Thursday, January 29, 2015

The limits of what can be expected from the SYRIZA government

by Wayne Hall

The above analysis of the politics of SYRIZA and its government does not say anything that is untrue, but it leaves out of account a number of points that are relevant in estimating the political potential of the new Greek government.

For a start, SYRIZA does not touch on any taboo “conspiracy theory” issues, such as 911 and/or the militarization of climate. They have systematically and resolutely refused to engage any of them. They line up with the side of the climate debate that attributes all anomalous “natural” phenomena to “global warming” (of course the other side of that debate is also manipulated).

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Blog Post of The day: Saker's take on the Geneva Conventions

I get a lot of comments to the effect that the Geneva Conventions (GC) are only for victors, or inapplicable in war, or wishful thinking etc.

I very much disagree.

For the following reasons:

First, there is a difference between a solider and a thug and that difference is not in the guns they carry, but in what they do and why they do it.  Yes, there are indeed bad soldiers who act like thugs, but that does not mean that our society has to accept that and confuse aberration with the norm.  The norm, the ideal, must be upheld for the sake of being civilized.

NYT Is Lost in Its Ukraine Propaganda

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on Feb. 7, 2014. (U.S. State Department photo)

Exclusive: One danger of lying is that you must then incorporate the falsehood into the longer narrative, somehow making the lies fit. The same is true of propaganda as the New York Times is learning as it continues to falsify the narrative of the Ukraine crisis, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

In late February, a conference is scheduled in New York City to discuss the risk of nuclear war if computers reach the level of artificial intelligence and take decisions out of human hands. But there is already the old-fashioned danger of nuclear war, started by human miscalculation, fed by hubris and propaganda.

Ukraine Civil War: Commander Givi and the Geneva Conventions - The saker

There has been a lot of criticisms of the battalion "Somali" and Givi for the way they treated the junta's prisoners, including the Colonel who, apparently, was the commander of the junta's 93rd Brigade.  Let me begin by agreeing with those who say that the treatment of these prisoners did violate the Geneva conventions, no doubt about it in my mind.

The law (or how it maybe would be in a perfect world)

The first thing to notice here is that the Geneva Conventions (GC) apply primarily to international conflicts, not to civil wars. They do however have a Common Article 3 which is specifically tailored to "non-international conflicts". Common article 3 has a section c which prohibit: "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment".  Since Givi's purpose was precisely to humiliate his prisoners, you can say that his actions were in violations of the GC.

"When the word comes ‘it’s time’" -- Zakharchenko's geopolitical analysis

Translated from Russian by J.Hawk for FortRuss 

If one is to speak without geopolitical complexities and nuances, the situation is extremely simple. This is a battle for the continent, for the international system, for one’s own taiga. They are desperately attacking us and are trying to take us down quickly. They use all means at their disposal, except for direct military intervention on Russia’s territory. They are destroying Russians outside their boarders, are raising foreign legions in order to invade the country. The West undertook to destroy us for the simple reason it is trying to avert its own destruction. The main factors are the destruction of the economy and of the political authorities of Russia. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Europe’s addiction to Russian gas: How long before withdrawal symptoms set in?

by Leonid Krutakov for Odnako

(translated by: Robin)

In mid-January, EU Energy Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič held talks with Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak in Moscow. After the talks, Mr. Šefčovič expressed surprise at three circumstances. 

First, Gazprom has no intention of building the South Stream pipeline. Second, in the future natural gas will be delivered to Europe via Turkey. And, third, Russia is not prepared to discuss the terms of its gas deliveries to Ukraine. 

To quote Mr. Šefčovič, all three circumstances, were “very surprising,” even though Russia’s decision to cancel South Stream and instead build Turkish Stream was announced in December of last year in Ankara at a joint press conference held by the Presidents of Russia and Turkey. 

Glorification of terrorism: a teenager prosecuted in France because of a cartoon on Facebook

Translated by Jenny Bright for Tlaxcala 

A 16 year-old teenager in France was indicted for glorifying terrorism after he published a cartoon representing a character with the Charlie Hebdo journal, hit by bullets, with an accompanying ironic comment. 

The current situation is, to say the least, paradoxical. Last weekend, following the terrible attacks that took place right in the middle of Paris, large rallies were held throughout the country to denounce terrorism and to remind the world of France's commitment to the fundamental principles of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. 

Ukraine SITREP 26th January

I have been trying to wait as long as possible to get some facts confirmed, but at this point in time I am confident enough to say that there are numerous and convergent signs that things are going extremely badly for the Kiev junta. Just look at the following recent headlines:

Clearly, things are not going well *at all* for the Junta.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hungary: Next Stop on the Putsch Express

Submitted by Andrew Kahn for Voice of América
(Twitter @akahnnyc)

Once is a conspiracy theory. Twice is a coincidence. Thrice gets people wondering. Four times and the polished denials begin as conspiracy theory has become neoliberal reality.

