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January 28, 2023

Twitter Files Debunk Hamilton 68 Dashboard - (We Did The Same Five Years Ago)

The Twitter files continue to confirm our long held suspicion of nefarious anti-Russian influence in mainstream media.

When criticizing the recent fakenews about letter bombs in Spain spread by the New York Times I asserted:

The New York Times, as well as British media with their equally stupid Skripal affair claims, can be credited with giving cover for the anti-Russian propaganda campaign. It was unleashed after, in 2014, Russia reintegrated Crimea and foiled British and U.S. plans for stationing their naval forces in the Azov and Black Sea.
The Times and other media should be held responsible for the deadly consequences its misreporting and lies have caused.

Six days ago the New York Times attributed the letter bombs in Spain to Russian secret service based on 'U.S. officials' assertions. Yesterday the Spanish investigating magistrate refuted those claims:

[T]he evidence suggests Gonzalez acted alone, the judge wrote. He said the suspect's alleged actions showed his intent to alter the public peace and to give the impression they were carried out by people with ties with Russia as retribution for Spain's and the United States' support for Ukraine amid Russia's invasion of the country.

"There is no indication that the person under investigation belongs to or collaborates with any terrorist gang or organised group," the statement said.

The letter bomb campaign, as well as the New York Times false assertions about them, were both part of the public anti-Russia campaign.

The campaign, launched in 2014, was reinforced after the 2016 election when the losing candidate, Hillary Clinton, blamed 'Russian influence' for her loss instead of her own ineptitude for any higher government position.

Soon a horde of 'disinformation de-bunking' institutes and lobbies evolved. They all claimed to have some insight into 'Russia's influence campaign' that was allegedly designed to deceive U.S. voters. 'Russiagate', the MI6 operation that created the Steele dossier and the false narratives around it, grew on top of that. Partisan actors in the FBI and CIA jumped in to amplify that stuff despite knowing well that it was nonsense. Irresponsible media sucked it all up and spread it further without any fact checking or logical thought. For so called mainstream journalists it was all easy work that brought in good money.

One of the organization involved in this was the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), a part of the the German Marshall Fund (which has by the way little to do with Germany). It created the 'Hamilton 68 dashboard' which listed trending hashtags used by some 600 Twitter accounts which it alleged were 'Russian bots'.

Based on the dashboard mainstream media produced hundreds of stories about trending hashtags that allegedly furthered Russian influence.

But, as I exposed in February 2018, there was nothing there. Just like 'Russiagate' it was just another great scam.

As I wrote at that time:

Cont. reading: Twitter Files Debunk Hamilton 68 Dashboard - (We Did The Same Five Years Ago)

Posted by b at 10:46 UTC | Comments (103)

January 27, 2023

Ukraine - RAND Study Sees Risks In Prolonged War

RAND Corp is a government and industry financed large research institute. Founded shortly after the end of the second world war it mostly works for the Pentagon by developing policies and strategies.

In April 2019 RAND published a report about Extending Russia (pdf).


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The report summary explained its purpose:

As the 2018 National Defense Strategy recognized, the United States is currently locked in a great-power competition with Russia. This report seeks to define areas where the United States can compete to its own advantage. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data from Western and Russian sources, this report examines Russia's economic, political, and military vulnerabilities and anxieties. It then analyzes potential policy options to exploit them — ideologically, economically, geopolitically, and militarily (including air and space, maritime, land, and multidomain options).

RAND developed policy options in those four fields. It then evaluated their benefit, cost and risks as well as their likelihood of success.

Here is their summary table for economic measures:

Cont. reading: Ukraine - RAND Study Sees Risks In Prolonged War

Posted by b at 16:57 UTC | Comments (278)

January 26, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-22

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 8:18 UTC | Comments (528)

Spain Debunks Russiagate like New York Times Letter Bomb Story

Just three days ago I mocked a New York Times story that used 'Russiagate' like claims by 'U.S. officials' to tie a number of letter bomb incidents in Spain to some 'Russian terrorist organization'.

