Ulson Gunnar - NEO) - US President Barack Obama previously commented on the Ukrainian conflict, claiming Russian President Vladimir Putin was speeding past all the "off ramps" offered by the US and its NATO military alliance to end the violence. And just as it appeared the US and the rest of NATO were about to take their own advice and use the Minsk accord as their own face-saving "off ramp," they've decided to put the pedal to the metal instead.
As a well informed observer of current events in East Ukraine, and of the distorted picture of them presented in the Western media, I was very concerned about this morning’s report on the crisis in Debaltsevo, or what the Novorussians call the ‘Debaltsevo cauldron’.
They call it this, because a few weeks ago, some 8000 Ukrainian troops with heavy armour went deep into territory east of the current ceasefire line, with the intent to separate Luhansk and Donetsk and launch attacks against both centres of the ‘new republic’.
Not long before Angela Merkel’s rush visit to Moscow, the ‘separatist’ forces had succeeded in cutting off the access to this ‘cauldron’ by taking control of the main route in west of Debaltsevo.
The Ukrainian troops were surrounded and faced with a choice – fight to their deaths with no support from Kiev, or surrender to the Separatists. As we saw from news tonight, some small number of Ukrainian troops did surrender, but many thousands remain.
The leader of the Kiev Junta, President Poroshenko, refuses to admit that these troops are trapped, and refuses to let them surrender, while making wild and ridiculous assertions about Russian involvement. President Putin by contrast has asked Kiev to allow their surrender, so that the crisis can be solved peacefully, and the terms of the ceasefire respected.
As long as Western media organisations, including the ABC, continue to parrot the rubbish and lies being told by their governments, if merely by simply reporting them without ever revealing the truth, then we will see a further deterioration towards a major conflict over Ukraine.
I am appealing to you to consider the multiple reports and perspective in all Russian media, and in many alternative internet fora, to better understand the nature of the powerplay here, and start telling us what has really happened. A good place to start is with this blog by a ‘Russian’ living in the US, with many contacts in Russia and superb analysis:
Neo-nazis protesting against the elected President Yanukovych in February.
As with all the recent major geo-political conflicts, the Western corporate and government newsmedia is concealing the truth about Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea. The protest movement which preceded the coup against the elected government included anti-semitic and russophobic neo-nazis. Given the destruction and mass murder the United States and its allies have inflicted on Iraq, Libya and Syria, in recent years, the Russian Government of President Vladimir Putin has good reason to fear a country on its borders falling into the hands of such right-wing extremists openly in league with the United States and Europe against Russia.
The above has been copied from the Novorossiya Video-News page. It is a short interactive video which has different outcomes depending upon which choices the viewer makes. Whilst the subject matter behind this video is grim – the war inflicted upon the Russian speakers of East Ukraine by the Kiev regime – and may become even more so should Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of the All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland" Party achieve his wishes of having the NATO powers intervene to support an all-out invasion of Novorossiya, the video retains wit and good humour.
Tonight (14 February 2015) SBS TV news 1 made a terribly biased report of events in Donetsk (East Ukraine). In the most unprofessional manner they reported that a weapon had been launched onto a kindergarten playground in East Ukraine and they allowed people to think that this had been sent by the East Ukrainians fighting the Kiev government, although it was obvious they had no evidence of this. They then showed President Poroshenko insisting on television that Russia was supplying soldiers and arms to East Ukraine, however, as usual, he gave no details or evidence. He appears, as expected, to be undermining the Minsk attempts at peace, in an effort to please the United States. And Australian television is amplifying this propaganda. The video inside this article shows how things really are on the ground. It is extremely hard to find anyone East or West, who wants to fight for the Kiev Government against the East Ukranian independence efforts.
The video, "Ukrainian Town Resists 4th Conscription Attempt", is around 5 minutes long. It appears at http://www.ForbiddenKnowledgeTV.com/page/27039.html" The written Commentary in this article is by an unknown author. Provenance email.
Apparently, the rally in this video rally and several like it were organized by the Kiev military to convince locals to submit to mobilization, and the whole thing blew up in their face. The fourth wave of forced conscription in Ukraine is going very poorly. The most extreme case, as of February 9 was in a small town by Odessa, where hundreds of enraged locals surrounded the soldiers, took away their rifles, and burned the conscription papers.
Video (around 5 mins):
The United States has been providing the Kiev regime with military training, and there are already American boots on the ground, ostensibly to "strengthen the rule of Law."
The US has been bolstering a government that has declared war on its own people, and is rapidly closing off all legal means of dissent - charging political opponents with "treason," banning political parties, and unleashing ultra-nationalist mobs on anyone who daresdissent. (How do ya like them Tax Dollars?)
Significantly, no representatives of the US government were present during the 17-hour ceasefire talks recently held between the current Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande, who agreed to a ceasefire starting in three days, February 15, 2015.
These talks would not have happened, were it not for the courage and will of the Ukrainian people, themselves, as seen in the video below.
This extemporaneous dressing-down, of the Kiev Military Recruiter, by a local East Ukrainian woman, in front of her townspeople is absolutely priceless!
Here's a tasty morsel:
WOMAN: "You say there are enemies there? You go fight them, we have no enemies there!They're our people there, best friends and family! Why do you conscript people? We'retired of listening to the poison on TV! How much longer must we endure the propagandalies?
Do you think we're all idiots, here?! Do you think people are sheep, that you can lie to us and scare us and we'll do what we're told? No! We're tired of it! We will also defend ourselves!
CROWD: Well said!
WOMAN: Quit ruining our families, our human lives! Enough, already! Look at Donetsk and what's going on, there. The poor people are hiding in cellars, hungry - and Russia sends them humanitarian aid! Did Kiev send them any food?! Did it send them anything, at all?! They're sitting there, without electricity, heating or food. Why are they suffering? What for?! They've lived their whole lives there.
They built the place! Have you built anything, at all there, during the 23 years of "independence"?! You only know how to destroy! Show us something you've built!
Fighting has raged in Ukraine, throwing doubts on a ceasefire deal due to take effect over the weekend, as the US said Russia was still deploying heavy arms.
Critical footnotes are included below - Ed
14 Feb 2015 - 6:14 PM
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said the continuing bombardment of civilians in eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian separatist rebels 2 was already undermining the peace plan reached in Minsk on Thursday.
At least 28 civilians and soldiers were reported killed in Friday's upsurge in fighting.
"Unfortunately after the Minsk agreement, Russia's offensive 3 has significantly increased. We still think that the agreement is in great danger," Poroshenko said during a meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
"After what we concluded in Minsk, these are not only attacks against civilians but also against the Minsk agreement."
The ceasefire, due to take effect from midnight on Saturday (Sunday AEDT), will be the first test of the commitment by Kiev and pro-Russian separatists to the freshly-inked peace plan.
But with separatists fighting to conquer more territory ahead of the truce and Kiev forces digging in, there are fears over whether anyone will observe the truce, considered vital to the success of the peace roadmap.
The United States said it believed Russia was continuing to deploy heavy weapons 3 ahead of the ceasefire.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States had received reports of heavy weapons being moved into eastern Ukraine from Russia over the past few days, and more apparently on the way.
"This is clearly not in the spirit of this week's agreement," Psaki told reporters.
She said the Russian military had deployed large amounts of artillery and multiple rocket launcher systems and was using them to shell Ukrainian positions. 3
Friday's fresh fighting came after rebels and Kiev agreed to the wide-ranging plan on Thursday following marathon talks in the Belarussian between the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has warned Russia that the EU, which has already slapped Moscow with sanctions over the crisis, is not ruling out further measures if the truce fails.
The fragile agreement was seen as the best hope of ending the conflict, which has killed at least 5,480 people and ratcheted East-West tensions to highs not seen since the Cold War, but scepticism remains high after the collapse of a similar previous peace plan.
The new Minsk agreement is broadly similar to an earlier failed deal in September, except that the new heavy weapons-free zone will be 50 to 140km-wide, depending on the range of the weapon, double the width of the buffer zone agreed in September.
Kiev will also begin retaking control over the approximately 400km stretch of Russia's border with rebel-held Ukraine, but only after local elections are held.
Separatist-held territories will be granted a degree of autonomy to be established through talks.
#fnUkr2" id="fnUkr2">2.#txtUkr2"> ↑ As also noted above in the teaser, claims by Poroshenko and a spokesperson for the Ukraine Army that the East Ukraine Self-defence Forces are bombarding the very civilians who support them is reported here uncritically by SBS news.
#fnUkr3" id="fnUkr3">3.#txtUkr3"> ↑ As alluded to above in the teaser, the lie that the Russian Army is directly participating in the war in Ukraine has been repeated ad nauseum for months now by the likes of President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Kerry, the Ukrainian regime and their allies and duly reported by all the Western Mainstream media including SBS. I have yet to see SBS News point out to its viewers that no evidence to support this claim has ever been produced.
For those of you who are confused about what is happening vis a vis Ukraine in European negotiations with Russia and the US talking up weapons-supply with Kiev , Peter Lavelle's Crosstalk, "Saving Ukraine" on RT today came up with some useful analysis from guests Mary Dejevsky (Independent and Guardian, columnist, UK), Alexander Mercouris, (writer and analyst on legal affairs, London), and James Jatras, (former advisor to the US Senate Republican leadership). The issue was, "Will peace be given one last chance? The French president and German chancellor head to Moscow for talks to end Ukraine’s civil war. At the same time the US Secretary of State arrives in Kiev to arrange training and arms transfers. Which approach will prevail?"
Emerging from this discussion was that the US's recent hawkish talk of supplying weapons to Kiev (the West Ukraine government that is bombing its people in East Ukraine) is going too far for Europe. Europe does not want a war on its territory. The US is showing incredible insensitivity to this rational unwillingness of Europeans to expand the Ukraine civil war. The US seems to expect European governments to do anything it wants. The Europeans are afraid of the US but they are more afraid of war in Europe. Angela Merkel (German Chancellor) and Francois Hollande (French President) have taken a crucial step of going to Russia to meet with President Putin independently of the United States. Whilst the European Union is under the thrall of US influenced financial institutions it is difficult for the members of the EU to act independently of the US. Only the threat of war could make them risk US disapproval. Someone had to stand up to the United States, however. Another reason that these two European leaders may have decided to act independently is that the people in their countries disapprove of the US role in drumming up war in the Ukraine. Furthermore, Greece's recent left-wing party, Syriza's win of government might precipitate a domino effect in the European Union with other left-wing parties achieving government and defaulting on their debts, making new alliances and abandoning the Euro.
Some facets of the discussion in the video above were:
The Kiev Donesk or Ukraine vs East Ukraine conflict is a civil war, but it is being presented by US media as if it were a conflict between Russia and the United States. John Kerry and Putin have already agreed on ways to resolve it but the Kiev Government and Donetsk won't carry these out. This is a really big war, with hundreds of thousands now dead because of it and one million refugees currently living in Russia. Russia's position was to stand back and encourage Ukraine to resolve the issue through federalisation, but the situation is now much deteriorated and it is unlikely that East Ukraine could accept that. It is not reasonable to propose a temporary buffer zone round East Ukraine when this could be broken at any time by renewed warfare - which happened when Kiev renewed hostilities after a ceasefire was negotiated in early December last year. If Kiev is incapable of regaining East Ukraine, would it become defacto Russian territory by default? If that happened there would be a danger of the US media misrepresenting this as a 'coup' by Russia.
After the U.S.-backed fascist coup in Kiev, Ukraine in February 2014, the people of Donbass rebelled for independence from Ukraine. A popular anti-fascist resistance quickly emerged. The breakaway state of Novorossiya, or New Russia, was formed and Kiev sent in troops and tanks to crush the people's resistance. Civil war gripped the country. Now, almost a year later, while the resistance soldiers on, a humanitarian disaster perpetuated by the Kiev government's war of aggression has struck the citizens of Donbass.
International Students Aid to Donbass, based in Wroclaw, Poland, is one of many aid groups springing up across the world in solidarity with the ongoing resistance and the victimized people of Eastern Ukraine.
Sanela Bajrasambasic, ICRC (Red Cross) delegate appeals for aid to help Donbass residents rebuild homes bombed by Kiev regime (see embeddedvideo)
Fight Back! interviewed one of the founders of International Students Aid to Donbass (ISAD), who wished to remain anonymous.
Fight Back!: Can you explain about the student organization generally?
ISAD student: Sure. The idea for creating a solidarity with Donbass group which could coordinate humanitarian assistance emerged in October when a handful of international students in Wroclaw some of whom had been activists back in their home countries, wanted to find a way to aid the people of Donbass, who are truly in a miserable situation. We felt like we could no longer sit back and watch as innocent people in Novorossiya starved and died of sickness. Some of us were especially passionate about the situation in Ukraine and we racked our brains until we decided that sending such necessities as food, medicine and clothing could be the best way we could help and draw in other students. The idea of a humanitarian aid organization seemed like a perfect way to express our solidarity with the war-struck people of Novorossiya with the limited resources and capacity we had. So, we sat down, discussed our ideas, and International Students Aid to Donbass was born in early November. We contacted Russian NGOs that handle humanitarian assistance and set up a collection point in cooperation with them. However, we're still our own independent group; we see working with them as one of the greatest opportunities available.
Fight Back!: Are you able to tell a bit about the make-up of International Students Aid to Donbass? Obviously, the name indicates that the membership is multinational.
ISAD student: Being a group primarily composed of international students, our group truly is diverse. We have people from the U.S., Poland, and various European countries. Our group can communicate in more than half a dozen languages. ISAD is also diverse in more ways than just our national make-up. We all come from a broad range of backgrounds and political persuasions. Our group includes communists, Eurasianists and students who simply hate war and the pain it brings anywhere, and want to help alleviate the pain of the men, women and children who are enduring it. Some of us are passionate supporters of Novorossiya and the resistance, while others simply sympathize with the ordinary people who are suffering. As a humanitarian organization, we have no strict political line. The thing that fundamentally unites all of us is the fact that we are saving people's lives by delivering desperately needed goods to the people that need them most. This simple yet important mission has grown our numbers in the short time that we've been active and continues to motivate our work.
Fight Back!: Are there any security issues, seeing as you're operating in a country which, on a state level, supports the fascist government in Kiev? How does the political situation in Poland affect the work of the organization?
ISAD student: Absolutely. Security is a serious problem that we have to carefully deal with. Our members have faced verbal and physical threats and hostilities from Ukrainian nationalists in Poland. A significant number of Ukrainians now have easy access to visas, even free ones, to come work and study here. Some Ukrainian nationalists come here on visas because they don't actually want to fight in the war, and find plenty of space here, without consequences or obligations, to howl about how patriotic they are and threaten those who disagree. Because of security issues stemming from such people and the fact that the Polish state supports the Kiev junta, we keep even our social media private and, unfortunately, can't publicly list our aid point. Speaking of the general political situation in Poland, politicians here love to fan the flames of Russophobia in order to distract people from the real issues they face domestically. Additionally, Poland acts as the war hawk within NATO, so tensions here are always virulently anti-Russia, anti-Donbass, and the propaganda in the media is ridiculously overbearing. Between state-sanctioned Russophobia and aggressive Ukrainian "activists," we have to consciously, always and everywhere, pay paramount attention to security.
Fight Back!: What exactly does your day-to-day work look like?
ISAD student: Our work is simple. We pool together our money, time and energy and go on weekly shopping trips for food, medicine and clothing which we can ship monthly to Donbass. The important thing to remember is that we are students. We're operating on student budgets with student schedules, but we do the best we can with our resources. We all sacrifice our own money and time, but we all feel gratified by the humanitarian work we're doing. We also try to spread awareness of the situation in Ukraine, but the political situation renders that secondary to practical work.
Fight Back!: Do you have any future plans for expanding your work?
ISAD student: In the next few months, our main plan is to find new people to work with. As far as I know, we are one of the only, if not then the only such organization of its kind actively working in Poland, and especially Wroclaw. Before we started, we looked around for other such groups, but found none. In addition to continuing our work with our existing contacts, we're going to contact other humanitarian organizations, particularly those that specifically deliver assistance to children in Donbass. Of course, our capacity is limited, but finding more students and people in Poland, and indeed the world, who are interested in participating will only increase our determination and ability to carry out our mission to save Donbass people.
Fight Back!: Is there anything you'd like to say to supporters and sympathizers in the West, particularly progressives in the U.S.?
ISAD student: I think the most important thing is that this model of organization is universally applicable. Any number of people anywhere can get together and open an aid point. A little work goes a long way. Even if you only have one or two people and can only get a few food items, some over-the-counter medicine and used clothing, such things mean the world to people in Donbass whose only lifeline is international humanitarian assistance. Especially in the West and in the U.S., where the propaganda is so strong and labels the ordinary people of Donbass "pro-Russian terrorists," humanitarian aid work is important to exposing the lies, and most people can find it agreeable despite their political convictions. At the end of the day, we're saving people from a war being senselessly waged against them by some of the most powerful countries of the world in an imperialist geopolitical bid to weaken Russia and snatch Ukraine for the Western camp. The people stuck between the fighting need our help. Support from progressives benefits both the people of Donbass and the struggle against war and propaganda in the heart of the West itself. We encourage anyone interested to get involved and, of course, we're happy to help with logistics and share our experience.
International Students Aid to Donbass can be contacted at polskidonbasu [ AT ] gmail.com
Lada Ray reports that Russia will stop transporting gas to Europe via Ukraine and redirect it through Turkey. She also describes Ukraine activities leading up to renewed war on East Ukraine, with the US, France and Poland having agreed to supply advanced arms to Ukraine. In addition, two ships, one from Australia and one from Canada docked in the Odessa port in the past week to two. Each was full of winter uniforms for the Ukraine army. The following article is from Lada Ray's English language blog at https://futuristrendcast.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/confirmed-russia-to-stop-transit-of-gas-to-europe-through-ukraine/
This is a bombshell that was dropped by Russia earlier today.
It has been officially confirmed! The head of Gazprom Alexei Miller announced that Russia would discontinue the Ukrainian route for Russian gas transit to the EU. I expected this announcement ever since I broke the news of the Turkey/Russia deal on 12/2/14, but I did expect it in a year or two: read here and here. Looks like the time is getting compressed and the pressure for change is intensifying.
I understand at this time the flow of gas through Ukraine has been restricted to 2/5th of the usual volume. However, it appears it will soon be stopped completely.
Russia to switch fully to the Turkish Stream to move the quantities necessary to satisfy all of European demand. Ukraine up till now was responsible for about 50% of the Russian gas transit to the EU, with Nord Stream, Belarus and Turkey accounting for the rest.
Ukraine, as always during the heating season, has been stealing Russian gas. This is in addition to massive debt Ukraine has with Russia. Russia is by far Ukraine’s largest creditor; gas debt alone constitutes nearly $5.5 bln. Total Ukraine’s debt to Russia, including corporate is well over $30 bln, according to Vladimir Putin.
This is a much bolder move than anyone expected. EU is in shock. According to Gazrpom’s head Alexei Miller, EU didn’t want South Stream Russia tried to build as partners together with the EU. Therefore, Russia will now deliver gas to Turkey, and then to the border between Turkey and Greece. From thereon, it will be EU’s responsibility to build pipelines through its territory.
Gazrpom is to become a big player in Turkey, and Turkey in return will enjoy massive gas price discounts and large profits from the resale of gas to the EU and other buyers.
First of all, let’s recall that I said from the beginning of 2014 and many times throughout 2014 that when Russia feels even slightly inconvenienced by the West, off to the East they go. My prediction came true spectacularly within only two or three months, when in May 2014 Russia signed a number of mega-deals with China on gas supply, the Power of Siberia gas pipeline construction, high-speed railroad construction, and much more. Then, Putin also signed massive gas supply deal with Turkey to bypass the unfriendly EU, plus, a massive nuclear energy deal. Turkey is, of course, also a part of the East (Middle East).
Second prediction I made was that Europe would start experiencing gas shortages due to Russia’s re-orientation to the East. I said it would happen a few years from now. It appears my predictions’ time table is accelerating!
2. It seems Miller and Gazprom are very confident that EU has no alternative to the Russian gas at this time. For the longest time EU and Ukraine had been able to blackmail Russia every year, taking advantage of the fact that the EU was Russia’s largest customer and Ukraine – the largest transit artery.
Russia was customarily accused of various transgressions, the blame was yearly shifted to Russia for any gas flow disruptions due to Ukraine’s stealing of Russian gas; the expense for Ukraine’s theft was also placed on Russia’s shoulders alone, while EU denied any responsibility, always siding with Ukraine. It appears Russia/Gazprom feel that enough is enough and that it’s time to cut the Gordian Knot. The fact that Russia now has strategic agreements with Turkey and China helps Russia’s leverage.
3. This is where the economy and geopolitics mix. Russia warned a long time ago that should EU’s behavior not change, there would eventually be more return sanctions. It appears Russia wasn’t kidding!
Recent events, in which Ukraine and certain EU countries acted strangely, to say the least, apparently were the last drop, reinforcing Russia’s intentions. The events I am referring to were: Ukraine PM Yatsenyuk giving multiple interviews and speeches in Germany accusing Russia of attacking the Nazi Germany and Ukraine, while Merkel stood by him, failing to react to the outright lie. The recent Volnovakha, Donbass tragedy in which 10 people died and scores were wounded when a bus with Donetsk pensioners was hit by a bomb or a mine on the Ukraine side. This incident was immediately blamed on the Donbass self-defence. Ukraine tried to get EU to recognize LNR and DNR as terrorist organizations, while designating Russia as the state aiding terrorism, followed by a new round of sanctions. While the resolution failed, another resolution to adopt a new round of anti-Russian sanctions may pass (I don’t have the latest on that). Meanwhile, per reports, US, France and Poland, among others, have agreed to supply advanced arms to Ukraine. In addition, two ships, one from Australia and one from Canada docked in the Odessa port in the past week to two. Each was full of winter uniforms for the Ukraine army. Poroshenko went to Paris to participate in the Unity March together with Merkel and Hollande, as I wrote here, to express solidarity with the victims of the French terrorist acts, while hundreds and thousands were dying at home unnoticed by anyone. Poroshenko’s trip strangely coincided with Yatsenyuk trying to promote Russia as aggressor in Germany and the Volnovakha bus tragedy. Right after returning from France Poroshenko announced three new waves of mobilization to recruit over 200,000 soldiers – we now know that when they re-start the war with Donbass, they’ll be able to kill more efficiently thanks to all those Australian and Canadian uniforms keeping them nice and warm. In the meantime, the bombings of Donbass have intensified by 10-20 times. For the past week or so the number of dead and wounded from Ukraine’s shelling is greater than for the past 3-4 months combined – exact numbers are not known yet, but the preliminary number is 52 dead during the past few days. As a result of Poroshenko’s visit to Paris and the killing of 10 civilians in Volnovakha, the Astana, Kazakhstan peace conference planned for today, January 15, was cancelled. To wrap up the vicious cycle of events, the man who was instrumental in organizing the Astana peace conference was The French president, Hollande. Please refer back to my article: Urgent! Secret Link Between French False Flag Attacks and Ukraine, in which I also said that Hollande was wavering from the party line, trying to play peacemaker, and terror acts in France were meant to remind him to toe the line. Finally, S&P and other Western agencies are set to lower Russia’s rating to junk status: China/Russia to Launch Own Credit Rating Agency to Rival the Big Three.
4. US has been trying to squeeze Russia out of the EU gas market in order to sell to the EU its own, more expensive, shale gas. The shale industry in the US is in difficult circumstances and many fields have been conserved because of low prices and insufficient international demand for the US shale gas. The banks that financed fracking companies are afraid of not getting their money back; many are on the verge of bankruptcy. Obtaining the lucrative EU market is the best thing for the US. Of course the expensive US shale gas will undermine the EU economy, making EU products less competitive, which will help the US economy and keep EU on a short leash for the US purposes. However, building LNG terminals is expensive, they take a lot of valuable space near ports, and it takes time. Such infrastructure isn’t available for the time being. It appears that despite tough talk, EU is ‘stuck’ with cheaper and readily available Russian gas.
5. World Grand-Master Putin at work! Russia’s leverage has increased exponentially from signing strategic mega-deals with China last May and Turkey last December. It appears Putin has decided this was the right time to play one of Russia’s aces; or if you will, to play Russia’s Turkish Gambit!
6. Last fall, when Russia, Ukraine and EU negotiated, EU promised to vouch for Ukraine’s payment for the ongoing supply of Russian gas. In reality, Ukraine never re-paid $3.1 bln in past arrears due before New Year’s. EU also didn’t vouch for Ukraine’s payments past New Year’s. Therefore, any gas Ukraine receives now is unpaid for, which in itself triggers gas supply stoppage.
7. The Ukraine pipeline infrastructure is Soviet built and was never really maintained by Ukraine. It’s either time to fix it, or to abandon it. Perhaps this is the right time to abandon what cannot be fixed – and I am speaking broadly. Ukraine and EU’s behavior have gone far beyond any permissible or even conceivable. The way Ukraine and EU behave towards Russia can be expressed by the following Russian sayings: ‘to spit into a well from which you drink’ and ‘to saw off the branch you are sitting on.’ It appears that with those who don’t understand good will, reason or logic the only way is the way of an ultimatum.
On Thursday 18 December 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a Press conference. It included his address which lasted from 9:12AM until 12:38PM GMT. President Vladimir Putin has been condemned by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abott and the Australian newsmedia for alleged Russian aggression against Ukraine and complicity with the alleged shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. In spite of this not one of the Australian journalists, nor any other Western journalist present put these allegations to President Putin. Roman Tsymbalyuk of the Ukrainian News Agency UNIAN did put those allegations. Both his question and Vladimir Putin's response are included.
PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA VLADIMIR PUTIN: Good afternoon, colleagues.
I am very happy to see you in high spirits. As we did last time, I will begin by briefing you on the work done during the year and then I will try to answer your questions.
First the most important thing: the economic performance. In the first 10 months of this year, the gross domestic product grew by 0.7 percent, and the final figure may be around 0.6 percent. My colleagues and I met yesterday to finalise the figures. The trade surplus grew by $13.3 billion to reach $148.4 billion.
Industrial production picked up some speed after last year's lull. In the first 10 months of the year, it went up by 1.7 percent. Unemployment is also low: at times, it dropped to below 5 percent, and now it is around 5 percent, possibly 5.1 percent.
The agroindustrial complex is developing. I believe that by the end of the year growth there will amount to 3.3 percent. As you may know, this year we had a record crop of 104 million tonnes.
Despite the turbulent situation on the financial market, the federal budget this year will show a surprlus. In other words, revenue will exceed expenses by 1.2 trillion rubles [over $20 billion], which is about 1.9 percent of the GDP. The Finance Ministry is still working on the final calculations, but the surplus is definite.
The main achievement of the year in the social sphere is of course the positive demographics.
Natural population growth in the first 10 months of the year was 37,100 people. The death rate is going down in this country, while the birth rate is increasing. This is a very good trend and we must make every effort to maintain it. As promised, we continued adjusting the maternity capital. In 2014 it amounted to 429,408.5 rubles.
We have met and exceeded the targets set for this year for salary rates for ten workforce categories. I am sure you know what I am talking about. First of all, these are teachers at schools and institutions providing supplementary education, counsellors, university faculty members, medical doctors, paramedics and nurses, and employees of cultural institutions. In 2014, we adjusted pensions to inflation twice: by 6.5 percent on February 1 and by an additional 1.7 percent on April 1.
We gave significant attention this year to enhancing the combat capability and efficiency of the Armed Forces. I will not go into detail here. I would only like to mention the social sphere. In 2014, 11,700 Defence Ministry servicemen received permanent housing and 15,300 received service housing. This is 100 percent of the year's target figures.
These are the numbers I wanted to begin with. Now a few words regarding the current situation. I believe we all know that the main issue of concern to this country's citizens is the state of the economy, the national currency and how all this could influence developments in the social sphere. I will try to briefly describe this situation and say how I expect it to develop. Basically, that is where we could end this news conference. (Laughter) However, if you have any further questions I will try to answer them.
The current situation was obviously provoked primarily by external factors. However, we proceed from the view that we have failed to achieve many of the things that were planned and that needed to be done to diversify the economy over the past 20 years. This was not easy, if at all possible, given the foreign economic situation, which was favourable in the sense that businesses were investing into areas that guaranteed maximum and fast profits. This mechanism is not easy to change.
Now, as you may know, the situation has changed under the influence of certain foreign economic factors, primarily the price of energy resources, of oil and consequently of gas as well. I believe the Government and the Central Bank are taking appropriate measures in this situation. We could question the timeliness or the quality of the measures taken by the Government and the Central Bank, but generally, they are acting adequately and moving in the right direction.
I hope that yesterday's and today's drop in the foreign currency exchange rate and growth of our national currency, the ruble, will continue. Is this possible? It is. Could oil prices continue falling and would this influence our national currency and consequently all the other economic indexes, including inflation? Yes, this is possible.
What do we intend to do about this? We intend to use the measures we applied, and rather successfully, back in 2008. In this case, we will need to focus on assistance to those people who really need it and on retaining – this is something I would like to highlight – retaining all our social targets and plans. This primarily concerns pensions and public sector salaries, and so forth.
Clearly, we would have to adjust our plans in case of any unfavourable developments. We would certainly be forced to make some cuts. However, it is equally certain – and I would like to stress this – that there will be what experts call a positive rebound. Further growth and a resolution of this situation are inevitable for at least two reasons. One is that the global economy will continue to grow, the rates may be lower, but the positive trend is sure to continue. The economy will grow, and our economy will come out of this situation.
How long will this take? In a worst-case scenario, I believe it would take a couple of years. I repeat: after that, growth is inevitable, due to a changing foreign economic situation among other things. A growing world economy will require additional energy resources. However, by that time I have no doubt that we will be able to do a great deal to diversify our economy, because life itself will force us to do it. There is no other way we could function.
Therefore, overall, I repeat, we will undoubtedly comply with all our social commitments using the existing reserves. Fortunately, this year they have even grown.
I would like to remind you that Central Bank reserves amount to $419 billion. The Central Bank does not intend to ‘burn' them all senselessly, which is right. The Government reserve, the National Wealth Fund, the Reserve Fund have grown this year by about 2.4-2.5 trillion rubles to a total 8.4 trillion rubles. With these reserves I am certain we can work calmly to resolve our main social issues and to diversify the economy; and I will repeat that inevitably the situation will return to normal.
I would like to end my introductory remarks here. As I have said, we could end the whole news conference here, but if you do have any questions, I am ready to answer them.
PRESIDENTIAL PRESS-SECRETARY DMITRY PESKOV: This year I would like to begin with those who have been working with the President throughout the year – the Kremlin press pool. First I would like to give the floor to the dean of the Kremlin press pool Vyacheslav Terekhov, who has been working with Mr Putin for many years and who travels to all the remote parts of the world and all the cities and towns of this country. Mr Terekhov, please.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: This is what they call nepotism.
VYACHESLAV TEREKHOV, INTERFAX: But I've got an interesting job.
There is something I would like to clarify, Mr President. Judging by the situation in the country, we are in the midst of a deep currency crisis, one that even Central Bank employees say they could not have foreseen in their worst nightmares.
Do you believe that things will get better in two years, as you mentioned, and we will recover from this financial and economic crisis? Criticism was piled on the Government and the Central Bank for the ruble's Black Monday and Tuesday. Do you agree with this criticism?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I said that given the most unfavourable foreign economic situation this could last (approximately, because no one can say for certain) for about two years. However, it may not last that long and the situation could take a turn for the better sooner. It could improve in the first or second quarter of next year, by the middle of next year, or by its end.
Nobody can tell. There are many uncertain factors. Therefore, you could call it a crisis or something else, you can decide which word to use. However, I believe I made it quite clear that the Central Bank and the Government are generally taking appropriate measures in this situation. I believe some things could have been done sooner, and this is actually what the expert community are criticising them for.
What does the job involve, in my view? And what are the Central Bank and the Government actually doing? First, as you may know, they raised the key interest rate. I hope the rate will remain for the duration of these complicated developments connected with the foreign economic situation, and the economy will adjust one way or another.
What is the basis for my optimism? The idea that the economy is bound to adjust to life and work in conditions of low prices on energy resources. This will become a fact of life.
How soon will the economy adapt if the prices remain at the current level or even go below 60 [USD/barrel], 40, or whatever? For us it could be any figure, the economy would simply have to get structured. How fast will this happen? This is hard to say. But it is inevitable. I would like to highlight this. This will be a fact of life.
What is the Central Bank doing? They have raised the key interest rate. What else do they need to do? And what are they already doing? To stabilise the national currency they need to somewhat limit ruble liquidity and give economic entities access to foreign currency liquidity. This is exactly what the Bank is doing. Their foreign currency interest rate is quite low – 0.5.
Overall, I think it is up to the Central Bank to decide whether to reduce the interest rate or not, they should see and react accordingly. They should not hand out our gold and foreign currency reserves or burn them on the market, but provide lending resources. And they are doing this as well.
The so-called repo is a well-known instrument here. They can be offered for a day, a week, 28 days, almost a month, or for a year. This is money that is returned, but it gives economic entities the opportunity to make use of the foreign currency. Everything is being done right.
They should probably move at least half a pace faster. Of course, I see the criticism levelled at the Central Bank and its Governor. Some of it is justified, some is not. The Government should also bear responsibility. They should work with exporters who have sufficiently high foreign currency revenues.
The Prime Minister met with heads of our major companies and we can see some results. Many of them have to return their loans and think of the condition their companies are in.
Every company, just like every individual, tries to save ‘for a rainy day'. Is such behaviour economically justified? In terms of economic logic, it is not. Nevertheless, companies do it, and we now see a certain result, the ‘rebound' is happening.
The Government should be taking other measures as well. What do I mean? For instance, combatting inflation is of course the Central Bank's job. However, there are things that we have mentioned already, things I spoke of in public during our meetings with the Government.
For instance, the prices of petrol and food are something they should work on. Moreover, the current situation, whatever anyone says, requires a ‘hands on' approach. They have to meet with producers, those who are on the market, with retailers and with the oil companies that have significantly monopolised the market. The Federal Antimonopoly Service should function properly.
These actions have to be joint and reasonable, though without any violation of the individual competence of, say, the Central Bank or the Government. Nevertheless, they should coordinate their actions, and do so in a timely fashion.
Therefore, they can criticise Nabiullina [Central Bank Governor] all they like, but one should bear in mind that overall their policy is right. The Central Bank is not the only one responsible for the economic situation in the country.
DMITRY PESKOV: Another presidential press pool old-timer, Alexander Gamov of the Komsomolskaya Pravda. Is there anything you would like to ask?
ALEXANDER GAMOV, KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA NEWSPAPER: First, I have something to say. Mr President, I believe many people were looking forward to seeing you here at this news conference. Many were trying to predict your mood, because this would largely set the mood for the entire country. You are here, and you already smiled several times, so thank you for your optimism. We hope everything will happen just the way you said it would.
Over to my questions. Since 2008, we have been talking about the need to get rid of our oil addiction and restructure our economy to make it more efficient. However, the developments of the past few days have shown that we did not manage to achieve this.
We are still addicted, and nobody knows how long this will last. Could you say openly what you personally think: will we be able to use this crisis for to our advantage, lose our addiction and rebuild the economy? I realise that this would take time.
And my second point. In your Address to the Federal Assembly, you named, to the welcoming applause of the country and the business community, a whole list of concessions that have long been suggesting themselves. However, there is the danger in Russia, as you well know, that all important and useful resolutions, including presidential ones, get lost in the excessive red tape and general slack.
Are you confident that this time you statements, your resolutions will be implemented and your optimism will be supported with real action?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: As we all know, only an insurance policy can give you confidence. The main insurance for us here is the right macroeconomic policy and reserve funds for resolving social issues. This is the kind of insurance policy that would give us confidence.
As for excessive red tape, I can say this: there must be some people from the European Union here. If you ask them about red tape in Brussels, they will tell you all about it. Our bureaucracy is child's play compared to theirs.
The problem does exist, however, and it is not about red tape. Do you know what it is? I said at the very start that I would say a few things and we might as well end the news conference. It looks like that was no joke.
This is not about decisions getting bogged down in red tape. It is about the foreign economic situation forcing economic entities to invest, say, in energy resources, the chemical industry or metals. So regardless of all the Government's attempts to fine-tune the instruments of taxation and benefits for businesses that are not involved with raw materials, this is a very complicated process, because the budget does not usually have the required funds.
We have been using all these instruments for several years already. We are trying to create more favourable conditions for the development of production, but it is moving forward with difficulty. Especially when one can make large profits by investing in energy resources. As you may know, at least 80 percent of all applications to the Government (believe me, this is true) have to do with getting access to some field rather than investing in some high technology area. Why is this? Because the returns there are fast and big.
I am coming to your question. If the situation changes, then life itself will force us to invest in other industries. And this gives me optimism, strange as it might seem. True, in some ways it would be more difficult. True, we would have to resolve social issues at any cost and meet the targets set in the social section of the 2012 Presidential Executive Orders.
Can we do it? Yes, we can. However, at the same time we need to make use of the current situation to create additional conditions for developing production and economic diversification. I hope that the current state of affairs will make this possible.
ANDREI KOLESNIKOV, KOMMERSANT NEWSPAPER: Mr President, in early 2012 in one of your pre-election articles that were later documented as Executive Orders of May 2012, as we all know, while describing the situation at the time you quoted Alexander Gorchakov [19th century Russian diplomat]. You said, “Russia is concentrating.”
Can you say what is happening to the country now? What is it doing? Is it still concentrating, or maybe the time has come to de-concentrate, to finally relax?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: We must work. Little has changed in this sense. Moreover, the current conditions are pushing us to move forward. I keep tackling it from different perspectives, and I see you and your colleagues keep raising the same issue. We must work, and the external conditions are forcing us to become more efficient and to shift to innovative development.
What does the future of our economy require? We have to create favourable conditions for business, to ensure freedom of entrepreneurship, we need to guarantee ownership rights, to stop using law enforcement agencies to chase those we do not like and use those instruments for competition. We need more benefits for production facilities; we need to develop those regions of the Russian Federation that require special attention, like the Far East.
Are we doing this? We are. However, in my Address I spoke of an entire programme of action. I am referring here to 4-year tax holidays, to 3-year inspection holidays for those companies that have no record of any serious violations, to benefits for small businesses. We must carry on with the concentration and support it with real efforts.
VLADIMIR KONDRATYEV, NTV TELEVISION COMPANY: Mr President, we recently marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. You witnessed the event when you were still working in the German Democratic Republic. A lot has been achieved, perhaps not exactly what we hoped for, and we had great hopes, but there have been certain achievements. It was thanks to your persistence that Russia was once close to a visa-free travel agreement with Europe.
In this anniversary year, a new wall appeared within a matter of weeks. It is not made of concrete, but it is no less obvious, a wall of alienation, suspicion, mutual mistrust and mutual reproaches. Where can this cooling lead us? Some go as far as speaking of the beginning of a new Cold War. Will we be living in a divided world or is there any possibility to resume dialogue and cooperation?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You just said the Berlin Wall fell, but some new walls are being put up now. I will respond, and I hope you will agree with me.
It is not now that this happened. You are an expert on Germany and on Europe. Didn't they tell us after the fall of the Berlin Wall that NATO would not expand eastwards? However, the expansion started immediately. There were two waves of expansion. Is that not a wall? True, it is a virtual wall, but it was coming up. What about the anti-missile defence system next to our borders? Is that not a wall?
You see, nobody has ever stopped. This is the main issue of current international relations. Our partners never stopped. They decided they were the winners, they were an empire, while all the others were their vassals, and they needed to put the squeeze on them. I said the same in my Address [to the Federal Assembly]. This is the problem. They never stopped building walls, despite all our attempts at working together without any dividing lines in Europe and the world at large.
I believe that our tough stand on certain critical situations, including that in the Ukraine, should send a message to our partners that the best thing to do is to stop building walls and to start building a common humanitarian space of security and economic freedom.
Since I have mentioned Ukraine, I have to give the floor to our colleagues from Ukraine. Go ahead, please.
ROMAN TSYMBALYUK, UKRAINIAN NEWS AGENCY UNIAN: I have two short questions, if I may.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Go ahead, please.
ROMAN TSYMBALYUK: My first question concerns the punitive operation you have launched in eastern Ukraine, which is mostly spearheaded against Russian speakers. It's an open secret that it is Russian servicemen and Russian militants who are fighting there. Question: How many Russian servicemen and units of equipment have you sent there, and how many of them have been killed in Ukraine? What would you as the Commander-in-Chief say to the families of the Russian servicemen and officers killed there?
And my second short question, if I may. We had a president called Viktor, who is now hiding in Russia. He had imprisoned the number one on the Batkivshchyna list, Yulia Tymoshenko. She has been released, but now the current number one on the party list is in prison, this time in Russia...
VLADIMIR PUTIN: What? Say it again please?
ROMAN TSYMBALYUK: The number one on the list of Yulia Tymoshenko's party, Batkivshchyna, is currently in a Russian prison. I have a question: On what conditions will you release Ukrainian pilot Savchenko, Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov and at least 30 Ukrainian prisoners of war whom you are keeping in various prisons in Russia? Thank you.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let's begin with the second question, and then I will certainly answer your first question.
The question about Ukrainian citizen Savchenko and the conditions for her release. I have an open and, as far as I can see, a clear position on this issue. You can see in this audience the colleagues of our journalists – they are also your colleagues – who have died in the line of duty in southeast Ukraine. I want to stress that they did not take part in fighting for any of the sides, and they were unarmed. It is the duty of all state agencies, including the military ones, to protect their lives and health and to give them an opportunity to do their professional duty which is to provide objective and full information, at least as they see it. It is a fact that has been recognised in the civilised world. They have been killed. According to our law enforcement agencies, Ms Savchenko called in artillery fire via radio. If it is reliably established during the pretrial investigation and the subsequent trial that she was not involved and is not guilty, she will be released immediately. But if they prove that she was indeed involved in the journalists' murder, a Russian court will issue a proper ruling, as I see it, and she will serve her sentence in accordance with the verdict. However, no one has the right to hold anyone guilty of a crime on account. I mean that Russian legislation includes the presumption of innocence. So we'll see how the pretrial investigation proceeds, and what conclusions the Russian court will make.
As for the other servicemen you have mentioned, we don't consider them prisoners of war. They are in detainment in Russia, and they are being investigated on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity. This is all I can say on your second question.
Now to the first question, about responsibility. In Russia, like in any other presidential republic, it is the president who is responsible for everything. And responsibility for military personnel rests with the Commander-in-Chief. Let me remind you that in Russia this is one and the same person.
All those who are following their heart and are fulfilling their duty by voluntarily taking part in hostilities, including in southeast Ukraine, are not mercenaries, since they are not paid for what they do.
Russian public opinion holds that what is now happening in southeast Ukraine is actually a punitive operation, but it is conducted by the Kiev authorities and not the other way around. The self-defence fighters of the southeast were not the ones who sent troops to Kiev. On the contrary, the Kiev authorities amassed their military forces in the southeast of Ukraine, and are using multiple rocket launchers, artillery and fighter jets.
What is the problem here and how it can be solved? I'll try to answer this question as well. The problem is that after the government coup (and no matter how others call it and what is being said in this respect, a government coup was carried out in Kiev by military means) part of the country did not agree with these developments.
Instead of at least trying to engage in dialogue with them, Kiev started by sending law enforcers, the police force, but when that didn't work out, they sent in the army, and since that didn't work out either, they are now trying to settle the issue by using other forceful methods, the economic blockade.
I believe that this path has absolutely no future whatsoever and is detrimental to Ukraine's statehood and its people. I hope that by engaging in dialogue – and we are ready to assume the role of intermediaries in this respect – we will succeed in establishing a direct, political dialogue, and by employing such methods and political instruments we will reach a settlement and restore a single political space.
ANTON VERNITSKY, CHANNEL ONE RUSSIA: Mr President, are the current economic developments the price we have to pay for Crimea? Maybe the time has come to acknowledge it?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No. This is not the price we have to pay for Crimea... This is actually the price we have to pay for our natural aspiration to preserve ourselves as a nation, as a civilisation, as a state. And here is why.
As I've already mentioned when answering a question from your NTV colleague, and as I've said during my Address to the Federal Assembly, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia opened itself to our partners. What did we see? A direct and fully-fledges support of terrorism in North Caucasus. They directly supported terrorism, you understand? Is that what partners usually do? I won't go into details on that, but this is an established fact. And everyone knows it.
On any issue, no matter what we do, we always run into challenges, objections and opposition. Let me remind you about the preparations for the 2014 Olympics, our inspiration and enthusiasm to organise a festive event not only for Russian sports fans, but for sports fans all over the world. However, and this is an evident truth, unprecedented and clearly orchestrated attempts were made to discredit our efforts to organise and host the Olympics. This is an undeniable fact! Who needs to do so and for what reason? And so on and so forth.
You know, at the Valdai [International Discussion] Club I gave an example of our most recognisable symbol. It is a bear protecting his taiga. You see, if we continue the analogy, sometimes I think that maybe it would be best if our bear just sat still. Maybe he should stop chasing pigs and boars around the taiga but start picking berries and eating honey. Maybe then he will be left alone. But no, he won't be! Because someone will always try to chain him up. As soon as he's chained they will tear out his teeth and claws. In this analogy, I am referring to the power of nuclear deterrence. As soon as – God forbid – it happens and they no longer need the bear, the taiga will be taken over.
We have heard it even from high-level officials that it is unfair that the whole of Siberia with its immense resources belongs to Russia in its entirety. Why exactly is it unfair? So it is fair to snatch Texas from Mexico but it is unfair that we are working on our own land – no, we have to share.
And then, when all the teeth and claws are torn out, the bear will be of no use at all. Perhaps they'll stuff it and that's all.
So, it is not about Crimea but about us protecting our independence, our sovereignty and our right to exist. That is what we should all realise.
If we believe that one of the current problems – including in the economy as a result of the sanctions – is crucial... And it is so because out of all the problems the sanctions take up about 25 to 30 percent. But we must decide whether we want to keep going and fight, change our economy – for the better, by the way, because we can use the current situation to our own advantage – and be more independent, go through all this or we want our skin to hang on the wall. This is the choice we need to make and it has nothing to do with Crimea at all.
YEVGENY ROZHKOV, VESTI ROSSIYA-1 CHANNEL: Good afternoon, Mr President.
First of all, the Crimea issue is more or less clear. The only question perhaps is how much we will have to eventually invest in its development after the difficult Ukrainian past. The most urgent question for me is about eastern Ukraine, which is now calling itself Novorossiya. How do you see the future of that part of Ukraine? Do you believe in the success of the Minsk agreements? Do you think they will help reconciliation? And how are we going to further help Donbass? Will it be humanitarian aid, as it is now, or something else?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I think I answered a part of your question in my response to your Ukrainian colleague. We assume that the crisis will be resolved sooner or later. The sooner the better, of course. This is the first point.
Second, it should be addressed and settled by political means, and not through pressure, no matter what type of pressure, whether an economic blockade or the use of armed force. And, of course, we will help the people, as we are doing now (as you may know, a tenth humanitarian convoy has been sent). After all, we should proceed from the fundamental principles of international law and from people's right to decide their fate on their own.
It was not by chance that I... It's not just a casual phrase, when I said that peace should be restored and problems should be resolved by political means. We proceed from the assumption that a common political space will be restored. It's hard to say at this point what it would look like, but I think we should strive for this. The problem is, however, that both sides need to strive for this. Both! And people living in Ukraine's southeast should be respected. Economic ties should be restored.
It is a fact that much of Ukraine's power industry burns Donbass coal, but up until now they aren't buying this coal. We were asked to influence Ukraine's southeast, Donbass, to make the miners agree to supply coal. We did that, but they are not buying it. Why? Because they've closed all the banks and are unable to make payments. Our colleagues told me yesterday: We are ready to pay and have transferred a prepayment. I've made inquiries and found that there is no prepayment. They allegedly wired the money to the miners' bank cards, but the cards are not working! And this is how it is with each issue. Nevertheless, there is no other way but a peace settlement.
As far as the Minsk agreements are concerned, it's a very important part of this, and we want them to be complied with because, first, the initiative for the Minsk meeting came from me and from Petro Poroshenko. I have no doubt that he is striving for this. But he is not the only one over there. We have been hearing statements from other officials, who advocate basically a war to the end. The implication is that all of this is likely to lead to a continental crisis. We hear many bellicose statements. I still think that President Poroshenko is oriented towards settlement. But concrete actions and steps are needed.
Should the Minsk agreements be implemented or shouldn't they? Yes they should! Let me repeat: I was one of those who initiated them and we... I'll say an important thing. Look, I'd like everyone to hear this. Our representatives in Minsk signed a memorandum in September and there were protocols to it that defined the disengagement line. The representatives of Donetsk didn't sign those protocols. That's the problem. They said at the very start: We can't.
When we tried to insist – I'll be frank with you about this, since the public needs to know these things – they told us that they can't leave these villages (there were three or four disputed villages), because their families live there, and they can't risk their children, wives and sisters being killed or raped. This is the most important thing. However, the Ukrainian officials did not withdraw their troops from the areas that they were supposed to leave, such as the Donetsk Airport, either. They're staying there.
Are you aware of the latest developments? The self-defence forces allowed them to rotate their troops at the airport. They took them to a bathhouse and sent them some food. This may well put a smile on your faces, but, on the other hand, this is a positive development. Perhaps, in the end, people will be able to agree on things among themselves. Everyone is insisting on exchanging prisoners of war. I believe that they should all be exchanged unconditionally. But life is more complicated than that. When these lists became available, it turned out (in any case, that's what the Donbass self-defence fighters told us), that the lists from Ukraine include people who have been detained not in connection with the hostilities in southeastern Ukraine, but somewhere in Kherson or Odessa. These lists must be checked. Nonetheless, we insist and I believe that we need to get these people back home to their families for the New Year or Christmas, regardless of all other circumstances.
Yesterday, they agreed to exchange 30 people. Representatives of the self-defence forces went to the exchange location, and a representative of the Kiev authorities said, “No, we are not going to proceed with the exchange until the next meeting in Minsk.” Well, you can do that, of course, but it would be nice if they could let go at least 30 people ... But these are details. Anyway, it would be a positive move, including in terms of implementing the Minsk agreements, which is an important and necessary process.
An agreement was reached to hold a videoconference today or tomorrow. First, there will be a dialogue during this videoconference, but the next step should be made at a meeting in Minsk. There's another important thing. It's essential for the Kiev authorities to keep their end of the bargain. There was an agreement on adopting an amnesty law. It is nowhere to be seen. They keep telling us that a law on special status was passed, but it couldn't be implemented, this law, do you understand that? Because the law could come into force and actually become effective only after the other law had been adopted – about the disengagement line. It has not been adopted so far. This compilation has to stop. If Ukraine wants to restore peace, tranquillity and its territorial integrity, the people who live in certain regions of the country must be respected and a straight, open, and honest political dialogue must be maintained with them. It must be a political dialogue without any pressure. I hope that in the end everyone will go down that path.