So it is in the Balkans, Central and Eastern Europe and former Soviet regions. Yugoslavia, Croatia, Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine. And where next? The number has gone way beyond four - the time of polished denials. To deny the conspiracy is meaningless at this point for it is not merely a conspiracy shrouded in the minds of tin-hat quacks but it is in the open for all to see; that is, whoever wishes to open their eyes to what is happening.

XYZ: What would happen if the Russian army really invaded Ukraine

Anti-Maidan Kharkov - Facebook page
Translated from Russian by Kristina Rus

We will not name the author of this material, as he is an active officer of the armed forces of Russia, but he perfectly described the situation - What would happen if the Ukrainian military faced the Russian army?

The titles of some complexes we have SPECIFICALLY designated with the letters of the Latin alphabet not to write their name, as mentioning some of them is undesirable for the author. However, I think that military people will understand what are the systems in question:

Assault on the New Terminal combat footage 16-18 January "Donbas under fire" documentary [eng sub]

This documentary has some amazing footage of the combats at the airport, including night combat.  Absolutely amazing & highly recommended.

The Saker

Friday, January 23, 2015

Iraq, Iran, Lebanon,Saudi Arabia & Free Speech: Mindfriedo SITREPs to resume!

Touching Base

by Mindfriedo

Commitments and hard times in “Meat Space,” as Saker calls it, have kept me from contributing to the Saker and his unrivalled dedication to the truth. Having said that, I will try and sift as much as I can, from whatever news is out there and post it as often as I can, which I hope to be at least once a week. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Givi grabs a Big Fish

Commander of the 93rd “Zhitomir” Brigade, Oleg Mikats, taken prisoner at the airport.

At first he was described as a battalion commander. But it’s not so. Oleg Mikats is the commander of the 93rd Brigade. He was the third on the Right Sector party list during the recent Rada elections [he is shown in illustration above in the top row, second from the left]. So I wish to congratulate Novorossia fighters on their good catch. And I hope they realize what a big fish they caught. 


Ukraine Goes to War – and Always Will as Long as Maidan Holds

by Alexander Mercouris for Russia Insider

As the economic situation in Ukraine goes from bad to worse the response of the Ukrainian government's attention is focused instead on resuming the war in the Donbass.

Over the last few weeks we have heard boasts from President Poroshenko that the combat capabilities of the Ukrainian military have been fully restored since its defeat last summer and that all its losses in armour (according to Poroshenko 65% of the total with which the Ukrainian army started its offensive in June) have been made good. We have also had a succession of mobilisation decrees calling up a grand total of 250,000 men in three waves extending to June.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Myth of a Chinese takeover in Siberia

submitted by "Mister Unknown" of the Hidden Harmonies China Blog

As an avid follower and enthusiast of modern trends in Sino-Russian relations (and media coverage thereof), I saw this “jewel” of an op-ed in the New York Times earlier this week, titled “Why China will Reclaim Siberia“. This type of Sinophobic fear-mongering is nothing new in the western media. With amusement, I read through it with the slight hope of finding some new, compelling arguments other than the same old rhetoric of “there are so many Chinese and so few Russians”. Unsurprisingly, there were none. I have written on this subject previously, and demonstrated why the so-called “invasion by mass migration” from China into the Russian Far East is a myth. Ethnic Chinese consists of 3% of the Russian Far East regional population, and most of that 3% are seasonal migrants with no intention of long-term settlement. Another noteworthy nuance is that these ethnic Chinese are concentrated largely in Russian urban centers where they have no chance of attaining a numerical majority. Reality aside, I understand that in the realm of propaganda and misinformation, facts and data-driven logic are optional conveniences.

Nevertheless, I will pose another question that few, if anyone, has asked in the discourse over this topic – is it actually in China’s strategic interests to seize sovereign control of the Russian Far East (RFE) or any part of Siberia? It seems like few, if anyone, has done any basic, high-level cost-benefit analysis from a Chinese strategic perspective. When we put forth even a casual effort to weigh the costs and benefits, the answer becomes quickly apparent – NO, it’s not. As usual, for those who do not want to read too much, the bolded text provides an adequate summary. 

Any attempt by the PRC to takeover Russian territory in the RFE and/or Siberia would be a huge strategic mistake for China. There are three main reasons for this.