U.S. Officials Claim More 'Russiagate' Like Nonsense

According to what U.S. officials claim some anti-Kremlin fringe group in Russia was used by a Russian intelligence service to somehow send letter bombs from Valladolid, Spain, to some offices in Madrid.

But why would Russian intelligence run such a nonsense campaign? Why would it use a problematic fringe group of Russian crazies to do so. Why in Spain? Why not in Poland, Germany or France? What is the evidence?

None of those questions get answered. Instead rumors and hot air assumptions are put together to make the claims somewhat less outrageous. This is on the same level as the lies about 'weapons of mass destruction in Iraq' the Times printed 20 years ago.
...
We know that 'U.S. intelligence' is bullshit and that U.S. official are liars, especially with regards to anything around Ukraine.

We know that because 'U.S. officials' said so:

That makes the publishing of the above story by the Times even more egregious.

Three days on the Spanish police arrested the guy most likely responsible for making and sending out those letter bombs:

The man was detained in the northern town of Miranda de Ebro, and police searched his home.

The suspect is a retired Spanish citizen with the initials P.G.P. who is tech-savvy and very active on social networks, the ministry said.

Cont. reading: Spain Debunks Russiagate like New York Times Letter Bomb Story

Posted by b at 8:16 UTC | Comments (90)

January 25, 2023

Ukraine Claims Orderly Retreat From City It Lost Days Ago

This is currently at the top of the Yahoo homepage.


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Ukraine forces pull back from Donbas town after onslaught

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian forces have conducted an organized retreat from a town in the eastern region of the Donbas, an official said Wednesday, in what is a rare but modest battlefield triumph for the Kremlin after a series of setbacks in its invasion that began almost 11 months ago.

Reading the headline I was surprised. Did the Ukrainian command suddenly get sense and ordered the retreat from Bakhmut, which the U.S. has asked for? It would make sense because Bakhmut is where half of the Ukrainian army currently gets ground into bloody dust.

But alas. The second paragraph provides that it is just another fake news story.

The Ukrainian army retreated from the salt-mining town of Soledar to “preserve the lives of the personnel,” Serhii Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s forces in the east, told The Associated Press.

The soldiers pulled back to previously prepared defensive positions, he said.

Moscow has portrayed the battle for Soledar, which lies near the city of Bakhmut, as key to capturing the entire Donbas.
...
Russia claimed almost two weeks ago that it had taken Soledar, but Ukraine denied it.

It is easy to test who was or is lying here.

It was on January 13, 12 days and not two weeks ago, that Russia publicly claimed to have taken the center of Soledar.

Cont. reading: Ukraine Claims Orderly Retreat From City It Lost Days Ago

Posted by b at 17:00 UTC | Comments (391)

January 24, 2023

Please Support Moon of Alabama

Dear Reader,

twice a year I ask for your help to keep Moon of Alabama going as it is.

Most readers of this site value our analyses. Some even laud us:

Chomsky: Advanced US Weaponry in Ukraine Is Sustaining Battlefield Stalemate - Truthout - Dec 22, 2022

Noam Chomsky: What Merkel had in mind we do not know. We do know that there is no basis in the historical or diplomatic record for her claims. I am inclined to agree with the astute commentator who posts under the name “Moon of Alabama.” He points out that “Merkel is under very harsh critique not only in the U.S. but also in her own conservative party. She is now out to justify her previous decisions as well as the current bad outcome in Ukraine. My hunch is that she is making things up. Unfortunately she also creates serious damage.”

He proceeds to a close analysis of the texts to justify this conclusion, which is the most plausible one I’ve seen.

Others are fond of its vivid comment section. I am very proud to host, and nurture it, to the best of my abilities.

Posted by: bevin | Nov 24 2022 18:45 utc | 17

This website is a tribute not just to the proprietor but to the idea of democracy. The general conclusions reached here over the past nine months (for example) have consistently outperformed the media, the Academy and the political castes which amount to an incredibly expensive and complex and enormously staffed engine designed -in theory at least- to arrive at a realistic assessment of the situation.