VERONIKA ROMANENKOVA, TASS: Thank you. This year, it became clear that energy diplomacy has become a key factor in geopolitics. How justified is Russia's turning to the East and the gas contracts it has signed with China and Turkey?
Have all the pitfalls of these projects been considered? Many still doubt that the Chinese contract will be profitable, while the potential Turkish Stream will leave Russia dependent on Turkey. Do you have anything to say here?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: No, I don't. These things are so obvious that it would be impossible to argue. I often hear comments about Russia's turn towards the East. Now, if you read American analysts, they also write about the United States' turn towards the East. Is this true? Partly, yes. Why? Is this political? No. This stems from the global economic processes, because the East – that is, the Asia-Pacific Region – shows faster growth than the rest of the world. New opportunities open up. As for energy, the demand for resources is racing in leaps and bounds in China, India, as well as in Japan and South Korea. Everything is developing faster there than in other places. So should we turn down our chance? The projects we are working on were planned long ago, even before the most recent problems occurred in the global or Russian economy. We are simply implementing our long-time plans.
About the Chinese contract – it is not a loss-making project. It enjoys privileges on both sides – on both sides, I must stress. This is true. China offered some benefits as well. I will not go into details right now – these benefits aren't extraordinary or anything; the Chinese government simply decided to provide some support to the project participants. We, in turn, agreed to do the same. So the project definitely became profitable. Definitely.
Moreover, we have agreed on a pricing formula, which is not much different – if at all – from the one applied to our European contracts, except for the specific regional market coefficients. This is regular practice. In addition, it will help Russia, which will receive and accumulate gigantic resources at the project's initial stage, to begin connecting our Far Eastern regions to the gas distribution grids, not just to export gas through the pipeline. This will allow us to make the next – a very important – step. We will be able to link together the western and eastern gas pipeline systems and promptly rechannel resources back and forth when needed, depending on the international market. This is very important. Without it, we would never be able to connect Eastern Siberia and the Far East to the gas distribution system. So this project holds many potential benefits. Not to mention that it is a huge construction site that will create jobs and generate tax income at every level, and revive Russia's Far East and the entire region.
About Turkey. The Turkish economy is also growing and requires additional energy resources as much as the APR. We built the so-called Blue Stream pipeline many years ago, and now our Turkish partners are considering increasing the supplies to the Turkish market. Should we refuse?
We have reached all the key agreements with them, which cover the pricing formula, supply schedule and other aspects. We more or less understand their requirements, and we will certainly sell them what we have and what they need. Of course, we will do this.
Will a so-called European hub be built on the border of Turkey and Greece? This is not for us to decide. The decision largely depends on our European partners: Do they want stable, guaranteed and absolutely transparent energy supply from Russia, which they badly need, without any transit risks? Great! Then we'll start working, and the pipeline would reach Macedonia via Greece, go on to Serbia and to Baumgarter in Austria. If they don't want this, we won't do it. The thing is that there is no cheaper and more reliable supplier than Russia, and there won't be any in the near future.
GRIGORY DUBOVITSKY, RIA NOVOSTI: Mr President, I'd like to go back to the situation on the currency market, which changes from one day to another and is a great concern for millions of Russians. Many experts, including you, Mr President, have said the current situation could be blamed also on currency profiteers. Concrete companies and individuals have been named. Can you give us those names? Are they Russians or foreigners? And why can't they be stopped? Are they too strong? Or are we too weak?
I have a second question on the same subject, if I may. Do the Central Bank and the Government plan to peg or devalue the ruble?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: This is what our Ukrainian partners did, quite unsuccessfully. Are you asking if we plan to force our companies, our main exporters, who receive revenues in foreign currency, to sell it? They would just buy it back the next day, as it happened in Kiev and as it happens in other countries.
The next step in this case should be to set a limit on the purchase of foreign currency on the domestic market. We won't go this far, and so the Central Bank and the Government are not planning, quite correctly as far as I see it, to limit our exporters in this field.
This doesn't mean, though, that the Government should not act through its representatives on company boards. After all, these are our largest energy companies. They are partly state-owned, which means that we can influence their policies, but without issuing any directives or restrictions. This we won't do.
As for the so-called profiteers, it is not a crime to play on the currency market. These market players can be foreigners or various funds, which are present on the Russian market and have been operating quite actively there. Or they can be Russian companies. Overall, as I said at the beginning of this meeting, this is an accepted practice in a market economy. Profiteers always appear when there is a chance to make some money.
They don't show up to steal or to cheat but to make some money in the market by creating favourable conditions, by pushing, for example, as was done in the beginning of this process, like, in this particular case, the Central Bank of Russia was pushed to enter the market and start selling gold and foreign currency reserves in the hope of intervening and supporting the national currency.
But the Central Bank stopped, and it was the right thing to do. Perhaps it would have been better if it had been done earlier and in a tougher way. Then perhaps it wouldn't have been necessary to increase the rate to 17 percent. But that is a different matter. A matter of taste, so to speak. Although it is still rather significant. It is true. So, I told you who they are.
You know, two days ago I had a friendly telephone conversation with some of them and I asked, “So why are you holding back?” By the way, I didn't make them do anything. “Our loan payments are due soon,” was the reply. Then I say, “I see. OK, if you scrape the bottom of the barrel, can you enter the market?” He took a minute and replied: “Well, I guess we have three billion dollars.” They have three billion in reserves. See what I mean? It is not 30 kopeks. And this is just one company.
So if each company has three billion, in total it is not 30 but 300 billion. Still, we can't force them. Even top management of the companies with state participation must anticipate what will happen and ensure the stability of their companies. To this end, the Government must work very closely with them and ensure, along with the Central Bank, foreign currency and ruble liquidity whenever it is necessary.
VIKTORIA PRIKHODKO, MOSKOVSKY KOMSOMOLETS NEWSPAPER: Good afternoon, Mr President. The number of beds in hospitals in several regions, and mainly in Moscow, is decreasing. Therefore, the number of staff is decreasing. What do you think about that? And will a similar experiment be carried out in other regions? People are concerned that as a result of the reform they will not be provided with the right to medical aid that is guaranteed by the Constitution. Thank you.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, you are talking about a major issue in our life at present, one of the fundamental issues I would say. Education and healthcare must always be within clear sight of the state and the regional governments. In this case, it is the Moscow Government.
Naturally, we must see, understand and react precisely to what is happening in a particular professional community. Any changes that occur must be introduced in cooperation with representatives of the medical community – in this particular case. If the Moscow Government skipped this stage for some reason, it is a mistake that must be corrected. What should guide us in the first place when working on issues like healthcare and education? We should be guided by people who use the healthcare and education services. Millions of people are waiting for the healthcare industry to improve. Our citizens, consumers of healthcare services are those, whom we must think about first of all. What are people saying? They are not pleased with the healthcare. This is despite all the efforts. We must analyse what's going on and what should be done to improve the situation.
I won't assess what the Moscow authorities have done now. They acted within their competence. We're saying that our healthcare is expensive but not very efficient. In many cases beds are used not for treating patients, but for improving their health, especially in the autumn and winter. Probably, this is not bad but the bed space is not designed for this.
We must make our medical aid high-tech, as is being done at good clinics, by the way in this country as well. So, for four or five days a person receives intensive therapy in a hospital and then completes his treatment at an outpatient clinic. How much time do people spend in a hospital bed at the moment? I don't want to make a mistake but on average it's not four or five days but much longer. Moreover, the city of Moscow believes that the bed capacity is excessive by about 30 percent. Of course, something has to be done about this. Why? Because if we keep it the way it is we will have to pay for land, electricity, heating and the like. These are inefficient costs. They are not used for treating people; just inefficient expenses. It's better to spend the funds on improving the quality of medical care, equipping hospitals and outpatient clinics with modern technology, and on training medical personnel.
I'm now referring, as I see it, to the reform of healthcare as a whole rather than actions of the Moscow authorities. But I think what they have done recently is correct on the whole. First, they launched a dialogue with the medical community. Second, they made a decision on additional compensation for released doctors. If I'm right, they are paying up to 500,000 rubles to medical specialists, 300,000 to the nursing staff and 200,000 to auxiliary medical personnel.
Moreover, they are drafting a programme for retraining specialists. Doctors may attend upgrade courses at the expense of the city from two or three months to two years. Naturally, the city needs to decide who will work and in what position but this cannot be done without consulting the medical community. I'm hoping that the city of Moscow will act carefully, very carefully, without hurting anyone. The main point is that they should not forget the most important principle of not only a doctor but of all transformations in healthcare – do no harm.
NATALYA GALIMOVA, GAZETA.RU: Good afternoon, Mr Putin. Speaking to the Federal Assembly after the referendum in Crimea you used the expression “a certain fifth column and national traitors.” You didn't specify whom you meant but thanks to you the term “fifth column” has again become part of the political vocabulary.
Since then, your supporters have labelled those who oppose the authorities the fifth column. To whom were you referring when talking about national traitors and the fifth column, and where, in your opinion, is the line that separates the opposition from the fifth column?
Finally, do you feel personally responsible for the revival of this term, which increases hostilities and divisions in society? Thank you.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I do not feel any responsibility whatsoever in this respect. Everything I do is aimed at consolidating Russian society, not dividing it. If you think it did happen, I believe you. It's probably the way things really are. Maybe you have an even more acute feel for it than I do. However, in my public statements I have to be more cautious. I'll think about that. That said, we can't mask the truth indefinitely and sometimes it is our duty to call the things by their names. This is an extremely complex issue. I'll be totally frank: answering your question isn't easy, since we're walking a very fine line here. It would probably be very challenging to come up with an academic definition of where the opposition ends and the fifth column begins.
This very year, and by the way the year 2014 is the Year of Culture, we celebrated the anniversary of Mikhail Lermontov, the genius of Russian poetry. We all remember his lines. We remember what he wrote about the Borodino battle: “By Moscow then we die // As have our brethren died before.” But he also wrote: “Farewell, farewell, unwashed Russia, // The land of slaves, the land of lords, // And you, blue uniforms of gendarmes, // And you, obedient to them folks.”
Was he an opposition activist? Of course he was. He was an opposition activist. As you may be aware, and probably a lot of you know, when he wrote “The Death of a Poet” on the death of Pushkin, one of his relatives saw the text and asked Lermontov to soften it a bit. Lermontov was so infuriated, that he actually made it even more bitter and edgy. The poem ended with “And your black blood won't wash away // The poet's sacred blood.”
He was definitely opposing the authorities, but I think he was also a patriot. This is very fine line. After all, he was an officer, and a very brave and courageous one, who wasn't afraid to get into the line of fire in the country's interests. By the way, in the last movie by Nikita Mikhalkov, such officers, who actually brought these efforts to their logical end, the revolution, were later killed by revolutionaries. Maybe if they could get a second chance, they would not have done what they did from the outset to destroy Russian statehood.
After all, the line that separates opposition activists from the fifth column is hard to see from the outside. What's the difference? Opposition activists may be very harsh in their criticism, but at the end of the day they are defending the interests of the motherland. And the fifth column is those who serve the interests of other countries, and who are only tools for others' political goals.
POLINA DANILOVA, STUDENT NEWSPAPER OTKRYTKA, THE INSTITUTE FOR THE HUMANITIES AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES (IGUMO): Good afternoon. This year the institute joined the nationwide Gifted Children programme. We have created an online platform for identifying and supporting the gifted children in all Russian regions. This helps foster a feeling of patriotism, social responsibility to the country and also professionalism. It's important that it is not a commercial but a social project that is implemented by young people and for young people. And now I'd like to ask my questions. Will these socially significant projects receive federal assistance? Mr Putin, are you personally ready to support our initiative? We really hope for your assistance and support. Thank you for your answer in advance, and please come to IGUMO. We know that you'll like it. Thank you.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Just a second, how do you plan to implement this in practice?
POLINA DANILOVA: We have launched the Gifted Children portal in trial mode, and will open it to the public in February. It is a professional online venue where children will be able communicate on professional issues. It will have...
VLADIMIR PUTIN: So they will communicate there, but what will you do?
POLINA DANILOVA: There will be 25 categories, from which they can choose what they like and what is interesting for them. They will interact, share opinions and learn about contests they can participate in.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I see. Yes, this is a very good and important initiative.
I wish you success. Of course, we'll try to support the largest possible number of projects in this field, including yours. I'll ask my colleagues to collect information about what's being done and where, and how we can help you.
As you know, I have recently said in my address [to the Federal Assembly, that there would be scholarships for gifted children, the school graduates who enroll at universities, additional scholarships paid by the government until they graduate from their universities. As for what I personally can do, I'll tell you a secret. It concerns a small project I initiated after the Winter Olympics, a permanent winter sports training centre for children in the Imereti Valley. This project has been launched. But the next thing I'm going to say... The Minister of Sport is probably listening to this broadcast. I hope he won't faint at hearing what I'm about to say... I want to change this project. I want this centre, which is a big and very impressive building right on the Black Sea shore... First, it should be a non-governmental project, and, second, there should be two other parts aside from the children we have been bringing from the country's children's sports schools. I mean that we should additionally bring children from the nation's physics and mathematics schools and from music schools. This children's centre should consist of three parts – sports, music and mathematics. I have great hope that in the course of this work... Currently there are 200 young athletes from all over the country and they will stay for 21 days. The same arrangement should be applied to children from music schools and from physics and mathematics schools. This will help us and the specialists who will work on the ground to choose the most gifted children, to get a good look at them, to work with them almost individually, and to help them at the next stage to find themselves at a university or in life. So, we will move together in this direction. Thank you very much.
ALEXANDER YUNASHEV, LIFE NEWS: Good afternoon, Mr Putin. A year ago, you pardoned Khodorkovsky. He promised you then that he would not engage in politics. But today he declares almost presidential ambitions. My question is: do you have any regrets?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: And where will he run for president?
ALEXANDER YUNASHEV: My next question is this. Is he a political opponent or an opponent and a patriot into the bargain? How do you see it?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Well, do you have one question or two?
ALEXANDER YUNASHEV: I have three.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Three! What will the others do while we debate all this until the morning?
Well, Mr Khodorkovsky did ask for a pardon, at least he sent a relevant petition and seemed to have no intention to engage in politics. But when I was considering the pardon, I didn't proceed from what he could or couldn't do, or whether he would or wouldn't engage in politics. It's his choice and he has the right to do it like any other citizen of the Russian Federation, provided he conforms to the necessary criteria, including for top positions in the country. Well, God help him! Let him work. As for me, I took my decision out of humanitarian considerations. He said in his letter that his mother was gravely ill. You know, mother is sacred. I am not being ironic. And he had almost served out his term in prison. Did it make any sense to keep him there, bearing in mind that he wouldn't even have a chance to say good-bye to his mother? That's what it was all about, and he said as much in his letter. I have no regrets and I think I did the right thing.
PAVEL PCHYOLKIN, CHANNEL ONE: Mr Putin, my question is about the Olympic Games and about sports and politics. The Olympic Games and their success both in terms of their organisation and the athletes' performance was one of the most spectacular events of this year. It was a huge project. We could hope for a multiplication effect in the economy. After all, we've built an immense infrastructure, made enormous investments and demonstrated that this country is capable of implementing projects on this scale.
Don't you think that Russia did not have a chance to benefit from the Olympic Games because of the tragedy in Ukraine?
And one more question. We are now preparing to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It's quite an expensive event that requires a lot of investment. In the wake of the sanctions, falling oil prices and the falling ruble, will Russia be capable of hosting the World Cup at all?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: First, let me talk about the Olympics. I think we achieved everything we wanted in the preparation of and the hosting of the Olympic Games. We achieved even more than we dreamt of. We won the Olympics for which I would like to give special thanks to our Olympic and Paralympic athletes who are the real heroes of the Games.
Regarding Ukraine, it's true, the Games were just coming to a close when these tragic events began to unfold. But it was not our fault. We did not start the coup. It had nothing to do with us. I wish it had never happened, but it did.
Speaking about whether we are pleased with the Olympics, of course we are pleased. By the way, we can see this from what is happening with the facilities. As you probably know, in many countries the Olympic facilities are just left empty after the Games. Completely empty. Between the seasons our facilities are more or less empty too.
But we planned some efforts in advance and built the Formula 1 track there. Then the Olympic Park hosted the World Chess Championship and some other events. Let me see. I think you know that the facilities are all booked up starting in December and until the end of February. I'm certain that they'll be very busy until the end of the alpine skiing season. Totally. What does this mean? It means that Russians now have a year-round centre for health and recreation, for both winter and summer sports.
Besides that, we'll continue to host major competitions in bobsleigh and other sports. I just mentioned in another response that we'll be developing children's sports. There is now a children's ice hockey team in Sochi. It's a great team. It loses sometimes but it's a young team and it wins sometimes too. The team has great fans. I remember Governor of the Krasnodar Territory Tkachyov told me, “We don't need a team. We don't have a hockey culture. We want football. Nobody will be interested.” I visited the stadium just recently, a month ago, and it was full. Ten thousand people! Full house. We must say thank you to the fans. Generally, ice hockey fans are quite civilised. They come to the games with their children, wives, with their entire families. It's great. The facilities will be developed further.
Speaking of the World Cup – yes, it is expensive but let me remind you that unlike many other countries that even refuse to host major competitions - do you know how these countries are different from ours? The number of people doing physical fitness and sports per 1,000 population is much higher there than in Russia.
Why is that? This is partly due to the poorly developed sports infrastructure. If we want to live longer, if we want our people to be healthy and go to skating rinks instead of liquor shops, then skating rinks must be available. We need to create new football fields, hockey rinks and fitness centres. Importantly, people should spend their money on gym memberships rather than on partying with friends. We need to create a culture where people practise physical fitness and sports. Then, the life expectancy in Russia we will be more than the current 70-71 years.
In this regard, we need to hold such events as the World Cup, because the number of children playing football will increase dramatically. Among other things, this infrastructure will be built not just in Sochi, but in more than 10 other Russian cities paired with the development of transport infrastructure, the healthcare system, etc., as was in Sochi. It's just another way of investing in Russia, and this money will be well spent.
KSENIA SOBCHAK, DOZHD TV CHANNEL: I have two questions for you, if you will.
First, while everyone is concerned about the developments in Ukraine, there are events unfolding in the Chechen Republic that concern us. Namely, Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov has de facto announced that Russian laws and the Russian Constitution do not apply in the Chechen Republic. He has publicly stated that there would be certain reprisals regarding relatives of people accused of terrorism who have not yet been convicted in court. In this regard, I would like to get an answer from you: as a lawyer and the guarantor of the Constitution, will you protect the citizens who have been left vulnerable, in fact, to pre-trial reprisals? Their homes have been burned, and the only human rights organisation in Chechnya was subjected to searches and even set on fire. What do you plan to do about this?
VLADIMIR PUTIN (to Dmitry Peskov): Why did you give her the floor?
DMITRY PESKOV: I'm sorry about that.
KSENIA SOBCHAK: May I ask my second question now?
DMITRY PESKOV: Ms Sobchak, let's show some respect for others and have one person ask one question.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Ok, since you have the floor, go ahead and ask your second question. What is it about?
KSENIA SOBCHAK: I would like to clarify for myself and our audience this fine line between the fifth column and the opposition. Things are now clear with Lermontov, but it would be nice to sort things out with the present. Mr Putin, once you publicly stated that there was a bullying campaign against my father at some point in time. I think today, the term “bullying” has come back into our lives.
I'm referring not only to the harassment of Makarevich, the allegations about invented friends of the junta (I know these people and I'm sure that many of them are true patriots of their country), or all the epithets like “yid Banderites” heard on federal channels. I get the sense that federal channels are deliberately fanning hatred in Russian society. Take for instance the episode about a crucified boy from Slavyansk that was shown on the first federal channel where the state has a controlling stake. This episode was considered... It was proved to be false, but nobody apologised for it. Aren't you afraid of such hatred in our society where some people are so strongly pitted against others? And what are you going to do to reduce this hatred? Do you think that people are still being divided into allies of yours and Bandar-logs?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Bandar-logs exist, of course. Kipling said this, not me. As for the main topic, let's start with the first question.
I'm referring to what Kadyrov said about the relatives of terrorists, their homes, expelling them from the republic and so on. Naturally, I can have only one view on this: in Russia everyone must obey the existing laws and nobody is considered guilty until this is proved by court. This is the first point.
Second, I've already said that life is complicated. I'll tell you something from the practical experience of counterterrorism units. Generally – I won't say always – the relatives of people who commit acts of terror know about them in the overwhelming majority of cases, if not more. But this does not give anyone the right, including the head of Chechnya, to resort to extrajudicial reprisals. I absolutely agree with you on this.
Moreover, the relevant law-enforcement agencies are now conducting a preliminary investigation into this. It is necessary to find out who burnt down houses and killed them (relatives of the terrorists) because they were wearing masks.
As for Kadyrov's statement, it could have been simply emotional, and then someone seized on it. I understand the emotions because 14 police officers were killed in this act of terror. It all started with the murder of traffic policemen. It wasn't in a firefight. These people were savagely shot point-blank and many died later on. All in all, 14 were killed and 38 wounded, some of them seriously.
As you know, thousands took to the streets to demonstrate. Under the circumstances, the head of the republic made some emotional statements.
I'm sure that these remarks fully lived up to people's expectations. But he had no right to say that. And it would be absolutely correct to verify the facts. To repeat, apart from public remarks and the subsequent actions, including actions to destroy these residential buildings, a probe should be conducted to establish what really happened. Maybe someone took advantage of that and did it. Maybe not. And then the law enforcement agencies will need to respond appropriately. At the same time (and you know this very well), unfortunately or fortunately, such methods are used in international antiterrorist practice. They are most actively used in Israel. But this is not all. This is not about Israel. We saw that after 11 September, torture was legalised in the United States. How can that be explained? Furthermore, it was not only legalised, but a methodology for using torture was developed! So life is complicated and diverse, but we must follow the law. I agree with you there. If we go outside the law, it will only lead to chaos. We'll investigate the facts and respond appropriately.
Now regarding what you described as persecution campaigns. I just know – I learned about that when I came to Moscow. Even before that, I had suspicions that persecution was organised against your father. However, when I came to Moscow, I found direct evidence of it. Even then it seemed strange to me that after Anatoly Sobchak acquired a dismal 100 square metre flat, two criminal cases were opened against him within a week: They don't open [criminal cases] for months, but now two were opened within a week. Then, during an election campaign, the fact that criminal cases were initiated was included in leaflets that were dropped over Leningrad from airplanes. Of course, it was a clearly orchestrated campaign, and it was organised by certain government officials in the struggle against him. I would like to assure you that there has been no organised persecution of people who disagree with our actions, say, in Ukraine or in Crimea or on some other domestic political issues. None of the official power bodies, no official government representatives are doing this. If there is some reaction from the public, from the people who disagree with this position, the people who have encountered this today should understand that they cannot monopolise the right to make sweeping accusations, that there are people who disagree with their position and that they will also face accusations. It's important to learn to react to this properly. It is unnecessary to make such a hue and cry, shouting from the rooftops: Help, I'm being harassed! Reaction should also come from the public domain.
As for the government bodies, let me reiterate that there were no and won't be any attempts, instructions or efforts to stigmatise anyone. Unlike Russia, this is not the path chosen by, say, our European partners. For example, Gazmanov, Valeria and Iossif Kobzon were banned by Latvia's Foreign Ministry from entering the Latvian Republic. This is an example of an official position of a government body. The Russian authorities never have adopted or will adopt such a stance.
ALEXEI ANISHCHYUK, REUTERS NEWS AGENCY: Good afternoon, Mr Putin. In the last year Russia has been engulfed in what could be called one of the gravest crises in its contemporary history. It all started at the end of 2013 with the developments in Ukraine, followed by a deterioration in relations with the West, reminiscent of the “cold war”, and in recent days we have been witnessing an acute currency exchange crisis, which could grow into a financial and economic crisis. The risks are there. I know all too well that you often tend to blame some external forces for everything. I also know that some in the Russian elite, from your inner circle, who are the most well-informed people in Russia, despite all their public statements, tend to lay the blame for some things on you as the person who has been in charge of taking all the key decision in Russia for the last 15 years...
VLADIMIR PUTIN: What are the names?
ALEXEI ANISHCHYUK: Unfortunately, I can't tell you. They usually talk on condition of anonymity. But lately such statements could be heard in their conversations with reporters.
My question in this respect is the following: To what extent are you confident that your inner circle unconditionally supports you? Do you see any risk of a government coup or even a palace coup? You have stated on a number of occasions what you would do in case of an “orange revolution” or, God forbid, a “red revolution.” But do you have a plan in the event of treachery in your inner circle or a palace coup?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Regarding a palace coup, I can assure you that we don't have “palaces,” so a palace coup isn't really possible. The official presidential residence is in the Kremlin, it is well protected, which is an important factor for the stability of state institutions in Russia.
But this is not what stability is all about. It's actually based on... There is no other stability as solid as the support of the Russian people. I don't think you have any doubts as to whether our key foreign and domestic policy initiatives benefit from such support.
Why is this happening? Because people feel deep down inside that we, and I in particular, are acting in the interests of the overwhelming majority of Russians.
As for the question of who is to blame and who is not for the developments in Ukraine that kicked off the series of cataclysms we are currently witnessing, you know very well what I think. I have on many occasions said that a coup was committed and that it was a big mistake. Eastern Europe, our neighbours, including Ukraine, is not a banana republic, not even North Africa or Somalia, where you can stage a coup using some special tools, militants, or people who are unhappy with government policies. You are saying that I'm accusing someone. No, I'm not accusing anyone, I'm just stating a fact.