1. China reaps EXPONENTIALLY MORE benefits from a stable, progressive relationship with Russia than a hostile takeover of Siberia. The primary motive attributed to a Chinese takeover scenario is access to Russia’s vast natural resources. However, China already has access to Russia’s natural resources without having to resort to risky land seizure schemes. Such access will only expand as Russia urgently diversifies its economy as part of its own “Asian Pivot”, in the face of western sanctions and enduring US hostility. Additionally, Russia has far more to offer China than just natural resources. It is a middle-income emerging market of about 145 million consumers, a partner in all multilateral institutions, a balancing force to an otherwise unfettered US hegemon, as well as a source of nuclear energy and military technology. But perhaps most important of all in the coming decade, Russia is a critical land bridge in China’s efforts to build the New Silk Road. All these strategic benefits will be jeopardized if an attempted hostile takeover of the RFE provoked Russia into closing its doors to China, and returning to a hostile stance reminiscent of the 60s. 

2. A hostile Russia – even if weakened – will pose a strategic, existential threat to the PRC. Any Chinese attempt at taking over Russian territory would squander the comprehensive partnership and goodwill built up with Russia since the funeral diplomacy days of the early 80s, and cause an anti-Chinese backlash. Russia has a range of retaliatory options at its disposal. The most obvious of which would be material and political support for separatist movements in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Taiwan. Moscow can also exercise its persisting regional political influence to sabotage Chinese economic ties with Central Asia, and rollback Chinese advances in the Silk Road project. If by some miracle China actually succeeds in taking over parts of the RFE, it would have 4-6 million angry local ethnic Russians to deal with, among whom Russia would surely instigate political defiance and armed rebellion against PRC occupation. Even if Russia does not want to take retaliatory measures out of nationalistic hostility, it would be forced to do so out of strategic necessity, simply to distract China from further incursion, and ensure its own national survival. Such threats would be exacerbated if a future US-Russian detente enabled the two powers to collaborate in these efforts. 

3. There is no feasible, realistic option to implement a Chinese takeover, which has any reasonable prospect of success. We can segment these options into four broad categories:
Military action is a non-starter. A military takeover of the RFE/Siberia would require a full-scale invasion against the world’s largest nuclear weapons state. Obviously, no amount of Russian land or natural resources could offset the devastation China would incur when such a war escalates to nuclear proportions.
Political subversion instruments are non-existent. Unlike the US and Europe, China does not have a well-trained and experienced network of “NGOs”, “activists”, and other political operatives, with which to subvert Russia’s government and engineer regime change. Even if that were a possibility, what is the likelihood that these regime change agents would be such brainwashed 5th columnist sinophiles, that they would openly surrender RFE sovereignty to China over the Russian people’s objections?
Demographic “invasion” simply isn’t happening. As mentioned in my previous blog, ethnic Chinese make up about 3% of the RFE population. By that estimate, there are more ethnic Chinese in New York than there are in the entire RFE.
Economic “hegemony” is impossible in the face of competition. The latest commonly touted argument against Sino-Russian trade expansion is that this would reduce Russia to a resource appendage of China. Such an argument conveniently ignores the fact that Russia – until recently – has been a near-exclusive resource appendage to the EU, who remains Russia’s top trading partner despite rapid Sino-Russian trade growth. Neither the EU nor the major East Asian economies would simply acquiesce to Chinese economic hegemony in Russia.

In short, a pragmatic and well-informed Chinese leader would see that it is NOT in the PRC’s strategic interests to takeover the Russian Far East or Siberia. Any such attempt would severely deteriorate China’s strategic environment and has a near-zero probability of success.

Mr. Unknown was born in Beijing and brought to the US by his parents when he was ten. Following high school, he served a four-year enlistment in the US Army (including a Middle East deployment). He then completed a double major in international relations and Russian. After his undergraduate studies, Mr. Unknown spent time working in both Russia and China in business development and research roles; he speaks both languages. He is currently studying business administration and environmental science in a dual master’s program. Mr. Unknown’s topics of interest include Chinese foreign policy, military modernization, and energy security.
Commentary by the Saker:

When Mr. Unknown emailed me to submit his article I was absolutely delighted because for the second time (the first was Larchmonter445) a China specialist had come to the exact same conclusions as myself but looking at the same dataset from the "other" (Chinese) side.   I completely agree with this conclusions, of course, to which I would only add a few minor things:

1) Siberia is quite literally uninvadable, even with *zero* resistance from the Russians, the Chinese military is neither equipped nor trained to invade the kind of terrain (mountains, taiga, permafrost, polar tundra, etc.) that it would encounter in Siberia.  While Siberia is huge, there are very few communication routes inside it and all are chokepoints.  THEN add to it the resistance to death of a nuclear armed country whose people never submitted to any foreign occupier and you get the image.

A Grim and Fatalist Post-Holiday Sitrep for the Dream that Was "NovoRossiya" and the People of the Donbass

by Mark Sleboda 

Russia will obviously not allow the West-backed and installed Kiev regime to conquer the rump "NovoRossiya" by military means. This latest "offensive" of theirs will either peter out quickly or will end very badly for them if it expands in the Spring.