Cont. reading: Please Support Moon of Alabama

Posted by b at 17:09 UTC | Comments (154)

Ukraine SitRep - No Southern Push Yet, Kiev Government Trouble, Tanks And Escalation

Last week, following two days of heavy fighting along the southern front in Ukraine, I concluded that the expected push from the south into the back of the Ukrainian forces at the Donetzk frontline, was finally happening.

Ukraine - Russian Army Activates Southern Front

I was wrong. I, and other analysts following the war, had been deceived by the sudden rush of news from that frontline. It said that Russian forces made progress in a large number of towns. But nearly as soon as I had published my piece that news died down. In the following days nothing happened but the usual exchange of artillery fire and minor local clashes.

I am not sure what happened. But the Ukrainian army also seemed to have believed that something big was coming as it had rushed an additional mechanized brigade to that line.

While the big one has not happened yet there are several probing attacks in the area with some successes around Vuhledar.


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Dima of the Military Summary channel noted (vid) a Russian report which said that two Ukrainian officers had crossed the southern frontline and surrendered to Russian forces. He speculates that the whole fluff up in the news was created as a diversion to allow for a secure extraction of those officers. We have no evidence for that but it may well have happened that way.

Cont. reading: Ukraine SitRep - No Southern Push Yet, Kiev Government Trouble, Tanks And Escalation

Posted by b at 17:05 UTC | Comments (550)

January 23, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-21

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 16:26 UTC | Comments (303)

U.S. Officials Claim More 'Russiagate' Like Nonsense

At the end of last year a letter bomb campaign in Spain hit several offices:

In late November and early December 2022, a number of letter bombs were mailed to locations across Spain. Packages were received at high-profile individuals and locations, including the Prime Minister of Spain's Moncloa residence, the Ukrainian and U.S. embassies in Madrid, Torrejon Air Base, and the arms manufacturer Instalaza. One person has been injured in the attacks—a security officer at the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid.
...
Spain's High Court was reported to have opened an investigation for a possible case of terrorism.

In December 2022, Spanish authorities disclosed they believed the letters were postmarked from the city of Valladolid.

Spain has so far not concluded which person or group might have sent the letters and what the possible motives behind the campaign were.

That does not seem to matter for the some 'U.S. officials' which try to pin the case to Russia. The story is a continuation of their fraudulent 'Russiagate' fairytales.

The stenographers at the New York Times thus headline:

Russian Agents Suspected of Directing Far-Right Group to Mail Bombs in Spain
U.S. officials say the operation may be a signal by Russia that the country and its proxies could carry out more terrorist actions in Europe if nations continue supporting Ukraine.

On might expect some evidence when such wide reaching claims are made. But alas, none is provided.

The quite long story is based on the following sources:

Cont. reading: U.S. Officials Claim More 'Russiagate' Like Nonsense

Posted by b at 16:24 UTC | Comments (90)

January 22, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-20

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 13:00 UTC | Comments (328)

The MoA Week In Review - (Not Ukraine) OT 2023-19

Last week's post on Moon of Alabama:

> Officials say both Defense Secretary Austin and Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Milley are against sending tanks, and there is frustration in the Biden administration with Germany's push. <

Germany's push? Who is pushing whom in this?

Thorsten Benner @thorstenbenner - 7:40 UTC · 22 Jan 2023

"US offers used tanks from its own stocks plus long term industrial partnership to every European country that can deliver Leopard 2 to Ukraine", German defence industry circles claim. "Each country that accepts US offer is lost for German defence industry".
- Deutsche Panzerdebatte: Welche Rolle spielen amerikanische Rüstungsinteressen? (in German) - NZZ

  • Jan 20 - When Media Provide 'Analyses'
    Related:
    - Editorial: 'decades' - Referred report headline: 'a decade' - Actual report: 'three to five years'.

