NewsGuard, the media rating agency, alleges that Consortium News has published “false content” by reporting that there was a U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine in 2014 and that ne0-Nazis have significant influence in the country. NewsGuard took issue with a:
“February 2022 article ‘Ukraine: Guides to Reflection,’ [which] asserted, ‘Hence, the inflation of Russian behavior in Ukraine (where Washington organized a coup against a democratically elected government because we disliked its political complexion) … .’
It then wrote:
“The U.S. supported the Maidan revolution that ousted then-Ukraine President Viktor Yanikovych (sic) in 2014 — including a December 2013 visit by John McCain to Kyiv in support of protesters — but there is no evidence that the U.S. ‘organized’ a ‘coup.’ Instead, it has the markings of a popular uprising, precipitated by widely covered protests against Yanukovych’s decision to suspend preparations for the signing of an association and free-trade agreement with the European Union.”
Viktor Yanukovych was democratically elected as president of Ukraine in 2010 in an election certified by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a fact not mentioned in NewsGuard’s writings on the change of government in Ukraine. Even though Yanukovych agreed to an EU political settlement and early elections, violence forced him to flee from the capital on Feb. 21, 2014. Reporting that the neo-Nazi Right Sector was at the forefront of the violent overthrow, The New York Times (NewsGuard green check) wrote earlier that day:
“Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of Right Sector, a coalition of hard-line nationalist groups, reacted defiantly to news of the settlement, drawing more cheers from the crowd.
‘The agreements that were reached do not correspond to our aspirations,’ he said. ‘Right Sector will not lay down arms. Right Sector will not lift the blockade of a single administrative building until our main demand is met — the resignation of Yanukovych.’ He added that he and his supporters were ‘ready to take responsibility for the further development of the revolution.’ The crowd shouted: ‘Good! Good!’
A study on the violence used to overthrow the government, by Prof. Serhiy Kudelia, a political scientist at Baylor University, says the overthrow succeeded because of “the embeddedness of violent groups” in a non-violent protest. The violence began on Dec. 1, 2013 when these violent groups attacked police with “iron chains, flares, stones and petrol bombs” and tried to ram a bulldozer through police lines. The police viciously fought back that day.
As the International Business Times (IBT) (green check) wrote about these groups at the time:
“According to a member of anti-fascist Union Ukraine, a group that monitors and fights fascism in Ukraine, ‘There are lots of nationalists here [EuroMaidan] including Nazis. They came from all over Ukraine, and they make up about 30% of protesters.
Different groups [of anarchists] came together for a meeting on the Maidan. While they were meeting, a group of Nazis came in a larger group, they had axes and baseball bats and sticks, helmets, they said it was their territory. They called the anarchists things like Jews, blacks, communists. There weren’t even any communists, that was just an insult. The anarchists weren’t expecting this and they left. People with other political views can’t stay in certain places, they aren’t tolerated,’ a member of the group continued.”
The violence by far-right groups was evidently condoned by Sen. John McCain who expressed his support for the uprising by addressing the Maidan crowd later that month. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and then U.S. ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt visited the square after the violence had broken out.
NewsGuard’s account of the events of Feb. 21, 2014 says that even though Yanukovych agreed to the early elections, “angry protestors demanded Yanukovych’s immediate resignation,” and he fled on that day after “hundreds of police guarding government buildings abandoned their posts.” NewsGuard then says “protestors took control of several government buildings the next day.”
Government Buildings Seized
Protestors occupied Kiev’s City Hall, replete with Confederate flag. (YouTube)
But protestors had already seized government buildings as early as December 2013. On Jan. 24 protestors broke into the Agriculture Ministry building in Kiev and occupied it. On the same day barricades were set up near the presidential headquarters. Government buildings in the west of the country had also been occupied. The Guardian (green check) reported on Jan. 24:
“There were dramatic developments in the west of the country on Thursday as hundreds of people forced their way into the office of the regional governor in the city of Lviv, and forced him to sign a resignation letter. Oleh Salo, a Yanukovych appointee in a city where support for the president is in the low single digits, later said he signed the letter under duress and was rescinding his resignation.
Thousands also stormed regional administration headquarters in Rivne on Thursday, breaking down doors and demanding the release of people detained in the unrest there, Unian news agency reported. In the town of Cherkasy, 125 miles south of Kiev, about 1,000 protesters took over the first two floors of the main administration building and lit fires outside the building.
Similar action took place in Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk and Khmelnytsky in western and central Ukraine, as well as parts of the north-east, the Party of the Regions said.”
Protestors had begun occupying Kiev City Hall in December, with a portrait of Ukraine’s World War II fascist leader Stepan Bandera hanging from the rafters. On the night of Feb. 21, the leader of the Neo-fascist Right Sector, Andriy Parubiy, announced that the Verkhovna Rada (parliament), the Presidential Administration, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Ministry of Internal Affairs had all come under control of the protestors.
Therefore NewsGuard has published “false content” by reporting that government buildings were occupied the day after Yanukovych fled the capital. It should print a correction.
On the day after Yanukovych fled, the Rada voted without the presence of Yanukovych’s party — the largest in the country — to impeach him after the fact of his violent overthrow. NewsGuard omitted the key fact that the impeachment vote was tainted by the absence of Yanukovych’s party and that the impeachment became largely irrelevant after violence forced him to flee the capital.
Democratically-elected leaders are removed by electoral defeat, impeachment or votes of no confidence, not by violence. NewsGuard writes that “hundreds of police guarding government buildings abandoned their posts” on the day Yanukovych was forced out, but doesn’t say why. As Jacobin (NewsGuard green check) magazine reports:
“Whatever one thinks of the Maidan protests, the increasing violence of those involved was key to their ultimate victory. In response to a brutal police crackdown, protesters began fighting with chains, sticks, stones, petrol bombs, even a bulldozer — and, eventually, firearms, all culminating in what was effectively an armed battle in February, which left thirteen police officers and nearly fifty protesters dead. The police ‘could no longer defend themselves’ from protesters’ attacks,’ writes political scientist Sergiy Kudelia, causing them to retreat, and precipitating Yanukovych’s exit.”
NewsGuard calls the events a “revolution,” yet revolutions in history have typically been against monarchs or dictators, not against democratically-elected leaders. For instance, the 1776 American Revolution, the 1789 French Revolution, the 1917 Russian Revolution, the 1952 Egyptian Revolution, the 1979 Iranian Revolution and countless others were against monarchs. Coups have been against both elected and non-elected leaders. Revolutions change political systems, usually from monarchies to republics. Ukraine’s political system was not changed, only its leader.
As a reader, Adrian E.. commented below on this article:
“When a movement that is supported by about half the population and opposed by about half the population violently overthrows a democratically elected government, this may be given different names (e.g. coup), but it is certainly not a “popular revolution”.
The Maydan movement was never supported by more than about half the Ukrainian population. It was supported by a vast majority in Western Ukraine, by very few people in the East and South of the country, with people more evenly split in the center/North. This clearly was not a case of a government that had lost public support to such a degree that there was a general consensus that it should resign. It was the case of one political camp representing about half the country that had lost the last elections imposing its will with brutal deadly violence.”
By any measure, Yanukovych’s ouster was an unconstitutional change in government. His “impeachment” without his party present for the vote came after government buildings had been seized and after violence drove him from the capital.
McCain addressing crowd in Kiev, Dec. 15, 2013. (U.S. Senate/Office of Chris Murphy/Wikimedia Commons)
In its version of these events, NewsGuard only refers to circumstantial evidence of the coup, interpreting it as U.S. “support” for a “revolution” against a democratically-elected president.
NewsGuard fails to point out that McCain, Sen. Christopher Murphy (D-CT) as well as Nuland appeared on stage in the Maidan with Oleh Tyahnybok, leader of the Neo-fascist Svoboda Party, formerly known as the Social National Party.
NewsGuard does not consider how such events would be seen in the United States if a senior Russian foreign ministry official, two leading Russian lawmakers and Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. appeared on stage with a far-right American leader to address a crowd on the Washington Mall seeking to oust an elected U.S. president. If that president were overthrown violently, would Americans think it was a Russian-backed coup?
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NewsGuard discusses Nuland’s 2013 speech in which she revealed that since 1991 the U.S. had spent $5 billion to help bring about Ukraine’s “aspirations.” What it fails to point out is that U.S. aspirations were to turn Ukraine towards the West and away from Russia. And the U.S. had work to do.
In a 2008 poll, 17 years after this U.S. effort began, and the year in which the U.S. said Ukraine would one day join NATO, 50 percent of Ukrainians actually opposed NATO membership against just 24.3 percent who favored it. A 2010 Gallup poll showed that 40 percent of Ukrainians viewed NATO as more threat than protector. Just 17 percent had the opposite view. So building up civil society through U.S.-funded NGOs to favor the West was the U.S. challenge.
NewsGuard does not mention that part of the $5 billion the U.S. spent was to help organize protests. There was genuine popular dissatisfaction with Yanukovych that the NED nurtured and trained. Jacobin reported of the 2014 events:
“US officials, unhappy with the scuttled EU deal, saw a similar chance in the Maidan protests. Just two months before they broke out, the NED’s then president, pointing to Yanukovych’s European outreach, wrote that ‘the opportunities are considerable, and there are important ways Washington could help.’
In practice, this meant funding groups like New Citizen, which the Financial Times reported ‘played a big role in getting the protest up and running,’ led by a pro-EU opposition figure. Journalist Mark Ames discovered the organization had received hundreds of thousands of dollars from US democracy promotion initiatives.”
Writing in Consortium News six days after Yanukovych’s ouster, Parry reported that over the previous year, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which funds NGOs in countries the U.S. targets for regime change, had bankrolled 65 projects in Ukraine totaling more than $20 million. Parry called it “a shadow political structure of media and activist groups that could be deployed to stir up unrest when the Ukrainian government didn’t act as desired.”
The NED, on Feb. 25, the day after the Russian invasion, deleted all projects in Ukraine it funded, which are archived here. The NED meddled in Ukrainian politics in 2004 in the so-called Orange Revolution. The Washington Post (green check) wrote in 1991 that what the C.I.A. once did in secret — destabilizing and overthrowing regimes — the NED was now doing openly.
C.I.A. or NED-led coups are never made up out of whole cloth. The U.S. works with genuine opposition movements within a country, sometimes popular uprisings, to finance, train and direct them. The U.S. has a long history of overthrowing foreign governments, the most infamous examples being Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and Chile in 1973.
In September 2013, before the Maidan uprising began, long-time NED head Carl Gerhsman called Ukraine “the biggest prize” in a Washington Post op-ed piece, and warned that “Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”
In 2016 he said the NED has been involved in Ukraine since the 1980s and he praised the “overthrow of Yanukovych.”
Nuland-Pyatt Tape Omitted
Most significantly, NewsGuard’s attempt to refute U.S. involvement in the coup omits the 2014 intercepted and leaked telephone call between Nuland and Pyatt, the then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, in which the two discuss who will make up the new government weeks before Yanukovych was overthrown.
On the leaked tape, Nuland and Pyatt talk about “midwifing” a new government; Vice President Joe Biden’s role, and setting up meetings with Ukrainian politicians to make it happen. Nuland says the prime minister should be Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and indeed he became prime minister after the coup.
At the time, the BBC (green check) wrote of the leak: “The US says that it is working with all sides in the crisis to reach a peaceful solution, noting that ‘ultimately it is up to the Ukrainian people to decide their future’. However this transcript suggests that the US has very clear ideas about what the outcome should be and is striving to achieve these goals.”
The U.S. State Department never denied the authenticity of the video, and even issued an apology to the European Union after Nuland is heard on the tape saying, “Fuck the EU.” Mainstream media at the time focused almost exclusively on that off-color remark as a distraction from the greater significance of U.S. interference in Ukraine’s internal affairs.
Why did Nuland say, “Fuck the EU”? At the time she said it, France, Germany and Poland were working for the EU on a political settlement with Russia to the Maidan crisis that would leave Yanukovych in power.
Indeed the E.U. brokered a deal with Yanukovych, who agreed to early elections by December 2014, a restoration of the 2004 Constitution and an amnesty for all protestors, clearing the way for no one to be held responsible for the violent ouster. Yanukovych announced the agreement, with E.U. officials at his side in Kiev, on Feb. 21, 2014. Later that day he was violently driven from power.
Leaving the historic role of the NED and the essential Nuland-Pyatt conversation out of its reporting is an omission of evidence by NewsGuard, typical of corporate media. Omitting crucial elements of a story changes its meaning and in this case undermines NewsGuard’s account of the events of 2014.
This is an excellent example of why Parry started Consortium News: to report on crucial information that corporate media sometimes purposely and deceptively leave out to change the meaning of a story. NewsGuard should correct its story about the coup, not Consortium News. NewsGuard invites readers to request corrections by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Likely Reasons for the Coup
U.S. enabled Yeltsin’s 1996 reelection.
Wall Street and Washington swept in after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 under a pliable Boris Yeltsin (who received direct U.S. help to win re-election in 1996) to asset-strip the formerly state-owned industries, enrich themselves and a new class of oligarchs and impoverish the former Soviet people.
The ascension of Vladimir Putin to power on New Year’s Eve 1999 gradually began to curb U.S. influence in post-Soviet Russia, especially after Putin’s 2007 Munich Security Conference speech, in which he blasted U.S. unilateral aggression, especially in Iraq.
Eventually Putin restored sovereignty over much of the Russian economy, turning Washington and Wall Street against him. (As President Joe Biden has now made clear on more than one occasion, the U.S. aim is to overthrow him.)
In his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, former U.S. national security adviser ZbigniewBrzezinski wrote:
“Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. Russia without Ukraine can still strive for imperial status, but it would then become a predominantly Asian imperial state.”
Thus U.S. “primacy,” or world dominance, which still drives Washington, is not possible without control of Eurasia, as Brzezinski argued, and that’s not possible without control of Ukraine by pushing Russia out (U.S. takeover of Ukraine in the 2014 coup) and dominating Moscow as it did when this was written in the 1990s.
Deep Western involvement in Ukrainian politics and economy never ended from those early post-Soviet days. When Yanukovych acted legally (the Rada authorized it) to reject the European Union association agreement in favor of a Russian economic package on better terms, it threatened to curtail Western economic involvement. Yanukovych became a marked man.
Yanukovych had already made Russian an official language, he had rejected NATO membership, and reversed his pro-Western predecessor’s move to glorify Nazi collaborators. Yanukovych’s predecessor, President Viktor Yuschenko, had made Ukraine’s World War II-era fascist leader Stepan Bandera a “Hero of Ukraine.”
There was genuine popular dissatisfaction among mostly Western Ukrainians with Yanukovych, which intensified and became violent after he rejected the EU deal. Within months he was overthrown.
After the Coup
The U.S.-installed government in Kiev outlawed political parties, including the Communist Party, and stripped Russian as an official language. Yanukovych’s Party of the Regions was banned in several oblasts and eventually collapsed. An American citizen became finance minister and Vice President Joe Biden became Barack Obama’s virtual viceroy in Ukraine.
Videos have emerged of Biden giving instructions to the nominal president at the time, Petro Poroshenko. By his own admission, Biden forced the resignation of Viktor Shokin, Ukraine’s prosecutor general.
Shokin testified under oath that he was about to investigate Burisma Holdings, the company on which the vice president’s son was given a lucrative board membership just months after the U.S.-backed coup.
Biden, other U.S. officials, and the media at the time lied that Shokin was removed because he was corrupt. State Dept. memos released this year and published by Just the News (green-check) actually praise Shokin for his anti-corruption work. The question of whether the leader of a foreign nation has the right to remove another country’s prosecutor was buried.
Eight days after nearly 50 anti-coup protestors in Odessa were burned to death on May 2, 2014 by far-right counter-protestors dominated by Right Sector, the coup-resisting provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbass region declared independence from Ukraine. Russia began assisting them and, after a visit to Kiev by then C.I.A. Director John Brennan, Poroshenko launched a war against the separatists that lasted eight years, killing thousands of civilians, until Russia intervened in the civil conflict in February.
After the coup, NATO began arming, training and conducting exercises with the Ukrainian military, turning it into a de facto NATO member. These were not just the interests of part of Ukraine that were being served, but those of powerful foreign actors. It was akin to a 19th century-style colonial takeover of a country.
Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former U.N. correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers, including The Montreal Gazette and The Star of Johannesburg. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London, a financial reporter for Bloomberg News and began his professional work as a 19-year old stringer for The New York Times. He can be reached at email@example.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe
The Ukrainian president addressing the G20.
I was talking to an open-minded leader of the European Parliament in Brussels ten days ago, and I listened to him tell me that the Ukrainian conflict was certainly complex, but that the most obvious thing was that Russia had invaded that country. I replied by observing that international law obliged Germany, France and Russia to implement resolution 2202, which Moscow alone had done. I continued by reminding him of the responsibility to protect the populations in case of failure of their own government. He cut me off and asked me: "If my government complains about the fate of its citizens in Russia and attacks that country, will you find that normal? Yes," I said, "if you have a Security Council resolution. Do you have one? » Disconcerted, he changed the subject. Three times I asked him if we could talk about the Ukrainian "integral nationalists". Three times he refused. We parted courteously.
The question of the responsibility to protect should have been nuanced. This principle does not allow for a war, but for a police operation, conducted with military means. That is why the Kremlin is careful not to refer to this conflict as a "war", but as a "special military operation". Both terms refer to the same facts, but "special military operation" limits the conflict. As soon as his troops entered Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin made it clear that he did not intend to annex this territory, but only to liberate the people persecuted by the Ukrainian "Nazis". In a previous long article, I pointed out that, if the expression "Nazis" is correct in the historical sense, it does not correspond to the way these people call themselves. They use the expression: "integral nationalists". Let’s remember that Ukraine is the only state in the world with an explicitly racist constitution.
The fact that international law gives Russia the upper hand does not mean that it has a blank check. Everyone must criticize the way it applies the law. Westerners still find Russia "Asian", "savage" and "brutal", even though they themselves have been far more destructive on many occasions.
Reversal of the situation
Now that the Russian and Western points of view have been clarified, it is clear that several events have prompted a Western shift.
We are entering winter, a harsh season in Central Europe. The Russian population is aware, since the Napoleonic invasion, that it cannot defend such a large country. Therefore, they learned to use the vastness of their territory and the seasons to defeat their attackers. With winter, the front is frozen for several months. Everyone can see that, contrary to the discourse that the Russians are defeated, the Russian army has liberated the Donbass and part of Novorussia.
Before winter fell, the Kremlin withdrew the liberated population living north of the Dnieper, and then withdrew its army, abandoning the part of Kershon located on the north bank of the Dnieper. For the first time, a natural border, the Dnieper River, marks a border between the territories controlled by Kiev and those controlled by Moscow. However, during the interwar period, it was the absence of natural borders that brought down all successive powers in Ukraine. Now Russia is in a position to hold on.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Ukraine has been able to count on unlimited aid from the United States and its allies. However, the mid-term elections in the USA have removed the majority of the Biden administration in the House of Representatives. From now on, Washington’s support will be limited. Similarly, the European Union is also finding its limits. Its populations do not understand the rising cost of energy, the closure of certain factories and the impossibility of heating normally.
Finally, in some circles of power, after admiring the talents of the actor Volodymyr Zelensky as a communicator, they begin to wonder about the rumors about his sudden fortune. In eight months of war, he became a billionaire. The imputation is unverifiable, but the scandal of the Pandora Papers (2021), makes it credible. Is it necessary to bleed to the four veins not to see the donations arrive in Ukraine, but disappear in offshore companies?
The Anglo-Saxons (i.e. London and Washington) wanted to turn the G20 in Bali into an anti-Russian summit. They had first lobbied for Moscow to be excluded from the Group, as they had succeeded in doing at the G8. But if Russia had been absent, China, by far the world’s largest exporter, would not have come. So it was Frenchman Emmanuel Macron who was responsible for convincing the other guests to sign a bloody declaration against Russia. For two days, Western news agencies assured that the matter was in the bag. But in the end, the final statement, while summarizing the Western point of view, closed the debate with these words: "There were other points of view and different assessments of the situation and the sanctions. Recognizing that the G20 is not the forum to resolve security issues, we know that security issues can have significant consequences for the global economy. » In other words, for the first time, the West has failed to impose its worldview on the rest of the planet.
Worse: the West imposed a video intervention by Volodymyr Zelensky as they had done on August 24 and September 27 at the United Nations Security Council. However, while Russia had tried in vain to oppose it in September in New York, it accepted it in November in Bali. At the Security Council, France, which held the presidency, violated the rules of procedure to give the floor to a head of state by video. On the contrary, at the G20, Indonesia held an absolutely neutral position and was not likely to accept giving him the floor without Russian authorization. This was obviously a trap. President Zelensky, who does not know how these bodies work, fell into it.
After having caricatured Moscow’s action, he called for its exclusion from the... "G19". G19 ". In other words, the little Ukrainian gave an order on behalf of the Anglo-Saxons to the heads of state, prime ministers and foreign ministers of the 20 largest world powers and was not heard. In reality, the dispute between these leaders was not about Ukraine, but about whether or not to submit to the American world order. All the Latin American, African and four Asian participants said that this domination was over; that the world is now multipolar.
The Westerners must have felt the ground shake under their feet. They were not the only ones. Volodymyr Zelensky saw, for the first time, that his sponsors, until now absolute masters of the world, were letting him down without hesitation in order to maintain their position for a while longer.
It is likely that Washington was in league with Moscow. The United States realizes that things are turning against it on a global scale. It will have no hesitation in blaming the Ukrainian regime. William Burns, director of the CIA, has already met Sergei Narychkin, the director of the SVR, in Turkey. These meetings follow those of Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Advisor, with several Russian officials. However, Washington has nothing to negotiate in Ukraine. Two months before the conflict in Ukraine, I explained that the core of the problem had nothing to do with this country, nor with NATO. It is essentially about the end of the unipolar world.
So it is not surprising that a few days after the G20 slap in the face, Volodymyr Zelensky contradicted his American sponsors for the first time in public. He accused Russia of having launched a missile at Poland and maintained his words when the Pentagon indicated that he was wrong, it was a Ukrainian counter-missile. The idea, for him. was to continue to act in line with the Treaty of Warsaw, concluded on April 22, 1920, by Symon Petlioura’s integral nationalists with the regime of Piłsudski; to push Poland to go to war against Russia. This was the second time Washington rang a bell in his ears. He did not hear it.
Probably, these contradictions will no longer manifest themselves in public. Western positions will soften. Ukraine has been warned: in the coming months it will have to negotiate with Russia. President Zelensky can plan his escape now, because his bruised compatriots will not forgive him for deceiving them.
More bad news: the newly created U.S. coordination center in Stuttgart for Ukraine operations as a landmark on the way to WWIII
Earlier today I received an email from my good friend Professor of Law at the University of Illinois Francis A. Boyle regarding the creation in Stuttgart of a new U.S. coordination center for war operations in Ukraine headed by a 3-star general. The news item seems to have been sidelined this past week by Western mainstream coverage of the Russian withdrawal from Kherson and entry of Ukrainian forces into that city. However, judging by Boyle’s interpretation, there is every reason to put a spotlight on this issue and to seek the broadest possible discussion in Alternative News electronic and print media.
I offer the following quote from Boyle’s email with his permission:
The story below is a pure cover story by the Pentagon. You do not need a 3 Star General and a Staff of 300 to keep tabs on U.S. Weapons in Ukraine. This is a War Command to wage war against Russia. The last time I dealt personally with a 3 Star General was when I lectured at West Point on “Nuclear Deterrence” in their Senior Conference on that subject in front of, among others, the 3 Star General in Charge of War Operations at the Pentagon. The Pentagon puts a 3 Stars General in Charge of War Operations—not Inventory. And you do not need a Headquarters Staff of 300 to do an Audit. It’s a War Headquarters Staff. We are going to war against Russia unless the American People can figure out some way to stop it!
Francis A. Boyle
Professor of Law
STUTTGART, Germany — A three-star general will lead a new Army headquarters in Germany that will include about 300 U.S. service members responsible for coordinating security assistance for Ukraine, a senior U.S. military official said this week.
I refer those unfamiliar with Francis Boyle to his brief biography in the University of Illinois website:
https://law.illinois.edu/faculty-research/faculty-profiles/francis-boyle/ To that I can add, that his ‘political science’ studies for the Masters and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard were primarily in Russian/Soviet affairs, and that in his time at Harvard he worked under many of the same professors as did I. In this sense, Boyle is a well qualified Russia expert, even if his primary listing at Illinois is as defender of human rights. He is also particularly noteworthy this year for his efforts to promote among several key Congressmen the articles of impeachment against President Biden that he has drafted; the charges – waging undeclared war on Russia in violation of the Constitution. So far that has gained little traction, but when the new Congress with Republican majority takes its seats in 2023 the prospects of finding sponsors may be significantly improved.
Notwithstanding the worrisome or alarming news above, I close this essay with a glimmer of hope that the world has not yet gone completely mad. From my volunteer translator in Germany, I have learned about the start of what should be a nationwide “Ami Go Home” movement in the Federal Republic. It will begin with mass demonstrations in the East German city of Leipzig on 26 November. The protests are inspired by the thinking of Oskar Lafonteine, a German politician who held leading positions in the SPD and later in Die Linke: namely the notion that it is high time for the United States occupation forces to leave Germany so that the country may recover its sovereignty. Those new to German politics may more easily identify Lafonteine as the husband of the eloquent Opposition member of the Bundestag Sahra Wagenknecht. It behooves me to add that per the advice of my translator when he forwarded to me news about the ‘Ami Go Home’ demonstration that the actual organizers are not on the German Left but, on the contrary, on the Hard Right. This interpretation has been reconfirmed by a well informed reader living in Berlin. Call this yet another ‘impersonation’ or imposter phenomenon if you will. We are living through interesting times.
Recently, I argued that Russia was provoked into beginning the ‘special military operation’ (SMO) by a series of events stretching from initial NATO claims of its goal to expand to Ukraine, NATO-Ukrainian cooperation, the Western-cultivated and ex post facto fully supported Maidan revolt (despite the neofascist Ukrainian element’s false flag snipers terrorist attack) to which Putin responded by annexing Crimea, Western support for Kiev’s attack on Donbass (including civilians), deeper Western and NATO involvement in Ukraine, Kiev’s failure to implement its obligations under the Minsk Donbass peace accords, and much else [see Gordon M. Hahn, Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West and the ‘New Cold War’ (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland Books, 2018); https://gordonhahn.com/2022/02/24/coercive-diplomacy-phase-2-war-and-iron-curtain-descended/; https://gordonhahn.com/2016/01/21/report-the-russian-american-reset-nato-expansion-and-the-making-of-the-ukrainian-crisis/; https://gordonhahn.com/2016/03/09/the-real-snipers-massacre-ukraine-february-2014-updatedrevised-working-paper/; and https://www.academia.edu/37784742/Shooting_of_Maidan_Protesters_from_Maidan_Controlled_Locations_Video_Appendix_C_2018_?email_work_card=title%5D. As far as I am concerned, the ‘West/NATO expansion provoked the Ukrainian crisis and war’ is an incontrovertible fact.
More recently, I also argued, Putin decided to call off coercive diplomacy begun in spring 2021 and escalated in autumn through January 2021 by massing tropps at the Ukrainian border, when the West rejected Moscow’s appeals to end NATO expansion and sign a draft treaty on security agreements for Kiev and a European security architecture (https://gordonhahn.com/2022/01/31/putins-coercive-diplomacy/). The West’s rejection was accompanied by a major escalation in the Ukrainian military attacks along the Donbass line of contact and a threat by Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy to abandon the Budapest Memorandum, implying an attempt to acquire nuclear weapons (https://gordonhahn.com/2022/02/24/coercive-diplomacy-phase-2-war-and-iron-curtain-descended/). Zelensky said at the annual meeting of the Munich Security Conference on February 19, 2022: “I, as president, will do it for the first time. But Ukraine and I are doing it for the last time. I am launching consultations within the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has been asked to convene them. If they do not happen again or if their results do not guarantee the security of our country, Ukraine will have the right to think that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and that all the comprehensive decisions of 1994 are being questioned” (“Speech by Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the 58th Munich Security Conference”, by Volodymyr Zelensky, Voltaire Network, 19 February 2022). The Munich conference is attended by all the leaders of the NATO alliance and other parties interested in European security issues, and yet not one Western leader questioned the appropriateness of what would be a violation not just of the Budapest Memorandum but of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. That these immediate provocations were a direct cause of Putin’s decision to begin the SMO is not possible to prove, but the thesis is highly plausible if not likely a fact. Putin responded to Zelenskiy’s nuclear demache, saying that the only thing Ukraine needs is a uranium enrichment system, but this technical issue “is not an insoluble problem” for Ukraine, especially given the support Kiev enjoys from some nuclear powers (www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/putin-says-minsk-agreement-on-ukraine-exists-no-more/2510573). Incidentally, this is not only pertinent to Putin’s February decision but also provides some context for the struggle surrounding the Zaporozhe Nuclear Power Plant.
Now new evidence suggests that perhaps, perhaps, the West and Kiev intentionally or not engaged in additional provocations that prompted Putin’s SMO on 24 February 2022. For example, former President Petro Poroshenko has suggested that Kiev never intended to follow through on the Minsk accords and sought only to buy time for Ukraine to strengthen its military through training and weapons supplied by the West for an offensive to take back Donbass and Crimea. In a June interview to Radio Free Europe’s Ukrainian language service and the German Deutsche Welle, former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the Minsk accords were intended to “delay the war” and “create powerful armed forces”: “Our goal was to, first, stop the threat, or at least to delay the war – to secure eight years to restore economic growth and create powerful armed forces” (www.bignewsnetwork.com/news/272589263/minsk-deal-was-used-to-buy-time-ukraines-poroshenko). Then in an August 2022 interview advisor to Zelenskiy and his Office of the President of Ukraine, Aleksei Arestovich revealed that in December 2021 the Ukrainian armed forces deployed additional troops to the Donbass contact line under the cover of a training exercise “despite the damage (the deployment) did to the economy” (https://t.me/UkraineHumanRightsAbuses/8504). Perhaps this is what led Zelenskiy to tell the Ukrainian tntelligence services a month before Putin’s SMO began the following: “”We have learned to deter and counter external aggression quite effectively. I am convinced that the time has come to move to offensive actions to defend our national interests” (www.president.gov.ua/en/news/zovnishnya-rozvidka-vidigraye-vazhlivu-rol-u-protidiyi-zagro-72517). Then throw into the mix the aforementioned exponential increase in firing across the contact line undertaken by Ukrainian forces first and Zelenskiy’s threat to pursue nuclear capability.
I am saying ‘provoked Putin intentionally or not’ because we do not know what Moscow knew about these new deployments. Moscow did claim that Ukraine was preparing an attack on Donbass, especially after the SMO began, even claiming that it discovered documents proving Kiev was planning an attack. But it remains unclear whether these Russian claims pertain to the newly revealed secret depoloyment. Certainly, Moscow would had Donbass and Ukraine crawling with intelligence operatives and well-covered with electronic and satellite data collection and would likely have observed the ‘secret’ deployment. Then the issue might be whether Kiev and/or the West wanted Moscow to uncover the deployment, so as to provoke Putin into attacking. Or perhaps they did not want this, but Russian intelligence nevertheless did discover it, which along with other immediate challenges noted above prompted Putin’s decision to begin the SMO.
If the provocation theory is correct than it would also be correct that the West wanted Putin to invade, and if that is so then it would be logical that the West would want the war to continue. We now know that the West directly intervened with Zelenskiy to prevent Russia and Ukraine from finalizing a tentative agreement that would have ended the war in April. A recent article in the establishment flafship foreign policy journal Foreign Affairs written by two rusologists with deep ties to the ruling Democrat Party-state revealed this: “According to multiple former senior U.S. officials we spoke with, in April 2022, Russian and Ukrainian negotiators appeared to have tentatively agreed on the outlines of a negotiated interim settlement: Russia would withdraw to its position on February 23, when it controlled part of the Donbas region and all of Crimea, and in exchange, Ukraine would promise not to seek NATO membership and instead receive security guarantees from a number of countries” (https://archive.ph/kxfbG and https://raheemkassam.substack.com/p/russia-and-ukraine-came-to-peace?fbclid=IwAR0n03z7v-tJOjIOFC4_eXZCjvzyJbwzcgjycFbFigo9a9LV_FOA439_o74). This is one piece of evidence that the West wants the war to continue. NATO expansion and weakening Russia trump international security and Ukrainians’ well-being. The West’s massive supply of weapons, intelligence, military expertise, training, strategic planning, and financial support and Washington’s and Brussels’s lack of any effort in the diplomatic sphere to encourage negotiations further demonstrate that the West wants the war to continue.
At the same time, there is reason to believe that Zelenskiy himself may have been manipulated by the West, there is a new video circulating that shows French President Emmanuel Macron in discussion over the phone with Zelenskiy as the Russian invasion began on February 24th. Zelenskiy can be heard pleading with Macron to organize US President Joe Bden and European leaders to make a phone call to Putin and urge him to stop the military action, claiming that if this is done, then Putin “will stop” (https://t.me/stranaua/62507). On the other hand, Zelenskiy’s suspicions regarding Biden’s and other US officials’ claims of an imminent invasion and reports that Russia engaged in a massive bribery and recruiting campaign among Ukrainians before the war, which would have almost certainly led to some reporting the effort to the authorities and tipping off the possibility of a Russian invasion suggest that the Ukrainian leadership should have been well aware of the likelihood of an attack. Yet Zelenskiy showed no desire to negotiate with Putin on the key issues Moscow sought to have addressed: NATO expansion, direct talks between Kiev and the Donbass, the incomplete Minsk peace process, and so on.
In sum, there is some reason to believe that the escalation of the Donbass war ordered by Putin in February has a more interesting pre-history and causal chain than might be assumed even those who understand that Putin did not wake up one morning and decide to seize Ukraine in some master plan to ‘reestablish the Soviet Union’ and other such delusions. At any rate, the new war’s start needs more investigation and its origins are likely only to be revealed many years from now.