Without going into details, I will say a few words about our discussions on this account with our partners. You may be aware of the agreement between the opposition and the Ukrainian government of 21 February. The agreement was signed by the three foreign ministers of Germany, Poland and France as guarantors of the agreement. Do you follow me? We had talks with the leaders of the United States, who kept telling us, “Yanukovych should not use force no matter what.” He didn't and what he got was a coup. We are now being told, “What could we do? The situation got out of control, which is called an excessive act in criminal law.” I beg to differ. If that's an excessive act, then what were you supposed to say, even if you weren't able to stop these radicals who broke into the presidential administration and took over the Government building? You should have told them as follows, “We do want to see you in Europe, we do want you to sign and ratify the association agreement, you are indeed part of the European family, but if you act this way, you will never be part of Europe, and we will never support you. Go back to the agreement of 21 February, form a national unity government and start working together.”
I'm sure that if that was their position, there would be no civil war in Ukraine with its many casualties. Our colleagues have adopted a different stance. From giving out cookies during the Maidan protests, they moved on to political and economic promises. By the way, the Ukrainian people need the money, but no one is going to do this on their own, only through international financial institutions. Therefore, I believe that our position was completely justified and objective from day one.
Now about the elites. You know, there is elite wine, there are elite resorts. There are no elite people. You know what the Russian elite is? It's a worker. A farmer. Someone who carries our entire country on his shoulders. Has been carrying it for centuries, and will carry it for centuries to come. All other levels, including elites and others, are absolutely groundless. There are rich people and poor people, sick people and healthy people. But they are all equal before the country and before the law. There are rich patriots. You may wonder if that's possible. Maybe, some are unhappy. Of course, what would they be happy about? They are disgruntled. But the question is, how they are going to get out of this situation. Always being dependent on someone, always being on the hook?
One of our companies with offshore incorporation on some islands has made a decision on the dividends. It's a legitimate company operating in an offshore zone, a large company. A decision was made. Do you know what happened next? As there were some people covered by sanctions there, the local directors declined and said they could not transfer money for dividend payments to them, and that they had to hold consultations. “Who are you going to consult? You must pay, it's the law.” They said this was true, but that they would not honour the law. They were told, “That's an outrage, we're going to take you to court.” And do you know what they did? I'll tell you: They resigned. This is nothing but a circus act. They resigned, and the money cannot be transferred without their signatures. Moreover, it's impossible to appoint anyone to these positions because an order was issued not to fill these vacancies. So, the money is hanging in midair.
If you are speaking about representatives of the Russian business community, do they want to live this way? Most of them don't. Only a powerful Russian state can become the main protector of Russian citizens' interests, regardless of what they are doing, business included.
MIKHAIL BAZHENOV, BUSINESS FM: Good afternoon. Mr President, in your annual Address to the Federal Assembly, you said that there were plans for an amnesty of capital. A week has already passed, but we have heard no other details. I would like to ask about some details. When will the amnesty start, how long will it last, and how much do you plan to repatriate? And here is probably the most important thing: How do you envision the mechanism of this amnesty? Will all capital be repatriated, including illegal capital, or not? Or, perhaps, some screening procedure will be introduced? And how would businesses respond to the screening concept? Will they believe that it would be possible to pass this procedure and to continue calmly doing business in Russia? In the long run, what guarantees will they receive that they will not have to answer any questions from law enforcement and tax agencies, etc., after registering their businesses in Russia? Thank you.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: I see. First, how much do we plan to return? We do not set any capital repatriation targets at all. The repatriation of capital is not the main issue. This is not a fiscal measure. This is about legalisation. If a company wants to keep its money and assets abroad, it is free to do so. This issue implies legalisation, so that they come and register here. This is the most important thing. I want to make this clear.
Second, I will personally see to it that there are no violations regarding mechanisms and guarantees. And I want to warn all my colleagues, including those from law enforcement agencies, that we will take extremely tough action against those violating the principle that I just mentioned.
As for screening, I believe that there should be no screening procedures. Everyone wishing to come here, register and become legalised here should have this right. I have noted many times that a presumption of innocence exists with regard to criminal cases, and everything is considered legal unless there is evidence to the contrary.
Finally, I would like to say a few words about mechanisms. These mechanisms have not been worked out so far, and we need to think about this. The Government is working on this now. I believe that we need to legalise not only offshore property, but also property that has been registered, reregistered or hidden at front companies, by relatives, or in some other way in Russia. Everyone should declare their property once and for all, turn the page and proceed.
YEVSTOLIYA TARANDA, ARCTIC TV NETWORK: Good afternoon, Mr Putin. I represent Yamal Region, and the Yamal Region proper. Many people are sending their regards and words of support to you. Hang in there on the external contour. I have a question about my region. People are worried that the governors of Yamal and Yugra [the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Area] will no longer be elected. Are there enlargement plans, and will these regions – Yamal, Yugra and the Tyumen Region – be merged? You have been to our region more than once, and you know about our conditions and specifics, and that we don't want this to happen. What do you think on this issue? Will there be a single huge federal entity from Kazakhstan to the Arctic?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Let's talk about federal entities – please, sit down – their merger and all other related issues. There is a federal law, according to which regions can be merged only based on the free expression of will of the people who live there. This is done differently in different regions: It can be done through a referendum or by decision of the given region's legislative assembly. No decision should be forced on people from above; doing so is counterproductive. At the same time, as everyone here knows, our productive forces are distributed around the country extremely unevenly. As a result, one region's revenue may differ from that of another region by 26 times or even more, if my memory serves me. And people's living standards, including healthcare, education and the like, also differ radically, which is bad, overall.
However, I'd like to say again that this is a highly delicate matter, especially when it concerns ethnic republics, and we must never force any unification plans on people. Only people themselves can make the correct decision based on their life experience and their understanding of developments in the economy and social sphere.
Of course, there could be some pro-unification political forces, but then there are also anti-unification forces... This should proceed as openly as possible and with the public involved to the greatest extent. Decisions must not be forced from above.
JOHN SIMPSON, BBC: Western countries almost universally now believe that there's a new Cold War and that you, frankly, have decided to create that. We see, almost daily, Russian aircraft taking sometimes quite dangerous manoeuvres towards western airspace. That must be done on your orders; you're the Commander-in-Chief. It must have been your orders that sent Russian troops into the territory of a sovereign country – Crimea first, and then whatever it is that's going on in Eastern Ukraine. Now you've got a big problem with the currency of Russia, and you're going to need help and support and understanding from outside countries, particularly from the West. So can I say to you, can I ask you now, would you care to take this opportunity to say to people from the West that you have no desire to carry on with the new Cold War, and that you will do whatever you can to sort out the problems in Ukraine? Thank you!
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Thank you very much for your question. About our exercises, manoeuvres and the development of our armed forces. You said that Russia, to a certain extent, contributed to the tension that we are now seeing in the world. Russia did contribute but only insofar as it is more and more firmly protecting its national interests. We are not attacking in the political sense of the word. We are not attacking anyone. We are only protecting our interests. Our Western partners – and especially our US partners – are displeased with us for doing exactly that, not because we are allowing security-related activity that provokes tension.
Let me explain. You are talking about our aircraft, including strategic aviation operations. Do you know that in the early 1990s, Russia completely stopped strategic aviation flights in remote surveillance areas as the Soviet Union previously did? We completely stopped, while flights of US strategic aircraft carrying nuclear weapons continued. Why? Against whom? Who was threatened?
So we didn't make flights for many years and only a couple of years ago we resumed them. So are we really the ones doing the provoking?
So, in fact, we only have two bases outside Russia, and both are in areas where terrorist activity is high. One is in Kyrgyzstan, and was deployed there upon request of the Kyrgyz authorities, President Akayev, after it was raided by Afghan militants. The other is in Tajikistan, which also borders on Afghanistan. I would guess you are interested in peace and stability there too. Our presence is justified and clearly understandable.
Now, US bases are scattered around the globe – and you're telling me Russia is behaving aggressively? Do you have any common sense at all? What are US armed forces doing in Europe, also with tactical nuclear weapons? What are they doing there?
Listen, Russia has increased its military spending for 2015, if I am not mistaken, it is around 50 billion in dollar equivalent. The Pentagon's budget is ten times that amount, $575 billion, I think, recently approved by the Congress. And you're telling me we are pursuing an aggressive policy? Is there any common sense in this?
Are we moving our forces to the borders of the United States or other countries? Who is moving NATO bases and other military infrastructure towards us? We aren't. Is anyone listening to us? Is anyone engaging in some dialogue with us about it? No. No dialogue at all. All we hear is “that's none of your business. Every country has the right to choose its way to ensure its own security.” All right, but we have the right to do so too. Why can't we?
Finally, the ABM system – something I mentioned in my Address to the Federal Assembly. Who was it that withdrew unilaterally from the ABM Treaty, one of the cornerstones of the global security system? Was it Russia? No, it wasn't. The United States did this, unilaterally. They are creating threats for us, they are deploying their strategic missile defence components not just in Alaska, but in Europe as well – in Romania and Poland, very close to us. And you're telling me we are pursuing an aggressive policy?
If the question is whether we want law-based relations, the answer is yes, but only if our national economic and security interests are absolutely respected.
We negotiated WTO accession for 19 years or so, and consented to compromise on many issues, assuming that we are concluding cast-iron agreements. And then... I will not discuss who's right and who's wrong (I already said on many occasions that I believe Russia behaved the right way in the Ukrainian crisis, and the West was wrong, but let us put this aside for now). Still, we joined the WTO. That organisation has rules. And yet, sanctions were imposed on Russia in violation of the WTO rules, the international law and the UN Charter – again unilaterally and illegitimately. Are we in the wrong again?
We want to develop normal relations in the security sphere, in fighting terrorism. We will work together on nuclear non-proliferation. We will work together on other threats, including drugs, organised crime and grave infections, such as Ebola. We will do all this jointly, and we will cooperate in the economic sphere, if our partners want this.
SAIDA ZHARKINOVA, MIR TV COMPANY, KAZAKHSTAN: Good afternoon, Mr President. Saida Zharkinova from Kazakhstan. Naturally, my question concerns integration issues. Starting from January 1, 2015, the Eurasian Economic Union will become fully effective, and the three countries – Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia – will be joined by Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. Is there a cause for concern with the current crises in our economies? Do you think this common market could turn into a common crisis?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: You know, Kazakhstan, as well as the Russian Federation, is a gas and oil producing country, so regardless of the integration under the Eurasian Economic Union, one way or another Kazakhstan – as well as Russia – is facing an unfavourable scenario on foreign markets. Will we be able to handle this situation? I have already said that we will inevitably emerge from this situation with positive results, due to global economic growth and demands for energy resources, which we have now and will have in future, and due to the fact that our economies, one way or another, will adapt to the low prices for energy resources.
But what is at the core of the proposal made by President Nazarbayev a while ago, which we are successfully implementing, regarding integration? It would be easier to do this together, providing free space for transition of goods, workforce and capital. Of course, this is easier through joint efforts. Moreover, during the existence of the Customs Union, our trade turnover grew by 50 percent in recent years. This is a serious objective indicator, and we will rely on the positive achievements related to integration.
There is a woman from the newspaper Krestyanskaya Zhizn raising her hand... We cannot do without farmers, considering this year's grain harvest of 104 million tons. Let's congratulate our farmers once more on this achievement and thank them.
SVETLANA SAMSONOVA, KRESTYANSKAYA ZHIZN NEWSPAPER, VOLGOGRAD: Good afternoon. My question is about agricultural development, which is impossible without resolving human resources issues. Let me give you an example: we have a farmer in the Volgograd Region, Mikhail Rostov. A man who worked for him, a turner, has retired, and he hasn't been able to find a replacement for a long time. Mr Rotov offered an adequate salary, by agricultural standards, as well as accommodation and meals, but no one is interested. This is a problem other farmers face as well, especially in vegetable growing: no one is willing to work hard, and farmers fear that very few people will be working in the fields, for instance, next year. Farmers believe that this workforce issue is a threat to national food security. Do you agree? What can be done about this? How can the personnel problem be solved in the agricultural sector?
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Needless to say, I share the concern of agricultural producers over the difficulties of working under the current conditions, but on the other hand I cannot but share the optimism of those who believe that the clearing of the domestic market for our producers is creating many serious opportunities for developing the agriculture industry.
As for the personnel, we should think about this in advance, of course. The state is thinking about it. I'm referring to the training of middle- and high-skilled workers. We should use all of these training opportunities. We have wonderful, simply wonderful universities and vocational schools that train agrarians. Our Agricultural Academy has become part of the big Academy and I'm hoping that it will produce a positive synergetic effect for this important branch of the Russian economy. Apart from everything else (we talked with the Prime Minister about this yesterday), the Government has decided to add about 20 billion rubles to the agriculture industry. So next year, support to agriculture will be about 200 billion rubles and I hope the agrarians will feel it.
It goes without saying that it is very important for us to make sure that the funds received from the sale of a record (104 million tonnes) harvest reach the agricultural producers and by no means land in the hands of some middling go-betweens.
As for the personnel... Well, we must hire them in time. Food prices are objectively and sometimes without a reason, still increasing, which is not very good for consumers, but this is an opportunity for agricultural producers. I hope that everyone will take advantage of it.
ALYONA YEVTYAKOVA, GUBERNIYA TV CHANNEL, VORONEZH REGION: Mr President, tell me please... In my region – it is now in the top ten in terms of commissioning new housing – the percent of purchases with mortgages has increased to 60 percent. Considering the current economic situation, what will happen to mortgages, loans and the Young Family programme?
If I may, I'd like to ask you another question – people won't forgive me if I don't ask it – and I probably shouldn't go back to my city... Tell me, please... When I was getting ready for the trip I asked my acquaintances: what question would you ask Mr Putin? And all of my aunt's friends said in unison: he is Russia's number one bridegroom! Yes, that's it. A bachelor's life for more than a year. Does Mr Putin have the time for a private life? If possible, please start from the first reply. Thank you very much.
VLADIMIR PUTIN: Please pass on my heart-felt greetings to the friends of your aunt. Thank them for such attention.
As for mortgages, this is a serious issue. This is indeed a very serious issue. Now that the Central Bank's key interest rate is 17 percent, it is difficult to offer mortgages, if it's possible at all.
I must say that in the past few years the use of mortgages has grown at higher rates than we expected. I'm afraid to make a mistake in absolute figures but they were higher than expected. As for the interest rate... It has changed – at first 9.5 percent, then 10 percent, but people were still taking out loans.
This article includes links to evidence which proves that claims made by Tony Abott, Petro Poroshenko and SBS that East Ukrainian rebels killed the 298 crew and passengers aboard MH17, including 38 Australians, were untrue.
On the SBS news service of 11 December 2014 it was reported uncritically that visiting Ukrainian President President Petro Poroshenko and his host Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott had urged Russia to withdraw the troops they claim had invaded Ukraine. SBS also urged that those guilty of murdering 38 Australians amongst the 298 who were aboard flight MH17 be brought to justice. They said that pro-Russian rebels had fired the alleged surface-to-air missile that had allegedly shot down Flight MH17. ABC Australia has recently apologised for similar prejudiced reporting, admitting it had no evidence, see: ABC Australia apologises for bias against Russia in reporting MH17 crash. Neither Poroshenko, Abbott, or the SBS 'reporter' however, acknowledge that no evidence has been produced to confirm this claim. Furthermore, there is much forensic and eyewitness testimony that strongly indicates that flight MH17 was shot down by a pair of Ukraine Air Force Sukhoi 25 fighters.
Claims that Russian soldiers have invaded Ukraine have been parroted by the Western newsmedia, including SBS news, for months, but evidence of this has never been produced.
The implicit assumption is that the East Ukrainians self-defence forces could not have defeated the Ukrainian army without help from armed forces from elsewhere.
The alternative explanation which is consistent with the evidence is that the Ukraine army has been defeated because
(1) the self-defence forces have a more intimate knowledge of the land which they are defending and (2) they enjoy the support of the local people. This has never been considered on SBS news.
Biased SBS reports about this development in the Ukraine conflict include:
"7.30 has acknowledged your concern and agrees it was inaccurate for the program to state as fact that flight MH17 was shot down by “Pro-Russian militia” and “Russian backed rebels”. The program understands the cause of that incident remains unresolved and is the subject of ongoing investigation."
Appendix: Factually wrong 'reporting' from the above stories.
From MH17 on agenda for Ukraine president visit
The passenger jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine in July by pro-Russian rebels who are waging a war against government forces.
Mr Abbott has pointed the finger at Russia, accusing it of providing the missile and military support to the rebels, threatening Ukraine's territorial integrity.
#MH17Evidence">Editorial comment. A growing mountain of evidence shows that the most plausible explanation is that MH17 was downed by Ukraine Air Force Sukhoi 25 fighter aircraft. Articles which describe this and attempts to prevent a proper investigation include:
In fact, in 1990 Amnesty International peddled the infamous 'incubator babies' lie (see Appendix below for embedded 2:47min broadcast) and has repeatedly been complicit in violations of human rights far greater than those claimed violations of human rights to which it had objected.
The death toll in Iraq since the invasion of 1991 that was facilitated by the 'incubator babies' has been estimated be as highas 3.3 million including 750,000 children. This seems consistent with another estimate of the death toll since the 2003 invasion of 1,455,590. Other estimates give death tolls from these wars of at least several hundreds of thousands.
So, in the case of Iraq, Amnesty International's actions have resulted in a count of deaths of several orders of magnitude greater than those it had alleged to have occurred and had objected to.
#E0E6F8;line-height:120%;">Video inside. 23 minute Russian documentary investigating the downing of MH17, using footage from reporters on the scene shortly after, and engineering analysis, plus follow-up on reports made early in the piece, but since buried in the western news. The official investigative teams have still not come up with any definitive answers, and certainly no evidence that Russians or even East Ukrainian separatists did it, let alone had any motive, despite prejudicial and inflammatory stances by our own primeminister, Mr Abbott. At the time of the tragedy, civil conflict in the area prevented international experts from conducting a full and thorough investigation. It seems that the western-backed Kiev government (under Poroshenko) went all-out to bomb the area continuously, leaving one to surmise that they wanted to destroy evidence and keep observers away. The wreckage should have been collected and scrupulously re-assembled to identify all the damage, but this standard investigative procedure was never carried out. Until that’s done, evidence can only be gleaned from pictures of the debris, the flight recorders or black boxes and eye-witnesses’ testimonies. This may be enough to help build a picture of what really happened to the aircraft, whether a rocket fired from the ground or gunfire from a military jet.
This letter, written to Mr Bill Shorten, leader of Australia's opposition, criticises the basis of his position on MH17 and the attitude he has officially expressed towards President Putin of Russia's attendance at the G20 summit. The letter cites scientific analysis that casts huge doubt on the involvement of a missile. It points out that there has been no official report on the results of any investigation of MH17's fate, notably nothing to implicate Russia. Unofficial copies of documents (samizdat) are thought to indicate that the countries participating in the MH17 investigation have signed a secret non-disclosure agreement where any participant (including the very suspect Kiev) has the right to veto publication of the results without explanation. The truth about the cause of the horrifying fate of the 298 appears to have been subsumed by propaganda to which Australia's Prime Minister and opposition leader both shamefully bow. The letter suggests that Australia should not subscribe to baseless attacks on Putin in order to help the US's bid maintain position in a unipolar world. The BRICs countries and Indonesia and Argentina - arguably our natural allies - are unlikely to be impressed by such dishonesty and it serves no good cause.
14 October 2014
Dear Mr Shorten,
I write to you out of concern for your stand on the visit by President Putin to Australia for the G20 meeting in Brisbane.
On the ABC yesterday, it was presented as a fact that Malaysian Airline flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine by pro-Russian militia.
Since the plane was shot down, there have been many claims about who was responsible, but no official investigation has attributed blame.
For example, ABC news reports have referred to surface-to-air missiles shooting down the plane despite this supposed 'fact' not being established by any official investigation. There is no suggestion in the report by the Dutch Safety Board that a missile shot down MH17. It draws no conclusion regarding what weapon was used, but it does highlight the following (p.25):
The pattern of damage observed in the forward fuselage and cockpit section of the aircraft was consistent with the damage that would be expected from a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.
Michael Bociurkiw, a Canadian in the first team of OSCE monitors sent to investigate the wreckage and the site, said in a CBC news video interview that damage to the cockpit 'looks like machine gun fire', not a missile.
The official report (p.25) states that "Puncture holes ..suggested that small objects entered from above cockpit floor". This would not be inconsistent with conclusions drawn by a Russian Union of Engineers report which contends that MH17 was attacked by a fighter jet.
An unidentified combat aircraft (presumably a Su-25 or MiG -29), which was a tier below, on a collision course, in the cloud layer, sharply gained altitude and suddenly appeared out of the clouds in front of the civilian aircraft and opened fire on the cockpit, firing from a 30 mm caliber cannon or smaller. The pilot of a fighter jet can do this while in "free hunting" mode (using onboard radar) or with the help of navigational guidance using airspace situation data from ground-based radar.
As a result of multiple hits from shells there was damage to the cockpit, which suddenly depressurized, resulting in instant death for the crew due to mechanical influences and decompression. The attack was sudden and lasted a fraction of a second; in such circumstances the crew could not sound any alarm as the flight had been proceeding in regular mode and no attack was expected.
The public should be wary of fabricated "evidence" .... after what we have witnessed in the last so many years. Have we forgotten the monstrous lies and massive distortions that accompanied the reckless allegation that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) which led eventually to the invasion of that country in 2003 and the death of more than a million people? Iraq continues to bleed to this day. What about the Gulf of Tonkin episode of 1964 which again was a fabrication that paved the way for wanton United States aggression against Vietnam that resulted in the death of more than three million Vietnamese?
The story of the downed plane with 298 dead people is no longer news, and the investigation as to who shot it down? Don't hold your breath. Last week Dutch viewers of a TV news program were informed about something that had been doing the rounds on internet samizdat: the countries participating in the MH17 investigation have signed a non¬disclosure agreement. Any of the participants (which include Kiev) has the right to veto publication of the results without explanation. The truth about the cause of the horrifying fate of the 298 appears to have been already settled by propaganda. That means that although there has been no shred of evidence that the official story of the 'rebels' shooting down the plane with Russian involvement, it remains a justification for sanctions against Russia.
The Government is between a rock and a hard place. It's an international conference, not a conference run by Australia, so if Putin has the arrogance to turn up, to visit a nation whose nationals died in this plane crash, he can, but I'm like most Australians; I wish that Putin would at least show enough conscience to be able to not come to Australia because he's rubbing our faces in it.
The G20 is an 'international conference' as you state. However, it should be noted all the BRICS countries will be represented at it, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Argentina and Indonesia will also attend; they are countries which perhaps are more naturally aligned with BRICS than the 'international community' led by the United States. (In fact, President Cristina Kirchner from Argentina was a special guest at the 6th BRICS summit this year.) No doubt, the leaders of these countries will be paying close attention to the stand Australian political leaders take on President Putin's visit and the welcome he receives in Brisbane.
We are entering a period in history when there are strong pushes from particular countries to establish a unipolar world so the United States can remain the dominant economic and military power. If it is necessary to fabricate, lie, wage wars, and to take belligerent stands against the leaders and peoples of particular countries simply to maintain the predominance of the United States, then a unipolar world cannot surely be in the long-term interests of Australia or other countries. Supporting unconscionable actions deemed necessary to ensure this century belongs to America will not only compromise our values and beliefs but will risk our becoming isolated from important partners, not to mention the risks of a major world conflict.
To survive the 21st century, the world needs a stable multipolar world. As the host of the G20, Australia has the opportunity to have a voice on the world stage and display a leadership which will be highly regarded and hold us in good stead in coming years if it reflects a deep and courageous integrity as well as a vision for the people of the world as a whole.
These notes were added by candobetter.net's editor.
Samizdat (Russian: ?????????; IPA: [s?m?z?dat]) was a key form of dissident activity across the Soviet bloc in which individuals reproduced censored publications by hand and passed the documents from reader to reader.
The West and Russia can't seem to get over their differences, with the tensions between the Washington and Kremlin changing the stakes for the whole world. How far would this confrontation go? Is there another Cold War coming? And finally, will the world once again know the horror of a Nuclear War looming over the humanity? We ask these questions to a prominent American scholar on Russian studies, Professor at New York University and Princeton University. Stephen Cohen is on Sophie and Co today.
The West and Russia can't seem to get over their differences, with the tensions between the Washington and Kremlin changing the stakes for the whole world. How far would this confrontation go? Is there another Cold War coming? And finally, will the world once again know the horror of a Nuclear War looming over the humanity?
We ask these questions to a prominent American scholar on Russian studies, Professor at New York University and Princeton University. Stephen Cohen is on Sophie and Co today.
Sophie Shevardnadze:Stephen, it's really great to have you back and to have you on our show once again. Now, you've called the current U.S.-Russia crisis "the most dangerous confrontation in many decades" - are we close to a war?
Stephen Cohen: Let me tell you what I think happened. We are in a new Cold War. In America, the policy-makers say it's not a Cold War, because they don't want to take a responsibility for it, because their policies, and not just recently, since the 99s, have led to Cold War. It began before, I think, the Ukrainian crisis, but what happened in Ukraine, is that about a year ago, in November 2013, there was a political dispute in Kiev, about whether Yanukovych will sign the agreement with the EU. That political dispute, after the coup in February became a Ukrainian Civil War, generally speaking between Kiev and the South-East of Ukraine. The Civil War then became what we call a "proxy war", with the U.S. and NATO supporting Kiev and Moscow supporting the eastern Ukrainian rebels. The danger is, and I think it continues even now, though some people think the ceasefire has averted the danger, but the ceasefire is not solid, we don't know if it's going to be here tomorrow or next week...the danger is that the proxy war would lead by accident or intention to the intervention of Russian military forces in the East and NATO forces in the West, and that would be the Cuban Missile Crisis.
