Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 30, 2014

Ukraine: Coup-Government Acknowledges Defeat

Pushed by CIA Director Brennan and Vice President Biden the Ukrainian government twice tried to use its military against federalists in the east. The second time, when it pushed to blockade the city of Slovyansk, the Russian Federation announced a snap maneuvers of its border troops and threatened to intervene. Kiev called back its forces and the federalists occupied state buildings in more cities in east. Some 23 cities and towns in the Donbass region, which delivers a third of Ukraine's GDP, are now in their hands. More will be by tomorrow.

The coup government in Kiev has, for now, given up:

Ukraine’s president warned Wednesday that its police and security forces are “helpless” to subdue unrest in the country’s east, even as pro-Russia militants seized government buildings in another city in the restive region.

“I will be frank: Today, security forces are unable to quickly take the situation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions under control,” said acting President Oleksandr Turchynov ...

"Western" media call the protesters in the east "separatists" or "pro-Russian". Those concepts are wrong. Unlike in Crimea there is no majority in the east that wants to join the Russian Federation. These people want autonomous states within the Ukraine with locally elected governments and some control over their foreign relations. They want a federal Ukraine with a weak central government that does not interfere in their affairs.

As things proceed now they may well get what they, and Russia, want. With no authority over the east and no reliable security forces the Kiev government can do nothing to prevent that. The U.S. public is against further U.S. intervention in Ukraine and six month before midterm elections public opinion will for once be noticed. There is also no support in Europe for any escalation like further sanctions on Russia. The "west" and its stooges in Kiev have run out of valid instruments to achieve their goals.

The neocon plan to capture the Black Sea harbor Sevastopol for NATO was defeated when Russia snapped Crimea away. The NATO plan to include Ukraine into its containment ring around Russia has failed. The European Union plan to devour what is left of Ukraine's natural richness is in tatters.

Ukraine will become, as an elder statesman (and war-criminal) adviced two month ago, a finlandized federal nation between the east and the west.

But there are still possible spoilers. The neocons and humanitarian interventionists will fume about their loss and they may still plan some mischief. They could, using their connections with the Ukrainian fascists, try to start a civil war in Ukraine. If only to keep Russia busy and to distracted it from other issues.

Posted by b on April 30, 2014 at 11:52 AM | Permalink | Comments (224)

April 29, 2014

Ukraine: Fascists Lack In Math

Disgraced former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and his entourage, whose criminal regime was toppled on Feb. 22 after the three-month EuroMaidan revolution, took $32 billion in cash to Russia, said Ukraine’s Acting Prosecutor General Oleg Makhnitsky in an interview with the Financial Times on April 28.
Prosecutor General: Yanukovych took $32 billion to Russia, financing separatism in Ukraine

Hmm. Oleg Makhnitsky, the new prosecutor general, is a member of the fascist Svoboda party. These folks are known to be somewhat lacking in education, especially in math.

$1 million in $100 notes, the highest nomination freely available, weights about 22 pounds or 10 kilogram. $32 billion in $100 notes are thereby some 320 metric tons. One would need some 20 big trucks to haul that stash around. I am quite sure that Yanukovich had no chance to assemble and load such a convoy on February 21 when he fled from being threatened with violence by the fascist paramilitary from Maidan square.

How much can one trust a prosecutor general when that person makes such obvious ridiculous claims?

PS: The good thing here is that Financial Times readers are usually somewhat sophisticated and will likely recognize such an idiot for what he is. The question they will ask themselves: "Would I trust such a person in my business dealings?" The obvious answer does not bode well for the Ukrainian coup government's plans for attracting outside investors.

Posted by b on April 29, 2014 at 07:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (141)

April 28, 2014

Ukraine: Useless Sanctions And Then What?

Today the U.S. sanctioned Clearia Toiletskaja, chief janitor of the Kremlin and other Russian personalities near to President Putin. Should Putin not react to this the U.S. will take more serious measures.

The professed purpose of these sanctions is to make Russia stop what it is allegedly doing in east Ukraine. But Russia is not doing anything in east Ukraine. The White House, in cooperation with the New York Times, attempted to fake evidence thereof but even that did not work. Russia is simply doing nothing.

Maybe that is the real problem the White House has and maybe that is the real reason for piling up sanctions. Russia must be made to do something. Could it not finally march into east Ukraine and thereby give the dearly desired justification to start a big war in Europe? Please Putin, do something. Otherwise the White House will have to put up more sanctions and then even more only to be laughed out of Europe where none of the big players is willing to follow down that path.

The project of capturing the Ukraine, to then kick Russia out of the Crimea port, to then be able to kill off Syria is failing. But the neocons are not known for giving up. What is Obama going to do next?

Posted by b on April 28, 2014 at 02:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (74)

April 27, 2014

Open Thread 2014-11

News & views not about Ukraine ...

Posted by b on April 27, 2014 at 01:33 PM | Permalink | Comments (76)

Ukraine: Developments ...

As I have nothing new to say use this as a comment thread on current issues in Ukraine.