About the Author
Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, http://www.canalyt.com and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, www.cetisresearch.org. Websites: Russian and Eurasian Politics, gordonhahn.com and gordonhahn.academia.edu
Dr. Hahn is the author of the new book: Russian Tselostnost’: Wholeness in Russian Thought, Culture, History, and Politics (Europe Books, 2022). He has authored five previous, well-received books: The Russian Dilemma: Security, Vigilance, and Relations with the West from Ivan III to Putin (McFarland, 2021); Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the “New Cold War” (McFarland, 2018); The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland, 2014), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), and Russia’s Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction, 2002). He also has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media.
Dr. Hahn taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and was a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, and the Hoover Institution.
Some readers have commented in direct emails to me that they have taken comfort from my writings insofar as I have been a moderate voice, avoiding alarmism over the often troublesome daily news in and around the Russian war with Ukraine, or more properly speaking today, Russia’s proxy war with NATO in and about Ukraine.
For this very reason, I hesitated whether to share with readers the deep pessimism that overcame me a couple of days ago over our chances of avoiding nuclear Armageddon. This followed my watching the latest Solovyov political talk show on Russian state television. I have used this show regularly as a litmus test of the mood of Russian social and political elites: that mood has turned black.
Whereas in the past, going back six months or more, I had reported on the open contempt which leading and highly responsible Russian academics from university circles and think tanks were showing for the American political leadership in their statements on the political talk shows, this contempt has moved into an actionable phase, by which I mean that serious, God-fearing Russians are so furious with the rubbish propaganda coming out of Washington, repeated with bullhorns in Europe that if given the chance they would personally “press the button” and unleash nuclear attacks on the United States and Britain, in that order notwithstanding the possibility, even probability of a return strike, which, however enfeebled, would be devastating to their own country. That is to say, deterrence as a policy is fast losing its psychological impact on the Russian side of the argument.
Whatever the words of the Biden Administration about nuclear war being ‘off the table,’ America’s aggressive and threatening behavior, including the ongoing ‘training in nuclear weapons’ currently going on in Europe under U.S. direction, has made rational and very serious Russians ready to give it a try.
One of the most sober-minded international affairs experts to appear on the Solovyov show, Yevgeny Satanovsky, president of the Institute of the Near East think tank, contained his rage with some difficulty, saying only that while he had once held some sympathy for the United States, he would see its utter destruction now with little regret; he left no mention where his feet are pointed when he added that he could say no more on air for fear that he will be censored and his words removed from the video.
For these reasons, I have given to this essay addressed to the Collective West, and in particular to the fomenters of world disorder in Washington and London, a title that fits the current situation.
As we have seen from even before the launch of the ‘special military operation,’ Russian talk programs identify by name individuals in the Biden team whose outstanding stupidity, obtuseness and rank ignorance they find unbearable, with the likes of Antony Blinken, Jake Sullivan and Lloyd Austin among those coming in for special mention. We are left with the impression that when Biden calls in his advisers to the Oval Office, he, senile dimwit that he is, is the bright light in the room. The Russians conclude from this that they have no one to negotiate with.
Now the naming of idiots in high places carries over to all discussion of European Union and British leaders. The denunciation of incompetence, rank stupidity and, yes, neo-colonialist or fascist mindsets among European leaders was well reflected in the latest Solovyov show. The most discussed whipping boy was the EU’s commissioner on external action, Josep Borrell, who seems to be speaking to the world daily and acknowledges no limits on what he may proclaim, as if it were official EU policy in defense as well as diplomacy.
The Solovyov show put up on screen a brief video recording of Borrell expounding smugly on Europe’s privileged position as ‘a garden of liberal democracy, good economic prospects and social solidarity’ which is surrounded by ‘the jungle.’ That jungle reference fits in well, Solovyov remarked, with the colonialist mindset of Rudyard Kipling and is deeply offensive to the Rest of the World, of which Russia is a part. More to the point, Borrell was also notorious in Russia this past week for his statement that any use by Russia of nuclear weapons in Ukraine would be met by a massive non-nuclear attack from Europe which would ‘annihilate’ the Russian army. However, Borrell was not alone in the stocks: other European leaders who were decried for their stupid policies this past week included German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emanuel Macron.
So you have no bomb shelter? Then, as the Russians said decades ago, it is high time to throw a bed sheet over your shoulders and slowly walk to the nearest cemetery.
One of the two latest fake news stories being disseminated simultaneously and ubiquitously in Western major media this past week is that Russia is considering using against Ukraine ‘tactical nuclear weapons,’ meaning warheads with a destructive force equivalent to the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombs mounted on cruise or medium range ballistic missiles. Our print and electronic media speculate on the numbers of warheads Russia currently possesses (2,000 or more), as if that would make any difference in an assault on Ukraine.
Rubbish say the Russians on Solovyov’s show: we have no need of nuclear arms to finish off the Ukrainians. The only nuclear forces we would deploy in the current situation are strategic arms, and they are directed against….Washington with the help of the Sarmat and Poseidon delivery systems.
The other major fake news disseminated massively by Western media in recent days was the allegation that the Russians are seeking to freeze the Ukrainians to death by their strikes against power generation infrastructure. Images of Stalingrad were evoked by our broadcasters. A similar freeze is said to be inflicted on Western Europe by the cut-off of Russian energy supplies to the EU.
More rubbish say the panelists on the Solovyov program. The attack on the electricity grid in Ukraine is not directed against civilians per se; it is intended to halt rail deliveries of advanced weapons systems and munitions coming into Ukraine at the Polish border and being moved by train to the fronts in the east and south of the country. Without these inputs, the Ukrainian army will be kaput and the war can come to an early conclusion with the capitulation of Kiev. As regards the EU, whatever chill out may be coming this winter is due solely to the unprofessional and ignorant decisions of the Commission on imports of Russian hydrocarbons that have been blindly followed by the Member States without due consideration of consequences for their own populations.
The Collective West speaks of ‘sham’ referendums in the four Ukrainian oblasts that have now been reintegrated into (or annexed by, depending on your politics) the Russian Federation. In this spirit, in the middle of the past week the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a U.S. sponsored resolution refusing to recognize the legality of this annexation. Among those who voted against Russia were such prominent ‘friendly states’ as Serbia and Hungary. One hundred forty states voted with the United States; four states, including the pariah regimes in Venezuela and North Korea, joined Russia in voting ‘nyet,’ and thirty-five states abstained.
The United States trumpeted this victory at the UN over the mischievous and rules-breaking Russians. EU chief of diplomacy Borrell was also gloating, though he expressed regret that 20% of the member states had not voted for the resolution.
The Russians, for their part, insist that this vote was a sham, given the carrots and sticks that U.S. and European diplomats used to get the results desired. Blackmail of all kinds was applied, say the Russians. Morever, the number of states in each tally tells only part of the story: among the 35 abstaining countries were India and China, which between them alone account for 35% of humanity.
Meanwhile, over in Europe, on the next day the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe meeting in Strasbourg adopted a resolution condemning Russia for its alleged aggression against Ukraine with a bill of particulars several pages long and including a call for the 46 member states to declare Russia a ‘terrorist state’ as Zelensky had requested of them. The vote as published was said to be 99 for the resolution, 1 opposed. No mention was made in the announcement of vote results that the actual number of deputies in PACE is 306. The point was not missed by the Solovyov panel, who here too cried ‘foul.’
Putting aside these two votes that garnered so much attention in the propagandistic Western media, there were other international developments bearing on the relative standing of Russia in the global community which Western media chose to ignore, but Russia media, featured prominently.
I think in particular of the three days of summitry in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. The first of these gatherings brought together 27 heads of state from across Asia, running from Israel and Palestine, Qatar and the Emirates in the west to Korea in the east. Let us remember that a goodly number of the participants were from countries that voted against Russia in the UN General Assembly. Their presence in Astana gave the lie to the notion that they were expelling Russia from polite society.
The key personality at the meeting of 27 was clearly Vladimir Putin. Film footage on Russian television showed him in animated conversation with these leaders in group and bilateral formats. Of these the most significant was likely the face-to-face with Turkish president Erdogan, during which the two discussed immediate steps to implement the Russian proposal that a new pipeline be added to Turk Stream so as to greatly increase possibilities for delivering gas to Europe by this southern route through the Balkans. In this concept, Turkey will become a major gas hub, which represents fulfillment of a long-held dream by the Turkish leader.
In its capacity as hub, Turkey would be able to mix Russian gas with flows from Azerbaijan and possibly later from Turkmenistan, so that the product sold as a Turkish export would be bullet proof against American or European sanctions. The additional line could probably be laid down within a year, that is to say, more quickly than the problematic repairs to the damaged Nord Stream 1 pipelines.
The next day in Astana, another summit was held between leaders of the Community of Independent States. This reduced circle of members was also of great importance insofar as it confirms Russia’s standing as facilitator of diplomatic solutions between member states experiencing armed conflict with one another, the Azeris and Armenians being first in line. And the final summit, among the leaders of Central Asian republics with Russia had yet another important agenda: agreeing security measures to defend against spillover into their region of the developing civil war in Afghanistan, where the U.S. and Britain are aiding extremist groups seeking to overthrow Taliban rule. From the body language of leaders, it would seem that Putin’s ear was much in demand. Relations with Kazakhstan leader Tokaev appeared to be solid once again after a trying period of several months earlier in the year.
In considering the meaning of these gatherings, I think that a remark made several days ago on another Solovyov show and with regard to the decision of the Saudis and Gulf States to snub the insistent demands of Biden that oil production be raised: the decision to make common cause with Russia came not out of pity for the weak but out of Realism, namely the assessment that Russia will win the military contest with NATO/Ukraine. These rulers in Opec, like the rulers who came to Astana this past week, back winners not prospective losers.
If I may draw any positive conclusions from the otherwise bleak analysis in the foregoing, they are that Russia is successfully resisting massive U.S. and E.U. pressures, and that the world is realigning before our eyes in a more multi-polar and democratic direction. And yet, the fears of miscalculations on one side or another in this tense and unparalleled contest mean Armageddon constantly threatens in the background.
Dear readers, to my great regret, I am once again duty bound to walk the streets bearing the sign ‘The End of the World is Nigh’.
I watched the news digest program Sixty Minutes yesterday on Russian state television’s smotrim.ru platform. Before turning the microphone over to the panelists in talk show format, the first 30 minutes of the show presented a hair-raising video montage of excerpts from US, German, European, British news reporting about dirty bomb accusations, about the current exercises of the aircraft carrier George Bush Sr. in the Eastern Med and its loud message to Mr Putin about nuclear attack capabilities, about the 2400 American ground assault troops just delivered to Romania and placed at the border with Moldova, ready to move in there and, one may safely assume, to continue up into Ukraine to face off with Russians around Odessa – Nikolaev at a moment’s notice. Well, the impression of this pending escalation was overwhelmingly that we are on the cusp of the war to end all wars. The US is game for it, whatever Biden mutters to the contrary reading from his teleprompter. The Russians are game for it. And so here we go!
On a less dramatic note but one from the same musical composition, I have just felt obliged to add a Postscript to my last essay on Rushi Sunak, noting that I was wrong about the kind of marching orders he has from the City of London: while he replaced most of the Truss cabinet ministers, he has retained Ben Wallace at Defense. Note that Wallace is calling for large increases in defense spending to support Britain’s contribution to the Ukrainian armed forces at the same time that Sunak is about to wield the knife on social services in the name of a balanced budget and austerity in times of inflation. The Sunak premiership will not last a year, assuming we have a year ahead of us before all hell breaks loose. He shares with Macron a background in working for US international bankers and the fact of being the youngest head of government in his respective country in two centuries. He also apparently shares the status of political lightweight, but unlike Macron, his position is very fragile because of British constitutional practices. I say that these developments fall in line with the general musical composition, because they show that the marching orders he had received from those who installed him in power, the City of London, are as ideologically driven as the newspaper they all read daily, the viciously anti-Russian Financial Times. And so I conclude that in the U.K., too, Capital is as removed from the real world as the lightweight and incompetent politicians who rule over us on the Continent.
What I cannot understand is how India, China and other big, serious players on the world stage do not take note that the rising escalation in the Russia-NATO confrontation and the lurch towards nuclear exchange will mean the end of life on the planet, their lives as well as ours. Why are they all silent? And where is the United Nations before the looming Armageddon? When General Assembly votes are dictated by one global hegemon and its lackeys, the U.N.’s relevance to keeping the peace is vitiated.
The avoidable tragedy of WWI is something that is foremost in my thoughts every time I stay in my Pushkin apartment outside Petersburg. We live 200 meters away from an entrance to the Catherine Palace park and less than a kilometer from the separate palace which Nicholas II used as a family home. Each time there I wonder to myself how they could have been so foolish as to throw European civilization to the winds, and, as regards the tsarist family, to throw away their own lives. Now I see similar foolishness daily watching the news, whether it is Russian news or Western mainstream broadcasters. I see the growing likelihood of our collective suicide in the weeks if not months before us.
Among patriotic Russians, there has long been a lot of criticism about the way the ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine has been waged. People say that Putin has been too soft on the Ukrainians, that he should have destroyed the energy infrastructure in the first days of March, without waiting seven months and allowing the escalation to reach its present critical point. However, that is to ignore the political dimension of war making. And it is to ignore the reality that public opinion is a major restraint on what its President can or cannot do, irrespective of constitutional provisions and supposed authoritarianism at the top.
The Russian public was not ready to accept an all-out war on Ukraine in February. The personal, familial and historic ties binding the Russian and Ukrainian peoples together were simply too strong. Russians, including those in power, could hold out the hope that once the campaign ended, the sides would kiss and make up. It took all this time, it took the crossing of all Russian red lines in terms of attacks on the Russian homeland by artillery and rockets from across the border with Ukraine, it took the destruction of the Nord Stream pipelines and the terrorist attack on the Kerch bridge for the Russian people to be psychologically prepared to murder Ukrainians by the tens of thousands of soldiers on the battlefield as you do in any normal war and to inflict great hardships on the civilian population.
However, the Kremlin cannot be let off so easily for its share of the blame as the world teeters towards nuclear war. I find it incredible that the professional intelligence analyst Vladimir Putin, whom all of our biographers describe only in relation to his KGB career, could have allowed himself to be so misled by his own intelligence advisers about Ukrainian capabilities and intentions before he decided to go in and denazify, demilitarize Ukraine on 24 February. That was a miscalculation of colossal proportions that resulted in serious military setbacks in the opening weeks of the war, which in turn emboldened United States and NATO decision-makers to go for the jugular and finally ‘take out’ Russia. I will say no more.
Russia’s war with Ukraine is first and foremost a tragedy for the people of both countries, especially those who live—and die—in the battle zones. The priority for humanity, though apparently not for the political class, is to encourage Moscow and Kyiv to stop killing men, women and children and negotiate a peace deal.
Beyond the immediate confines of the conflict, the war is also seen by some as representative of an alleged clash between great powers and, perhaps, between civilisations. All wars are momentous, but the ramifications of Ukrainian war are already global.
Consequently, there is a perception that it is the focal point of a confrontation between two distinct models of global governance. The NATO-led alliance of the Western nations continues to push the unipolar, G7, international rules-based order (IRBO). It is opposed, some say, by the Russian and Chinese-led BRICS and the G20-based multipolar world order.
In this 3 part series we will explore these issues and consider if it is tenable to place our faith in the emerging multipolar world order.
There are very few redeeming features of the unipolar world order, that’s for sure. It is a system that overwhelmingly serves capital and few people other than a “parasite class” of stakeholder capitalist eugenicists. This has led many disaffected Westerners to invest their hopes in the promise of the multipolar world order:
Many have increasingly come to terms with the reality that today’s multipolar system led by Russia and China has premised itself upon the defense of international law and national sovereignty as outlined in the UN Charter. [. . .] Putin and Xi Jinping have [. . .] made their choice to stand for win-win cooperation over Hobbesian Zero Sum thinking. [. . .] [T]heir entire strategy is premised upon the UN Charter.
If only that were so! Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear to be the case. But even if it were true, Putin and Xi Jinping basing “their entire strategy” upon the UN Charter, would be cause for concern, not relief.
For the globalist forces that see nation-states as squares on the grand chessboard and that regard leaders like Putin, Biden and Xi Jinping as accomplices, the multipolar world order is manna from heaven. They have spent more than a century trying to centralise global power. The power of individual nation-states at least presents the possibility of some decentralisation. The multipolar world order finally ends all national sovereignty and delivers true global governance.
We need to distinguish between the ideological concept of “world order” and the reality. This will help us identify where “world order” is an artificially imposed construct.
Authoritarian power, wielded over populations, territory and resources, restricted by physical and political geography, dictates the “world order.” The present order is largely the product of hard-nosed geopolitics, but it also reflects the various attempts to impose a global order.
The struggle to manage and mitigate the consequences of geopolitics is evident in the history of international relations. For nearly 500 years nation-states have sought to co-exist as sovereign entities. Numerous systems have been devised to seize control of what would otherwise be anarchy. It is very much to the detriment of humanity that anarchy has not been allowed to flourish.
In 1648, the two bilateral treaties that formed the Peace of Westphalia concluded the 30 Years War (or Wars). Those negotiated settlements arguably established the precept of the territorial sovereignty within the borders of the nation-state.
This reduced, but did not end, the centralised authoritarian power of the Holy Roman Empire (HRE). Britannica notes:
The Peace of Westphalia recognized the full territorial sovereignty of the member states of the empire.
This isn’t entirely accurate. That so-called “full territorial sovereignty” delineated regional power within Europe and the HRE, but full sovereignty wasn’t established.
The Westphalian treaties created hundreds of principalities that were formerly controlled by the central legislature of the HRE, the Diet. These new, effectively federalised principalities still paid taxes to the emperor and, crucially, religious observance remained a matter for the empire to decide. The treaties also consolidated the regional power of the Danish, Swedish, and French states but the Empire itself remained intact and dominant.
It is more accurate to say that the Peace of Westphalia somewhat curtailed the authoritarian power of the HRE and defined the physical borders of some nation states. During the 20th century, this led to the popular interpretation of the nation-state as a bulwark against international hegemonic power, despite that never having been entirely true.
Consequently, the so-called “Westphalian model” is largely based upon a myth. It represents an idealised version of the world order, suggesting how it could operate rather than describing how it does.
Signing of the Peace of Westphalia, in Münster 1648, painting by Gerard Ter Borch
If nation-states really were sovereign and if their territorial integrity were genuinely respected, then the Westphalian world order would be pure anarchy. This is the ideal upon which the UN is supposedly founded because, contrary to another ubiquitous popular myth, anarchy does not mean “chaos.” Quite the opposite.
Anarchy is exemplified by Article 2.1 of the UN Charter:
The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.
The word “anarchy” is an abstraction of the classical Greek “anarkhos,” meaning “rulerless.” This is derived from the privative prefix “an” (without) in conjunction with “arkhos” (leader or ruler). Literally translated, “anarchy” means “without rulers”—what the UN calls “sovereign equality.”
A Westphalian world order of sovereign nation-states, each observing the “equality” of all others while adhering to the non-aggression principle, is a system of global, political anarchy. Unfortunately, that is not the way the current UN “world order” functions, nor has there ever been any attempt to construct such an order. What a shame.
Within the League of Nations and subsequent UN system of practical “world order,”—a world order allegedly built upon the sovereignty of nations—equality exists in theory only. Through empire, colonialism, neocolonialism—that is, through economic, military, financial and monetary conquest, coupled with the debt obligations imposed upon targeted nations—global powers have always been able to dominate and control lesser ones.
National governments, if defined in purely political terms, have never been the only source of authority behind the efforts to construct world order. As revealed by Antony C. Sutton and others, private corporate power has aided national governments in shaping “world order.”
Neither Hitler’s rise to power nor the Bolshevik Revolution would have occurred as they did, if at all, without the guidance of the Wall Street financiers. The bankers’ global financial institutions and extensive international espionage networks were instrumental in shifting global political power.
These private-sector “partners” of government are the “stakeholders” we constantly hear about today. The most powerful among them are fully engaged in “the game” described by Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard.
Brzezinski recognised that the continental landmass of Eurasia was the key to genuine global hegemony:
This huge, oddly shaped Eurasian chess board—extending from Lisbon to Vladivostok—provides the setting for “the game.” [. . .] [I]f the middle space rebuffs the West, becomes an assertive single entity [. . .] then America’s primacy in Eurasia shrinks dramatically. [. . .] That mega-continent is just too large, too populous, culturally too varied, and composed of too many historically ambitious and politically energetic states to be compliant toward even the most economically successful and politically pre-eminent global power. [. . .] Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. [. . .] [I]t would then become a predominantly Asian imperial state.
The “unipolar world order” favoured by the Western powers, often referred to as the “international rules-based order” or the “international rules-based system,” is another attempt to impose order. This “unipolar” model enables the US and its European partners to exploit the UN system to claim legitimacy for their games of empire. Through it, the transatlantic alliance has used its economic, military and financial power to try to establish global hegemony.
In 2016, Stewart Patrick, writing for the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a foreign policy think tank, published World Order: What, Exactly, are the Rules? He described the post-WWII “international rules-based order” (IRBO):
What sets the post-1945 Western order apart is that it was shaped overwhelmingly by a single power [a unipolarity], the United States. Operating within the broader context of strategic bipolarity, it constructed, managed, and defended the regimes of the capitalist world economy. [. . .] In the trade sphere, the hegemon presses for liberalization and maintains an open market; in the monetary sphere, it supplies a freely convertible international currency, manages exchange rates, provides liquidity, and serves as a lender of last resort; and in the financial sphere, it serves as a source of international investment and development.
The idea that the aggressive market acquisition of crony capitalism somehow represents the “open markets” of the “capitalist world economy” is risible. It is about as far removed from free market capitalism as it is possible to be. Under crony capitalism, the US dollar, as the preferred global reserve currency, is not “freely convertible.” Exchange rates are manipulated and liquidity is debt for nearly everyone except the lender. “Investment and development” by the hegemon means more profits and control for the hegemon.
The notion that a political leader, or anyone for that matter, is entirely bad or good, is puerile. The same consideration can be given to nation-states, political systems or even models of world order. The character of a human being, a nation or a system of global governance is better judged by their or its totality of actions.
Whatever we consider to be the source of “good” and “evil,” it exists in all of us at either ends of a spectrum. Some people exhibit extreme levels of psychopathy, which can lead them to commit acts that are judged to be “evil.” But even Hitler, for example, showed physical courage, devotion, compassion for some, and other qualities we might consider “good.”
Nation-states and global governance structures, though immensely complex, are formed and led by people. They are influenced by a multitude of forces. Given the added complications of chance and unforeseen events, it is unrealistic to expect any form of “order” to be either entirely good or entirely bad.
That being said, if that “order” is iniquitous and causes appreciable harm to people, then it is important to identify to whom that “order” provides advantage. Their potential individual and collective guilt should be investigated.
This does not imply that those who benefit are automatically culpable, nor that they are “bad” or “evil,” though they may be, only that they have a conflict of interests in maintaining their “order” despite the harm it causes. Equally, where systemic harm is evident, it is irrational to absolve the actions of the people who lead and benefit from that system without first ruling out their possible guilt.
Since WWII, millions of innocents have been murdered by the US, its international allies and its corporate partners, all of whom have thrown their military, economic and financial weight around the world. The Western “parasite class” has sought to assert its IRBO by any means necessary— sanctions, debt slavery or outright slavery, physical, economic or psychological warfare. The grasping desire for more power and control has exposed the very worst of human nature. Repeatedly and ad nauseam.
Of course, resistance to this kind of global tyranny is understandable. The question is: Does imposition of the multipolar model offer anything different?
Signing the UN Charter – 1948
Most recently, the “unipolar world order” has been embodied by the World Economic Forum’s inappropriately named Great Reset. It is so malignant and forbidding that some consider the emerging “multipolar world order” salvation. They have even heaped praise upon the likely leaders of the new multipolar world:
It is [. . .] strength of purpose and character that has defined Putin’s two decades in power. [. . .] Russia is committed to the process of finding solutions to all people benefiting from the future, not just a few thousand holier-than-thou oligarchs. [. . .] Together [Russia and China] told the WEF to stuff the Great Reset back into the hole in which it was conceived. [. . .] Putin told Klaus Schwab and the WEF that their entire idea of the Great Reset is not only doomed to failure but runs counter to everything modern leadership should be pursuing.
Sadly, it seems this hope is also misplaced.
While Putin did much to rid Russia of the CIA-run, Western-backed oligarchs who were systematically destroying the Russian Federation during the 1990s, they have subsequently been replaced by another band of oligarchs with closer links to the current Russian government. Something we will explore in Part 3.
Yes, it is certainly true that the Russian government, led by Putin and his power bloc, has improved the incomes and life opportunities for the majority of Russians. Putin’s government has also significantly reduced chronic poverty in Russia over the last two decades.
Wealth in Russia, measured as the market value of financial and non-financial assets, has remained concentrated in the hands of the top 1% of the population. This pooling of wealth among the top percentile is itself stratified and is overwhelmingly held by the top 1% of the 1%. For example, in 2017, 56% of Russian wealth was controlled by 1% of the population. The pseudopandemic of 2020–2022 particularly benefitted Russian billionnaires—as it did the billionaires of every other developed economy.
According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report 2021, wealth inequality in Russia, measured using the Gini coefficient, was 87.8 in 2020. The only other major economy with a greater disparity between the wealthy and the rest of the population was Brazil. Just behind Brazil and Russia on the wealth inequality scale was the US, whose Gini coefficient stood at 85.
In terms of wealth concentration however, the situation in Russia was the worst by a considerable margin. In 2020 the top 1% owned 58.2% of Russia’s wealth. This was more than 8 percentage points higher than Brazil’s wealth concentration, and significantly worse than wealth concentration in the US, which stood at 35.2% in 2020.
Such disproportionate wealth distribution is conducive to creating and empowering oligarchs. But wealth alone doesn’t determine whether one is an oligarch. Wealth needs to be converted into political power for the term “oligarch” to be applicable. An oligarchy is defined as “a form of government in which supreme power is vested in a small exclusive class.”
Members of this dominant class are installed through a variety of mechanisms. The British establishment, and particularly its political class, is dominated by men and women who were educated at Eton, Roedean, Harrow and St. Pauls, etc. This “small exclusive class” arguably constitutes a British oligarchy. The UK’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has been heralded by some because she is not a graduate of one of these select public schools.
Educational privilege aside, though, the use of the word “oligarch” in the West more commonly refers to an internationalist class of globalists whose individual wealth sets them apart and who use that wealth to influence policy decisions.
Bill Gates is a prime example of an oligarch. The former advisor to the UK Prime Minister, Dominic Cummings, said as much during his testimony to a parliamentary committee on May 2021 (go to 14:02:35). As Cummings put it, Bill Gates and “that kind of network” had directed the UK government’s response to the supposed COVID-19 pandemic.
Gates’ immense wealth has bought him direct access to political power beyond national borders. He has no public mandate in either the US or the UK. He is an oligarch—one of the more well known but far from the only one.
CFR member David Rothkopf described these people as a “Superclass” with the ability to “influence the lives of millions across borders on a regular basis.” They do this, he said, by using their globalist “networks.” Those networks, as described by Antony C. Sutton, Dominic Cummings and others, act as “the force multiplier in any kind of power structure.”
This “small exclusive class” use their wealth to control resources and thus policy. Political decisions, policy, court rulings and more are made at their behest. This point was highlighted in the joint letter sent by the Attorneys General (AGs) of 19 US states to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink.
The AGs observed that BlackRock was essentially using its investment strategy to pursue a political agenda:
The Senators elected by the citizens of this country determine which international agreements have the force of law, not BlackRock.
Their letter describes the theoretical model of representative democracy. Representative democracy is not a true democracy—which decentralises political power to the individual citizen—but is rather a system designed to centralise political control and authority. Inevitably, “representative democracy” leads to the consolidation of power in the hands of the so-called “Superclass” described by Rothkopf.
There is nothing “super” about them. They are ordinary people who have acquired wealth primarily through conquest, usury, market rigging, political manipulation and slavery. “Parasite class” is a more befitting description.
Not only do global investment firms like BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street use their immense resources to steer public policy, but their major shareholders include the very oligarchs who, via their contribution to various think tanks, create the global political agendas that determine policy in the first place. There is no space in this system of alleged “world order” for any genuine democratic oversight.
As we shall see in Part 3, the levers of control are exerted to achieve exactly the same effect in Russia and China. Both countries have a gaggle of oligarchs whose objectives are firmly aligned with the WEF’s Great Reset agenda. They too work with their national government “partners” to ensure that they all arrive at the “right” policy decisions.
US President Joe Biden, left, and CFR President Richard N. Haass, right.
The United Nations’ Model of National Sovereignty
Any bloc of nations that bids for dominance within the United Nations is seeking global hegemony. The UN enables global governance and centralises global political power and authority. In so doing, the UN empowers the international oligarchy.
As noted previously, Article 2 of the United Nations Charter declares that the UN is “based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.” The Charter then goes on to list the numerous ways in which nation-states are not equal. It also clarifies how they are all subservient to the UN Security Council.
Despite all the UN’s claims of lofty principles—respect for national sovereignty and for alleged human rights—Article 2 declares that no nation-state can receive any assistance from another as long as the UN Security Council is forcing that nation-state to comply with its edicts. Even non-member states must abide by the Charter, whether they like it or not, by decree of the United Nations.
The UN Charter is a paradox. Article 2.7 asserts that “nothing in the Charter” permits the UN to infringe the sovereignty of a nation-state—except when it does so through UN “enforcement measures.” The Charter states, apparently without reason, that all nation-states are “equal.” However, some nation-states are empowered by the Charter to be far more equal than others.
While the UN’s General Assembly is supposedly a decision-making forum comprised of “equal” sovereign nations, Article 11 affords the General Assembly only the power to discuss “the general principles of co-operation.” In other words, it has no power to make any significant decisions.
Article 12 dictates that the General Assembly can only resolve disputes if instructed to do so by the Security Council. The most important function of the UN, “the maintenance of international peace and security,” can only be dealt with by the Security Council. What the other members of the General Assembly think about the Security Council’s global “security” decisions is a practical irrelevance.
Article 23 lays out which nation-states form the Security Council:
The Security Council shall consist of fifteen Members of the United Nations. The Republic of China, France, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics [Russian Federation], the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America shall be permanent members of the Security Council. The General Assembly shall elect ten other Members of the United Nations to be non-permanent members of the Security Council. [. . .] The non-permanent members of the Security Council shall be elected for a term of two years.
The General Assembly is allowed to elect “non-permanent” members to the Security Council based upon criteria stipulated by the Security Council. Currently the “non-permanent” members are Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Norway and the United Arab Emirates.
Article 24 proclaims that the Security Council has “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security” and that all other nations agree that “the Security Council acts on their behalf.” The Security Council investigates and defines all alleged threats and recommends the procedures and adjustments for the supposed remedy. The Security Council dictates what further action, such as sanctions or the use of military force, shall be taken against any nation-state it considers to be a problem.
Article 27 decrees that at least 9 of the 15 member states must be in agreement for a Security Council resolution to be enforced. All of the 5 permanent members must concur, and each has the power of veto. Any Security Council member, including permanent members, shall be excluded from the vote or use of its veto if they are party to the dispute in question.
UN member states, by virtue of agreeing to the Charter, must provide armed forces at the Security Council’s request. In accordance with Article 47, military planning and operational objectives are the sole remit of the permanent Security Council members through their exclusive Military Staff Committee. If the permanent members are interested in the opinion of any other “sovereign” nation, they’ll ask it to provide one.
The inequality inherent in the Charter could not be clearer. Article 44 notes that “when the Security Council has decided to use force” its only consultative obligation to the wider UN is to discuss the use of another member state’s armed forces where the Security Council has ordered that nation to fight. For a country that is a current member of the Security Council, use of its armed forces by the Military Staff Committee is a prerequisite for Council membership.
The UN Secretary-General, identified as the “chief administrative officer” in the Charter, oversees the UN Secretariat. The Secretariat commissions, investigates and produces the reports that allegedly inform UN decision-making. The Secretariat staff members are appointed by the Secretary-General. The Secretary-General is “appointed by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.”
Under the UN Charter, then, the Security Council is made king. This arrangement affords the governments of its permanent members—China, France, Russia, the UK and the US—considerable additional authority. There is nothing egalitarian about the UN Charter.
The suggestion that the UN Charter constitutes a “defence” of “national sovereignty” is ridiculous. The UN Charter is the embodiment of the centralisation of global power and authority.
UN Headquarters New York – Land Donated by the Rockefellers
The United Nations’ Global Public-Private Partnership
The UN was created, in no small measure, through the efforts of the private sector Rockefeller Foundation (RF). In particular, the RF’s comprehensive financial and operational support for the Economic, Financial and Transit Department (EFTD) of the League of Nations (LoN), and its considerable influence upon the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA), made the RF the key player in the transformation of the LoN into the UN.
The UN came into being as a result of public-private partnership. Since then, especially with regard to defence, financing, global health care and sustainable development, public-private partnerships have become dominant within the UN system. The UN is no longer an intergovernmental organisation, if it ever was one. It is a global collaboration between governments and a multinational infra-governmental network of private “stakeholders.”
In 1998, then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the World Economic Forum’s Davos symposium that a “quiet revolution” had occurred in the UN during the 1990s:
[T]he United Nations has been transformed since we last met here in Davos. The Organization has undergone a complete overhaul that I have described as a “quiet revolution”. [. . .] [W]e are in a stronger position to work with business and industry. [. . .] The business of the United Nations involves the businesses of the world. [. . .] We also promote private sector development and foreign direct investment. We help countries to join the international trading system and enact business-friendly legislation.
In 2005, the World Health Organisation (WHO), a specialised agency of the UN, published a report on the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in healthcare titled Connecting for Health. Speaking about how “stakeholders” could introduce ICT healthcare solutions globally, the WHO noted:
Governments can create an enabling environment, and invest in equity, access and innovation.