SS:That's what I was going to ask you - is there really a realistic scenario in your head where U.S. and Russia could actually enter into direct military confrontation?
SC: Yes. I just explained it to you. If the war, the Civil war in Ukraine begins again, the military aspect of it, if the ceasefire fails, if, let's say, Kiev attacks the Donbas again...if Russia feels the need to help the Donbas militarily - it is being discussed in NATO, the possibility of NATO forces entering Western Ukraine. Now, what would that mean? You would have the America-led NATO forces in Western Ukraine, whether on the ground or in the air, it doesn't matter, Russian forces in the air or on the ground - and that would be a modern version of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Now, I notice you're smiling, like I've said something fantastic, but we have to think the unthinkable, because who knew 2 years ago we were going to be in a completely....
SS:Well the unthinkable is nuclear weapons being involved - do you think that's a possibility as well?
SC: Well, let's look at what's happened. Russia has the doctrine; they've had it since the 99s, because Russian conventional forces are weaker than American-NATO conventional forces. Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons if Western conventional forces threaten the Russian state and Russia. Meanwhile, as was announced in the New York Times on the front-page, maybe 2 weeks ago, I forgot, that President Obama is about to sign a budgetary decree of what he calls a "major modernization" of our nuclear arsenal at the cost of $1 trln over 30 years. One trillion dollars is only the cost today, it doesn't include overrun inflation, and it's a fortune. Meanwhile, your government has been, quote, "modernizing its nuclear weapons" - but let's talk as adults, what does the word "modernization" means? It means buildup, so both sides are now building up their nuclear weapons, we're in a new Cold War, we're beginning a new nuclear arms race, and the danger is now immense - does that mean there's going to be war? No. The problem is to avert war you need leadership, political leadership, and the question of who's leading correctly and who's not is a political discussion, but the danger is there, absolutely 100%.
SS:There is another huge problem: between the two are the sanctions, the imposed sanctions. Now, Moscow insists that it did not help to push for a ceasefire over the situation in Ukraine in Minsk to actually stop the sanctions, but it helped it, because restoring peace in Ukraine is much more important for Russia. Then you have the West that's always tying sanctions to the agreement made in Minsk over Ukraine.
SC: Let's talk about what sanctions mean first of all. It's an institutionalization of the new Cold War. Once the sanctions were enacted, it means formally, institutionally, in legislation, in presidential degrees from the American side - we're now in a Cold War. Remember something else. It is very easy to announce sanctions, very easy. Politically, it's popular: people say, "Oh, good, we now have punished Russia" - whether we have or not is another question. It is very hard to end sanctions. Remember, Jackson-Vanik, was enacted in 1970s to force Jewish immigration, permit Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union. They only removed Jackson-Vanik a few years ago, long after the time when more Jews were coming from Israel back to Russia than wanted to leave Russia to go to Israel. Politically, and particular with the presidential campaign coming in America, which candidate is going to say 2 years from now: "Things are good with us and Russia, I propose removing the sanctions"? Not one. They'll think it's dangerous...
SS:Now, the Foreign Affairs committee in the U.S. is actually thinking of turning this who sanction-thing into part of law - that would obviously limit very much the American administration's capacity of cooperating with Russia...
SC: That's right. This law, by, what I call, the "war-party" in the Senate - it's not the whole Senate, it's the "war-party", Republican and Democratic - have been drafting a very harsh, Cold War law to punish Russia in many ways, and, moreover, make it possible to send American weapons to countries that are not members of NATO, but were former parts of the Soviet Union. They got a long list, not only Ukraine - this is a reckless, dangerous law, it's not clear if it will pass - some Senators are against it - but, in this political atmosphere, it might pass. Now, of course Obama could veto it - we don't know...
SS:Do you think he will be doing this? Because, like you've said, it would take forever to actually undo that afterwards?
SC: That's correct. Will Obama veto it? We don't know if it will get to Obama, it's got to go out of committee , then it's got to go to the full Senate, then it's got to get a majority, and then it's got to go to Obama, I don't know. We're not sure what Obama does from day-to-day, I mean, if he changes his mind... Now, if the Ukrainian Civil War begins again, if Kiev and the South-East begin fighting and shooting and shelling and what else, now, then I think Obama would sign it. But if the ceasefire and negotiations are unfolding - I don't think Obama would actually sign this. But the strange thing is, it needs to be explained, but I'm not sure I can completely, is why were new sanctions brought against Russia just as Putin and Poroshenko agree on a ceasefire and negotiations?
SS:And why the sanctions are tied into the agreement made in Minsk? Because the agreement is about the ceasefire, not about sanctions...
SC: That's right. They agreed in Minsk, Poroshenko and Putin, and the others, the Ukrainians, and the EU, that there would be a ceasefire and negotiations both about trade, but also about the new Ukraine, if there's going to be one. And suddenly, these sanctions were imposed. I think - I can't prove it – that this was a compromise between Chancellor Merkel and Germany, who has a softer approach towards Russia, wants to end this and get back to business as usual - and the war parties in NATO and Washington; and there was a compromise agreement, where the sanctions were something that Merkel agreed to in return for something she got.
SS:I'm sure you've heard about American vice-president speech at Harvard University, where he revealed that American leadership actually had to embarrass the EU into imposing sanctions on Russia over Ukraine. To me, it seemed like it came as surprise for the EU - do you think EU is really willing to hurt itself because America wants it to?
SC: I don't think, Sophie, that we can talk on these terms of singular entities. There are factions, there are groups. Roughly speaking, it's not entirely precise, there's a "war-party" in Washington, there's a "war-party" in NATO, in the EU, there's a "war-party" in Kiev, because Poroshenko is under attack in Kiev, because of the ceasefire, and - please, forgive me - there's a "war-party" in Moscow that feels that Putin should not have agreed to the ceasefire, that the rebels should have gone on and taken Mariupol, maybe Odessa and that he gave up too much in agreeing to end the fighting and so forth . So, you've got forces in Washington, Kiev, Europe and Moscow who want more war. Now, Merkel leads, in my analysis, the party that doesn't want more war, it wants this war ended, wants to get rid of it, wants to have some negotiations, and wants to EU end the sanctions or at least resume normal trade.
SS:Business as usual, yeah.
SC: Well, because... look, what is sanctions? We think we're punishing Russia - and we are, it's going to hurt Russia, there's no question; but look what's happening in Europe - European economy is down, Italian and French farmers are furious at their governments and the EU, because the Russian market is closed to them, there's too much whatever they produce - cheese, grapes, oranges, bananas - I don't know - but 40% of those goes to Russia and suddenly there's no Russian market. That means they have to cut their prices in Europe, there's too much supply, too low demand, they can't meet their costs, these people going to go out of business. Sanctions cut both ways.
SS:You've also said that the whole Ukrainian thing has split Europe into two.
SS:Or three - so how are working out a single policy to actually patch things up?
SC: They aren't! You hear different voices...look, Merkel went, about a month ago or so, I forget, in August, I think to Kiev, and after talking to Poroshenko stands before the press and says "the war must end, there's no military solution, and there must be ceasefire negotiations." Poroshenko says: "I agree." Then Poroshenko comes to Washington couple of weeks ago, addresses Congress, and says "We must fight, give us weapons, we're fighting for democracy, we must defeat Russia". He's speaking out of both sides of his mouth because there's conflict in the West, and he's trying to play the middle game.
SS:But here's another thing. The most recent UN report on situation in Eastern Ukraine actually confirms that Kiev has violated ceasefire agreement, but this is obviously being ignored by the West and Kiev's government keeps on receiving aids and blessings...
SC: What we do know is this: there's been fighting for the Donetsk airport that never stopped, and suddenly it appears that Kiev shelled Donetsk and it did that on the day that school began, they shelled some schools. It's horrible...think of what's happened; let's open our minds to the tragedy. In November 2013 the EU told Yanukovich, then the President of Ukraine: "sign an agreement with us or go to Russia", and Putin said "why do they have to choose, let's have a three-way agreement of trade and financial aid to Kiev" - you remember that, it was very clear. Lavrov, Russian foreign office and everybody... and Europe said "No" and Washington said "No, we can't do that". Now, what's happened: near a year later, they ask Putin "please come to Minsk and discuss with Poroshenko Russia, Ukraine and Europe, the three-way deal." Four thousand people have died, one million people have been turned into refugees, the Donbas has been destroyed for the agreement that could have happened without one shot fired in November one year ago. Who's responsible for that? Historians will look back and ask, "Who is responsible for the deaths of those people, that destruction, those refugees, when the outcome was available in November 2013, with a little diplomacy." That is a collapse of diplomacy. Why did the West exclude Russia from the negotiations in November, that's the question. Do you know the reason why? What would think?
SS:What would you tell me?
SC: I think it was about NATO expansion, that trade agreement.
SS:Obviously, that's another huge topic, because many believe that NATO expansion is the main stumbling point between Russia and the West. Also, NATO strategy to actually move Ukraine out of Russia's orbit - it is a huge problem, for Russia. Should Russia consider NATO's actions in Europe as a threat?
SC: If I found out where you live and I came to your house, and I've sat out in front of your house with a lot of weapons, and I've said to you: "Sophie, I'm not here to harm you, this is good for you, this is security" – you'd be frightened and buy a few guns to protect yourself, obviously. Look, when NATO expansion began in 1990s, the late George F. Kennan, who was considered the wisest man in America about American-Russian relations, said "This is a terrible, reckless, stupid decision" and it will lead to a new Cold War. Twenty years later, George - I call him George, because we both were in Princeton together, we saw each other regularly - was correct, and he was not alone. I've said it, Jack Matlock who was Reagan's ambassador to the Soviet Union and Gorbachev... A lot of people warned that the expansion of NATO eastward was going to lead to a very bad situation.
SS:But was the expansion a deliberate idea, maybe, a deliberate act, with an eventual stand-off with Russia in mind?
SC: How can you expand a military alliance without a deliberate decision? It wasn't as if nobody was paying attention, and NATO was on wheels and just kind of drifted...Major decision was taken under Clinton to do it, and it was a catastrophically unwise decision, and not only because it led to conflict with Russia, but what it said to all these new countries in NATO that were part of the Soviet Block is that you don't have to have normal diplomatic relations with Russia, that the Baltics don't have to negotiate with Russia about the rights of Russian-speaking people there. You don't have to negotiate.. Georgia, who thought it was going to get into NATO one time - you don't have to negotiate, you can punch Russia in the nose and hide behind NATO. How much diplomacy is going on? Very little. That was one of the bad things about NATO expansion, it was the end of diplomacy between Eastern Europe and Russia. The expansion of NATO was done for one main purpose - to increase security in Europe. It did just the opposite.
SS:And NATO's chief keeps on saying - the new chief - that there's no contradiction between increased NATO presence in Eastern Europe and constructive relations with Russia...
SC: That's an ideology, that's not a reality. I mean, it's foolish, everybody else knows it isn't true. Russia is preparing for war, as NATO moves closer to Russia. And, by the way, remember something very important, which is often forgotten: missile defense. Russia's tried to compromise on where this missile defense would be located. Russia has proposed it to be joined, Russian-American. What did the U.S. do? They gave the missile defense project to NATO, so missile defense is now part of the NATO expansion. It's not just NATO bases coming towards Russia, it's the missile defense. Now, U.S. says the missile defense is not directed at Russia, but American scientists have said, in its fourth stage it will be able to strike down Russian missiles as the rise towards their ultimate trajectory. Now, that means that Russia will not have the deterrent and the nuclear peace that had been kept for 45 years, on this crazy theory - but it has worked until now - that we won't attack you because we know if we attack you, you will attack us and vice versa - missile defense could end that.
SS:Also, just recently, the U.S. has shipped tanks, soldiers, armored vehicles to the Baltic states - I mean, it's the first time since the end of the Cold War, that U.S. has shipped armed vehicles into Europe. What threat is that aimed at?
SC: Look, this is driven by the Ukrainian crisis. There's a theory in the West of what the meaning of Ukrainian crisis is - that the Ukrainian crisis was started by Putin - that isn't true, but that's believed, that's the ideology - and the Ukrainian crisis is only the beginning, that Russia, the Kremlin, Putin, Russian imperialism is going to move on to the Baltics, to Poland. It's all ridiculous, there's no evidence for it. But, there's been a group in NATO that for at least 15 years - you remember, there was an agreement between NATO and Moscow, that even if NATO would expand, there would be no NATO permanent military bases in these countries that came in closer to Russia - but there's been a group in NATO for years who wanted to do that, they've seized the Ukrainian crisis at the NATO Wales summit, month ago, to create this so-called rapid deployment force of 4,000 men. What good are 4 thousand man against the Russian army? Zero, but there's a reason: there going to go bases, communication centers, barracks, air strips in Poland, in three Baltic countries, maybe in Romania - Romania hasn't quite agreed - and that would be not only NATO expansion politically, which is what it was previously, and now it's an actual military expansion. In addition, there is a plan, as you know, to build land-based missile defense installations in Poland and in those countries, so you're right, for the first time there's a military expansion of NATO, not just political, towards Russia - but it's not too late to stop it. It's not too late, if leadership does what leadership is supposed to do, if statesmen and women do what they are supposed to do - we can end this Ukrainian crisis and stop this military expansion of NATO, it's not too late, but it's five minutes to midnight.
SS:How hard is it for you to get your point across the American public when it comes to mainstream media, because, you know, you're always welcome here, at RT, but do you get a platform where you can talk and do you think you're getting your point across?
SC: Let me say a word about RT. Some people say if you go on RT it's unpatriotic - it's complete nonsense. It's just that they don't want to have a debate. In the U.S., I'm not alone, there's a very famous American professor John Mearsheimer in Chicago, who has published a big article in the most important American journal of the elite, "Foreign Affairs" with the title of which is something like "America caused the Ukrainian crisis" - it was a sensation. I've been arguing that for several months, I was very happy that professor Mearsheimer joined this debate. Jack Matlock, you remember who he is?
SS:Yeah, I've actually interviewed him recently.
SC: You know what Jack thinks. He agrees this was reckless, this was bad Western policy. Here's the problem - the three major opinion-shaping newspapers in the U.S., Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal do not actually...
SS:The New York times actually called you "dissenting villain" because of your views on Russia.
SC: When I was a kid, there was a saying "sticks and bones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me" - but names do hurt you, because they stigmatize you, they make people not invite you on mainstream television. The problem is that the Washington elite depends primarily on mainstream television and on the three newspapers: The New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. Our point of view never, since last February, when the crisis began, has appeared on their opinion pages, never. We've been excluded. Jack Matlock hasn't been there, professor Mearsheimer hasn't been there, my articles have been rejected. I've never seen this before in America, this is something very strange to me, because newspapers used to like controversy, but on this issue, they seem to have convinced themselves there's only one point of view.
SS:Alright, you've got about 90 seconds. Tell me, how does the situation affect the policy-making, decision-making, in the White House. Do you feel there's lack of expertise on Russia?
SC: Yes. We don't even know who advises Obama. In the past, we always knew to whom the President listens, even if those people were not in the government. But we know, for example, that probably among the wisest men about Russia today in the U.S. is Henry Kissinger. He's 92 years old - Obama hasn't talked to him.
SS:He has also actually said that demonizing Putin is not a policy.
SC: "It's an alibi for not having a policy." I think it's worse; it's an alibi for having a bad policy. I'll tell you what we do: I'm old, I've been through this before, I went through this in 70s... those of us who think as I do, we keep speaking out when we can, we're organizing, we try to talk to Senators and Congress people who are willing to listen to us. The problem is, most of them are Democrats and they don't want to come out against Obama, because there are Congressional elections coming in November. They don't want to do anything to be critical of Obama publicly, because the Democrats are having a hard time holding the Senate and the House. This is not about Russia, this is about our social welfare programs, our Supreme Court, about helping poor people, about social justice in America - it's a very important issue, I don't fault them. But, what I say to them: "Ok, after the elections I expect to see you on TV saying this Ukrainian crisis is a disaster and we are also guilty, not just Russia". We'll see if they say anything. What else can you do?
SS:Thank you very much, Stephen Cohen, very famous American scholar on Russian studies, thanks a lot for this interview.
Under the influence of an intense disinformation campaign much of the world has tried its best to ignore the existence of the sovereign state of Novorossiya (Federativnoye Gosudarstvo Novorossiya). The Western media when it does mention Novorossiya applies denigrating terms like self declared state, unrecognized state and even puppet republic to describe the status of Novorossiya. In fact under international law, Novorossiya has the same status as any other member of the community nations it is a sovereign independent nation.
The "gold standard" of statehood is the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States enacted in 1933 The Montevideo Convention requires an aspiring state to have it own territory, population, a functioning government and the ability to enter into relationships with other states. Novorossiya while not currently in control of all its territory has maintained an undisputed presence in Lugansk and Donetsk backed up by a seasoned army and security forces. There is a sizeable population in Novorossiya despite ethnic cleansing attempts by the Ukraine government. There is a functioning government and diplomatic efforts are ongoing as evidenced by the Minsk process. In a just and fair world then Novorossiya would be welcomed into the fold of sovereign nations as its newest member. But the world is neither just nor fair and Novorossiya is attacked by enemies in the West and blocked on other fronts by economic sanctions and diplomatic boycotts.
Nonetheless, Novorossiya has friends. The Russian people of course overwhelmingly support this new nation and South Ossetia has welcomed Novorossiya by diplomatically recognizing it. Diplomatic recognition is an important first step towards international legitimacy since South Ossetia itself is recognized by four UN member states &nsash; Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, and Nauru. More recognition for Novorossiya of course would be desirable but is not necessary to establish legitimacy. Somaliland for example which has been sovereign since 1991 and is recognized by no other country yet has maintained its complete independence and conducts business worldwide, issues passports and currency, and defends itself without any disapproval from the major powers. Novorossiya unlike Somaliland is an industrialized nation in Europe and not on the periphery of Africa, its relevance as an independent nation is asdsured.
But how does this relate to war crimes committed by Kiev’s political elite, Ukrainian armed forces and so called volunteer brigades of fascists? Before the brilliant tactical victory by the Novorossiya self defence forces that broke the blockade of Dontesk and Lugansk in late August 2014, it appeared as if the entire command and political infrastructure of Novorossiya might be in real danger of liquidation, summary arrest or exile if Ukrainian forces and their foreign mercenaries stormed Donetsk and Lugansk. The very real scenario of another unfair UN sponsored tribunal like the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia) which mainly persecuted Serbs for defending themselves was looming large in the vent Ukraine prevailed.
Personally, on the 4 months anniversary of the Odessa I was thinking shame on the ICC (International Criminal Court) which has ignored the snipers of the Maidan and the paid thugs who burned innocents alive in Odessa. And God forbid the UN set up show trials to demonize the defenders of Donetsk and Lugansk. As an international human rights lawyer I believed there had to be a way for justice to prevail. I wrote an article suggesting the Council of Europe, a separate organization from the biased European Union, of which both Ukraine and Russia member might be a possible sponsor of a war crimes tribunal. [See:www.globalresearch.ca/crimes-against-humanity-committed-by-kiev-regime-the-case-for-an-independent-ukrainian-war-crimes-tribunal/5399117 ]
One of the Council of Europe’s main organs is the European Court of Human Rights. I was thrilled when the day after my article was published; Foreign Minister Lavrov met with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland. However nothing concrete has emerged and under heavy pressure from the United States the Council of Europe has proven itself no friend to Novorossiya through its inaction and has seemingly become yet another loudspeaker for Kiev’s backers.
Nonetheless, a war crimes tribunal is an important weapon against fascism. Fascists thrive in dark places and times and hide their identities behind masks and hoods; the threat of exposure their identities and deeds scares them greatly. Even during the worst days of the Second World War, Himmler eased his murder of the Jews in Hungary in fear of prosecution after the war. The cowards and the cravens in Kiev, who allow their forces to target schools and mass transit in Donetsk would likely modify their behaviour if they risked indictment for war crimes from a recognized tribunal. But the Kiev regime is currently well protected by backers in United States and NATO and consequently is emboldened in its attempts to intimidate the people of Novorossiya.
Therefore Novorossiya itself as a sovereign state must seize the initiative. Just as Novorossiya and only Novorossiya defended itself from Kiev, it is only Novorossiya that can move forward with a war crimes tribunal. Evidence and testimony has been already been collected and it is abundant. Many of the perpetrators both high and low are known and the rest will be discovered. The enablers, propagandists and funders of genocide outside Ukraine are also numbered and known for the most part. There is no lack of allegations or suspects. What is lacking is the mechanism to bring them to justice.
Currently, Novorossiya is isolated. The threat of sanctions against the companies and persons of those who might help has unfortunately made the cause of justice take a back seat to economics and politics. Yet Novorossiya can act against war criminals and not just symbolically. Section 107 of the Restatement (Second) of Foreign Relations Law of the United States  states that:
"An entity not recognized as a state but meeting the requirements for recognition specified in § 100 [of controlling a territory and population and engaging in foreign relations], or an entity recognized as a state whose regime is not recognized as its government, has the rights of a state under international law in relation to a non-recognizing state…"
See also Article 74 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties which states that "The severance or absence of diplomatic or consular relations between two or more States does not prevent the conclusion of treaties between those States." What all this means is that under international law Novorossiya may act avail itself of all the remedies under international law as long as some other states concur.
Novorossiya can set up not just a domestic tribunal but an international one that can reach beyond its borders. This is especially important because the war criminals are for the most, except for their foot soldiers, not on the borders of Novorossiya or inside the territory of Novorossiya. The criminals are in Kharkiv, Denepetrovsk, Kiev, Lviv, Warsaw and beyond. International reach is the key. When the oppressed people of Ukraine finally wake out of their slumber and throw out the rascals in the Kiev government and cleanse the country of Nazis and corrupt oligarchs, the criminals will find a soft landing in Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada just as many blood stained Banderists did after Second World War. The Vatican, MI6, and the predecessor to the CIA did all they could to help certain useful Nazis and their collaborators escape justice via the ratlines and find a new life as assets abroad. A repeat of this travesty of justice must be avoided as these rotten apples have a way of resurfacing later with their message of hate and ultra nationalism.
It is not enough to want justice for crimes. It is not enough to investigate war crimes. The guilty must eventually be chased down and brought back to face justice for these efforts to be credible. The task is even more daunting when most of the major powers in the world are on the side of the killers. Even the international organizations tasked with enforcing human rights, the ICC, the UN, and Council of Europe have abandoned their responsibilities to the people of Novorossiya. Is a war crimes tribunal therefore a mission impossible?
A Modest Proposal
It is impressive that even in the midst of current battle for the Donetsk Airport brave people are collecting and documenting evidence of war crimes committed in the Donbass. The news media and human right activists from Russia have been particularly helpful. But who should be the recipient of the evidence? If the investigation of the downed Malaysian jetliner flight MH-17 is an indication of the sort of justice that can be found outside Novorossiya, I have serious doubts.. Evidence has been destroyed by the Ukrainian government, unfounded allegations of mass murder of innocent passenger of flight MH-17 levelled against not only Novorossiya but the Russian government which has been defamed by the press and politicians from Kiev to Kansas City. The Dutch team who are the lead investigators of the plane crash and from a NATO member state are susceptible to subtle and not so subtle pressure. Everyone has been kept in the dark through a lack of transparency throughout the process.
On the other hand, why not turn the evidence over to a friendly country like Russia? That also creates a problem. Sanctions will flow like wine at a wedding and any results denied and discredited by a thousand naysayers in the Western press. I suggest Novorossiya must act on its own initiative against war criminals however not just domestically but internationally too. As pointed out above, Novorossiya as a sovereign state may engage in foreign relations. It can sue in the courts of other countries because it is an independent sovereign state under international law and its agencies are legal entities. Novorossiya may file cases with international tribunals. However, it is also blocked from membership in the major international organizations and the existing tribunals seem heavily prejudiced against Novorossiya.
Novorossiya therefore must set up its very own International Tribunal and give it independence to act in lieu of the UN, ICC, and Council of Europe. This bold act will result in recognition of the tribunal even when states may still shy away from recognizing Novorossiya itself. Progressive states will recognize the tribunal and its power to seize property and extradite criminals. Perhaps a third party country host can be found too.
But how can this be accomplished and who will do the work when the existence of Novorossiya still hangs in the balance? Much of the field investigation is being done already. However, the most important element is who will staff the Tribunal? Yes people from Novorossiya and Russia but also lawyers and jurists from around the world who seek to advance the cause of justice should be encouraged to participate. It is international participation and support that will give the proposed tribunal substance even as the UN and ICC have failed the people of Donetsk and Lugansk.
We live in a virtual world. While court rooms are still necessary, there exists the technology to supplement traditional methods of justice. Judges often conduct hearings via Internet while the accused are held elsewhere. Jurists and attorneys from around the world could act as judges, advocates for the defence and prosecution. International lawyers commissioned by Novorossiya could file actions to seize assets of blood stained Ukrainian oligarchs and politicians with bank accounts and property outside Ukraine for the benefit of the victims and their families. There are dozens of international lawyers who would help and they in turn know dozens more.
The war criminals are smug in the thought they have powerful friends outside Ukraine who will help them escape justice if their plans to subvert Ukraine and destroy the Donbass ultimately fail. Let us unleash a volunteer corps of a thousand lawyers linked by technology worldwide and undeterred by their governments. Novorossiya must give to them the commission to hunt down the war criminals and seize their assets. Give us lawyers the right to sue the merchants of death and destruction, the purveyors of deadly agitprop, and even the old networks of Nazis who are behind the Banderists.
