Therefore, simply put, this commentary is late because I was waiting for a decisive breakthrough that just did not come.
I should also add that I did not feel a strong need for a new blog post because my previous work titled - "As battlelines are drawn across Eurasia, Armenia stands at a historic junction with an incompetent leadership at the helm" - had in my opinion already addressed all the fundamentals of what is happening both in Ukraine and in Armenia today. In the big picture, other than the commencement of the war itself, which is in itself a historic moment indeed, strategically speaking however, not much has changed between early 2022 and late 2022. In a nutshell: Russia has finally throw down the gauntlet and is currently waging a war against the collective West in Ukraine, as Armenia continues its gradual decay under Nikol's grip. Stated otherwise, Russians are engaging in an existential battle against the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, Ukraine has been turned into a bloody battlefield, and Nikol's regime in Yerevan continues seeking ways to prolong its toxic existence, to the detriment of both Armenia and Arstakh.
"This is essentially how the seeds for future conflicts are sown in the world. According to various Western news reports, the Serbian province of Kosovo will declare itself independent on Sunday with the full backing of Britain, France, Germany and the US. If this holds true, tomorrow will be a black day in Serbian historiography. Such an development will inevitably set into motion series of unpredictable events in the region that will prove to be yet another black page in European history. Undoubtedly, the long term repercussions of this action will be dire... No sane person would wish for a war. However, there are many immensely powerful demons in Western governments today that are surly and steadily steering the world towards a major global conflagration. They are doing this because of their dwindling natural resources, their stressed economies and their primal hate and fear of the Eastern nations. They specifically fear and hate Russia, because Russians are not easily westernized; Russians control the largest landmass on earth; Russians are a nuclear power; and Russians host a virtually unlimited amount of natural resources. As a result of Western machinations around the world, certain nations, like Russia, will therefore have to fight to survive. I personally believe that the Russian Federation is the only power on earth today that can stop these warmongering, bloodthirsty demons from realizing their agenda of colonization, enslavement, exploitation and globalization. I don't wish war upon Russia. Russia has seen too much war and destruction in its history. However, the sad reality is that Russians will sooner-or-later face another war in defense of their nation. Looking at Russian history, it seems that periodic chaos in defense of their Motherland is their national curse. Looking at their history we can also be assured of their victory. Thus, it's just a matter of time before the Russian nation goes to war again. I hope they, as a people, realize this inevitability. I therefore hope they are not found unprepared yet again when the time comes. I'm looking forward to the full awakening of the Russian Bear... The wheels have begun to turn. Only time now will reveal where it will go and how much destruction it will cause." Arevordi, 2008
It’s about more than Ukraine, Russia is staging a rebellion against the West and its liberal world order
The death of an American soldier fighting in Ukraine exposes chaos and dysfunction in the foreign legion
Phase one: this was the initial assault that started on February 24, 2022. Tens-of-thousands of Russian troops and military equipment were rushed deep into Ukraine from three sides: south, north and east. In hindsight, this phase seems to have been designed to scare the Kiev regime into a quick surrender or accept major concessions to Russia. When after a few weeks of fighting and mounting Russian losses it became increasingly apparent that Zelensky's Western-backed regime would not surrender and Russians had not deployed adequate forces to force Kiev's submission, the Kremlin realized it had no choice but to reevaluate its war plans.Phase two: this was the repositioning and readjusting of Russian troop formations in Ukraine and the reevaluation of the Kremlin's strategy vis-à-vis its intentions towards Kiev. This was done to address and remedy the less-than-ideal reality on the ground for Russian forces. This was when Russia's outnumbered, underarmed and overstretched troop formations pulled back from problematic areas they had captured early in the war but realized they could not hold on to them with the limited number of forces they had on hand. This phase therefore saw the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kiev, Kharkov, Liman and Kherson. These were done to basically shorten the frontlines, consolidate forces and preserve lives. This was also when a new commander was appointed to oversee the operation.Phase three: this is the phase we are currently in. This phase will, hopefully, be the final phase. Having taken a step back to regroup and reorganize during phase two, the Kremlin has now begun to increase its war fighting capability in Ukraine. The Kremlin has also embarked on a long-range bombing campaign to destroy Ukraine's vital transportation networks, arms production facilities, power grid and deployed troop formations. This phase is expected to either bring the Kiev regime to its knees by systemically destroying the nation's critical infrastructure or gradually grind-down and weaken the Ukrainian military to the point of collapse. This phase saw a reshuffling in Russia's military high command. This phase may see a major offensive by Russian forces. This phase also seems designed to, hopefully, convince Western powers that resistance is futile and their continued use of Ukrainians as cannon fodder will only result in Ukraine's total destruction.
FIELDS OF BLOOD Russia loses 100,000 men in embarrassing Ukraine military disaster – but Mad Vlad won’t stop until ONE MILLION are dead
Ukraine war veterans on how Kiev plundered US aid, wasted soldiers, endangered civilians, and lost the warI suspect that senior Pentagon officials are using this opportunity to launder some money, enrich Western arms producers and get rid of some of their older weapons systems and ammunition stockpiles, so they can ask the civilian leadership in Washington DC for more funding and newer arms. War is a racket after all, and the United States is indeed run by the military industrial complex. What we see therefore is following a predictable and natural pattern. I also suspect that U.S. made main battle tanks and combat aircraft are not being sent to Ukraine because American officials know very well that they will be quickly destroyed by Russian forces. Said otherwise, Washingtonians realize that such a situation would be bad press for their overhyped and overpriced military hardware. Ukraine is also being used as a weapon's testing ground to test and assess how Western weapons systems such as HIMARS rocket systems, M777 Howitzers, Stinger MANPADS and Javelin anti-tank guided missiles perform under wartime conditions. All in all, it's good business and sound strategy for warmongers in the West. They have succeeded in making two Slavic peoples fight to the death, make a fortune over it. What is happening is a tragedy, it is also something Ukrainians could have easily avoided. All Ukrainians had to do was get rid of their wannabe-Nazis and simply say no to NATO. They did not. They instead enthusiastically joined forces with Western powers to provoke the Russian Bear. Ukrainians are therefore ultimately the main authors of the tragedy we are seeing play-out in Ukraine today. It is not a surprise that Ukrainians are feeling letdown and the Zelensky regime is desperately seeking more aid. At any rate, the situation for Ukrainian forces today looks quite bleak. And the few Western manufactured main battle tanks that may appear on the one thousand kilometer long warfront of Ukraine, will surely burn:
I want to reiterate again that the Zelensky's regime is incapable of reaching a negotiated peace settlement with Russia because Ukraine's governance has been outsourced to the West. Kiev does not call the shots in this historic conflict. Nothing is in Zelensky's hands. Zelensky remains a comedian and an actor. He is simply a show or a puppet for Western ringleaders. He does what he is told, nothing more nothing less. This is why he was elevated to power. They had chosen him, as early as 2015, to perform a task. His rise to power and eventual demise was even prophesied in a 2009 music video. By late 2021, that task he had to perform had become obvious for him. He most probably understands now that if he does not do what he is told, both him and his beautiful wife will be blown-up into little bits of bloody flesh. He therefore uses all his acting abilities to serve the great beast. Despite his valiant effort, Zelensky will nevertheless burn in the end, that is when he has completed his unholy task. All in all, Ukrainians are the only ones that can be blamed for the terrible plight they are in, as they are the ones that are allowing themselves to be manipulated and exploited by Western imperial interests. For or Western powers this war is not about helping Ukraine, this war is about isolating/hurting Russia and pushing President Putin out of power. Western powers will be more than happy to fight Russia and President Putin to the last Ukrainian. When Ukraine is dead, they will simply move to the next victim:
Ukrayinska Pravda: Boris Johnson Pressured Zelensky to Ditch Peace Talks With Russia: Ukrainian Paper
There is something to be said about infantry and men in tanks, warplanes and helicopters making head-on assaults against numerically superior, well-concealed opponents armed with sophisticated weapons systems fighting from fortified positions, along a one thousand kilometer long warfront. That is impressive! Russia, a lone nation is taking on the entire Western world and its allies. It's absolutely epic. Despite the serious handicaps put on them by the Kremlin, Russian forces have performed quite well. Watch the end of the following video to understand why the Russian nation will not be defeated:
Recently, some readers have complained to me that we are covering the Ukraine situation too closely, saying they are bored with the topic. In fact, I’m not really covering it that closely. I’m really just giving the broad strokes, and giving people a basis upon which they can do further investigation into what is going on if they are so inclined.
Annexation confers a formal designation that a territory has been deemed existentially important to the Russian state, and will be contested as if the integrity of the nation and state is at risk.
- Reopening the Northern Front with an operation around Kharkov. The attractiveness of this option is clear. A Russian move in force towards Kharkov would immediately collapse all of Ukraine’s gains towards the Oskil by compromising their rear areas.
- An offensive on Nikolayev out of the Kherson region. This would move further towards the goal of a landlocked Ukraine, and would take advantage of the fact that Ukrainian forces in this region are badly chewed up after their own failed offensive.
- Massive commitment to the Donbas to finish the liberation of DNR territory by capturing Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. This is less likely, as Russia has demonstrated comfort with the slow tempo of operations on this front.
- A push north from the Melitopol area towards Zaparozhia. This would safeguard the nuclear powerplant and end any credible threats to the land bridge to Crimea.
After more than ninety days of incessant Ukrainian propaganda, echoed mindlessly by a complicit western mainstream media that extolls the battlefield successes of the Ukrainian armed forces and the alleged incompetence of the Russian military, the Russians are on the cusp of achieving the stated goal of its operation, namely the liberation of the newly independent Donbass Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk, which Russia recognized two days before its invasion.
The Russian victory in Donbass comes after weeks of intensive combat that saw the Russian military shift gears away from what has become known as Phase One. That was the month-long opening act which, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin in his Feb. 24 address, was tasked with taking “actions throughout the territory of Ukraine with the implementation of measures for its demilitarization and denazification.” Putin said the purpose was to restore “the DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic] and the LPR [Lugansk People’s Republic] within the administrative borders of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which is enshrined in the constitutions of the republics.”
On March 25, the head of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Colonel General Sergei Rudskoy, declared that “the main objectives of the first phase of the operation have been achieved. The combat capabilities of Ukraine’s Armed Forces have been significantly reduced, which allows us, once again, to concentrate our main efforts on achieving the main goal – the liberation of Donbass.” According to Rudskoy, Phase One’s objectives were to cause:
“Such damage to military infrastructure, equipment, personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the results of which allow not only to shackle their forces and do not give them the opportunity to strengthen their grouping in the Donbass, but also will not allow them to do so until the Russian army completely liberates the territories of the DPR and LPR. All 24 formations of the Land Forces that existed before the start of the operation suffered significant losses. Ukraine has no organized reserves left.”
Russia has completed Phase One despite the efforts of the U.S., NATO, and the E.U. to supply Ukraine with a significant amount of lethal military assistance, primarily in the form of light anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. “We consider it a vast mistake,” Rudskoy concluded, “for Western countries to supply weapons to Kiev. This delays the conflict, increases the number of victims and will not be able to influence the outcome of the operation.”
The history of the conflict so far has proven Rudskoy correct — no amount of western military aid has been able to prevent Russia from achieving its military objective of liberating the entire territories of both Lugansk and Donetsk. As Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba admitted at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, “I don’t want anyone to get the feeling that the war is more or less OK. The situation in Donbass is extremely bad.”
Gone are the bold pronouncements made on the eve of the May 9 Victory Day celebrations, when Russia’s many detractors proclaimed that Rudskoy’s Phase Two offensive in the Donbas had stalled, and that Russia would, in short order, be compelled to transition from the attack to a defensive posture, signally the beginning of a retreat that the Ukrainians claimed would culminate not only in the recapture of all territory lost so far, but Crimea as well.
Such fanciful thinking has given way to the kind of hard reality that ignores propaganda and favors the dirty task of destroying the enemy through firepower and maneuver. Complicating this task, however, was that during the eight years of incessant conflict in the Donbass, which precipitated Russian’s invasion, the Ukrainian military had prepared a defensive belt that was, General Rudskoy noted in his March 25 briefing, “deeply echeloned and well-fortified in engineering terms, consisting of a system of monolithic, long-term concrete structures.”
According to Rudskoy, offensive operations against this defensive belt were, by necessity, “preceded by a heavy fire attack on the enemy’s strongholds and their reserves.” The Russian advantage in artillery was a key factor in the victorious outcome of its Phase Two operations, pulverizing the Ukrainian defenses and opening the way for the infantry and armor to finish off the survivors. According to the daily briefings provided by the Russian Ministry of Defense, the Ukrainians are losing the equivalent of a battalion’s worth of manpower every two days, not to mention scores of tanks, armored fighting vehicles, artillery pieces, and trucks.
Indeed, several observers of this conflict, myself included, projected that based upon predictive analysis drawn from the basic military math regarding actual and projected casualty levels, there was a real expectation that Russia, upon completion of Phase Two, would have been able to claim, with justification, that it had accomplished most, if not all the political and military objectives set out at the start of the operation. Logic dictated that the Ukrainian government, stripped of a viable military, would have no choice but a modern-day version of the surrender of France in June 1940, following decisive battlefield victories by the German army.
While Russia continues to position itself for a decisive military victory in eastern Ukraine, it may likely confine itself to the liberation of the Donbass, seizures of the land bridge connecting Crimea with the Russian Federation mainland (via Donbass), and the expansion of the Kherson bridgehead to secure fresh water resources to Crimea which had been cut off by the Ukrainian government since 2014.