The 2015, Adis Ababa Action Agenda conference on “financing for development” clarified the nature of an “enabling environment.” National governments from 193 UN nation-states committed their respective populations to funding public-private partnerships for sustainable development by collectively agreeing to create “an enabling environment at all levels for sustainable development;” and “to further strengthen the framework to finance sustainable development.”
In 2017, UN General Assembly Resolution 70/224 (A/Res/70/224) compelled UN member states to implement “concrete policies” that “enable” sustainable development. A/Res/70/224 added that the UN:
[. . .] reaffirms the strong political commitment to address the challenge of financing and creating an enabling environment at all levels for sustainable development [—] particularly with regard to developing partnerships through the provision of greater opportunities to the private sector, non-governmental organizations and civil society in general.
In short, the “enabling environment” is a government, and therefore taxpayer, funding commitment to create markets for the private sector. Over the last few decades, successive Secretary-Generals have overseen the UN’s formal transition into a global public-private partnership (G3P).
Nation-states do not have sovereignty over public-private partnerships. Sustainable development formally relegates government to the role of an “enabling” partner within a global network comprised of multinational corporations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civil society organisations and other actors. The “other actors” are predominantly the philanthropic foundations of individual billionaires and immensely wealthy family dynasties—that is, oligarchs.
Effectively, then, the UN serves the interests of capital. Not only is it a mechanism for the centralisation of global political authority, it is committed to the development of global policy agendas that are “business-friendly.” That means Big Business-friendly. Such agendas may happen to coincide with the best interests of humanity, but where they don’t—which is largely the case—well, that’s just too bad for humanity.
Kofi Annan (8 April 1938 – 18 August 2018)
On the 4th February 2022, a little less then three weeks prior to Russia launching its “special military operation” in Ukraine, Presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping issued an important joint statement:
The sides [Russian Federation and Chinese People’s Republic] strongly support the development of international cooperation and exchanges [. . .], actively participating in the relevant global governance process, [. . .] to ensure sustainable global development. [. . .] The international community should actively engage in global governance[.] [. . .] The sides reaffirmed their intention to strengthen foreign policy coordination, pursue true multilateralism, strengthen cooperation on multilateral platforms, defend common interests, support the international and regional balance of power, and improve global governance. [. . .] The sides call on all States [. . .] to protect the United Nations-driven international architecture and the international law-based world order, seek genuine multipolarity with the United Nations and its Security Council playing a central and coordinating role, promote more democratic international relations, and ensure peace, stability and sustainable development across the world.
The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA) defined “global governance” in its 2014 publication Global Governance and the Global Rules For Development in the Post 2015 Era:
Global governance encompasses the totality of institutions, policies, norms, procedures and initiatives through which States and their citizens try to bring more predictability, stability and order to their responses to transnational challenges.
Global governance centralises control over the entire sphere of international relations. It inevitably erodes a nation’s ability to set foreign policy. As a theoretical protection against global instability, this isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but in practice it neither enhances nor “protects” national sovereignty.
Domination of the global governance system by one group of powerful nation-states represents possibly the most dangerous and destabilising force of all. It allows those nations to act with impunity, regardless of any pretensions about honouring alleged “international law.”
Global governance also significantly curtails the independence of a nation-state’s domestic policy. For example, the UN’s Sustainable Development Agenda 21, with the near-time Agenda 2030 serving as a waypoint, impacts nearly all national domestic policy—even setting the course for most domestic policy—in every country.
National electorates’ oversight of this “totality” of UN policies is weak to nonexistent. Global governance renders so-called “representative democracy” little more than a vacuous sound-bite.
As the UN is a global public-private partnership (UN-G3P), global governance allows the “multi-stakeholder partnership”—and therefore oligarchs—significant influence over member nation-states’ domestic and foreign policy. Set in this context, the UN-DESA report (see above) provides a frank appraisal of the true nature of UN-G3P global governance:
Current approaches to global governance and global rules have led to a greater shrinking of policy space for national Governments [. . . ]; this also impedes the reduction of inequalities within countries. [. . .] Global governance has become a domain with many different players including: multilateral organizations; [. . .] elite multilateral groupings such as the Group of Eight (G8) and the Group of Twenty (G20) [and] different coalitions relevant to specific policy subjects[.] [. . .] Also included are activities of the private sector (e.g., the Global Compact) non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and large philanthropic foundations (e.g., Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Turner Foundation) and associated global funds to address particular issues[.] [. . .] The representativeness, opportunities for participation, and transparency of many of the main actors are open to question. [. . .] NGOs [. . .] often have governance structures that are not subject to open and democratic accountability. The lack of representativeness, accountability and transparency of corporations is even more important as corporations have more power and are currently promoting multi-stakeholder governance with a leading role for the private sector. [. . .] Currently, it seems that the United Nations has not been able to provide direction in the solution of global governance problems—perhaps lacking appropriate resources or authority, or both. United Nations bodies, with the exception of the Security Council, cannot make binding decisions.
A/Res/73/254 declares that the UN Global Compact Office plays a vital role in “strengthening the capacity of the United Nations to partner strategically with the private sector.” It adds:
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development acknowledges that the implementation of sustainable development will depend on the active engagement of both the public and private sectors[.]
While the Attorneys General of 19 states might rail against BlackRock for usurping the political authority of US senators, BlackRock is simply exercising its power as valued a “public-private partner” of the US government. Such is the nature of global governance. Given that this system has been constructed over the last 80 years, it’s a bit too late for 19 state AGs to complain about it now. What have they been doing for the last eight decades?
The governmental “partners” of the UN-G3P lack “authority” because the UN was created, largely by the Rockefellers, as a public-private partnership. The intergovernmental structure is the partner of the infra-governmental network of private stakeholders. In terms of resources, the power of the private sector “partners” dwarfs that of their government counterparts.
Corporate fiefdoms are not limited by national borders. BlackRock alone currently holds $9.5 trillion of assets under management. This is more than five times the size of the total GDP of UN Security Council permanent member Russia and nearly four times the GDP of the UK.
So-called sovereign countries are not sovereign over their own central banks nor are they “sovereign” over international financial institutions like the IMF, the New Development Bank (NDB), the World Bank or the Bank for International Settlements. The notion that any nation state or intergovernmental organisation is capable of bringing the global network of private capital to heel is farcical.
At the COP26 Conference in Glasgow in 2021, King Charles III—then Prince Charles—prepared the conference to endorse the forthcoming announcement of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). He made it abundantly clear who was in charge and, in keeping with UN objectives, clarified national governments role as “enabling partners”:
The scale and scope of the threat we face call for a global systems level solution based on radically transforming our current fossil fuel based economy. [. . .] So ladies and gentleman, my plea today is for countries to come together to create the environment that enables every sector of industry to take the action required. We know this will take trillions, not billions of dollars. [. . .] [W]e need a vast military style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector, with trillions at [its] disposal far beyond global GDP, and with the greatest respect, beyond even the governments of the world’s leaders. It offers the only real prospect of achieving fundamental economic transition.
Unless Putin and Xi Jinping intend to completely restructure the United Nations, including all of its institutions and specialised agencies, their objective of protecting “the United Nations-driven international architecture” appears to be nothing more than a bid to cement their status as the nominal leaders of the UN-G3P. As pointed out by UN-DESA, through the UN-G3P, that claim to political authority is extremely limited. Global corporations dominate and are currently further consolidating their global power through “multi-stakeholder governance.”
Whether unipolar or multipolar, the so-called “world order” is the system of global governance led by the private sector—the oligarchs. Nation-states, including Russia and China, have already agreed to follow global priorities determined at the global governance level. The question is not which model of the global public-private “world order” we should accept, but rather why we would ever accept any such “world order” at all.
This, then, is the context within which we can explore the alleged advantages of a “multipolar world order” led by China, Russia and increasingly India. Is it an attempt, as claimed by some, to reinvigorate the United Nations and create a more just and equitable system of global governance? Or is it merely the next phase in the construction of what many refer to as the “New World Order”?
The pdf will be available after publication of Part 3.
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Who Are The New World Order – A Brief History The New World Order And the European Union Is It Joe Biden’s New World Order? Putin’s False Flag
The UK and Commonwealth may be mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II yesterday. I am in mourning as well, but for a very different reason: the gathering of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in the Ramstein air base in Germany yesterday reshuffled the deck on Western military and financial assistance to Ukraine, raising contributions to the ongoing holy crusade against Russia from still more nations and adding new, still more advanced precision strike weapons to the mix of deliveries to Kiev. It was an open summons to the Kremlin to escalate in turn, as were the test firing the same day of a new intercontinental rocket, the Minuteman III, from Vandenberg air base in California and the unannounced visit to Kiev yesterday of not only Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was featured in Western media accounts, but also other top officials of the Biden administration. The most notorious member of this delegation was surely Blinken’s deputy, Victoria Nuland, who had stage managed the February 2014 coup that put in power in Kiev the Russia-hating regime that Zelensky now heads.
The Russians may be compelled to take the bait due to the course of military action on the ground. As now becomes clear, they have just suffered some losses in very heavy ground and artillery fighting these past few days around Kharkov. The Ukrainian gains were facilitated by the advanced weaponry recently arrived from NATO countries, by the targeting data they are receiving from the U.S. and from off-stage tactical direction from NATO officers. By ‘take the bait,’ I mean the Russians may escalate to all out war on Ukraine. This question figured prominently in yesterday’s major news and political talk show programs of Russian state television. I will go into these matters in some detail below.
Regrettably, all of the foregoing also obliges me to revisit the critique I published a couple of weeks ago on the latest essay in Foreign Affairs magazine by John Mearsheimer. His overarching message on the dangers of our stumbling into a nuclear war is better substantiated by the latest developments, even though I believe that Mearsheimer failed to identify the several successive steps that lie ahead before we find ourselves in such a war. Mearsheimer oversimplified Russian options to deal with setbacks on the ground. This also will be a central issue in my narrative below.
Finally, in this essay I will direct attention to the second dimension of the ongoing confrontation between Russia and the entire Collective West: the economic war being waged on the Russian Federation via sanctions, which now far outnumber those directed against any other country on earth. This war, as I will argue, is going well for the Russians. More importantly for us all, it is the sole area in which the peoples of Europe may have a say in putting an end to the mad policies being pursued by their national governments under the direct pressure of Washington.
Over the past ten days, we have witnessed the start of the Ukrainian counter-offensive which was preceded by so much anticipation in Western media. A reversal of Russian fortunes in the war was predicted, leading to the stalemate or outright defeat for Russia which Mearsheimer and some other analysts in the US foreign policy community feared would trigger a nuclear response from the Kremlin.
In fact, the Ukrainian counter-offensive got off to a very bad start. It opened in the south, in the Kherson region. Kherson, which is predominantly Russian-speaking, was the first major Ukrainian city to fall to the Russians and it has strategic importance for ensuring Russian domination of the Black Sea littoral. However, first results of the Ukrainian attacks there were disastrous for the Ukrainian armed forces. It soon was obvious that they had deployed new recruits who had little or no military experience. The infantry attacked across open terrain where they were easily destroyed in vast numbers by the Russian defenders of Kherson. I have heard the figure of 5,000 Ukrainian casualties in the Kherson counter offensive. Obviously the Russians were jubilant, though there were reports of some Ukrainian reservists being withdrawn from the field of action for redeployment elsewhere.
What followed was something the Russians evidently did not expect, namely a well prepared and implemented assault on their positions around the northeastern city of Kharkov, Ukraine’s second largest city. Kharkov was briefly surrounded by Russian forces at the start of the war, but was left in relative peace as the Russians refocused their strategy on taking the Donbas and avoiding major urban warfare except in one place, Mariupol. Exactly what the Russian game plan has been was recently explained in a remarkable paper published by a certain ‘Marinus’ in the Marine Corps Gazette. See https://www.imetatronink.com/2022/08/a-former-us-marine-corps-officers.html
A couple of days ago I picked up the following amidst the chatter of panelists on Evening with Vladimir Solovyov: “yes, we made some mistakes, but it is inevitable in a war that mistakes are made.” As from the latest news on the apparent loss of Balakliya and surrounding villages on the outskirts of Kharkov, we can see that the Ukrainian tactics were precisely those which Russia had been using so effectively against them from day one of the ‘special military operation,’ namely a feint in one war zone followed by all-out attack on a very different region. Of course, the ‘feint’ around Kherson, if that is what it was, entailed the cynical sacrifice of thousands of young and not so young Ukrainian foot soldiers. But the resultant distraction prevented the Russians from bringing up sufficient manpower to successfully defend their positions around Kharkov, which include the strategically important city of Izyum.
Izyum is close to the Russian-Ukrainian border southeast of Kharkov and is a major logistical base for munitions and weaponry that are sent onward to support the Donbas operation. The latest information on the Russian side appears to be that the Russians have now dispatched large numbers of reservists to this area to hold their positions. They also speak of intense artillery duels. We may well assume that both sides have experienced heavy loss of life. As yet, the outcome is unforeseeable. Meanwhile, Russian war correspondents on the ground in Donetsk insist that the Russian advance towards Slavyansk, in the center of the former Donetsk oblast, is continuing without pause, which suggests that the strikes on their munitions stores claimed by the Ukrainians have not been totally effective. If Slavyansk is taken in the coming few weeks, then Russia will quickly assume control of the entire territory of the Donbas.
In last night’s talk show program, host Vladimir Solovyov said that this latest push in the Ukrainian counter-offensive was timed to coincide with the gathering at the Ramstein air base, Germany of top officials from NATO and other allies under the direction of the visiting U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. If the Ukrainian efforts were failing in the field, then the cry would go up: we must provide them with more weapons and training. And if the Ukrainian efforts in the counter-offensive were succeeding, those in attendance at Ramstein would hear exactly the same appeal to aid Kiev.
Though Evening with Solovyov, on air from about 23.00 Moscow time, offered viewers some few minutes of video recordings from the opening of the Ramstein gathering, far more complete coverage was provided to Russian audiences a few hours earlier by the afternoon news show Sixty Minutes. Here, nearly half an hour on air was given over to lengthy excerpts from CNN and other U.S. and European mainstream television reporting about Ramstein. Host Yevgeni Popov read the Russian translation of the various Western news bulletins. His presentation clearly sought to dramatize the threat and to set off alarm bells.
For his part, Vladimir Solovyov went beyond presentation of the threat posed by the United States and its allies to analysis of Russia’s possible response. He spoke at length, and we may assume that what he was saying had the direct approval of the Kremlin, because his guests, who are further removed from Power than he is, were, for the most part, allowed only to talk blather, such as the critique by one panelist of a recent pro-Ukraine, anti-Russia article in The New York Review of Books by Yale professor Timothy Snyder, who counts for nothing in the big strategic issues Russia faces today.
So, what did Solovyov have to say? First, that Ramstein marked a new stage in the war, because of the more threatening nature of the weapons systems announced for delivery, such as missiles with accuracy of 1 to 2 meters when fired from distances of 20 or 30 kilometers thanks to their GPS-guided flight, in contrast to the laser-guided missiles delivered to Ukraine up till now. In the same category, there are weapons designed to destroy the Russians’ radar systems used for directing artillery fire. Second, that Ramstein marked the further expansion of the coalition or holy crusade waging war on Russia. Third, that in effect this is no longer a proxy war but a real direct war with NATO and should be prosecuted with appropriate mustering of all resources at home and abroad.
Said Solovyov, Russia should throw off constraints and destroy the Ukrainian dual use infrastructure which makes it possible to move Western weapons across the country to the front. The railway system, the bridges, the electricity generating stations all should become fair targets. Moreover, Kiev should no longer be spared missile strikes and destruction of the ministries and presidential apparatus responsible for prosecution of the war. I note that these ideas were aired on the Solovyov program more than a month ago but then disappeared from view while the Russians were making great gains on the ground. The latest setbacks and the new risks associated with the Western policies set out at Ramstein bring them to the surface again.
Solovyov also argued that Russia should now use in Ukraine its own most advanced weapons that have similar characteristics to what NATO is delivering to the other side. As a sub-point, Russia should consider neutralizing in one way or another the GPS guidance for U.S. weapons. Of course, if this means destroying or blinding the respective U.S. satellites, that would mean crossing a well-known U.S. red line or casus belli.
Next, in the new circumstances, Russia should abandon its go-it-alone policy and actively seek out complementary weapons systems from previously untouchable countries, such as Iran and North Korea. Procurements from both have till now been minimal. On this issue, a couple of panelists with military expertise were allowed to explain that both these countries have sophisticated and proven weapons that could greatly assist Russia’s war effort. Iran has unbeatable drones which carry hefty explosive charges and have proven their worth in operations that are unmentionable on public television. And North Korea has very effective tanks and highly portable field artillery which are both fully compatible with Russian military practice, because the designs were based on Chinese weapons, which in turn were copies of Russia’s own. These weapons also have shown their worth in the hands of unnamed purchasers in the Middle East. Moreover, North Korea has a vast store of munitions fully compatible with Russian artillery. It was also mentioned in passing that insofar as Kiev has mobilized in the field many Western mercenaries and covert NATO officers, Russia should also recruit from abroad, as for example, whole brigades from North Korea available for hire.
If any of these ideas put out by Solovyov last night are indeed implemented by the Kremlin, then the present confrontation in and over Ukraine will truly become globalized, and we have the outlines of what may be called World War III. However, I note that the use of nuclear weapons, tactical or otherwise, does not figure at all in the set of options that official Moscow discusses in relation to the challenges it faces in its Ukraine operation. Such a possibility would arise only if the NATO forces being sent to the EU’s ‘front line states’ grew in number by several times those presently assigned and appeared to be preparing to invade Russia.
Before Ramstein, before the news of Ukrainian successes on the ground in the Kharkov sector, I had plans to write about a very different development this past week that coincided with a different calendar: the end of summer vacations and return to work of our national governments. With the return, our presidents and prime ministers would finally have to address the critical state of the European economies, which are facing the highest inflation rates in decades and an energy crisis brought about by the sanctions on Russian hydrocarbons. Speculation was rife on what exactly they would do.
I was particularly struck by several articles in the 7 September edition of The Financial Times and planned to comment on them.
For months now, the FT has been the voice of Number 10, Downing Street, at the vanguard of the Western crusade to crush Russia. Their editorial board has consistently backed every proposal for sanctions against Russia, however hare-brained. And yet on the 7th their journalists ran away with the show and cast doubt on the basic assumptions held by their bosses. One article by Derek Brower in the “FT Energy Source” newsletter has the self-explanatory title “The price cap idea that could worsen the energy crisis.” As we saw today, Brower’s concern was misplaced: finally, the EU could not agree a price cap policy. This notion, promoted from the United States by none other than the Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen, is in full contradiction with the practices of the global hydrocarbon market, as even a few EU leaders understood, depriving the initiators from the Baltic States of their hoped for consensus.
Another article of the 7th in FT, by Valentina Pop, Europe Express Editor, analyzed quickly and competently the problems facing European policy-makers in their bid to alleviate the pain to households and industry that the latest electricity and heating bills would otherwise present, given that they are several times higher than just a year ago and are unaffordable by large swathes of the population. Pop identified the key issue thus: how to provide aid quickly to those most in need given the constraints and resources available to the various government bureaucracies: “Some capitals will take many months in determining which households require help” she says. Of course, ‘many months’ of patience in the broad population will not be there.
But the most surprising article in this collection from the 7th was in the “Opinion Lex” section of the paper which was nominally about how Russian banks have weathered the storm that broke out when the EU sanctions on their industry first were laid down shortly after the start of Russia’s ‘special military operation.’ Indeed, VTB and other major Russian banks have returned to profitability despite it all. The author finds that ‘sanctions are biting less than western politicians hoped.’ Not only did the expected banking crisis not materialize, but the ruble is at five-year peaks and inflation is falling. Moreover the official Russian financial data behind these generalizations is said to be sound by independent and trustworthy market observers. The key conclusions are saved for last: “Russia has shown it can bear the pain of western sanctions. Western Europe must endure reprisals as robustly, or concede a historic defeat.’ The ‘reprisals’ in question are the complete shutdown of Russian gas deliveries through Nord Stream I until Europe lifts its sanctions.
It is interesting that even the Opinion article by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg published on the 7th in FT carries the following grim warning: “We face a difficult six months, with the threat of energy cuts, disruptions and perhaps even civil unrest.’ [emphasis mine]
To be sure, here and there in Europe, there are a few clever administrators who find promising solutions to the pending crisis of energy bills. In her first day in office, Britain’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss announced one such solution: to immediately freeze the maximum energy bill per household at the present level of 2500 pounds sterling per year and then to turn around and agree with the power companies a subsidy for them to cover their losses.
This is fine for nipping in the bud possible ‘civil unrest.’ But the question remains how Britain will finance the estimated 150 billion pounds this will cost in the first year alone. If a similar solution were approved in the EU, the overall cost would surely approach the 800 billion euros of assistance borrowed to cover losses attributable to the Covid pandemic a year ago. But whereas the Covid aid was financed by collective borrowing of the EU, no such solidarity is likely to deal with the energy crisis, given that Germany, the Netherlands and other northern Member States oppose this becoming a general practice and will apply a veto. The British solution, however clever it may be, will hardly be available to many countries in the EU on their own given their high state indebtedness.
Then there is the second question of what to do to assist industry. Failure to give industry proper relief will result in company closures and rampant unemployment, which finally also sparks political protest. In any case, such solutions do not deal with the knock-on effects of vastly increased government borrowing to finance the energy subsidies, something which in the best of times always reduces capital available for other government services and capital available to private business for investment and job creation.
These various problems in dealing with the energy crisis that Europe created for itself by imposing sanctions on Russia may well be intractable and may well lead to spontaneous protests in a number of European countries this fall.
There is,no anti-war movement on the Old Continent to speak of. So popular protests over the ‘heat or eat’ dilemma being imposed from the chanceries on the people without anything resembling public debate may be the salvation of us all if they induce war mongering politicans to resign.
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2022
In October 2011 and February 2012 the US-led NATO organisation, with the backing of the Gulf autocracies, tried to secure UN Security Council resolutions, which in all probability would have served as a pretext for an invasion of Syria.
These efforts replicated the deceptive game that America, Britain and France had played in obtaining a resolution regarding Libya, on 17 March 2011, which they immediately violated in bombing that country. By the autumn of 2011, Russia and China knew that US-NATO were attempting the same subterfuge again, in their desire to topple Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Moscow and Beijing therefore vetoed the resolutions.
Not put off by these setbacks, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lobbied heavily in 2012 for an attack on Syria. Clinton said she had the support of former CIA director Leon Panetta, and felt the Americans should have been “more willing to confront Assad”; she stressed “I still believe we should've done a no-fly zone”, the green light for a US-NATO invasion as was the case in Libya.
Clinton said she wanted to “move aggressively” against Syria and drew up a plan to do so, but it was never implemented (1). She had previously supported the US-led invasions of Yugoslavia (1999), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003) and Libya (2011).
In their policies towards Syria, Washington and NATO were adopting a similar stance to terrorist organisations like Al Qaeda, which was supporting the drive to oust Assad. On 27 July 2011, the new Al Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri outlined his solidarity with the extremists. Zawahiri called for Assad to go, and expressed regret that he could not be in Syria himself. “I would have been amongst you and with you” he said, but he continued that “there are enough and more Mujahideen and garrisoned ones” present in Syria already. He described Assad as “America's partner in the war on Islam”. (2)
Zawahiri did not mention that the Syrian president had opposed the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Assad was, in fact, the first Arab leader other than Saddam Hussein to condemn the attack. Less than 10 days into the invasion Assad predicted, “The United States and Britain will not be able to control all of Iraq. There will be much tougher resistance”. He said of the Anglo-American forces “we hope they do not succeed” in Iraq “and we doubt that they will – there will be Arab popular resistance and this has begun”. (3)
The revolts that began in Syria, during the spring of 2011, would have lasted for only a couple of months but for outside intervention that radicalised it (4). Syria did not have to endure the ensuing years of warfare, yet the foreign powers – notably the imperial triumvirate of America, Britain and France – had sustained it with the assistance of their allies from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, not to mention the jihadist groups. The opening protests in March 2011 were not against Assad to start with, but had been directed towards deficiencies at the provincial level.
Neil Quilliam, a scholar who specialises in the Middle East, said of the disharmony in Syria which began in the southern town of Daraa: “The rebellion as it started was very localized. It was much more to do with local grievances against local security chiefs – it was about corruption at the local level” (5). The unrest was erroneously depicted in the West as aimed at Assad's government. It was then exploited by the US-NATO powers to attempt regime change in Syria for geopolitical reasons.
Israel's military intelligence website, DEBKAfile, reported that since 2011 special forces from the British SAS and MI6 were training anti-Assad militants in Syria itself. Other UK personnel from the Special Boat Service (SBS) and the Special Forces Support Group (SFSG), units of the British Armed Forces, had also been training combatants in Syria from 2011. Moreover, that same year French foreign agents of the General Directorate for External Security (DGSE), and the Special Operations Command, were encouraging unrest against Assad. (6)
As 2011 advanced, the anti-Assad revolts were infiltrated by rising numbers of Al Qaeda fighters. On 12 February 2012, in an eight minute video Zawahiri urged jihadists in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan to come to the aid of their “brothers in Syria” and to give them “money, opinion, as well as information”. Zawahiri said that the America was insincere in demonstrating solidarity with them. (7)
Also in February 2012, Hillary Clinton admitted that Zawahiri “is supporting the opposition in Syria” and she intimated that the US was on the same side as him (8). Clinton promised that the Americans would continue to provide logistical help to the insurgents, so as to co-ordinate military operations.
Zawahiri's demand for jihad against Syria was supported by Al Qaeda's number two, Abu Yahya al-Libi. He was an extremist from Libya who had participated in the recent conflict against Muammar Gaddafi, alongside numerous other terrorists. Al-Libi said in a video from 18 October 2011, “We call on our brothers in Iraq, Jordan and Turkey to go to help their brothers [in Syria]” (9). By late 2011, there were links between the jihadists who overthrew Gaddafi, and those attempting to inflict a similar fate on Assad.
With the Russian and Chinese vetoes on the UN resolutions, Washington was unable to launch a large-scale invasion of Syria, but the goal of president Barack Obama and his allies remained that of regime change. Through 2011 and beyond, the leaders of America (Obama), Britain (David Cameron), France (Nicolas Sarkozy) and Germany (Angela Merkel) separately called for Assad to leave, disingenuously raising concerns over the Syrian people's plight.
Merkel for example, who had supported the US invasion of Iraq, said on 18 August 2011 that Assad should “face the reality of the complete rejection of his regime by the Syrian people”. This allegation was repeated by other Western leaders, and likewise the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton. It was completely false.
Less than six months later the English journalist Jonathan Steele, citing a reliable poll, noted that 55% of Syrians wanted Assad to remain as president. Steele wrote that this inconvenient reality “was ignored by almost all media outlets in every western country whose government has called for Assad to go”. (10)
For the West and its allies, as envisaged, Assad's fall would increase US power in the Mediterranean and Middle East, while delivering a blow to Russian, Iranian and Chinese influence. The Kremlin would have to abandon its naval base in Tartus, western Syria, pushing Russia out of the Mediterranean. Supply routes through which weaponry was delivered to Hezbollah, in nearby Lebanon, would also be eliminated.
With a Western-friendly regime in Syria, the noose would have been closed tighter around Iran. There are vast amounts of oil and gas beside the Syrian coastline in the Levantine Basin. However, Syria was a more difficult and complicated problem for US-NATO than the likes of Libya. In Syria the West was confronting the interests of Russia, China and Iran, three countries with ample resources and powerful militaries.
Meanwhile, the terrorists were starting to wreak havoc. Germany's intelligence agency BND informed the Bundestag (parliament) that, from late December 2011 until early July 2012, there were 90 terrorist attacks perpetrated in Syria by organisations tied to Al Qaeda and other extremist groups (11). The “moderates” were unleashing suicide and car bombings against Syrian government forces and civilians. One suicide raid on 18 July 2012 killed Assad's brother-in-law, General Assef Shawkat, and the Syrian defence minister, General Dawoud Rajiha. The Free Syrian Army, supported by US-NATO and the Gulf autocracies, claimed responsibility for this atrocity. (12)
The jihad only harmed and delegitimised the insurgents' aims, and effectively that of the West. The Syrian public could see, about a year into the war, that considerable numbers of those trying to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic were extremists. The terrorism ensured that defections to the opposition almost came to a halt.
From now on, the majority of military personnel remained loyal to Assad. More terrorist assaults in early October 2012 killed 40 people, consisting of four car bombings which damaged Aleppo's government district. This further undermined the insurgents. Al-Nusra Front, tied to Al Qaeda, took responsibility for these insane acts which served no purpose but to inflict bloodshed on innocent people. Suicide bombings grew in frequency.
The atrocities shocked Syria's populace and bolstered sympathy for Assad. The Syrian president undoubtedly reacted to the terrorist rampages with an iron fist; his response may have been influenced too by the ongoing threat of a US-NATO invasion, as Western politicians continued to call for his resignation.
Israel's head of military intelligence, Major-General Aviv Kochavi, informed the Israeli parliament in mid-July 2012 that “radical Islam” was gaining a foothold in Syria. Kochavi said, “We can see an ongoing flow of Al Qaeda and global jihad activists into Syria”. He was worried that “the Golan Heights could become an arena of activity against Israel” which was “as a result of growing jihad movement in Syria” (13). The Golan Heights, 40 miles south of Damascus, is Syrian territory under Israeli occupation since 1967. Kochavi felt that Assad “won't survive the upheaval”.
The Western-backed Free Syrian Army in part comprised of mercenaries recruited from Libya, along with Al Qaeda, Wahhabi and Salafist extremists. As the Al Qaeda boss Zawahiri had demanded, the radicals entered Syria from neighbouring Lebanon and NATO state Turkey, and were focused on prosecuting a sectarian war – through massacring Syria's ethnic groups such as the Alawites, Christians, Shia and Druze; that is, those mostly supportive of Assad whom the jihadists considered to be heretics.
The Syrian National Council (SNC), an anti-Assad entity based in Istanbul, Turkey, was established in August 2011. It had been organised by the special services of the Western powers, and was supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Turkey's leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan continued to replace secularism with Islamism in Turkey, and he became centrally involved in fanning the flames of war in Syria. The Turks were acting as a US-NATO proxy force.
Erdogan allowed the Free Syrian Army to use Turkish bases in Antakya and Iskenderun, located in the far south of Turkey and beside the Syrian frontier. With Turkey's assistance, NATO arms were smuggled to the terrorists waging holy war on the Syrians. US intelligence agents were active in and around the southern Turkish city of Adana. (14)
Islamic jihadists arrived in Syria from distant European countries, such as Norway and Ireland; 100 of them alone entered Syria originating from Norway. Radical muslims of Uyghur ethnicity from Xinjiang province, north-western China, were fighting in Syria at the side of Al Qaeda from May 2012. The Uyghur militants belonged to the terrorist group, the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), and also the East Turkistan Education and Solidarity Association, the latter organisation centred in Istanbul. Al-Libi, Al Qaeda's second-in-command, publicly championed the TIP's terrorist campaign against China's authorities in Xinjiang.
In all, jihadists from 14 African, Asian and European countries were estimated to be present in Syria from early in the conflict (15). They came from such states as Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, etc. This was partly a consequence and spillover of the March 2011 US-NATO invasion of Libya. In early 2012, more than 10,000 Libyan mercenaries were trained in Jordan, bordering Syria to the south. The militants were each paid $1,000 a month by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, in order to encourage them to participate in the war on Syria. The Saudis were shipping weapons to the most extreme elements in Syria, something which Riyadh never denied.
In early August 2012, Assadist special forces captured 200 insurgents in an Aleppo suburb in north-western Syria. Government soldiers found Saudi and Turkish officers commanding the mercenaries. During early October 2012, in another district of Aleppo (Bustan al-Qasr), Assad's divisions repelled an attack and killed dozens of armed militia. They had entered Syria through Turkey and among them were four Turkish officers. Beside the American air base at Incirlik in southern Turkey, the jihadists received special training in modern weapons of war: anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, grenade launchers and US-made stinger missiles.
NATO aircraft, flying without insignia or coat of arms, were landing in Turkish military bases near Iskenderun, beside Syria's border. They carried armaments from Gaddafi's arsenals, as well as taking Libyan mercenaries to join the Free Syrian Army. Instructors from the British special forces continued to co-operate with the insurgents. The CIA, and contingents from the US Special Operations Command, were dispensing with and operating telecommunications equipment, allowing the “rebels” to evade Syrian Army units (16). The CIA was flying drones over Syria to gather intelligence.
In September 2012, nearly 50 high-ranking agents from the US, Britain, France and Germany were active along the Syrian-Turkish frontier (17). The Germans, at the behest of their intelligence service BND, were operating a spy service boat 'Oker (A 53)' in the Mediterranean, not far from Syria's western coastline. On board this vessel were 40 commandos specialising in intelligence operations, using electromagnetic and hydro-acoustic equipment. As Germany is a NATO member, these activities were most probably undertaken in agreement with Washington.
The Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) stationed two other intelligence ships in the Mediterranean, 'Alster (A 50)' and 'Oste (A 52)', collecting intelligence on Syrian Army positions. The BND president Gerhard Schindler confirmed of Syria that Berlin desired “a solid insight into the state of the country”. (18)
The German ships' point of support was Incirlik Air Base, which is home to 50 US nuclear bombs and hosts the Anglo-American air forces. The German vessels' mission was to decipher Syria's telecommunications signals, intercept messages from the Syrian government and chiefs of staff, and to uncover Assadist troop locations up to a radius of 370 miles off the coast, through satellite images.
Germany had a permanent listening post in Adana, southern Turkey, where they could intercept all calls made in Syria's capital Damascus (19). Merkel's government inevitably denied accusations that the German Navy was spying in the Mediterranean; it is the type of activity that few countries claim responsibility for.
