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  • Weapons of the war in Ukraine. Russian entities acquired British, Czech, French, German, Spanish, and US-made components for use in the manufacture of these drones.

    Since 2014, the news media and other observers have provided accounts of weapon sourcing to armed formations operating in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. To date, efforts  to verify these claims have relied largely on examinations of open-source photos and videos of weapons and ammunition, rather than systematic field-based investigations.

    To fill this evidentiary gap, CAR undertook a three-year field investigation of materiel recovered from the self-declared DPR and LPR. This report presents the findings to help shed light on the extent to which these armed formations depend on external supplies.

    The evidence confirms that factories based in what is today the Russian Federation produced most of the militias’ ammunition and nearly all their weapons, from assault rifles and precision rifles, grenade launchers, precision-guided munitions, and landmines to anti-tank guided weapons. The findings also indicate that these armed formations field weapons previously captured by Russian forces, such as Polish anti-aircraft missiles seized in Georgia in 2008.

    In addition, the militias deploy a fleet of Russian-made drones in Ukraine. Russian forces have used similar drones within the territory of EU member states, such as Lithuania and Poland. Russian entities acquired British, Czech, French, German, Spanish, and US-made components for use in the manufacture of these drones. CAR’s analysis and tracing efforts reveal that independent Russian electronics and component distributors acquired such foreign technology on behalf of sanctioned Russian defence and security entities.

    Despite the 2014 EU arms embargo on the Russian Federation, key EU-made technology has thus made its way into Russian military drones. CAR’s investigation indicates that a general lack of clarity regarding the end use or end user of components, as well as opaque licensing requirements for dual-use components, may facilitate the export of EU-made components for the manufacture of Russian military UAVs.

    The investigation also exposes the systematic obliteration of primary identifying marks on certain weapons recovered from the armed formations operating in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, such as rocket launchers. This practice hinders traceability by concealing evidence of the precise point of diversion or the country of manufacture. The intentional retention of secondary marks, however, enables users to maintain record-keeping and inventories, in keeping with established military doctrine. The overall approach indicates that the militias operate within a centralised logistics structure.

    Most of the components that CAR documented are original and were not taken from other weapons, which may suggest a short chain of custody between the point at which the weapons left a production facility or military inventory and their use by the militias in eastern Ukraine. Since the war began in 2014, military supplies have also been exported from facilities in Luhansk and Donetsk to new Russian customers. This development calls for further investigation.


    By Conflict Armament Research

    November 2021


    Find the report here november 2021

    The United States secretly captured 20 Russian military drones and tracked the entire technology supply chain. The key parts are all imported components

    The tough future of Russia’s attack drones

    The rapid development of military drones around the world has raised a natural question time and time again-why is Russia so backward in design and production? In most cases, the main reason for this is the lazy thinking of the military and engineers. However, one of the most important and completely unreported problems lies in a completely different level-the technical level. Today we are going to analyze the real reason why Russia has fallen behind in attacking drones.


    The key parts are all imported components

    At present, the number of UAVs equipped by the Russian Armed Forces exceeds 1,900, and unmanned aviation services have been established in military districts, federations and formation headquarters. All Russian high-tech weapons are not Russian parts in the complete sense-the main components of its microelectronics and computer chips are produced in the United States and its allies. This is not classified information: for example, in the “Military Courier” publication, the Blava submarine-launched ballistic missile uses the “Alpha” microcircuit produced in Latvia, and in the documentary of the Russian studio today about K-433 In the picture of the submarine, you can see FPGA chips from Atmel and Altera in the United States. Judging from the available data, the situation of Russian drones (and all areas of the general defense industry) is exactly the same-their production possibilities directly depend on the purchase of imported parts abroad.

    Russian cosmonaut Fyodor shaped robot in as many as half of the components are imported; Costa ( Bulava ) submarine-launched missile system, and even the presence of foreign (Baltic Sea) components. Undoubtedly, since the Soviet era, Western semiconductors have always been a strategically significant technology that cannot be sold to Russia . Nonetheless, Russia was able to buy a sufficient amount of Western microelectronic products to realize the large-scale modernization of the military. This trend is clearly reflected in the design and production of drones-it is no accident. In 2014, NATO conducted a number of covert operations on Ukrainian and Syrian territories. The U.S. Special Operations Forces, the British Royal Marine Corps Commando and the British Air Force Special Forces formed multiple task forces to secretly obtain samples of Russian high-tech samples—especially UAVs. According to available data, at least 20 military drones of the Russian Armed Forces were captured in 3 to 4 years : 9 in the Syrian Arab Republic and 11 in the eastern part of Ukraine. At least three organizations in the United States have carefully studied the samples, then analyzed the sources of their parts, followed up the Russian technology supply chain, and further suppressed them. It has been found that all projects of Russian drones started with an extremely plain goal, obtaining western components from civilian projects, and then slowly developing into military models. The following information is not a military/state secret and is taken from a British investigation report. Below you can see the list of imported parts for Russian military drones given there.