Posted by b on April 27, 2014 at 01:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (125)

April 26, 2014

Ukraine: Media Obfuscate About "OSCE Observers"

Also Friday, a group of foreign military observers traveling under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, along with their Ukrainian hosts, were detained by pro-Russian separatists in Slovyansk, the separatists and the Ukrainian government said.

The government said seven foreign observers and five Ukrainian military officers had been seized.
Defying Moscow, Ukraine Threatens to Blockade Pro-Russian Militants

The group was operating under the mandate of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and comprised four Germans, a Pole, a Dane, a Swede and a Czech officer. According to the Ukrainian interior ministry, they were being escorted by five members of the Ukrainian armed forces when their bus was seized by separatists.
Ukraine: pro-Russian separatists hold European military observers captive

Now, how is the above reporting consistent with this?


1/4 Comms with military observers in Donetsk region lost.Team not OSCE monitors but sent by States under Vienna Doc on military transparency


2/4 All members of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and OSCE/ODIHR election observers are safe and accounted for


3/4 Military verification team - led by Germans – and composed of 8 members – 4 Germans, 1 Czech, 1 Danish, 1 Polish, 1 Swedish


4/4 Military verification team sent following invitation from Ukraine under terms of Vienna Document 2011

The captured foreign officers were there at the invitation of Ukrainian coup-government and accompanied by Ukrainian officers. While the Vienna Document 2011 was exchanged within the framework of the OSCE the military observer mission under the document, like the one captured in Slovyansk, are bilateral and not under organizational OSCE control (see para 18: VOLUNTARY HOSTING OF VISITS TO DISPEL CONCERNS ABOUT MILITARY ACTIVITIES). This was not an OSCE mission but a multilateral visit under a paper that was signed between OSCE countries.

The coup-government has labeled the protesters in eastern Ukraine as "terrorists" and only yesterday some of them were, allegedly, killed by Ukrainian troops. How would anybody with a sane mind send foreign military observers and Ukrainian officers into towns where those "terrorists" are having the upper hand? For what purpose if not to spy for the Ukrainian government which plans to recapture those towns by military force?


In case someone doubts the official OSCE position as expressed in the tweets above here is a TV interview (in German) by the Austrian TV with the vice president of the OSCE crisis prevention center Claus Neukirch. He points out several times that the military observers caught in eastern Ukraine are acting under a bilateral (German-Ukrainian) deal within the framework of a document which was once signed during OSCE consultations. Neither the paper nor the missions under it are, Neukirch says, within the official OSCE framework. The OSCE does have 150 strong civilian mission in Ukraine which is neutral in its position and is trying to locally intermediate between waring sides. Neukirch also says that the official civilian OSCE mission is not involved in any negotiations about the caught bilateral military mission. That mission's fate is a problem for Germany and Ukraine to solve.

Posted by b on April 26, 2014 at 05:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (183)

April 25, 2014

Kerry Lies, Repeats Debunked State Department Claim

The Russian President Vladimir Putin once famously called John Kerry a "liar". Kerry now again confirmed Putin's claim.

In Remarks on Ukraine U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday asserted:

Some of the individual special operations personnel, who were active on Russia’s behalf in Chechnya, Georgia, and Crimea have been photographed in Slovyansk, Donetsk, and Luhansk.

Pictures allegedly proving that some protesters in east-Ukraine were Russian "special operation personal" were "reported" on on page 1 of Monday's New York Times. The pictures were distributed by the State Department but originally from the Ukrainian coup-government.

With a little open source research Internet commentators at Reddit immediately found that some of those pictures:

  • allegedly taken in Russia were actually taken in Ukraine
  • showing allegedly the same person were of two different ones
  • were intentionally lowered in resolution to disguise them while high resolution copies were available elsewhere
  • showing "Russian equipment" were of Ukrainian weapons and U.S./EU sourced equipment.

On Wednesday the New York Times somewhat retracted and corrected the story but now only on page 9 of its print edition.

Veteran journalist Robert Parry compared the NYT behavior with the NYT distributed lies about "Saddam's centrifuges":

Many of the flaws in the photographic evidence were there to see before Monday’s front-page article, but the newspaper was apparently blinded by its anti-Russian bias.

For instance, the article devoted much attention to the Russian skill at “masking” the presence of its troops, but that claim would seem to be contradicted by these allegedly secret warriors posing for public photos.

Parry was interviewed on The Real News.

TIME magazine talked with one of the Russian "special operations personal" in east-Ukraine who had been depicted as having served with Russia in the war with Georgia and found him to be a Cossack petty criminal under indictment in Russia:

His men then gathered around to laugh at the photos of Mozhaev and the man in Georgia, slapping Mozhaev on the back as he learned that he was not only famous, but a famous Russian special-forces agent. “That guy looks more like Osama bin Laden than our Babay,” one of the gunmen remarked.

Yesterday the New York Times Public Editor criticized the paper's handling of the story:

It all feels rather familiar – the rushed publication of something exciting, often based on an executive branch leak. And then, afterward, with a kind of “morning after” feeling, here comes a more sober, less prominently displayed followup story, to deal with objections while not clarifying much of anything.

