine of lucrative contracts on the transit of Russian gas through its territory. The latter has been disrupted by Kiev multiple times in the past.

EU powers, especially Germany, have defended the project, insisting that the continent’s energy supplies are sufficiently diversified. German politicians and lawmakers regularly denounce the sanctions Washington has put in place in order to force European countries to abandon the pipeline. Russia, for its part, has assured the West that gas transit through Ukraine will continue as long as it remains economically viable.

The Nord Stream 2 is now in the final stages of construction despite the US countermeasures. Around 5% of the pipe remains to be built according to statements by the operating company. The question, however, remains whether any European entity will agree to certify the pipeline once it’s complete to allow it to turn on the taps, as they would risk falling under American sanctions by doing so.

May 13, 2021 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , | 2 Comments

Zelensky targeting opposition leaders for ‘treason’ won’t help unity problems, could shatter Ukraine for good

By Paul Robinson | RT | May 13, 2021

In 2014, as bloody fighting raged in eastern Ukraine, businessman Viktor Medvedchuk darted back and forth across the contact line to negotiate the release of prisoners. Instead of gratitude, he now stands accused of high treason.

Medvedchuk is a serving MP and one of the leaders of the country’s largest opposition party, Opposition Platform – For Life (OPZZh), which primarily draws its support from Russophone residents of southern and eastern Ukraine. Using his connections and status in the community, he was able to strike deals that allowed numerous servicemen to return home from captivity.

However, since the start of the year, the government in Kiev has been putting the squeeze on both Medvedchuk and his political ally, Taras Kozak. In February, the state seized Medvedchuk’s property and banned him and his wife from doing business in Ukraine. Then, officials banned three Russian-language TV stations owned by Kozak. Now, as the situation worsens still further, the national prosecutor has announced that the two MPs will be charged with treason and the alleged plundering of national resources.

The 2014 Western-backed Maidan promised to bring democracy and good government to the country. The reality has proven to be entirely different – civil war; economic collapse; and a government that seems to grow increasingly undemocratic by the day.

Just two years ago, comedian Volodymyr Zelensky promised to reunite what was by then a badly divided nation. This appeal helped him to win an overwhelming majority in the presidential election. The political newcomer fared well in the south and east of the country where Russian-speaking Ukrainians were hopeful of an antidote to the nationalist mood that had swept Ukraine following the Maidan. They were further enthused by the fact that Zelensky himself came from the hard-scrabble Russophone city of Krivoy Rog.

Unfortunately for those supporters, however, Zelensky has proven unwilling, or unable, to follow through on his promises of unity. He has made no effort either to end the war in Donbass by making the concessions required in the 2015 Minsk agreement, nor to stop the process of linguistic Ukrainization by repealing authoritarian legislation that restricts the use of the Russian language in education, the media, and public spaces.

Unsurprisingly, the popularity of both Zelensky and his Servant of the People party have plummeted in recent months.

At least one opinion poll now shows Medvedchuk’s OPZZh party to be the most popular in Ukraine. Unable to bring peace to his country and losing political ground to his rivals, it seems that Zelensky has decided to solve his problems by physically suppressing the opposition.

The specific charges against Medvedchuk and Kozak are somewhat odd. The accusation of treason relates to a phone conversation between the two men in which it is alleged that the former revealed classified information to the latter regarding Ukrainian troop positions. Since both men are members of the Ukrainian parliament, it’s difficult to see how this constitutes treason. The prosecutor maintains that Medvedchuk intended for Kozak to pass the information onto Russian intelligence, but no evidence to support the claims has been provided.

The charge of plundering national resources is believed to relate to the activities of a Ukrainian company, New Projects, which owned the rights to exploit a gas field in the waters off Crimea. Following what the Ukrainians call the Russian “occupation” of Crimea in 2014, New Projects re-registered as a Russian company so that it could continue operating and maintain the flow of energy. This, it is said, amounts to an illegal transfer of Ukrainian property to the Russians. Unfortunately, the exact connection of Medvedchuk and Kozak to New Projects isn’t clear – the prosecutor could say no more than that it believed that the two men are in some way linked to it through intermediaries.

In any case, the New Projects story, including an accusation that Medvedchuk wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the company’s behalf, are nothing new. Ukrainian journalists splashed the charges as far back as 2018. At that time, authorities did not consider it worthy of criminal charges. If their verdict has changed, it’s likely because taking action has become more convenient. In other words, the charges against Medvedchuk and Kozak are political in nature.