Lawfare is a strategy of using law as a substitute for traditional military means to achieve an operational objective &nsash; in this case bring war criminals to justice and deter future crimes. The present day legal hurdles are surprisingly low and the proliferation of potential forums adds to the attractiveness of lawfare. Novorossiya can demonstrate standing and jurisdiction and is especially well situated to take advantage of lawfare. Legal action can be accomplished without loss of life or large scale deployment of assets. The only requirements are potential standing and a knowledgeable legal representative. A court filing often generates as much or more publicity than a military skirmish.
The world and its organizations have largely ignored, covered up or even condoned the war crimes committed against the people of Novorossiya. The backers of fascism think they can act with impunity just as they did after the Second World War when Nazi war criminals used the Vatican run "ratline" to escape to South America and Spain. But the world has changed, technology and access to information has levelled the playing field. Novorossiya has demonstrated it can prevail against great odds on the battle field, now let the members of the international community who abhor war crimes use their skills and technology to make the seemingly impossible happen &nsash; to bring Kiev’s war criminals to justice.
The author, Dr. Jonathan Levy, is an attorney member of the International Criminal Bar and holds a PhD in Political Science. He may be reached at info [ AT ] brimstoneandcompany.com
Whilst material has been posted in recent months to the Ukraine section (http://candobetter.net/ukraine) little has been added to this page since May 2014. From now on, we intend to update the section above, as far as we are able, with links to all the most important material about the Ukraine conflict, both anti-imperialist and (pro-fascist) mainstream , as well as our own commentary. We will endeavor, also, to republish appropriate articles on candobetter and write our own. - Ed, 9 Aug 2014
President Putin has acted to protect Russia's strategic interests on the Crimean peninsula in the Black Sea. Citizens of the Crimea and the eastern mainland region of Ukraine including the cities of Kharkov and Donetsk have repudiated the new government and are openly protesting against it in the streets. The Crimean regional parliament has refused to accept the legitimacy of the local government appointed by the mainland putschists.
However, even the reporting by these alternative newsmedia is not altogether without flaws and shortcomings. Very little on the web#fnSubj1" id="txtSubj1">1 seems to properly account for the deeper historical context from which the current conflict has emerged:
After the devastation of the Russian Civil War, the government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) encouraged a national renaissance in literature and the arts. However this was reversed by the dictator Josef Stalin, who succeeded Lenin#fnSubj3" id="txtSubj3">3 in 1924. According to Wikipedia, Stalin murdered 681,692 Ukrainians in the 1920s and 1930s and he deliberately imposed famine upon Ukraine in which up to 10 million died. Consequently, it should hardly be unexpected that in 1941 some Ukrainians erroneously saw the Nazi invaders, who planned to starve 25 million Ukrainians#fnSubj2" id="txtSubj2">2 and other Eastern Europeans untermenschen in order to create lebensraum for Germany, as liberators.
#fnSubj3" id="fnSubj3">3. #txtSubj3">⇑ Whilst it has become "accepted wisdom" that Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the former Soviet Union (aka USSR) was a brutal dictator, this is contrary to the historical evidence. Wherever free and open discussion is allowed and evidence to the contrary is #comment-173372">presented, as it was on the forum discussion web-site of Australian academic John Quiggin on 27 April 2012, those who uphold such lies will be either silent when the contrary evidence is presented, or else lose the argument.
On this page we intend to store sumaries of articles of what we judge to the most important articles about Russia and, possibly related issues like Crimea 1, Ukraine, NATO and the Baltic States. In general, where an article is sufficiently short, we may post the full text of the article and possibly also images and embedded YouTube broadcasts.articles
Anatoly Kucherena is a Russian lawyer and professor who has counselled Edward Snowden, the US computer professional who leaked classified information and sought asylum in Russia.
Increasingly, I am receiving requests for legal support from Russian and Western individuals and businesses who are suffering from the economic sanctions imposed by the West on Russia, and from Russia’s counter-measures.
The legality of these sanctions is dubious at best. They flagrantly violate the free trade principles enshrined in the World Trade Organisation treaty and a host of other agreements. But putting legal arguments aside, politicians on all sides would do well to study the human cost of sanctions, and genuinely consider alternatives to this self-defeating form of economic warfare.
Economic sanctions rarely achieve anything, even in geopolitical terms. They merely fuel suspicion and hostility between states and peoples. Since the West first imposed sanctions this spring, Russia’s leadership has only further dug in its heels. It is telling that even President Obama and other leading American politicians have, on more than one occasion, admitted that sanctions have had no real impact on the Kremlin’s stance on Ukraine.
Yet the West pursues this strategy with palpable glee, goading an already angered Vladimir Putin.
The most recent round of Western sanctions defies any logic whatsoever, coinciding with the start of the ceasefire and the beginnings of a political settlement between the warring parties in Ukraine. In Russian eyes, this merely proves the West was never interested in peace. It also undermines those in Kiev arguing for political solutions.
Why does this madness continue?
The idea that Russians, feeling an ever-increasing amount of economic pain, would eventually take to the streets and force a change in the Kremlin’s policy is, of course, a laughable pipe dream. It fundamentally misreads the psychological impact of sanctions and the patriotic resolve they create. Never have Putin’s approval ratings reached greater stratospheric levels than today. Even his support among Russia’s middle classes and the highly educated is on the rise, surely not something Washington’s foreign policy hawks had hoped to achieve.
What galls me most, however, is that those who are paying the price for such myopia have no role in the conflict at all. As we Russians say, they are “guilty without guilt”. I find this very hard to stomach. Sanctions are beginning to bite. But it is ordinary businesses and citizens – both European and Russian – who are bleeding, not the Moscow decision-makers who the West claims to be targeting. Contracts are being cancelled, joint ventures shelved, investments cut. Yet which Greek farmer or German manufacturer ever asked or voted for sanctions?
The great irony is that sanctions are a boon for Russian domestic producers, punishing precisely those foreign companies who invested in Russia, having been helped and encouraged to do so by their own governments. Now they are being left to rot, and those same governments are to blame.
I know, of course, that politics is a fickle game, often without recourse to justice. I am not naive. But economic sanctions offend the most basic principles of justice and the rule of law. They target civilian populations to overpower an opponent in a geopolitical conflict. In economic warfare, this makes sanctions the moral equivalent of the London Blitz, the deliberate bombing of residential areas to force an enemy to his knees.
People facing ruin ask me what I can do for them. The only avenue for legal redress is to file suits in national, European or international courts against the governments who initiated the sanctions. But this would be expensive and is unlikely to lead to a quick and satisfactory solution. Even if the courts ruled favourably – and governments abided by the ruling – how likely is it they would also indemnify business losses?
The EU provides compensation to farmers now barred from selling produce to Russia. But while this may placate them for now, asking EU taxpayers to pay farmers for destroying produce that would otherwise be sold to Russians remains a hare-brained policy. It cannot but fail in the long term.
As Russia inevitably lines up a salvo of counter-measures, the West should wake up and stop playing tit-for-tat with sanctions. Not only do sanctions destroy jobs and businesses, they also ride roughshod over the basic rights of individuals and companies. They make a mockery of the age-old principle of no punishment without crime. But above all, the use of sanctions erodes the values of equality, fairness and due process that Ukrainians appear to be fighting (and dying) for.
Video inside. Satire about double standards in international law and democracy, fake evidence, such as Ukraine 'proving' a Russian invasion, and Ukrainian media stories faking looting of a toy and a wedding ring. Relevant to Australia where all these wrongs have been promoted by our press, our primeminster and our minister for foreign affairs. This skit appeared in a regular program on mainstream German TV, amazingly. Can't imagine any real political criticism in Australian mainstream comedy these days.
Click on the small rectangular icon that has two horizontal lines in it to the right bottom of the video to get the English subtitles.
Republished from article of 1 Oct 2014 on Global Research.
#D6D6D6;line-height:120%;">Editorial introduction: A search of Google News with the search term "Ukraine" found no mention of this gruesome discovery in the first 4 pages of search results except for the following:
#D6D6D6;line-height:120%;">Both these reports tried to dismiss and downplay the enormity of this crime. Harriet Salem's article obscures the massacre with the story of the toppling of the statue of Lenin and other irrelevant episodes. Salem repeats unsubstantiated claims by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that the East Ukraine self-defence forces, as well as the Kiev regime, "have violated international laws in a host of ways".
#D6D6D6;line-height:120%;">It appears that Parfitt, along with the rest of the Western mainstream media, has failed to report the Odessa Massacre of 2 May 2014. Nowhere in the The Telegraph nor anywhere else on the web, could I find any article by Tom Parfitt about the Odessa Massacre.
#D6D6D6;line-height:120%;">So other than these two misleading articles, nothing else seems to have been reported about this war crime.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday that more than 400 bodies have been discovered in mass graves near the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, in what he described as "horrific" evidence that pointed to a war crime.
"This is obviously a war crime. Already more than 400 bodies have been discovered in [mass] graves outside Donetsk and we hope that western capitals will not hush up these facts [because] they're horrific," Lavrov said, adding there was an apparent blackout of the incident in Western mass media.
Last week, several mass graves filled with bodies of massacred civilians and independence supporters, killed execution-style, were unearthed 35 kilometers northeast of Donetsk.
"I expect [to hear] a clear, unbiased and responsible response from international organizations. OSCE is already working at the scene. We will make the truth known and, of course, make sure that the justice is done," Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference.
Speaking at PACE's fall session in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Russian lawmaker Olga Kazakova called on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to keep an eye on the investigation into this horrendous massacre.
The independence supporters of southeastern Ukraine believe that the civilians were murdered by the National Guard fighters who had stayed in the village of Nyzhnia Krynka, near the city of Donetsk, where the graves had been discovered, since April. Ukrainian authorities later denied this accusation, saying that not a single National Guard fighter had been in the area, adding however that some other Ukrainian units were deployed there at the time.
Lavrov commented on Kiev's recent claim to conduct an open and impartial probe of the alleged massacre as soon as it regained control of the area, saying it was pure hypocrisy because "these crimes were obviously perpetrated there at the time when Ukrainian security forces were in control of this region."
For example, the Ukraine is geopolitically important for many reasons; including its value as a food bowl and as an export route for oil and gas. The Ukrainian people are secondary to the interests of the foreign powers that seek to influence or control the territory and its resources.
The current turmoil in Syria and Iraq has been preceded by French and British military intervention respectively in the early 20th century, combined with imposition of new territorial borders. This was arguably an autocratic foreign assault on the region. People subject to somewhat arbitrarily defined borders have different histories and different vested interests little understood by the foreign autocrats. The same was true of the foreign assault on Australian Aborigines when their territory was first invaded in 1788. Have a look at any capital city in Australia. There are "Boundary Roads" everywhere.
#comments">Armchair experts #comments">sit around hypothesising about what should or should not be done, based on their subjective versions of humanitarian and strategic principles. Many know little of the history of the regions they discuss and use terms such as "democracy" and "territorial borders" to define right and wrong.
In Australia in particular, neither the Government nor the people have the ethical credentials to justify interference in geographically remote regional conflicts.
#AED1FF;font-size:92%;hyphens:auto;line-height:120%;">... the economic impacts of extreme population growth are not investigated in the public interest.
Australia is a country founded upon the principles of invasion and dispossession of "indigenous" peoples. That foundation remains the cornerstone of government policy to this day. It is an autocratically imposed policy that has nothing to do with democracy. This "invasion" does not prioritise humanitarian intake. In its current form it focuses on attempting to cherry pick healthy and relatively wealthy, educated people for their alleged "financial" value; at the expense of refugees.
#AED1FF;font-size:92%;hyphens:auto;line-height:120%;">... politicians don't even question a policy that many other countries would regard as outlandish.
Government media seeks to justify a government policy of invasion and dispossession in the interests of something it vaguely refers to as economic growth, although the economic impacts of extreme population growth are not investigated in the public interest. Politicians control decision-making on what lines of public inquiry deserve due diligence. Mass migration has always been the "robot-mode" status quo in Australia and politicians don't even question a policy that many other countries would regard as outlandish.
Between 1788 and 1900 Australia's population rose to 3.7 million. From 2002 to 2014 it rose another 3.8 million. This invasion is accelerating. This is extreme, unsustainable, Government imposed, amoral, financially motivated "developed world" population growth.
The ABC is not governed by any laws that can be enforced to hold it accountable for failing to comply with its Statutory Duties of impartiality and integrity. ABC agendas appear set by politicians rather than by analytical thinking.
The ABC's approach to the climate change debate has been the ABC–branded Carbon Tax debate, analogous to a doctor advising a patient that the only therapy for treatment of obesity is exercise (economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions), while encouraging the patient to eat fattening food (extreme population growth driving extreme emissions growth) from a company the doctor owns. The doctor also deliberately conceals the fact that eating is the primary cause of explosive weight gain.
#AED1FF;font-size:92%;hyphens:auto;line-height:120%;">The ABC's approach ... has been analogous to a doctor advising a patient that the only therapy for treatment of obesity is exercise, while encouraging the patient to eat fattening food from a company the doctor owns.
So we have a lawless, government sanctioned, propaganda machine purporting to act as a humane and democratic voice of the people, while failing to address some of the most pressing moral and environmental issues in Australia. Population growth stands out as an issue of critical importance.
#AED1FF;font-size:92%;hyphens:auto;line-height:120%;">NASA abused its position of dominance by prioritising a political desire for launch [of the Challenger] over competent risk management.
The Challenger Space Shuttle disaster occurred in similar circumstances. The Solid Booster Rocket seals failed causing a catastrophic explosion because NASA approved the launch at an unacceptably low ambient temperature in full knowledge of the risk. The 7 astronauts killed in the explosion were not informed of the risk.
NASA abused its position of dominance by prioritising a political desire for launch over competent risk management.
#AED1FF;font-size:92%;hyphens:auto;line-height:120%;">The ABC ... uses opinionated bias as a basis for concealing critically important information from public policy debate.
The ABC is a news and current affairs broadcaster. It has limited, if any, expertise in the sciences or in risk management. Yet it uses opinionated bias as a basis for concealing critically important information from public policy debate. Whether that bias is driven by Government or the ABC itself is immaterial. It is clearly contrary to the public interest and it is defined as unlawful, if not criminal, by the ABC Code of Practice.
The relationship between the adverse humanitarian, social, environmental and economic outcomes of population growth and the rate of that population growth is off the ABC agenda.
The Russian Union of Engineers has issued a report on what happened to flight MH17. The report has now been translated. It doesn’t leave open the option that MH17 was downed by a ground-to-air missile, something all other sources have so far labeled the most likely explanation for what happened on July 17. The Russian Union of Engineers instead claims the plane was attacked by a fighter jet, and that, since the east Ukraine rebels have no such jets, and multiple sides have confirmed there were no Russian jets in the vicinity, this jet had to have been Ukrainian air force.
At the very least the report should be broadly discussed in western media, and western experts asked to refute what parts of it they find fault with.
(Turn on subtitles)
Here is the conclusion of the report:
9. Reconstructing the event
Based on the above, we can draw the following conclusions:
9.1. In relation to the circumstances of the crash of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 jet.
The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was carrying out the 17.07.2014 flight Amsterdam – Kuala Lumpur in the flight corridor established by the dispatchers. At the same time, it is likely that manual control was turned off and the plane was on autopilot, flying in a horizontal plane along the route laid out and adjusted by air traffic controllers on the Ukrainian side.
At 17.17-17.20, the Boeing 777 was in Ukrainian airspace near the city of Donetsk at the height of 10100 m. An unidentified combat aircraft (presumably a Su-25 or MiG -29), which was a tier below, on a collision course, in the cloud layer, sharply gained altitude and suddenly appeared out of the clouds in front of the civilian aircraft and opened fire on the cockpit, firing from a 30 mm caliber cannon or smaller. The pilot of a fighter jet can do this while in “free hunting” mode (using onboard radar) or with the help of navigational guidance using airspace situation data from ground-based radar.
As a result of multiple hits from shells there was damage to the cockpit, which suddenly depressurized, resulting in instant death for the crew due to mechanical influences and decompression. The attack was sudden and lasted a fraction of a second; in such circumstances the crew could not sound any alarm as the flight had been proceeding in regular mode and no attack was expected.
Since neither the engines or hydraulic system, nor other devices required for the continuation of the flight were out of commission, the Boeing 777, running on autopilot (as is standard), continued on its horizontal flight path, perhaps gradually losing altitude.
The pilot of the unidentified combat aircraft maneuvered to the rear of the Boeing 777. After that, the unidentified plane remained on the combat course, the pilot provided a target tracking aircraft equipment, took aim and launched his R-60 or R-73 missiles.
The result was a loss of cabin pressure, the aircraft control system was destroyed, the autopilot failed, the aircraft lost the ability to maintain its level flight path, and went into a tailspin. The resulting overload led to mechanical failure of the airframe at high altitudes.
The aircraft, according to the information available from the flight recorders, broke up in the air, but this is possible only in the case of a vertical fall from a height of ten thousand meters, which can only happen when the maximum permissible overload is exceeded. One reason for stalling and going into a tailspin is the inability of the crew to control the aircraft as a result an emergency in the cockpit and the subsequent instantaneous depressurization of the cockpit and the passenger cabin. The aircraft broke up at a high altitude, which explains the fact that the wreckage was scattered over the territory of more than 15 square kilometers.
9.2. In relation to the party responsible for the death of 283 passengers and 15 crew members.
On 17.07.2014, the armed forces of the self-proclaimed Donetsk National Republic had no relevant combat aircraft capable of destroying an aerial target similar to the Boeing 777, nor the necessary airfield network, nor the means of radar detection, targeting and tracking.
No combat aircraft of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation violated the airspace of Ukraine, which the Ukrainian side confirms as well as third parties who conduct space surveillance over the situation in Ukraine and in its airspace.
To establish the truth, it is necessary to objectively and impartially investigate all the circumstances of the destruction of the Malaysian Boeing 777, to interview the thousands of citizens who may have seen something. Naturally, experienced professionals should conduct the surveys. To ask the right questions – this is a rigorous science, and a great art in advancing the truth. Important information is contained in the wreckage of the aircraft and the remains of the dead, but this precise information is easy to destroy, distort and hide. And there are plenty of parties interested in concealing the real facts.
As confirmation, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Belgium and Australia signed an agreement on August 8 providing that information about the crash investigation would be disclosed only upon the consent of all parties. “The investigation is ongoing, [utilizing] expertise and other investigative actions” – announced the Spokesman of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Yuri Boychenko. “The results will be announced at the conclusion of the investigation and with the consent of all parties that have executed the agreement.”
Procrastination and the evasion of an objective investigation by all sides, with the participation of prestigious international organizations, raises doubts whether the concerned parties will make public the true circumstances surrounding the crash of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777.
I am dismayed by the pretences and actions of the Australian government in relation to the shooting down of MH17 by Ukraine, as well as dumbfounded by the complete failure of any media organisation or public commentator to question or contradict this mendacity.
I have been trying to support the statements and actions of Russia and its various ministers by writing to the ABC as well as the Department of Foreign Affairs, since the start of the Syrian ‘campaign’. It must be said I have had little or no success, even in getting a response.
Last year I had the great fortune to accompany Mother Agnes Mariam on a visit to Malcolm Fraser, former PM. I can assure you that he at least is very well aware of just how criminal and dangerous the leaderships of NATO countries and Australia have become; as someone with ‘inside knowledge’, as well as experience in Serbia in the ‘90s he suffers no illusions about US intentions and global dominance, or Australia’s submission to it. Yet remarkably he is a lone voice.
With today’s news about the Dutch investigators’ preliminary report being quickly passed over, the situation has become intolerable. Remarkably this report actually supported evidence for Russian observations and elsewhere that MH17 was shot down by a hail of bullets from a Ukrainian fighter jet – ‘a large number of high-energy objects’. No other conclusion is possible from the available physical evidence – photos of the cockpit damage. But so corrupt and stupified are our media organisations that they allow the lies of the leaders to go unchallenged.
I write to you just to show that there is a least one person in Australia who has no doubt about both Russia’s innocence and the Novorussians’ innocence of this terrorist act; there is little more I can do, beyond writing to my local newspaper ( national papers will not publish this viewpoint), but I nevertheless would like to offer my support in any way that you would consider useful. I believe that there must be processes by which such issues can be pursued with government, even though at all levels people do not accept the case we must make.
Lastly I should just note a comment in an article today in the Sydney morning herald. Talking of the MH17 report it quoted a Pravda editorial:
“Russia is unlikely to accept the report if it suggests they were involved in shooting down the plane.
A recent editorial in Pravda said
"Most likely the story of the downed plane will be hidden away carefully … it is clear that neither the [separatist] militia nor Russia were involved in the terrible disaster.
"The only question is whether Ukraine incidentally shot down the Boeing or it was a carefully planned but ineptly executed act of provocation."
The established narrative in Russian state-controlled media is that the plane was shot at by Ukrainian forces, either by a jet fighter or ground-based missile.”
This clearly articulates my own viewpoint – that the only thing we DON’T know is the degree of assistance from Western agencies to Kiev in committing this act – one which so favoured the plans of NATO and US aggressors who put the Kiev ‘government’ in place.
I hope that you will pass this message to the appropriate people.
Barking up the wrong tree has been a specialty of the Australian diplomatic corps for some years. Piddling on that same tree in some misguided understanding of ownership has been another. The announcement by Prime Minister Tony Abbott – that an interim embassy mission will open in Kiev, and that military advisors will be sent – is one such example. Here, the forest, with its trees, is truly far and distant.
An argument making the rounds is that Australia is showing its "middling" power status in making such gestures. The idea of Australian middle power status is articulated with such insistence you might actually believe it. In truth, it struggles to make the grade, wheezing its way along the track of competition in the hope that someone might notice. That someone, of course, is the United States. Other powers, such as Russia and China, are to be regarded as studied villains of the peace (current and future), notwithstanding the trade being done with them.
The other dreary remark made is that Australian occupation of a seat on the Security Council, or its presence in such forums as the G20 has actually made a difference to both muscle and influence. If you are looking for the role of honest broker, the bridge between dissenting parties, the answer is no. (Abbott's suggestion that Russia is essentially motivated by roguishness, funding and equipping murderers hardly suggests such a line.) If you are looking for another seat occupied for reasons of clerking duties, that is quite another matter. It that area, Australia excels.
So, into the Ukraine she goes, with promises of "non-lethal" action as a form of payment for "its support and friendship."#fnUkr1" id="txtUkr1">1 Australians perished in the deadly affair, but Abbott is truly misreading the picture if he thinks Australian personnel are needed as a gesture of assistance. "Australia is truly grateful for Ukraine's help in recovering the victims and bringing home our dead."
For one, the Ukrainian authorities did not cover themselves with glory in that affair. There were denials and counter-denials that they did have the necessary weapons system that might have been used in the downing of the flight. There was the practice of charging flights running routes through eastern Ukraine when there should have been a steadfast prohibition of the use of the corridor.
Ultimately, under international aviation law, Ukraine was responsible for activities taking place on the ground, irrespective of whether it was being contested by rebel separatists. None of this matters for a historically disinterested Abbott, who had the answers in advance of any investigation into circumstances around the event. "We are also grateful for Ukraine's strong support for the criminal investigation into this particular atrocity and in their determination which we share to bring the perpetrators to justice." The issues are already determined: rebel fighters did it, with Russian help.
The link with Moscow is drawn with unenviable certainty, justifying the need for Australia to rally to the Ukrainian cause with schoolboy conviction. "So, Madam Speaker, the government and I believe the Australian people, would like to repay Ukraine for its support and friendship, especially as Ukraine continues to be subject to active destabilisation and indeed outright invasion from Russia, a country it has never sought to harm."
Sanctions are being reiterated, and the uranium supply line is being cut. "There will be no uranium sales to Russia until further notice and Australia has no intention of selling uranium to a country which is so obviously in breach of international law as Russia currently is."
Such talk takes place in a vacuum of history. Russian interests in Russian nationals – very much part of the nationality principle at international law – is not even a footnote in conversation. Ukrainian agitation, Russian response and its very mixed relationship with the separatists, and the interference mounted by foreign powers, have all done their part in making a dangerous situation incendiary.
Particularly troubling are the ever pressing problems posed by a burgeoning NATO alliance. Formed in 1949 to combat the Soviet Union during the Cold War, it has over extended its remit. Foreign wars and engagements keep its soldiers busy. With 28 members, it is one of the largest military alliances in history, boasting a combined expenditure of 1 trillion dollars a year. Its presence is a reminder of continuing US dominance on the European continent. An olive branch, even if a somewhat bare one, is being held out to Kiev by Washington – the door is open for those on our side.
Former US ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker#fnUkr2" id="txtUkr2">2 argued for belligerence to "prove [Putin] wrong." The suggested recipe is a military one: "For the sake of Ukraine's integrity as a country, for future European security and for NATO's credibility as a defence organization, NATO leaders need to make some tough decisions and push back militarily against Russia."
The dangers posed by this militarisation, along with Canberra's desire to be more relevantly engaged with NATO activities, has seen that worst tendency in Australian foreign policy realise itself: the longing to be noticed. Many a year has passed since an Australian foreign minister realised that the dictates of geography come first. The political dross, dressed up as strategic wisdom, should come a distant second.
"If you think that Russia is sending its regular units here, then let me tell you something. If Russia was sending its regular troops, we wouldn't be talking about the battle of Elenovka here. We'd be talking about a battle of Kiev or a possible capture of Lvov."
Alexander V. Zakharchenko, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Donetsk National Republic addresses press conference, answers questions
Lvov is in western Ukraine near the border with Poland. In other words, if Russia invades Ukraine, the fighting will move from the east side to the west side of the country.