    Outpost drone “Forpost”

    The Forpost UAV is actually the Russian version of the Israeli UAV Finder II. Initially, it was assembled from foreign components, but in 2016, Russia set a route for import substitution. In December 2019, Interfax News Agency reported that the Russian drone Forpost-R has completed the test of localized parts and is preparing for the national test.

    The Russian Ministry of Defense decided to import drones from Israel after the South Ossetia conflict in 2008. Israel refused to provide Russia with the latest system and only agreed to sell the tactical searcher Mk II and the light Birdeye 400 drone.

    The first two tactical drones and ten portable drones were supplied in 2009. Due to the agreement between Russia and Syria on the S-400 missile, further cooperation may be cancelled. Licensed production of Israeli drones in Russia is also under threat. The Russian army is determined to design a self-made drone even without the assistance of Israel. There was no need to make a breakthrough at the time: the contract with Israel was finally tied and localized production began. Later, Israel did impose “drone” sanctions on Russia. In 2014, new deliveries of Israeli drones were banned.

    According to the British report, the key components of the outpost drone are: 1. The single-cylinder 55W-3i engine of Germany’s 3W-Modellmotoren Weinhold GmbH. 2. Spartan XC3550 user programmable gate array from Xilinx, USA. 3. Fuel system components from Tillotson, Ireland. 4. GPS antenna from Antcom, USA. 5. The navigation module of the Swiss manufacturer MicroEM. 6. The dynamic measurement unit (DMU02 or DMU10-depending on the year of manufacture of the drone), manufactured by Silicon Sensing Systems, UK. 7. Radio frequency module 9XTend 900 MHz, produced by Digi International of the United States. 8. Network controller iEthernet W5300, produced by South Korea WIZnet company. 9. GNSS receiver NV08C-CSM from NVS Technologies AG, USA.

    The United States even obtained the engine of the captured “Forpost” UAV, which turned out to be made in Germany.


    Drone “Allen”

    The micro drone has a mass of only 2.8kg and is driven by a 300W brushless motor . The flying speed can reach 65km/h~105km/h, and the maximum flying altitude is 3000m. It carries out 60-minute uninterrupted reconnaissance of the predetermined area and pre-programmed. Up to 99 track points. Drone “Allen”: a 1-bit microcontroller from the Swiss manufacturer STMicroelectronics. 2. The main photographic equipment Sony FCB-EX11DP is produced by Sony Corporation of Japan. 3. Auxiliary photographic equipment Olympus Stylus TG-860, produced by a Japanese company.

    UAV “Zastava”: 1. Electronic components of Israeli defense companies Elbit Systems and Data Links. 2. Electronic components of American Vweb company. 3. Engine of Hacker Motor Company in Germany. 4. Autopilot AP04M from UAV Navigation in Spain. 5. GPS module of Swiss company u-blox.

    UAV “Orlan-10”: 1. GPS locator: The chips are domestically made HC4060 2H7A201 and STC 12LE5A32S2 35i. 2. Starter generator PTN78020 produced by Texas Instruments in the United States. 3. Internal combustion engine with ignition module 8-9V, 500mA, manufactured by SAITO, Japan. 4. The flight controller is assembled on the basis of the STM32F103 QFP100 microcircuit from French and Italian manufacturer STMicroelectronics. The MPXA4115A and MPXV5004DP microcircuits from Freescale Semiconductor (now owned by NXP Semiconductors NV in the Netherlands) are used as pressure sensors. The HMC6352 compass sensor is manufactured by Honeywell. 5. The GPS module is based on the GLONASS/GPS/QZSS LEA-6N receiver of Swiss u-blox company, matched with the Russian MNP-M7 (based on the American ADSP-BF534 chip produced by ADI). 6. The telemetry transmission module is based on the ATxmega256A3 microcontroller of Microchip, Inc., and the transmission range is 902-928 MHz. The RF3110 transmitter is manufactured by Municom, Germany. The receiver DP1205-C915 produced by AnyLink in Germany.

    Disassembled Russian drone Orlan-10. Judging from the pictures shown, the assembly of Russian drones is mainly based on civilian components. Perhaps this is the reason why they wear out quickly and have relatively low reliability when they are used regularly, so a large number of Russian-made drones have been captured in Syria and Ukraine, and even in the Baltic countries. Allegedly, due to technical reasons, most of the drones that fell into the hands of NATO experts have crashed .


    Does Russia understand the meaning of the concept of attacking drones?

    Analyzing the situation of Russian drones, few people have touched on this topic. Russia is most proud of “Orion” because this drone is considered the most suitable equipment for mass production. However, as in the case of Russian drone components, the situation is far from as simple as it seems. First, the Russian military industry has not come close to producing analogues of the American Hellfire missiles or the Turkish MAM series of gliding bombs. After the incidents in Syria, Libya, and Karabakh, the Russian-made attack drones urgently needed a suitable air-launched anti-tank (with a launch container). The difficulty is that the Russian defense industry has nothing to replace cornet missiles with other things, but Russia cannot ignore the growing world attack drone market.

