Stephen Cohen, 8/25 on John Batchelor Show.
Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category
Posted by Charles II on August 26, 2015
Posted by Charles II on August 19, 2015
M. K. Bradrakumar, ATimes
From all accounts, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had a highly successful visit to Moscow on Monday. The single biggest outcome of his talks with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov should be the signing of the contract for the delivery of upgraded S-300 missiles by Russia to Iran.
The official Russian media reported that the delivery of the missile systems will take place 30-40 days after the signing of the agreement in Moscow (which is expected to be on Aug. 25.)
There is much political symbolism here insofar as Moscow is plainly mocking at the timeline of the US Congress’s approval/disapproval of the Iran nuclear deal will be mid-September. Clearly, as far as Moscow is concerned, Iran’s integration with the world community is deemed to have happened already.
Of course, the S-300 is not covered by any sanctions, since it is categorized as a “defensive” weapon. Nonetheless, the White House has protested. And, to be sure, this time around Moscow will ignore the protest.
The American and Israeli experts have admitted that the S-300 will be a game changer in the strategic balance in the Middle East, since it is a formidable weapon that will make an air attack on Iran very prohibitively expensive.
But that is not the whole story. The fact remains that China is also waiting in the wings. A commentary in the government-owned China Daily on Monday was the latest report speculating on a deal in the pipeline for the supply by China of the J-10 multi-role fighter jet to Iran. The report suggested that not only is the J-10 a “good option for Iran … capable of performing air-to-surface strikes and anti-ship strikes” but “China is also very flexible in payment issues” and “it is highly possible that Chinese aviation industry will transfer technology used on the J-10 to buyers.”
The U.S. has certainly managed to unite all of our potential adversaries. A uniter, not a divider, as Dubya once said.
Posted by Charles II on August 19, 2015
Stephen Cohen on The John Batchelor Show, via The Nation:
Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the Ukrainian crisis and new US-Russian Cold War. Heading this installment are mounting signs that Kiev may be planning a renewed military assault on the rebel strongholds of Donetsk, Lugansk, and other Donbass areas. If so, Cohen points out, this raises two large questions. Since Kiev alone cannot hope for a military victory and would likely suffer a crushing defeat, is it counting on US/NATO support. And if such support is forthcoming, will Russian President Putin have any choice except to send in his own forces, resulting in war between the United States and Russia?
Posted by Charles II on July 17, 2015
Click to expand
Jesus. What is going on at The Guardian? This breathless bit of reporting is (a) of video that was shown a year ago, though NewsCorp dug up a few additional minutes, (b) manages to go further over the top than the Torygraph, which they link, and (c) adds leaked draft of the findings of the Dutch Safety Board”– while not asking American intelligence to release what it knows. Do we really need another but of deniable and anonymous information when there are almost certainly satellite photos of the missile launch– photos which according to some sources show the troops in question to be wearing Kiev uniforms.
Maybe it’s time to go OffGuardian.
Posted by Charles II on July 12, 2015
Alec Luhn, The Guardian:
Tensions have been rising between the government and the Right Sector militia that has helped it fight pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country.
A Right Sector spokesman, Taras Kuzyak, told Ukrainian media on Sunday that seven infantry fighting vehicles had blocked the entrance to Right Sector’s base near the town of Skole in Lviv region, adding that law enforcement was similarly cutting off access to other Right Sector bases in western Ukraine.
The move came after a gunfight broke out on Saturday, when about 20 Right Sector gunmen arrived at a sports complex controlled by MP Mikhail Lano. They had been trying to stop the traffic of cigarettes and other contraband, a spokesman for the group said.
Kyiv Post version here.
Gazeta version, as translated by Fortruss here.
Posted by Charles II on July 9, 2015
In a curiously upbeat account, The New York Times reports that Islamic militants have joined with Ukraine’s far-right and neo-Nazi battalions to fight ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. It appears that no combination of violent extremists is too wretched to celebrate as long as they’re killing Russ-kies.
[added]“The Chechen commands the Sheikh Mansur group, named for an 18th-century Chechen resistance figure. It is subordinate to the nationalist Right Sector, a Ukrainian militia. … Right Sector … formed during last year’s street protests in Kiev from a half-dozen fringe Ukrainian nationalist groups like White Hammer and the Trident of Stepan Bandera.