1 The Week, “Hillary Clinton: I would have taken on Assad”, 7 April 2012
2 Joby Warrick, “Zawahiri asserts common cause with Syrians”, Washington Post, 27 July 2011
3 Jonathan Steele, “Assad predicts defeat for invasion force”, The Guardian, 28 March 2003
4 Luiz Alberto Moniz Bandeira, The Second Cold War: Geopolitics and the Strategic Dimensions of the USA (Springer 1st ed., 23 June 2017) p. 283
5 Sarah Burke, “How Syria's 'geeky' president went from doctor to 'dictator'”, NBC News, 30 October 2015
6 Bandeira, The Second Cold War, p. 246
7 Martina Fuchs, “Al Qaeda leader backs Syrian revolt against Assad”, Reuters, 12 February 2012
8 Wyatt Andrews, “Clinton: Arming Syrian rebels could help Al Qaeda”, CBS News, 27 February 2012
9 Reuters, “Islamist website posts video of Al Qaeda figure”, 13 June 2012
10 Jonathan Steele, “Most Syrians back President Assad, but you’d never know from Western media”, The Guardian, 17 January 2012
11 Bandeira, The Second Cold War, p. 269
12 Matt Brown, “Syrian ministers killed in Damascus bomb attack”, ABC News, 18 July 2012
13 Space Daily, “Assad moving troops from Golan to Damascus: Israel”, 17 July 2012
14 Bandeira, The Second Cold War, p. 264
15 Ibid., p. 265
16 Philip Giraldi, “NATO vs. Syria”, The American Conservative, 19 December 2011
17 Hürriyet Daily News, “There are 50 senior agents in Turkey, ex-spy says”, 16 September 2012
18 Thorsten Jungholt, “The Kiel-Syria connection”, Die Welt, 20 August 2012
19 Bandeira, The Second Cold War, p. 268
We are pleased to bring you this fresh interview with Jacques Baud, in which we cover what is now happening in the geopolitical struggle that is the Ukraine-Russia war. As always, Mr. Baud brings deep insight and clear analysis to the conversation.
The Postil (TP): You have just published your latest book on the war in Ukraine—Operation Z, published by Max Milo. Please tell us a little about it—what led you to write this book and what do you wish to convey to readers?
Jacques Baud (JB): The aim of this book is to show how the misinformation propagated by our media has contributed to push Ukraine in the wrong direction. I wrote it under the motto “from the way we understand crises derives the way we solve them.”
By hiding many aspects of this conflict, the Western media has presented us with a caricatural and artificial image of the situation, which has resulted in the polarization of minds. This has led to a widespread mindset that makes any attempt to negotiate virtually impossible.
The one-sided and biased representation provided by mainstream media is not intended to help us solve the problem, but to promote hatred of Russia. Thus, the exclusion of disabled athletes, cats, even Russian trees from competitions, the dismissal of conductors, the de-platforming of Russian artists, such as Dostoyevsky, or even the renaming of paintings aims at excluding the Russian population from society! In France, bank accounts of individuals with Russian-sounding names were even blocked. Social networks Facebook and Twitter have systematically blocked the disclosure of Ukrainian crimes under the pretext of “hate speech” but allow the call for violence against Russians.
None of these actions had any effect on the conflict, except to stimulate hatred and violence against the Russians in our countries. This manipulation is so bad that we would rather see Ukrainians die than to seek a diplomatic solution. As Republican Senator Lindsey Graham recently said, it is a matter of letting the Ukrainians fight to the last man.
It is commonly assumed that journalists work according to standards of quality and ethics to inform us in the most honest way possible. These standards are set by the Munich Charter of 1971. While writing my book I found out that no French-speaking mainstream media in Europe respects this charter as far as Russia and China are concerned. In fact, they shamelessly support an immoral policy towards Ukraine, described by Andrés Manuel López Obrador, president of Mexico, as “We provide the weapons, you provide the corpses!”
To highlight this misinformation, I wanted to show that information allowing to provide a realistic picture of the situation was available as early as February, but that our media did not relay it to the public. My goal was to show this contradiction.
In order to avoid becoming a propagandist myself in favor of one side or the other, I have relied exclusively on Western, Ukrainian (from Kiev) and Russian opposition sources. I have not taken any information from the Russian media.
TP: It is commonly said in the West that this war has “proven” that the Russian army is feeble and that its equipment is useless. Are these assertions true?
JB: No. After more than six months of war, it can be said that the Russian army is effective and efficient, and that the quality of its command & control far exceeds what we see in the West. But our perception is influenced by a reporting that is focused on the Ukrainian side, and by distortions of reality.
Firstly, there is the reality on the ground. It should be remembered that what the media call “Russians” is in fact a Russian-speaking coalition, composed of professional Russian fighters and soldiers of the popular militias of Donbass. The operations in the Donbass are mainly carried out by these militias, who fight on “their” terrain, in towns and villages they know and where they have friends and family. They are therefore advancing cautiously for themselves, but also to avoid civilian casualties. Thus, despite the claims of western propaganda, the coalition enjoys a very good popular support in the areas it occupies.
Then, just looking at a map, you can see that the Donbass is a region with a lot of built-up and inhabited areas, which means an advantage for the defender and a reduced speed of progress for the attacker in all circumstances.
Secondly, there is the way our media portray the evolution of the conflict. Ukraine is a huge country and small-scale maps hardly show the differences from one day to another. Moreover, each side has its own perception of the progress of the enemy. If we take the example of the situation on March 25, 2022, we can see that the map of the French daily newspaper Ouest-France (a) shows almost no advance of Russia, as does the Swiss RTS site (b). The map of the Russian website RIAFAN (c) may be propaganda, but if we compare it with the map of the [French Military Intelligence Directorate](https://www.defense.gouv.fr/sites/default/files/ministere-armees/Situation Ukraine au 25 mars.pdf) (DRM) (d), we see that the Russian media is probably closer to the truth. All these maps were published on the same day, but the French newspaper and the Swiss state media did not choose to use the DRM map and preferred to use a Ukrainian map. This illustrates that our media work like propaganda outlets.
Figure 1 – Comparison of the maps presented in our media on 25 March 2022. It is this way of presenting the Russian offensive that has led to the assertion that the Russian army is weak. It also shows that the information provided by the Russian media seems closer to reality than that given by Ukraine.
Thirdly, our “experts” have themselves determined the objectives of the Russian offensive. By claiming that Russia wanted to take over Ukraine and its resources, to take over Kiev in two days, etc., our experts have literally invented and attributed to the Russians objectives that Putin never mentioned. In May 2022, Claude Wild, the Swiss ambassador in Kiev, declared on RTS that the Russians had “lost the battle for Kiev.” But in reality, there was never a “battle for Kiev.” It is obviously easy to claim that the Russians did not reach their objectives—if they never tried to reach them!
Fourthly, the West and Ukraine have created a misleading picture of their adversary. In France, Switzerland and Belgium, none of the military experts on television have any knowledge of military operations and how the Russians conduct theirs. Their “expertise” comes from the rumours from the war in Afghanistan or Syria, which are often merely Western propaganda. These experts have literally falsified the presentation of Russian operations.
Thus, the objectives announced as early as February 24 by Russia were the “demilitarization” and “denazification” of the threat to the populations of Donbass. These objectives are related to the neutralization of capabilities, not the seizure of land or resources. To put it bluntly, in theory, to achieve their goals the Russians do not need to advance—it would be enough if Ukrainians themselves would come and get killed.
In other words, our politicians and media have pushed Ukraine to defend the terrain like in France during the First World War. They pushed Ukrainian troops to defend every square meter of ground in “last stand” situations. Ironically, the West has only made the Russians’ job easier.
In fact, as with the war on terror, Westerners see the enemy as they would like him to be, not as he is. As Sun Tzu said 2,500 years ago, this is the best recipe for losing a war.
One example is the so-called “hybrid war” that Russia is allegedly waging against the West. In June 2014, as the West tried to explain Russia’s (imaginary) intervention in the Donbass conflict, Russia expert Mark Galeotti “revealed” the existence of a doctrine that would illustrate the Russian concept of hybrid warfare. Known as the “Gerasimov Doctrine,” it has never really been defined by the West as to what it consists of and how it could ensure military success. But it is used to explain how Russia wages war in Donbass without sending troops there and why Ukraine consistently loses its battles against the rebels. In 2018, realizing that he was wrong, Galeotti apologized—courageously and intelligently—in an article titled, “I’m Sorry for Creating the Gerasimov Doctrine” published in Foreign Policy magazine.
Despite this, and without knowing what it meant, our media and politicians continued to pretend that Russia was waging a hybrid war against Ukraine and the West. In other words, we imagined a type of war that does not exist and we prepared Ukraine for it. This is also what explains the challenge for Ukraine to have a coherent strategy to counter Russian operations.
The West does not want to see the situation as it really is. The Russian-speaking coalition has launched its offensive with an overall strength inferior to that of the Ukrainians in a ratio of 1-2:1. To be successful when you are outnumbered, you must create local and temporary superiorities by quickly moving your forces on the battlefield.
This is what the Russians call “operational art” (operativnoe iskoustvo). This notion is poorly understood in the West. The term “operational” used in NATO has two translations in Russian: “operative” (which refers to a command level) and “operational” (which defines a condition). It is the art of maneuvering military formations, much like a chess game, in order to defeat a superior opponent.
For example, the operation around Kiev was not intended to “deceive” the Ukrainians (and the West) about their intentions, but to force the Ukrainian army to keep large forces around the capital and thus “pin them down.” In technical terms, this is what is called a “shaping operation.” Contrary to the analysis of some “experts,” it was not a “deception operation,” which would have been conceived very differently and would have involved much larger forces. The aim was to prevent a reinforcement of the main body of the Ukrainian forces in the Donbass.
The main lesson of this war at this stage confirms what we know since the Second World War: the Russians master the operational art.
TP: Questions about Russia’s military raises the obvious question—how good is Ukraine’s military today? And more importantly, why do we not hear so much about the Ukrainian army?
JB: The Ukrainian servicemen are certainly brave soldiers who perform their duty conscientiously and courageously. But my personal experience shows that in almost every crisis, the problem is at the head. The inability to understand the opponent and his logic and to have a clear picture of the actual situation is the main reason for failures.
Since the beginning of the Russian offensive, we can distinguish two ways of conducting the war. On the Ukrainian side, the war is waged in the political and informational spaces, while on the Russian side the war is waged in the physical and operational space. The two sides are not fighting in the same spaces. This is a situation that I described in 2003 in my book, La guerre asymétrique ou la défaite du vainqueur (Asymmetric War, or the Defeat of the Winner). The trouble is that at the end of the day, the reality of the terrain prevails.
On the Russian side, decisions are made by the military, while on the Ukrainian side, Zelensky is omnipresent and the central element in the conduct of the war. He makes operational decisions, apparently often against the military’s advice. This explains the rising tensions between Zelensky and the military. According to Ukrainian media, Zelensky could dismiss General Valery Zoluzhny by appointing him Minister of Defence.
The Ukrainian army has been extensively trained by American, British and Canadian officers since 2014. The trouble is that for over 20 years, Westerners have been fighting armed groups and scattered adversaries and engaged entire armies against individuals. They fight wars at the tactical level and somehow have lost the ability to fight at the strategic and operative levels. This explains partly why Ukraine is waging its war at this level.
But there is a more conceptual dimension. Zelensky and the West see war as a numerical and technological balance of forces. This is why, since 2014, the Ukrainians have never tried to seduce the rebels and they now think that the solution will come from the weapons supplied by the West. The West provided Ukraine with a few dozen M777 guns and HIMARS and MLRS missile launchers, while Ukraine had several thousand equivalent artillery pieces in February. The Russian concept of “correlation of forces,” takes into account many more factors and is more holistic than the Western approach. That is why the Russians are winning.
To comply with ill-considered policies, our media have constructed a virtual reality that gives Russia the bad role. For those who observe the course of the crisis carefully, we could almost say they presented Russia as a “mirror image” of the situation in Ukraine. Thus, when the talk about Ukrainian losses began, Western communication turned to Russian losses (with figures given by Ukraine).
The so-called “counter-offensives” proclaimed by Ukraine and the West in Kharkov and Kherson in April-May were merely “counter-attacks.” The difference between the two is that counter-offensive is an operational notion, while counter-attack is a tactical notion, which is much more limited in scope. These counterattacks were possible because the density of Russian troops in these sectors was then 1 Battle Group (BTG) per 20 km of front. By comparison, in the Donbass sector, which was the primary focus, the Russian coalition had 1-3 BTG per km. As for the great August offensive on Kherson, which was supposed to take over the south of the country, it seems to have been nothing but a myth to maintain Western support.
Today, we see that the claimed Ukrainian successes were in fact failures. The human and material losses that were attributed to Russia were in fact more in line with those of Ukraine. In mid-June, David Arakhamia, Zelensky’s chief negotiator and close adviser, spoke of 200 to 500 deaths per day, and he mentioned casualties (dead, wounded, captured, deserters) of 1,000 men per day. If we add to this the renewed demands for arms by Zelensky, we can see that the idea of a victory for Ukraine appears quite an illusion.
Because Russia’s economy was thought to be comparable to Italy’s, it was assumed that it would be equally vulnerable. Thus, the West—and the Ukrainians—thought that economic sanctions and political isolation of Russia would quickly cause its collapse, without passing through a military defeat. Indeed, this is what we understand from the interview of Oleksei Arestovich, Zelensky’s advisor and spokesman, in March 2019. This also explains why Zelensky did not sound the alarm in early 2022, as he says in his interview with the Washington Post. I think he knew that Russia would respond to the offensive Ukraine was preparing in the Donbass (which is why the bulk of his troops were in that area) and thought that sanctions would quickly lead to Russia’s collapse and defeat. This is what Bruno Le Maire, the French Minister of the Economy, had “predicted.” Clearly, the Westerners have made decisions without knowing their opponent.
As Arestovich said, the idea was that the defeat of Russia would be Ukraine’s entry ticket to NATO. So, the Ukrainians were pushed to prepare an offensive in the Donbass in order to make Russia react, and thus obtain an easy defeat through devastating sanctions. This is cynical and shows how much the West—led by the Americans—has misused Ukraine for its own objectives.
The result is that the Ukrainians did not seek Ukraine’s victory, but Russia’s defeat. This is very different and explains the Western narrative from the first days of the Russian offensive, which prophesied this defeat.
But the reality is that the sanctions did not work as expected, and Ukraine found itself dragged into combats that it had provoked, but for which it was not prepared to fight for so long.
This is why, from the outset, the Western narrative presented a mismatch between media reported and the reality on the ground. This had a perverse effect: it encouraged Ukraine to repeat its mistakes and prevented it from improving its conduct of operations. Under the pretext of fighting Vladimir Putin, we pushed Ukraine to sacrifice thousands of human lives unnecessarily.
From the beginning, it was obvious that the Ukrainians were consistently repeating their mistakes (and even the same mistakes as in 2014-2015), and soldiers were dying on the battlefield. For his part, Volodymyr Zelensky called for more and more sanctions, including the most absurd ones, because he was led to believe that they were decisive.
I am not the only one to have noticed these mistakes, and Western countries could certainly have stopped this disaster. But their leaders, excited by the (fanciful) reports of Russian losses and thinking they were paving the way for regime change, added sanctions to sanctions, turning down any possibility of negotiation. As the French Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire said, the objective was to provoke the collapse of the Russian economy and make the Russian people suffer. This is a form of state terrorism: the idea is to make the population suffer in order to push it into revolting against its leaders (here, Putin). I am not making this up. This mechanism is detailed by Richard Nephew, head of sanctions at the State Department under Obama and currently Coordinator on Global Anti-Corruption, in his book entitled, The Art of Sanctions. Ironically, this is exactly the same logic that the Islamic State invoked to explain its attacks in France in 2015-2016. France probably does not encourage terrorism—but it does practice it.
The mainstream media do not present the war as it is, but as they would like it to be. This is pure wishful thinking. The apparent public support for the Ukrainian authorities, despite huge losses (some mention 70,000-80,000 fatalities), is achieved by banning the opposition, a ruthless hunt for officials who disagree with the government line, and “mirror” propaganda that attributes to the Russians the same failures as the Ukrainians. All this with the conscious support of the West.
TP: What should we make of the explosion at the Saki airbase in the Crimea?
JB: I do not know the details of the current security situation in Crimea. . We know that before February there were cells of volunteer fighters of Praviy Sektor (a neo-Nazi militia) in Crimea, ready to carry out terrorist-type attacks. Have these cells been neutralized? I don’t know; but one can assume so, since there is apparently very little sabotage activity in Crimea. Having said that, let us not forget that Ukrainians and Russians have lived together for many decades and there are certainly pro-Kiev individuals in the areas taken by the Russians. It is therefore realistic to think that there could be sleeper cells in these areas.
More likely it is a campaign conducted by the Ukrainian security service (SBU) in the territories occupied by the Russian-speaking coalition. This is a terrorist campaign targeting pro-Russian Ukrainian personalities and officials. It follows major changes in the leadership of the SBU, in Kiev, and in the regions, including Lvov, Ternopol since July. It is probably in the context of this same campaign that Darya Dugina was assassinated on August 21. The objective of this new campaign could be to convey the illusion that there is an ongoing resistance in the areas taken by the Russians and thus revive Western aid, which is starting to fatigue.
These sabotage activities do not really have an operational impact and seem more related to a psychological operation. It may be that these are actions like the one on Snake Island at the beginning of May, intended to demonstrate to the international public that Ukraine is acting.
What the incidents in Crimea indirectly show is that the popular resistance claimed by the West in February does not exist. It is most likely the action of Ukrainian and Western (probably British) clandestine operatives. Beyond the tactical actions, this shows the inability of the Ukrainians to activate a significant resistance movement in the areas seized by the Russian-speaking coalition.
TP: Zelensky has famously said, “Crimea is Ukrainian and we will never give it up.” Is this rhetoric, or is there a plan to attack Crimea? Are there Ukrainian operatives inside Crimea?
JB: First of all, Zelensky changes his opinion very often. In March 2022, he made a proposal to Russia, stating that he was ready to discuss a recognition of Russian sovereignty over the peninsula. It was upon the intervention of the European Union and Boris Johnson on 2 April and on 9 April that he withdrew his proposal, despite Russia’s favorable interest.
It is necessary to recall some historical facts. The cession of Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 was never formally validated by the parliaments of the USSR, Russia and Ukraine during the communist era. Moreover, the Crimean people agreed to be subject to the authority of Moscow and no longer of Kiev as early as January 1991. In other words, Crimea was independent from Kiev even before Ukraine became independent from Moscow in December 1991.
In July, Aleksei Reznikov, the Ukrainian Minister of Defense, spoke loudly of a major counter-offensive on Kherson involving one million men to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity. In reality, Ukraine has not managed to gather the troops, armor and air cover needed for this far-fetched offensive. Sabotage actions in Crimea may be a substitute for this “counter-offensive.” They seem to be more of a communication exercise than a real military action. These actions seem to be aimed rather at reassuring Western countries which are questioning the relevance of their unconditional support to Ukraine.
TP: Would you tell us about the situation around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility?
JB: In Energodar, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (ZNPP), has been the target of several attacks by artillery, which Ukrainians and Russians attribute to the opposing side.
What we know is that the Russian coalition forces have occupied the ZNPP site since the beginning of March. The objective at that time was to secure the ZNPP quickly, in order to prevent it from being caught up in the fighting and thus avoid a nuclear incident. The Ukrainian personnel who were in charge of it have remained on site and continue to work under the supervision of the Ukrainian company Energoatom and the Ukrainian nuclear safety agency (SNRIU). There is therefore no fighting around the plant.
It is hard to see why the Russians would shell a nuclear plant that is under their control. This allegation is even more peculiar since the Ukrainians themselves state that there are Russian troops in the premises of the site. According to a French “expert,” the Russians would attack the power plant they control to cut off the electricity flowing to Ukraine. Not only would there be simpler ways to cut off the electricity to Ukraine (a switch, perhaps?), but Russia has not stopped the electricity supply to the Ukrainians since March. Moreover, I remind you that Russia has not stopped the flow of natural gas to Ukraine and has continued to pay Ukraine the transit fees for gas to Europe. It is Zelensky who decided to shut down the Soyuz pipeline in May.
Moreover, it should be remembered that the Russians are in an area where the population is generally favorable to them and it is hard to understand why they would take the risk of a nuclear contamination of the region.
In reality, the Ukrainians have more credible motives than the Russians that may explain such attacks against the ZNPP. , which are not mutually exclusive: an alternative to the big counter-offensive on Kherson, which they are not able to implement, and to prevent the planned referendums in the region. Further, Zelensky’s calls for demilitarizing the area of the power plant and even returning it to Ukraine would be a political and operational success for him. One might even imagine that they seek to deliberately provoke a nuclear incident in order to create a “no man’s land” and thus render the area unusable for the Russians.
By bombing the plant, Ukraine could also be trying to pressure the West to intervene in the conflict, under the pretext that Russia is seeking to disconnect the plant from the Ukrainian power grid before the fall. This suicidal behavior—as stated by UN Secretary General António Guterres—would be in line with the war waged by Ukraine since 2014.
There is strong evidence that the attacks on Energodar are Ukrainian. The fragments of projectiles fired at the site from the other side of the Dnieper are of Western origin. It seems that they come from British BRIMSTONE missiles, which are precision missiles, whose use is monitored by the British. Apparently, the West is aware of the Ukrainian attacks on the ZNPP. This might explain why Ukraine is not very supportive of an international commission of inquiry and why Western countries are putting unrealistic conditions for sending investigators from the IAEA, an agency that has not shown much integrity so far.
TP: It is reported that Zelensky is freeing criminals to fight in this war? Does this mean that Ukraine’s army is not as strong as commonly assumed?
JB: Zelensky faces the same problem as the authorities that emerged from Euromaidan in 2014. At that time, the military did not want to fight because they did not want to confront their Russian-speaking compatriots. According to a report by the British Home Office, reservists overwhelmingly refuse to attend recruitment sessions . In October-November 2017, 70% of conscripts do not show up for recall . Suicide has become a problem. According to the chief Ukrainian military prosecutor Anatoly Matios, after four years of war in the Donbass, 615 servicemen had committed suicide. Desertions have increased and reached up to 30% of the forces in certain operational areas, often in favor of the rebels.
For this reason, it became necessary to integrate more motivated, highly politicized, ultra-nationalistic and fanatical fighters into the armed forces to fight in the Donbass. Many of them are neo-Nazis. It is to eliminate these fanatical fighters that Vladimir Putin has mentioned the objective of “denazification.”
Today, the problem is slightly different. The Russians have attacked Ukraine and the Ukrainian soldiers are not a priori opposed to fighting them. But they realize that the orders they receive are not consistent with the situation on the battlefield. They understood that the decisions affecting them are not linked to military factors, but to political considerations. Ukrainian units are mutinying en masse and are increasingly refusing to fight. They say they feel abandoned by their commanders and that they are given missions without the necessary resources to execute them.
That’s why it becomes necessary to send men who are ready for anything. Because they are condemned, they can be kept under pressure. This is the same principle as Marshal Konstantin Rokossovki, who was sentenced to death by Stalin, but was released from prison in 1941 to fight against the Germans. His death sentence was lifted only after Stalin’s death in 1956.
In order to overshadow the use of criminals in the armed forces, the Russians are accused of doing the same thing. The Ukrainians and the Westerners consistently use “mirror” propaganda. As in all recent conflicts, Western influence has not led to a moralization of the conflict.
TP: Everyone speaks of how corrupt Putin is? But what about Zelensky? Is he the “heroic saint” that we are all told to admire?
JB: In October 2021, the Pandora Papers showed that Ukraine and Zelensky were the most corrupt in Europe and practiced tax evasion on a large scale. Interestingly, these documents were apparently published with the help of an American intelligence agency, and Vladimir Putin is not mentioned. More precisely, the documents mention individuals ” associated ” with him, who are said to have links with undisclosed assets, which could belong to a woman, who is believed to have had a child with him.
Yet, when our media are reporting on these documents, they routinely put a picture of Vladimir Putin, but not of Volodymyr Zelensky.
Figure 2 – Although he is not mentioned in the Pandora Papers, Vladimir Putin is consistently associated with them. Whereas Volodymyr Zelensky is never mentioned in our media, even though he is widely implicated.
I am not in a position to assess how corrupt Zelensky is. But there is no doubt that the Ukrainian society and its governance are. I contributed modestly to a NATO “Building Integrity” program in Ukraine and discovered that none of the contributing countries had any illusions about its effectiveness, and all saw the program as a kind of “window dressing” to justify Western support.
It is unlikely that the billions paid by the West to Ukraine will reach the Ukrainian people. A recent CBS News report stated that only 30-40% of the weapons supplied by the West make it to the battlefield. The rest enriches mafias and other corrupt people. Apparently, some high-tech Western weapons have been sold to the Russians, such as the French CAESAR system and presumably the American HIMARS. The CBS News report was censored to avoid undermining Western aid, but the fact remains that the US refused to supply MQ-1C drones to Ukraine for this reason.
Ukraine is a rich country, yet today it is the only country in the former USSR with a lower GDP than it had at the collapse of the Soviet Union. The problem is therefore not Zelensky himself, but the whole system, which is deeply corrupted, and which the West maintains for the sole purpose of fighting Russia.
Zelensky was elected in April 2019 on the program of reaching an agreement with Russia. But nobody let him carry out his program. The Germans and the French deliberately prevented him from implementing the Minsk agreements. The transcript of the telephone conversation of 20 February 2022 between Emmanuel Macron and Vladimir Putin shows that France deliberately kept Ukraine away from the solution. Moreover, in Ukraine, far right and neo-Nazi political forces have publicly threatened him with death. Dmitry Yarosh, commander of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army, declared in May 2019 that Zelensky would be hanged if he carried out his program. In other words, Zelensky is trapped between his idea of reaching an agreement with Russia and the demands of the West. Moreover, the West realizes that its strategy of war through sanctions has failed. As the economic and social problems increase, the West will find it harder to back down without losing face. A way out for Britain, the US, the EU, or France would be to remove Zelensky. That is why, with the deteriorating situation in Ukraine, I think Zelensky starts to realize that his life is threatened.
At the end of the day, Zelensky is a poor guy, because his best enemies are those on whom he depends: the Western world.
TP: There are many videos (gruesome ones) on social media of Ukrainian soldiers engaging in serious war crimes? Why is there a “blind spot” in the West for such atrocities?
JB: First of all, we must be clear: in every war, every belligerent commit war crimes. Military personnel who deliberately commit such crimes dishonor their uniform and must be punished.
The problem arises when war crimes are part of a plan or result from orders given by the higher command. This was the case when the Netherlands let its military allow the Srebrenica massacre in 1995; the torture in Afghanistan by Canadian and British troops, not to mention the countless violations of international humanitarian law by the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo and elsewhere with the complicity of Poland, Lithuania or Estonia. If these are Western values, then Ukraine is in the right school.
In Ukraine, political crime has become commonplace, with the complicity of the West. Thus, those who are in favor of a negotiation are eliminated. This is the case of Denis Kireyev, one of the Ukrainian negotiators, assassinated on March 5 by the Ukrainian security service (SBU) because he was considered too favorable to Russia and as a traitor. The same thing happened to Dmitry Demyanenko, an officer of the SBU, who was assassinated on March 10, also because he was too favorable to an agreement with Russia. Remember that this is a country that considers that receiving or giving Russian humanitarian aid is “collaborationism.”
On 16 March 2022, a journalist on TV channel Ukraine 24 referred to the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann and called for the massacre of Russian-speaking children. On 21 March, the military doctor Gennadiy Druzenko declared on the same channel that he had ordered his doctors to castrate Russian prisoners of war. On social networks, these statements quickly became propaganda for the Russians and the two Ukrainians apologized for having said so, but not for the substance. Ukrainian crimes were beginning to be revealed on social networks, and on 27 March Zelensky feared that this would jeopardize Western support. This was followed—rather opportunely—by the Bucha massacre on 3 April, the circumstances of which remain unclear.
Britain, which then had the chairmanship of the UN Security Council, refused three times the Russian request to set up an international commission of enquiry into the crimes of Bucha. Ukrainian socialist MP Ilya Kiva revealed on Telegram that the Bucha tragedy was planned by the British MI6 special services and implemented by the SBU.
The fundamental problem is that the Ukrainians have replaced the “operational art” with brutality. Since 2014, in order to fight the autonomists, the Ukrainian government has never tried to apply strategies based on “hearts & minds,” which the British used in the 1950s-1960s in South-East Asia, which were much less brutal but much more effective and long-lasting. Kiev preferred to conduct an Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) in the Donbass and to use the same strategies as the Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fighting terrorists authorizes all kinds of brutality. It is the lack of a holistic approach to the conflict that led to the failure of the West in Afghanistan, Iraq and Mali.
Counter-Insurgency Operation (COIN) requires a more sophisticated and holistic approach. But NATO is incapable of developing such strategies as I have seen first-hand in Afghanistan. The war in Donbass has been brutal for 8 years and has resulted in the death of 10,000 Ukrainian citizens plus 4,000 Ukrainian military personnel. By comparison, in 30 years, the conflict in Northern Ireland resulted in 3,700 deaths. To justify this brutality, the Ukrainians had to invent the myth of a Russian intervention in Donbass.
The problem is that the philosophy of the new Maidan leaders was to have a racially pure Ukraine. In other words, the unity of the Ukrainian people was not to be achieved through the integration of communities, but through the exclusion of communities of “inferior races.” An idea that would no doubt have pleased the grandfathers of Ursula von der Leyen and Chrystia Freeland! This explains why Ukrainians have little empathy for the country’s Russian, Magyar and Romanian-speaking minorities. This in turn explains why Hungary and Romania do not want their territories to be used for the supply of arms to Ukraine.
This is why shooting at their own citizens to intimidate them is not a problem for the Ukrainians. This explains the spraying of thousands of PFM-1 (“butterfly”) anti-personnel mines, which look like toys, on the Russian-speaking city of Donetsk in July 2022. This type of mine is used by a defender, not an attacker in its main area of operation. Moreover, in this area, the Donbass militias are fighting “at home,” with populations they know personally.
I think that war crimes have been committed on both sides, but that their media coverage has been very different. Our media have reported extensively about crimes (true or false) attributed to Russia. On the other hand, they have been extremely silent about Ukrainian crimes. We do not know the whole truth about the Bucha massacre, but the available evidence supports the hypothesis that Ukraine staged the event to cover up its own crimes. By keeping these crimes quiet, our media have been complicit with them and have created a sense of impunity that has encouraged the Ukrainians to commit further crimes.
TP: Latvia wants the West (America) to designate Russia a “terrorist state.” What do you make of this? Does this mean that the war is actually over, and Russia has won?
JB: The Estonian and Latvian demands are in response to Zelensky’s call to designate Russia as a terrorist state. Interestingly, they come at the same time a Ukrainian terrorist campaign is being unleashed in Crimea, the occupied zone of Ukraine and the rest of Russian territory. It is also interesting that Estonia was apparently complicit in the attack on Darya Dugina in August 2022.
It seems that Ukrainians communicate in a mirror image of the crimes they commit or the problems they have, in order to hide them. For example, in late May 2022, as the Azovstal surrender in Mariupol showed neo-Nazi fighters, they began to allege that there are neo-Nazis in the Russian army. In August 2022, when Kiev was carrying out actions of a terrorist nature against the Energodar power plant in Crimea and on Russian territory, Zelensky called for Russia to be considered a terrorist state.
In fact, Zelensky continues to believe that he can only solve his problem by defeating Russia and that this defeat depends on sanctions against Russia. Declaring Russia a terrorist state would lead to further isolation. That is why he is making this appeal. This shows that the label “terrorist” is more political than operational, and that those who make such proposals do not have a very clear vision of the problem. The problem is that it has implications for international relations. This is why the US State Department is concerned that Zelensky’s request will be implemented by Congress.
TP: One of the sadder outcomes of this Ukraine-Russia conflict is how the West has shown the worst of itself. Where do you think we will go from here? More of the same, or will there be changes that will have to be made in regards to NATO, neutral countries which are no longer neutral, and the way the West seeks to “govern” the world?
JB: This crisis reveals several things. First, that NATO and the European Union are only instruments of US foreign policy. These institutions no longer act in the interests of their members, but in the interests of the US. The sanctions adopted under American pressure are backfiring on Europe, which is the big loser in this whole crisis: it suffers its own sanctions and has to deal with the tensions resulting from its own decisions.
The decisions taken by Western governments reveal a generation of leaders who are young and inexperienced (such as Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin); ignorant, yet thinking they are smart (such as French President Emmanuel Macron); doctrinaire (such as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen); and fanatical (such as the leaders of the Baltic States). They all share some of the same weaknesses, not least of which is their inability to manage a complex crisis.
When the head is unable to understand the complexity of a crisis, we respond with guts and dogmatism. This is what we see happening in Europe. The Eastern European countries, especially the Baltic States and Poland, have shown themselves to be loyal servants of American policy. They have also shown immature, confrontational, and short-sighted governance. These are countries that have never integrated Western values, that continue to celebrate the forces of the Third Reich and discriminate against their own Russian-speaking population.
I am not even mentioning the European Union, which has been vehemently opposed to any diplomatic solution and has only added fuel to the fire.
The more you are involved in a conflict, the more you are involved in its outcome. If you win, all is well. But if the conflict is a failure, you will bear the burden. This is what has happened to the United States in recent conflicts and what is happening in Ukraine. The defeat of Ukraine is becoming the defeat of the West.
Another big loser in this conflict is clearly Switzerland. Its neutral status has suddenly lost all credibility. Early August, Switzerland and Ukraine concluded an agreement that would allow the Swiss embassy in Moscow to offer protection to Ukrainian citizens in Russia. However, in order to enter into force, it has to be recognized by Russia. Quite logically, Russia refused and declared that “Switzerland had unfortunately lost its status as a neutral state and could not act as an intermediary or representative.”