As I observed in a recent column, the fantasy spread by Western governments and their media whores that 1,000 Russian troops have invaded Ukraine is the height of absurdity. http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/08/28/washington-piles-lie-upon-lie-paul-craig-roberts/
Despite the absurdity of the claim, some of the Western tabloids, which is what all Western newspapers now are, have declared these 1,000 troops to be a "full-scale invasion." All of this nonsense is a buildup to the upcoming NATO conference in Wales. Disinformation is being used to create hysteria and justification for a NATO military buildup on Russia's borders that could easily result in the final war. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article39543.htm
Ask yourselves this question: Is the entirely of the Western media so ignorant and incompetent not to realize that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would not consist of 1,000 troops (the evidence of which no one can find), or is the entirety of the Western media simply willingly serving as a propaganda ministry for Washington's warmongers, as the Western media did for George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq based on fabricated evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. There are only two conclusions that can be reached about the Western media: Either it is completely stupid or completely corrupt.
Dmitry Orlov tells you what a Russian invasion of Ukraine would look like:
How Can You Tell Whether Russia Has Invaded Ukraine?
Behind the avalanche of fabricated Western newsmedia reports of direct intervention by the Russian Army Ukraine conflict which started on 28 August1 the Ukraine regime has suffered a catastrophic military defeat at the hands of the rebels.2 In a Press Conference of 24 August 2014, Alexander Zakharchenko, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Donetsk National Republic described the victory of the Donetsk People's self-defence forces and their consequent decision to formally announce the the Donetsk National Republic to the world.
Press Conference - Formation of a state - 24 Aug 2014
[If the subtitles are not in your language, click on the small white rectangle at the base of the video; this will give you a window to select another language.]
You might have to put the video on full screen to read the subtitles.
Whilst representatives of all the newsmedia including the Australian newsmedia were given the chance to attend this press conference, this was not reported on any of the Australian newsmedia. None of the articles listed in Washington and mainstream media pile lie upon lie about Ukraine and Russia (30/8/14) make any reference tothis press conference. A broader search, made just now, failed to find any reference to it in the Australian mainstream media.
"Every time you come to Russia with a sword, from a sword you will perish."
The former Russian provinces, which Soviet party leaders carelessly attached to Ukraine at a time when it seemed to make no difference as all were part of the Soviet Union, are now independent republics with their own governments. The West pretends that this isn't so, because Washington and its puppet capitals don't recognize the independence of formerly captive peoples. But the West's opinion no longer counts.
In the last couple of days the newly formed military units of the Donetsk National Republic have defeated and surrounded large portions of the remaining Ukrainian military. Russian President Putin asked the Donetsk Republic to allow the defeated Ukrainians to return home to their wives and mothers. The Donetsk Republic agreed to Putin's mercy request as long as the Ukrainians left their weapons behind. The Donetsk Republic is short on weapons as, contrary to Western lies, the Donetsk Republic is not supplied with weapons by Russia.
Washington's puppet government in Kiev declined the mercy extended to its troops and said they had to fight to the death. Shades of Hitler at Stalingrad. Western Ukraine has remained the repository of Nazism since 1945, and it is Western Ukraine with which Washington is allied against freedom and democracy.
#EDF5FA;width:160px;border:2px #288AC6 solid;padding:4px;line-height:120%;">You will be impressed with the ease with which Zakharchenko handles the ignorant and corrupt Western media representatives
You will be impressed with the ease with which Zakharchenko handles the ignorant and corrupt Western media representatives
Thanks to The Saker we are provided with a press conference with English subtitles that Alexander Zakharchenko, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Donetsk National Republic, held with media. Present are Russian and Western press.
You will be impressed with the ease with which Zakharchenko handles the ignorant and corrupt Western media representatives, and your sides will burst with laughter at his reply to the media question: "Are there there regular Russian military units fighting on your side?"
The British and American journalists were the most stupid, as we already knew. You will die laughing at the response to the question, "why did you parade the prisoners."
This person Zakharchenko puts to shame every politician in the US, Europe, Canada, Australia, Japan, all of the puppet politicians of the American Empire. If only the United States had people of the character and quality of Zakharchenko.
Now that Zakharchenko has revealed himself and made mincemeat of the stupid Western media, he will be demonized and misrepresented. So use this opportunity to see for yourself who has integrity and character. Hint: no one in political and media circles in the West.
#n4015a1" id="n4015a1">Appendix: English transcript of Donetsk National Republic press conference
(See also article "The Donetsk National Republic states the facts about its conflict with the Kiev regime".) In this video Alexander V. Zakharchenko, who is now Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Donetsk National Republic, declares, "Let me clarify. No federalization can be possible today. There is time for everything. We asked for the federalization 3 months ago, then we asked for a permission to hold a referendum. That time has passed, now we want to live independently. The Ukrainian authorities are using police methods to subdue us: they arrest us, cordon us off, and conduct anti-terrorist operations against us. By now so much blood has been spilled and so many people have died for freedom. How can we speak of federalization?"
[Alexander V. Zakharchenko, Chairman of The Council of Ministers of The Donetsk National Republic] As you all know, a week ago we announced our plan to attack. We started it yesterday.
Until yesterday we have been preparing for the attack, examining trophy equipment, arming the crews, and testing communication between different military formations.
I can now proudly announce that we formed 2 tank battalions, 2 full artillery brigades, 2 Grad divisons,
1 mechanized infantry battalion, 3 infantry brigades and a special purpose assault airborne brigade.
All these units have now received Army numbers.
The communication system have been regularized and 2 field hospitals and 1 maintenance brigade have been formed.
We have begun testing all these units in battle. Yesterday we began an attack on Amvrosiyivka enemy group.
According to our data, in the course of the offensive, the enemy lost about 45 units of military equipment, we captured 14 units of military equipment, and about 1,200 people were killed and wounded.
There are two cauldrons at the moment, in Amvrosiivka and Starobeshevskaia.
We started to advance at 4 a.m. on Elenovka, where the fighting is still going on.
2/3 of Elenovka is under our control. We hope to clean up these areas before the night. However, the offensive will not end at that.
We will continue until we free all populated areas in the Donetsk National Republic.
The army is ready and we have the support of the people. There will be more and more prisoners.
Now regarding the Parade. I deliberately put the trophy equipment on display on Lenin Square.
Everything that will come to us from Kiev, will end up in the same condition sooner or later.
The more will come, the easier it’ll be for us to restore our economy.
As you may know, metallurgy is one of our main industries.
I would like to thank the Minister of Defense for the close cooperation, understanding of the challenges facing the government, for his unlimited capacity to work and for his personal courage.
[Vladimir Kononov, Defense Minister of DNR] Dear journalists, TV audience, I would like to appeal to you.
The Ukrainian aggressive occupation army came on our soil. They brought a nationalistic ideology that has no respect for human life.
Their only interest is in our territory and resources.
They launch their vile attacks on residential civilian complexes with grandmothers, women, and children.
Just yesterday they fired on a residential quarter and killed a 9-year-old girl. There was no militia there.
They use sneaky tactics of mobile mortar groups that come to a place, shoot at it for 10-20 minutes, and quickly leave.
We already have all data on the movements of these mortar groups. They will be neutralized soon.
Now regarding the armed forces.
This is a uniform force with the principle of undivided authority that prevents disobedience and disorder, contrary to those who call the DNR army Makhnovist, etc.
It's a lie disseminated by the Kiev’s junta as well as by those who have unleashed tanks, Grads, and artillery against its people.
You can now ask your questions.
Does the militia fire on the houses?
Let me correct you right away. We were the militia 10 days ago. Today, we are the armed forces of the Donetsk National Republic.
The DNR’s armed forces by no means try to strike on residential neighborhoods and houses.
We don't and never will practice this. This is our homeland, our soil, and our Motherland.
This is a war on our territory that we want to preserve. We're not animals. We are not fighting in Kiev, we are fighting at home.
Channel 1, Moscow. How would you characterize the Ukrainian armed forces’ response to your offensive? Were they aware of it? Are they in confusion, resisting or rolling back?
Most likely they knew about our counter-attack as we did not make a secret of this. They didn’t know the time and place of the attack.
There are regular army officers who, unfortunately, at some point graduated from the Soviet military schools and the Academy.
They were preparing for different options, and have guessed some of them. The fighting was heavy because the regular units fight well.
The regular army really fights, gets defeated, but never gives up.
Those who roll back are the battalions of Shakhtersk, Aydar etc. They are usually easy to attack because they retreat at the first shot and never engage in direct fire contact.
They usually retreat and call on the regular units, and then they start to attack together.
Again, the fighting is very heavy.,You can feel the enemy’s superiority in their quantity of equipment.
To give you an idea of the intensity of the fighting: we cross about 40 km in the day.
The Parade of prisoners of war we’ve seen this afternoon, isn’t it against all humanitarian conventions and motions of dignity?
As a lawyer, I can say that we did nothing against international law.
The prizoners were not undressed or starved.
Show me a single international law, which prohibites parading prisoners. We have not done anything illegal.
What was the purpose of this parade? Were you trying to send a message to Kiev? Why did you make a decision to parade the prisoners of war?
Kyiv said that they will march in parade in Donetsk on the 24th. So they did.
Poroshenko didn’t lie: they were here together with their hardware.
This week Lugansk received humanitarian aid from Russia. Are you waiting for such help, and when do you think you can expect it to come?
We expected it yesterday, even before Lugansk.
Our city’s population is bigger than Lugansk, so it was logical to send it to us first.
But situation in Lugansk is much harder, so it was sent there first. I hope that we will receive our help soon.
Are there any negotiations about the terms of delivery?
Yes, the negotiations were conducted on the same day as Lugansk, but, unfortunately, we didn't get it.
Will Lugansk share their received help with you?
As practical business managers, we would like it. However, from the humanitarian position we understand that the situation is more difficult there.
We have to rely on our own resources for now. Hopefully, help will come soon.
there are historical parallels with July 1944 and the March of the Nazis. Did it happen by accident or was it done on purpose?
Honestly, we have recently seen one of the insignias of the 2nd separate brigade: the complete emblem of the Galicia SS Division, a 79 SS Galicia badge.
When we saw the full symbol of this Division... Many Russian families suffered losses in the Second World War. One of the ancestors in my family fought against the Galicia SS Division.
This is not just a parallel, this is generational: my great-grandfather, and now I, and the same division…
That’s why a desire was born to repeat 1944 so they would realize that it all already happened before, it has repeated itself with the same result.
Every time you come to Russia with a sword, “from a sword you will perish”.
Unfortunately, dear journalists, the West tries to invade us with a regularity of 30-50 years.
That is, every 30-50 years the Western civilization tries to impose on us their opinion and their way of life.
The First World War, the Great Patriotic war, the Crimean war before that and so on well into the depths of history.
As a result, the West traditionally gets the fall of Berlin, Paris, etc.
There is Maidan every year In Kiev – “Those who don’t jump are Moskals”.
The West comes every 30-50 years to get what it deserves. Now in 2014, they are slightly delayed.
What kind of aid do you now get from Russia?
individuals and certain organizations send us food, clothes, and medicine.
Ramzan Kadyrov has collected humanitarian aid worth of $70 million, which is now waiting in Rostov.
It was not a state program, it’s from the Republic and the President of Chechnya.
....experts in artillery from Samara?
I will invite several officers of the French Navy, who want to fight with us.
They are willing to give an interview. We have Europe fighting amongst us.
The European ideals of equality, fraternity, and the French revolution, as in the Marseillaise, resonate with the patriots of France.
It means, the nation is not dead, since it has such representatives who are willing to go to the far away place to fight for their ideals, which the Bastille was once taken for.
Yes, there are volunteers: the French, the Russians. Is it a bad thing? It’s great.
Are there regular Russian military units fighting on your side?
If you think that Russia is sending its regular units here, then let me tell you something.
If Russia was sending its regular troops, we wouldn't be talking about the battle of Elenovka here.
We'd be talking about a battle of Kiev or a possible capture of Lvov.
Now there is a war on our soil for our territory. We have an influx of volunteers from all over the world.
Of course, the Russian help would be very desirable, but from a political point of view it is impossible and unrealistic.
Thanks, by the way, to the European countries. You do not acknowledge this war just as you did not acknowledge the great Patriotic war, didn’t you?
You support the anti-terrorist operation against terrorists and separatists.
Have you not developed a Charter of free territory, I believe, in Switzerland?
A Territory has a right of self determination and separation after a referendum.
Germany lives by the same principles. There will be a referendum in Scotland soon.
That is, you call your own principles democratic and carry them out (almost) democratically.
The example of Czechoslovakia was peaceful. Yugoslavia, unfortunately, was torn into a thousand little pieces by you. Using military methods by the way.
We have the same thing happening here.
That is, if you stop pursuing a policy of double standards and will be able to understand that people live here.
What is our fault? The fault of Donetsk, Donbass, our land?
That we are asked to live independently? That we wanted to live the way we want? To speak our language? To make friends with whom we want?
We didn't want to go to Europe. We have different mentalities, religion.
But we have a different religion. We want to go East.
We wanted to live the way we want, but we were not allowed to. We were called terrorists and separatists.
Please note, we did not capture any regional administrations, nor did we scorch district departments. That’s what the Maidan did.
Slogans: "No oligarchy”, “Equality and brotherhood", "Freedom of religion and language", "Freedom of choice".
All these slogans are from the Maidan. We want the same thing. So why are we the bad guys?
What did we do to deserve being bombed from planes?, shot at from tanks?and have phosphorous bombs dropped on us ?
Explain to me what an anti-terrorist operation is?!
There police forces and intelligence services are involved, and not regular military units, military vehicles and aircrafts.
Dear journalists, please correct me if I am wrong.
If we are terrorists, then the police and the security service of Ukraine must fight us.
30, 25, 95, 72, and 76 - the entire Ukrainian army is present on our territory.
Three conscriptions, the national guard, territorial battalions, private battalions Aidar, Azov, Shakhtersk, Donbass, Dnieper-1, Dnieper-2, Dnieper-3, battalion Kiev, and now Kryvbas.
What have we done? What is our guilt? The fact that we have shale gas, for which you want to erase entire Slavyansk from the face of the earth?
Or any other financial interests?
We are all descendants of the glorious ancestors. We all have ancestors that we are proud of.Only between the two of us there are two Heroes of the Soviet Union.
We are still able to hold weapons in our hands. We swallowed with our mothers’ milk a pride and desire to live in free and happy Donbass.
We’ll tell anyone who comes to harm us on our soil: we will fight tooth and nail for our Motherland.
Kiev and the West made a big mistake by awaking us.
We are the hardworking people. While others were jumping on the Maidan for 300 grivnas, our people were down in the mine, mining coal, melting metal and sowing crop.
None of us had time to jump, we were busy working.
When a person who just yesterday worked with a jackhammer or operated a harvester, today got behind a steering wheel of a tank or Grad, or picked up a machine gun, the line has been crossed and you cannot stop him.
The one who left his job knows that he will fight to the end and to his last breath.
You may pass it on to others: do not wake the beast. Just don’t.
While there is still an opportunity, let mothers spare their sons.
For some, perhaps this will be terrible news: there still lie several hundred soldiers of the armed forces of the Ukrainian army under Panovka, Saur-Mohyla, who are unaccounted for.
Families receive “missing in action” letters. They are actually dead. Kiev authorities do it on purpose.
Hundreds and thousands dead in more than a dozen graves. I announce it officially.
Let everybody know if you received a "missing in action" letter, then most likely, your husband, brother, or son got killed.
[Vladimir Kononov] I can you give an example from the battle of the 72nd and 25th batalions against us in Shakhtersk. I have all the documents of the soldiers who burned near the wrecked machinery.
We returned the bodies to the Ukrainian army. Two weeks later, we received information that they were “missing in action”.
Why did they bother to pick up the bodies?
It was reported that the Ukrainian army from the beginning of the conflict had 12,000 killed, 19,000 wounded and 5,000 missing.3
They are not missing, they were killed and buried under Karachun, in Krasnyy Liman…
They were dumping bodies from a helicopter with stones tied to their feet into the Blue lakes near Slavyansk.
Vladimir Petrovich, let's not excite our press with such gruesome details.
Poroshenko said that all 120 people out of 1200 who participated in the Parade in Kiev, will go to the East.
Now I want to say: I don't want to fight. It wasn’t my choice, but I'll fight till the end for my land, no matter who, when and how numerous they were.
This is a battle of annihilation. Unfortunately, the Slavs are fighting among themselves and destroying their best people.
We want to reach out to all the relatives and mothers: do not send your sons here.
Leave us alone. Let us live free and in peace.
We didn’t come to you in Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, or Zaporozhye. We are not marauding your villages, raping your women, killing your elders and stealing their military decorations.
Remember decorations for Stalingrad, the capture of Berlin, Gold Star medals, Orders of Glory, Orders of the Red Banner, mixed up with women's earrings?...
We don't do that. We want to live on our land the way we want. We don't need you. We are different.
Ukraine of the East and the West is an artificially created conglomerate. However, we didn’t start this war.
If someone has a political conscience, a will and a courage of a real man, I'm just suggesting to stop this operation.
You don’t have to recognize our status, just leave us alone within our borders of Donetsk and Lugansk republics, and we will kiss each other goodbye.
A question from the French newspaper Libération. When will a press conference with the French internationalists, that you mentioned, take place?
They will arrive tomorrow. Talk with Vladimir Petrovich tomorrow. Contact him through his press Secretary.
Do you think the meeting with Poroshenko will bring any positive solutions?
Let me clarify. No federalization can be possible today.
There is time for everything. We asked for the federalization 3 months ago, then we asked for a permission to hold a referendum.
That time has passed, now we want to live independently.
The Ukrainian authorities are using police methods to subdue us: they arrest us, cordon us off, and conduct anti-terrorist operations against us.
By now so much blood has been spilled and so many people have died for freedom. How can we speak of federalization?
What is federalization? This is a series of bureaucratic procedures that need to be done.
But we want to live independently. We have very rich land.
Talks about subsidies is a lie perpetrated by thieves to steal money. Each President understood this very well and always participated in it.
We are a self-sufficient region with its agriculture, developed industry, forests, fields, and seas.
We have everything from a “Switzerland” to the sea.
Resort areas, agriculture, chemical and coal industry, rich minerals, gas deposits, etc.
Despite close ties with the rest of Ukraine, we can and must be able to feed ourselves.
If they do not understand it in a good way, then we will ask them in a hard way.
I hope that the meeting between Poroshenko and President Vladimir Putin will lead to the taking of our position into account.
About the law in relation to people who are in prison.
Please specify what kind of law you are talking about.
On what basis these people have been arrested?
We have recently adopted a new criminal code and the creation of court-martials and tribunals. Is that what are you talking about?
This is not a law, this is a provision that we have discussed in the Council of Ministers and then submitted to the Supreme Council.
The Supreme Council gave us a go-ahead. Are you asking about people who were arrested prior to this or after?
At the moment we have mostly detained soldiers who violated military discipline and the oath of allegiance.
A court-martial will have to deal with it. Now regarding the rest.
Since the adoption of this law, all detained civilians were transferred to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of State Security for their hearings.
Depending on the sentence, they will either be released, or subjected to administrative punishments in the form of community service from 10 to 30 days.
Donetsk Detention Center came over to our side, so civilized places will be used for detentions.
For further clarifications you can enquire at the reception desk of the Deputy Prime Minister or to appeal to the Prosecutor General.
A question about the death penalty.
I'll be honest, I think the death penalty is the highest form of protection of society.
You probably remember that my first decree was to fight banditry.
Yes, this is a widespread phenomenon, because all sorts of criminal elements penetrate under the guise of a revolution.
We must fight it now so we wouldn't have to hunt these paramilitary groups down later. That was the reason behind this decision.
After the long discussions it has been decided to adopt the death penalty.
You all know perfectly well that the abolition of the death penalty does not reduce crime.
Statistics show that with the death penalty abolished crimes “for some reason” tend to go up.
The society, ordinary people, and private entrepreneurs have to be able to live and work in the safety. We made a decision to guarantee their security.
For details, please familiarize yourself with the code. It is written in quite clear language.
#fnDonetsk3" id="fnDonetsk3">3. #txtDonetsk3">↑ Whilst almost nothing in Alexander Zakharchenko's account was challenged by any of the journalists present and nothing was effectively challenged, the figure of 17,000 fatal casualties (12,000 dead and 5,000 'missing'), suffered by the Ukrainian Army, seems extraordinarily high and, I would have thought, politically catastrophic for the Kiev regime long before now. So, I would be interested to see if the Donetsk National Republic is able to verify those figures.
#EDF5FA;line-height:120%;">Yesterday, Friday 29 August at 7:00PM the ABC news reported that there was "satellite evidence" of Russian armour and soldiers going over the border and that the Russian government had lied about it. It also claimed that "former and serving Russian army soldiers" were fighting in Ukraine alongside the rebels. Whilst the online version of the same story is a little more more circumspect, public opinion tends to be more affected by live audio visual reporting. This report is part of the current avalanche of 'reporting' of the Ukraine crisis by the mainstream media, which is barely a day old. Other 'reports' about Ukraine include:
#EDF5FA;">This global whirlwind of deceit, that even George Orwell could not have imagined, is intended to whip much of the public into a frenzy about claimed transgressions by Russia and the East Ukraine and gain from the rest of public opinion acceptance for plans by the Western leaders to increase their sanctions against Russia, increase their aid to the neo-Nazi regime in Kiev and to more directly militarily intervene against the East Ukrainian rebels and Russia.
The latest Washington lie, this one coming from NATO, is that Russia has invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops and self-propelled artillery.
How do we know that this is a lie? Is it because we have heard nothing but lies about Russia from NATO, from US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, from assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland, from Obama and his entire regime of pathological liars, and from the British, German, and French governments along with the BBC and the entirety of the Western media?
This, of course, is a good reason for knowing that the latest Western propaganda is a lie. Those who are pathological liars don’t suddenly start telling the truth.
But there are even better reasons for understanding that Russia has not invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops.
One reason is that Putin has invested heavily in diplomacy backed by unprovocative behavior. He would not risk his bet on diplomacy by sending in troops too few in number to have a decisive effect on the outcome.
Another reason is that if Putin decides he has no alternative to sending the Russian military to protect the Russian residents in eastern and southern Ukraine, Putin will send in enough troops to do the job quickly as he did in Georgia when the American and Israeli trained Georgian army invaded South Ossetia and was destroyed in a few hours by the Russian response. If you hear that 100,000 Russian troops accompanied by air cover have invaded Ukraine, it would be a more believable claim.
A third reason is that the Russian military does not need to send troops into Ukraine in order to stop the bombing and artillery shelling of the Russian populations by Washington’s puppet government in Kiev. The Russian air force can easily and quickly destroy the Ukrainian air force and artillery and, thereby, stop the Ukrainian attack on the secessionist provinces.
It was only two weeks ago that a fabricated report spread by the UK Guardian and the BBC that a Russian armored convoy entered Ukraine and was destroyed by the Ukrainian Military. And two weeks prior to that we had the hoax of the satellite images allegedly released by the US State Department that the corrupt US ambassador in Kiev spread around the world on social media allegedly showing that Russian forces were firing into Ukraine. One or two weeks from now we will have another lie, and another a week or two after that, and so on.
The cumulative effect of lie piled upon lie for most people is to build the view that the Russians are up to no good. Once this view is established, Western governments can take more serious moves against Russia.
The alleged entry of 1,000 Russian soldiers into Ukraine has been declared by NATO Brigadier General Niko Tak to be a “significant escalation in Russia’s military interference in Ukraine.” The champion liar Samantha Power told the US Security Council that “Russia has to stop lying.” The UK ambassador to the UN said that Russia was guilty of “a clear violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory.” UK prime minister Cameron warned Russia of “further consequences.” German chancellor Merkel announced that there would be more sanctions. A German Security Council advisor declared that “war with Russia is an option.” Polish foreign minister Sikorski called it Russian aggression that required international action. French president Hollande declared Russia’s behavior to be “intolerable.” Ukraine’s security council imposed mandatory conscription.
West's suicidal drive towards war
This suicidal drive toward war with Russia by Europe’s leaders is based entirely on a transparent lie that 1,000 Russian troops crossed into Ukraine
Of course the Western media followed in lock-step. The BBC, CNN, and Die Welt are among the most reckless and irresponsible.
The mountain of lies piled up by Western governments and media has obscured the true story. The US government orchestrated the overthrow of the elected government in Ukraine and imposed a US puppet in Kiev. Washington’s puppet government began issuing threats and committing violent acts against the Russian populations in the former Russian territories that Soviet leaders attached to Ukraine. The Russian people in eastern and southern Ukraine resisted the threat brought to them by Washington’s puppet government in Kiev.
Washington continually accuses the Russian government of supporting the people in the territories who have voted their separation from Ukraine. There would be no war, Washington alleges, except for Russian support. But, of course, Washington could easily stop the violence by ordering its puppet government in Kiev to stop the bombing and shelling of the former Russian provinces. If Russia can tell the “separatists” not to fight, Washington can tell Kiev not to fight.
The only possible conclusion from the facts is that Washington is determined to involve Europe in a war with Russia or at least in an armed standoff in order to break up Europe’s political and economic relations with Russia.
Europe’s leaders are going along with this because European countries, except for Charles de Gaulle’s France, have not had independent foreign policies since the end of World War II. They follow Washington’s lead and are well paid for doing so.
The inability of Europe to produce independent leadership dooms Russian President Putin’s diplomacy to failure. If European capitals cannot make decisions independently of Washington, there is no scope for Putin’s diplomacy.
Notice that the very day after Putin met with Washington’s Ukrainian vassal in an effort to resolve the situation, the new lie of Russian invasion was issued in order to ensure that no good can come of the meeting in which Putin invested his time and energy.