But the NAF is even less a coherent and organized force than the UAF/batallions (and that's saying a lot because Kiev has very limited control of its warlords and their death squads ie the "battalions) - with no real offensive capability or logistics network. They are only really a defensive force thus far, though it must be said competent at that. The Kremlin, further, purposefully and when necessary, brutally, weeds their leadership and retards their supplies and growth to make sure they cannot become truly independent of either Russia or Ukraine. 

Novorussia SITREP: Intensive combat operation all over the line of contact in Novorussia

Things look very bad today and very intensive combat operations, in particular artillery strikes, are reported everywhere in Novorussia.  At the very least, in the following locations:

1) Donetsk Airport: the Ukrainians attacked with a fairly large concentration of armor and under heavy artillery fire.  As for tonight (local time) all of these attacks have been successfully repelled but intelligences sources are reporting a sharp rise in the number of tanks and armored vehicles all around the Donestk airport.  The Novorussians are expecting attacks from Peski and Avdeevka.

Friday, January 16, 2015

16.01.2015 Ukrainian crisis news. Epic Urkainian victories, War in Ukraine

The Ukrainian media report that a whole bunch of Kadyrov's men have been captured in the Donetsk airport (soldiers of Ramzan Kadyrov's Guards). Also, more than 250 Russian soldiers have been killed in the fighting. However, there's nether a video record nor at least a photo of this epic Ukrainian victory. In this connection we have a little appeal to the soldiers of the Ukrainian army (we hope the agents of the SBU, Ukrainian Security Service, who keep tabs on our page, will relay this message to their armed forces).

Despicable and disrespected Ukrainian pseudo-army! We know we can not teach you not to conduct mass shellings of residential districts, heinous tortures of POWs and robberies of civilians. This is why we're not going to ask for much. We'll ask you for just a little bit. If you have:
- captured Kadyrov's personal Guards, including his pet tiger
- completely wiped out all divisions of the Altai Armoured Police Force
- thrashed 400 GRU spetsnaz soldiers in exoskeletons with cloaking devices and jetpacks
- burned 58 latest Russian "Armata" robotanks
- and also in the meantime sank 2 strategic nuclear submarines of the Russian Northern Fleet...

... you just pull out your mobile phone and record a video with your great heroic deed. After this your Epic Ukrainian Win is duly registered and confirmed. No video - no "epic victory". If your commanders forbid you to carry mobile phones, buy cheap cameras with without mobile connection option or ask the USA to send them in another aid package for the "young Ukrainian democracy".
Epic Ukrainian Wins can not be confirmed without videos (because you've already learned to doctor pictures in Photoshop). Moreover, Russians and other European nations are so mean and cynical that they consider Epic Ukrainian Wins plain lies.

Besides, it would be just great if you stopped bombing residential blocks, torturing prisoners and robbing civilians. But you can start by making little step by little step. Like taking duckface selfies against the background of burning "Armata" tanks with spetsnaz from Chukotka inside. Any schoolgirl can do this here. You aren't more stupid than a schoolgirl, are you? Well, not so sure about it...
Here's a very clear illustration of this: a burnt down column of the latest Russian armour in Gorlovka. Immediately after the hits of Ukrainian shells Russian transformer tanks change their shape into a convenience store building, disguising themselves better than Megatron ever could.

"Examining Key Premises in the “Je suis Charlie” Discourse" by Jonathan Revusky

When I first saw the news about Charlie Hebdo, I concluded very quickly that it was some sort of staged event, a “false flag”. The basic story, that disgruntled Muslims had shown up in the middle of Paris with Kalashnikovs and a rocket propelled grenade launcher to settle their grievances towards some cartoonists struck me as something out of fantastical fiction. Once I saw the cheesy Hollywood B film dialogue -- "Allahu Akhabar! The Prophet is avenged!” — that  nailed it for me. I said sarcastically to whoever would listen: “What is it with that B film dialogue? Were the guys who staged this on a tight budget? Couldn't they hire better scriptwriters?” I also wondered whether these were the same ones who wrote the scene in Abbottabad (later denied) in which denied) in which Osama Bin Laden had used a woman as a human shield. 

Je Suis Donbass !

by Tura Kurkinen. 

Propaganda, or more precisely, manipulation of minds is one of the most important elements in modern warfare. One aspect of it is creating enemies, where there are no real enemies. Good example of it was 9/11, a moment that changed our world permanently. After what happened in New York, we saw how new kind of a warfare rapidly took place, the war against terrorism. Very flexible, even though a bit vague, military concept. That concept justifies casualties, slaughtering of innocent civilians, and enormous military budgets. And so, Pandora's box was opened, and this endless war against terrorism continues and escalates all the time, covering true purposes and targets. 


Please Like Us On facebook