This is a very serious development because neutrality is not simply a unilateral declaration. It must be accepted and recognized by all to be effective. Yet Switzerland not only aligned itself with the Western countries but was even more extreme than them. It can be said that in a few weeks, Switzerland has ruined a policy that has been recognized for almost 170 years. This is a problem for Switzerland, but it may also be a problem for other countries. A neutral state can offer a way out of a crisis. Today, Western countries are looking for a way out that would allow them to get closer to Russia in the perspective of an energy crisis without losing face. Turkey has taken on this role, but it is limited, as it is part of NATO.
Figure 3 – Countries and organizations that applied sanctions to Russia. Although Switzerland is a neutral country, it stands on the first place. According to own sources, this was done under pressure and blackmail from the United States. Nevertheless, this is a severe blow to the very principle of neutrality that will have consequences in other future conflicts.
The West has created an Iron Curtain 2.0 that will affect international relations for years to come. The West’s lack of strategic vision is astonishing. While NATO is aligning itself with US foreign policy and reorienting itself towards China, Western strategy has only strengthened the Moscow-Beijing axis.
TP: What do you think this war ultimately means for Europe, the US and China?
JB: In order to answer this question, we first must answer another question: “Why is this conflict more condemnable and sanctionable than previous conflicts started by the West?”
After the disasters of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Mali, the rest of the world expected the West to help resolve this crisis with common sense. The West responded in exactly the opposite way to these expectations. Not only has no one been able to explain why this conflict was more reprehensible than previous ones, but the difference in treatment between Russia and the United States has shown that more importance is attached to the aggressor than to the victims. Efforts to bring about the collapse of Russia contrast with the total impunity of countries that have lied to the UN Security Council, practiced torture, caused the deaths of over a million people and created 37 million refugees.
This difference in treatment went unnoticed in the West. But the “rest of the world” has understood that we have moved from a “law-based international order” to a “rules-based international order” determined by the West.
On a more material level, the confiscation of Venezuelan gold by the British in 2020, of Afghanistan’s sovereign funds in 2021, and then of Russia’s sovereign funds in 2022 by the US, has raised the mistrust of the West’s allies. This shows that the non-Western world is no longer protected by law and depends on the goodwill of the West.
This conflict is probably the starting point for a new world order. The world is not going to change all at once, but the conflict has raised the attention of the rest of the world. For when we say that the “international community” condemns Russia, we are in fact talking about 18% of the world’s population.
Some actors traditionally close to the West are gradually moving away from it. On 15 July 2022, Joe Biden visited Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) with two objectives: to prevent Saudi Arabia from moving closer to Russia and China, and to ask him to increase its oil production. But four days earlier, MbS made an official request to become a member of the BRICS, and a week later, on 21 July, MbS called Vladimir Putin to confirm that he would stand by the OPEC+ decision. In other words: no oil production increase. It was a slap in the face of the West and of its most powerful representative.
Saudi Arabia has now decided to accept Chinese currency as payment for its oil. This is a major event, which tends to indicate a loss of confidence in the dollar. The consequences are potentially huge. The petrodollar was established by the US in the 1970s to finance its deficit. By forcing other countries to buy dollars, it allows the US to print dollars without being caught in an inflationary loop. Thanks to the petrodollar, the US economy—which is essentially a consumer economy—is supported by the economies of other countries around the world. The demise of the petrodollar could have disastrous consequences for the US economy, as former Republican Senator Ron Paul puts it.
In addition, the sanctions have brought China and Russia, both targeted by the West, closer together. This has accelerated the formation of a Eurasian bloc and strengthened the position of both countries in the world. India, which the US has scorned as a “second-class” partner of the “Quad,” has moved closer to Russia and China, despite disputes with the latter.
Today, China is the main provider of infrastructure in the Third World. In particular, its way of interacting with African countries is more in line with the expectations of these countries. Collaboration with former colonial powers such as France and American imperialist paternalism are no longer welcome. For example, the Central African Republic and Mali have asked France to leave their countries and have turned to Russia.
At the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, the US proudly announced a $150 million contribution to “strengthen its position in the broader geopolitical competition with China.” But in November 2021, President Xi Jinping offered $1.5 billion to the same countries to fight the pandemic and promote economic recovery. By using its money to wage war, the US has no money left to forge and consolidate alliances.
The West’s loss of influence stems from the fact that it continues to treat the “rest of the world” like “little children” and neglects the usefulness of good diplomacy.
The war in Ukraine is not the trigger for these phenomena, which started a few years ago, but it is most certainly an eye-opener and accelerator.
TP: The western media has been pushing that Putin may be seriously ill. If Putin suddenly dies, would this make any difference at all to the war?
JB: It seems that Vladimir Putin is a unique medical case in the world: he has stomach cancer, leukemia, an unknown but incurable and terminal phase disease, and is reportedly already dead. Yet in July 2022, at the Aspen Security Forum, CIA Director William Burns said that Putin was “too healthy” and that there was “no information to suggest that he is in poor health.” This shows how those who claim to be journalists work!
This is wishful thinking and, on the higher end of the spectrum, it echoes the calls for terrorism and the physical elimination of Vladimir Putin.
The West has personalized Russian politics through Putin, because he is the one who promoted the reconstruction of Russia after the Yeltsin years. Americans like to be champions when there are no competitors and see others as enemies. This is the case with Germany, Europe, Russia and China.
But our “experts” know little about Russian politics. For in reality, Vladimir Putin is more of a “dove” in the Russian political landscape. Given the climate that we have created with Russia, it would not be impossible that his disappearance would lead to the emergence of more aggressive forces. We should not forget that countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland or Georgia have never developed European democratic values. They still have discriminatory policies towards their ethnic Russians that are far from European values, and they behave like immature agents provocateurs. I think that if Putin were to disappear for some reason, the conflicts with these countries would take on a new dimension.
TP: How unified is Russia presently? Has the war created a more serious opposition than what previously existed within Russia?
JB: No, on the contrary. The American and European leaders have a poor understanding of their enemy: the Russian people are very patriotic and cohesive. Western obsession to ” punish ” the Russian people has only brought them closer to their leaders. In fact, by seeking to divide Russian society in an effort to overthrow the government, Western sanctions—including the dumbest ones—have confirmed what the Kremlin has been saying for years: that the West has a profound hatred of Russians. What was once said to be a lie is now confirmed in Russian opinion. The consequence is that the people’s trust in the government has grown stronger.
The approval ratings given by the Levada Centre (considered by the Russian authorities as a “foreign agent”) show that public opinion has tightened around Vladimir Putin and the Russian government. In January 2022, Vladimir Putin’s approval rating was 69% and the government’s was 53%. Today, Putin’s approval rating has been stable at around 83% since March, and the government’s is at 71%. In January, 29% did not approve of Vladimir Putin’s decisions, in July it was only 15%.
According to the Levada Centre, even the Russian operation in Ukraine enjoys a majority of favorable opinions. In March, 81% of Russians were in favor of the operation; this figure dropped to 74%, probably due to the impact of sanctions at the end of March, and then it went back up. In July 2022, the operation had 76% popular support.
Figure 4 – Not all Russians support the special operation in Ukraine, but three quarters of the population do. Ukrainian war crimes, Western sanctions and the good management of the economy by the Russian authorities explain this support. [Source]
The problem is that our journalists have neither culture nor journalistic discipline and they replace them with their own beliefs. It is a form of conspiracy that aims to create a false reality based on what one believes and not on the facts. For example, few know (or want to know) that Aleksey Navalny said he would not return Crimea to Ukraine. The West’s actions have completely wiped out the opposition, not because of “Putin’s repression,” but because in Russia, resistance to foreign interference and the West’s deep contempt for Russians is a bipartisan cause. Exactly like the hatred of Russians in the West. This is why personalities like Aleksey Navalny, who never had a very high popularity, have completely disappeared from the popular media landscape.
Moreover, even if the sanctions have had a negative impact on the Russian economy, the way the government has handled things since 2014 shows a great mastery of economic mechanisms and a great realism in assessing the situation. There is a rise in prices in Russia, but it is much lower than in Europe, and while Western economies are raising their key interest rates, Russia is lowering its own.
The Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova has been exemplified as an expression of the opposition in Russia. Her case is interesting because, as usual, we do not say everything.
On 14 March 2022, she provoked international applause by interrupting the Russian First Channel news program with a poster calling for ending the war in Ukraine. She was arrested and fined $280.
In May, the German newspaper Die Welt offered her a job in Germany, but in Berlin, pro-Ukrainian activists demonstrated to get the newspaper to end its collaboration with her. The media outlet Politico even suggested that she might be an agent of the Kremlin!
As a result, in June 2022, she left Germany to live in Odessa, her hometown. But instead of being grateful, the Ukrainians put her on the Mirotvorets blacklist where she is accused of treason, “participation in the Kremlin’s special information and propaganda operations” and “complicity with the invaders.”
The Mirotvorets website is a “hit list” for politicians, journalists or personalities who do not share the opinion of the Ukrainian government. Several of the people on the list have been murdered. In October 2019, the UN requested the closure of the site, but this was refused by the Rada. It should be noted that none of our mainstream media has condemned this practice, which is very far from the values they claim to defend. In other words, our media support these practices that used to be attributed to South American regimes.
Figure 5 – Darya Dugina marked as “Liquidated.”
Ovsyannikova then returned to Russia, where she demonstrated against the war, calling Putin a “killer,” and was arrested by the police and placed under house arrest for three months. At this point, our media protested.
It is worth noting that Russian journalist Darya Dugina, the victim of a bomb attack in Moscow on 21 August 2022, was on the Mirotvorets list and her file was marked “liquidated.” Of course, no Western media mentioned that she was targeted by the Mirotvorets website, which is considered to be linked to the SBU, as this would tend to support Russia’s accusations.
German journalist Alina Lipp, whose revelations about Ukrainian and Western crimes in the Donbass are disturbing, has been placed on the website Mirotvorets. Moreover, Alina Lipp was sentenced in absentia to three years in prison by a German court for claiming that Russian troops had “liberated” areas in Ukraine and thus “glorified criminal activities.” As can be seen, the German authorities are functioning like the neo-Nazi elements in Ukraine. Today’s politicians are a credit to their grandparents!
One can conclude that even if there are some people who oppose the war, Russian public opinion is overwhelmingly behind its government. Western sanctions have only strengthened the credibility of the Russian president.
Ultimately, my point is not to take the same approach as our media and replace the hatred of Russia with that of Ukraine. On the contrary, it is to show that the world is not either black or white and that Western countries have taken the situation too far. Those who are compassionate about Ukraine should have pushed our governments to implement the agreed political solutions in 2014 and 2015. They haven’t done anything and are now pushing Ukraine to fight. But we are no longer in 2021. Today, we have to accept the consequences of our non-decisions and help Ukraine to recover. But this must not be done at the expense of its Russian-speaking population, as we have done until now, but with the Russian-speaking people, in an inclusive manner. If I look at the media in France, Switzerland and Belgium, we are still very far from the goal.
TP: Thank you so very much, Mr. Baud, for this most enlightening discussion.
There can be few leaders whose reputation at home differs so widely from his reputation abroad as the last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev, who died on Monday aged 91. Hailed as a hero in the West for ending the Cold War, liberating the people of Eastern Europe, and bringing democracy and freedom to the nations of the former Soviet Union, he is reviled in Russia as a man who inherited a superpower and then destroyed it, leaving it dismembered and impoverished.
Of peasant stock, Gorbachev grew up in the Stavropol region of Southern Russia and aged only 17 won the Order of the Red Banner of Labour for his success in harvesting grain with his father. A clever and hard working student, he won a place at Moscow State University where he studied law before taking up a career in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). He then rose rapidly up the party’s ranks until in 1985 he assumed the position of General Secretary and as such become the Soviet Union’s de facto leader.
In all these ways, he was a typical party functionary. He differed, though, from the generation of leaders who had gone before him, all of whom had had direct experience of the revolutions of 1917 and of the Second World War. Gorbachev was one of those who were called “Children of the Twentieth Party Congress”—that is to say, communists whose view of the world was shaped by the party congress of 1956 at which Nikita Khrushchev delivered his famous ‘Secret Speech’ denouncing Stalin.
The Children of the Twentieth Party Congress believed in communism—in state control of the means of production, in central economic planning, in the social guarantees granted by the Soviet constitution, in the Soviet Union as a genuine ‘brotherhood of nations,’ and so on. But at the same time, they felt that the system was not living up to its promise. They believed that Stalinism had over-centralized and over-bureaucratized Soviet society, stifling initiative, breeding corruption, and creating a severe disconnect between the claims of Soviet propaganda and the realities on the ground. The solution, they felt, was to return to “Leninist norms,” whatever those might be, and thereby put the USSR back on track to a bright communist future.
On reaching the pinnacle of Soviet power, Gorbachev thus sought not to dismantle the system but to make it function more efficiently. As he told the 27th Congress of the CPSU in 1986, “Our goal is to realize the full potential of socialism. Those in the West who expect us to renounce socialism will be disappointed. We’re not going to give up on socialism. On the contrary, we need more socialism.”
Gorbachev’s problem was that he had very little idea how to do this as well as a faulty understanding of the underlying causes of the USSR’s social and economic difficulties.
In particular, Gorbachev’s grasp of economics was sketchy. He firmly believed in the communist economic model, writing in his 1987 book Perestroika that “Socialism and public ownership, on which it is based, hold out virtually unlimited possibilities for progressive economic processes.” He was therefore unwilling to touch the fundamentals of the Soviet system – state ownership and central planning. Instead, he tinkered with the economy by attempting to meld state planning with certain attributes of free markets in accordance with the ideas of what was called “market socialism.” In this, state ownership and the plan were retained, but enterprises gained more autonomy to determine production and were allowed to keep and reinvest some of their profits.
Market socialism proved a disaster. Instead of making enterprises more efficient, the introduction of market elements simply undermined the few advantages that planning provided. Given the failure of this policy, there were two options left: give up and go back, or press on and move towards a free market economy, or at least some sort of mixed market system. Gorbachev did neither. Going backwards would have been an admission of failure. Moving forward was ideologically beyond him. Instead, he dithered while the economy gradually collapsed around him.
As this happened, Gorbachev looked for someone to blame and his gaze fell upon conservative members of the CPSU, who he believed were deliberately sabotaging his reforms. In typical Russian fashion, his solution to this was to centralize authority in his own hands. This he did by stripping the CPSU of its power and concentrating it in a newly created executive position, that of President of the USSR, a position that Gorbachev then occupied.
Arguably, Gorbachev’s attacks on the party made things worse rather than better, for the party was the primary mechanism that kept the Soviet system functioning more or less smoothly. The more Gorbachev bypassed and undermined the party, the more authority it lost, the less people did as the plan demanded, and the more the system unraveled into anarchy.
In all this, Gorbachev revealed a considerable naivety. To accompany political and economic reform, which went by the name perestroika, he declared a need for more openness (glasnost). Censorship was relaxed and eventually abolished. It would appear that Gorbachev sincerely believed that if given their freedom, the Soviet people would use it in a constructive way, helpfully pointing out problems so that they could be addressed, but not challenging the authorities in the process. This is not what happened. Instead of constructive suggestions, the Soviet people used their new found freedom to publish revelations of the past crimes of the communist state, to attack the country’s leaders, and to demand ever more radical change. The more people learnt about their country’s past and about enormous social problems it was experiencing in the present, the more the system lost its legitimacy. Rather than strengthening the state, glasnost fatally weakened it.
Another failing was that Gorbachev totally misread the mood of many of the minority nationalities within the Soviet Union. In a 1987 speech marking the 70th anniversary of the October Revolution, he declared the nationalities problem “solved.” Nothing was further from the truth. Soviet peoples used the freedom Gorbachev gave them to demand more national autonomy and in the case of the three Baltic states to demand independence. In other cases, minority nationalities sought to increase their own power and territory at the expense of other minorities. Visiting Armenia following a devastating earthquake in December 1988, Gorbachev was shocked to find that locals wanted to speak not about the earthquake but about the status of the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh (under Azeri control, but claimed by the Armenians). By the time Gorbachev woke up to the seriousness of the Soviet Union’s ethno-national problems it was too late. As central authority collapsed, local elites decided that the best way of preserving their authority was to leap on the nationalist bandwagon. The rest, as they say, is history.
In the eyes of Westerners, Gorbachev’s greatest achievement was to bring an end to the Cold War. The Soviet leader believed that successful reform at home was impossible as long as the USSR was locked in an existential geopolitical struggle with the West. It was therefore necessary to make peace. To this end, he made it clear that the Soviet army would not intervene to prop up the communist regimes in Eastern Europe, each of which fell in turn in rapid succession in 1989. Beyond that, Gorbachev agreed to accept German reunification and to withdraw the Soviet army from Eastern Europe. With this, Soviet-Western relations quickly changed from mutual hostility to something akin to friendship.
More than anything else, this explains the adulation Gorbachev received in the West. Many Russians, though, view the matter very differently, asking themselves what Gorbachev got in exchange for surrendering the Soviet’s empire in Eastern Europe. Most importantly, they note that he failed to get a written guarantee that NATO would not expand eastwards. Historians disagree as to whether NATO leaders gave verbal promises in this regard, but it is certain that nothing was ever put on paper. Rarely has somebody given up so much and got so little in return. The sense of bitterness that resulted has soured Russian-Western relations ever since.
Here again, Gorbachev’s naivety reveals itself. Gorbachev spoke of “Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals,” and commented that “Europe is our common home.” But his vision was never that the Soviet Union, or later Russia, should be reduced to a subordinate status within a Europe dominated by NATO. Rather, he envisioned NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact disappearing and being replaced by a new security architecture in which the Soviet Union and Western states would be equal partners. Gorbachev seems to have imagined that if the Soviets dismantled their Cold War infrastructure, the West would do the same. But the West never had any intention of doing such a thing. In the eyes of Gorbachev’s Russian critics, he was, simply put, a dupe.
Mikhail Gorbachev meant well. An idealist, he believed in communism’s humanist potential. Realizing that communism’s practice fell short of its promise, he sought to do something about it. In the process, he unleashed hidden forces that destroyed the system he hoped to revive. For better or for worse, we are still living with the consequences today.
Paul Robinson is a professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Peace and Diplomacy. He is the author of numerous works on Russian and Soviet history, including Russian Conservatism, published by Northern Illinois University Press in 2019.
When I received a call this morning from Turkish public television TRT asking that I comment on the death of Mikhail Gorbachev in a live broadcast, the first thought which came to mind was the ironic remark of Soviet intellectuals on the place of leading personalities in history: “there is nothing as changeable and unpredictable as the past.”
Of course, this notion is applicable everywhere, not just to Soviet history and personalities. Indeed, history is always being reinterpreted in light of current developments. As I commented in my interview, the achievements and failures of Gorbachev in power must now be reevaluated in light of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, which is the largest and most dangerous military conflict on the European continent since 1945.
This war follows directly from the break-up of the Soviet Union, which Gorbachev failed to prevent, though he did his best. Indeed, in the spring of 1991 he oversaw a referendum on the issue and won support from the population for continuation of the USSR. However, his playing off the right and left forces within the Politburo and within the Party at large over a number of years, the deceptions he practiced to get his way, finally caught up with him and laid the way in the summer of 1991 for the Putsch by rightists intent on restoring Soviet orthodoxy, which in turn so weakened Gorbachev that he was easily pushed aside by Boris Yeltsin. Destruction of the Union was Yeltsin’s instrument for achieving the complete removal of Gorbachev from power and setting out on a course of economic reform and de-Communization that was anathema to the leaders of the more conservative Soviet republics.
As we now know, the break-up of the USSR released pent-up animosities within and between the successor states, which had in each substantial ethnic minorities, in particular Russian-speakers, who numbered more than 25 million outside the boundaries of the Russian Federation in 1991. This was the largest such dispossessed ethnic community from the disintegration of empire in history, and its existence did not augur well for tranquility in Eurasia, from the Baltics, to the Caucasus, to Central Asia.
The collapse of the Soviet Union also touched off a very unhealthy wave of national excitement in the United States. It was now the sole surviving superpower, unchecked by any rivals. Fueled by hubris, Washington elites set course on remaking the world through a succession of military interventions and full-fledged wars abroad that has gone on for close to 30 years. Failures in these military missions led to ever greater concern to “contain” any and all possible competitors on the world stage. In practice, this meant containment first and foremost of Russia as it recovered economically and politically in the first decade of the new millennium. And this, expressed in terms of NATO expansion, is what brought us to the present conflict over Ukraine.
In that regard, I direct attention to Gorbachev’s greatest failure which resulted not from the conspiracies of his compatriots but from his own peculiar naivete in his dealings with the United States, meaning with Reagan, with Bush and their minions. The man who had shown such cunning in outfoxing his Politburo colleagues was completely outfoxed by his American and European interlocutors. Had he been more cautious to protect Soviet-Russian interests, he would have demanded and likely received much better terms of compensation for the withdrawal of Soviet forces from all of Eastern Europe and disbanding the Warsaw Pact. Had he been less gullible and more realistic, he would have demanded written treaties setting in concrete the prohibition of NATO expansion to the East and, or, he would have left Soviet garrisons in each of these states to ensure compliance. As it was, the Americans who gave him verbal assurances knew full well that they were meaningless and were perplexed at the Kremlin’s failure to defend strategic national interests.
These are the sins which patriotic Russians hold against Gorbachev today, even as they acknowledge his astonishing feats in freeing Soviet citizens from the totalitarian yoke of the past through glasnost and perestroika.
Of course, it is an open question whether a democratic Soviet Union could have long survived. The economy was hopelessly mismanaged and the entire legacy of Soviet legislation rendered it virtually impossible to escape from violence or the threat of violence to make things work. This is a point over which historical debate will continue for many decades to come.
For today’s interview, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVz4QGouoFQ
The Reasons For And Dangers Behind The War In Ukraine
The war in the Ukraine continues but the propaganda hysteria around it seems to have calmed down a bit as reality is setting in.
This gives room from more sane voices to be heard by the public. I will start with the Russian ones.
The Russian ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, was interviewed by Newsweek. He explained Russia's political and judicial reasoning behind the war:
"The special operation in Ukraine is the result of the unwillingness of the Kiev regime to stop the genocide of Russians by fulfilling its obligations under the international commitments," Antonov told Newsweek. "The desire of the NATO member states to use the territory of a neighboring state to establish a foothold in the struggle against Russia is also obvious."
To Russia, Antonov said that the [Maidan] revolution was a "bloody coup d'état instigated by the West" in which "ultranationalist ideas came to power in Kiev." He said that policies viewed by Moscow as hostile such as the removal of Russian as a national language and the rehabilitation of nationalist Ukrainian figures such as Stepan Bandera, who collaborated with Nazi Germany during World War II, had "taken root in Ukraine under external administration."
Antonov argued that it was the "nationalist frenzy and revanchist sentiments of the Kiev regime" that resulted in the effective death of the Minsk deals as Ukraine chose "the path of rapid militarization" with help from abroad.
"The NATO member countries have commenced a military exploration of Ukraine," Antonov said. "It was flooded with Western weaponry while President Vladimir Zelensky announced Kiev's plans to acquire nuclear weapons which would threaten not only neighboring countries, but also the entire world."
"In this context, Russia had no other choice but to recognize the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics," Antonov said. "Then, in accordance with Chapter VII, Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, with the authorization of the Federation Council of Russia and in execution of the Treaties of Friendship and Mutual Assistance with the Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin made a decision to begin a special military operation."
"Its aim is to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine in order to reduce military threats posed by the Western states that are trying to use the fraternal Ukrainian people in the struggle against the Russians," he added.
Sergey Karaganov is a high level Russian political scientist and commentator who is also a presidential advisor in Moscow. He was interviewed (in English) by the Italian Corriere Della Sera
Sergey Karaganov: «We are at war with the West. The European security order is illegitimate»
How can an attack be justified on such grounds?
«For 25 years people like myself have said that NATO expansion would lead to war. Putin said several times that if it came to Ukraine becoming a member of NATO, there would be no Ukraine anymore. In Bucharest in 2008 there was a plan of quick accession of Ukraine and Georgia to NATO. It was blocked by the efforts of Germany and France, but since that time Ukraine has been integrated into NATO. It was pumped up by weaponry and its troops were trained by NATO, their army getting stronger and stronger day by day. In addition we saw a very rapid increase of neo-Nazi sentiment especially among the military, the society and the ruling elite. It was clear that Ukraine had become something like Germany around 1936-1937. The war was inevitable, they were a spearhead of NATO. We made the very hard decision to strike first, before the threat becomes deadlier».
I recommend to read the whole Karaganov interview to better understand the Russian thinking.
"It was clear that Ukraine had become something like Germany around 1936-1937," said Karaganov. The 'western' public has difficulties to understand that. But it is the prevailing Russian view and when analyzing the developments in the Ukraine over the last years with Russian history in mind one can easily come to the same conclusion.
It is also what the Canadian Russia expert Patrick Armstrong had mentioned as the most important item after he had read Putin's speeches at the start of the war:
Had I been at home I would have read Putin’s speech earlier and understood sooner. What he is talking about is what the Soviet Union tried to do from 1933 onwards: namely to stop Hitler before he got started. This time Russia is able to do it by itself. In other words, Putin feels that he is making a pre-emptive attack to stop June 1941. This is very serious indeed and indicates that the Russians are going to keep going until they feel that they can safely stop.
The Russian view is not really that far fetched.
Here is a recent news agency video of officials of the Ukrainian Security Service SBU in front of a destroyed house seemingly praying with a priest for the deceased.
Note the fascist Right Sector patch the official carries on his arm and back. The SBU has become a kind of Gestapo tasked with eliminating opposition elements in Ukraine. The UN's OHCHR, the OSCE, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International have all reported about the SBU's many crimes.
There is also an 'SS Galizien' patch on the officers back which refers to the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician) which fought with Nazi-Germany against the Soviet Union. Like many other SS division the 1st Galician was involved in serious war-crimes but later mostly whitewashed. After the war many of its surviving officers fled to Canada and to the United States.
The offspring of those officers and other immigrants from the Ukraine played a noticeable role in lobbying for the war.
That has been successful as the U.S. had chosen to support extreme elements in Ukraine in opposition to peace. This has, as Aaron Maté writes, moved president Zelensky from an election campaign position of finding peace with Russia to becoming a war maniac:
On a warm October day in 2019, the eminent Russia studies professor Stephen F. Cohen and I sat down in Manhattan for what would be our last in-person interview (Cohen passed away in September 2020 at the age of 81).
"Zelensky ran as a peace candidate," Cohen explained. "He won an enormous mandate to make peace. So, that means he has to negotiate with Vladimir Putin." But there was a major obstacle. Ukrainian fascists, Cohen warned, "have said that they will remove and kill Zelensky if he continues along this line of negotiating with Putin… His life is being threatened literally by a quasi-fascist movement in Ukraine."
Peace could only come, Cohen stressed, on one condition. "[Zelensky] can’t go forward with full peace negotiations with Russia, with Putin, unless America has his back," he said. "Maybe that won’t be enough, but unless the White House encourages this diplomacy, Zelensky has no chance of negotiating an end to the war. So the stakes are enormously high."
Although Trump's impeachment failed to remove him from office, it succeeded in cementing the proxy war aims of its chief proponents: rather than support Zelensky's peace mandate, Ukraine would instead be used to "fight Russia over there."
I had earlier quoted an interview with Dmytro Yarosh, then the leader of the fascist Right Sector, who just a week after Zelenski had become president threatened him with death should he try to make peace with the eastern Ukrainian rebels. Yarosh later became an advisor to the chief general staff of the Ukrainian military. He is the main person behind the ongoing nazification of the Ukrainian military.
As ambassador Antonov has said the war in Ukraine is not only about the Ukraine.
Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University, is correctly pointing out the two levels of the war we see:
It is not that the empathy for Ukraine or support for Zelensky’s national resistance is misplaced, but that it has the appearance of being geopolitically orchestrated and manipulated in ways that other desperate national situations were not, and thus gives rise to suspicions about other, darker motives.
This is worrisome because these magnified concerns have acted as a principal way that the NATO West has gone out of its way to make the Ukrainian War about more than Ukraine. The wider war is best understood as occurring on two levels: a traditional war between the invading forces of Russia and the resisting forces of Ukraine as intertwined with an encompassing geopolitical war between the US and Russia. It is the prosecution of this latter war that presents the more profound danger to world peace, a danger that has been largely obscured or assessed as a mere extension of the Russia/Ukraine confrontation.
If this two-level perception is correctly analyzed in its appreciation of the different actors with contradictory priorities, then it becomes crucial to understand that in the geopolitical war the US is the aggressor as much as in the traditional war on the ground Russia is the aggressor.
Falk concurs with professor John Mearsheimer who fears that the larger U.S. Russia conflict hidden behind the war in Ukraine may lead to widening of the conflict into a potential nuclear war.
Summarizing Mearsheimer's recent talk with Katrina vanden Heuvel and ambassador James Matlock, the former CIA analyst Ray McGovern writes:
Speaking at an April 7 webinar, Mearsheimer was, true to form, "offensively realistic". He explained: (1) the root cause lies in the April 2008 NATO summit Declaration that Ukraine (and Georgia) "will become members of NATO"; and (2) that Russia sees this as an "existential threat" and therefore "must win" this one.
For President Joe Biden and the Democrats, even though Ukraine poses zero strategic threat to the U.S., a Russian "win" would be, politically, a "devastating defeat", says Mearsheimer. In that sense, the conflict is a "must-win" for the US as well. Underscoring the obvious, he noted it is impossible for both sides to "win" – at least not in current circumstances.
Noting that US academics and policy makers don’t believe NATO’s designs on Ukraine represent an existential threat to Russia, Mearsheimer is as blunt as his courteous mien permits. "What people in Washington believe is irrelevant. What matters is what Russia believes." He rejects the "mainstream" view that Putin’s Russia is motivated by expansionist aims, and asks the savants in Washington to put concrete evidence behind their claims. Moreover, "There is no evidence in what Putin has said that he wants to make Ukraine part of Russia," Mearsheimer adds.
Towards the end of a talk with Gonzalo Lira former Marine officer and UN Inspector Scott Ritter disputes the potential for escalation. The Pentagon, he says, knows the real situation on the ground and that the Ukrainian army will lose the war. Neither NATO, nor the U.S. nor single countries like Poland have their forces configured in a way that would allow them to successfully wage war against Russia. They would need more time to get ready than Russia will need to win the war in Ukraine.
Ritter predicts that the Pentagon will overrule any escalation the Ukraine warmongers in the State Department and National Security Council may plan and that those responsible for the current mess, Victoria Nuland, Anthony Blinken and Jake Sullivan, will get silenced or removed after the midterms.
I hope he is right.
Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine has been presented to us, in the West, as unprovoked and unjustified. We have not been told about Russia’s legitimate security concerns in the face of NATO expansionism. Nor has Ukraine’s significant Nazi problem been honestly reported, with some Western propagandist even promoting them.
The Russian government claims that its recognition and defence of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) are born from “compassion” for the people who have been under siege for eight years. However, Russia also needs the new republics as satellite states, providing a foothold for its own national security as it opposes NATO’s advance.
It should be noted that Russia’s military actions, in trying to oust Nazis from their strongholds in Mariupol, Kharkiv and elsewhere, has led to the near destruction of many cities and towns in Eastern Ukraine. As of the 19th March the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCR) estimate that 847 civilians were killed in three weeks, primarily as a result of shelling.
The OHCR noted that the “actual figures are considerably higher” but could not be verified. Credible eye witness reports and video evidence indicate that the Nazis in Mariupol and other besieged areas had stopped civilians leaving through humanitarian corridors opened by Russia. There are many reports of Nazi (Asov) atrocities, including the murder of fleeing civilians.
NATO has courted Ukraine as a future alliance member for decades, taking firm steps to admit Ukraine along the way. This has never been acceptable to Russia, whose national security concerns have been consistently ignored.
Only days prior to the Russian attack, the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, delivered a speech at the Munich Security Conference threatening Russia, not only with a nuclear armed Ukraine, but a NATO nuclear power on Russia’s south-western border.
Ukraine is a pinch-point for Russia’s natural gas trade with the European Union. The purpose of the Nord Stream pipelines, constructed in partnership with Germany, was to circumnavigate that problem. It raised the potential for greater EU independence from the US and, with an EU commitment to defence union, presented a possible threat to the US dominance of NATO.
Consequently, the US applied unrelenting pressure on the EU, including enforcing sanctions on German companies, to halt the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. In response to Russia’s official recognition of the DPR & LPR, German Chancellor Olaf Sholtz immediately announced that Germany would not certify Nord Stream 2 for operational use. Russia began it’s military operation in Ukraine three days later.
Please read Parts 1-3 of this series for an exploration of the evidence informing this analysis. This provides us with what we might call the “official-unofficial” explanation for Russia’s aggression. It is an appraisal founded upon the established, accepted concept of international relations.
However, any such investigation is necessarily incomplete. It fails even to describe the globalist forces that are both ripping Ukraine apart and propelling Russia to act. We will explore these in Parts 5 – 6.
Before we do it is important to appreciate just how far we, as supposed democratic societies, have strayed from democratic ideals. This can be understood if we consider the extreme propaganda and censorship our governments are using, hobbling our ability to discern reality.
The Propaganda Environment
There is little chance that the issues we have already discussed will receive fair coverage in the Western mainstream media (MSM) and none at all that it will cover what we are about to consider. The West’s propaganda, in a rapidly evolving conflict, has at times been absurd.
Immediately following the launch of Russia’s military operation the Western MSM reported the unbelievable bravery of the Ukrainian border guards defending Snake Island in the Black Sea. They stated that 13 died in their valiant defence against a Russian “air and sea bombardment.” Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said he would award the guards posthumous medals for gallantry. It soon emerged that this was a fabrication. None of them died and Russia took the Island without harming anyone.
The MSM reported that Russian forces deliberately targeted a Mosque in Mariupol where civilian woman and children were said to be sheltering. The Turkish media later revealed that the Mosque had not been struck by anything.
The BBC were among a wide number of Western MSM outlets that reported an alleged Russian airstrike on a maternity hospital in Mariupol. This apparent outrage, deliberately targeting pregnant women and their babies, led the BBC to report the comments of the Deputy Mayor who said:
We don’t understand how it’s possible in modern life to bomb a children’s hospital. People cannot believe that it’s true.
