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June 23, 2021

These Uppity Brits Need A Slap-like Lesson

The Brits were getting a bit uppity today so the Russians responded by opening fire:

A Russian patrol ship and fighter jet have fired warning shots after the British destroyer HMS Defender violated the country’s border in the Black Sea. The UK embassy's defense attaché has been summoned by officials in Moscow.

According to Russia’s Ministry of Defense, the British naval ship entered the country's territorial waters at 11:52am local time and traveled 3km inside the frontier, near Cape Fiolent, in Crimea. The peninsula is not recognized by the United Kingdom as Russian land and London believes it to be illegally occupied Ukrainian territory.

“At 12:06 and 12:08, a border patrol ship fired warning shots,” the Defense Ministry said. “(And) at 12:19, a Su-24m aircraft performed a warning bombing (4 OFAB-250) ahead of the course of the USS Defender.”

Four minutes later, at 12:23, the destroyer left Russian territory.

The Brits denied that any shots were fired at(!) them:

UK Defense Ministry claimed that HMS conducts an "innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with the international law" and rejected Russian Defense Ministry’s claims that warning shots were fired or bombs were dropped in the destroyer’s path.

"The Royal Navy ship is conducting innocent passage through Ukrainian territorial waters in accordance with international law," the Defense Ministry press service said in its Twitter Wednesday, referring to the internationally recognized right to sail through territorial waters of a country provided they mean no harm. "We believe the Russians were undertaking a gunnery exercise in the Black Sea and provided the maritime community with prior-warning of their activity. No shots were directed at HMS Defender and we do not recognize the claim that bombs were dropped in her path."

The Defense Ministry also claimed that the destroyer was traveling in an "internationally recognized traffic separation corridor."

That is non-denial denial. Warning shots are never directed AT the target.

A BBC journalist on board of the British ship does not think that it was just an 'innocent passage':

The crew were already at action stations as they approached the southern tip of Russian occupied Crimea. Weapons systems on board the Royal Navy destroyer had already been loaded.

This would be a deliberate move to make a point to Russia. HMS Defender was going to sail within the 12 mile (19km) limit of Crimea's territorial waters. The captain insisted he was only seeking safe passage thorough an internationally recognised shipping lane.

Two Russian coastguard ships that were shadowing the Royal Navy warship, tried to force it to alter course. At one stage one of the Russian vessels closed in to about 100m (328ft).

Increasingly hostile warnings were issued over the radio - including one that said "if you don't change course I'll fire". We did hear some firing in the distance but they were believed to be well out of range.

As HMS Defender sailed through the shipping lane it was buzzed by Russian jets. The Captain, Vincent Owen, said the ship detected more than 20 military aircraft nearby. Commander Owen said his mission was confident but non-confrontational.

The BBC reporter phoned his report in. One can hear Russian jets buzzing the ship.


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Innocent passage with loaded weapons? That is a no no. Passing a battle ready warship through Russian territorial water without necessity? There are no 'shipping lanes' in that area but lots of room to the west to pass around Crimea.

So no. The Brits were clearly seeking a confrontation. There was also a U.S. spy plane flying in the area to record the Russian reaction.


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This came just hours after the U.K had signed an agreement with the Ukraine for the "enhancement of Ukrainian naval capabilities":

Contractual work will now begin to implement the following projects:
  • Missile sale and integration on new and in-service Ukrainian Navy patrol and airborne platforms, including a training and engineering support package.
  • The development and joint production of eight fast missile warships.
  • The creation of a new naval base on the Black Sea as the primary fleet base for Ukraine and a new base on the Sea of Azov.
  • Babcock will participate in the Ukrainian project to deliver a modern frigate capability.
  • A Government to Government sale of two refurbished Sandown class mine countermeasure vessels.

The editor of the Chinese Global Times says that Britain should receive a "slap-like lesson" for today's incident. That is probably a good idea. But Russia tends to not react hasty over such issues. Revenge is best served cold.

Unrelated to the above a slap-like lesson was given to Britain today when U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken arrived in Germany:

"I think it's fair to say that the United States has no better partner, no better friend in the world than Germany," Blinken said. He is scheduled to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

London will not like that statement.