There are various possible explanations. One is that Zelensky is trying to eliminate a political threat by extra-judicial means. Another is that the charges originate not with the president but with hardline nationalist elements within the Ukrainian security establishment, and show up Zelensky’s lack of control of his own state apparatus. Russian pundits also speculate that the actions against Medvedchuk and Kozak may be a response to American pressure, although there is no clear paper trail to support this as yet.

Whatever the reason, the fact that the Ukrainian state has chosen to charge leading opposition politicians with high treason indicates a disturbing move in an anti-democratic direction. The 2011 arrest of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Timoshenko was repeatedly cited in the West as evidence of the dictatorial inclinations of then-Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich, a close ally of Moscow. By contrast, nobody in authority in the West seems to be showing the slightest concern over the fate of Medvedchuk and Kozak, and continue to play along with Zelensky’s overtures to the US and EU.

This will only strengthen Russian suspicions that Western platitudes about liberty and democracy are devoid of meaning, and all that really concerns the West is that the the Ukrainian government be reliably anti-Russian.

Worse still, it is hard to see how the charges will help, rather than harm, the Ukrainian state. The violent overthrow of Viktor Yanukovich in February 2014 created a serious crisis of legitimacy in Ukraine. Part of the population accepted the results, but a significant part considered it an unconstitutional coup and thus regarded the post-Maidan regime as illegitimate. Many of the country’s problems, including the war in Donbass, derive from this crisis of legitimacy.

Resolving those issues requires the state to reassure and re-engage with disaffected elements of the population, especially in the breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine. If reunification is on the cards, citizens of Donetsk and Lugansk need to know Kiev is willing to listen to their concerns and respect their choices, which it has failed to do since 2014.

Arresting the leading elected representatives of those same people, on what many will consider to be trumped-up charges, can only have the effect of further alienating them from the national government, thus deepening the crisis of legitimacy. The charges against Medvedchuk and Kozak may suit Zelensky’s political purposes right now, but, in the long term, it is unlikely to leave a positive legacy.

May 13, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties | | Leave a comment

Butting Heads With China and Russia: American Diplomats Are Outclassed

By Philip Giraldi | Strategic Culture Foundation | May 13, 2021

With the exception of the impending departure of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, if it occurs, the White House seems to prefer to use aggression to deter adversaries rather than finesse. The recent exchanges between Secretary of State Tony Blinken and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a meeting in Alaska demonstrate how Beijing has a clear view of its interests which Washington seems to lack. Blinken initiated the acrimonious exchange when he cited “deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber attacks on the United States, economic coercion toward our allies. Each of these actions threaten the rules-based order that maintains global stability. That’s why they’re not merely internal matters, and why we feel an obligation to raise these issues here today.” He then threatened “I said that the United States relationship with China will be competitive where it should be, collaborative where it can be, adversarial where it must be” before adding “I’m hearing deep satisfaction that the United States is back, that we’re reengaged with our allies and partners. I’m also hearing deep concern about some of the actions your government is taking.”

The Chinese Foreign Minister responded sharply, rejecting U.S. suggestions that it has a right to interfere in another country’s domestic policies, “I think we thought too well of the United States, we thought that the U.S. side will follow the necessary diplomatic protocols. The United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength. We believe that it is important for the United States to change its own image, and to stop advancing its own democracy in the rest of the world.” Yi had a point. Ironically, most of the world believes that the U.S. represents a greater threat to genuine democracy than does either China or Russia.

In another more recent interview Blinken has accused the Chinese of acting “more aggressively abroad” while President Biden has claimed that Beijing has a plan to replace America as the world’s leading economic and military power. U.S. United Nations envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield has also delivered the same message that Washington is preparing to take no prisoners, pledging to push back against what she called China’s “authoritarian agenda” through the various agencies that make up the UN bureaucracy. Indeed, the United States seems trapped in its own rhetoric, finding itself in the middle of a situation with China and Taiwan where warnings that Beijing is preparing to use force to recover its former province leave Washington with few options to support a de facto ally. Peter Beinart in a recent op-ed observes how the White House has been incrementally increasing its diplomatic ties with Taiwan even as it both declares itself “rock solid” on defending while also maintaining “strategic ambiguity.”

China understands its interests while the U.S. continues to be bewildered by Beijing’s successful building of trade alliances worldwide. Meanwhile Russian President Vladimir Putin, reputedly an excellent chess player, is able to think about genuine issues in three dimensions and is always at least four moves ahead of where Biden and his advisers are at any time. Biden public and video appearances frequently seem to be improvisations as he goes along guided by his teleprompter while Putin is able to explain issues clearly, apparently even in English.