Indeed not, because there is considerable evidence to suggest it isn’t. When the claimed airstrike occurred the Russian state officials engaged in some ham-fisted disinformation themselves, alleging that the whole thing was staged using “crisis actors.” They also noted that the hospital had been occupied by the Ukrainian forces, thus presumably making it a military target and undermining their own propaganda.
A subsequent account from the most famous eyewitness, Mariana Vishegirskaya, who Associated Press (AP) publicised as the face of the alleged Russian war-crime, paints a very different picture. There were certainly explosions but no evidence of an airstrike, as no one heard or saw any planes. The hospital had been occupied by the Asov regiment three days earlier. Tellingly, Mariana stated that the Asov Nazis wouldn’t allow people to leave the city through the humanitarian corridors agreed by Russia.
There have been widespread Western reports of destruction of Mariupol and other cities by Russian forces. However, civilian witness testimony from Mariupol notes that Ukrainian forces also shelled Mariupol, causing much of the destruction. Mariupol civilians reported that Ukrainian forces placed their defences in civilian areas, occupied their homes and other municipal locations including kindergartens, hospitals and office buildings, and even blew up buildings with tanks.
Even the Western MSM acknowledged that the Ukrainian military (including the Nazis) were effectively using the civilian population as a human shields by placing their assets in civilian areas. The Washington Post noted:
Increasingly, Ukrainians are confronting an uncomfortable truth: [. . .] Virtually every neighbourhood in most cities has become militarized, some more than others, making them potential targets for Russian forces trying to take out Ukrainian defenses.
French Military – Map 27th of March 2022
Analysis by French military observers clearly showed that Russia had secured significant military control in eastern and north-eastern Ukraine. On March 29th 2022, during ongoing peace talks between the Russian and Ukrainian authorities in Turkey, Russia announced that it would withdraw its forces from around Kyiv as a sign of “good faith.”
A few days later video evidence emerged from town of Bucha, lying west of Kyiv, appearing to show the aftermath of a Russian war-crime. The horrific footage showed apparent carnage in the body strewn streets of Bucha. The Ukrainian government blamed this butchery on the retreating Russian forces. The Western MSM immediately reported everything that they were told, accusing Russia of the Bucha massacre.
There were some suspicious anomalies in the footage that required explanation. An unusually high percentage of the bodies were lying face down, ruling out identification, and there was an inexplicable lack of blood or other signs of obvious injury on the corpses. Most of the corpses appeared with hands bound behind their backs and many were wearing the white arm bands which Russia gave to civilians in order for them not to be confused with combatants.
In one of the four main videos, unquestioningly accepted as evidence of the Russian atrocity, an alleged corpse appears to get to its feet, observed in the wing mirror of one of the filming vehicles. It is possible that mirror distortion accounts for this. However, these unexplained inconsistencies weren’t the primary reason to doubt the Western MSM’s account.
The Mayor of Bucha gave a video interview which aired on April 1st where he appeared happy, praising the Ukrainian forces for the liberation of the town. He noted that the Russian forces had vacated Bucha prior to March 31st. As of the 31st there were no Russian troops left in Bucha. The Mayor said:
March 31st will go down in the history of our settlement, the entire territorial community as a day of liberation from the Russian orcs [. . .] a great victory in the Kyiv region.
Reporting his statement, the local media claimed that Russian forces had left unexploded mines in a local factory. Neither the Mayor nor the local news reports said anything about a massacre. Two days later Reuters reported the same mayor, Anatoly Fidoruk, this time alleging that Russia had engaged in the mass slaughter of civilians. Something he was either unaware of or forgot to mention two days earlier.
This unfathomable oversight by the entire population of Bucha, none of whom posted anything on social media even hinting at the supposed mass slaughter during the Russian occupation, casts significant doubt upon the story presented by the Western MSM. The “Bucha-Live” Telegram channel didn’t mention the massacre until the story broke internationally.
Initially it was reported across the West that 400 bodies were scattered throughout the streets and basements of Bucha. We know that Russian forces completed their withdrawal on the 30th of March. Yet the Western reports of the killing spree didn’t emerge for a further four days.
Following the agreed Russian exit, on the 31st of March it was reported in Ukraine that the first Ukrainian forces to enter Bucha were Ukrainian special forces (the SAFARIS.) They posted a video of their operation on the 1st of April. One body was observed in the video, no executions sites or any evidence of mass killings were filmed.
These “specialist units” were said to be tasked with clearing Bucha of “saboteurs and accomplices of Russian forces.” Again there was no mention of any massacre in the further reports published on the 2nd of April.
On the same day, the 2nd of April, the New York Times reported:
Ukrainian soldiers from the Azov battalion walked through the remnants of a Russian military convoy in the recently liberated town of Bucha. [. . .] For the past five weeks, photographers with The New York Times and other news organizations throughout Ukraine have chronicled the invasion.
Yet none of these reporters or photographers “chronicled” the Bucha massacre that allegedly occurred at least three days before they arrived in the town. The New York Times (NYT) then tried to double-down on their incomprehensible failure to spot the biggest story in the World, by changing it. They published purported US satelite images that allegedly pinpointed the position of the bodies. The NYT claimed they had lain there for more than three weeks.
It seems extremely unlikely that this story is true. The bodies had supposedly been lying in the streets, undisturbed for three weeks, and yet there was no sign of decomposition. The NYT article implied that neither human nor animal activity had disturbed the location of a single body for the best part of a month. It also required readers to believe that US officials and military personnel knowingly ignored an alleged Russian massacre, without saying a word, not just for 4 days but for weeks.
Regardless of which version of the story people may choose to believe, there is another incongruous aspect. The Russian military, having committed a war-crime either four days or more than three weeks earlier, left the scene without trying to hide any of the evidence. If the NYT’s second version of events is to be believed, they also exposed their own troops to the severe risk of disease for practically the entire period of their occupation of Bucha.
While there is no evidence that the Asov Nazis staged the alleged bloodbath, circumstantial evidence suggests that possibility. It is notable that no one reported the massacre prior to their arrival in Bucha.
On the 3rd April the world was suddenly regaled with fresh tales of Russian barbarity. It would be good to know what happened to the suspected “saboteurs and accomplices of Russian forces” that were “cleared” from Bucha by SAFARI and Asov troops.
Russian military actions have included heavy bombardment of cities like Mariupol and Kharkiv. There is no doubt that they have killed many Ukrainian citizens. However, if we discard the NYT’s rather silly claims, unless Russia commanders lost control of their troops in Bucha, the indiscriminate slaughter of unarmed civilians, following an agreed withdrawal and their identification as non-combatants, makes no sense either from a military or propaganda perspective.
It served only to undermine the peace negotiations. As we will discuss in Part 5, prolonging the conflict is in the US-led NATO alliance’s interests, not Russia’s.
This does not rule out the possibility that Russian troops were responsible, but further investigation is certainly necessary. This appeared to be the position of the Russian government who, having strenuously denied the Bucha allegations, requested an emergency session of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to discuss the matter. For some reason, the UK government blocked Russia’s request.
Initially it appeared that the US-led NATO alliance were less eager to discuss the evidence. However, acting as the president nation of the Security Council, the UK’s UN ambassador, Barbara Woodward, then announced that the UK would convene a session to discuss Bucha on the 5th. Woodward changed the story yet again. This time 800 people had been murdered.
Prior to examining any of the evidence, and relying solely upon videos provided by the Ukrainians, Woodward stated that the footage was evidence of war-crimes. This had in no way been established. No one knew what they were evidence of. Woodward clearly implicated Russia and predetermined the outcome of the discussions, so there wasn’t really any point in holding them.
This illustrates the problem we have discussed previously. The institutions, mechanisms and rulings that combine to form so-called international law are worthless. There is no justice to be found anywhere within a system that is shaped by nothing but hard-nosed realpolitik. It is just another weapon to be used in a global power struggle. International law, as it stands, is no law at all.
The US Bio-lab Conspiracy Theory
Initially the Western MSM furiously denied Russian reports of US controlled bio-labs and chemical warfare research facilities discovered in Ukraine. They said that this was part of an elaborate plot by Russia to stage a biological “false-flag” attack, to be blamed on the Kyiv government by Putin.
The presence of the labs was then ostensibly admitted by the US Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, in a Senate committee hearing. The 2005 signed treaty between the US Department of Defense (DoD) and the Ukrainian Ministry of Health, establishing the labs, is a public document. These are, or were, US funded labs conducting secret experiments. The 2005 treaty decrees:
Information marked or designated by the U.S. Department of Defense as “sensitive” should be withheld from public disclosure by the Government of Ukraine.
These labs were managed by the DoD’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Obviously a partnership between a US defence agency and a Ukrainian public health agency appears, on its face, to be an unusual arrangement. The DTRA’s own training material states that they are “a combat support agency.” They add that their role includes:
Developing, testing and fielding [using] offensive and defensive technologies
Other documents have exposed years of U.S. led biological and chemical warfare experiments on Ukrainian soldiers. Yet we are supposed to believe that US and Ukrainian documents, statements confirming the presence of the labs, their funding, their clandestine nature and the objectives of the Pentagon directorate overseeing them, is somehow evidence of Russian “disinformation.”
Perhaps so, but Occam’s Razor would suggest a different conclusion: the Russian’s have exposed US funded Ukrainian bio-labs engaged in secret bio-weapons research. If this claim by Russia is true then the US and Ukraine have broken so-called international law. Not that it matters.
As we have already discussed, Nazis control Ukrainian national security infrastructure and, as we will discuss, The US-led NATO alliance have a history of working with Nazis to run false-flag terrorist attacks in Europe. If the unthinkable happens and there is a biological or chemical weapons attack in Ukraine, which is then automatically blamed upon Russia, all of us should insist upon a thorough investigation before we believe anything we are told about it.
In a fairly typical example of the Western MSM response to this evidence, the UK based Guardian published How ‘Ukrainian bioweapons labs’ myth went from QAnon fringe to Fox News. Alleging the claims were Russian disinformation, or part of “far-right” conspiracy theories, the Guardian opined:
The Russian propaganda machine is so engaged in sowing disinformation [. . .] The conspiracy theory began in seeming obscurity. [. . .] [T]his theory was just a remix of an allegation that Moscow has made for years. [. . .] This disinformation laid the groundwork for the QAnon-linked conspiracy theory about Ukrainian bio-labs.
It may be the case that the evidence substantiating the presence of US funded illegal weapons programs in Ukraine (and elsewhere) is all just the product of Russian disinformation or so-called “conspiracy theory.” However, the only way to find out is to examine that evidence and investigate it further.
Nuland Acknowledges Presence of Labs
The Guardian chose not to report any of the facts we have just discussed. Instead it dismissed all of it as a Russian “propaganda effort.” In an attempt to deal with all of the documents, freely available in the public domain, the Guardian added:
The very core of the story is true: the Department of Defense funds biological research and laboratories in Ukraine. [. . .] Washington insists that it does not fund biological weapons research anywhere.
That was enough for the Guardian to conclude its investigation and claim that the whole story was just Russian nonsense. Sadly, this is the standard of journalism that epitomises the Western “free press.” Simply repeating a denial from the Pentagon is not journalism and nor is failing to honestly report the facts to your readers while covering them up with a slew of unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo.
Certainly China weren’t convinced by the Guardian’s argument. Seemingly taking a more deliberative approach, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, said:
[W]e call on relevant sides to ensure the safety of these labs. The US, in particular, as the party that knows the labs the best, should disclose specific information as soon as possible, including which viruses are stored and what research has been conducted. [. . .] The US has 336 biological labs in 30 countries under its control. [. . .] What is the true intention of the US? [. . .] [T]he US has kept stonewalling, and even dismissing the international community’s doubts as spreading disinformation. Besides, the US has been standing alone in obstructing the establishment of a Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) verification mechanism and refusing verification of its biological facilities [. . .] This has led to deeper concern of the international community. Once again we urge the US to give a full account of its biological military activities at home and abroad and subject itself to multilateral verification.
The US has declined to engage with the any UN-led BWC verification mechanism. For example, the US government blocked attempts to establish one in 2001. The US has continued to delay the development of an independent, UN oversight for more than 20 years. Rather than allow international investigators to rule out the existence of the suspected US bio-weapons programme, the US has established its own verification process and has found itself to be in full compliance:
There are processes and controls within the U.S. Executive Branch [. . .] that operate to ensure that plans and programs under those departments’ and agencies’ purview remain consistent with U.S. international obligations. [. . .] All U.S. activities during the reporting period were consistent with the obligations set forth in the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). [. . .] Russian accusations are groundless.
While this public statement is more than enough to convince the “journalists” at the Guardian, it is perhaps understandable that the international community, outside of the US-led NATO alliance, still has its doubts. The US government’s behaviour is suspicious, to say the least.
In an amusing irony, the Guardian stated that the Russian news agency, Tass, was “a mouthpiece for the Kremlin.” It’s true, Tass often is a mouthpiece for the Kremlin, just as the Guardian is often a mouthpiece for the White House, Brussels and Downing Street.
The propaganda in the Western MSM, spread by the likes of the CNN, CBC, the BBC, the Times and the Guardian, is just as thick as anything disseminated by Pravda or the Xinhua News Agency. The key advantage the Western MSM had previously enjoyed, over its Eastern propaganda counterparts, was that western populations were “educated” to believe they had a free and pluralistic media. However, that advantage is diminishing rapidly.
The frankly bizarre attempt by Western leaders, and their MSM propagandists, to turn Russia’s probable exposure of US bio-labs into a suggested Russian plot to justify a false-flag attack, was encapsulated by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Speaking to Sky News on 10th March he said:
The stuff that you’re hearing about chemical weapons, this is straight out of their [Russia’s] playbook.
Johnson’s claim followed a previous statement by UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace who said that he was seeing “elements of the Russian playbook;” Jens Stoltenberg, the General Secretary of NATO, also preceded Johnson’s comment by saying that he too could “foresee the playbook of Russia;” Josep Borrel, the EU’s High Representative (effectively the EU Defence Minister), similarly preempted Johnson by noting that developments in the Ukraine were part of “the Kremlin’s playbook.”
These remarkably similar comments indicate a coordinated, scripted narrative. It could be a coincidence, but there are other reasons why we might suspect that Western politicians are working to a pre-approved script.
The Rapid Response Mechanism & the Trusted News Initiative
The rhetoric about Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, pouring out of the western establishment, is a product of the G7’s (including the EU) Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM). It is designed to ensure that designated hostile state and non-state “actors” face a rapid and unified response. The purpose of the RRM was outlined in the 2018 Charlevoix G7 Summit Communique:
“We commit to take concerted action in responding to foreign actors who seek to undermine our democratic societies [. . .] We recognize that such threats, particularly those originating from state actors, are not just threats to G7 nations, but to international peace and security and the rules-based international order.”
Announcing the RRM, the UK Government added:
Hostile state activity will be met with a rapid and unified G7 response. [. . .] The move will also see hostile states publicly ‘called out’ for their egregious behaviour – with coordinated international attribution of cyber and other attacks.
The purpose of the RRM is to defend the current, US-led international rules-based order (IRBO). It has nothing to do with protecting democracy. Quite the opposite, the RRM works to undermine democratic principles.
The RRM is an agreement to respond to global events with a fixed narrative designed to promote the interests of the G7’s unipolar world order. Through the RRM, Western governments attribute blame to state or non-state actors and, where there is insufficient evidence to support their proclamations, they work with their MSM “partners” to produce the necessary propaganda and disinformation.
Commercial media is owned by a small handful of global corporations. For example, a 2021 report from the Media Reform Coalition found that just three companies (News UK, the Daily Mail Group and Reach) owned and controlled 90% of the UK national newspaper and 80% of the online news market. Similarly, the US media landscape is controlled by just five media corporations. Often local and state news readers, across the US, deliver the same, single script, word for word.
In 2019 The UK’s state broadcaster, the BBC, launched the Trusted News Initiative (TNI). This represented a further consolidation of Western media. The BBC joined AP, AFP, CBC/Radio-Canada, European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Financial Times, First Draft, Google/YouTube, The Hindu, The Nation Media Group, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, Reuters, Twitter and The Washington Post to form the TNI.
The TNI demands that readers and audiences trust its members. They say that they are “a unique global partnership” and that their role is to “tackle the harmful spread of disinformation.” The TNI have essentially claimed to be the arbiters of all truth. Were he alive today, George Orwell would almost certainly have called them the “Ministry of Truth.”
The TNI is a partnership between the Western MSM and the social media giants whose aim is to remove free speech and silence dissent. They state:
The partnership focuses on moments of potential jeopardy. [. . .] Partners alert each other to high risk disinformation so that content can be reviewed promptly by platforms, whilst publishers ensure they don’t unwittingly share dangerous falsehoods.
In July 2020, the UK government’s Select Committee for Culture Media and Sport noted:
Resources developed by public service broadcasters such as the Trusted News Initiative show huge potential as a framework in which public and private sector can come together to ensure verified, quality news provision. [. . .] The Government and online harms regulator should use the TNI to ‘join up’ approaches to public media literacy and benefit from shared learning regarding misinformation and disinformation. It should do this in a way that respects the independence from Government.
The TNI has no independence from government. All of its leading members are partner organisations of government.
The TNI: Neither trustworthy nor independent
The BBC are funded by the UK government and receives further money, for its international charity BBC Media Action, directly from the UK, US, Swedish, Canadian, Norwegian, EU governments and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Google, another TNI core member, was a start up funded by the CIA’s venture capital company In-Q-tel and is a UK government precurement partner. Another, Microsoft, proudly announces how it is a “partner with government,” helping them to protect democracy .
Reuters has a long history of working directly with institutions of the state. For example, during the 1960’s and 70’s it was paid to spread anti-Soviet propaganda by the UK government. The Washington Post is owned by Geoff Bazos (Nash Holdings) and his AWS (Amazon Web Services) competency partnership works with governments around the world.
The RRM denies the most essential of all democratic principles, namely questioning government authority. There is no room in the RRM for the foundational democratic conventions of free speech and expression. It is an anti-democratic project and a commitment, by G7 and EU governments, to destroy democracy and establish totalitarian rule.
Totalitarianism can be defined as:
A political system in which those in power have complete control and do not allow people freedom to oppose them.
The RRM and the TNI are totalitarian. Combined with censorship legislation, the existence of this nexus demontrates that the G7 political establishment is pursuing policies of intolerance and despotism. It is opposed to democratic accountability.
The TNI are providing the “verified, quality news provision” that supports Rapid Response Mechanism declarations. When Russia stated that “denazification” was one of the goals of its military operation, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, called Russia’s claim a “grotesque lie;” US President Joe Biden said, in regard to the same, that “it’s a lie” and Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, again in reference to Russian denazification claims, said “it’s a lie.”
The RRM narrative was set. Russia’s stated concerns were totally groundless and nothing more than an excuse for unprovoked, naked aggression. Therefore, it was the role of the TNI to push this disinformation. This necessitated the whitewashing the Nazis and the downplaying their control of the of Ukraine’s national security.
Among many examples of the TNI doing precisely this, the Financial Times (FT) published Don’t Confuse Patriotism With Naziasm: Ukraine’s Asov Forces Face Scrutiny. The FT claimed that the Azov Regiment were a “diverse” crowd who had gone “mainstream.” Engaging in Holocaust revisionism, the FT added that Stepan Bandera was a “nationalist figure” who had only been “accused” of collaborating with Nazis.
The BBC depolyed the baseless argument that Nazi influence was impossible without electoral success. They highlighted that the election of a Jewish President was “proof” that the Ukrainian Nazis had no power. The BBC then wheeled out some “experts” who were willing to claim that the Nazis were an inconsequential minority within the Ukrainian military and that their ideology had been “watered down” by new recruits.
Fellow TNI founding member, the Guardian, produced Is There Any Justification for Putin’s War? They also exploited the Nazis lack of electoral success, in a country that voted for a Jewish President, to deny that they had any real power. The Guardian added commentary suggesting that the Nazis were suffering from a reputation problem and that the OUM and UPA were simply “nationalists” who came to be “seen as aligned with the Nazis.”
In order to “protect democracy,” other founding members of the TNI are seemingly happy to promote Nazis. Meta (formerly Facebook) banned the Azov Regiment from their platform in 2019 because they are Nazis who publicly incite appalling crimes, such as genocide, on social media. However Meta has now changed its policy to allow its users to show their support for Nazis. Meta condones calls for violence against Russians, including advocating assassination of Russian officials and promoting the killing of Russian soldiers.
While Google, another TNI founder, have censored leading scientists and doctors for questioning COVID-19 policies, Nazis are welcome to host their propaganda channels on YouTube. The Asov Regiments, who murder Ukrainian citizens and use them as human shields, can post as many videos as they like.
This is not to suggest that lawful content, that does not directly incite a crime, should be censored. It merely illustrates that the founding members of the TNI are hypocrites who have no moral compass. The TNI is a propaganda and surveillance cartel whose role is to sell Rapid Response Mechanism “truth” to Western populations. It is undeserving of anyone’s “trust.”
Rampant Censorship And the End of Representative Democracy
Democracy is the best form of government ever devised. Unfortunately, it is not a system of government any of us are familiar with. The word “democracy” (demokratia) derives from “demos” (people) and “kratos” (power). Literally translated as “people power,” democracy means government by trial by jury.
Instead we have something else called “representative democracy,” which is not democracy at all. Representative democracy is a so-called “democratic system” where the people are permitted, by the state, to select their political leaders once every 4 or 5 years.
In the intervening period this tiny group of “special people” exercise executive power and rule over everyone else. This is called an oligarchy and it is the antithesis of democracy. However, as the vast majority call this oligarchical system “democracy” that is how we shall reference it here.
People in the West have been told to believe in, what they call, democracy and have consequently become attached to the idea. The Western oligarchy supposedly maintains some foundational principles which are, in and of themselves, valuable and worth protecting. These are often referred to as democratic ideals.
Democratic ideals have been shaped over thousands of years by political leaders and philosophers. The British sociologist T. H. Marshall, in his 1949 essay Citizenship and Social Class, described democratic ideals as a functioning system of civil, political and social rights.
Civil rights include the right to individual freedom (liberty), exercised through freedom of speech, of thought and faith, etc; political rights enable all the opportunity to participate in and exercise political power, from standing for election to universal suffrage, and social rights afford every citizen basic economic security (welfare) and opportunities (healthcare, employment and education).
To erode any of these rights is to undermine representative democracy (nominally democracy). Both the Western hegemony and the Eurasian alliance between Russia and China, which we will cover in some depth, lay claim to models of democracy.
Neither practice democracy in any recognisable form. Both operate oligarchical political structures and both rule be force. Neither have any commitment to democratic ideals.
Russia is a representative democracy of sorts, but it is certainly not a democracy. In 2019 the Russian state Duma passed its initial “disrespect” and “fake-news” laws. This legislation means that Russians could face a large fine or up to 15 days in prison for showing “blatant disrespect” to the Russian state or its leaders. The “fake-news” laws empower the Roskomnadzor (the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media) to act as Russia’s “Ministry of Truth.”
These anti-democratic censorship laws, information control systems and suppression of Russian’s inalienable rights to free speech and expression, have progressed. The 2020 law, effectively outlawing public dissent against Russia’s draconian COVID-19 measures and, more recently, the 2022 law silencing opposition to Russia’s military actions in Ukraine, are typical examples.
The Russian government’s opposition to free speech, freedom of thought and expression includes the blocking of social media companies and the expulsion of foreign journalists. It’s harsh penalties, of up to 15 years in prison for inconvenient journalists, effectively made it impossible for many foreign new outlets to operate in Russia.
In one of the most stunning examples of rank hypocrisy written in recent years, the NYT wrote that Russia had taken censorship to “new extremes.” Perhaps Russian government disdain for democratic ideals could be considered “extreme,” but it is no more so than the equal disregard exhibited by western governments.
Through the totalitarian RRM and TNI the West operates a propaganda operation unparalleled in human history. While the Soviet Union, Communist China, North Korea and other tyrannies have deployed overwhelming propaganda campaigns, nothing compares to the scale of the RRM/TNI. It is trans-continental, covers print, broadcast and online media and is led by private corporations, working in collaboration with government, who exercise their control through the Global Public-Private Partnership (G3P).
Censorship in the West is just as severe, if not more so, than anything seen in Russia. In 2021 the US Department of State shut down a number of US-based middle-eastern news outlets. Emphasising the propaganda strangle hold, in response to this attack upon the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution by the US government, the US so-called free press didn’t even mention the constitutional implications.
In 2017, to be able to continue its broadcasting and online publishing operation in the US, serving a Russian community of around 3 million US citizens, the Russian Media outlet RT was compelled to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). In March 2022 US and Canadian cable providers effectively banned Russian media in their respective countries.
The censorship in Europe, in both the EU and especially in the UK, is even more oppressive. The EU has banned a number of Russian outlets outright. They are also surging ahead with their plans to censor the Internet. The Digital Services Act (DSA) will see the EU work with their social media “partners” to remove whatever Brussels’ bureaucrats identify as “disinformation.”
The most anti-democratic countries among the former western liberal democracies is the UK. It has gone further than any other to create a dictatorship.
Having already passed legislation to give itself unlimited authority to commit any crime, the UK government is pushing through with laws to end the right of protest, it is removing the defence of “in the national interests” from whistleblowers and investigative journalists, and it is planning a new Bill of Rights that will enshrine the authority of the state over and above everything else, including citizen’s inalienable rights.
Like the EU the UK has banned Russian media. Justifying the decision the chief executive of the Ofcom (the UK’s broadcast regulator) Dame Melanie Dawes, said:
Freedom of expression is something we guard fiercely in this country [. . .] [W]e have today found that RT is not fit and proper to hold a licence in the UK. As a result we have revoked RT’s UK broadcasting licence.
Vacuous platitudes from the nobility are meaningless. This becomes even more evident when we consider the UK government’s plan to completely shut down freedom of speech online.
Ofcom has been appointed as the regulator for the UK’s Internet under the imminent Online Safety Act. It is nothing less than a government plan to control our ability to communicate and freely share information and ideas online. The UK state’s equivocation about protecting freedom of speech is a damnable lie.
The Western political establishment has no intention to uphold democratic ideals. Freedom of speech and expression, and the liberty that representative democracy is supposedly based upon, means nothing to the ruling class. It is no longer convenient and now they are simply casting it aside.
Representative democracy is itself a sham, but at least there was some vague promise to uphold democratic ideals. We, in the West, can now put aside any lingering, childish notion that we live in democratic societies.
The Ukrainian government have not only banned all Russian media but also outlawed political parties. Ukraine is no democracy either. The absurd suggestion, propagated by the likes of Ursula Von der Leyen, that the West is defending democracy from autocracy, is pure disinformation. There is no such thing as democracy to be found in any nation-state.
We are seeing a struggle for supremacy between global power blocs in Ukraine. The political structure they each hope to rule is a single, cohesive system of global governance. No matter who wins, it’s implementation is assured, unless we act on a population wide scale to stop it.
Ukraine is the current focal point for this struggle. World War III started in 2001 and 2030 is the first waypoint along the path to true global governance.
The West is exploiting the conflict to deliberately speed up the planned destruction of its own economy, a process that began in earnest with the policy response to the pseudopandemic. The East is seeking to establish itself as the driver for the New World Order.
The globalist forces overseeing this struggle care little for the outcome. What matters is that the war is fought, because it is the conflict itself that will deliver the global governance they desire. It is this global confrontation that we will explore in Part 5.
This article is a follow-up to :
- "Russia wants to force the US to respect the UN Charter," January 4, 2022.
- "Washington pursues RAND plan in Kazakhstan, then Transnistria," January 11, 2022.
- "Washington refuses to hear Russia and China," January 18, 2022.
- "Washington and London, deafened", February 1, 2022.
- "Washington and London try to preserve their domination over Europe", February 8, 2022.
- “Two interpretations of the Ukrainian affair”, 16 February 2022.
- “Washington sounds the alarm, while its allies withdraw”, 22 February 2022.
- “Russia declares war on the Straussians”, by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 5 March 2022.
- "A gang of drug addicts and neo-nazis”, 5 March 2022.
10 “Israel stunned by Ukrainian neo-Nazis”, 8 March 2022.
- "Ukraine: the great manipulation", March 22, 2022.
Russia’s military operations in Ukraine have been going on for more than a month and Nato’s propaganda operations for a month and a half.
As always, the war propaganda of the Anglo-Saxons is coordinated from London. Since the First World War, the British have acquired an unparalleled know-how. In 1914, they had managed to convince their own population that the German army had carried out mass rapes in Belgium and that it was the duty of every Briton to come to the rescue of these poor women. It was a cleaner version of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s attempt to compete with the British colonial empire. At the end of the conflict, the British population demanded that the victims be compensated. A census was taken and it was found that the facts had been extraordinarily exaggerated.
President Zelensky declared war on Russia by ordering the Banderist troops incorporated into his army to attack Russian citizens in the Donbass from February 17. Then he waved the red rag in front of the political leaders of NATO member countries and declared that he was going to acquire the atomic bomb in violation of international treaties.
This time, in 2022, the British managed to convince the Europeans that on February 24 the Russians had attacked Ukraine to invade and annex it. Moscow was trying to reconstitute the Soviet Union and was preparing to attack all its former possessions in succession. This version is more honorable for the West than evoking the "Thucydides trap" - I will come back to this -. In reality, Kiev’s troops attacked their own population in Donbass on the afternoon of February 17. Then Ukraine waved a red rag in front of the Russian bull with President Zelenski’s speech to the political and military leaders of Nato gathered in Munich, during which he announced that his country was going to acquire nuclear weapons to protect itself from Russia.
Don’t believe me? Here are the OSCE readings from the Donbass border. There had been no fighting for months, but the observers of the neutral organization observed 1,400 explosions per day as of the afternoon of February 17. Immediately, the rebel provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk, which still considered themselves Ukrainian but claimed autonomy within Ukraine, moved more than 100,000 civilians to protect them. Most retreated to the interior of Donbass, others fled to Russia.
Number of explosions recorded in Donbass (February 14-22, 2022)
Source: OSCE SMM Daily Report
In 2014 and 2015, when a civil war had pitted Kiev against Donestk and Lugansk, the material and human damage was only a matter of Ukraine’s internal affairs. However, in the course of time, almost the entire Ukrainian population of Donbass considered emigrating and acquired dual Russian citizenship. Therefore, Kiev’s attack on the population of Donbass on February 17 was an attack on Ukrainian-Russian citizens. Moscow came to their rescue, in an emergency, from February 24.
The chronology is indisputable. It was not Moscow that wanted this war, but Kiev, despite the predictable price it would have to pay. President Zelensky deliberately put his people in danger and bears sole responsibility for what they are enduring today.
Why did he do this? Since the beginning of his term, Volodymyr Zelensky has continued the support of the Ukrainian state, which began with his predecessor Petro Poroshenko, for the embezzlement of funds by his American sponsors and for the extremists in his country, the Banderists. President Putin called the former "a bunch of drug addicts" and the latter "a bunch of neo-Nazis" [(#nb1 "See the ninth article in this series: "A bunch of drug addicts and (...)")]. Not only did Volodymyr Zelensky publicly declare that he did not want to solve the conflict in Donbass by implementing the Minsk Agreements, but he banned his fellow citizens from speaking Russian in schools and administrations and, worse, signed a racial law on July 1, 2021, de facto excluding Ukrainians claiming their Slavic origin from the enjoyment of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The Russian army first invaded Ukrainian territory, not from the Donbass, but from Belarus and Crimea. It destroyed all Ukrainian military installations used by Nato for years and fought the Bandit regiments. It is now dedicated to annihilating them in the east of the country. The propagandists in London and their almost 150 communication agencies around the world assure us that, pushed back by the glorious Ukrainian Resistance, the defeated Russian army has given up its initial goal of taking Kiev. However, never, absolutely never, did President Putin say that Russia would take Kiev, overthrow the elected President Zelensky and occupy his country. On the contrary, he has always said that his war aims were to denazify Ukraine and eliminate foreign (NATO) weapons stockpiles. This is exactly what he is doing.
The Ukrainian population is suffering. We are discovering that war is cruel, that it always kills innocent people. Today we are overwhelmed by our emotions and, as we ignore the Ukrainian attack of February 17, we blame the Russians, whom we wrongly call "aggressors". We do not feel the same compassion for the victims of the simultaneous war in Yemen, its 200,000 dead, including 85,000 children, who died of hunger. But it is true that the Yemenis are, in the eyes of the West, "only Arabs".
The fact of suffering should not be interpreted a priori as proof that one is right. Criminals suffer like the innocent.
The Ukrainian delegation to the International Court of Justice succeeded in obtaining not a judgment on the merits, but an order for a provisional measure against Russia.
How is such manipulation of the court possible? [(#nb2 ""Allegation of genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and (...)")] Ukraine referred to the fact that President Putin, during his speech on the Russian military operation, said that the people of Donbass were victims of "genocide". She therefore denied this "genocide" and accused Russia of having used this argument improperly. In international law, the word "genocide" no longer refers to the eradication of an ethnic group, but to a massacre ordered by a government. Over the past eight years, between 13,000 and 22,000 civilians have been killed in the Donbass, depending on whether one refers to Ukrainian or Russian government statistics. Russia, which had sent its plea in writing, argues that it is not relying on the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, but on Article 51 of the UN Charter, which authorizes war in self-defence, as President Putin had explicitly stated in his speech. The Tribunal did not attempt to verify anything. It stuck to the Ukrainian denial. It therefore concluded that Russia had improperly used the Convention as an argument. Moreover, as Russia did not consider it necessary to be physically represented at the Court, the Court used its absence to impose an aberrant provisional measure. Russia, sure of its good right, refused to comply and is demanding a judgment on the merits, which will not be given before the end of September.