Next week NATO will run its Exercise Seabreeze in and near to the Black Sea in which soldiers and sailors from some 30 nations will take part. In light of today's provocation the Russian military will probably prepare some surprises for them.

Posted by b at 16:15 UTC | Comments (49)

June 22, 2021

U.S., EU Profess Support For Belarus Then Launch A War Against Its People

In there attempt regime change the country the U.S. and the European Union have launched an economic war against the people of Belarus.

First they doubted the results of elections in Belarus which the longtime socialist President Alexander Lukashenko had won against an politically unexperienced English teacher who was backed by a 'western' aligned group with a strong neoliberal program.

Belarus is still a mostly socialist industrialized country with many production assets owned by the state and relatively good social services. The people of Belarus have seen their neighbor countries Russia and the Ukraine go through extreme economic problems and poverty after the Soviet Union broke down. Neoliberalism had ruined those countries. It is thus quite plausible that a majority does not want to experience that in their own country and that Lukashenko has indeed won the votes of that majority.

The U.S. and EU claimed election fraud and supported demonstrations and riots against the results. This was an obvious color revolution attempt directed from the outside by 'western' supported forces.

The demonstrations soon died down. The color revolution attempt had failed. A few sanctions against some Belorussian politicians and functionaries were issued by the U.S. and the EU with claims that they are supporting the people of Belarus. But the effort soon ran out of steam and went no further.

Then a mysterious bomb threat against a plane flying from Greece to Lithuania led to the pilot deciding to land the plane in Minsk. Two passengers on board had outstanding warrants against them and were arrested after passing through passport control. A U.S. paid agitator for the color revolution immediately claimed that plane had been 'hijacked' to arrest the two people.

However the evidence provided so far shows that this was a typical bomb threat as they happen every once a while all over the world and that the pilot's decision to land in Minsk was absolutely normal. The authorities in Belarus reacted to the incident exactly as they are supposed to do.

But the whole western media and its politicians promoted the 'hijacked' propaganda version.

Moon of Alabama has discussed the evidence and laid out the timeline, narrative control and consequences of the incident.

The fake story propagandized by the media reignited the regime change efforts and was used to rush out new sanctions against Belarus. These are no longer directed at only a few persons but aim at the core of the Belorussian economy and thereby at all its people.

As the New York Times headlines:

Belarus Faces Expanded E.U. and U.S. Sanctions, Targeting Economy

Cont. reading: U.S., EU Profess Support For Belarus Then Launch A War Against Its People

Posted by b at 17:29 UTC | Comments (153)

June 21, 2021

The War On Afghanistan Is Lost But The U.S. Still Tries To Keep A Foot In Its Door

The Afghan government forces the U.S. had trained are quickly losing the fight against the Taliban. The U.S. has promised a complete retreat from Afghanistan. But it has now a plan to keep a foot in the door by staying in control of Kabul's international airport. That plan is likely to fail.

When the Soviet troops left Afghanistan the government forces they had supported held out for three more years. Then the Soviets cut off all while the U.S. continued to support the various Pashtun warlords and Mujahedin. Without Soviet resupply the government forces had to give up. Now the U.S. occupation forces are leaving the country. But the government and the forces they are leaving behind are much less prepared to survive than the ones the Soviets had backed. The speed at which the Taliban are now taking over lets me assume that it will take only a few month until the Afghan government forces collapse completely.

Afghanistan has about 400 districts. The Taliban already controlled for some time more than 50% of the countryside but had usually refrained from taking the district centers. That has now changed. Between May 1 and June 14 this year the Taliban took control of 34 districts in Afghanistan. During the last week they added a dozen more, 4 of those on Sunday alone.

Remarkably a lot of the districts the Taliban took were not in primarily Pashtun regions but in the north where the population is often Uzbek, Tajik or from other ethnic minorities. Before the U.S. invasion those populations were often anti-Taliban.

Cont. reading: The War On Afghanistan Is Lost But The U.S. Still Tries To Keep A Foot In Its Door

Posted by b at 18:41 UTC | Comments (99)

June 20, 2021

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-047

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

---
Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2021-047

Posted by b at 14:00 UTC | Comments (161)

June 19, 2021

Debunking A 'Chinese Defector' Story

It is sad to see how much Col. Pat Lang's intelligence judgment has deteriorated.