Posted by Charles II on June 4, 2015
A major battle has erupted on the western edge of the main separatist rebel stronghold in eastern Ukraine, leaving more than a dozen people dead and threatening to tip the country back into full-blown war.
Rebels in the city of Donetsk reported 15 dead on Wednesday, some civilians and some combatants, in territory under their control.
The Ukrainian interior ministry said at least one person was killed in Marinka, the government-held town where fighting was centred. Ukrainian presidential adviser Yury Biryukov cited the Ukrainian general staff as saying two Ukrainian soldiers died in combat and that another 30 were wounded.
Each side is blaming the other for sparking this round of unrest. The general staff said in a statement that rebels deployed around 1,000 fighters and dozens of tanks and self-propelled artillery systems in a major offensive that started before dawn.
Maryinka is roughly six miles to the southwest of the very center of Donetsk, one of the two major “Novorussian” towns. It’s very difficult for me to believe that this is not within the rebel zone of control, but so says Oliver Carroll of The Independent. Certainly, there’s no way that Ukrainian tanks or artilleru can legally be in Maryinka, whoever controls the town.
It looks like the spring offensive may have begun.
More to come.
Posted by Charles II on May 20, 2015
Russian aggression in 2014 caught U.S. policy and strategy off guard, forcing reactive measures and reevaluation of U.S. policies towards Russia. Russia used nonlinear approaches and operated just beneath traditional thresholds of conflict to take full advantage of U.S. and NATO policy limitations. In light of this strategic problem, members of the Carlisle Scholars Program at the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) conducted a wargame which revealed four key considerations for future policy and strategy. This panel presentation will present the findings from that wargame. The views presented by the panelist are their own and should not be implied to be those of their sponsoring service, the U.S. Army or the U.S. Army War College.
See also Parry:
Belatedly, Obama has roused to the impending threat that these extremists pose not just to the Middle East but to the West. The prospect of the black flag of Sunni terrorism flying over Damascus or even Baghdad could force the United States into a catastrophic decision to reintroduce a large military force into the region, which was initially destabilized by the neocon-driven U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Though such a move by Obama or his successor might be politically unavoidable, the consequences would surely be disastrous, with the chances for a meaningful victory slim to none while further bankrupting and militarizing the United States
He could have hired me as his foreign policy adviser and I would have told him the same a year ago.
Posted by Charles II on May 20, 2015
On July 19th, 2014, the Malaysian airliner MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine. It seemed likely that it was downed by hostile intent, and a surface-to-air missile seemed the likely agency. Although the U.S. rushed to blame Russia for the downing, accusing them of either firing on the civilian aircraft or providing a missile to Ukrainian rebels, the actual evidence for this was thin to non-existent. German intelligence reportedly concluded that Ukrainian rebels had shot down the plane, but using a missile captured from Kiev’s troops.
Now Robert Parry continues the debunking of the attempt to link Russia to the attack:
An Australian television show claims to have solved the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shoot-down mystery – the Russians did it! – but the program appears to have faked a key piece of evidence and there remain many of the same doubts as before, along with the dog-not-barking question of why the U.S. government has withheld its intelligence data.
The basic point of the Australian “60 Minutes” program was that photographs on social media show what some believe to be a BUK anti-aircraft launcher aboard a truck traveling eastward on July 17, 2014, the day of the shoot-down, into what was generally considered rebel-controlled territory of eastern Ukraine, south and east of Donetsk, the capital of one of the ethnic Russian rebellious provinces.
However, in mid-July, the ethnic Russian rebels were reeling under a Ukrainian military offensive to the north of Donetsk. Despite shifting their forces into the battle zone, they had lost Sloviansk, Druzhkivka, Kostyantynivka and Kramatorsk. In other words, the lines of control were fluid and chaotic in mid-July 2014 …
Another problem with the Australian TV account is that the video and photographic images show the truck heading eastward toward Russia, but there are no earlier images of the truck moving westward from Russia into eastern Ukraine.
There also appears to have been some fakery involved in the Australian documentary. In several instances, as the film crew traveled to eastern Ukraine to seek out scenes from July 17 video showing the truck possibly carrying BUK missiles, images of those sites – then and now – were overlaid to show how closely the scenes matched.