The pictures from the coup government in Ukraine distributed through the U.S. State Department are obviously fakery and purely anti-Russian propaganda. The story of Russian "special operations personnel" in east-Ukraine is a lie. It has been debunked as such in several U.S. publications. Despite that Kerry yesterday repeated it proving himself to be exactly what Putin had claimed, a liar.

Posted by b on April 25, 2014 at 04:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (121)

Some Excellent Lavrov Snark

Asked whether he had reassessed former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney‘s assertion that Russia is “America’s number one geopolitical foe,” Obama called Russia a “regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbors — not out of strength but out of weakness.”
Obama ...: Russia Is ‘A Regional Power,’ ..., March 25 2014


#Lavrov: They say the situation in Ukraine depends entirely on us. We’re flattered, but surely a “regional power” cannot achieve that much?
MFA_Russia, 11:08 AM - 24 Apr 2014

All you need is Lavrov :-)

Posted by b on April 25, 2014 at 12:42 AM | Permalink | Comments (39)

April 24, 2014

Ukraine: Anyone Interested In A Larger War?

The situation in Ukraine is somewhat obscure. There were claims form the coup government of attacks against military outposts but those are unconfirmed. There was an attack by some security forces in military light infantry carriers on one opposition checkpoint near Slaviansk. Two or three people may have died there but the military turned around and the checkpoint is back in opposition hands. Such "hit and run" warfare is usually a tactic a guerrilla force would use but not a decent military against a much, much weaker opposition. More security forces seem to have been positioned around the city but so far held back.

The Russian President Putin talked of "consequences" but did not mention any specific means. The Russian military announced to renew some military training near the Ukrainian border.

This is all just minor public skirmishing. Kiev does not dare to do much more as that would give the justification for a Russian invasion. I do not believe that anyone in Kiev is interested in provoking such.

But people in Washington may be interested in provoking a conflict that involves Russian troops, later NATO and then all its European "partners". What better means is there when you want to hold Europe down, economically and politically, and when you want to prevent any Eurasian cooperation? A nice "little" war in Europe would also do wonders for the U.S. economy. Just keep it below the nuclear threshold and the U.S. will, in the end, be the winner of it all.

Let's just hope that at least some politicians in Europe see this obvious trap and manage to avoid it.

Posted by b on April 24, 2014 at 11:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (131)

April 23, 2014

Ukraine: "Anti-Terrorism" Campaigns Follow Visits From U.S.

On April 12 CIA Director Brennan held talks with the coup government in Kiev, Ukraine.

On April 13 the coup government launched an "anti-terrorism" campaign against opposition forces in east Ukraine.

That did not go well.

On April 22 Vice President Biden held talks with the coup government in Kiev, Ukraine.

On April 23 the coup government relaunched an "anti-terrorism" campaign against opposition forces in east Ukraine.


Posted by b on April 23, 2014 at 06:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (201)

April 22, 2014

Blog Down

Over the weekend there were several Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on the systems that hosts this blog. This was not an attack against but on all blogs hosted by Typepad. While some of those blogs are now back the ones with a "forwarded" domain name (domain mapping), like this one, still have problems.

While I do believe that folks are working hard on the issue I have no idea when Typepad will be able to fully restore the service.

Posted by b on April 22, 2014 at 04:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (32)

April 20, 2014

Ukraine: The Bloody Eastern Escalation

Graham Phillips is a British freelance journalist living in Ukraine. These are tweets by him during the last three hours. The last one just 15 minutes ago.

This is very bad news. The OSCE had reported that Pravyi Sektor paramilitaries were moving to the eastern Donbass region. It looks like they have arrived.

It seems the U.S. neocons found out that they can not have the Ukraine and are responding like they always do. "Can't have it? Will destroy it!"

This is likely the beginning of an intense civil war in Ukraine. One that is sure to draw external powers into it. Let us not forget who started this. The EU made an "offer" to Yanukovich which could not accept without destroying the Ukrainian economy, especially the eastern industries. When he rejected the "offer" a "color revolution" was instigated in Kiev and the democratically elected Yanukovich was removed by force. The new coup government, a mixture of oligarchs and western Ukrainian fascists, wants to suppress the Russian affine eastern Ukraine. The east responded by calling for greater regional autonomy.

It seems it will now have to fight for such.

Easter is the highest holiday in the Orthodox believe prevalent in eastern Ukraine. Today's killings will therefore reverb deeply in the soul of the people living there. Some people will surely feel the need to "actively" respond to this incident which again guarantees even further escalation. Do not expect any "western" politician to step back from this and to call on the coup government in Kiev to calm things down. We will rather likely see more bellicosity towards Russia and the people it supports.

Posted by b on April 20, 2014 at 05:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (153)

April 17, 2014

Open Thread 2014-10

News & views ...

(other then about Ukraine)

Posted by b on April 17, 2014 at 07:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (140)

Ukraine: OSCE - Right Sector Fascists Deploy To Donetsk

There was some conflict in Mariupol with three Ukrainians ending up dead after protesters went to a military base. There are some videos but it is unclear what actually happened. There is a chance that provocateurs were involved.