Here he goes crazy over a story of an alleged Chinese high level defector who allegedly brought all kinds of materials with him:

This man, as Chinese counter-intelligence boss looked around the IC and decided that he was most likely to survive an internal leak if he defected to DIA. That means that in spite of the fact that DIA had an internal Chinese mole (recently arrested at DIA request by the FBI), the rest of the agencies are worse in the level in Chinese intelligence penetration not only of their analytic people but also of their operations staff. How do I know that? Material from the defector (Dong) would not normally be shared with analysts if it had his name in it. His identity would be held in operational channels.

Clearly, this man believes that; CIA. army intelligence, naval intelligence, USAF intelligence and all the rest are heavily penetrated. pl.

Lang took the defector story from Zerohedge.com which took it from Redstate.com where managing editor Jennifer Van Laar made it up by mixing her fantasies, a Freebacon report about Chinese students returning to the U.S. and a rumor about a defection reported by Spytalk:

Chinese-language anti-communist media and Twitter are abuzz this week with rumors that a vice minister of State Security, Dong Jingwei (董经纬) defected in mid-February, flying from Hong Kong to the United States with his daughter, Dong Yang.

Dong is, or was, a longtime official in China’s Ministry of State Security (MSS), also known as the Guoanbu. His publicly available background indicates that he was responsible for the Ministry’s counterintelligence efforts in China, i.e., spy-catching, since being promoted to vice minister in April 2018. If the stories are true, Dong would be the highest-level defector in the history of the People’s Republic of China.

The rumor is false.

How do I know?

I copied "vice minister of State Security, Dong Jingwei" into Google Translate with the output language set to Chinese (simplified). That results in this string: "国家安全部副部长董经纬". The big Chinese search engine is Baidu.com. After pasting the string into Baidu it delivered these results:

Cont. reading: Debunking A 'Chinese Defector' Story

Posted by b at 11:38 UTC | Comments (120)

June 18, 2021

U.S. Excluded China From International Space Projects - It Built Its Own

There was a time when the U.S. was open to international cooperation in space. It gained prestige and influence from these projects. But fear of competition from China and Russia have led to attempts to exclude these countries from international projects.

In May 2011 Congress banned scientific cooperation with China:

A two-sentence clause included in the U.S. spending bill approved by Congress a few weeks ago threatens to reverse more than three decades of constructive U.S. engagement with the People's Republic of China.
...
Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), a long-time critic of the Chinese government who chairs a House spending committee that oversees several science agencies, inserted the language into the spending legislation to prevent NASA or the Office of Science and Technology Policy from using federal funds "to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company."

The European Space Agency as well as NASA were at that time favoring future cooperation with China on the International Space Station and on a planned Mars mission.

Since then other laws and sanctions have made the continuing cooperation with Russia on the International Space Station more difficult.

Banned from international space projects in which the U.S. is involved China went its own way. Ten years later it put a lander on the far side of the moon where the rover Yutu, the jade rabbit, is now pounding moon stones in his mortar to look for the elixir of life.

Last year China sent Tianwen, Heavenly Questions, and another rover named Zhurong, a god of fire, to Mars. It landed there in February:

"Tianwen-1 is going to orbit, land and release a rover all on the very first try, and coordinate observations with an orbiter," mission managers wrote before launch in the journal Nature Astronomy. "No planetary missions have ever been implemented in this way. If successful, it would signify a major technical breakthrough."

A week ago Zhurong, the fire god, took a selfie and sent it back to earth:

Cont. reading: U.S. Excluded China From International Space Projects - It Built Its Own

Posted by b at 17:00 UTC | Comments (95)

June 17, 2021

Reflections Of A Man And His Picture

On April 14 I learned that old time Moon of Alabama commentator anna missed, also known as Jack Chevalier, had died two weeks earlier. I wrote about it in

RIP Anna Missed:

Jack was an artist who lived on an island near Seattle. Jack contributed a lot to our discussions about the war the Bush gang waged on Iraq. He had been in Vietnam and could relate the ground reality.
...
The [picture] below is a gift anna missed sent to me back then. It's an oil painting on a thick piece of raw wood with small glass pellets sprinkled into it.
notebook #1

2008
9"x 16"x 1"
oil paint and glass pellets on wood
by anna missed
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In May Jack's wife, Kelly, contacted me:

Cont. reading: Reflections Of A Man And His Picture

Posted by b at 19:04 UTC | Comments (13)

Open Thread 2021-046

News & views ...