A Brutal New Phase of Putin’s Terrible War in Ukraine - New York Times Editorial

> But according to a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think-tank, Russia faces decades of economic stagnation and regression even if the war ends soon. <

The Cost of War: Russian Economy Faces a Decade of Regress - Carnegie Endowment

> The Russian economy’s prewar potential was not overly large, with growth at 2–3 percent per year. The war against Ukraine and external restrictions have lowered it to about 1 percent. For now, the economy’s development will be put into reverse and it will take three to five years for that decline to come to a halt. <

---
Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - (Not Ukraine) OT 2023-19

Posted by b at 12:59 UTC | Comments (192)

January 21, 2023

Ukraine - Russian Army Activates Southern Front

The long expected Russian offensive in Ukraine has begun.

The Ukrainian army, egged on by its U.S. controllers, had put most of its resource into the static defense of the Bakhmut (Artyomovsk) - Soledar sector of the eastern front. An insane number of Ukrainian brigades, though many partially depleted, were concentrated on that 50 kilometer long front. This left other sectors nearly empty of Ukrainian troops.


Source: Military Land Deployment Map - bigger
I count the equivalent of some 27 brigade size formations in that area. The usual size of a brigade is some 3,000 to 4,000 men with hundreds of all kinds of vehicles. If all brigades had their full strength that force would count as 97,500 men. In a recent interview the Ukrainian military commander Zaluzhny said that his army has 200,000 men trained to fight with 500,000 more having other functions or currently being trained. The forces which are currently getting mauled in the Bakhmut area constitute 50% of Ukraine's battle ready forces.

On the southern and northern sectors of the battle-line the Ukrainian forces have been thinned out and are only able to defend against minor forces.

The Ukrainian forces in the north and south are in the same position Russian troops had been in when the Ukrainian army last year launched a blitz attack in the Kharkiv region. The Russian screening force of some 2,000 boarder guards and federal police retreated and used its artillery to destroy the oncoming Ukrainian forces. The attack ran out of power and came to a halt after progressing some 70 kilometers on a rather large front. But Ukraine no longer has, unlike the Russians at that time, the artillery that is need to stop a larger thrust.

Cont. reading: Ukraine - Russian Army Activates Southern Front

Posted by b at 9:56 UTC | Comments (359)

January 20, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-18

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 16:29 UTC | Comments (221)

When Media Provide 'Analyses'

There was a time when news and opinion pieces were all there was in a newspaper. The usual advertisements and crossword puzzles were just the supporting extras on top of that. But some two decades ago a new form of 'news' was added to the content. It called itself 'analyses' and claimed to be a neutral form of discussing this or that item. Written by journalists, not opinion editors, it was supposed to be fact based.

But after reading many of those 'analysis' I found that they are mostly used for propaganda. Their conclusions are obviously developed before the journalist or 'columnist' goes out and collects whatever may support those.

We find one example of such 'analysis' in today's Washington Post.

Written by Ishaan Tharoor it opens with a very broad claim.

‘Give them the tanks!’: Davos elites rally behind Ukraine


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DAVOS, Switzerland — At this annual meeting where global elites are urged to collaborate, cooperate and get along, one message rang loudest: Send the weapons. As in the previous World Economic Forum session in May, the war in Ukraine loomed large in discussions. And while political leaders voiced their steadfast support for Kyiv, so too did a host of major corporate bigwigs.

The first question is of course why the people who fly in their private or government jets to Davos to discuss the climate problems they are causing are supposed to be 'elites'.

But lets set that aside for now. What I really quarrel with is the selection of people mentioned in the peace all of which want to ship even more weapons to Ukraine.

There is the Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the ever mealy mouthed CNN filler Fareed Zakaria.

Next to Zelensky was the ...

Cont. reading: When Media Provide 'Analyses'

Posted by b at 16:20 UTC | Comments (96)

January 19, 2023

Open Thread 2023-17

News & views (not related to the war in Ukraine) ...

Posted by b at 18:21 UTC | Comments (146)

Ukraine - Pressing For Tanks

The German chancellor Olaf Schulz is under pressure from local coalition partners and external allies to allow the export of German Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine.

Scholz so far rejects doing so because the U.S. is not willing to give its own tanks, M1 Abrams types, to Ukraine:

Germany won’t send or authorize the transfer of tanks to Ukraine until the U.S. agrees to give its own, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz told American lawmakers on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Wednesday.