The OSCE has an observer mission in Ukraine. From their latest (April 15) report:

The Lviv Team was told by Right Sector activists that they had begun recruiting for their paramilitary structure on 14 April. They said that approximately 100 paramilitaries had already been deployed to Donetsk region and were being trained in the eastern part of the country. One of the paramilitaries seen in Lviv was wearing a new military uniform, including a flak jacket, but carried no weapons.

There was a demonstration in Kyiv in support of Ukraine’s unity, attended by approximately 400people, about two thirds of whom were members of the Self-Defence force. The Team observed around 50 people armed with iron bars, baseball bats or makeshift clubs. Some protesters demanded the resignation of Interior Minister Avakov and more decisive action by the Kyiv authorities in Eastern Ukraine.

Lviv is in west Ukraine and the center of the Ukrainian fascists. That these deploy to Donetsk is a real concern that could lead to serious escalations.

(I am traveling and will have not much Internet time. Please behave in the comments and don't feed the trolls.)

Posted by b on April 17, 2014 at 06:59 AM | Permalink | Comments (270)

April 16, 2014

Ukraine: Kiev Fails Again, Propaganda Aims for WWIII

When Kiev announced to use the military in the "anti-terrorist" campaign in eastern Ukraine I wondered:

who from the [Ukrainian] military will sign up for this?

A company force from a Ukrainian airborne brigade, supposed to be the better equipped and able Ukrainian troops, did sign up, or more likely was ordered to act, and immediately failed. The troops were met by unarmed local Ukrainians blocking the roads and demanding that weapons be turned down. Some of the troops gave up their weapons, some just turned their rides around, some joined the locals, some went home. No shoots were fired today. Kiev's "anti-terrorist" campaign has failed. Let us now see what the CIA's Brennan and his puppets in Kiev come up with next. Anti-terrorists drones?

The anti-Russian onslaught in the "western" media continues. According to the now proliferating storyline in many main-stream media comments the issue is this:

"Putin is looking for world domination and taking over Crimea was just a start. The whole Ukraine issue is one big KGB plot. Putin arranged for the U.S. State Department to pay some $5 billion to instigate a coup in Kiev which then enabled Putin to stir up the people in Crimea and to swallow the island into his ever growing dominion. The KGB arranged for the eastern Ukrainians to become terrorists by paying the Kiev coup government to prohibit the official use of the Russian language and by making the Putin pal Tymoishenko threaten eastern Ukrainians with nukes. Russian forces, which miraculously can not be seen, now joined the eastern Ukrainian terrorists in force and are robbing the Ukrainian army of its arms. They will soon be joined by Mongol hordes, march on Warsaw, then on to Berlin and beyond."

Fortunately not everyone is buying into that storyline but there are enough crazies out there who do. They include main-stream editors, useless NATO bureaucrats, politicians, weapon dealers and U.S. oil-men who want to sell very expensive liquid natural gas to Europe to replace the cheap Gazprom pipeline gas. The problem is that these confused storielines und interests, when extrapolated, seem to end up in a marketing campaign for World War III. The world has no need for such.

Posted by b on April 16, 2014 at 02:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (135)

April 15, 2014

Obama Urges Ukraine's Military To Not Get Involved (Two Month Ago)

Obama says the U.S. urges Ukraine's military not to get involved in a conflict that must be resolved politically. He's expressing outrage about images of Ukrainian security forces firing automatic guns on Ukrainian people.

Obama says in a statement that Ukraine should respect the right of protest and that protesters must be peaceful. He's calling for dialogue to reduce tensions and address the people's grievances.

While that sounds somewhat reasonable, it is not what Obama now says about the current attack by the Ukrainian military on so far rather peaceful protesters in Donetsk oblast. He said the above two month ago while U.S. financed brutes from Maidan occupied government buildings, hailed hundreds of Molotov cocktails on policemen and stormed the parliament to stage their coup.

For a usually slick operator that Obama is such obvious double talk is pretty embarrassing.

Posted by b on April 15, 2014 at 10:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (173)

April 14, 2014

Ukraine: Update And Don't Forget The Religious Side

In ten cities in the Donbas region (mostly Donetsk oblast) in Ukraine the important administrative buildings are now in the hands of pro-federalization activists.

A second ultimatum from Kiev against the activists has passed and nothing happened. It had been issued after CIA director Brennan visisted Kiev and relayed Obama's orders. This morning the coup-government in Kiev (again) replaced the head of the anti-terror police without giving any reason. We can assume that he did not want or could follow orders to clear the east of Ukraine of protesters. The Defense Minister said that several military units going east were held up by villagers along the roads. Some videos showed artillery and Katusha missile units allegedly moving east. I doubt that those would be used against protesters. One needs infantry to clear those out but I find it unlikely that Kiev will find any regular unit willing to do so.

The coup president became the joke of the day when he asked the UN to join with "peacekeepers" to clear the "terrorists" in eastern Ukrainian cities.

Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov on Monday called for the deployment of United Nations peacekeeping troops in the east of the country, where pro-Russian insurgents have occupied buildings in nearly 10 cities.