A large part of Biden’s problem vis-à-vis both China and Russia is that he has inherited a U.S. Establishment view of foreign and national security policy options. It is based on three basic principles. First, that America is the only superpower and can either ignore or comfortably overcome the objections of other nations to what it is doing. Second, an all-powerful and fully resourced United States can apply “extreme pressure” to recalcitrant foreign governments and those regimes will eventually submit and comply with Washington’s wishes. And third, America has a widely accepted leadership role of the so-called “free world” which will mean that any decision made in Washington will immediately be endorsed by a large number of other nations, giving legitimacy to U.S. actions worldwide.

What Joe Biden actually thinks is, of course, unknown though he has a history of reflexively supporting an assertive and even belligerent foreign policy during his many years in Congress. Kamala Harris, who many believe will be succeeding Biden before too long, appears to have no definitive views at all beyond the usual Democratic Party cant of spreading “democracy” and being strong on Israel. That suggests that the real shaping of policy is coming from the apparatchik and donor levels in the party, to include the neocon-lite Zionist triumvirate at the State Department consisting of Tony Blinken, Wendy Sherman and Victoria Kagan as well as the upper-level bureaucracies at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, which all support an assertive and also interventionist foreign policy to keep Americans “safe” while also increasing their budgets annually. Such thinking leaves little room for genuine national interests to surface.

Biden’s Secretary of State Tony Blinken is, for example, the perfect conformist bureaucrat, shaping his own views around established thinking and creating caveats to provide the Democratic Party leadership with some, though limited, options. Witness for example the current White House attitude towards Iran, which is regarded, along with Russia, as a permanent enemy of the United States. President Biden has expressed his interest in renegotiating a non-nuclear proliferation treaty with the Iranians, now being discussed by diplomats without direct contact in Austria. But Blinken undercuts that intention by wrapping the talks in with other issues that are intended to satisfy the Israelis and their friends in Congress that will make progress unlikely if not impossible. They include eliminating Iran’s alleged role as a regional trouble maker and also ending the ballistic missile development programs currently engaged in by the regime. The downside to all of this is that having a multilateral agreement to limit Iranian enhancement of uranium up to a bomb-making level is very much in the U.S. interest, but it appears to be secondary to other politically motivated side discussions which will derail the process.

A foreign and national security policy based on political dogma rather than genuine interests can obviously generate some disconnects, unlike in Russia or China, where redlines and national interests are clearly understood and acted upon. To cite yet another dangerous example of playing with fire that one is witnessing in Eastern Europe, the simple understanding that for Russia Belarus and Ukraine are frontline states that could pose existential threats to Moscow if they were to move closer to the west and join NATO appears to be lacking. The U.S. prefers to stand the question on its head and claims that the real issue is “spreading democracy,” which it is not. Policy makers in Washington might consider what Washington would likely do if Mexico and Canada were to be threatened with foreign interference that might bring about their joining a military alliance hostile to the United States.

The American Establishment-driven foreign policy thinking clearly has trouble in accommodating the obvious understanding that the U.S. actually becomes more vulnerable every time it interferes in China’s trade practices or gives the green light for alliances like NATO to expand. Expansion of the national security policy components often brings in another client state that rarely has anything whatsoever to contribute and which, on the contrary, becomes a burden, relying for their own security on overstretched American military resources. In return, the expansion itself guarantees that a hostile and genuinely threatened Russia will take steps of its own to counter what it sees as a potential grave threat to its own security and national identity.

Quite simply, America’s national security should dictate that the United States treat China as a competitor rather than an enemy while also disengaging from support and encouragement of Ukraine’s irredentist ambitions as quickly as possible. A recent shipment of offensive weapons to Kiev should become the last such initiative and speeches by American politicians pledging “unwavering support” for Ukraine should be considered unacceptable. Washington should meanwhile reject any clandestine attempts to overthrow Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus and make clear to Vladimir Putin that it will not support any NATO expansion into Eastern Europe, which admittedly was a pledge already made when the Soviet Union collapsed that was subsequently ignored by President Bill Clinton. Thanks to Bill, America is now obligated to defend not only Western Europe but also Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, North Macedonia, the Baltic States and tiny little Montenegro.

In short, United States engagement in complicated overseas quarrels should be limited to areas where genuine vital interests are at stake. In fact, by that standard one should begin to emphasize the security impact of the crisis on America’s southern border, which has a completely different genesis and is being driven by politics. As British statesman Lord Palmerston said in 1848 “We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.” The United States government would be very wise to be guided by that advice.

May 13, 2021 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

HOW TO WRITE A BAD ARTICLE ABOUT RUSSIA

By Paul Robinson | IRRUSSIANALITY | April 26, 2021

Several press articles I’ve seen in the past few days have annoyed me rather, but I think that they are useful as examples of how reporting on Russia is distorted. For they demonstrate the methods used by journalists to paint a picture of the world that is far from accurate.