The State of Russia’s Objectives
In his classic treatise, On War, Prussian military theorist Carl Von Clausewitz penned what has become one of the ultimate truisms of conflicts involving nations, namely that “war is a continuation of politics by other means.” This holds as true today as when it was published in 1832. Putin articulated two principle political objectives for the military operation: to keep Ukraine out of NATO and to create the conditions for NATO to agree to Russia’s demands set forth in a pair of draft treaties presented to the U.S. and NATO on Dec. 17, 2021. Those treaty proposals set out a new European security framework by demanding the withdrawal of NATO military power back to the borders that existed in 1997. Both NATO and the U.S. rejected Russia’s demands.
When it comes to military objectives, in addition to the liberation of Donbass, Putin declared in his Feb. 24 speech, announcing the invasion, that Russia “will seek to demilitarize and denazify Ukraine, as well as bring to trial those who perpetrated numerous bloody crimes against civilians, including against citizens of the Russian Federation.” While the defeat of the Azov Regiment and other neo-Nazi formations during the Battle of Mariupol represented a decisive step toward the accomplishment of that goal, several thousand neo-Nazi fighters, organized into a variety of military and paramilitary formations, continue to fight on the frontlines in eastern Ukraine and carry out security operations in Ukrainian rear areas.
Denazification, however, has an important political component that, at the moment, is not being addressed by Russia’s military operation, namely the continued existence of Ukraine’s far-right and neo-Nazi political parties at a time when all other political activity has been shut down under martial law. If anything, the “Nazification” of Ukrainian political life has expanded exponentially since Russia’s invasion, with Ukraine more under the influence of the ideology of Stepan Bandera, the Ukrainian nationalist whose followers killed hundreds of thousands of Jews, Gypsies, Poles, and Russians while fighting alongside Nazi Germany in World War Two.
Whereas Russia may have earlier been able to conceive a political settlement that saw the Ukrainian government right-wing political parties and their militarized progeny, the fact is today the Ukrainian government has increasingly aligned itself with the neo-Nazi movement to strengthen its rule in the face of growing domestic political opposition to war with Russia. True denazification, in my view, would require Russia to remove the Zelensky government from power and replace it with a new political leadership that will aggressively sustain the Russian objective of an eradication neo-Nazi ideology in Ukraine. So far there is no indication that that is a Russian objective.
Likewise, demilitarization has become much more difficult since the invasion of Feb. 24. While military aid provided to Ukraine by the U.S. and NATO before that date could be measured in terms of hundreds of millions of dollars, since Phase Two operations began this aid has grown to the point where total military aid provided to Ukraine by the U.S. alone approximates $53 billion. Not only has this aid had a measurable impact on the battlefield in terms of Russian military personnel killed and equipment destroyed, but it has also enabled Ukraine to reconstitute combat power, which had been previously destroyed by Russian forces.
While this massive support will not be able to reverse the tide of inevitability concerning the scope and scale of the Russian military victory in the Donbass, it does mean that once Russia has fulfilled its stated objective of liberating the breakaway republics, demilitarization will still not have taken place. Moreover, given the fact that demilitarization is premised on Ukraine being stripped of all NATO influence, including equipment, organization, and training, one can make a case that Russia’s invasion has succeeded in making Ukraine a closer partner of NATO than before it began.
The Legal Questions
If Russia were the United States, operating under the notion of a “rules based international order,” the issue of outstripping the legal justification for a conflict would not represent a problem — one only needs look at how a succession of U.S. presidential administrations abused the Congressional authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) passed in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks by wrongfully using it to justify operations that fell outside its legal authorities.
A party can get away with such inconsistencies if they are responsible, like the United States, for making and implementing the rules of the game (i.e., the so-called “rules-based international order.”) However, Vladimir Putin, when meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the opening of the Winter Olympic games, committed himself on a policy course which sees Russia, together with China, rejecting the rules based international order that defines the vision of a unipolar world dominated by the U.S., and instead replace it with a multi-polar “law based international order” grounded in the United Nations Charter.
Putin was very careful in trying to link Russia’s military operation to the legal authorities that existed under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter governing self-defense. The specific construct involved — which cited what amounts to a claim of preemptive, collective self-defense — hinges on Russian claims that “the Armed Forces of Ukraine were completing the preparation of a military operation to take control of the territory of the people’s republics.”
It is the imminent threat posed by this alleged Ukrainian military operation that gives legitimacy to Russia’s claim. Indeed, both Phase One and Phase Two of Russia’s operation were specifically tailored to the military requirements necessary to eliminate the threat posed to Lugansk and Donetsk by the buildup of Ukrainian military power in eastern Ukraine.
A problem, however, emerges when Russia completes its task of destroying, dismantling, or dispersing the Ukrainian military in the Donbass region. While one could have previously argued that an imminent threat would continue to exist so long as the Ukrainian forces possessed sufficient combat power to retake Donbass region, such an argument cannot be made today. At some point soon, Russia will announce that it has defeated the Ukrainian military forces arrayed in the east and, in doing so, end the notion of the imminent threat that gave Russia the legal justification to undertake its operation.
That came about because of the major battlefield successes of the Russian military. But it will leave Russia with a number of unfulfilled political objectives, including denazification, demilitarization, permanent Ukrainian neutrality, and NATO concurrence with a new European security framework along the lines drawn up by Russia in its December 2021 treaty proposals. If Russia were to call a halt to its military operation at this juncture, it would be ceding political victory to Ukraine, which “wins” by not losing.
The challenge facing Russia going forward, therefore, is how to define the scale and the scope of Phase Three so that it retains the kind of legal authority it asserted for the first two phases, while assembling sufficient combat power to accomplish its tasks. Among these would appear to me to include overthrowing the Zelensky government and replacing it with one willing and able to outlaw the ideology of Stepan Bandera. It might also entail launching a military operation into central and western Ukraine to completely destroy the reconstituted elements of the Ukrainian military along with the surviving neo-Nazi affiliated forces.
As things currently stand, Russia’s actions are being implemented upon the limited legal authorities granted to Putin by the Russian Duma, or parliament. One of the most constraining aspects of these authorities is that it limits Russia’s force structure to what can be assembled under peacetime conditions. Most observers believe Russia is reaching the limit of what can be asked of these forces.
Any large-scale expansion of Russian military operations in Ukraine,which seeks to push beyond the territory conquered by Russia during Phase One and Phase Two, will require additional resources which Russia may struggle to assemble under the constraints imposed by a peacetime posture. This task would become virtually impossible if the Ukrainian conflict were to spread to Poland, Transnistria, Finland and Sweden.
Only Russia’s leaders can decide what is best for Russia, or what is deemed to be viable militarily. But the combination of an expired legal mandate, unfulfilled political objectives, and the possibility of a massive expansion of the scope and the scale of combat operations, which could possibly include one or more NATO members, points to an absolute need for Russia to articulate the mission of Phase Three and why it needs one. Failure to do so opens the door to the possibility that Russia puts itself in a position where it is unable to successfully conclude a conflict that it opted to initiate at the end of February.
Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD.
“War is the mere continuation of politics by other means. We see, therefore, that War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means. All beyond this which is strictly peculiar to War relates merely to the peculiar nature of the means which it uses. That the tendencies and views of policy shall not be incompatible with these means, the Art of War in general and the Commander in each particular case may demand, and this claim is truly not a trifling one. But however powerfully this may react on political views in particular cases, still it must always be regarded as only a modification of them; for the political view is the object, War is the means, and the means must always include the object in our conception.” On War, Volume 1, Chapter 1, Section 24
Still, there are brief moments of clarity inside the Washington establishment. Having lied prolifically for months to the American public about the origins and conduct of the war in Ukraine, the media are now preparing the American, British, and other Western publics for Ukraine’s military collapse. It is long overdue. The Western media did everything in its power to give the Ukrainian defense the appearance of far greater strength than it really possessed. Careful observers noted that the same video clips of Russian tanks under attack were shown repeatedly. Local counterattacks were reported as though they were operational maneuvers.
Russian errors were exaggerated out of all proportion to their significance. Russian losses and the true extent of Ukraine’s own losses were distorted, fabricated, or simply ignored. But conditions on the battlefield changed little over time. Once Ukrainian forces immobilized themselves in static defensive positions inside urban areas and the central Donbas, the Ukrainian position was hopeless. But this development was portrayed as failure by the Russians to gain “their objectives.”
Ground-combat forces that immobilize soldiers in prepared defenses will be identified, targeted, and destroyed from a distance. When persistent overhead intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets, whether manned or unmanned, are linked to precision guided-strike weapons or modern artillery systems informed by accurate targeting data, “holding ground” is fatal to any ground force. This is all the more true in Ukraine, because it was apparent from the first action that Moscow focused on the destruction of Ukrainian forces, not on the occupation of cities or the capture of Ukrainian territory west of the Dnieper River.
The result has been the piecemeal annihilation of Ukrainian forces. Only the episodic infusion of U.S. and allied weapons kept Kiev’s battered legions in the field; legions that are now dying in great numbers thanks to Washington’s proxy war. Kiev’s war with Moscow is lost. Ukrainian forces are being bled white. Trained replacements do not exist in sufficient numbers to influence the battle, and the situation grows more desperate by the hour. No amount of U.S. and allied military aid or assistance short of direct military intervention by U.S. and NATO ground forces can change this harsh reality.
The problem today is not ceding territory and population to Moscow in Eastern Ukraine that Moscow already controls. The future of the Kherson and Zaporozhye regions along with the Donbas is decided. Moscow is also likely to secure Kharkov and Odessa, two cities that are historically Russian and Russian-speaking, as well as the territory that adjoins them. These operations will extend the conflict through the summer. The problem now is how to stop the fighting. Whether the fighting stops in the early fall will depend on two key factors. The first involves the leadership in Kiev. Will the Zelensky government consent to the Biden program for perpetual conflict with Russia?
If the Biden administration has its way, Kiev will continue to operate as a base for the buildup of new forces poised to threaten Moscow. In practice, this means Kiev must commit national suicide by exposing the Ukrainian heartland west of the Dnieper River to massive, devastating strikes by Russia’s long-range missile and rocket forces.
Of course, these developments are not inevitable. Berlin, Paris, Rome, Budapest, Bucharest, Sofia, Vilnius, Riga, Tallin, and, yes, even Warsaw, do not have to blindly follow Washington’s lead. Europeans, like most Americans, are already peering into the abyss of an all-encompassing economic downturn that Biden’s policies are creating at home. Unlike Americans who must cope with the consequences of Biden’s ill-conceived policies, European governments can opt out of Biden’s perpetual-war plan for Ukraine.
The second factor involves Washington itself. Having poured more than $60 billion or a little more than $18 billion a month in direct or indirect transfers into a Ukrainian state that is now crumbling, the important question is, what happens to millions of Ukrainians in the rest of the country that did not flee? And where will the funds come from to rebuild Ukraine’s shattered society in a developing global economic emergency?
When inflation costs the average American household an extra $460 per month to buy the same goods and services this year as they did last year, it is quite possible that Ukraine could sink quietly beneath the waves like the Titanic without evoking much concern in the American electorate. Experienced politicians know that the American span of attention to matters beyond America’s borders is so short that an admission of defeat in Ukraine would probably have little or no immediate consequences.
However, the effects of repeated strategic failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria are cumulative. In the 1980s, General Motors wanted to dictate the kind of automobiles Americans would buy, but American consumers had different ideas. That’s why G.M., which dominated the U.S. market for 77 years, lost its top spot to Toyota. Washington cannot dictate all outcomes, nor can Washington escape accountability for its profligate spending and having ruined American prosperity.
In November, Americans will go to the polls. The election itself will do more than test the integrity of the American electoral process. The election is also likely to ensure that Biden is remembered for his intransigence; his refusal to change course, like Herbert Hoover in 1932. Democrats will recall that their predecessors in the Democratic Party effectively ran against Hoover for more than a half century. Republicans may end up running against Joe Biden for the next 50 years.
And what we’re doing to support Ukraine, also by military means, without escalation, without horizontal or vertical escalation, that could bring [us] to a bigger conflict and try to put pressure on Russia by all our capacities in order to make it to pay the price for it.
Americanisation, Fourquet writes, has profoundly transformed France. Although 27% of French people have visited the US at least once, every second person among the wealthy has done so. The upper classes are fluent in English — Macron voters were the most proficient in this language, while Le Pen voters were the least — and consume mostly American media.The less fortunate have their own cultural markers of Americanisation. Again, Fourquet analyses names. The Maries of French tradition were replaced by Kevins (after Home Alone) and Dylans (after Beverly Hills 90210). The map of these American names coincides with the places where Marine Le Pen can count on her firmest support. Many National Rally activists bear names such as Jordan Bardella, today the number two in the party, or Davy Rodriguez, who headed its youth organisation. More phenomena of this kitschy low-status Americanisation include the immense popularity of country music clubs, vintage US cars, and pole dancing across France, as well the spread of the Buffalo Grill restaurant chain in hundreds of locations.Both the elites and the working classes began to dream American dreams. Fourquet calls one of them the “Plaza majority” lifestyle, after the name of the celebrity real estate agent Stéphane Plaza. In his TV shows, he advertises an ideal shared across French society: a house with a garden, a desire that mimics the American suburban lifestyle. Depending on the class, this ideal assumes different forms, but it often includes a swimming pool. This vision of affluence from America captured the imagination of the French, who have built 1.3 million pools in their country. Elsewhere, Fourquet says the last common experience of the “French archipelago” is a visit, or “pilgrimage” to Disneyland — 75% of those under 35 have visited the theme park.Americanisation was the only component of globalisation that did not bitterly divide the French. According to Fourquet the split between those for whom globalisation meant achievement and those for whom it meant dispossession, would, from 2017, become central to understanding France. As in the United States and Britain, globalisation swept the French economy. As in the United States and Britain, its impact could have perverse consequences.