All this being said, we can only understand the duplicity of the West if we put the events in their context. For a decade, American political scientists have been telling us that the rise of Russia and China will lead to an inevitable war. The political scientist Graham Allison created the concept of the "Thucydides trap" [(#nb3 ""The Thucydides Trap: Are the U.S. and China Headed for War?", Graham T. (...)")]. He was referring to the Peloponnesian wars that opposed Sparta and Athens in the fourth century BC.. The strategist and historian Thucydides analyzed that the wars had become inevitable when Sparta, which dominated Greece, realized that Athens was conquering an empire and could replace its hegemony. The analogy is telling, but false: while Sparta and Athens were close Greek cities, the United States, Russia and China do not have the same culture.
China, for example, rejects President Biden’s proposal for trade competition. Instead, it has the opposite tradition of "win-win". In doing so, it is not referring to mutually beneficial trade contracts, but to its history. The "Middle Kingdom" has an extremely large population. The emperor was forced to delegate his authority to the maximum. Even today China is the most decentralized country in the world. When he issued a decree, it had practical consequences in some provinces, but not in all. The emperor therefore had to make sure that each local governor would not consider his decree irrelevant and forget his authority. He then offered compensation to those who were not affected by the decree so that they would still feel subject to his authority.
Since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis, China has not only taken a non-aligned position, but has protected its Russian ally in the UN Security Council. The United States has wrongly feared that Beijing would send weapons to Moscow. This has never been the case, although there is logistical assistance in the form of prepared meals for the soldiers, for example. China is watching how things are going and deducing how they will go when it tries to get the rebel province of Taiwan back. Beijing has kindly declined Washington’s offers. It is thinking in the long term and knows from experience that if it allows Russia to be destroyed, it will once again be plundered by the West. Its salvation is only possible with Russia, even if it must one day challenge it in Siberia.
Let’s go back to Thucydides’ trap. Russia knows that the United States wants to erase it from the scene. It anticipates a possible invasion/destruction. But its territory is immense and its population insufficiently large. It cannot defend its overly large borders. Since the 19th century, it has imagined defending itself by hiding from its adversaries. When Napoleon, then Hitler, attacked her, she moved her population further and further east. And it burned its own cities before the invader arrived. The latter found himself unable to supply his troops. He had to face the winter without means and, finally, retreat. This "scorched earth" strategy only worked because neither Napoleon nor Hitler had logistical bases nearby. Modern Russia knows that it cannot survive if US weapons are stored in Central and Eastern Europe. That is why, at the end of the Soviet Union, Russia demanded that NATO never expand eastward. French President François Mitterrand and German Chancellor Helmut Köhl, who knew history, demanded that the West make this commitment. At the time of German reunification, they drafted and signed a treaty guaranteeing that Nato would never cross the Oder-Neisse line, the German-Polish border.
Russia set this commitment in stone in 1999 and in 2010 with the OSCE declarations in Istanbul and Astana. But the United States violated it in 1999 (accession of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to Nato), in 2004 (Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia), in 2009 (Albania and Croatia), in 2017 (Montenegro), and again in 2020 (Northern Macedonia). The problem is not that all these states have allied themselves with Washington, but that they have stored U.S. weapons at home. No one is criticizing these states for choosing their allies, but Moscow is blaming them for serving as a rear base for the Pentagon in preparation for an attack by Russia.
Victoria Nuland did not know Leo Strauss personally, but was trained in his thinking by her husband, Robert Kagan. Together they founded the Project for a New American Century, the think tank that called for a Pearl Harbor-like catastrophe in order to impose their policies. The attacks of September 11, 2001 were a "divine surprise" for them. Like the war in Ukraine, these despicable attacks did not shake the US power, but on the contrary allowed it to last.
In October 2021, the Straussian Victoria Nuland , the State Department’s number 2, came to Moscow to urge Russia to accept the deployment of US weapons in Central and Eastern Europe. She promised that Washington would invest in Russia in return. Then she threatened Russia if it did not accept her offer and concluded that he would have President Putin tried before an international tribunal. Moscow responded with a proposal for a treaty guaranteeing peace on the basis of respect for the United Nations Charter on December 17. This is what has caused the current storm. Respecting the Charter, which is based on the principle of the equality and sovereignty of states, implies reforming NATO, whose operation is based on a hierarchy among its members. Caught in the "Thucydides trap", the United States then fomented the current war in Ukraine.
If we admit that their goal is to remove Russia from the international scene, the way the Anglo-Saxons react to the Ukrainian crisis becomes clear. They are not trying to push back the Russian army militarily, nor to embarrass the Russian government, but to wipe out all traces of Russian culture in the West. And secondly, they are trying to weaken the European Union.
They started with the freezing of the assets of Russian oligarchs in the West, a measure that was applauded by the Russian population, which considers them illegitimate beneficiaries of the plundering of the USSR. Then they imposed on Western companies to stop their activities with Russia. Finally, they continued by cutting off Russian banks’ access to Western banks (the SWIFT system). However, if these financial measures were disastrous for Russian banks (but not for the Russian government), the measures against companies working in Russia are on the contrary favorable to Russia which recovers their investments at lower costs. Moreover, the Moscow Stock Exchange, which had been closed from February 25 (the day after the Russian response) to March 24, recorded an increase as soon as it reopened. The RTS index fell by 4.26% on the first day, but it measures mainly speculative stocks, while the IMOEX index, which measures national economic activity, rose by 4.43%. The real losers of the Western measures are the members of the European Union who had the stupidity to take them.
Paul Wolfowitz was introduced to the thought of Leo Strauss by his philosophy professor, Alan Bloom. He later became a student of the master, working directly with him at the University of Chicago. Leo Strauss had convinced him that Jews should not expect anything from democracies. In order not to endure another Shoah, they must build their own Reich. It is better to be on the side of the handle than of the axe.
Already in 1991, the Straussian Paul Wolfowitz wrote in an official report that the USA should prevent a power from developing to the point of competing with it. At the time, the USSR was in tatters. So he named the European Union as the potential rival to be destroyed [(#nb5 "This document was revealed in "US Strategy Plan Calls For Insuring No (...)")]. This is exactly what he did in 2003, when, as number 2 in the Pentagon, he forbade Germany and France to participate in the reconstruction of Iraq . This is also what Victoria Nuland talked about in 2014 when she instructed her US ambassador in Kiev to "fuck the European Union" (sic) .
The European Union has now been ordered to stop its imports of Russian hydrocarbons. If it complies with this injunction, Germany will be ruined and with it the whole Union. This will not be collateral damage, but the fruit of structured thinking, clearly expressed for thirty years.
The most important thing for Washington is to exclude Russia from all international organizations. It has already managed, in 2014, to exclude it from the G8. The pretext was not the independence of Crimea (which it had been demanding since the dissolution of the USSR, several months before Ukraine thought of its own independence), but its membership in the Russian Federation. Ukraine’s alleged aggression provides a pretext for excluding it from the G20. China immediately pointed out that no one could be excluded from an informal forum without a constitution. However, President Biden returned to the charge on March 24 and 25 in Europe.
Washington is increasing its contacts to exclude Russia from the World Trade Organization. In any case, the principles of the WTO are being undermined by the unilateral "sanctions" implemented by the West. Such a decision would be detrimental to both sides. This is where the writings of Paul Wolfowitz come into play. He wrote in 1991 that Washington should not seek to be the best at what it does, but to be the first in relation to others. This implies, he noted, that in order to maintain its hegemony, the United States should not hesitate to hurt itself, if it does much more to others. We will all pay the price for this way of thinking.
The most important thing for the Straussians is to exclude Russia from the United Nations. This is not possible if one respects the UN Charter, but Washington will not bother with it there any more than elsewhere. It has already contacted every member state of the UN with a few exceptions. The Anglo-Saxon propaganda has already succeeded in making them believe that a member of the Security Council has embarked on a war of conquest against one of its neighbors. If Washington succeeds in convening a special UN General Assembly and changing the statutes, it will succeed.
A kind of hysteria has taken hold of the West. Everything Russian is being hunted down without thinking about its links with the Ukrainian crisis. Russian artists are forbidden to perform even if they are known to be opposed to President Putin. Here a university bans the study of the anti-Soviet hero Solzhenitsyn from their curriculum, there another bans the writer of debate and free will Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) who opposed the tsarist regime. Here a conductor is deprogrammed because he is Russian and there Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) is removed from the repertoire. Everything Russian must disappear from our consciousness, just as the Roman Empire razed Carthage and methodically destroyed all traces of its existence, to the point that today we know little about this civilization.
On March 21, President Biden made no secret of the fact. In front of an audience of business leaders, he said, "This is the moment when things change. There is going to be a New World Order and we have to lead it. And we have to unite the rest of the free world to do it" . This new order [(#nb9 "« Histoire du "Nouvel ordre mondial" », par Pierre Hillard, Réseau Voltaire, (...)")] should cut the world into two hermetic blocks; a cut such as we have never known, without comparison with the Iron Curtain of the Cold War. Some states, such as Poland, believe that they can lose a lot like the others, but also gain a little. Thus, General Waldemar Skrzypczak has just demanded that the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad become Polish . Indeed, after the world has been cut off, how will Moscow be able to communicate with this territory?
Very occasionally, a single anecdote can almost completely summate a moment in history. And this one - did it: In 2005, Zbig Brzezinski, the architect of Afghanistan as quagmire to the Soviet Union, and the author of The Grand Chessboard (which embedded the Mackinder dictum of ‘he who controls the Asian heartland controls the world’ - into US foreign policy), sat in Washington with Alexander Dugin, the advocate for a ‘heartland’ cultural and geo-political renaissance.
Zbig had already written in his book that, absent Ukraine, Russia would never become the heartland power – but with it, Russia can and would. The meeting, had been set with a photo-prop of a chessboard placed between Zbig and Dugin (to promote Zbig’s book).
This arrangement with a chessboard prompted the latter to ask whether Zbig considered Chess to be a game meant for two:
“No, Zbig shot back: It is a game for one. Once a chess piece is moved; you turn the board around, and you move the other side’s chess pieces. There is ‘no other’ in this game”, Brzezinski insisted.
Of course, the single-handed chess game was implicit in Mackinder’s doctrine: ‘he who controls the heartland’ dictum was a message to the Anglo powers to never allow a united heartland. (This, of course, precisely what is evolving at every moment).
And on Monday, Biden channelled Brzezinski out loud (whilst addressing the Business Roundtable in the US): The remarks came toward the end of his brief speech where he talked about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and America’s economic future:
“I think this presents us with some significant opportunities to make some real changes. You know, we are at an inflection point, I believe, in the world economy: [and] not just the world economy - in the world [which] occurs every three or four generations. As one of my, as the one of the top military people said to me in a secure meeting the other day, 60 million people died between 1900 and 1946; and since then we established a liberal world order and that hadn’t happened in a long while. A lot of people died, but nowhere near the chaos. And now’s the time when things are shifting. We’re going, there’s gonna be a new world order out there; and we’ve got to lead it and we’ve got to unite the rest of the free world in doing it.”
Again there is no ‘other’ at the board. When the moves are made, the board is turned through 180º, to play from the other side.
The point here is that the carefully deliberated counter-attack on this Brzezinski zeitgeist was formally launched in Beijing with the joint-declaration that neither Russia nor China accept for America to play chess alone with no others at the board. This represents the defining issue of this coming era: The opening-up of geo-politics. It is one for which the excluded ‘others’ are prepared to go to war (they see no choice).
A second chess-player has stepped forward and insists to play: (Russia). A third stands ready: (China). Others are silently lining up to witness how the first engagement in this geo-political war fares. It seems from Biden’s comments on Monday that the US intends to use sanctions, and the full unprecedent extent of US treasury measures, against Brzezinski dissidents. Russia is to be made an example of that which awaits any challengers, demanding a seat at the board.
But this approach is fundamentally flawed. It stems from Kissinger’s celebrated dictum that ‘he who controls money controls the world’. But it was wrong from the ‘get go’: It was always ‘who controls food; energy (human as well as fossil) and money can control the world. But Kissinger just ignored the first two required conditions - and the last has imprinted itself on the Washington mental circuits.
And here is paradox: When Brzezinski wrote his book, it was a very different era. Today, whilst, Europe and the US never have been more closely aligned. The ‘West’ paradoxically, has also never been more alone. Opposition to Russia may have seemed at the outset, a slam dunk global unifier. That world opinion would so robustly oppose Moscow’s attack - that even China would pay a high political price for failing to jump onto the anti-Russia bandwagon. But that is not how it is working out.
“While the US rhetoric pillories Russia for “war crimes” and the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, et al”, former Indian Ambassador, Bhadrakumar notes, “the world capitals view this as a confrontation between America and Russia. Outside of the western camp, the world community refuses to impose sanctions against Russia or even to demonise that country”.
The Islamabad Declaration issued on Wednesday after the 45th meeting of the foreign ministers of the fifty-seven member Organisation of Islamic Conference refused to endorse sanctions against Russia…Not a single country in the African continent and West Asian, Central Asia, South and Southeast Asian region has imposed sanctions against Russia”.
There may well be a further factor at play here: For, when these latter states hear phrases such as the ‘Ukrainians, through their heroism, have won the right to enter our “club of values”’, they scent a whiff of debilitated ‘white’ Europe clutching at the life-rafts.
The reality is that the sanctions to which Biden refered in his speech have already failed. Russia has not defaulted; the Moscow stock exchange is open; the Rouble is on the rebound; the current account is in rude good health and Russia is selling energy at windfall prices (even after discount).
In short, trade will be diverted – not destroyed (the benefit of being an exporter of goods almost fully produced locally – i.e. a fortress economy)
The second oddity in this Biden approach is that: whilst Clausewitzian doctrine (to which Russia broadly adheres) argues for the dismantling of ‘the enemy’s centre of gravity, to achieve victory’ – in this case presumably, the western control of the global reserve currency and payments systems. Today, rather, it is Europe and the US that have been dismantling it themselves: and further locking themselves into soaring inflation and contracting economic activity, in some unexplained fit of moral masochism.
As Ambrose Evans-Pritchard notes, “What is clear is that western sanctions policy is the worst of all worlds. We are suffering an energy shock that is further inflating Russia’s war-fighting revenues…There is a pervasive fear of a gilets jaunes uprising across Europe, a suspicion that a fickle public will not tolerate the cost-of-living shock once the horrors of Ukraine lose their novelty on TV screens”.
Again, perhaps we can attribute this paradoxical behaviour to Kissinger’s obsession with the power of money, and his forgetfulness of other major factors.
All of this has led to a certain unease creeping into the corridors of power in some NATO capitals over the course that this Ukraine conflict is running: NATO will not intervene. It will not implement a no-fly zone - and has pointedly ignored Zelensky’s plea for additional military equipment. Ostensibly, this reflects the ‘selfless’ gesture by the West to avoid a nuclear war. In reality, the development of new weaponry – too - can transform geopolitics in a moment (the Kinzhal bunker-buster). Simply, across the board, NATO cannot prevail against Russia in Ukraine.
For now, it seems the Pentagon has – for now – won, in the war with State department, and has begun the process of ‘correcting the narrative’:
Contrast these two US narratives:
(State Department): Monday signalled that US is discouraging Zelensky from making concessions to Russia in return for a ceasefire. The spokesman “made it very clear that he is open to a diplomatic solution that does not compromise the core principles at the heart of the Kremlin’s war against Ukraine. When asked to elaborate on his point, Price said that the war is “bigger” than Russia and Ukraine. “The key point is that there are principles that are at stake here that have universal applicability everywhere”. Price said Putin was trying to violate “core principles”.
(Pentagon): “drops two truth bombs” in its battle with State and Congress to prevent confrontation with Russia: “Russia’s conduct in the brutal war tells a different story than the widely accepted view that Putin is intent on demolishing Ukraine and inflicting maximum civilian damage—and it reveals the Russian leader’s strategic balancing act,” reported Newsweek in an article entitled, “Putin’s Bombers Could Devastate Ukraine But He’s Holding Back. Here’s Why.”
One - quotes an unnamed analyst at the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) saying, “The heart of Kyiv has barely been touched. And almost all of the long-range strikes have been aimed at military targets. A retired U.S. Air Force officer now working as an analyst for a Pentagon contractor, added: “We need to understand Russia’s actual conduct. If we merely convince ourselves that Russia is bombing indiscriminately, or [that] it is failing to inflict more harm because its personnel are not up to the task or because it is technically inept, then we are not seeing the real conflict”
The second - directly undermines Biden’s dramatic warning about a false flag chemical attack. Reuters reported: “The United States has not yet seen any concrete indications of an imminent Russian chemical or biological weapons attack in Ukraine but is closely monitoring streams of intelligence for them, a senior US defence official said.”
Biden is positioned in the Middle: saying ‘Putin’s a war criminal’; but also that there will be no NATO fight with Russia: “The only end game now,” a senior administration official was heard to say at a private event earlier this month, “is the end of Putin regime. Until then, all the time Putin stays, [Russia] will be a pariah state that will never be welcomed back into the community of nations. China has made a huge error in thinking Putin will get away with it”.
There it is – The Bottom Line: allow the carnage in Ukraine to continue; sit back and watch the ‘heroic Ukrainians bleed Russia dry’; do enough to sustain the conflict; but not enough to escalate it - and play it as the heroic struggle for democracy – in order to satisfy public opinion.
The point is that it isn’t working out that way. Putin may surprise all in DC by exiting Ukraine, when the military operation is complete. (When Putin speaks of Ukraine, by the way, he usually discounts the western part added on by Stalin - as Ukrainian).
And it isn’t working out with China. Blinken said in justification of new sanctions imposed on China last week: "We are committed to defending human rights around the world and will continue to use all diplomatic and economic measures to promote accountability."
The problem here is that the sanctions were imposed because China had failed to repudiate Putin. Just that. The language of accountability and (of atonement) used however, can be understood only as an expression of woke contemporary culture. It is enough to present some aspect of Chinese culture as politically incorrect (as racist, repressive, misogynist, supremacist or offensive ), and immediately it becomes politically incorrect. And that means that any aspect of it can be adduced at will by the Administration - as meriting sanctioning.
The Problem again reverts to the cultural refusal accept ‘others’ at the board. Everything is contested and potentially incorrect or offensive, or both — Ukraine is under attack from Russia, racism is immoral and Black Lives Matter, and the science of Covid is, while evolving, still recognizable as science – “I’m not willing to “both-sides” any of that – is the western politically-correct refrain. This cultural identity politics however has almost zero traction beyond US and West Europe.
What can China do; but shrug at such nonsense.
Biden in his speech to the Roundtable forestaged for his audience a New World Order – he suggested that a Great Re-set is coming.
Maybe so. But maybe also, a ‘Re-set Reckoning’ is on the cards: One that will return many things to that which, until relatively recently, had actually worked. Politics and geo-politics is metamorphosing - in every moment.
The war in Ukraine is only a bloody pretext, devised by Washington, to exclude Russia from all international organizations, weaken the European Union and, ultimately, preserve Anglo-American domination over the entire West. Don’t be fooled!
I wish to talk to you not about the war in Ukraine, but about the New World Order that the United States is organizing right before your eyes – but without your realizing it – while this war in Ukraine is taking place.
First of all, you should know that since mid-February, the media have been relaying a completely distorted narrative because they do not report all the facts, but only those messages that NATO wants to convey. Since mid-February we have all been “one-eyed”, only seeing half the picture and, consequently, we make the mistake of thinking that we can interpret it.
The second thing you must bear in mind is that your emotions are being manipulated. Every day we are shown Ukrainians who suffer – indeed, it is horrible and we must help them, it is a human obligation to do so. But their suffering does not prove them right. Suffering and being right are two different things.
With that said, let’s get down to the facts.
This war did not start on 24 February with the Russian intervention, but several days earlier, on 18 February, with the intervention of the United States, an intervention that no one has ever told you about.
On 18 February, according to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) - comprising 57 participating states, it was created during the cold war and all European states are members, as well as non-European states, such as the United States: its neutrality is indisputable! - although there had been no fighting in Ukraine, on 18 February fighting resumed between the Ukrainian provinces of Donbass and the rest of Donbass.
The OSCE does not say that the Ukrainian army was responsible, but it could only be the Ukrainian army. The shelling of the Ukrainian population of Donbass began on 18 February. 1,400 shells rained down on the population that day ... 1,400 shells!
A war was started on 18 February! And in a few hours, two days at the most, about 100,000 Ukrainians from Donbass fled from the front line. They retreated to the countryside or crossed over into Russia. All Russia did was to respond to that attack.
But the attack didn’t end there. The Ukrainians acted like someone waving a red flag in front of a bull. The next day, on 19 February, at the Security Conference that brings together political leaders from NATO member countries every year in Munich, President Zelensky announced that he wanted to acquire the atomic bomb enabling him to threaten Russia.
Seen from Moscow: Ukraine engages in war against Russia and announces that it is going to obtain the atomic bomb.
It was clear that there would be a Russian response. Russia had to protect its citizens and you should know that the civil war in Ukraine started in 2014… it is a civil war we are talking about because Ukrainians are pitted against other Ukrainians! And in the past 8 years that war has left, according to the Kiev government, at least 13,000 dead, at least 13,000 dead!... all civilians, in addition to a thousand soldiers, again according to Kiev.
According to the Russian government, which conducted an official investigation on the ground, the number of dead civilians is not 13,000 but 22,000! Whatever the case, the Donbass has been witness to a butchery that doesn’t seem to dismay anyone.
Now back to what I was saying.
For the past 8 years, Russia has granted Russian citizenship to almost the entire population of the Ukrainian Donbass, who since childhood speaks Russian on a daily basis, a population that has now been prohibited by the Kiev government from speaking Russian in schools and public administrations, although this was always authorized in the past. Therefore, on 24 February, the Moscow government stepped in to support this population militarily.
But what us most important is to understand the context.
Why did the United States arm Kiev to attack Donbass?
It’s very simple. For ten years, the domination of the United States has been threatened by the rise of Russia and China.
On Voltaire Network we have argued for a long time that the first military power is no longer the United States but Russia.
This has been an absolutely irrefutable fact since 2018, but the United States refuses to admit it, despite the fact that, on the battlefield – mainly in Syria – it was demonstrable that the Russian army is tactically superior to the military forces sponsored by the United States.
Their technologies cannot be compared. That of the United States dates back 30 years. It is completely obsolete.
The Russians have completely revamped their army and replaced their personnel. The army they had inherited from the Soviet Union frankly consisted of … a gang of alcoholics. Today it is made up of young people, with very good training, with experience in real war situations, taking on jihadists ... jihadist armies! In Syria.
In economic terms, China has long surpassed the United States, which is now only a consumer, not a manufacturer.
Feeling threatened, the United States has itself explained what it calls "the Thucydides trap". Thucydides is an ancient Greek historian who described the confrontation between Sparta and Athens. Sparta dominated all of Greece, but Athens, which was inferior, began to develop an empire abroad, so that Athens had an economic influence that Sparta no longer had, and war between the two cities became inevitable.
US political scientists have been telling us for ten years now that a war between the United States on one side and Russia and China on the other side was going to become inevitable. In the Pentagon there are even people who assert that this war should already have broken out and that it had been planned for 2015.
Over the past few years, the United States has positioned troops and weapons throughout central and eastern Europe. It has done so in violation, firstly, of the German reunification treaty and, secondly, of the Istanbul and Astana declarations adopted within the OSCE.
Let’s fully understand! Russia is a huge country, with the largest land area in the world. To defend itself… Russia must be able to defend its borders, but it does not have enough troops for that. In that sense, it is a small town in a huge country. So to defend itself, Russia uses the scorched earth technique. If an invader penetrates her territory, Russia pulls back her population from the border as far as possible – inside her huge territory – and burns down her own cities so that the invader cannot subsist there. Therefore, the invaders have to take with them everything they need if they want to continue advancing. It is an impossible logistical challenge to solve. Napoleon and Hitler failed at it.
To overcome this problem, the United States has been sending troops and weapons to Central and Eastern Europe.
"You cannot do that, in light of what you signed at the time of the German reunification. You have no right to extend NATO to the East."
But the United States went ahead anyway… on several occasions.
Russia does not dispute the right of Central and Eastern European countries to ally themselves with the United States. It is their prerogative. It is the right of each State. Russia doesn’t dispute it in the case of Ukraine either.
What she challenges is Ukraine’s right to host US military bases, which is an entirely different matter.
In a similar context, General Charles de Gaulle as President of France decided to remove NATO troops from French territory – there used to be American bases in France which are no longer there. But that did not prevent General de Gaulle from maintaining an alliance with the United States. France has always been a signatory to the North Atlantic Treaty. But she wasn’t always a member of NATO’s Integrated Military Command Structure. The French armed forces were not always under the command of an American general, as they are today.
Let’s go back to what I was saying about Russia and China.
Their culture is fundamentally different from the Anglo-Saxon culture. The Chinese, for example, explain that they do not want to compete with the United States. They are not interested in that! They are not competing!
The Chinese say: "We want a relationship in which everyone wins (“win win”).”
It does not involve commercial competition, nor does it mean that each side, when signing a contract, will have a vested interest in that contract. Nothing of the sort! It is in reference to Chinese history.
China is, above all, a country with a gigantic population ... gigantic! The emperor of China was not in a position to know what were the concerns of certain groups of individuals at the opposite end of the country and left the administration of the territory in the hands of regional governors.
This is how it still works in China! The government in Beijing is oblivious to what is happening in the different regions. There is considerable decentralization. No country is more decentralized than China!
But when the emperor issued a decree, he had to make sure that each of the regional governors would grasp the importance of what was at stake. Because if the governor considered that it was not relevant to his province, he would stop paying attention to other decrees, thus failing to recognize the authority of the emperor. Therefore, when the emperor decreed something which could not be applied in one or more provinces, he would grant something extra to the governor of that province so that he would continue to respect the imperial authority.
I am explaining all this because what Russia and China want to create is a multipolar world, a world where there is no power that decides for the others, but where each power decides for itself.
And what Washington wants to do is, on the contrary, preserve the predominance of the United States over the world so that it alone can decide and no one else.
What is the United States doing in the midst of a conflict of its own making in Ukraine?
It is dividing the world in two. It is ejecting Russia from all intergovernmental organizations. It will start with the World Trade Organization [WTO] and end with the United Nations Organization [UN]. Of course, the UN statutes do not allow this, but the United States does not care and will try through thick and thin to achieve its goal.
That process began by explaining that trade with Russia had to end. Stopping trade with Russia! For example, [French car manufacturer] Renault has just decided to shut its factory in Moscow.
But Renault had already closed down its factories in Iran, when it was pressured to do so, and it was an economic catastrophe, an economic catastrophe for Renault. But the United States couldn’t care less! What it wants is for the European Union to undergo an economic shock so that the European Union will be forced to accept US domination.
Paul Wolfowitz had explained it very clearly 30 years ago, in 1991. That “Straussian” [disciple of the philosopher Leo Strauss], who later became the Pentagon’s number two official, explained that the true enemy of the United States – at that time Russia and China posed no real threat – was the European Union and that the European Union had to be prevented from becoming politically and economically independent.
Over time, the European Union developed economically a little, but not much, while Russia and China expanded exponentially. So the United States now wants to erase the very existence of Russia – and very soon that of China – from our field of consciousness and downgrade the European Union.
Just look at the consequences of all the economic and financial sanctions already adopted! They are not “against Russia”. They are directed against the European Union.
The Moscow Stock Exchange closed on 25 February – the day following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. It reopened yesterday, 24 March, and so now we know how the Russian economy has reacted to these sanctions. What can be seen is that all foreign service activities collapsed, especially all Russian international banks.
But production activities in Russia, on the contrary, developed!
In other words, yesterday the Moscow Stock Exchange did not collapse. On the contrary! It was up by 4.5% . That is no small thing!
The United States will not be satisfied with excluding Russia from international organizations. What it wants is to delete her from our minds!
Notice. They expelled all the oligarchs who were staying on the French Riviera. What relationship did they have with Vladimir Putin, who hates them all? None! But they don’t want any Russian patrons on the beaches in the south of France. That’s all!
I am not defending those people. They don’t interest me in the least. But they are unconnected with what is happening. What they are doing to them is illegitimate.
And it will not stop there. Then will come the suppression of all references to Russian culture in the West. Note that they are already banning Russian orchestra conductors … who had no ties whatsoever with the government! And might even be against what Vladimir Putin is doing! But that does not matter! And they are prevented from giving concerts.
Leading universities in the United States have recently prohibited the study of Solzhenitsyn, [Russian writer] who was hailed as a hero against the Soviet Union. The same applies to the work of Dostoevsky, a writer of the Tsarist era!
An exclusively Western, new world order is being established. Above all, don’t be taken in!
We have to remain human beings. We have to remain friends with the Russians and the Chinese.
Don’t think that the Chinese are going to stand for it. They know very well that this begins with Russia now but that they will be next.
Yesterday, at NATO, the request was made for Russia to be excluded from the WTO, the International Trade Organization. But already two days earlier, China had put its foot down, saying that nothing could legitimize such a measure.
The Chinese know that they themselves will be the target of Western imperialism after the Russians. History has already taught them the lesson and they will not allow that to happen again.
So keep all the friends that you may have in Russia and China.
See you soon.
Diabolic methods of propaganda and perception management are at work now that have no precedent. This is war waged in a new way — against domestic populations as well as those declared as enemies.
The news reports come in daily from Moscow, Kiev and the Western capitals: how many dead since Russia began its intervention in Ukraine on Feb. 24, how many injured, how many hungry or cold, how many displaced. We do not know the true count of casualties and the extent of the suffering and ought not pretend we do: This is the reality of war, each side having its version of unfolding events.
My inclination is to add the deaths in Ukraine these past two weeks to the 14,000 dead and the 1.5 million displaced since 2014, when the regime in Kiev began shelling its own citizens in the eastern provinces — this because the people of Donetsk and Lugansk rejected the U.S.–cultivated coup that deposed their elected president. This simple math gives us a better idea of how many Ukrainians are worthy of our mourning.
As we mourn, it is time to consider the wider consequences of this conflict, for Ukrainians are not alone among its victims. Who else has suffered? What else has been damaged? This war is of a kind humanity has never before known. What are its costs?
Among paying-attention people it is increasingly plain that Washington’s intent in provoking Moscow’s intervention is, and probably has been from the first, to instigate a long-running conflict that bogs down Russian forces and leaves Ukrainians to wage an insurgency that cannot possibly succeed.
Is there another way to explain the many billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and matériel the U.S. and its European allies now pour into Ukraine? If the Ukrainians cannot win — a universally acknowledged reality — what is the purpose here?
Whether this strategy goes as Washington wants, or if Russian forces get their work done and withdraw to avoid a classic quagmire, remains to be seen. But as Dave DeCamp noted in Antiwar.comlast Friday, there is no sign whatsoever that the Biden administration plans any further diplomatic contacts with the Kremlin.
The implication here should be evident. The U.S. strategy effectively requires the destruction of Ukraine in the service of America’s imperial ambitions. If this thought seems extreme, brief reference to the fates of Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria will provide all the compelling context one may need.
Brzezinski’s Plan in 1979
Jan. 1, 1987: Mujahideen in Kunar, Afghanistan. (erwinlux, Flickr, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)
To an extent I find surprising given it calamitous consequences, Zbigniew Brzezinski’s plan in 1979 to arm the Afghan mujahideen against the Soviets remains the more or less unaltered template.
President Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser saw nothing wrong with getting into bed with what became Al–Qaeda. Now it is the Nazis militias that infest Ukraine’s National Guard that the U.S. arms and trains.
If the record is anything to go by, this conflict could well destroy what remains of Ukraine as a nation. In the worst outcome, little will remain of its social fabric, its public spaces, its roads, bridges, schools, municipal institutions. This destruction has already begun.
Here is what I do not want Americans to miss: We are destroying ourselves and what hope we may have to restore ourselves to decency as we watch the regime governing us destroy another nation in our name. This destruction, too, has already begun.
Many people of many different ages have remarked in recent days that they cannot recall in their lifetimes a more pervasive, suffocating barrage of propaganda than what has engulfed us since the months that preceded Russia’s intervention. In my case it has come to supersede the worst of what I remember from the Cold War decades.
You asked for a robust anti-war movement in America, you got demonstrations calling for World War 3. https://t.co/Gjk3TuUcen
— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) March 7, 2022
In January 2021, NATO published the final draft of a lengthy study it called Cognitive Warfare. Its intent is to explore the potential for manipulating minds—those of others, our own—beyond anything heretofore even attempted. “The brain will be the battlefield of the 21st century,” the document asserts. “Humans are the contested domain. Cognitive warfare’s objective is to make everyone a weapon.”
In a subsection headed “The vulnerabilities of the human brain,” the report has this to say:
“In particular, the brain:
- is unable to distinct [sic] whether information is right or wrong:
- is led to believe statements or messages it has already heard as true, even though these may be false;
- accepts statements as true, if backed by evidence, with no regards to [sic] the authenticity of that evidence.“
And this, which I find especially fiendish:
“At the political and strategic level, it would be wrong to underestimate the impact of emotions…. Emotions—hope, fear, humiliation—shape the world and international relations with the echo-chamber effect of social media.“
No, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Cognitive Warfare is a window onto diabolic methods of propaganda and perception management that have no precedent. This is war waged in a new way — against domestic populations as well as those declared as enemies.
And we have just had a taste of what it will be like as these techniques, well-grounded in cutting-edge science, are elaborated. Yet more disturbing to me than the cold prose of the report is the astonishing extent to which it proves out. Cognitive warfare, whether or not the NATO report is now the propagandists’ handbook, works, and it is working now on most Americans.
This is what I mean when I say we, too, are the victims of this war.
Last week the conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, Valery Gergiev, was sacked for refusing to condemn Vladimir Putin. The same thing then happened to Anna Netrebko. The Metropolitan Opera in New York fired its star soprano for the same reason: She preferred to say nothing about the Russian president.
There is no bottom to this. Last Friday Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Senator, openly called for Putin’s assassination. Michael McFaul, briefly Barack Obama’s ambassador to Russia and the king of nitwittery, asserts that all Russians who don’t openly protest Russia’s intervention in Ukraine are to be punished for it. In the idiotic file, the International Federation of Felines has barred imports of Russian cats.