In a telephone conversation with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, Turchynov suggested that an "anti-terrorist operation" could be conducted jointly by Ukrainian security forces and UN peacekeepers, according to the presidential web site.

The UN Security Council would have agree to such and Russia (and China) would only agree if Russian troops would get the mandate to do so. They also have the advantage of being able to start the job with just a few hours notice :-).

While the media have said a lot about Russian speaking versus Ukrainian speaking people missing in those reports is another important distinction between east and west Ukraine. The east and south is mostly Russian orthodox while the west Ukraine is catholic. During the recent days several orthodox priests could be seen mingling with the protesters in the east. The difference may not look important for people who have grown up in mostly secular "western" societies. But there are important differences in believes and the ethos of those two churches. Orthodox believe seem stronger and more intense then today's catholicism.

This week, between palm Sunday and Easter Sunday, is the holy week for the orthodox believers. Easter is their highest holiday of the year. Any attack on the east during this week would be seen as an offense against a holy realm and answered with more spirit than usually. Not only from Ukrainians but also from Russians. The miners and steelworkers in the Donbas have yet to come out in great numbers against the Kiev coup government. Any attack now would probably see them react in force. It would likely mean the end for the coup plotters in Kiev.

Posted by b on April 14, 2014 at 02:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (132)

April 13, 2014

Ukraine: EU Ashton Who Then Called For "Dialog", Now Calls For "Authority Of The State"

Ashton then:

“I call upon president Yanukovych, the government together with the leaders of the opposition to find an immediate way out of this deepening crisis, and to continue the work to find a way to solve the political crisis through dialogue,” said Ashton.

Ashton now:

"The EU commends the Ukrainian authorities for pursuing their law and order operations in a measured way, in order to establish the authority of the state."

The coup government understood:

Ukraine’s Security Council has approved a full-scale security operation in the country’s eastern regions following the crackdown in Slavyansk, coup-imposed President Aleksandr Turchinov said. Military forces will take part in the operation, he added.

Well, well. I wonder who from the military will sign up for this.

Posted by b on April 13, 2014 at 12:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (126)

April 12, 2014

Ukraine: Donetsk Moves

There is obviously a somewhat coordinated operation going on in Donetsk oblast in east Ukraine. The province is famous for its mines and heavy industry. With some 4.7 million inhabitants it constitutes 10% of the Ukrainian population. Some action by anti coup-government groups were also seen in the neighboring Luhansk (Donbas) and Kharkiv oblast but Donetsk oblast is for now the schwerpunkt.

Over the last days people in Donetsk city had occupied several government buildings and barricaded them. The Alfa police units, SWAT operators, sent to kick them out allegedly refused to do so. A 48 hour coup-government ultimatum to clear the buildings was not followed up on. It is possible that the coup-government has found no loyal force that would do its bidding.

Today several other cities in Donetsk oblast also saw extensive movements of anti coup-government groups. In Sloviansk some para-military group, some of them somewhat trained (video), broke into the main police station and raised the Russian flag. They allegedly handed out weapons to other protesters. The mayor of Sloviansk had announced her pro-Russian stand. Around the city street checkpoints of pro-Russian militia, pictures show some mid aged men, went up. Many of these people are said to be miners from the large Donetsk coal mines. They are on the look out for incoming military and police traffic from Kiev. Trained people from the Berkut riot police, dissolved by the coup-government, have joined the protesters.

In Mariupol and Druzhkovka protesters have blocked or seized the local city administration. Police in Kramatorskaya joined the protesters there. The city of Luhansk, where there are also protests, and Donetsk were today at least once buzzed by military planes.

If have seen no Donetsk pictures yet of "polite green men", i.e. Russian military operators, like those seen in Crimea. The militia people occupying buildings in Donetsk oblast also seem to be less equipped than the local self-defense groups that could be seen in Crimea. While this operation in several Donetsk cities today seems somewhat coordinated there is no hint yet that Russia is behind this.

The coup-government in Kiev has done its best to alienate the people in the east. From denigrating their Russian language to threatening them with genocide like the gas-princess Tymochenko has done. The economic situation in the east is bad and has, unlike the neighboring provinces in Russia, not recovered throughout the last twenty years. Under the new government the economic situation will likely get worse. These people are unlikely to need lectures from Russia to understand that there are better deals to have than the ones Kiev and the IMF are offering.

Should the coup-government in Kiev find some loyal force that is willing to suppress the mass movement in the east there will be severe fighting and Russia will probably step in. But I still find that quite unlikely. Russia, like Henry Kissinger, has argued for a neutral and strongly federalized Ukraine. The people in Donetsk could probably agree with staying in Ukraine if they get strong autonomy.

The coup-government in Kiev can not risk a fight and a possible Russian intervention which could end with the loss of the industrial heart of Ukraine. It will have to give in to the demand of the people. Unfortunately some blustering coming from the "west", especially for the U.S. and NATO, may encourage some idiotic moves from Kiev before reason sets in.