Washington’s only interest is in hegemony. Washington has no interest in resolving the situation that Washington itself created in order to bring discomfort and confusion to Russia. With the caveat that the situation could be resolved by Ukrainian economic collapse, otherwise the longer Putin waits to resolve the situation by force, the more difficult the task will be.
DONETSK – Ukrainian servicemen largely switch sides to join the independence supporters of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, DPR’s Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko said Saturday.
“One of the commanders of the 25th Airborne Brigade took his infantry combat vehicle and switched to our side. As of today, he has assumed command of the troop. And such cases are numerous,” Zakharchenko said, adding he expected more brigades to yield themselves prisoners.
The prime minister and former battalion commander explained the mass switches to the militia side saying the Ukrainian forces did not understand “why they are here, what they are fighting for and what they are dying for.”
“Whereas we fight for our land, our children, our homes. We are on our land, we have something to fight for. The moral spirit of any subdivision that fights for its home is a step above that of a subdivision fighting for money without the understanding of what it is fighting for,” he said.
In June, Ukrainian troopers from Lviv and Dnipropetrovsk fought against each other at the Luhansk airport.
Since the start of Kiev’s special operation in eastern Ukraine in mid-April, a total of 1,367 people have been killed and another 4,087 wounded, including 2,589 civilians and 29 children, according to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). At least 117,000 people have been forcibly displaced.
The New York Times reported almost in passing on Sunday that the Ukrainian government's offensive against ethnic Russian rebels in the east has unleashed far-right paramilitary militias that have even raised a neo-Nazi banner over the conquered town of Marinka, just west of the rebel stronghold of Donetsk.
That might seem like a big story – a U.S.-backed military operation, which has inflicted thousands of mostly civilian casualties, is being spearheaded by neo-Nazis. But the consistent pattern of the mainstream U.S. news media has been – since the start of the Ukraine crisis – to white-out the role of Ukraine's brown-shirts.
Only occasionally is the word "neo-Nazi" mentioned and usually in the context of dismissing this inconvenient truth as "Russian propaganda." Yet the reality has been that neo-Nazis played a key role in the violent overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February as well as in the subsequent coup regime holding power in Kiev and now in the eastern offensive.
On Sunday, a Times article by Andrew E. Kramer mentioned the emerging neo-Nazi paramilitary role in the final three paragraphs:
"The fighting for Donetsk has taken on a lethal pattern: The regular army bombards separatist positions from afar, followed by chaotic, violent assaults by some of the half-dozen or so paramilitary groups surrounding Donetsk who are willing to plunge into urban combat.
"Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.
"In pressing their advance, the fighters took their orders from a local army commander, rather than from Kiev. In the video of the attack, no restraint was evident. Gesturing toward a suspected pro-Russian position, one soldier screamed, 'The bastards are right there!' Then he opened fire."
In other words, the neo-Nazi militias that surged to the front of anti-Yanukovych protests last February have now been organized as shock troops dispatched to kill ethnic Russians in the east – and they are operating so openly that they hoist a Swastika-like neo-Nazi flag over one conquered village with a population of about 10,000.
Burying this information at the end of a long article is also typical of how the Times and other U.S. mainstream news outlets have dealt with the neo-Nazi problem in the past. When the reality gets mentioned, it usually requires a reader knowing much about Ukraine's history and reading between the lines of a U.S. news account.
For instance, last April 6, the New York Times published a human-interest profile of a Ukrainian nationalist named Yuri Marchuk who was wounded in the uprising against Yanukovych in February. If you read deep into the story, you learn that Marchuk was a leader of the right-wing Svoboda from Lviv, which – if you did your own research – you would discover is a neo-Nazi stronghold where Ukrainian nationalists hold torch-light parades in honor of World War II Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.
Without providing that context, the Times does mention that Lviv militants plundered a government arsenal and dispatched 600 militants a day to Kiev's Maidan square to do battle with the police. Marchuk also described how these well-organized militants, consisting of paramilitary brigades of 100 fighters each, launched the fateful attack against the police on Feb. 20, the battle where Marchuk was wounded and where the death toll suddenly spiked into scores of protesters and about a dozen police.
Marchuk later said he visited his comrades at the occupied City Hall. What the Times doesn't mention is that City Hall was festooned with Nazi banners and even a Confederate battle flag as a tribute to white supremacy.
The Times touched on the inconvenient neo-Nazi truth again on April 12 in an article about the mysterious death of neo-Nazi leader Oleksandr Muzychko, who was killed during a shootout with police on March 24. The article quoted a local Right Sektor leader, Roman Koval, explaining the crucial role of his organization in carrying out the anti-Yanukovych coup.
"Ukraine's February revolution, said Mr. Koval, would never have happened without Right Sector and other militant groups," the Times wrote.
The brutality of these neo-Nazis surfaced again on May 2 when right-wing toughs in Odessa attacked an encampment of ethnic Russian protesters driving them into a trade union building which was then set on fire with Molotov cocktails. As the building was engulfed in flames, some people who tried to flee were chased and beaten, while those trapped inside heard the Ukrainian nationalists liken them to black-and-red-striped potato beetles called Colorados, because those colors are used in pro-Russian ribbons.
As the fire worsened, those dying inside were serenaded with the taunting singing of the Ukrainian national anthem. The building also was spray-painted with Swastika-like symbols and graffiti reading "Galician SS," a reference to the Ukrainian nationalist army that fought alongside the German Nazi SS in World War II, killing Russians on the eastern front.
The death by fire of dozens of people in Odessa recalled a World War II incident in 1944 when elements of a Galician SS police regiment took part in the massacre of the Polish village of Huta Pieniacka, which had been a refuge for Jews and was protected by Russian and Polish partisans. Attacked by a mixed force of Ukrainian police and German soldiers on Feb. 28, 1944, hundreds of townspeople were massacred, including many locked in barns that were set ablaze.
The legacy of World War II – especially the bitter fight between Ukrainian nationalists from the west and ethnic Russians from the east seven decades ago – is never far from the surface in Ukrainian politics. One of the heroes celebrated during the Maidan protests in Kiev was Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose name was honored in many banners including one on a podium where Sen. John McCain voiced support for the uprising to oust Yanukovych, whose political base was among ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.
During World War II, Bandera headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-B, a radical paramilitary movement that sought to transform Ukraine into a racially pure state. OUN-B took part in the expulsion and extermination of thousands of Jews and Poles.
Though most of the Maidan protesters in 2013-14 appeared motivated by anger over political corruption and by a desire to join the European Union, neo-Nazis made up a significant number and surged to the front during the seizure of government buildings and the climatic clashes with police.
In the days after the Feb. 22 coup, as the neo-Nazi militias effectively controlled the government, European and U.S. diplomats scrambled to help the shaken parliament put together the semblance of a respectable regime, although at least four ministries (YouTube video embedded below - Ed), including national security, were awarded to the right-wing extremists in recognition of their crucial role in ousting Yanukovych.
As extraordinary as it was for a modern European state to hand ministries over to neo-Nazis, virtually the entire U.S. news media cooperated in playing down the neo-Nazi role. Stories in the U.S. media delicately step around this neo-Nazi reality by keeping out relevant context, such as the background of coup regime's national security chief Andriy Parubiy, who founded the Social-National Party of Ukraine in 1991, blending radical Ukrainian nationalism with neo-Nazi symbols. Parubiy was commandant of the Maidan's "self-defense forces."
Last April, as the Kiev regime launched its "anti-terrorist operation" against the ethnic Russians in the east, Parubiy announced that his right-wing paramilitary forces, incorporated as National Guard units, would lead the way. On April 15, Parubiy went on Twitter to declare, "Reserve unit of National Guard formed #Maidan Self-defense volunteers was sent to the front line this morning." (Parubiy resigned from his post this past week for unexplained reasons.)
Now, however, as the Ukrainian military tightens its noose around the remaining rebel strongholds, battering them with artillery fire and aerial bombardments, thousands of neo-Nazi militia members are again pressing to the front as fiercely motivated fighters determined to kill as many ethnic Russians as they can. It is a remarkable story but one that the mainstream U.S. news media would prefer not to notice.
BBC Newsnight video "Neo-Nazi threat in new Ukraine"
The video below is undated, but was propbably made in late February 2014 shortly after the coup of 22 February.
#A9F5E1;line-height:120%;">Brave Crimean prosecutor, Natalya Poklonskaya, was offered her job after several men refused such a dangerous position. She showed leadership when Crimeans wanted to quit Ukraine, saying that the will of the people was the only rule of law. She became an involuntary internet sensation, however, because of her passion and beauty as she delivered her defense of democracy at a press conference. Her looks and gutsy presentation inspired admiring anime-style images throughout the world, gaining her overwhelming popularity, particularly in Japan. NATO policy makers, however, seem impervious to her honest message and she is now among forty officials put on a sanctions list by Tokyo. This can probably only extend her popular impact because she is already seen, rightly, as an iconic heroine battling fascists.
Editor Candobetter.net: This article was originally published as " "Japan's darling Natalia Poklonskaya on Tokyo Russia sanctions list," on RT, August 5, 2014. We republish it here with some concerns that we could be seen to be furthering sexist treatment of a courageous public servant. The important educational content of her speech and actions, however, are embedded in the package and the principles she espouses are as attractive as her personal presentation. If she were modelling clothes, she would not be an internet sensation, but she is not modelling clothes; she is modelling principles that humans everywhere value highest.
The Sanctions list
The list, made public by the Japanese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, includes former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, a number of top figures in the self-proclaimed People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as people believed to be "directly responsible for the annexation of Crimea."
"Japan will continue our coordination with G7 nations and the international community to achieve a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the Ukraine situation," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular briefing, according to AFP. "We have made our decisions to select those who were directly responsible for the annexation of Crimea and destabilization of eastern Ukraine, and after we reviewed sanctions by the United States and EU."
Adoration by the Japanese online community did not save the Crimean prosecutor, Natalya Poklonskaya, from being added to Tokyo's black list.
Poklonskaya took up her post just days ahead of the March 16 Crimean referendum on independence from Ukraine, after four of her male colleagues refused to take the risk.
Her first press conference gained her YouTube stardom, garnering 3.7 million views in just three days. Her youth, good looks, quiet voice and emphatic statements inspired a lot of anime-style images of Poklonskaya, and earned her the nickname of 'Prosecutie'.
In Russia she received an online nickname "nyasha" (sweetie), to which Poklonskaya reacted by saying she would prefer to be perceived as a prosecutor and will not tolerate any meaningless "nyash" or "myash" while at her post. That secured 'Nyash-Myash' as a popular nickname for the young prosecutor.
She has not yet reacted to being included on Japan's list of sanctioned officials. The response to Tokyo's sanctions has mainly come from the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Moscow now believes it "inappropriate" to hold diplomatic consultations between deputy head of the Foreign Ministry, Igor Morgulov, with his Japanese counterpart, Shinsuke Sugiyama, scheduled for the end of August.
"Now that Tokyo has adopted additional anti-Russian sanctions, we consider it inappropriate to hold this meeting. Consultations have been postponed," deputy head of the ministry's information department, Maria Zakharova, told journalists.
Apart from individuals, two Crimea-based companies have also fallen under Japanese sanctions – energy company Chernomorneftegaz and oil base Feodosia. Tokyo has also banned all imports from Crimea.
Japan has announced sanctions against Russia before. In April, it said it would not issue visas for 23 Russian officials.
Switzerland also expanded its sanctions against Russia on Tuesday. It announced the addition of 26 individuals and 18 companies to its sanctions list. This comes despite comments over the weekend from Switzerland's Economy Minister, Johann Schneider-Ammann, who said his country wouldn't duplicate EU sanctions against Russia.
With the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine turning a local civil war into a U.S. confrontation with Russia, U.S. intelligence veterans urge President Obama to release what evidence he has about the tragedy or to stop poisoning the waters. They note that claims the US has made of having useful satellite imagery have not materialised and say they are not at all sure that the US appreciates the gravity of its escalation of tensions in the region, through apparently empty accusations against Russia.
MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Intelligence on Shoot-Down of Malaysian Plane
U.S.–Russian tensions are building in a precarious way over Ukraine, and we are far from certain that your advisers fully appreciate the danger of escalation. The New York Times and other media outlets are treating sensitive issues in dispute as flat-fact, taking their cue from U.S. government sources.
Twelve days after the shoot-down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, your administration still has issued no coordinated intelligence assessment summarizing what evidence exists to determine who was responsible – much less to convincingly support repeated claims that the plane was downed by a Russian-supplied missile in the hands of Ukrainian separatists.
Your administration has not provided any satellite imagery showing that the separatists had such weaponry, and there are several other “dogs that have not barked.” Washington’s credibility, and your own, will continue to erode, should you be unwilling – or unable – to present more tangible evidence behind administration claims. In what follows, we put this in the perspective of former intelligence professionals with a cumulative total of 260 years in various parts of U.S. intelligence.
We, the undersigned former intelligence officers want to share with you our concern about the evidence adduced so far to blame Russia for the July 17 downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. We are retired from government service and none of us is on the payroll of CNN, Fox News, or any other outlet. We intend this memorandum to provide a fresh, different perspective.
As veteran intelligence analysts accustomed to waiting, except in emergency circumstances, for conclusive information before rushing to judgment, we believe that the charges against Russia should be rooted in solid, far more convincing evidence. And that goes in spades with respect to inflammatory incidents like the shoot-down of an airliner. We are also troubled by the amateurish manner in which fuzzy and flimsy evidence has been served up – some of it via “social media.”
As intelligence professionals we are embarrassed by the unprofessional use of partial intelligence information. As Americans, we find ourselves hoping that, if you indeed have more conclusive evidence, you will find a way to make it public without further delay. In charging Russia with being directly or indirectly responsible, Secretary of State John Kerry has been particularly definitive. Not so the evidence. His statements seem premature and bear earmarks of an attempt to “poison the jury pool.”
Painting Russia Black
We see an eerie resemblance to an earlier exercise in U.S. “public diplomacy” from which valuable lessons can be learned by those more interested in the truth than in exploiting tragic incidents for propaganda advantage. We refer to the behavior of the Reagan administration in the immediate aftermath of the shoot-down of Korean Airlines Flight 007 over Siberia on August 30, 1983. We sketch out below a short summary of that tragic affair, since we suspect you have not been adequately briefed on it. The parallels will be obvious to you.
An advantage of our long tenure as intelligence officers is that we remember what we have witnessed first hand; seldom do we forget key events in which we played an analyst or other role. To put it another way, most of us “know exactly where we were” when a Soviet fighter aircraft shot down Korean Airlines passenger flight 007 over Siberia on August 30, 1983, over 30 years ago. At the time, we were intelligence officers on “active duty.” You were 21; many of those around you today were still younger.
Thus, it seems possible that you may be learning how the KAL007 affair went down, so to speak, for the first time; that you may now become more aware of the serious implications for U.S.-Russian relations regarding how the downing of Flight 17 goes down; and that you will come to see merit in preventing ties with Moscow from falling into a state of complete disrepair. In our view, the strategic danger here dwarfs all other considerations.
Hours after the tragic shoot-down on August 30, 1983, the Reagan administration used its very accomplished propaganda machine to twist the available intelligence on Soviet culpability for the killing of all 269 people aboard KAL007. The airliner was shot down after it strayed hundreds of miles off course and penetrated Russia’s airspace over sensitive military facilities in Kamchatka and Sakhalin Island. The Soviet pilot tried to signal the plane to land, but the KAL pilots did not respond to the repeated warnings. Amid confusion about the plane’s identity – a U.S. spy plane had been in the vicinity hours earlier – Soviet ground control ordered the pilot to fire.
The Soviets soon realized they had made a horrendous mistake. U.S. intelligence also knew from sensitive intercepts that the tragedy had resulted from a blunder, not from a willful act of murder (much as on July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian civilian airliner over the Persian Gulf, killing 290 people, an act which President Ronald Reagan dismissively explained as an “understandable accident”).
To make the very blackest case against Moscow for shooting down the KAL airliner, the Reagan administration suppressed exculpatory evidence from U.S. electronic intercepts. Washington’s mantra became “Moscow’s deliberate downing of a civilian passenger plane.” Newsweek ran a cover emblazoned with the headline “Murder in the Sky.” (Apparently, not much has changed; Time’s cover this week features “Cold War II” and “Putin’s dangerous game.” The cover story by Simon Shuster, “In Russia, Crime Without Punishment,” would merit an A-plus in William Randolph Hearst’s course “Yellow Journalism 101.”)
When KAL007 was shot down, Alvin A. Snyder, director of the U.S. Information Agency’s television and film division, was enlisted in a concerted effort to “heap as much abuse on the Soviet Union as possible,” as Snyder writes in his 1995 book, “Warriors of Disinformation.”
He and his colleagues also earned an A-plus for bringing the “mainstream media” along. For example, ABC’s Ted Koppel noted with patriotic pride, “This has been one of those occasions when there is very little difference between what is churned out by the U.S. government propaganda organs and by the commercial broadcasting networks.”
“Fixing” the Intelligence Around the Policy
“The perception we wanted to convey was that the Soviet Union had cold-bloodedly carried out a barbaric act,” wrote Snyder, adding that the Reagan administration went so far as to present a doctored transcript of the intercepts to the United Nations Security Council on September 6, 1983.
Only a decade later, when Snyder saw the complete transcripts — including the portions that the Reagan administration had hidden — would he fully realize how many of the central elements of the U.S. presentation were false.
The intercepts showed that the Soviet fighter pilot believed he was pursuing a U.S. spy aircraft and that he was having trouble in the dark identifying the plane. Per instructions from ground control, the pilot had circled the KAL airliner and tilted his wings to order the aircraft to land. The pilot said he fired warning shots, as well. This information “was not on the tape we were provided,” Snyder wrote.
It became abundantly clear to Snyder that, in smearing the Soviets, the Reagan administration had presented false accusations to the United Nations, as well as to the people of the United States and the world. In his book, Snyder acknowledged his own role in the deception, but drew a cynical conclusion. He wrote, “The moral of the story is that all governments, including our own, lie when it suits their purposes. The key is to lie first.”
The tortured attempts by your administration and stenographers in the media to blame Russia for the downing of Flight 17, together with John Kerry’s unenviable record for credibility, lead us to the reluctant conclusion that the syndrome Snyder describes may also be at work in your own administration; that is, that an ethos of “getting your own lie out first” has replaced “ye shall know the truth.” At a minimum, we believe Secretary Kerry displayed unseemly haste in his determination to be first out of the starting gate.
Both Sides Cannot Be Telling the Truth
We have always taken pride in not shooting from the hip, but rather in doing intelligence analysis that is evidence-based. The evidence released to date does not bear close scrutiny; it does not permit a judgment as to which side is lying about the shoot-down of Flight 17. Our entire professional experience would incline us to suspect the Russians – almost instinctively. Our more recent experience, particularly observing Secretary Kerry injudiciousness in latching onto one spurious report after another as “evidence,” has gone a long way toward balancing our earlier predispositions.
It seems that whenever Kerry does cite supposed “evidence” that can be checked – like the forged anti-Semitic fliers distributed in eastern Ukraine or the photos of alleged Russian special forces soldiers who allegedly slipped into Ukraine – the “proof” goes “poof” as Kerry once said in a different context. Still, these misrepresentations seem small peccadillos compared with bigger whoppers like the claim Kerry made on August 30, 2013, no fewer than 35 times, that “we know” the government of Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical incidents near Damascus nine days before.
On September 3, 2013 – following your decision to call off the attack on Syria in order to await Congressional authorization – Kerry was still pushing for an attack in testimony before a thoroughly sympathetic Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. On the following day Kerry drew highly unusual personal criticism from President Putin, who said: “He is lying, and he knows he is lying. It is sad.”
Equally serious, during the first week of September 2013, as you and President Vladimir Putin were putting the final touches to the deal whereby Syrian chemical weapons would be given up for destruction, John Kerry said something that puzzles us to this day. On September 9, 2013, Kerry was in London, still promoting a U.S. attack on Syria for having crossed the “Red Line” you had set against Syria’s using chemical weapons.
At a formal press conference, Kerry abruptly dismissed the possibility that Bashar al-Assad would ever give up his chemical weapons, saying, “He isn’t about to do that; it can’t be done.” Just a few hours later, the Russians and Syrians announced Syria’s agreement to do precisely what Kerry had ruled out as impossible. You sent him back to Geneva to sign the agreement, and it was formally concluded on September 14.
Regarding the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down of July 17, we believe Kerry has typically rushed to judgment and that his incredible record for credibility poses a huge disadvantage in the diplomatic and propaganda maneuvering vis-a-vis Russia. We suggest you call a halt to this misbegotten “public diplomacy” offensive. If, however, you decide to press on anyway, we suggest you try to find a less tarnished statesman or woman.
A Choice Between Two
If the intelligence on the shoot-down is as weak as it appears judging from the fuzzy scraps that have been released, we strongly suggest you call off the propaganda war and await the findings of those charged with investigating the shoot-down. If, on the other hand, your administration has more concrete, probative intelligence, we strongly suggest that you consider approving it for release, even if there may be some risk of damage to “sources and methods.” Too often this consideration is used to prevent information from entering the public domain where, as in this case, it belongs.
There have been critical junctures in the past in which presidents have recognized the need to waive secrecy in order to show what one might call “a decent respect for the opinions of mankind” or even to justify military action.
As senior CIA veteran Milton Bearden has put it, there are occasions when more damage is done to U.S. national security by “protecting” sources and methods than by revealing them. For instance, Bearden noted that Ronald Reagan exposed a sensitive intelligence source in showing a skeptical world the reason for the U.S. attack on Libya in retaliation for the April 5, 1986 bombing at the La Belle Disco in West Berlin. That bombing killed two U.S. servicemen and a Turkish woman, and injured over 200 people, including 79 U.S. servicemen.
Intercepted messages between Tripoli and agents in Europe made it clear that Libya was behind the attack. Here’s an excerpt: “At 1:30 in the morning one of the acts was carried out with success, without leaving a trace behind.”
Ten days after the bombing the U.S. retaliated, sending over 60 Air Force fighters to strike the Libyan capital of Tripoli and the city of Benghazi. The operation was widely seen as an attempt to kill Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who survived, but his adopted 15-month-old daughter was killed in the bombing, along with at least 15 other civilians.
Three decades ago, there was more shame attached to the killing of children. As world abhorrence grew after the U.S. bombing strikes, the Reagan administration produced the intercepted, decoded message sent by the Libyan Peoples Bureau in East Berlin acknowledging the “success” of the attack on the disco, and adding the ironically inaccurate boast “without leaving a trace behind.”
The Reagan administration made the decision to give up a highly sensitive intelligence source, its ability to intercept and decipher Libyan communications. But once the rest of the world absorbed this evidence, international grumbling subsided and many considered the retaliation against Tripoli justified.
If You’ve Got the Goods…
If the U.S. has more convincing evidence than what has so far been adduced concerning responsibility for shooting down Flight 17, we believe it would be best to find a way to make that intelligence public – even at the risk of compromising “sources and methods.” Moreover, we suggest you instruct your subordinates not to cheapen U.S. credibility by releasing key information via social media like Twitter and Facebook.
The reputation of the messenger for credibility is also key in this area of “public diplomacy.” As is by now clear to you, in our view Secretary Kerry is more liability than asset in this regard. Similarly, with regard to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, his March 12, 2013 Congressional testimony under oath to what he later admitted were “clearly erroneous” things regarding NSA collection should disqualify him. Clapper should be kept at far remove from the Flight 17 affair.
What is needed, if you’ve got the goods, is an Interagency Intelligence Assessment – the genre used in the past to lay out the intelligence. We are hearing indirectly from some of our former colleagues that what Secretary Kerry is peddling does not square with the real intelligence. Such was the case late last August, when Kerry created a unique vehicle he called a “Government (not Intelligence) Assessment” blaming, with no verifiable evidence, Bashar al-Assad for the chemical attacks near Damascus, as honest intelligence analysts refused to go along and, instead, held their noses.
We believe you need to seek out honest intelligence analysts now and hear them out. Then, you may be persuaded to take steps to curb the risk that relations with Russia might escalate from “Cold War II” into an armed confrontation. In all candor, we see little reason to believe that Secretary Kerry and your other advisers appreciate the enormity of that danger.
In our most recent (May 4) memorandum to you, Mr. President, we cautioned that if the U.S. wished “to stop a bloody civil war between east and west Ukraine and avert Russian military intervention in eastern Ukraine, you may be able to do so before the violence hurtles completely out of control.” On July 18, you joined the top leaders of Germany, France, and Russia in calling for an immediate ceasefire. Most informed observers believe you have it in your power to get Ukrainian leaders to agree. The longer Kiev continues its offensive against separatists in eastern Ukraine, the more such U.S. statements appear hypocritical.
We reiterate our recommendations of May 4, that you remove the seeds of this confrontation by publicly disavowing any wish to incorporate Ukraine into NATO and that you make it clear that you are prepared to meet personally with Russian President Putin without delay to discuss ways to defuse the crisis and recognize the legitimate interests of the various parties. The suggestion of an early summit got extraordinary resonance in controlled and independent Russian media. Not so in “mainstream” media in the U.S. Nor did we hear back from you.
The courtesy of a reply is requested.
Prepared by VIPS Steering Group
William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)
Larry Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)
Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)
David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)
Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)
Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East (ret.)
Coleen Rowley, Division Counsel & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)
Peter Van Buren, U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.)
Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret.); Foreign Service Officer (resigned)
Home › Forums › Russian Union Of Engineers Accuses Ukraine Airforce In MH17 Crash
This topic contains 19 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by Variable81