The articles in question come from those bastions of balanced reporting, The New York Times and The Guardian. The first is from Sunday’s edition of the NYT, with the title ‘The Arms Dealer in the Crosshairs of Russia’s Elite Assassination Squad’. This discusses Bulgarian arms dealer Emilian Gebrev, whose weapons were destroyed in an explosion in the Czech Republic in 2014, allegedly by Russian secret agents.

The second article is also from the NYT. This one has the title ‘After Testing the World’s Limits, Putin Steps Back From the Brink,’ and analyzes what author Anton Troianovski calls Russia’s ‘escalatory approach to foreign policy’, as seen by the Russian military build up near the Ukrainian border.

The third and final piece is from The Guardian, and is about last week’s protests in support of jailed oppositionist Alexei Navalny. This is somewhat schizophrenic, on the one hand saying that the pro-Navalny movement is in trouble, but on the other hand portraying the protests as a relative success and ending on a confident note that however grim things look for the opposition now, this can change at any moment.

Anyway, as one reads these articles one notices certain techniques that are used to paint a distorted picture of reality. So if you want to be a journalist, here’s what the articles teach that you should do:

1. Make stuff up. In the Guardian article, authors Andrew Roth and Luke Harding (yes, he!) begin by telling readers that ‘The future looked unspeakably grim for Alexey Navalny’s supporters before this week’s protests’. But it then lifts our spirits with the following:

What followed was surprisingly normal: a core of tens of thousands of Navalny supporters rallied near the Kremlin, waving mobile phone torches and chanting “Putin is a thief!” The police stood back in Moscow (there was a violent crackdown in St Petersburg). For an evening, the crowd roved the streets of the capital at will.

“This feeling of enthusiasm, of overcoming fear, the protest ended on a positive note … It left me with the feeling that nothing is lost, it’s still not the final battle, and that street protests in Russia are not over forever,” said Ivan Zhdanov, the head of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, in an interview from Europe.

Ah yes, the protests were a huge success, euphoric. There were ‘tens of thousands of Navalny supporters rallied near the Kremlin.’

Except that most reporters said that there was nothing of the sort, and that the turnout was far below expectations.

Estimates of the size of the protest crowd vary, but the Russian Interior Ministry reckoned the numbers as 14,000 across the entire country and only 6,000 in Moscow. Interior Ministry counts tend to be on the low size, so you can treat them with a pinch of salt, but Russian media outlets were claiming a crowd in Moscow of 10,000 to 15,000, , while Western journalists’ estimates were in the same ballpark. Max Seddon of the Financial Times, for instance, reckoned the number at about 10,000 and commented that it was much lower than in the last protests in January. So ‘tens of thousands’ as The Guardian claims? Apparently not.

The Guardian isn’t alone in providing misleading data. In its article about the Bulgarian arms dealer, The New York Times has the following to say:

After pro-democracy protestors toppled the Kremlin’s puppet government there [i.e. Ukraine], Russia special forces units wearing unmarked uniforms seized and annexed the Crimean peninsula and also instigated a separatist uprising that is still going on in the east.

Let’s unravel this a bit: Were the demonstrators in Kiev really ‘pro-democracy’? Debatable, though not provably 100% false. But definitely untrue is the idea that the Ukrainian government that was toppled in February 2014 was a ‘Russian puppet’. That’s simply false. As for Russian special forces ‘annexing’ Crimea, it’s true in a way, although not the whole story of what happened. But the claim that Russian special forces ‘instigated a separatist uprising’ in Donbass is without foundation. I know of no evidence of ‘Russian special forces’ having been present in Donbass in the early weeks of the uprising there. (Strelkov and his goons were not ‘Russian special forces’, and most analyses of the uprising show how it was overwhelmingly spontaneous and local in origin.)

So, again, making stuff up.

2. Mention that others have ‘reported’, ‘claimed’, or ‘alleged’ something without pointing out that the claim in question is dubious at best, or false at worst.

For example. The NYT piece about Mr Gebrev talks about the alleged Russian spy unit, Unit 29155, and tell us that:

Last year, the Times revealed a CIA assessment that officers from the unit may have carried out a secret operation to pay bounties to a network of criminal militants in Afghanistan in exchange for attacks on US and coalition troops.

This is superficially true in that the Times did reveal this assessment. But what it doesn’t tell you is that the US government only has low to medium confidence that the claim is true. That’s kind of important, don’t you think? Shouldn’t it be mentioned? By failing to do so, the Times makes out that something is true that probably isn’t.