Posted by b on April 12, 2014 at 11:19 AM | Permalink | Comments (163)

April 11, 2014

Obama Blows Up Iran Talks Over 35 Year Old Petty Issue

The U.S. denies a visa to the new Iranian ambassador to the United Nations Hamid Aboutalebi. Mr. Aboutalebi was ambassador to several European countries and to the EU and he had on earlier occasions received U.S. visa and visited the United states:

The Obama administration had previously said only that it opposed the nomination of Hamid Aboutalebi, who was a member of the group responsible for the 1979 takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
Aboutalebi is alleged to have participated in a Muslim student group that held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days during the takeover.
Aboutalebi has insisted his involvement in the group involved in the embassy takeover, Muslim Students Following the Imam's Line, was limited to translation and negotiation.

The U.S. is not allowed to decide who UN members nominate and send as UN ambassadors. This visa rejection is clearly illegal under the Headquarter Agreement between the UN and the United States:

[T]he U.N. would be well within its rights to claim a violation of the Headquarters Agreement and to demand an arbitration that it would have a good chance of winning.

No other country in the UN can agree to this U.S. behavior. All would risk to have their next ambassador to the UN rejected for some petty game issue some U.S. politicians want to play. The UN will have to fight this case.

So far the talks about nuclear issues between Iran and the U.S. had gone well. There is now even a sensible solution for the heavy water reactor in Arak which was one of the more problematic items. Iran's president Rouhani has to defend his policies against hardliners in his country. They will use the issue of the ambassador to pressure him to reject any agreement with the U.S.  Rouhani can not take back the nomination without receiving serious political damage. As the U.S. rejects the ambassador its also denies Rouhani to have a trusted person in the United States who could help should the negotiations stumble.

This whole issue seems to have been created out of thin air to blow up the talks between the U.S. and Iran. If Obama keeps ups his stance and continues to reject a visa to Hamid Aboutalebi over a 35 year old issue Obama will be guilty for ending the negotiations and the consequences falling from it. But failing negotiations may well have been his plan all along.

Posted by b on April 11, 2014 at 02:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (146)

April 10, 2014

Ukraine: Who Is Holding Up the Needed Crisis Talks With Russia?

Thus starts a letter by the Russian President Putin to leaders of other European countries:

Ukraine’s economy in the past several months has been plummeting. Its industrial and construction sectors have also been declining sharply. Its budget deficit is mounting. The condition of its currency system is becoming more and more deplorable. The negative trade balance is accompanied by the flight of capital from the country. Ukraine’s economy is steadfastly heading towards a default, a halt in production and skyrocketing unemployment.

"Western" pundits agree:

Moody's recently downgraded Ukraine‘s sovereign debt from ”extremely speculative” to “default imminent with little prospect for recovery.” Moody’s based its decision not just on the escalating political crisis, but on Ukraine’s rapidly dwindling foreign currency reserves, its exploding level of debt (from 40% of GDP at the end of 2013 to a projected level of 60% at the end of 2014), and full-year 2014 economic growth that is optimistically forecast to be somewhere between -3 and -4%. Although the new government in Kiev isn’t to blame for the economic carnage now transpiring, the fact that Yanukovych and his cronies were responsible doesn’t do anything to change the reality of the situation: whether we like it or not, Ukraine is in economic free fall.

An IMF bailout of some $16 billion with lots of cruel strings attached could probably come in May. But those $16 billion are about as much money as the Ukraine owns to the Russian state owned energy company Gazprom. Without payments to Gazprom no further gas will flow and the energy intensive chemical and metal industries in east Ukraine will have to shut down. Unemployment and intensified general unrest will follow.

Some have argued that the European Union (in reality, German taxpayers) should bailout the Ukraine and they point to Poland as a successful case for an economic turnaround with EU help. But Poland got about $150 billion of foreign support over 10 years and will still need more. This back when the EU financial position was somewhat healthy. No one in Europe, especially not German taxpayers, are willing to invest anything like that to "win" the Ukraine. Neither will the U.S. provide any help. It gave a loan guarantee, which is in fact just a subsidy to U.S. banks, for a mere $1 billion loan the Ukraine may want to take up.

Since mid February the Ukrainian currency, the Hydrina, fell from $0.12 to $0.08. The loans and bills the Ukraine has to pay are in U.S. dollars or Euros. Each day the currency falls further increases the debt in ratio to the local GDP.

Since January Russia has offered talks with other European leaders to find a solution for Ukraine's economic crisis. The offer has not been taken up. It seems as if the EU and the U.S. are simply ignoring the problem and are calmly watching as the Ukraine defaults and slips even deeper into chaos.

What is their intend behind this? Why wasn't this foreseen when the U.S. and EU pressed for "regime change"? Is this just the childish attitude of "if I can't have it I will destroy it"? For what purpose?

Putin points out that a lot of gas to "western" Europe flows through pipelines across the Ukraine. Should Gazprom not get paid for deliveries to Ukraine itself it will stop the flow destined to Ukraine. Ukraine will then, likely, skim off the flow that is destined to other countries. This is a European problem. Why isn't the EU leading talks on Ukraine?

While there is a lot of anti-Russian bluster in the media no none can argue that Russia does not deserves to be paid for the gas it delivers. Russia can also easily suspend all gas deliveries to the "west" for a few month and fill its new pipelines towards the east and China. It does not the EU to survive. There is really nothing the EU can win by not talking to Russia and by not finding a solution for the Ukraine. What òr who is holding this up?