Here is the entry on this list of preposterous assertions that got me out of my chair in a rage last Thursday: The International Paralympic Committee banned Russian and Belarusian athletes—why the Belarusians, for heaven’s sake?—from the winter Paralympics that commenced the following day in Beijing. We’re now down to persecuting people whose hearts and souls are abler than their limbs?
The committee made it plain it acted in response to international pressure. I wonder whose that might be.
What Has Become of Us
U.S. military assistance arriving in Ukraine, Feb, 10. (U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine)
Look at what has become of us. Most Americans seem to approve of these things, or at least are unstirred to object. We have lost all sense of decency, of ordinary morality, of proportion. Can anyone listen to the din of the past couple of weeks without wondering if we have made of ourselves a nation of grotesques?
It is common to observe that in war the enemy is always dehumanized. We are now face to face with another reality: Those who dehumanize others dehumanize themselves more profoundly.
“Rational argument can be conducted with some prospect of success only so long as the emotionality of a given situation does not exceed a certain critical degree. If the affective temperature rises above this level, the possibility of reason’s having any effect ceases and its place is taken by slogans and chimerical wish fantasies. That is to say, a sort of collective possession results which rapidly develops into a psychic epidemic.”
That is a snippet from a book by C.G. Jung, The Undiscovered Self, that a friend just sent. When our feelings get the better of us, we can no longer think or talk usefully to one another: This is the Swiss psychoanalyst’s point in simple terms.
The other day PBS Newshour ran an interview with one Artem Semenikhin, in which the small-town mayor was lionized for standing up to Russian soldiers. In the background, as the ever-alert Alan MacLeod points out, was a portrait of Stepan Bandera, the savage Russophobe, anti–Semite, and leader of Ukrainian Nazis.
PBS Newshour interviews the Mayor of Konotop, Artem Semenikhin, presenting him as a hero for killing Russian invaders.
However, despite his Zoom blur effect, you can clearly still see that behind him is a portrait of Nazi leader and Holocaust perpetrator Stepan Bandera.
— Alan MacLeod (@AlanRMacLeod) March 4, 2022
What did PBS do about this careless oversight? It blurred the Bandera portrait and broadcast the interview with its Ukrainian hero. American journalism at its zenith.
It strikes me as the perfect metaphor for what has happened to our reasoning faculties — or, better put, what we have allowed to be done to them. Factual realities that lie beyond dispute, if inconvenient, are blurred out of the movie we think we’re watching.
It is the same with any genuine understanding of the Russian intervention. I have four words for what we need to read this crisis: history, chronology, context, and responsibility. Since none of these serves our cognitive warriors’ purpose, we are invited to blot them out. And once again: With dreadful fidelity to those actively manipulating our perceptions, we do so.
Context, the worst of us assert, is some idea those awful Russians came up with. We take no interest whatsoever in how the world may look from anyone else’s perspective. Who in hell, please tell me, thinks this is a good way to live?
I have rendered a pencil-sketch of a nation falling apart as it takes another one apart. A nation this far into one of Jung’s “collective possessions” cannot possibly do well. As is always the case (a thought that came to me as I studied the Japanese nationalists of the 1930s), the victimizers are victims, too.
If we are to find our way out of this funhouse, we will have to do one thing before any other: We will have to learn to speak in a clear, new language so that we can name things as they are instead of blurring them as PBS did that Bandera portrait.
And we must start with one word. Unless we can learn to call America an empire, we will stumble in the funhouse dark until it becomes so unfun we can no longer bear our own self-deceptions.
I see in here a virtue in this large, complicated moment. Between Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, which I count regrettable but necessary, and the joint statement Putin made with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Feb. 4, we are all called upon either to recognize the United States for what it has become, an empire violently defending itself against history itself, or accept our fate among the victims of this empire.
Clarity: It is always a fine thing, whatever the difficulties it brings.
The war taking place in Ukraine has been understood on one side – the wider western view – in terms of the secular expression of today’s western culture. Typically, it is cast as a struggle of this culture, loosely packaged as ‘democracy’ versus the authoritarian culture of Russia, Iran and China – cultures that reflect offensive, nativist and repressively ‘incorrect’ values.
It is believed that Putin is held “to have sensed weak political leadership in America – and like a chess player who sees weakness on the board, and an opening for an attack – takes it”.
This represents the authentic reading of a majority in the West. It is not hard to see why it should have become the settled view. It comports closely with today’s zeitgeist that all politics is but a Manichaean tapestry of the ‘good’ who see things in a ‘modern’ and culturally-aware way – and those who have failed to ‘decolonise’ from their past.
This does not however, fully explain the frenzy of hostile passion directed at Putin, Russia and everything Russian. Nothing close to this has been seen since World War II. Even then, it was not everything German that was cast as evil.
Notwithstanding the passion, this western reading of the world has an underlying logic. And it is a logic which is ineluctable and fraught with peril: For example, Zelensky’s speech to the U.S. Congress underscored a nation facing unprovoked attack; a nation that has drawn support and sympathy from the rest of the world, but one that is not a member of the NATO alliance. The message was simple and clear: “I call on you [the West] to do more”.
In response, former defence secretary Leon Panetta described Zelensky this week as “probably the most powerful lobbyist in the world right now”. Again, the logic behind the construct that Russia has launched – unprovoked – the biggest land war in Europe since WW2 for tactical gain ‘on the chessboard’ ineluctably defines the inevitable response: More military support for Kiev is necessary, so that Putin senses the danger on the board, and acts to protect his high-value ‘chess pieces’.
So far, the U.S. support falls just – but only just – short of NATO intervention. Zelensky’s words and the video he shared (albeit clearly crafted by a professional PR agency – roughly shaven, fatigue t-shirt, etc.), carried an emotional impact that turned this appearance (and those in other Capitals) from the ordinary to the extraordinary. To what it will lead, is the obvious question.
Panetta suggested in riposte, “If Putin is doubling down, the U.S. and NATO have to double down”.
We should be clear: Panetta is not alone. The info-war; the frenzy for war, is gathering pace. There are those urging Zelensky to keep up the messaging; telling him that ultimately NATO’s refusal to intervene will crack.
But what if the above consensus analysis is WRONG? What if it constitutes a potentially catastrophic misreading of Putin and his team and – more importantly – of the mood amongst the majority of Russians?
Simply to view the conflict through such a reductionist lens, omits and erases all the hidden religious, racial, historic, political and cultural overtones to the conflict. It facilitates a banal stereotyping that can lead to bad decision-making.
If the West is wrong in its stereotype of an ‘unprincipled authoritarian leader’ – Putin, taking his country into war for some ephemeral tactical gain against the West – then the West may also be wrong in thinking that it is fighting a tactical war; and wrong therefore in imagining that tactical moves consisting in loading pain onto the Russian pan to tip the scales will result in ‘a climb down, by a Putin cut down to size’.
What we would have then is total war practiced on the one hand by Russia, cast as one in which Russia either defends itself, or it ceases to exist; and on the other side, a ‘west’, locked into the logic of its own construct, and edging closer to its own (secularised) ‘holy war’.
Zelensky’s words and video carried a heavy emotional impact across western capitals – clearly intended to feed into a heated atmosphere of emotions, at almost break-point. This emotional charge adds to the angst of America in decline; to the evidence that fewer countries instinctively now bow to the U.S., as readily as they did in the past. It is unsettling. It can trigger aggressive feelings of wanting to hit back at whoever it is that is belittling the notion of a nation with a unique destiny.
This emotional content already is blinding western commentators to military realities on the ground which are ignored and effaced by daily claims of heart-rending atrocities. In today’s West, analysis has become a mere expression of correct culture, and any mention of ground realities, almost a crime. It is the perfect context for mistakes to be made.
To what will it lead: The logic is compelling: A western total war?
An award-winning Russian filmmaker, Nikita Mikhalkov, made his own address to the Russian people – a parallel to Zelensky’s address to Congress, perhaps:
“Look at us [the Russian people] and remember that they will do the same thing to you when you show weakness … Brothers, remember the fate of Yugoslavia and do not allow them to do the same to you. I am personally convinced that this is not a war between Russia and Ukraine, this is not a war between Russia, Europe and America. This is not a war for democracy that our partners want to convince us of. This is a global and perhaps the last attempt of Western civilization to attack the Russian world, Orthodox ethics, on traditional values. He who is brought up on these values will never agree to what they offer us, from same-sex marriages to the legalization of fascism. War is a terrible thing. I don’t know a normal person who thinks war is a good thing. But Ukraine, America and Europe began preparing for this war back in 1991 … There are two ways out of this situation – we will either defend ourselves; or we will cease to exist. In the end, I offer the wise words of a smart man: “It is better to be hanged for loyalty, than to be rewarded for betrayal”.
Mikhalkov is no ‘outlier’. Dr Mariya Matskevich of the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences explains that a large part of the Russian population views the war in Ukraine as “a holy struggle” and “a war of Russia with the entire rest of the world.” She adds that this is a position many Russians find far more congenial than any cooperation with the outside world., She notes that polls consistently, and generally accurately, demonstrate this pattern, as well as the widespread belief that what Russia is doing in Ukraine is defending itself against a Western attack. Because of this, popular Russian support for Putin, his government, and even his United Russia party, has risen since the start of hostilities.
The notion of ‘total war’ was expressed forcefully on a primetime TV channel by a prominent Russian thinker and author, Professor Dugin. His views drew wide support:
- The war in Ukraine is not only existential for the Russian state, but is existential for the Russian people; its culture and its civilisation.
- A successful outcome in Ukraine is key to the creation of a New World order.
- Until now, the West would never accept Russia as a partner, but the operation in Ukraine will change that.
You may agree or disagree with this view, but that is not the point. The point is whether it be an authentic view, or not, of the Russian people. If it is, then Putin and Russia will not back-down over a new raft of western sanctions, nor even new drones or weapons supplied to Kiev: total war is, of course, existential – to the end.
An eminent Serbian academic, Professor Vladusic, puts this into wider context: “There is a map of civilizations in Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations: On that map, Ukraine and Russia are painted the same colour, because they belong to the same, Orthodox civilization. And right next to Ukraine, the dark colour with which Huntington marks the civilization of the West – begins:
“[As I] look at war through Huntington’s eyes, here is what I conclude: the war between Russia and Ukraine is a great catastrophe for Orthodox civilization. The hypothetical disappearance of Russia would also be the end of Orthodox civilization, because there is no other, sufficiently powerful Orthodox country to defend other Orthodox nations. Huntington then whispers to me that it has never happened in history for a country to move from one civilization to another, not because some countries did not try, but because, simply put, other civilizations never accepted them permanently. Without Russia, the geopolitical price of the remaining Orthodox countries would fall so much that other civilizations would, at best, bring them down to the level of dying colonies. This, of course, also applies to Ukraine. At the moment when Russia would be defeated, which means, most likely, divided into several states, the same fate would probably befall Ukraine. We all know what the word Balkanization means”.
It looks as if total war may become inevitable. The two different interpretations of ‘reality’ touch at no point. The logic is ineluctable. Within these architectures of hatred, selected or invented historical facts about Russia, its culture, and its racial nature are taken out of context – and slotted into prearranged intellectual structures to indict President Putin as a ‘thug’ and a ‘war criminal’.
If we are heading in this direction, it will be down to the potentially catastrophic error of perceiving Russia as a mere transactional actor – an approach which stems from the West’s denunciation of its own cultural legacy. The process is simple: in the past, a work of art, a great book was read to throw light and understanding on past events. Today, it is understood only as an expression of contemporary culture. It is enough to present this culture as politically incorrect (as white, misogynist or colonial), and immediately it becomes politically incorrect, which means that any mention of it is a crime. How then, can Russian history be understood? Simply, it can’t.
It cannot be understood how Russia might read history as a long, thousand-year succession of attempts to cancel Russia; of ancient antagonism and racism directed towards Slavs; of how Russians might read the U.S.’ recent intervention in Traditional Orthodoxy, through the Patriarchy in Constantinople as designed to foster a schism in the Orthodox Community in order both to undermine the Moscow Patriarchate (the bulwark of traditional social thinking), and to infuse the seeds of western liberalism, and western cultural values into the national Orthodox Churches. Many pious Russians do see the Ukrainian conflict as a ‘Holy War’ to preserve traditionalist ethos from a western nihilistic cultural impulse.
They might understand too, how many Russians view the Bolshevik revolution, the U.S. neo-liberal intervention of the Yeltsin era, and today’s woke culture, as all cut from the same cloth (Bolshevism being but ‘first edition’ wokeism): i.e. a struggle to nullify Russian civilisation and the Orthodox ethos.
We might read history differently, yet the above, nonetheless, may represent something of the authentic view of most Russians. That is the point. It carries implications for war and peace.
Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine has been reported by the Western establishment and its mainstream media (MSM) as an unprovoked act of naked aggression. Writing in The New York Times the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
Never in my life have I seen an international crisis where the dividing line between right and wrong has been so stark.
This story has been presented to us in order to maintain our trust in the institutions of our government. The Russian people have been given a different story, but for the same reason.
As discussed in Part 1, what we are told about the social, political and ethnic tensions in Ukraine by the Western hegemony isn’t accurate. This article will explore the wider geopolitical context within which Russia’s military action military action can be at least understood, even if we regard then as illegitimate.
Some of the terms used in this article, such as “Euromaidan coup,” directly contradict the Western MSM narrative. Please read Part 1 to familiarise yourself with some of the historical background and the named individuals and organisations.
Only Fools Rush In
In the West, the public is expected to accept the given narrativ without question. Anyone who challenges it is accused of being a Putin apologist or a far-right conspiracy theorist. Most Brits appear to have gone along with Johnson’s proffered fairy tale. This is unfortunate, because the reality is far more complex than he would have us believe.
To see celebrities and social media influencers uniformly demonstrating their compassion for the Ukrainian people is touching. But when reports of these virtue-signalling displays are used as propaganda to convince the public that they, too, should jump on the West-approved bandwagon, swaths of the population are at risk of forming a potentially dangerous opinion based upon nothing but pretension.
Currently the UK government, with celebrity assistance, is encouraging us to welcome Ukrainian refugees with open arms via its Homes For Ukraine scheme. The government has said that the Ukrainian applicants “will be vetted and will undergo security checks.”
Most of the people applying for refugee status will be in desperate need, and we certainly should do everything we can to assist them. However, there is also good reason for very careful vetting and security checks.
Stephen Fry has “open arms”
Ukraine does have a Nazi problem, and it is the Nazis who have most to fear from the Russian forces. In 2013, five days after his arrival in the UK, Ukrainian Nazi Pavlo Lapshyn murdered by an 82-year-old man before embarking upon a bombing campaign of British mosques. It was only thanks to sheer luck that he didn’t murder many more British people.
Lapshyn is only one man out of approximately 44 million people living in Ukraine. Unfortunately, he is also one among hundreds of thousands who share his extremist views. Then there’s the small minority of Ukrainians—which can nonetheless be measured in the millions—who have a degree of sympathy with those views.
For reasons we will discuss in Part 4, the UK government’s commitment to security checks is highly questionable. We are being asked to trust the UK government, but doing so is unwise, given its record. Of course we should act compassionately and help suffering people, but only fools rush in.
For those who believe the propaganda of the Western establishment, Russian president Vladimir Putin is a comic book villain whose evil intentions will stop at nothing short of creating a new Russian empire. The West’s propagandists depict Ukraine as the victim of Putin’s allegedly insane bloodlust and portray Russian military actions as unjustified and unlawful.
Swallowing their story leads us to believe that the US-led NATO alliance and the Kyiv government are the defenders of democracy. Russian actions, perceived as an attack on Ukrainian democracy, are therefore an assault upon the principle of democracy. This view is essentially the single version of the truth being peddled in the West.
The alternative view of Putin as some sort of bogatyr (heroic warrior) is equally callow. It wrongly assumes that Putin embodies Russia, thus ignoring a nation of 146 million people and the globalist forces that maintain Putin’s power for their benefit.
Initially, currently, and most acutely, it is the people in Ukraine who suffer as a result of this conflict. Ultimately however, we all will.
When the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, listed Russia’s claimed reasons for the invasion of Ukraine, he stressed NATO expansionism. Russia has repeatedly warned that Ukrainian membership in NATO, which would almost certainly see US troops and offensive weapons deployed on Russia’s southwestern border, was a redline that Russia would not allow NATO to cross. Putin said:
I spoke about our biggest concerns and worries, and about the fundamental threats which irresponsible Western politicians created for Russia consistently, rudely and unceremoniously from year to year. I am referring to the eastward expansion of NATO, which is moving its military infrastructure ever closer to the Russian border. [. . .] [T]he North Atlantic alliance continued to expand despite our protests and concerns. Its military machine is moving and, as I said, is approaching our very border.
Russia has warned repeatedly that it would “react” if Ukraine joined NATO. As yet, Ukraine has not done so. Russia’s attack is preemptive, and, despite Putin’s claimed “compassion” for the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR & LPR), Russia’s primary concern is for its own security and that of its ruling class. Even prior to Russian recognition, the DPR and LPR were de jure Russian satellite states and pawns in a greater game seemingly played out between Russia and NATO.
Equally, there has been a genuine humanitarian crisis in the DPR and LPR for eight years. Russia’s military operation has come as a relief to the people of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Regrettably, Russia has also escalated the conflict beyond Donbas borders, killing more innocent people.
In February 1990, during the “perestroika” reformation of the USSR, then-US Secretary of State James Baker met with the last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. He famously gave Russia assurances that NATO would not expand “one inch eastward.” At the time, that meant no eastward expansion—except for by Turkey—in mainland Europe beyond Germany’s border.
Baker’s words weren’t the only reassurances the Russians received. In 1990, then-West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher gave a keynote speech with regard to German reunification, during which he said:
[T]he changes in Eastern Europe and the German unification process must not lead to an ‘impairment of Soviet security interests.’ Therefore, NATO should rule out an ‘expansion of its territory towards the east, i.e. moving it closer to the Soviet borders.’
Prior to signing the Two-Plus-Four Treaty reunifying Germany, the Russians sought and were given explicit commitments regarding NATO expansionism. In the rounds of diplomacy leading up to the agreement, Russia was offered assurances by political leaders from the US, France, the UK, Germany and other NATO aligned states. Russia agreed to German reunification only after German Chancellor Helmut Kohl convinced Gorbachev that NATO would not expand toward Russian borders.
This was an opportunity for the US, Europe and Russia to capitalise on the new, relatively open and transparent (glasnost) USSR as it transitioned to become the Russian Federation. In retrospect, it is now clear that the US-led NATO alliance took a triumphalist view. It embraced its own unipolar world order as the bipolar Cold War order evaporated.
From 1991 onwards NATO completely ignored both the assurances it had given and Russia’s security concerns. It systematically rolled eastward, and by 2005 Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria had become members of NATO.
In 2007, in response to NATO’s obvious expansionism, Vladimir Putin delivered a cutting speech at the Munich Security Conference:
[W]hat is a unipolar world? However one might embellish this term, at the end of the day it refers to one type of situation, namely one centre of authority, one centre of force, one centre of decision-making. It is world in which there is one master, one sovereign. [. . .] And this certainly has nothing in common with democracy. [. . .] I consider that the unipolar model is not only unacceptable but also impossible in today’s world. [. . .] [T]he model itself is flawed because at its basis there is and can be no moral foundations for modern civilisation. [. . .] We are seeing a greater and greater disdain for the basic principles of international law. [. . .] [F]irst and foremost the United States has overstepped its national borders in every way. [. . .] [O]f course this is extremely dangerous. It results in the fact that no one feels safe. I want to emphasise this – no one feels safe! [. . .] I understood that the use of force can only be legitimate when the decision is taken by NATO, the EU, or the UN. [. . .] [W]e have different points of view. [. . .] The use of force can only be considered legitimate if the decision is sanctioned by the UN. And we do not need to substitute NATO or the EU for the UN. [. . .] I think it is obvious that NATO expansion does not have any relation with the modernisation of the Alliance itself or with ensuring security in Europe. [. . .] [W]e have the right to ask: against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? [. . .] I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: “the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee”. Where are these guarantees?
In response, the NATO Council, as if to validate everything Putin said, issued a statement at the 2008 NATO Bucharest Summit. Clause 23 of the statement read:
NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.
In the decade-long lead-up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO had been pushing for Ukrainian membership. Indeed, in 2018 NATO added Ukraine to its list of so-called aspiring nations. In 2019, then-President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko signed a constitutional amendment committing Ukraine to membership in both the EU and NATO. This was swiftly followed in 2020 with the decision by NATO and Ukraine to enhance their partnership.
The current invasion of Ukraine by Russia has been presented by Western governments to their respective electorates in disingenuous and puerile terms. The West’s narrative was encapsulated by Johnson in his New York Times piece:
This is not a NATO conflict, and it will not become one. [. . .] The truth is that Ukraine had no serious prospect of NATO membership in the near future. [. . .] I and many other Western leaders have spoken to Mr. Putin to understand his perspective. [. . .] It is now clear diplomacy never had a chance. [. . .] Mr. Putin is attempting the destruction of the very foundation of international relations and the United Nations Charter: the right of nations to decide their own future, free from aggression and fear of invasion.
Contrary to Johnson’s deception, NATO and its member states have not only enticed, cajoled and encouraged Ukraine’s “aspirations” to join, they have taken firm steps to make it a reality. They did so in the certain knowledge that Russia could never countenance the move. This fact in no way excuses Russia’s actions, but it goes some way in explaining them.
From an official military perspective, NATO has seemingly abandoned Ukraine to its fate. We will discuss in Part 4 why what NATO is doing is not quite as it seems.
Thus far, NATO has ruled out any attempt to establish a no-fly zone (NFZ). As pointed out by 80 foreign policy experts who have written to advise the Biden administration, any attempt to impose an NFZ would necessitate NATO or US forces shooting down Russian military planes. This would almost certainly trigger a global war.
It is mind-blowing that this letter was written in response to a similar endeavour from 27 foreign policy experts who advocated the physically impossible concept of a “limited” NFZ. Judging the risk to be worth it, they suggested the West should call Russia’s bluff. This pro- NFZ lobby has close financial ties to the military-industrial complex. What these lunatics imagine they will spend their money on in the smouldering rubble of a post-nuclear holocaust is difficult to say.
Johnson’s point that the Ukraine has the right to determine its own future with regard to NATO membership is childish—and, from an international law perspective, wrong. Nation-states are not free to do whatever they like if their actions threaten the security of neighbouring states.
Article 2.3 of the United Nation’s Charter states:
All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.
With NATO membership distinctly possible, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, speaking at the 2022 Munich Security Conference just before the Russian invasion, said:
Ukraine has received security guarantees for abandoning the world’s third nuclear capability. We don’t have that weapon. We also have no security. [. . .] Therefore, we have something. The right to demand a shift from a policy of appeasement to ensuring security and peace guarantees. Since 2014, Ukraine has tried three times to convene consultations with the guarantor states of the Budapest Memorandum. [. . .] I am initiating consultations in the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. [. . .] If they do not happen again or their results do not guarantee security for our country, Ukraine will have every right to believe that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and all the package decisions of 1994 are in doubt.
The 1994 Budapest Memorandum was a security assurance given to the Ukraine (and others) by the existing nuclear powers, including the Russian Federation, that their integrity and sovereignty would not be threatened in exchange for them giving up their nuclear arsenals. In Ukraine’s case, theirs was potentially the third largest in the world as they were left with more than 2000 strategic nuclear warheads after the dissolution of the USSR.
Zelenskyy was claiming that Russia had already breached the Budapest Memorandum when it “annexed” Crimea and supported the separatists in the Donbas. Therefore, he was threatening Russia, not only with a nuclear armed Ukraine, but a nuclear armed NATO power on its border.
Regardless of the intricacies of the Budapest deal, this was a clear threat to Russian security and an obvious provocation. One has to ask why Zelenskyy thought this wise.
Ukraine and Russia had been in international dispute for at least eight years but realistically for more than thirty. From both the Russian and the Ukrainian side, the manner of that dispute had consistently endangered international peace and security. Zelesnkyy’s threat appeared to take that risk to a new level.
In addition, NATO member states have been in dispute with Russia since 1991. Their total disregard for Russia’s security concerns also endangered international peace. Moreover, NATO expansionism was not in keeping with the principles of the UN Charter.
The Secretary-General of the UN, Antonio Guterres, has unequivocally condemned the Russian invasion. This appears to be a reflection of the UN’s partisan bias toward the US-led NATO military alliance and the EU rather than any genuine attempt to faithfully interpret the UN Charter. Guterres said:
The use of force by one country against another is the repudiation of the principles that every country has committed to uphold. This applies to the present military offensive. It is wrong. It is against the Charter. It is unacceptable.
Yet when the US decided it had the right to launch preemptive wars in the “war on terror,” the UN did not condemn that claim of right. For example, when the US-led coalition launched a “preemptive” invasion of Iraq in March 2003, in contravention of the UN Charter, the UN said little and did nothing.
In 2004, then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan acknowledged that the invasion and subsequent war in Iraq was illegal. Yet the UN has consistently ignored Article 39 of the UN Charter that would allow it to rule on the legality of the Iraq war. No one has ever imposed sanctions on the US or its allies for the war crimes they have committed.
Who Cares About International Law?
Lex iniusta non est lex is a fundamental principle of law. Translation: unjust law is not law. If we are going to suffer the violence of governments, then the concept of international law is certainly welcome. Unfortunately, that’s all it is: a concept.
The UN’s formal and public condemnation of preemptive wars is reserved for the actions of some nations but not others. Consequently, international law, partly encapsulated by the UN Charter, is practically meaningless.
Because it is applied neither equally nor reasonably, it has become little more than a big stick, currently in the hands the Western-led international rules-based order, used to beat opponents. This is what happens when juries are excluded from alleged justice. There is no “law.”
Prior to the Secretary-General’s statement, the globalist foreign policy think tank, the Council on Foreign Relations, had already ruled that Russia’s military action in Ukraine violates international law. The CFR pointed out that the action contravenes Article 2.4 of the United Nations Charter, which states:
All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
Russia has certainly breached Article 2.4. Its war in Ukraine is therefore “illegal.”
However, Article 1.1 of the UN Charter also places an onus on the UN “to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace.” Persistent NATO expansionism and the threat of a NATO nuclear power on Russia’s border are breaches of the peace and a direct threat, from a Russian perspective. The UN has done nothing either to prevent or remove this threat.
US President Joseph Biden, upon announcing sanctions in response to Russia’s military action, said:
Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries on territory that belonged to his neighbours? This is a flagrant violation of international law, and it demands a firm response from the international community.
But Russia did not “declare” DPR and LPR territorial legitimacy. Biden was deceiving his international audience.
In his speech on the 21st February, Putin said that the Russian Federation had decided to “immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic.” Under international law, recognition is distinct from declaration.
There are two schools of legal thought on statehood. The “constitutive” approach suggests that a state can only be a state if it is recognised as such by other sovereign nations. In that case, with Russian recognition, the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) are now “legal” states.
However, the “declaratory” notion of a state usually takes precedence in international law. It defines a state as any autonomous territory that meets the criteria necessary for the formation of said state.
As defined by the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of a State, a sovereign state must have a population, a defined territory and a government able to engage in dialogue with other states. This makes the state a “sole person” in international law, and its existence is independent of recognition by other states. Such a state has the right to defend itself, irrespective of recognition.
On 7th April 2014 the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) declared itself a state. Its territory, within the Donetsk Oblast, extends for just under 9,000 square kilometres. Its capital is Donetsk. At the time, its population was approximately 2.4 million. The Donetsk People’s Militia is the military force that defends it. In 2018 the people of the DPR elected Denis Pushilin as the DPR’s head of state and 100 delegates were elected to form a government in the People’s Council in Donetsk.
Similarly, the Luhansk (or Lugansk) People’s Republic (LPR) consists of 17 administrative regions and encompasses just under 8,400 square kilometres inside the Luhansk Oblast. Its capital is Luhansk (Lugansk), and in 2014 the population was approximately 1.6 million. Leonid Pasechnik is the head of state, and 50 delegates form the government of the People’s Council in Luhansk.
Following the LPR independence referendum, held on 11th May 2014, Pasechik and the People’s Council were subsequently elected to form a government in November 2018. The Luhansk Peoples Militia defends the LPR.
Today approximately 1 million people have fled the region to escape the war. As a result, the combined population of both oblasts is probably closer to 5 million, down from 6.2 million. The populations of the DPR and LPR combined represent a percentage of the total population of the Donbas.
Recognition of a nation-state is ostensibly a political act that clarifies the official view of the nation-state (or nation-states) that are conferring that recognition. In this case, Russia was stating to the international community that it supported the right to independence of the DPR and LPR. Both new states have met the criteria for recognition under international law. Of course, the decision to not recognise them is equally a political act.
In 1992, the United States and the European Community “recognised” the independence of Bosnia and Herzegovina without declaring Bosnia-Herzegovina an independent state. What followed was US—and later NATO—bombing as well as the training, arming and equipping of Islamist extremists—all part of a concerted effort to balkanise the entire European region previously called Yugoslavia.
Similarly, Russia acknowledges the independence of the new unitary republics of DPR and LPR but has not declared them independent states. Following recognition of their status, Russia launched a military attack on Ukraine. Truth be told, neither the Russian nor the US/NATO actions show any particular respect for international law.
Biden’s words were nothing more than propaganda. His legal interpretation was, at best, incomplete. So was Putin’s when he claimed that Russian military action was in keeping with Article 51 of the UN Charter, which states:
Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.
An armed attack had not been launched against Russia, and the DPR and LPR are not members of the United Nations. Putin’s citation of Article 51 doesn’t legitimise Russian military actions under international law. So what?
Claims and counterclaims concerning international law are merely attempts by global military powers to gain public support for their wars. Combined with propaganda and censorship, these claims convince some of the people some of the time.
The supposedly binding bilateral agreements between nation-states, the UN Charter, and the decisions of international courts and treaties form so-called international law. Unless this alleged “law” is applied equally and fairly, it is not law.
Nation-states like the US, UK, EU member states and Russia use international law merely as weapon of convenience to justify the killing and maiming of human beings or to berate other states when carnage doesn’t suit their objectives. This is the reality of nominal “international law.” It is no law at all.
Exactly the same can be said for the “morality” on display from most of those who now pontificate about welcoming Ukrainian refugees “with open arms.” This appears to be due either to ignorance or acceptance of the unconscionable concept of moral relativism.
While they proudly signal their moral virtue in regard to Ukraine they have said nothing about the horror that continues to unfold in Yemen, which is wholeheartedly backed by the US-led western alliance they continue to support. Just as law applied unfairly is no law at all, so morality that chooses a cause, while ignoring suffering elsewhere, has no value at all.
Gas, Gas, Gas
When Barack Obama became the 44th US President in 2009, Russia had been using its economic influence as the world’s largest crude oil and second largest dry gas producer to push back against NATO expansionism. Ukraine was the main transit hub for Russian gas pipelines to Europe, but it was politically unstable.
The political divisions in Ukraine, broadly pro-EU and anti-Russian on one side and pro-Russian and anti-EU on the other, became the focus of a tug of war for European influence between the US and Russia. The Obama administration wanted to maintain the transatlantic alliance, affording U.S. dominance and NATO cohesion in Europe, while Putin’s clique aimed to enhance Russian control of the European energy market to strengthen Russian security and weaken NATO.
For its part, the EU hierarchy was eager to establish its bloc as an independent military superpower. The 2007 Treaty of Lisbon came into force in December 2009, effectively creating the European Union and its Common Security and Defence Policy. The EU were then able pursue military defence union, potentially undermining US control and bolstering the EU’s hold on NATO.
Russia openly declared its support for Yanukovich in the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election. Its access to the Ukrainian pipelines and retention of its Sevastopol naval base were crucial to its—and, to a large extent, the EU’s—interests. In exchange for below- market, subsidised Russian gas, the Yanukovich government extended Russia’s Sevastopol lease until 2042, resulting in physical fights breaking out in the Verkhovna Rada.
In 2011, Russia and Germany opened the first Nord Stream gas pipeline, which runs under the Baltic Sea and supplies Russian gas to Germany. Nord Stream 1 runs from Vyborg to Greifswald. The proposed Nord Stream 2 will run from Ust-Luga. The purpose of Nord Stream pipelines was to enable Russia to sell much cheaper gas to the EU, via Germany, while eliminating both the EU’s and Russia’s 80% reliance upon the precarious Ukrainian pipelines. For obvious reasons, this aim had wide support among other EU member states.
The Nord Stream pipelines were not in the interest of the US, however. Consequently, its foreign policy objectives were to stop Nord Stream 2 (which would double the pipelines’ gas flow to Europe from Russia) and install a Ukrainian government amenable to Washington’s demands.
If the US could break the EU’s blossoming trade relationship with Russia, it would not only secure US dominance over Europe, both in economic and collective defence terms, but would also open up the EU market to the US’ pricier Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports—an added bonus.
Initially, the US feted the Yanukovich government in hopes of convincing Ukraine to join NATO and the EU. Then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was dispatched to Kyiv, where she held discussions with Yanukovich. Among her comments:
We discussed ways that Ukraine and the United States can deepen and expand our strategic partnership. [. . .] [We hope] Ukraine will pursue close, constructive relationships with the United States and countries of the European Union. [. . .] We discussed energy reform and its potential to transform Ukraine into an energy producer and becoming more energy efficient. [. . .] We also discussed the importance of protecting Ukraine’s democracy. [. . .] [W]e thank Ukraine and the Ukrainian people for your important contributions to NATO and other international security operations.
The diplomacy failed. Despite fluffy rhetoric about “protecting Ukraine’s democracy,” the US turned to distinctly undemocratic methods when it decided to back a Ukrainian coup. In order to achieve this goal, the US empowered the darkest forces in Ukrainian politics: the neo-Nazis.
Something we will explore in Part 3: Ukraine War! What is It Good For? The Ukrainian Nazi Agenda
Please Note: The PDF (Book) will be available following publication of Part 4