Sanctions designations net increased 933% over the last 20 years, increasing virtually every year for the past two decades, from a total of 912 sanctioned parties in 2000 to a whopping 9,421 on OFAC’s lists as of this year;While OFAC issued over 12,000 designations during that same period, it also delisted nearly 3,000 persons – a quarter of the overall total;Since 2000, the number of underlying sanctions authorities grew from 69 to 176 in 2021; andThe ratio of Executive versus Legislative Branch actions has remain relatively constant over the years; about 63% of sanctions authorities over the last 20 years have been executive orders while about 37% have been statutes, but the ratio has not changed much in the past two decades (64% executive orders/36% statutes in 2000 versus 61% executive orders/39% statutes in 2021).
It’s one of a string of examples of the Biden administration’s breaking with recent precedent by deploying declassified intelligence as part of an information war against Russia. The administration has done so even when the intelligence wasn’t rock solid, officials said, to keep Russian President Vladimir Putin off balance. Coordinated by the White House National Security Council, the unprecedented intelligence releases have been so frequent and voluminous, officials said, that intelligence agencies had to devote more staff members to work on the declassification process, scrubbing the information so it wouldn’t betray sources and methods. Observers of all stripes have called it a bold and so far successful strategy — although not one without risks.
A group of former intelligence and national security officials on Monday issued a jointly signed letter warning that pending legislative attempts to restrict or break up the power of Big Tech monopolies — Facebook, Google, and Amazon — would jeopardize national security because, they argue, their centralized censorship power is crucial to advancing U.S. foreign policy. The majority of this letter is devoted to repeatedly invoking the grave threat allegedly posed to the U.S. by Russia as illustrated by the invasion of Ukraine, and it repeatedly points to the dangers of Putin and the Kremlin to justify the need to preserve Big Tech's power in its maximalist form. Any attempts to restrict Big Tech's monopolistic power would therefore undermine the U.S. fight against Moscow.
US national security state acknowledges “Russia is pushing back,” not pushing first
In their internal documents, the Pentagon and other arms of the US national security state reiterate the same arguments the anti-war left does when it explains how Ukraine has been used to provoke Russia into a military escalation. The principal difference is that the Pentagon speaks from an unabashedly imperialist perspective in which such provocations are seen as an important component of US power projection. Recently, the US Director of National Intelligence’s Annual Threat Assessment reported: “Russia is pushing back against Washington where it can—locally and globally—employing techniques up to and including the use of force.” Note: Russia is “pushing back,” not pushing first.
A report from 2021 by the National Intelligence Council concedes of Russia and China: “Neither has felt secure in an international order designed for and dominated by democratic powers,” with “democratic” meaning the US and friends. Both Russia and China “have promoted a sovereignty-based international order that protects their absolute authority within their borders and geographic areas of influence.”
In October 2017, US Army Field Artillery School Assistant Commandant, Col. Heyward Hutson, who is responsible for training Ukrainians, explained: “Ukraine wants to become a NATO nation, but Russia doesn’t want them to be a NATO nation. Russia wants to have a buffer zone.” He added that another “problem is a lot of Eastern Ukraine is pro-Russia so the civilian population there is divided.” A 2016 US Army War College report reiterated: “Russia’s basic national security strategy is to keep its ‘neighboring belt stable’, NATO weak, China close, and the United States focused elsewhere.” Another, from 2007, explains that the “pro-reform forces in power since the Orange Revolution” (read: pro-US forces) “would like to move Ukraine squarely into the Euro-Atlantic community with only limited deference to Russia.”
The document goes on to note that, at the time, the “Ukrainian political and military leadership has remained divided over the question of whether Ukraine should pursue a collective security approach or retain its neutral status.” It concluded that, while “[m]ost senior [Ukrainian] commanders have pro-reform credentials… there are still large numbers of senior leaders within the Main Defense Forces who have no or only limited exposure to Western training and operations.” The US-sponsored coup of 2013-14 enabled Washington to smooth over that contradiction by launching an extensive program to train units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
NATO is “not an exercise in diplomacy and deterrence as before”
When the Soviet Union collapsed, so too did its military alliance, the Warsaw Pact. But the West not only refused to disband its alliance—the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)—it expanded up to Russia’s borders. NATO’s own records state that in 1992, “Just four months after Ukraine’s declaration of independence” from the USSR, “NATO invited its representative to an extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the body set up to shape cooperation between NATO and the states of the former Warsaw Pact.” Russia did not propose a similar pact with America’s neighbors.
In 1994, Ukraine joined the so-called Partnership for Peace (PFP). Citing the UN Charter, the PFP states that signatories agree “to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, to respect existing borders and to settle disputes by peaceful means.” A US State Department primer reveals that the PFP had an ulterior motive. Its real aim was not neutrality but to move Ukraine and other signatories closer to NATO. “Participation in PFP does not guarantee entry into NATO, but it is the best preparation for states interested in becoming NATO members.” The primer also lists the 52 actual and planned military exercises in which PFP members initially engaged on or near Russia’s borders.
Bill Clinton-era policymakers explained that “NATO is not merely an exercise in preventive diplomacy and deterrence as before.” NATO expansion had a political agenda. They considered “NATO enlargement [a]s a democratization policy.” As above, “democratization” means pro-US. Citing President Clinton’s 1996 campaign speeches, the report notes that in their minds NATO “will provide the stability needed for greater economic development in Central and Eastern Europe.” In other words, post-USSR NATO was designed, in part, to guarantee US led-“free markets” (which are often neither free nor markets, but monopolies,) in ex-Soviet nations where state-ownership of businesses was the norm.
In 1997, NATO and Ukraine signed the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership. The Charter was a prima facie violation of the PFP in that it compromised Ukraine’s political independence. It proposed several areas of NATO-Ukraine cooperation, “including civil emergency planning, military training and environmental security.” NATO brags: “cooperation between NATO and Ukraine quickly developed” in the form of “retraining for former military officers … and invit[ing] Ukraine to participate in NATO-led exercises.”
The US Army says: “Ukraine has been a military partner of the U.S. dating back to the mid 1990s.” In 1998, America’s Special Operations Command Europe hosted a Special Operations Forces (SOF) conference in Stuttgart, Germany. The US Army reports: “This benchmark even brought military personnel from Moldova, Georgia, and the Ukraine together to view U.S. SOF demonstrations and discuss opportunities for future Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) and Joint Contact Team Program (JCTP) events.”
In June 2000, the US Marines reported that the Navy’s amphibious warship, the USS Trenton, had sailed from the Aegean to the Black Sea and had docked in Odessa (Ukraine). The 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) “got to experience some of Odessa’s history first hand when they climbed the Prymorsky, or ‘Maritime’, Stairs.” In addition to the pleasantries, “the focus for MEU personnel and USS Trenton crew [was] NATO’s next exercise – Cooperative Partner 2000 (CP00) – of which Ukraine is the host nation.”
In addition to Ukraine’s participation in the US-led NATO training and exercises, Ukrainian soldiers fought in American-led wars. After 9/11, they participated in the occupation of Afghanistan via NATO’s so-called International Security Assistance Force. Ukrainian troops also aided the US-British-occupation of Iraq. In 2008, the Army lauded their comrades: “More than 5,000 Ukrainian troops have served in Iraq during Ukraine’s five years of service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
Established in 2014 during the US-backed coup, the Ukraine component of the US State Department and Pentagon’s Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF) provides tens of millions of dollars-worth of training and equipment to “develop the tactical, operational, and institutional training capacities of its Ministry of Defense and National Guard.” The State Department says: “The GSCF has also supported Ukrainian Special Operations Forces in developing tactical and institutional capabilities that are compatible with Western models.” According to one Pentagon-linked journal: “Arsen Avakov, the Minister of Internal Affairs from 2014 to 2021[, …] enabled the expansion and later integration of paramilitary forces into the National Guard,” including the nazi Azov Battalion.
From 2015, the Pentagon’s European Command oversaw the Joint Multinational Task Force-Ukraine (JMTF-U), in which the US Army and National Guard trains the Ukrainian Armed Forces. In addition, officers were trained in the US through the International Military Education and Training program. The Congressional Research Service reports that, “[s]eparately, U.S. Special Operations Forces have trained and advised Ukrainian special forces.” In addition, the US participates in the annual NATO Partnership for Peace exercise, Rapid Trident.
In November 2015, supposedly at the request of the new pro-US regime, the Obama administration sent two AN/TPQ radar systems to Ukraine. “President Petro Poroshenko had the opportunity to review the equipment, and was briefed by U.S. military personnel on its capabilities.” The US Army later revealed that the radar system was not purely defensive. A team from US Army Europe, Fort Sill’s Fires Center of Excellence (FCoE), and the Army Security Assistance Training Management Organization (SATMO) “conducted four weeks of operator training.” Since the initial delivery, “Ukraine received four additional Q-36 radars … and training by U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Command with support from the FCoE and USSATMO.” The publication quoted one trainer as saying that “the U.S. team showed their brigade, battalion and platoon commanders how to tactically employ the radar system to support fire and maneuver efforts.”
Since 2016, SATMO’s Doctrine Education Advisory Group (DEAG) “has advised Ukrainian Security Forces at the operational level to revise doctrine, improve professional military education, enhance NATO interoperability and increase combat readiness.” In January this year, DEAG brought the first load of $200m-worth of “lethal security assistance, including ammunition for the frontline defenders of Ukraine.”
US and Canadian military officers meet uniformed members of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion during a November 2017 multinational training session in Ukraine. Photos from a deleted page on Azov's website: https://t.co/08C1FLQ6Ee pic.twitter.com/5RAIif6OFf
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) March 20, 2022
One of the more immoral US actions in Ukraine has been the training of armed forces to fight in civilian areas, goading Russia to fight in densely-populated locations with the effect of scoring anti-Russia propaganda points when Russians kill Ukrainian civilians. In 2015, the US Marines implied that American service personnel would travel to Ukraine to fight. “Unofficial travel (leave or liberty) to any country in Africa or the following European countries [including Ukraine and its neighbors] requires command O-6 level approval … The countries are subject to change based on the Foreign Clearance Guide (FCG), Department of State (DOS), Combatant Command, and/or Intelligence threat notifications.” This suggests preparation for “irregular” warfare.
An undated document published by the US Special Operations Center of Excellence (SOCE), apparently from around 2017, states that “the United States should learn from the Chechnya rebels’ reaction” to Russia’s invasion of Chechnya in the ‘90s. It explains that the “rebels” engaged in “decentralized operations,” using social media to “blend into the local populace.” Russia’s enemies used “misinformation” to manipulate Russians into killing the rebels’ enemies.
The SOCE paper goes on to note that the Army Special Operation Forces “are trained to thrive in these environments.” The document explicitly advocates for the US to train irregular forces to provoke Russia: “The United States should form an interagency working group with the Department of State, members of the intelligence community and SOCOM,” the Special Operations Command, which would “serv[e] as the DoD lead/representative.” It suggests that such a working group “understand that SOCOM actions will need to be unconventional and irregular in order to compete with Russian modern warfare tactics.”
By bolstering Ukraine’s armed forces and goading Russia, US elites have openly used Ukrainian civilians as pawns. For many years, Ukrainian forces were trained in urban combat by US personnel: i.e., to fight Russians in densely-populated civilian areas. “Task Force Illini” is comprised of 150 soldiers from the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Illinois Army National Guard. In September 2020, the US Army reported that Armed Forces Ukraine soldiers “honed their urban operations skills as Task Force Illini advisors lent their expertise at Combat Training Center in Yavoriv” – the Western Ukrainian de facto NATO base near Poland’s border. You may have heard about the International Peacekeeping & Security Center in Ukraine since Russia struck it. Previously, US & Canada used it to host trainings of Ukrainian forces. Here's a trainee with two black US servicemembers geotagging himself in Zimbabwe & posting "14/88" pic.twitter.com/dzsNsKzZEC
— Alex Rubinstein (@RealAlexRubi) March 16, 2022The Oklahoma-based “Thunderbirds” have gone through several incarnations over the last century. The army unit was originally known as the 45th Infantry Division and is now the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. By early-2017, the JMTG-U mission fell under the 7th Army Training Command and US Army Europe, which paired Thunderbirds from the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment with soldiers from the Ukrainian 28th Mechanized Brigade and 79th Airborne Brigade. Their goal was to prepare Ukrainians for full-on vehicular combat.
“Thunderbirds” train Ukrainian in full-scale vehicular combat
Putin claims that Ukraine is a pawn of NATO. US propaganda rejects the notion, attempting to prove it by publicly ruling out Ukraine’s membership in the Alliance. But in April 2017, the US Army admitted that under the JMTG-U, the Thunderbirds’ mission was “to train the Ukrainian army to NATO standards, develop their noncommissioned officer corps, and help them to establish a combat training center, so that in the future, they can continue to train themselves.” So, if the Ukrainian military is trained to NATO standards and is overseen by a US puppet president, it might as well be part of NATO, minus the US obligation to come to its defense.
The proposed center became the Yavoriv Combat Training Center. The US Army reported that in October 2017, “a new grenade range was opened. Maj. Montana Dugger said: “We’ve helped them build long-range maintenance plans so they’ll be able to use these facilities for the next 20, 30-plus years.” Seemingly ignorant of the comical doublespeak, the US Army also explained that Ukrainian’s Combat Training Center “is being established at the International Peacekeeping and Security Center near Yavoriv.” Also ironic is that while the Thunderbirds train a military incorporating neo-Nazi units to fight Russians in Ukraine, its pre-1930s insignia was a swastika, which its Oklahoma-based museum describes as “an Ancient American Indian symbol of good luck.”