Posted by b at 12:13 UTC | Comments (190)

June 16, 2021

Summit Summary

The results of the Putin-Biden summit today in Geneva seem to be thin. The meetings were expected to last for 4 to 5 hours but ended after little more than 2 hours.

During his press conference President Vladimir Putin said that the talks were constructive. He lauded Biden as very experienced politician and said that they had two hours of face time.

There were a few results:

  • The ambassadors of both sides, who had been recalled from Washington and Moscow, will return to their posts.
  • There will be new expert rounds about cybersecurity.
  • There may be talks about an exchange of prisoners.
  • There will be new rounds about security, which means strategic nuclear weapons.

A joint statement by both sides about Strategic Stability has been posted in Russian on the Kremlin site (machine translation):

...
Today we reaffirm our adherence to the principle that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and should never be unleashed.

To achieve these goals, Russia and the United States will soon launch a comprehensive bilateral dialogue on strategic stability, which will be substantive and energetic. Through this dialogue, we aim to lay the foundation for future arms control and risk mitigation measures.

That is a very important result and the upcoming talks will be interesting. The U.S. will have to end its Missile Defense Program if it wants limits on any of the new strategic weapon types Russia has introduced.

But the summit did not bring any further breakthroughs or new deals.

Putin answered at length several reporter questions about the Ukraine, human rights and the Arctic. He responded to critical questions by using legitimate whataboutism to reflect the issue onto the U.S. side.

On an aggressive question about Navalny by a U.S. journalist Putin explained that U.S. law designates Russia as an "enemy" and that the U.S. finances groups in Russia like Navalny's. He is a foreign agent. On top of that Navalny's organization has called for illegal demonstrations and riots. That made his organization an extremist one that now must be dissolved. Putin mentions that the participants of the Jan. 6  U.S. Capitol storming are now processed as criminals even as they only had political demands, were unarmed and mostly not violent.

On another question about alleged Russian political unpredictability Putin responded by listing all the arms control agreements the U.S. has left as well as the U.S. led coup in Ukraine which was executed even after then President Yanukovych had agreed to all opposition demands including new elections.

The press conference of the U.S. side has as of now not begun.

Altogether there was much less drama but also fewer results than the many previews had presumed.

Posted by b at 17:00 UTC | Comments (136)

June 15, 2021

U.S., UK Information Warfare Behind Regime Change Drive In Belarus

by Kit Klarenberg

This piece was first published by Covert Action Magazine. It is reproduced here with the author's permission.

 


Protesters in Minsk - bigger

The at-times fiery protests that raged across Belarus throughout 2020 had largely fizzled out by the time local activist and seeming neo-Nazi Roman Protasevich was dramatically arrested in May this year.

Now, the country has been catapulted back to the top of the mainstream news agenda, with new life breathed into controversial self-appointed President Svetlana Tikhanovskaya’s hitherto unheeded calls for Western leaders to recognize her as the legitimate Belarusian leader.

True to form though, not a single mainstream outlet has deigned to mention that for many years prior to the unrest’s eruption, London and Washington had funded, trained, and promoted the very elements that took to the streets in opposition to President Alexander Lukashenko.

“Not Worth People’s Blood”

In April 2019, the RAND Corporation—a U.S. government think-tank—published a report, Extending Russia: Competing from Advantageous Ground.

It outlined “a range of possible means to extend Russia,” defined as “measures to bait Russia into overextending itself” in order to “undermine the regime’s stability.”

Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data from Western and Russian sources, this report examines Russia’s economic, political, and military vulnerabilities and anxieties and then “analyzes potential policy options to exploit them—ideologically, economically, geopolitically, and militarily” along with “the likelihood that [these policy options] could be successfully implemented.”

Cont. reading: U.S., UK Information Warfare Behind Regime Change Drive In Belarus

Posted by b at 18:07 UTC | Comments (36)