It’s not the only example. Talking of Ukraine a little later, the same article tells us that after war broke out in Donbass,

Russian assassins fanned out across the country, killing senior Ukrainian military and intelligence officials who were central to the war effort, according to Ukrainian officials.

They did, did they? Well, maybe ‘according to Ukrainian officials’ they did. But I have to say that it’s the first I’ve ever heard of it, and if it were true wouldn’t there have been news of lots of dead Ukrainian military and intelligence officers? Given that there wasn’t any such news, why repeat the claim? Shouldn’t the Times at least check it first.

3. Cite only sources that back up the narrative you are trying to tell. Ignore alternative viewpoints.

This kind of follows on from the last. If you are writing about Ukraine, cite ‘Ukrainian officials’. But don’t cite rebel spokesmen. If you’re talking about Russia, cite oppositionists. Ignore pro-government analysts.

We can see this in the Guardian piece. This quotes a couple of members of Navalny’s team, a British professor, a pro-Navalny Russia high schooler, and then to finish off some completely random former advisor to one-time British foreign minister Robin Cook, whose connection to, and knowledge of, Russia is completely unexplained. The only reason for giving him the final word seems to be that he came up with some nice lines about how opposition movements can suddenly triumph even when they seem to be losing. Needless to say, dissenting viewpoints are nowhere to be heard in the article.

The NYT piece about Russia stepping ‘back from the brink’ is similarly loaded with carefully chosen sources. First up is the ever-present Gleb Pavlovsky, a one-time advisor to Vladimir Putin turned oppositionist, who seems to be the eternal go-to person for anti-Putin quotes. After him, the article gives us a quote from Navalny’s assistant Leonid Volkov, a statement from Ukrainian National Security Advisor Oleksiy Danilov, and a few words from the generally pretty anti-Putin Estonian analyst Kadri Liik. For a pretence of balance we also get a statement by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and the opinion of Konstantin Remchukov, editor of Nezavisimaia Gazeta, a newspaper whose political stance isn’t 100% clear to me but strikes me as sort-of oppositional, sort of not (given that Remchukov ran the re-election campaign of Moscow mayor Sergei Sobyanin). All in all, the anti-government voices get the bulk of the space.

So there you have it. Make some stuff up. Reference ‘claims’ and ‘allegations’ without pointing out that they are unsubstantiated or even false. And throw in lots of quotes from pundits who support the chosen narrative. Easy as pie. A career as a journalist awaits you. Just don’t bother trying to be accurate. Understood?

April 26, 2021 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , , | 1 Comment

Amid increased tensions in Donbass, Putin invites Ukrainian President Zelensky to Moscow for discussions on ‘bilateral relations’

By Jonny Tickle | RT | April 23, 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin has revealed that he is ready to welcome his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky “at any convenient time in Moscow.” The suggestion comes after Kiev offered to meet in war-torn Donbass.

Speaking before talks with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday, Putin said Zelensky should first discuss the problems of Donbass with the heads of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics before speaking with representatives of third countries. He included Russia in this category.

“And if we are talking about the development of bilateral relations, then, please, we will receive the president of Ukraine in Moscow at any time convenient for him,” Putin said. “If President Zelensky wants to start restoring relations, Russia will only welcome it.”

The Russian leader’s statement comes after Zelensky suggested a summit “anywhere in the Ukrainian Donbass where the war is going on,” earlier this week.

“Ukraine and Russia, despite their shared past, look to the future in different ways. We are us. You are you,” Zelensky said. “But this is not necessarily a problem; it is an opportunity. At the very least, an opportunity, before it is too late, to stop the murderous mathematics of future war losses.”

The conflict in Donbass started in April 2014, when two pro-Moscow breakaway republics unilaterally declared independence from Kiev. These regions – the self-declared Donetsk (DNR) and Lugansk People’s Republics (LNR) – are unrecognized by both Russia and Ukraine. However, according to Kiev, they are under the control of the Kremlin, a charge Moscow denies.

Following Zelensky’s invite to Putin, the heads of both the DNR and LNR invited the Ukrainian leader to meet and hold talks in Donbass, suggesting he deals directly with them instead.

“I urge you, Mr. Zelensky, not to invite the leaders of third countries to the line of contact, but rather to go there yourself for an honest and open conversation with us,” said Denis Pushilin, the leader in Donetsk.

The situation in Donbass has escalated in recent weeks, although it now seems to be calming down. Media reports from the region revealed a build-up of both Russian manpower and equipment near the border, following news that the Ukrainian Army was increasing its number of forces in the area. However, on Thursday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced that troops deployed near the frontier would soon begin returning to base, as military exercises had concluded.

April 23, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , | Leave a comment