In addition to the overt but under- or non-reported events outlined above, the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has run a covert, eight-year training program. Why the need for covert ops in the face of extensive overt projects? The CIA specializes in assassination, proxy warfare, psychological operations, and false flags. This suggests that their efforts include tactics prohibited by the Geneva Conventions. Yahoo! News reported that in 2014, under a doctrine called “covert action funding,” “a small, select group of veteran CIA paramilitaries made their first secret trips to the frontlines to meet with Ukrainian counterparts.” The training was conducted by the CIA’s Special Activities Center, which suggests that even if the officers were “ex-CIA” and Special Forces, they were given access to Langley at high-levels, making it a de facto official mission.
One operative is quoted as saying that the officers attempted to Talibanize the Ukrainian paramilitaries in the sense that the Afghan Taliban had no sophisticated hardware that was vulnerable to enemy blinding. Ergo, basic, non-tech warfare training was required. The report says that the trainers: “taught their Ukrainian counterparts sniper techniques; how to operate U.S.-supplied Javelin anti-tank missiles and other equipment; how to evade digital tracking the Russians used to pinpoint the location of Ukrainian troops, which had left them vulnerable to attacks by artillery; how to use covert communications tools; and how to remain undetected in the war zone while also drawing out Russian and insurgent forces from their positions, among other skills, according to former officials.”
In addition, one former senior source said (paraphrased by the reporter): “The agency needed to determine the ‘backbone’ of the Ukrainians … The question was, ‘Are they going to get rolled, or are going to stand up and fight?”
So who tends to have “backbone,” i.e., a ruthless and psychopathic fighting spirit? Fascists and ultra-nationalists. Indeed, it has been widely reported by even US corporate media that the Ukrainian Armed Forces and paramilitary units were infested with Nazis. Today, the same media refer to the Nazis as mere nationalists. Beginning 2015, the CIA’s Ground Department arranged for Ukrainians to be trained in the US south. The operations continue to the present and have been expanded under the Biden administration. “The multiweek, U.S.-based CIA program has included training in firearms, camouflage techniques, land navigation, tactics like ‘cover and move,’ intelligence and other areas.” One senior officer is quoted as saying: “The United States is training an insurgency … to kill Russians.”
In February this year, shortly before the Russian invasion, it was reported that the CIA had been “preparing Ukrainians to mount an insurgency against a Russian occupation.” Against an occupation? Or an insurgency to provoke an occupation? In addition to the CIA, the US military has its own covert operations. Under the Resistance Operating Concept started in 2018, the Pentagon appears to have been training territorial defense units comprised of Ukrainian civilians. This seems to have led to the creation by Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces creating a National Resistance Center that teaches civilians guerrilla tactics.
Ukraine military build-up brings the world to the brink
After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, pro-Russian eastern protests erupted in Donetsk and Luhansk. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) noted: “The government in Kyiv responded with military force and employed local militias to help push back the separatists.” The CRS added that the US leads Britain, Canada, and Lithuania in the Multinational Joint Commission on Defense Reform and Security Cooperation. The Pentagon’s European Command had a European Reassurance Initiative at the time, which is now called the European Deterrence Initiative. Under this program, dozens of Ukrainians were trained in Huntsville, Alabama, in RQ-11B, hand-launched Raven drone operations. Seventy-two drones were sent to Ukraine in 2016.
A January 2016 UK House of Commons Library research briefing states: “Fighting between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists has killed more than 9,000 people since April 2014 and injured more than 20,000.” The briefing goes on to note that after the UN Security Council-backed Minsk II agreement, which called for a ceasefire and the withdrawal of frontline forces on both sides, the Ukrainian parliament granted special status and enhanced autonomy to parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions.
The Royal United Services Institute is a UK Ministry of Defense-linked think-tank. One of its reports concedes that Russia had a largely “defensive policy” when it came to Ukraine. It says: “Russian officials have become alarmed by expanding and overlapping Western alliances from an enlarged NATO and EU, to AUKUS and the Coalition of Democracies promoted by both the US and the UK.”
Part of Russia’s strategy has its roots in the US-led destruction of Libya in 2011, the report explains. The NATO bombing of Libya and overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi “underscored how strong Western alliances were able to bypass or manipulate the [UN Security Council] UNSC, essentially circumventing a forum where Russian interests could be protected.”
Indeed, on February 27th, 2022, the UNSC adopted Resolution 2623, which states: “the lack of unanimity of its permanent members at the 8979th meeting has prevented it from exercising its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”
The absence of international diplomacy, the weakness of a domestic anti-war movement in the US, and the cheerleading for war by many leftists and liberals under the doctrine that Putin is an evil villain has pushed the world as close to terminal nuclear disaster as it has been since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis; perhaps even closer. Many Russians have taken to the streets to clamor for a ceasefire. After looking the other way as their leaders spent the past 8 years weaponizing Ukraine against Russia, Western publics have yet to demand the same.
BILLINGTON: Hi, this is this is Mike Billington with Executive Intelligence Review and the Schiller Institute. I am here today with Col. Richard Black, Sen. Richard Black, who, after serving 31 years in the Marines and in the Army, then served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1998 to 2006, and in the Virginia Senate from 2012 to 2020. I’ll also allow Colonel Black to describe his military service himself.
So, Colonel Black, welcome. With the with the U.S. and U.K. and NATO surrogate war with Russia, which is taking place in Ukraine, and the economic warfare being carried out directly against Russia, this has been accompanied by an information war which is intended to demonize Russia and especially President Vladimir Putin. One repeated theme is that the Russian military is carrying out ruthless campaigns of murder against civilians and destruction of residential areas, often referring to the Russian military operations in Syria, claiming that they had done the same thing in Syria, especially against Aleppo. These are supposedly examples of their war crimes and crimes against humanity.
You have been a leading spokesman internationally for many years, exposing the lies about what took place in Syria and the war on Syria. So first, let me ask: How and why did Russia get involved in Syria militarily? And how does that contrast with the U.S. and NATO supposed justification for their military intervention in Syria?
BLACK: Well, let me begin, if I could, by telling our listeners that I’m very patriotic: I volunteered to join the Marines and I volunteered to go to Vietnam. I fought in the bloodiest Marine campaign of the entire war. And I was a helicopter pilot who flew 269 combat missions. My aircraft was hit by ground fire on four missions. I, then, fought on the ground with the First Marine Division, and during one of the 70 combat patrols that I made, my radioman were both killed, and I was wounded while we were attacking and trying to rescue a surrounded Marine outpost.
So I’m very pro-American. I actually was a part of NATO and was prepared to die in Germany, to defend against an attack by the Soviet Union. But Russia is not the Soviet Union at all. People don’t understand that because the media have not made it clear. But Russia is not a communist state; the Soviet Union was a communist state.
Now, one of the things that I’ve seen claimed, that has been particularly irritating to me because of my experience with Syria: I have I have been in Aleppo city. Aleppo city is the biggest city in Syria, or it was at least before the war began. And there was a tremendous battle. Some some call it the “Stalingrad of the Syrian war,” which is not a bad comparison. It was a terribly bitter battle that went on from 2012 until 2016. In the course of urban combat, any forces that are fighting are forced to destroy buildings. Buildings are blown down on a massive scale. And this happens any time that you have urban combat. So I have walked the streets of Aleppo, while combat was still in progress. I have looked across, through a slit in the sandbags at enemy controlled territory; I’ve stood on tanks that were blown out and this type of thing.
What I do know, and I can tell you about Aleppo is that Russia was extremely reluctant to get involved in combat in Syria. The war began in 2011, when the United States landed Central Intelligence operatives to begin coordinating with Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. And we had been unwavering supporters of Al Qaeda, since before the war formally began. We are supporters of Al Qaeda today, where they’re bottled up in Idlib province. The CIA supplied them under secret Operation Timber Sycamore. We gave them all of their anti-tank weapons, all of their anti air- missiles. And Al Qaeda has always been our proxy force on the ground. They, together with ISIS, have carried out the mission of the United States, together with a great number of affiliates that really are kind of interchangeable. You have the Free Syrian Army soldiers move from ISIS to Al Qaeda to Free Syrian Army, rather fluidly. And so we started that war.
But the United States has a strategic policy of using proxies to engage in war. And our objective was to overthrow the legitimate government of Syria, and in order to do that, we employed proxy soldiers who were the most vile of all terrorists. Something very similar is happening right now in in Ukraine.
But going back to Aleppo, the Syrian army, together with Hezbollah, which was very effective; there were some troops that were organized by Iran also, but it was pretty much a Syrian show, certainly directed by Syrian generals. And they had fought this bitter urban combat, very brutal, very deadly. And they had fought it for four years, before Russia ever joined the battle. So after four years, the city of Aleppo had enormous destruction. And at that point, the Russians, at the invitation of the legitimate government of Syria, entered the war. But unlike many of the media reports, they did not enter the war as a ground force. Now, they had some small ground forces. They had military police, they had a few artillery units, a few special operations people, and quite a number of advisers and that sort of thing. But they were not a significant ground force.
On the other hand, they were a significant and very effective air force, that supplemented the Syrian Air Force. But it really was just the last year of the war, the battle for Aleppo, just the last year, that they entered and their air power was very effective. And by this time, the Syrians had pretty well worn down the terrorist forces. And the Russian assistance was able to tip the balance, and Aleppo was the grand victory of the entire Syrian war.
But to blame the Russians for the massive destruction that took place within Aleppo, it’s bizarre: Because they were not there, they were not even present when this happened. So this is simply another part of the propaganda narrative, which is which hasbeen very effective for the West, demonizing Russia, and making claims that have no substance. But people don’t remember the history of these things—they’re rather complex. So, no: Russia was not in any respect responsible for the massive destruction of the city of Aleppo.
BILLINGTON: How would you contrast the methods of warfare followed by Russia, as opposed to the U.S. and allied forces in Syria?
BLACK: Well, first of all, the American involvement, the United States war against Syria is a war of aggression. We put a highly secretive CIA special activities center—these are kind of the James Bond guys of the Central Intelligence Agency, total Machiavellian; they will do anything, there’s no it’s no holds barred with these guys. We sent them in and we started the war in Syria. The war didn’t exist until we sent the CIA to coordinate with Al Qaeda elements. So we began the war and we were not invited into Syria.
The other thing we were able to do, is to seize the major part of the oil and natural gas fields. Those also were produced in that northern portion beyond the Euphrates River. And the idea was that, by stealing the oil and then the gas, we would be able to shut down the transportation system, and at the same time, during the Syrian winters, we could freeze to death the Syrian civilian population, which in many cases were living in rubble, where these terrorist armies, with mechanized divisions had attacked and just totally destroyed these cities, and left people just living in little pockets of rubble.
We wanted to starve and we wanted to freeze to death the people of Syria, and that was Plan B.
Now, we became frustrated at a certain point that somehow these Syrians, these darned Syrians—it’s a tiny little country, and why are these people resilient? They’re fighting against two-thirds of the entire military and industrial force of the world. How can a nation of 23 million people possibly withstand this for over a decade? And so we decided we had to take action or we were going totally lose Syria. And so the U.S. Congress imposed the Caesar sanctions. The Caesar sanctions were the most brutal sanctions ever imposed on any nation. During the Second World War, sanctions were not nearly as strict as they were on Syria.
We weren’t at war with Syria! And yet we had a naval blockade around the country. We devalued their currency through the SWIFT system for international payments, making it impossible for them to purchase medications. So you had Syrian women who would contract breast cancer, just like we have here in this country. But instead, where in this country where breast cancer has become relatively treatable, we cut off the medical supplies so that the women in Syria would die of breast cancer because they could not get the medications, because we slam their dollars through the SWIFT system.
One of the last things that we did and the evidence is vague on it, but there was a mysterious explosion in the harbor in Lebanon, and it was a massive explosion of a shipload of ammonium nitrate fertilizer. It killed hundreds of Lebanese people. It wounded thousands and thousands, destroyed the economy of Lebanon. And, most importantly, it destroyed the banking system of Lebanon, which was one of the few lifelines remaining to Syria. I don’t think that explosion was accidental. I think it was orchestrated, and I suspect that the Central Intelligence Agency was aware of the nation that carried out that action to destroy Beirut Harbor.
But throughout you see this this Machiavellian approach, where we use unlimited force and violence. And at the same time, we control the global media, to where we erase all discussions of what’s truly happening. So, to the man or the woman in the street, they think things are fine. Everything is being done for altruistic reasons, but it’s not.
BILLINGTON: Part of your military service was as a JAG officer, and for a period of time, you were the Army’s head of the criminal law division at the Pentagon. And in that light, what do you see as of how these Caesar sanctions—how would you look at those from the perspective of international law and military law?
BLACK: Well, now, I was not the international law expert. I was the criminal law expert. But I would say that making war on a civilian population is a crime of grave significance in the law of war. One of the things that we did as we as we allied ourselves with Al Qaeda, and on and off with ISIS; I mean, we fought ISIS in a very serious way, but at the same time, we often employed them to use against the Syrian government. So it’s kind of a love-hate. But we have always worked with the terrorists. They were the core.
One of the policies that was followed was that under this extreme version of Islam, this Wahhabism, there was this notion that you possess a woman that you seize with your strong right arm in battle. And this goes back to the seventh century. And so we facilitated the movement of Islamic terrorists from 100 countries, and they came and they joined ISIS, they joined Al Qaeda, they joined the Free Syrian Army, all of these different ones. And one of the things that they knew when they arrived is that they were lawfully entitled to murder the husbands—I’m not talking about military people, I’m talking about civilians—they could murder the husbands, they could kill them, and then they could possess and own their wives and their children. And they did it in vast numbers.