However, for one crucial scene – the image of an alleged “getaway” BUK launcher lacking one missile and supposedly heading back to Russia after the shoot-down – the documentary broke with that pattern. The program showed the earlier video of the truck moving past a billboard and then claiming – based on information from blogger Eliot Higgins – that the TV crew had located the same billboard in Luhansk, a rebel-held city near the Russian border.
This was the documentary’s slam-dunk moment, the final proof that the Russians and particular Vladimir Putin were guilty in the deaths of 298 innocent people. However, in this case, there was no overlay of the two scenes, just Australian correspondent Michael Usher pointing to a billboard and saying it was the same one as in the video.
But the scenes look nothing at all alike if you put them side by side. While Usher is standing in an open field, the earlier video shows an overgrown area.
Unfortunately for Parry, his accusation is entirely unfounded, and reveals his lack of investigative skill when it comes to this kind of open source information. Had Parry spent a few minutes on Google he could have easily found Bellingcat’s work on the video, and realised his error.
As we detailed in this July 22nd 2014 post, it was possible to establish the position of the camera, which is key to understanding what’s visible in the video.
Now Eliot Higgins is a very strange story. Over the course of a few years, he says, he went from being an unemployed man trained in administration and finance to one of the most respected experts on weapons systems in the world
Although Higgins has never been to Syria, and until recently had no connection to the country, he has become perhaps the foremost expert on the munitions used in the war. On YouTube, he scans as many as three hundred new videos a day, with the patience of an ornithologist. Even when a rocket has largely been destroyed, he can often identify it by whatever scraps survive.
He charged the Syrian government with having murdered civilians using the poison gas, Sarin, in the civil war:charge that has been refuted by Teddy Postol, who is actually one of the world’s experts on weapons systems:
Higgins, Postol said, “has done a very nice job collecting information on a website. As far as his analysis, it’s so lacking any analytical foundation it’s clear he has no idea what he’s talking about.”
These Munitions Could Not Possibly Have Been Fired at East Ghouta from the “Heart”, or from the Eastern Edge, of the Syrian Government Controlled Area Shown in the Intelligence Map Published by the White House on August 30, 2013.
So, one has the question as to how the conclusions of the uncredentialed Mr. Higgins, who made such a serious error in the case of Sarin, were so rapidly adopted adopted by the media, while the conclusions of one of our nation’s foremost experts on missiles, was all but ignored. Even the NYT report that mentions it is a some-say-the-earth-is-flat piece, putting Higgins and Postol on equal footing and never making clear what Postol is saying, namely that Higgins was completely wrong in his identification of the missile and that the actual projectile almost certainly didn’t come from what our intelligence said was government-held territory.
Robert Parry may not be an expert in image analysis. But he is an expert in BS detection.
Posted by Charles II on April 17, 2015
Robert Parry, Consortium News:
The U.S.-backed Ukrainian government came up with a curious way to commemorate the 70thanniversary of the Holocaust being brought to an end. The parliament in Kiev voted to extend official recognition to Ukrainian fascists who collaborated with the Nazis in killing Jews.
…On April 9, the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill making the ultra-nationalist Ukrainian Insurgent Army eligible for official government recognition, a demand that has been pushed by Ukraine’s current neo-Nazi and ultra-nationalist movements, the same forces that spearheaded the overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 and then the slaughter of thousands of ethnic Russians who resisted the new order.
It now appears that pro-government “death squads” are operating with impunity in Kiev.
Ukraine was the site of several major Holocaust atrocities including the infamous massacre at Babi Yar in Kiev, where local Ukrainian fascists worked alongside the Nazi SS in funneling tens of thousands of Jews to a ravine where they were slaughtered and buried.
I’m not sure what to make of the neo-Nazi presence in Ukraine. It’s not hard, for example, to find neo-Nazis in the American military. They send their guys there to train for the grand RaHoWa. The difference is when government starts to sanction this sort of thing. The Kiev government is so desperate and so anti-Russian that they are sanctioning way-out-of-the-box things just to keep from falling. But at some point one has to ask whether the people in charge are being expedient– or whether they support neo-Nazism.
We should also be asking the American government where they stand… especially since it is alleged that the U.S. military will be training the Azov Battalion.