Posted by b on April 10, 2014 at 01:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (160)

April 09, 2014

Open Thread 2013-10

(busy again)

News & views ...

Posted by b on April 9, 2014 at 01:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (135)

April 08, 2014

How Does The NPR Distinguish "Protesters" From "Mobs"?

The U.S. National Public Radio on Ukraine:

December 9 2013: Ukrainian Police Threaten To Drive Protesters Out Of City Buildings

Police are also threatening to enforce a court order to drive protesters out of city buildings they've been occupying.

April 7 2014: Mob In Ukraine Seizes Provincial Building, Declares Independence

On Sunday, pro-Russian mobs also stormed buildings in Luhansk and Kharkiv, two other cities in the country's east that have large numbers of Russian speakers and strong pro-Moscow sentiment.

What is the NPR's stylebook definition of "protesters" when people occupy government buildings? And how does that differ from a "mob" doing just the same?

Posted by b on April 8, 2014 at 03:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (151)

April 07, 2014

Ukraine: The East Strikes Back

The people in the eastern industrial heart of the Ukraine had so far a mostly unsatisfactory life. After the catastrophic end of the Soviet Union the industries they were working in were either shut down or sold off for peanuts to some shady oligarchs. The economy fell, then stagnated and unlike in nearby Russia never recovered. They democratically elected a somewhat pro-Russian president Yanukovich but he was removed by an anti-democratic coup. Twice.

Now some alliance of fascists and oligarchs are ruling in Kiev. One of them, the pseudo blond gas-princess,  threatened to kill the Russian speaking people in eastern Ukraine. The coup government installed some Jewish Israeli-Ukrainian thieves as governors to rule over them. The announced austerity program will ruin what is left of the the eastern Ukrainian industry. So what are these people to do?

Of course they will not agree to calmly sit down and to let happen even more bad things to them. Instead they will follow the example the putschists and their U.S./EU supporters in Kiev laid out for them. They are occupying government buildings, proclaim self-established people's republics and ask their big neighbor Russia for help.

Supporting the moves in the East is the continued threat of the fascists in Kiev where the paramilitary Right Sector stormed the constitutional court to remove judges not in its favor.

The coup-government in Kiev has little it can do against this. It could send troops and police but would those follow its orders? Would Russia counter by sending troops to protect the people in the east? How would a possible loss of the eastern and southern Ukraine effect their plans?

The coup-rulers may soon find that the only way out is what Russia demanded all along, a far reaching federalization of the Ukraine. This only possible way out for them. The question then is if their "western" overlords will allow them to follow that path.

Posted by b on April 7, 2014 at 11:18 AM | Permalink | Comments (143)

April 06, 2014

Hersh: Turkey Behind Sarin Attacks In Syria

Last December Seymour Hersh wrote that the CIA knew that Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda affiliated fundamentalists in Syria, were capable of producing Sarin and were likely the ones who used it last August in Ghouta near Damascus. The U.S. then claimed that the Syrian government had used the lethal gas and Obama threatened an all out air attack against it. Obama stopped the operation and went to Congress which denied to sanction any attack. A deal proposed by the Russian Federation for Syria to give up all its chemical weapons allowed Obama to publicly back down from his red-line.

Hersh now has a new piece out that goes much deeper into the issue. According to his sources:

  • In 2012 the CIA build a rat-line to provide weapons from Libya via Turkey to the Syrian insurgents.
  • That rat-line was stopped by the CIA after the attack on the U.S. "consulate" in Benghazi but the Turks continued to run it on their own.
  • The Turkish prime minister had bet all his cards one the Syrian insurgency. His intelligence service MIT was supporting not only the Free Syrian Army but also Al-Nusra. When the war turned against the insurgents and the Syrian government was on the verge of winning Turkey needed to change the game.
  • Turkey trained al-Nusra on the production of Sarin and provided the precursor chemicals.
  • After several Sarin incidents, on of which killed some Syrian soldiers, Erdogan pushed the White House to react to the supposed breach of Obama's red-line against the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. Obama at first declined.
  • In August 2013 chemical weapon inspectors arrived in Damascus. The Turks used the visit to instigate a spectacular chemical warfare incident in Ghouta. This incident pushed Obama to declare that the red-line had been crossed and that he would use air attacks against the Syrian government.
  • Provided with physical probes from the incident via the Russians and the British U.S. government laboratories found that the Sarin used in Ghouta did not match the Sarin the Syrian government was supposed to have.
  • Knowing that the case was weak and the proposed action would likely escalate throughout the Middle East the U.S. military urged to call the attack off. Obama then threw the ball over to Congress and, after Congress declined to pick it up, took the Russian deal.