And so there was there was a campaign of rape, it was an organized campaign of rape across the nation of Syria. And there actually were slave markets that that arose in certain of these rebel areas where they actually had price lists of the different women. And interestingly, the highest prices went to the youngest children, because there were a great number of pedophiles. And the pedophiles wanted to possess small children, because under the laws that were applied, they were permitted to rape these children repeatedly. They were able to rape the widows of the slain soldiers or the slain civilians, and possess them and buy them and sell them among themselves. This went on. I’m not saying that the CIA created this policy, but they understood that it was a widespread policy, and they condoned it. They never criticized it in any way.
This was so bad, that I spoke with President Assad, who shared with me that they were in the process—when I visited in 2016; I was in a number of battle zones, and in the capital. And I met with the President, and he said that at that time, they were working on legislation in the parliament, to change the law of citizenship. They had always followed the Islamic law, which was that that a child citizenship derived from the father. But there were so many tens, hundreds of thousands of Syrian women impregnated by these terrorists who were imported into Syria, that it was necessary to change the law, so that they would have Syrian citizenship and they wouldn’t have to be returned to their ISIS father in Saudi Arabia, or in Tunisia. They could be retained in Syria. And I checked later and that law was passed and was implemented.
But it just shows the utter cruelty. When we fight these wars, we have no limits on the cruelty and the inhumanity that we’re prepared to impose on the people, making them suffer, so that somehow that will translate into overthrowing the government, and perhaps taking their oil, taking their resources.
BILLINGTON: Clearly, the policy against Russia today, by the current administration.
BLACK: Yes. Yes. You know, Russia is, perhaps more blessed with natural resources than any other nation on Earth. They are a major producer of grain, of oil, of aluminum, of fertilizers, of an immense number of things that tie into the whole global economy. And no doubt there are people who look at this and say, “if we could somehow break up Russia itself, there will be fortunes made, to where trillionaires will be made by the dozens.” And there’s some attraction to that. Certainly you’ve seen some of this taking place already, with foreign interests taking over Ukraine, and taking their vast resources.
But, we began a drive towards Russia, almost immediately after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. The Soviet Union dissolved, the Warsaw Pact dissolved. And unfortunately, one of the great tragedies of history is that we failed to dissolve NATO. The sole purpose of NATO was to defend against the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union no longer existed. NATO went toe toe with the Warsaw Pact. The Warsaw Pact was gone; it no longer existed. There was no purpose in NATO’s continuing to exist. However, we retained it, and it could not exist unless it had an enemy. Russia was desperate to become part of the West.
I met with the head of Gazprom, the largest corporation in Russia, And this was shortly after the demise of the Soviet Union, and he described for me how they were struggling to have their media be as free as it was in the West. And they perceived us as being much more free and open than we were. And he said, you know, we’ve got this problem because we have this uprising in Chechnya, which is part of Russia. And he said the Chechnyan rebels send videos to Russian television and we play them on Russian television, because that’s the way freedom of speech works. And I said, “Are you kidding me?” I said, “You’re publishing the enemy propaganda films?” He said, “Yeah.” He said, “Isn’t that the way you do it in the United States?” I said, “No. In the Second World War, we took the head of the Associated Press and we put him in charge of wartime censorship, and it was very strict.”
So but this is just an example of how they were struggling. They went from being an officially atheist country, to where they became the most Christianized major nation in Europe, by far. Not only were the people, the most Christianized people in any major country in Europe, but the government itself was very supportive of the church, of the Christian faith. They altered their Constitution to say that marriage was the union of one man and one woman. They became very restrictive on the practice of abortion. They ended the practice of overseas adoptions, where some people were going to Russia and adopting little boys for immoral purposes. So they became a totally different culture and.
In any event, the United States has this long-standing strategy, this political-military strategy, of expanding the empire. We did it in the Middle East, where we attempted to create a massive neocolonial empire. It’s it became rather frayed. The people did not want it. And it seems to be doomed to extinction sometime—but it may go on for another 100 years. But in any event, we are trying to do something similar, as we roll to the East, right up virtually to the Russian border.
BILLINGTON: So, the U.S. and U.K. position on the war in Ukraine, just over these last few weeks has now become not only supporting the war, but victory at all costs. This has been declared by Defense Secretary Austin and others. And they are pumping in huge quantities of not only defensive but offensive military weaponry to the Kyiv regime. What do you see as the consequence of this policy?
BLACK: I think one thing that it will do is it will ensure that a tremendous number of innocent Ukrainian soldiers will die needlessly. A lot of Russian soldiers will die needlessly. These are kids. You know, kids go off to war. I went off to war as a kid. You think your country, right or wrong, everything they’re doing is fine. It just it breaks my heart, when I look at the faces of young Russian boys, who have been who have been gunned down—in some cases very criminally by Ukrainian forces. And likewise, I see Ukrainian young men, who are being slaughtered on the battlefield.
We don’t care! The United States and NATO, we do not care how many Ukrainians die. Not civilians, not women, not children, not soldiers. We do not care. It’s become a great football game. You know, we’ve got our team. They’ve got their team, rah rah. We want to get the biggest score and run it up. And, you know, we don’t care how many how many of our players get crippled on the playing field, as long as we win.
Now, we are shipping fantastic quantities of weapons, and it’s caused the stock of Raytheon, which creates missiles, and Northrop Grumman, which creates aircraft and missiles, all of these defense industries have become tremendously bloated with tax dollars. I don’t think it’s ultimately going to change the outcome. I think that Russia will prevail. The Ukrainians are in a very awkward strategic position in the East. But if you look at the way that this unfolded, President Putin made a desperate effort to stop the march towards war back in December of 2021. He went so far as to put specific written proposals on the table with NATO, peace proposals to defuse what was coming about. Because at this point, Ukraine was massing troops to attack the Donbas. And so, he was trying to head this off. He didn’t want war. And NATO just blew it off, just dismissed it; never took it seriously, never went into serious negotiations.
At that point, Putin seeing that armed Ukrainians, with weapons to kill Russian troops were literally on their borders, decided he had to strike first. Now, you could see, that this was not this was not some preplanned attack. This was not like Hitler’s attack into Poland, where the standard rule of thumb, is that you always have a 3-to-1 advantage when you are the attacker. You have to mass three times as many tanks and artillery and planes and men, as the other side has. In fact, when Russia went in, they went in with what they had, what they could cobble together on short notice. And they were outnumbered by the Ukrainian forces. The Ukrainian forces had about 250,000. The Russians had perhaps 160,000. So instead of having three times as many, they actually had fewer troops than the Ukrainians. But they were forced to attack, to try to preempt the battle that was looming, where the Ukrainians had massed these forces against the Donbas.
Now, the Donbas is adjacent to Russia. It is a portion of Ukraine that did not join with the revolutionary government that conducted the coup in 2014 and overthrew the government of Ukraine. They refused to become a part of the new revolutionary government of Ukraine. And so they declared their independence. And Ukraine had massed this enormous army to attack against the Donbas. And so Russia was forced to go in to preempt that planned attack by Ukraine. And you could see that Russia very much hoped that they could conduct this special operation without unduly causing casualties for the Ukrainians, because they think of the Ukrainians, or at least they did think of the Ukrainians as brother Slavs; that they wanted to have good relations. But there is a famous picture with a Russian tank, that had been stopped by a gathering of maybe 40 civilians who just walked out in the road and blocked the road and the tank stopped. I can tell you, in Vietnam, if we had had a bunch of people who stood in the way of an American tank, going through, that tank would not have slowed down, in the slightest! It wouldn’t honk the horn, it wouldn’t have done anything; wouldn’t have fired a warning shot. It would have just gone on. And I think that’s more typical—I’m not I’m not criticizing the Americans. I was there and I was fighting, and I probably would have would have driven the tank straight through myself.
But what I’m saying is that the rules of engagement for the Russians were very, very cautious. They didn’t want to create a great deal of hatred and animosity. The Russians did not go in—they did not bomb the electrical system, the media systems, the water systems, the bridges and so forth. They tried to retain the infrastructure of Ukraine in good shape because they wanted it to get back. They just wanted this to be over with and get back to normal. It didn’t work. The Ukrainians, the resistance was unexpectedly hard. The Ukrainian soldiers fought with great, great valor, great heroism. And. And so now the game has been upped and it’s become much more serious.
But it is amazing to look and to see that Russia dominates the air. They haven’t knocked out the train systems. They haven’t knocked out power plants. They haven’t knocked out so many things. They’ve never bombed the buildings in the center of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine; they haven’t bombed the buildings where the parliament meets. They’ve been incredibly reserved about these things, hoping against hope that peace could be achieved. But I don’t think I don’t think Ukraine has anything to do with the decision about peace or war. I think the decision about peace or war is made in Washington, D.C. As long as we want the war to continue, we will fight that war, using Ukrainians as proxies, and we will fight it to the last Ukrainian death.
BILLINGTON: How do you project the potential of a war breaking out directly between the United States and Russia? And what would that be like?
BLACK: You know, if you go back to the First World War in 1914, you had the assassination of the Archduke of Austria-Hungary. He and his wife were killed. As a result of those two people being killed, you had a domino effect of all of these alliances, and anger, and media hysteria. And before it was over, I think it was 14 million people had been killed. It’s always hard to get true numbers, but anyway, it was an enormous number of millions of people who died as a result of that.
We need to recognize the risk of playing these games of chicken. Where, for example, the Turkish media just published an article saying that at Mariupol, where there was a great siege, that the Russians ultimately won. The one area they haven’t taken over is this tremendous steel plant. There are a lot of Ukrainian soldiers who are holed up there. And now it has come to light that apparently there are 50 French senior officers, who are trapped in that steel plant along with the Ukrainians. The French soldiers have been on the ground fighting, directing the battle. And this was kept under wraps, ultra-secret, because of the French elections that just occurred. Had the French people known that there were a large number of French officers trapped and probably going to die in that steel plant, the elections would have gone the other way: Marine Le Pen would have won. And so it was very important that for the entire deep state, that it not come to light that these French officers were there.
We know that there are NATO officers who are present on the ground in Ukraine as advisors and so forth. We run the risk. Now, my guess is—and this is this is a guess, I could be wrong—but the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Moskva, was sunk as a result of being struck by anti-ship missiles. My guess is that those missiles, I think there’s a good chance they were fired by the French. Now, I could be wrong, but those missiles are so ultra-sensitive and so dangerous to our ships, that I don’t think that NATO would trust the missiles to Ukrainians, or to anybody else. I think I think they have to be maintained under NATO control and operation. So I think that it was probably NATO forces that actually sunk the Moskva.
And you can see we’re taking these very reckless actions, and each time we sort of up the ante—I happen to be a Republican—but we have two Republican U.S. senators who have said that, “well, we might just need to use nuclear weapons against Russia.” That is insane. I think it’s important that people begin to discuss what a thermonuclear war would mean.
Now, we need to understand, we think, “oh, we’re big, and we’re bad, and we have all this stuff.” Russia is roughly comparable to the United States in nuclear power. They have hypersonic missiles, that we do not have. They can absolutely evade any timely detection, and they can fire missiles from Russia and reach San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City.
And if you think about just Virginia, where I happen to live, if there were a nuclear war—and keep in mind, they also have a very large and effective fleet of nuclear submarines that lie off the coast of the United States. They have a great number of nuclear-tipped missiles, and they can evade any defenses we have. So just in Virginia, if you look at it, all of Northern Virginia would be essentially annihilated. There would hardly be any human life remaining in Loudoun County, Prince William County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria. The Pentagon lies in in Arlington County: The Pentagon would simply be a glowing mass of molten sand. There would be no human life there. And there would be no human life for many miles around it. Just across the Potomac, the nation’s capital, there would be no life remaining in the nation’s capital. The Capitol building would disappear forever. All of the monuments, all of these glorious things—nothing would remain.
If you go to the coast of Virginia, you have the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, you have the Port of Norfolk. You have you have the greatest accumulation of naval power on the face of the Earth. This is where we park all of our aircraft carriers, our nuclear submarines, all of those things. There would be nothing remaining. There would be nothing remaining of any of those shipping industries there.
And you can carry this on. You talk about New York City, probably New York City itself, not only would everybody be killed, but it would probably be impossible for people to inhabit New York City for hundreds of years afterwards. But not only would it cease to be a place of vibrant human life, but probably going out for maybe half a millennium, it would not recover any sort of civilization.
We need to understand the gravity of what we’re doing. Perhaps if it were a matter of life and death for the United States, what happens in Ukraine, that would be one thing. Certainly when the Soviet Union put missiles in Cuba, that targeted the United States, that was worth taking the risk, because it was right on our border and it threatened us. And it was it was a battle worth fighting for and a risk worth taking. The Russians are in this in exactly the mirror image of that situation, because for them, the life of Russia depends on stopping NATO from advancing further right into Ukraine, right to their borders. They cannot afford not to fight this war. They cannot afford not to win this war.
So I think, toying with this constant escalation in a war that, really, in a place that has no significance to Americans—Ukraine is meaningless to Americans; it has no impact on our day-to-day lives. And yet we’re playing this reckless game that risks the lives of all people in the United States and Western Europe for nothing! Just absolutely for nothing!
BILLINGTON: Many flag grade officers certainly understand the consequences that you just described in a rather hair-raising way. Why is it that, while there are some generals speaking out in Italy, in France, in Germany, warning that we are pursuing a course that could lead to nuclear war, why are there not such voices from flag grade officers—retired, perhaps—saying what you’re saying here today?