The exchange in Davos, described by three people with knowledge of what was said, was respectful in tone but showed just how far apart Washington and Berlin are on a tank deal.
...
A spokesperson for Scholz didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. But the chancellor hinted at some kind of arrangement with the U.S. during his Davos address.

“We are never doing something just by ourselves, but together with others, especially the United States, which are very important in this common task to defend Ukrainian independence and sovereignty,” he said.

The U.S. has send its secretary of defense Lloyd Austin to Berlin to pressure Scholz into changing his mind:

Cont. reading: Ukraine - Pressing For Tanks

Posted by b at 16:01 UTC | Comments (447)

January 18, 2023

Losing In Ukraine

Some people in the U.S./UK government, NATO lobbyists and a number mainstream media writers will end up with egg on their faces.

Here is an incomplete short list of them:

There is more than one person who disagree with the above. But only one of them is really decisive:

President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia's powerful military-industrial complex was ramping up production and was one of the main reasons why Russia would prevail in Ukraine.

Putin, speaking to workers at a factory in St Petersburg that makes air defence systems, said overall military equipment output was rising even as demand for it was growing because of what he calls Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine.

"In terms of achieving the end result and the victory that is inevitable, there are several things ... It is the unity and cohesion of the Russian and multinational Russian people, the courage and heroism of our fighters ... and of course the work of the military-industrial complex and factories like yours and people like you," said Putin.

"Victory is assured, I have no doubt about it."

Putin said Russian arms companies manufactured about the same number of anti-aircraft missiles as the rest of the world combined, and three times more than the United States.

Posted by b at 16:31 UTC | Comments (306)

January 17, 2023

Ukraine SitRep - Media Ignorance, Counter-Artillery War, Three Lost Armies

Yves Smith asks:

What if Russia Won the Ukraine War but the Western Press Didn’t Notice?

She points to several headlines which, despite decisive Russian victories like its taking of Soledar, present the Ukraine as winning the war:

Nevertheless, Soledar has fallen and the loss of Bakhmut looks baked in, absent horrific Russian errors. The so-called Zelensky line is breaking even before Russia has put its recently-mobilized forces to work in a serious way. Regular commentators are waiting for the Russian hammer to fall, although Russia may simply grind more forcefully by pressing harder at more points along the very long line of contact. Remember one concern on the Russian side is avoiding “winning” in a way that leads to NATO panic and desperate action ... not that the Collective West’s fragile emotional state can be readily managed.

With that context, you’d expect some members of the press to have worked out that things are not going very well for Ukraine and the classic cowboy movie rescue of the calvary riding over the hill (here in the form of tanks and artillery) will be too little, too late.

Instead, the media seems to be trying to integrate snippets of facts on the ground with the heroic tale of inevitable Ukraine victory.

That is certainly correct for the wide majority of the stories, which claim that Soledar and Bahkmut, are irrelevant towns, but some pieces are creeping up that differ. A few days ago the Washington Post headlined:

Bloody Bakhmut siege poses risks for Ukraine

Ukraine faces difficult choices about how much deeper its military should get drawn into a protracted fight over the besieged city of Bakhmut, as Kyiv prepares for a new counteroffensive elsewhere on the front that requires conserving weapons, ammunition and experienced fighters.

Russia has escalated its assault in the area in recent days, unleashing savage fighting that has underscored the high cost of the battle. Russian mercenaries and released convicts from the Wagner group pushed into the neighboring salt-mining town of Soledar and inched closer to Bakhmut, the capture of which has eluded them for months despite an advantage in firepower and the willingness to sacrifice troops.

The piece quotes several Ukrainian soldiers which speak of huge losses on their side. But the U.S. is still egging them on:

Cont. reading: Ukraine SitRep - Media Ignorance, Counter-Artillery War, Three Lost Armies

Posted by b at 18:14 UTC | Comments (339)

January 16, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-16

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 16:28 UTC | Comments (365)

January 15, 2023

Ukraine Open Thread 2023-15

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 14:23 UTC | Comments (265)