The Turks are furious that they did not get the attack they had demanded. Erdogan still needs a victory over the Syrian government and his support for al-Nusra and other radicals continues. As Hersh tells it the U.S. is unable or unwilling to stop him:

Barring a major change in policy by Obama, Turkey’s meddling in the Syrian civil war is likely to go on. ‘I asked my colleagues if there was any way to stop Erdoğan’s continued support for the rebels, especially now that it’s going so wrong,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The answer was: “We’re screwed.” We could go public if it was somebody other than Erdoğan, but Turkey is a special case. They’re a Nato ally. The Turks don’t trust the West. They can’t live with us if we take any active role against Turkish interests. If we went public with what we know about Erdoğan’s role with the gas, it’d be disastrous. The Turks would say: “We hate you for telling us what we can and can’t do.”’

The story, as Hersh tells it, makes sense and fits the known circumstances. Erdogan has bet his house on the fall of the Syrian government and continues his best to achieve that.

Turkey obviously supports the current onslaught on Latakia and the Armenian town of Kessab in north-west Syria which is led by Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra. Recently over 1,000 mercenaries were flown from north Jordan to Turkey to join the fight. In the last week anti-tank missiles from U.S. production, of which the Saudi government recently bought 15,000, have been used in these attacks.

As the U.S. is unable or, more likely in my view, unwilling to stop Turkey on its way to become another Pakistan something else has to happen to change Erdogan's calculations. What could that be and who could provide it?

Posted by b on April 6, 2014 at 10:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (100)

April 03, 2014

In Cuba Another U.S. Government Abuse Of Online Communication

The Associated Press has an interesting story about another USAID project to overthrow the government of Cuba. USAID used several front companies to create a Twitter like SMS phone service in Cuba which was, after becoming popular, supposed to be used to initiate anti-government flash mobs and civil strife:

At its peak, the project drew in more than 40,000 Cubans to share news and exchange opinions. But its subscribers were never aware it was created by the U.S. government, or that American contractors were gathering their private data in the hope that it might be used for political purposes.

"There will be absolutely no mention of United States government involvement," according to a 2010 memo from Mobile Accord, one of the project's contractors. "This is absolutely crucial for the long-term success of the service and to ensure the success of the Mission."

Somewhat astonishing is again the long term effort, the tenancy and the seemingly unlimited amount of money going into such subversive U.S. programs.

USAID has long been used to "promote democracy", i.e. to overthrow any government the U.S. government does not like. Several foreign governments have have taken the right steps and banned USAID activities in their countries. But with the use of front companies in various countries and methods similar to the CIA some critical USAID work is off the record and often hidden behind seemingly native and harmless programs. The open and legal USAID work, for example some 65 projects in the Ukraine, is often only a cover for its deeper projects.

As in the case the AP story uncovers USAID and various other government services may create and use online tools to influence masses and abuse them for their own purpose. Russia Today is promoting a new app through which people can "vote" like in a Occupy general assembly. But unlike such an Occupy assembly, where people are physically present, such an online vote tally can be easily manipulated to pretend a consensus for something that is not consensual at all.

It is important not only to be aware of the possible manipulation but to also warn others, especially younger people, of the danger of accepting "virtual" persons, movements and politics as a replacement of the real world. While it is also possible to manipulate the factual reality it is much more expensive to do so than to abuse the "virtual" online realm.

While USAID had to create a Twitter clone for its purpose in Cuba it does not have to do so in other countries. There Twitter is already established and can be readily (ab-)used by foreign governments just like USAID had planned for its Cuba clone. Blocking Twitter, as Turkey has recently done, may be at times necessary to prevent U.S. sponsored "regime change" endeavors.

Posted by b on April 3, 2014 at 05:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (163)

April 02, 2014

Open Thread 2014-09

(busy ...)

Your news & views ...

Posted by b on April 2, 2014 at 02:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (229)

April 01, 2014

The Pollard "Deal"

AP sources: US considers release of spy Pollard

The United States is talking with Israel about releasing convicted spy Jonathan Pollard early from his life sentence as an incentive to the Israelis in the troubled Mideast peace negotiations, people familiar with the talks said Monday.
In return for the release, the people close to the talks said, Israel would have to undertake significant concessions to the Palestinians in Middle East negotiations. Such concessions could include some kind of freeze on Israeli settlements in disputed territory, the release of Palestinian prisoners beyond those Israel has already agreed to free and a guarantee that Israel would stay at the negotiating table beyond an end-of-April deadline.

Besides a ton (literary) of other stuff Pollard stole daily reports about the position of nuclear submarines in the Mediterranean and gave them to the Israelis. He was largely motivated by money and had also offered his service to other countries. The Israelis sold the nuclear subs reports the got from Pollard to the Soviet Union. This at the height of the cold war.

Given Pollard to the Israelis would be a huge gift for which they will, guaranteed, give nothing significant in return.

Encouraged by such a deal the NATO foreign ministers are currently mulling over a similar idea. They want to offer Russia all Russian prisoners in their jails if it promises to behave nicely in Ukraine. Just kidding.

Israel, the abusive husband, wants to stay married while the Palestinians, the wife, urgently want a fair divorce. The U.S. plays the divorce judge. The Pollard deal getting done is similar to the divorce being rejected, the husbands continued abuse of the wife plus him getting custody of and alimony for the judges kids.

Now that's some deal.

Posted by b on April 1, 2014 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (87)