BLACK: You know, there’s been a tremendous deterioration in the quality of flag officers, going back to, well, certainly the 1990s. We had very, very fine flag officers, during the time I was on active duty—I left in ‘94—just superior quality people. But what happened is, subsequently, we had President Clinton take over, later, we had Obama. We’ve got Biden now. And they apply a very strict political screen to their military officers. And we now have “yes men.” These are not people whose principal devotion is to the United States and its people. Their principal devotion is to their careers and their ability to network with other military officers upon retirement. There’s a very strong network that can place military generals into think tanks, where they promote war, into organizations like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, and all of these defense operations, where they can get on boards and things like that. So there’s quite a personal price that you pay for saying, “Hey, stop. War is not in the interests of the American people.” If we had a better quality of individual, we would have people with the courage who would say, “I don’t care what it costs me personally.” But it is very difficult to get into the senior ranks, if you are an individual guided by principle, and patriotism, and devotion to the people of this nation. That’s just not how it works. And at some point, we need a President who will go in and shake the tree, and bring a lot of these people falling down from it, because they’re dangerous. They’re very dangerous to America.
BILLINGTON: Helga Zepp-LaRouche and the Schiller Institute have a petition — and we held a conference on April 9th on the same theme — that the only way to really stop this descent into hell and into potential nuclear holocaust is for a new Peace of Westphalia. In this case, an international conference to secure a new security architecture and a new development architecture, the right to development for all countries. And like the Peace of Westphalia, one in which all sides sit down together, recognize their interests, their sovereign interests, as including the sovereign interests of the others, and forgiving all past crimes. Anything short of that is going to keep this division of the world into warring blocs. Just like I asked what’s keeping the generals from speaking out, why, and what will it take, to get Americans to recognize that we can and must sit down with Russians, and with Chinese, and with all other nations and establish a true, just world based on the dignity of man and the right to development and security?
BLACK: I think, unfortunately, there’s going to have to be enormous pain to drive that, just as there was with the Peace of Westphalia. A nuclear war would do it; an economic cataclysm of unprecedented proportions, resulting from the unbridled printing of money that we’ve engaged in over the last 20 years, there are things that could bring it about. But at this point, the media have been so totally censored and so biased that the American people really don’t have a perception of the need for anything of that sort. It’s going to be difficult.
You know, here’s something that’s interesting that has happened. Here in this country, you would think the entire world is against Russia. It’s not. In fact, there are major countries of the world that lean towards Russia in this war, starting with China, but then Brazil, you’ve got South Africa, Saudi Arabia—a wide array of countries. India. India is tremendously supportive of Russia. The idea that somehow we have this enormously just cause, it doesn’t strike a great deal of the world that it is just, and much of the world does not accept the latest propaganda about war crimes: this thing about Bucha. That’s probably the most prominent of all the war crimes discussions. And what was Bucha? There was a film taken of a vehicle driving down the road in Bucha, which had been recaptured from the Russians. And every hundred feet or so there was some person with his hands, zip tied behind his back, and he’d been killed. It was not announced until four days after the Ukrainians had retaken Bucha.
Now, we knew almost nothing about it. We actually didn’t even have proof that people had been killed. But assuming they had, we didn’t know where they had been killed. We did not know who they were. We did not know who killed them. We did not know why they were killed. No one could provide an adequate motive for the Russians to have killed them. The Russians held Bucha for a month. If they were going to kill them, why didn’t they kill them during that month? And if you’re going to slaughter a bunch of people, wouldn’t they all be in one place and wouldn’t you gun them all down there? Why would they be distributed along a roadside, a mile along the way? It makes no sense!
What we do know is that four days after the mayor of Bucha joyously announced that the city was liberated, four days after the Ukrainian army had moved in, and their special propaganda arm of the Ukrainian military were there, all of a sudden there were these dead people on the road. How come they weren’t there when the Russians were there? How come they only appeared after the Russians were gone?
If I were looking at it as simply a standard criminal case, and I was talking to Criminal Investigation Division or the FBI, or military police or something, I’d say, “OK, the first thing, let’s take a look at the Ukrainians.” My guess would be, and you start with a hunch when you’re investigating a crime—my hunch is that the Ukrainians killed off these people after they moved in, and after they looked around, and said, “OK, who was friendly towards the Russian troops while the Russians were here? We’re going to execute them.” That would be my guess. Because I don’t see any motive for the Russians to have just killed a few people on their way out of town.
And nobody questions this, because the corporate media are so monolithic. We know for a fact, from the mouth of the head of a Ukrainian hospital, the guy who ran the hospital, he boasted that he had given strict orders to all of his doctors, that when wounded Russian POWs, when casualties were brought in, they were to be castrated. Now, this is a horrific war crime, admitted from the mouth of the hospital administrator, and the Ukrainian government said, “we’ll kind of look into that,” Like it’s no big thing. I can’t think of a more horrific, horrific war crime, ever. Where did you hear about it, on ABC and MSNBC and CNN and FOX News? Not a whisper. And yet the proof is undeniable. We had another clip where there was a POW gathering point, where the Ukrainians would bring POWs to a central point for processing—and this is about a seven-minute video—and the Ukrainian soldiers simply gunned them all down. And they had probably 30 of these wounded Russian soldiers lying on the ground, some of them clearly dying from their wounds. Some of them, they put plastic bags over their heads. Now, these are these are guys who are laying there, sometimes fatally wounded with their hands zip-tied behind their backs, and they’ve got plastic bags over their heads, making it difficult to breathe. And because they can’t raise their hands, they can’t take the bags off, so that they can breathe. At the end of the video, the Ukrainians bring in a van, and there are three unwounded Russian POWs. Without the slightest thought or hesitation, as the three come off, and their hands are bound behind their backs, they gunned down two of them, right on camera and they fall over. And the third one gets on his knees, and begs that they won’t hurt him. And then they gun him down! These are crimes. And these were not refuted by the Ukrainian government. But you’d never even know that they occurred! So far, I will tell you that the only proven—I’m not saying that there aren’t war crimes happening on both sides. I’m just telling you, that the only ones where I have seen, fairly irrefutable proof of war crimes, have been on the Ukrainian side.
Now, often you hear it said, well, the Russians have destroyed this or destroyed that. Well, I’ve got to tell you, you go back to the wars that we fought when we invaded Iraq, the “Shock and Awe,” we destroyed virtually everything in Iraq, everything of significance. We bombed military and civilian targets without much discrimination. The coalition flew 100,000 sorties in 42 days. You compare that to the Russians, who have only flown 8,000 sorties in about the same period of time. 100,000 American sorties versus 8,000, in about the same time. I think the Russians have tended to be more selective. Whereas we went out — the philosophy of Shock and Awe is that you destroy everything that is needed to sustain human life and for a city to function. You knock out the water supply, the electrical supply, the heat, the oil, the gasoline; so that you knock out all of the major bridges. And then you just continue to destroy everything.
So it’s really ironic. And keep in mind, Iraq is a relatively small country. Ukraine is a huge country. 100,000 sorties in 42 days, 8,000 sorties in about the same time. A tremendous difference in violence between what we did in Iraq, and what they have done in Ukraine. So there’s simply no credibility when you actually get down to the facts and you look at the way that the war has been conducted.
BILLINGTON: Well. Senator Black, Colonel Black. I think the way you have described the horror that’s already taking place, and considering that we can’t wait for a nuclear war to provoke a new a Peace of Westphalia, I would suggest that what you have described is already horrific enough. And when combined with the hyperinflationary breakdown now sweeping the Western world, with everybody being affected, we believe that we have to take that as the adequate horror, and a recognition of a descent into a dark age, to motivate citizens in Europe, in the United States.
We are finding that there is a waking up of people who have not wanted to look at their responsibility to the human race as a whole in the past, but who now are forced to consider that, which is the basis on which we’ve called for this, in this petition, for an international conference of all nations, with the U.S., Russia, China, India and so forth, sitting down to end this horror; but to also bring about a true peace for mankind and an era of peace through development. And we thank you for giving this breath of ugly truth to a population which needs to hear it. If you have any final thoughts, I ask you to give your final greetings.
BLACK: I’ll just add one thing, and I thank the Schiller Institute for the tremendous effort that you’ve made towards achieving world peace. It is one of the most important efforts ever made, and I certainly applaud that. If you look at Russia, the Russian troops that went into battle in Ukraine, for the most part had never experienced combat. This is a peacetime army. Russia doesn’t fight overseas wars. Syria is the only significant overseas engagement that they have had. You compare that with the United States, where literally speaking, if a soldier retires today after a 30-year career in the military, he will not have served a single day when the United States was at peace. Kind of an amazing thing. And you contrast that with the Russian military, where, with few exceptions, the country has been at peace.
So we really need to start thinking about peace and about the limits of warfare, this idea that somehow we need a zero sum game where we take from you and that enhances us. We’re in a world where everyone can gain and prosper by peace. But I’m concerned that the hyperinflation may be the wake-up call that jolts the world into a recognition that we must have a new paradigm for the future, and I think the Peace of Westphalia at that point might become a possibility. So thank you again for the opportunity to be here. There’s always hope and I think there’ll be good things in the future, with the blessings of God.
1) There is zero persuasive evidence that NATO soldiers, weaponry, training, logistics, and command are superior to that of the Russians.
2) Sufficient NATO forces could NEVER be assembled, equipped, and sustained to defeat the Russians in their own backyard.
3) The very attempt to concentrate sufficient US forces in the region in order to take on the Russians would very likely result in the disintegration of the global American Empire and its massive network of overseas bases – thereby rapidly accelerating the already-in-progress transition to a multipolar world.
“Overwhelming American air power alone would devastate Russian military capabilities in a matter of days; a couple weeks at most.”
People neglect to consider the fact that US forces are dispersed all around the world, in over 750 foreign bases of varying sizes and strategic importance.
- Yuan-ruble trading volumes have surged 1,067% since Russian invaded Ukraine in February, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
- The jump in yuan-ruble trading is one of a number of signs of China and Russia strengthening their ties.
- The two countries signed a "no limits" friendship deal in February as they looked to reduce the power of the US.
- Russia and China are developing a new reserve currency with other BRICS countries, President Vladimir Putin said.
- The basket currency would rival a US-dominated IMF alternative and let Russia widen its influence, an analyst said.
- The dollar's dominance is already eroding as central banks diversify into the Chinese yuan and smaller currencies.
The unprecedented shift has placed an ever greater number of soldiers, civilians, and contractors working under false identities, partly as a natural result in the growth of secret special forces but also as an intentional response to the challenges of traveling and operating in an increasingly transparent world. The explosion of Pentagon cyber warfare, moreover, has led to thousands of spies who carry out their day-to-day work in various made-up personas, the very type of nefarious operations the United States decries when Russian and Chinese spies do the same.
Newsweek's exclusive report on this secret world is the result of a two-year investigation involving the examination of over 600 resumes and 1,000 job postings, dozens of Freedom of Information Act requests, and scores of interviews with participants and defense decision-makers. What emerges is a window into not just a little-known sector of the American military, but also a completely unregulated practice. No one knows the program's total size, and the explosion of signature reduction has never been examined for its impact on military policies and culture. Congress has never held a hearing on the subject. And yet the military developing this gigantic clandestine force challenges U.S. laws, the Geneva Conventions, the code of military conduct and basic accountability.
The signature reduction effort engages some 130 private companies to administer the new clandestine world. Dozens of little known and secret government organizations support the program, doling out classified contracts and overseeing publicly unacknowledged operations. Altogether the companies pull in over $900 million annually to service the clandestine force—doing everything from creating false documentation and paying the bills (and taxes) of individuals operating under assumed names, to manufacturing disguises and other devices to thwart detection and identification, to building invisible devices to photograph and listen in on activity in the most remote corners of the Middle East and Africa.
Special operations forces constitute over half the entire signature reduction force, the shadow warriors who pursue terrorists in war zones from Pakistan to West Africa but also increasingly work in unacknowledged hot spots, including behind enemy lines in places like North Korea and Iran. Military intelligence specialists—collectors, counter-intelligence agents, even linguists—make up the second largest element: thousands deployed at any one time with some degree of "cover" to protect their true identities.
The newest and fastest growing group is the clandestine army that never leaves their keyboards. These are the cutting-edge cyber fighters and intelligence collectors who assume false personas online, employing "nonattribution" and "misattribution" techniques to hide the who and the where of their online presence while they search for high-value targets and collect what is called "publicly accessible information"—or even engage in campaigns to influence and manipulate social media. Hundreds work in and for the NSA, but over the past five years, every military intelligence and special operations unit has developed some kind of "web" operations cell that both collects intelligence and tends to the operational security of its very activities.
In the electronic era, a major task of signature reduction is keeping all of the organizations and people, even the automobiles and aircraft involved in the clandestine operations, masked. This protective effort entails everything from scrubbing the Internet of telltale signs of true identities to planting false information to protect missions and people. As standard unforgettable identification and biometrics have become worldwide norms, the signature reduction industry also works to figure out ways of spoofing and defeating everything from fingerprinting and facial recognition at border crossings, to ensuring that undercover operatives can enter and operate in the United States, manipulating official records to ensure that false identities match up.
Just as biometrics and "Real ID" are the enemies of clandestine work, so too is the "digital exhaust" of online life. One major concern of counter-terrorism work in the ISIS age is that military families are also vulnerable—another reason, participants say, to operate under false identities. The abundance of online information about individuals (together with some spectacular foreign hacks) has enabled foreign intelligence services to better unmask fake identities of American spies. Signature reduction is thus at the center of not only counter-terrorism but is part of the Pentagon's shift towards great power competition with Russia and China—competition, influence, and disruption "below the level of armed conflict," or what the military calls warfare in the "Gray Zone," a space "in the peace-conflict continuum."
One recently retired senior officer responsible for overseeing signature reduction and super-secret "special access programs" that shield them from scrutiny and compromise says that no one is fully aware of the extent of the program, nor has much consideration been given to the implications for the military institution. "Everything from the status of the Geneva Conventions—were a soldier operating under false identity to be captured by an enemy—to Congressional oversight is problematic," he says. He worries that the desire to become more invisible to the enemy not just obscures what the United States is doing around the world but also makes it more difficult to bring conflicts to a close. "Most people haven't even heard of the term signature reduction let alone what it creates," he says. The officer spoke on condition of anonymity because he is discussing highly classified matters.
The growing political feud between Russia and the West has spurred the activation of specialized propaganda and intelligence units. With regards to the Ukraine crisis, experts say one of the most active parties has been the United Kingdom, which in recent years has stepped up its efforts to demonize Russia by waging a full-scale propaganda war. As an RT analysis has shown, Britain’s 'HMG Russia Unit,' an interdepartmental government organization created several years ago, has acted as a front for soft influence operations against Moscow with the assistance of international consulting organizations.
Up until now, the activities of the operation had not been publicly visible. However, last month publications containing its employees’ personal information appeared in a number of Russian Telegram channels. It is alleged that the email addresses included in these posts belong to employees of the HMG Russia Unit who are also connected to various other UK government departments, including the Cabinet Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, military intelligence, MI5, and the Ministry of Defence, as well as American curators attached to the group.
To begin with, let’s explain how a group specifically targeting Russia appeared within the British government, what its purpose is, and what it does.
“The government has long recognized the presence of a sustained and significant threat from Russia to the UK and its allies, including both conventional military capabilities and disinformation, illegal financial transactions, influence operations, and cyber-attacks,” said a report submitted to parliament by the Office of the British Prime Minister in 2020.
For the British government, Russia has become “one of the main priorities from the point of view of national security,” it adds.
“This is why in 2017 the Government implemented the NSC-endorsed (National Security Council — RT) Russia Strategy, and in 2017 established the cross-Government Russia Unit which brings together the UK’s diplomatic, intelligence and military capabilities to maximum effect,” the report goes on to say.
According to the British government’s own reports, the HMG Russia Unit, which was formally attached to the UK Foreign Office, was primarily tasked with coordinating information and propaganda campaigns aimed against Russia. This can be traced from data released by the British government and, in particular, from a large-scale program financed by the UK Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) that was carried out by the Foreign Office up until 2021 to develop media resources, including in Russian, and so-called "counter disinformation."
The program notes that the United Kingdom is working with a number of partners to improve the quality of public and independent media resources, including Russian-speaking ones, so they can “support social cohesion, uphold universal values and provide communities in countries across Eastern Europe with access to reliable information.”
The forms of support vary. They include, for example, mentoring by British media staff, consultations on creating broadcast networks, financing of joint productions, and support for regional media projects in Russian.
“In the coming year we will be investing over £8m in supporting public service and independent media. This will include projects in the Baltic States and Ukraine, as well as regional initiatives,” according to a document published by the UK government.
Contract for demonization
However, the HMG Russia Unit’s efforts are not limited to coordinating propaganda efforts. From data on the UK government’s public procurement portal, it can be seen that it has served as a customer for the Green Finance initiative – a British-Russian project aimed at promoting sustainable financing for developing institutional ties between Moscow and London in the environmental and economic spheres. The final date for fulfilling the contract is March 31, 2022. If we analyze the UK government’s funding allocations targeting Russia, it turns out that in addition to PwC, Moody’s Analytics (a Moody’s subsidiary) received funds through a specialized non-profit entity named UK Research and Innovation as part of a contract to track companies and individuals that have been sanctioned over the Ukraine conflict. The relevant restrictions are noted on a portal for the placement of UK government contracts.
The involvement of private international consulting companies in promoting the UK agenda with respect to Russia, as well as the post-Soviet space, logically correlates with the HMG Russia Unit’s involvement in large-scale projects to demonize Russia’s image. In this regard, there is a noteworthy letter dated February 7, 2019, addressed to the British investigative journalist Till Bruckner, who had requested data on the activities of the Integrity Initiative from the British Foreign Office. It states that in 2017-2018, £296,500 was earmarked to finance the project, and an additional £1.961 million in 2019.
A response to the journalist’s request was received from the HMG Russia Unit. The Integrity Initiative has been flagged as one of Britain’s main programs responsible for spreading anti-Russia fakes and waging a propaganda war against Moscow. At the same time, as RT noted back in 2018, the hacker collective Anonymous published internal documents from the Integrity Initiative that revealed the mechanisms British media networks employ in their subversive work aimed at Russia.
British influence networks initially set a certain standard for the West’s anti-Russian template, Alexey Martynov, a political scientist who heads the Institute of Newly Established States, said in an interview with RT. The academic noted that using private consulting companies and rating agencies as tools to influence Russia was a ‘soft power’ tactic traditionally employed by specialized British agencies.
“Any rating agency is created as a tool for manipulating media flows, and other business dimensions grow out of this. They also have access to domestic statistics that are not available to the public,” the political scientist said. “These mechanisms have been tested since the 1990s, when all data was opened to foreign ‘partners’. Then these mechanisms were created – it is important to have a high ranking with rating agencies, otherwise you won’t receive loans.”
The UK continues to ramp up its sanctions against Russia. In May, it announced another package of restrictive measures, adding more individuals and legal entities from Russia to the list and planning to ban imports of Russian oil. In April, London also banned the import of Russian silver, caviar, and wood products.
The Central Intelligence Agency is operating in Kyiv and has been for some time, according to new reporting by the New York Times. So, while Biden has insisted on “no U.S. boots on the ground” in Ukraine, there are soft-soled operatives, otherwise known as American spies, providing intelligence and other tactical assistance to Ukraine in its war with Russia. Sounds like Americans are in this war, like it or not. The news, based on sourcing from current and former U.S. government officials, is part of a broader report about a “stealthy network” of U.S. and European commandos and spies in “cells” run by the Pentagon’s European Command “to speed allied assistance to Ukrainian troops.” Much of this is operating from military bases in France and Germany and elsewhere. But as the NYT points out, there are European commandos and CIA agents working on the inside.
The commandos are not on the front lines with Ukrainian troops and instead advise from headquarters in other parts of the country or remotely by encrypted communications, according to American and other Western officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters. But the signs of their stealthy logistics, training and intelligence support are tangible on the battlefield. Several lower-level Ukrainian commanders recently expressed appreciation to the United States for intelligence gleaned from satellite imagery, which they can call up on tablet computers provided by the allies. The tablets run a battlefield mapping app that the Ukrainians use to target and attack Russian troops.
As usual it appears that the administration wants to have it both ways: assure the American people that it is being “restrained” and that we are not “at war” with the Russians, but doing everything but planting a U.S. soldier and a flag inside Ukraine. The CIA, as you will recall, has increasingly had an operational combat focus since 9/11, running elaborate secret prisons overseas, engaging in enhanced interrogations (torture) and manhunting with armed drones and commando teams over the last 20 years. There may be a sliver of daylight between the CIA operatives there today and the U.S. special forces that left Ukraine after Russia invaded, but given the circumstances, is it a meaningful one? Is it all about who is pulling the trigger? The Russians may not see the distinction and consider this news as further evidence that their war is more with Washington and NATO than with Ukraine. For this and other reasons the NYT report has sparked a heated debate on social media.
What possible value add could the public bring to the debate? They don’t have access to the details or the situational awareness.
— John Sipher (@john_sipher) June 26, 2022
Heer, who is a writer for The Nation, responded to Sipher by saying that military decisions are “subject to civilian oversight,” to which Sipher, whose Twitter profile says he is at the Atlantic Council and is “former CIA Clandestine Service,” quipped, that’s to be done “through elected representatives.”
Right. And I have a bridge to sell you in Fallujah. Perhaps two percent of Congress through the House and Senate intelligence committees is aware the CIA is operating in Kyiv but like everything — from the 20-year war in Afghanistan to specific operations like the assassination of Qasem Soleimani in 2020 — the whole process has a whiff of retroactive rubberstamping with no room (or interest) for debate in Congress. Operational secrecy and security are no doubt the fig leaf, but when we’re not supposed to be in a war we aren’t supposed to be in a war, right?
“I don’t think people realize that right now the spigot from Congress is fully open. Money, weps, intel, whatever they need,” tweeted Jack Murphy, journalist and Iraq/Afghanistan vet. “The American public is not being appropriately informed about what our government is up to as basically every single op DOD/CIA proposes is getting the green light.”
But then again the CIA acted with impunity through much of its formative years, and it wasn’t until the Church Committee brought all the nastiness to light in the 1970s that the American public was made aware of it. Still, the agency continued to fight bloody proxy wars in places like El Salvador and Nicaragua — and let’s not forget Afghanistan in the 1980s. Are we to believe that there is any more stringent oversight today? Which brings us to the million dollar question — what do we expect to come from this particular (proxy war) for which the U.S. is engaged well beyond just sending assistance? My Quincy Institute colleague George Beebe, who spent years engaged in Russia analysis for the CIA, wonders if Washington even knows how far it is going here.
“This is reminiscent of the ‘sunk cost’ phenomenon that caused Washington to increase its involvement in Vietnam from a handful of advisors to half a million troops in direct combat,” he tells me. “In the face of growing Russian success in taking the Donbass, we are doubling down on even more economic sanctions on Russia and deeper U.S. and NATO support for Ukraine. How this is supposed to produce anything beyond an ongoing and very volatile stalemate is very unclear. We seem to have no viable exit plan.” If history is any guide, we won’t have one, until it’s too late.
The evening news programs of the three dominant U.S. television networks devoted more coverage to the war in Ukraine last month than in any other month during all wars, including those in which the U.S. military was directly engaged, since the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq, according to the authoritative Tyndall Report. The only exception was the last war in which U.S. forces participated in Europe, the 1999 Kosovo campaign. Combined, the three networks — ABC, CBS, and NBC — devoted 562 minutes to the first full month of the war in Ukraine. That was more time than in the first month of the U.S. invasion of Panama in December 1989 (240 mins), its intervention in Somalia in 1992 (423 mins), and even the first month of its invasion of Afghanistan in November 2001 (306 minutes), according to a commentary published Thursday by Andrew Tyndall, who has monitored and coded the three networks’ nightly news each weekday since 1988.
“Astonishingly, the two peak months of coverage of the  Iraq war each saw less saturated coverage than last month in Ukraine (414 minutes in March of 2003 and 455 minutes in April),” he wrote. “…The only three months of war coverage in the last 35 years that have been more intensive than last month were Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 (1,208 minutes) and his subsequent removal in January and February 1991 (1,177 and 1,033 minutes respectively).”
That was at a time, however, when the network evening news devoted about a third more time to foreign news than it has in recent years when international news coverage has fallen to all-time lows. Last month’s coverage of Ukraine even eclipsed by a wide margin the three networks’ coverage of the chaotic end of Washington’s 20-year war in Afghanistan last summer. Last August, the month with the most intense coverage, the three networks devoted a total of 345 minutes (or only about 60 percent of last month’s total Ukraine coverage) to the war’s abrupt denouement. Once U.S. forces had fully withdrawn by August 31, network coverage of Afghanistan fell precipitously to a total of just 103 minutes between September 1 and the end of year, despite the desperation of the country’s humanitarian situation that followed (and persists).
While the major cable news networks often receive more public attention, the evening news shows of ABC, CBS, and NBC collectively remain the single most important source of international news in the United States.
On weekday evenings, an average of some 20 million U.S. viewers tune in to national news programs on one or more of the three networks. That’s roughly four times the number of people who rely on the major cable stations — Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN — for their news during prime time. About two million more people watch the network news via the internet, according to Tyndall. The actual news content on each network runs about 22 minutes; in March, the total number of minutes of content for all three weekday evening news shows would have reached around 1500 minutes.
Historically, the amount of news coverage devoted to foreign wars has been positively correlated with the direct involvement of the U.S. military. “Normal expectations are that wars are always more newsworthy in America when American lives are at risk,” according to Tyndall, who noted that the only war in the last several decades to which the networks devoted as much time in one month as last month’s total coverage of Ukraine was in Kosovo in April 1999 (565 minutes) when U.S. aircraft led NATO’s bombing campaign against Serbia.
But the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began in late February, “has overturned all normal patterns of journalistic response,” according to Tyndall. He gave most of the credit to the leadership and media savvy of President Volodymyr Zelensky who has largely controlled the narrative conveyed to Americans via the networks.
“It is a demonstration of Zelensky’s perceived newsworthiness that both ABC World News tonight and NBC Nightly News decided to assign their anchors to an extended interview with him, despite the fact that he would not be speaking English, meaning that the audio would consist of the stilted tones of a simultaneous translator,” Tyndall observed.
It also helped that “the overall structure of the coverage has been Kyiv-based,” in part due to Russia’s enactment of strict censorship coverage that, among other things, made it much more difficult to cover Moscow’s views. “Yet, more unusual for the American news media, there has been precious little coverage from Washington,” Tyndall observed. “Normally in a war in which the United States is not involved, it would be the default position of the American news media to search for a fair-and-balanced way to present both sides of the conflict. It is to Zelensky’s credit that, this time, the networks had no problem seeing the conflict from his point of view.”
This has extended even to the networks’ treatment of the refugee crisis provoked by the Russian invasion. “Normally, refugees are a seen-from-both-sides problem: desperate Syrians, or Haitians, or Central Americans clamoring at a border for humanitarian relief — and immigration officials at checkpoints guarding against an untrammeled influx that might overwhelm the host country,” according to Tyndall. “In this case, …there was no doubt that these refugees, mostly women and children and the elderly, were on a righteous ‘unarmed road of flight,’ as the bard puts it.”
The fact that all three networks sent their anchors to Lviv or Poland to cover the displaced and the refugees underlined both the importance of the story and the side that they were effectively taking, according to Tyndall. In stressing the importance of Zelinsky’s own role, Tyndall noted that last month’s intensity of coverage is not explained by the uniqueness or importance to U.S. national security of Ukraine itself. In all of 2014, when both the pro-Moscow government in Kyiv was ousted and Moscow invaded and annexed Crimea and aided secessionist forces in the Donbas, the three networks devoted a total of 392 minutes, or an average of just over 32 minutes a month. Of course, that invasion resulted in U.S. and Western sanctions against Russia that set relations on a downward trajectory from which they have never recovered.
The networks’ fixation with Ukraine essentially filled to overflowing the “news hole” for international news. Only short snippets, including North Korean missile tests, the China East airliner crash, U.S.-China talks (which also centered around Ukraine), and Venezuela’s release of two U.S. oil executives were mentioned by one or more of the networks during the month. The economic situation in Russia itself, as well as the sanctions levied against Moscow and the country’s oligarchs — both of which were directly related to Ukraine in any event — were also the subject of discrete stories. The Ukraine coverage in March also crowded out the latest developments in the devastating humanitarian crises caused by Afghanistan’s collapsed economy and the ongoing wars in Yemen and Ethiopia.
The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) awarded Black & Veatch Special Projects Corp. an $80 million contract under the Biological Threat Reduction Program (BTRP) in Ukraine in 2020.
Pentagon contractors given full access to Ukrainian biolabs
German-Ukrainian project on bird flu
The break-up of the United Arab Republic between Egypt and Syria in 1961, the unification of Vietnam in 1975, and Germany in 1871 and 1990 all had regional strategic implications. The Soviet Union constituted 15 percent of the world’s land surface before its disintegration, which led to the creation of fifteen new nation-states and a spate of continental-scale geopolitical challenges. Irredentism in the Caucasus has become the battleground between Russian, Turkish, Iranian, and Western interests. Central Asia has overlapping spheres of Russian and Chinese influence and is threatened by militant Takfirism. Russian irredentism remains an issue in the Baltic States, Ukraine, and Moldova in Europe, and Kazakhstan in Central Asia. In comparison, Russia possesses 11 percent of the world’s terrestrial surface, including much of the northern Eurasian landmass that is favored to become productive with global climate change, and it shares a vulnerable common border with the world’s emerging Eurasian power, Communist China.
Russia is more ethnically and linguistically homogeneous than the Soviet Union, with 78 percent of its population being of Russian ethnic origin, and is therefore unlikely to unravel as calamitously as the USSR. Though Turkic peoples account for 9 percent of the population (principally the Tartars at 4 percent, and Bakshir and Chuvash at one percent each, followed by lesser-sized communities), their variations in language and religion make their combined secession unlikely. Furthermore, Turkic peoples are concentrated in the south of the Ural Mountains in the interior of European Russia, rather than on an easily detachable periphery. In contrast, the Caucasus contains geographically coherent communities of 1.5 million Chechens, almost a million each of Avars and Mordvins, and four other communities of approximately half a million. Independence plebiscites would be irresistible in a newly liberal Moscow, but the significant Azeri population in Dagestan would quickly lead to pervasive ethnic conflict, there and in every neighboring independent territory. These developments would lead to inroads by Turkey and Iran.
In the Far East, Russian demographic preponderance is sufficient to counter any independence drive. Sakha (2 percent of the world’s total land area) is evenly divided between a million Russian and Yakut people. Buryat has a similar distribution. Neither of these communities is susceptible to non-Russian ethnic incitement, given their integration. However, revolutionary transformations of government, even if they are not accompanied by uprisings, can have dramatically paralyzing effects on a state’s integrity and security. The August 1991 KGB coup against Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev led to the cascade and generally unforeseen collapse of the USSR. If an umbrella revolution in Moscow causes Russia to become as politically irresolute as the USSR was during the breakup of the Warsaw Pact, distant Russian territory may become indefensible. It is almost certain that Chechnya will promptly declare itself independent under these circumstances, as it did in 1991.
Russia’s Far Eastern territories are thinly populated, with only six million persons living East of Irkutsk, a 25 percent drop since 2000. China has a significant historical and resource incentive to reclaim the territories north of the Amur and Ussuri Rivers, ceded by the Manchu Empire to Russia in 1860. Russian weakness in the Far East could lead to a cascade of Chinese interventions into Mongolia, as well as in the Buryat and Sakha territories.
There is a Western precedent for intervention in Siberia. In August 1918, American, Japanese, British, Indian, Canadian, Australian, and Chinese troops landed at Vladivostok, some advancing to Irkutsk along the Trans-Siberian railway, largely to counter Japanese expansion there. A contemporary intervention would be very difficult to carry out from the sea given the proximity to Chinese air interdiction, but there are rudimentary ports whose approaches are under the cover of Japanese airbases on Hokkaido Island. Along the Primorsky Krai coast, these include Rudnaya and Svetlaya, and along the Khabarovsk Krai, there is De Kastri, Vanino, and Nikolayevks-on-Amur. If the Amur region were to fall to a Chinese incursion, Russia can maintain resistance at Yakutsk through its rail links to Irkutsk. Western forces could also secure Sakhalin Island as well, or land at Magadan in the Sea of Okhotsk.
The abrupt collapse of authoritarian regimes in Eurasia has occurred with great regularity since before the fall of the Berlin Wall in November of 1989. A cumulative demonstration effect has influenced anti-authoritarian uprisings in countless countries since the mid-1980s. The essential ingredients are generational change coupled with the widespread awareness that corrupt governance is the root cause of economic stagnation. It is Putin’s fear of the political mobilization of the eighteen to thirty-year-old cohort that has kept him from conscripting them for the war effort in Ukraine, especially as these would provide the bulk of the army that could turn against the Siloviki. Beijing, like Moscow, believes these liberal-democratic “color revolutions” are an instrument of U.S. hegemonic influence.
Had the West been aware of the impending collapse of the USSR, there may nevertheless have been an impulse to see it collapsed down to a more manageable size. The West deferred to the Soviet suppression of Baltic independence movements in 1990 (in exchange for support against Saddam Hussein), but it backed independence after the fall of the USSR. However, plebiscites could have been held in Crimea and parts of Ukraine to avert the current Russia-Ukraine conflict. Armenia certainly would have been better off remaining within a Russian confederation, given its severe security challenges, as would the governance of many of the Central Asian “Stans.”
To the extent that a territorially expansive China is the principal security threat to the rules-based international order, the West may see it advantageous to arrest the further disintegration of Russian territory. On the principle of self-determination and religious solidarity, the newly independent states of the Caucasus could be encouraged to enter into a Yugoslavian-style confederation, rather than immediately micro-fragment into ethnic conflict. It is in the interest of democratic states to ensure that the Russian Far East does not succumb to Chinese control, until at least China itself liberalizes.
Dr. Julian Spencer-Churchill is associate professor of international relations at Concordia University, and author of Militarization and War (2007) and of Strategic Nuclear Sharing (2014), and a former operations officer, 3 Field Engineer Regiment. He has published extensively on security issues and arms control, and completed research contracts at the Office of Treaty Verification at the Office of the Secretary of the Navy, and the then Ballistic Missile Defense Office (BMDO).
"What people in the West have been indoctrinated into believing is that the bombing was the consequence of alleged crimes against Kosovo Albanians," says Dr. Srdja Trifkovic, a Serbian-American publicist, historian, and foreign affairs editor for Chronicles magazine. "Well, that is not true at all. The bombing was a consequence of the Serbs refusing to sign the documents prepared at Rambouillet near Paris, where the conference was held in February of 1999, which was in fact mostly US-inspired."
"The goal of the NATO bombing campaign was, first, to destroy the last vestiges of socialism in Europe; and, second, to demonstrate to the world that the rest now ran the world and could go to war unilaterally without UN Security Council authorisation," says Kovalik. "The result was the fatal undermining of the rule of law in the world."
"The ICTY, the International Court Tribunal for Yugoslavia only prosecuted people from Yugoslavia," says Professor Stevan Gajić, a research associate at the Institute of European Studies in Belgrade. "But the conflict of Yugoslavia involved people from the West, it involved NATO countries. But nobody ever held Bill Clinton or Javier Solana or Madeleine Albright accountable. All of them were war criminals; or Tony Blair, for that matter, Robin Cook and many others, Wesley Clark, of course, the chief commander. Nobody held them accountable."
"Fourteen thousand civilians in the Donbass who died as a result of Ukrainian shelling simply do not exist," the Serbian-American professional publicist says, adding, "the horrid episode from Odessa on 2 May 2014 does not exist."
“Yes. This new order is taking shape. It is the result of several years of struggle by the Western democratic camp against authoritarian regimes, mainly against Russia and China. This war is the culmination of this process. Russia is heading for a rout. It has already suffered a series of battlefield defeats, and now it is about to be driven out of Donbass by the Ukrainian Army. This is a real disaster for Putin. He turns out to be just a shoddy leader. And not just as a warlord: It’s also a complete political debacle.”
“Putin rules alone, without any restraints, plus he is cut off from information and expert advice. He lives in a world of his own delusions. Ukraine is an example of this. Everything he has convinced himself about the subject is wrong, but he clings firmly to these illusions because he has created one-man domination. In addition, he clearly has mental problems. He is a paranoid person. He listens to no one and is guided by fantasies. However, this is a common threat in any authoritarian country...”
“There’s a reason Europe has always shut the door on Russia,” says the article, “and Peter the Great had to settle for a mere window. Russia’s hyper-corrupt culture and its highly chauvinistic geopolitical policies have made Putin a logical continuation of Russia’s so-called exceptional path, meaning its eternal desire to live by European standards but somehow maintaining the oligarchy as means of power.” “It’s tempting to idolize Putin as a throwback to what Niccolò Machiavelli advocated in The Prince,” the article continues, referring to the 16th century political treatise advocating actions of so-called ‘self-made princes’ who ascended to power through intrigues and war rather than chance, “and that is exactly how Putin is framed when he is being idolized by Westerners that have read too many Viking sagas and have never lived a day in Russia.”
The Church of Satan has a very individualistic approach when it comes to personal politics of the members. As stated by one of the churches high priests H. Gilmore, “one’s politics are up to each individual member,” which simply put means the church has nothing against people of different political views joining and sharing the views of Satanism. Nevertheless, it seems like putinism is not something followers of the Left-Hand Path are OK with.
“In Russia, if you keep your head down and drink your vodka, there are no guarantees that you won’t fall foul of the government. It is a bipolar culture, which is fun to look into sometimes, but is too crazy to those of us in the know.”
It looks today as if not even the black Magik practitioners are siding with Putin, even though many Westerners still fall victim to his professionally engineered image and surgically sculpted face – the majority, and even those who are in the minority, seem to be awakening to the fact that Putin is neither a great evil, nor a great virtue, but simply a menace to freedom that has to be dealt with.
In the United States, Trumpist-religion is most often framed as “Christian nationalism.” It is, indeed, that. But it is also more — it is the American partner of this larger quest for Christian internationalism. No one has articulated this more clearly than Steve Bannon, who, despite his legal troubles, remains a significant force as a kind of philosophical apostle in right-wing Christian circles for a neo-Christendom.
I know it is unpleasant for some of you to consider the decadence in the US and in the West in general in this context (e.g., “Bombs are falling in Ukraine, and you’re obsessing over trannies?!?”), but you should think twice about this. If we are now facing a renewal of the long struggle with Russia, and probably even a struggle against China too, allied with Putin’s Russia, then the leaders of Western countries had better think about how they are going to meet the demands of this struggle. They have no hope of doing so with a country in which they have abused and alienated a huge number of people for the crime of being white, heterosexual, culturally conservative, or clinging bitterly to their bigoted churches. We saw just the other day that Justin Trudeau actually seized the bank accounts of people supporting the trucker protests, under the guise of fighting domestic terrorism. I have absolutely no doubt that Washington will try the same. The woke left, having marched through the institutions, are weaponizing them against parents, children, families, church people, conservatives, and other deplorables.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, Ukraine had several different Orthodox churches, only one of which was in close relationship to Moscow. In 2018, two of those Ukrainian churches and some of the Moscow-leaning Orthodox parishes joined in a union and created a newly unified Orthodox Church of Ukraine, a fully independent national ecclesial body under no control from Moscow, with its head in the ancient seat of Orthodoxy in Kyiv. Putin and the Moscow Russian Orthodox church authorities protested. They’ve been claiming the 1,000 years of Kyiv Christianity as its own — basically appropriating Ukraine’s church history — to the point of erecting a gigantic (and controversial) statue of St. Vladimir outside of the Kremlin. Putin wants the weight of tradition on his side, and St. Vladimir validates both his religious and political aspirations. There should be no doubt that Putin sees himself as a kind of Vladimir the Great II, a candidate for sainthood who is restoring the soul of Holy Mother Russia. The Ukrainians, on the other hand, would like to remind the Russians that they were the birthplace of both Orthodoxy and political unity in Eastern Europe.
The conflict in Ukraine is all about religion and what kind of Orthodoxy will shape Eastern Europe and other Orthodox communities around the world (especially in Africa). Religion. This is a crusade, recapturing the Holy Land of Russian Orthodoxy, and defeating the westernized (and decadent) heretics who do not bend the knee to Moscow’s spiritual authority. If you don’t get that, you don’t get it. Who is going to control the geographical home, the “Jerusalem,” of the Russian church? Moscow? Or Constantinople? And, what does claiming that territory mean for Orthodoxy around the world? Will global Orthodoxy lean toward a more pluralistic and open future, or will it be part of the authoritarian neo-Christendom triumvirate?