    At the 2021 Dubai Air Show in the UAE, Russia showed a model of Orion, including a helicopter ATGM Vikhr-M. What are the two anti-tank missiles on the attack drone in 2021? The weight is too large to launch no more than two. What are the disadvantages of this solution? According to American experience, the more missiles on your drone, the longer it will fly on the battlefield. It can hover in the air for several hours, waiting for new targets. In the case of active hostilities, this is a key factor. In other words, the ridiculous combat load of the Russian Orion UAV does not allow for the organization of comprehensive air support for ground forces. It doesn’t look very optimistic, does it? In addition, it is worth mentioning that another proprietary technology of the Russian defense industry is the installation of unguided bombs on MALE-class drones. Talking about the certain “economics” of this solution, it shows that Russian gun manufacturers have shown a complete lack of understanding of the nature of the concept of attack drones.

    What are the main problems of using aerial bombs on attack drones? Due to the low carrying capacity, heavy ammunition cannot be carried, and in the case of light (100-150 kg) operation, in order to obtain acceptable bombing accuracy, the drone will have to work at low altitude and enter any, even the most primitive air defense system. -Taking into account its low speed characteristics and poor maneuverability. Even an exchange of fire with a low-tech enemy can cause losses. The hypothetical opponents (and corresponding potential buyers) that make this aircraft are significantly lower than all competitors in the world arms market. They are actually useless in battle with the regular army (imagine the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict again, but in the battle with Orion, they either carry a precision light bomb or two missiles, and in the conflict There is no advantage.



    In summary, we can say that Russia’s military drones have not yet realized and understood the true meaning of drone operations, whether they are the essence of the concept, tactics, or attack drones. All current actual developments have fully proved this. a little. Without the development of appropriate high-precision weapon systems, it is impossible for Russia to use drones for strikes, whether for personal use or for export delivery.





    Find this story on 28 Februari 2022

    Western sanctions cause “huge problems” for Russia’s war sector (but Israel probably still supplies drone parts) – military expert

    Editor’s Note

    When we published the key points of the report “Weapons of War in Ukraine” by the UK-based investigative organization Conflict Armament Research, it caught our eye that between 2014 and 2018, the drone manufacturer Israel Aerospace Industries supplied a sanctioned Russian defense company with UAV components produced by various European and US manufacturers, thus providing a loophole for sanctions evasion.

    To understand whether it is used now, we reached out to military expert Mykhailo Samus, Director of the New Geopolitics Research Network, and found out how exactly Israeli technologies are helping Russia today, when western companies decided that it’s not worth the risk supplying war technologies to Russia, and that, paradoxically, Ukraine is still under an unofficial arms embargo from countries of Western Europe.


    Israel’s drone supplies

    In August 2014, Israel’s defense ministry ordered all domestic drone manufacturers to stop seeking new contracts in Russia, reportedly due to Russian intervention in Ukraine.

    However, according to sources of FlightGlobal, the decision still allowed “follow-ups” to existing contracts, including supplying spare parts and upgrades. It wasn’t until 2016 that Israel fully suspended supplies of its drones and spares to Russia.

    So, from Israel’s point of view, two shipments of Israeli drone parts to Russia somewhere between 2014 and 2018 revealed by Conflict Armament Research could have been legal if they took place prior to the 2016 ban.

    “The supplies prior to 2016 were actually a crime. And when we talk about the beginning of the war against Ukraine, it was the very period from 2014 to 2016 when not only Israel was making shipments to Russia. There were direct supplies from Italy, Germany, and France, there were deliveries from Israel as well. Their reasoning was that these were contracts signed before 2014, so they had the right to continue that,” Mykhailo Samus commented.


    EU supplies to Russia

    According to the expert, the most striking example of this behavior was the French contract to supply two Mistral-class helicopter carriers to Russia, signed in 2011. The framework agreement also included technology transfer by creating a consortium and building the next three ships in Russia using Russian components after 2015, when the second France-build carrier was to be shipped to Russia.

    “The memorable Mistral contract was successfully averted, but Ukraine had hard times proving to France that the €2 billion for the contract would be bloody money because they would supply these ships to the country which, at the time, had effectively occupied Crimea and the Donbas, was waging an aggressive war against Ukraine. And back then the only thing to stop France was the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, which clearly states that EU countries have no right to supply weapons, military equipment, and dual-use items to participants in armed conflicts,” Mr. Samus says.

    Russia and France settled on compensations to Russia for the canceled Mistral contract in the late summer of 2015. The deal was worth €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion), Russia’s advance payment totaled €893 million. France had to return the prepaid money and repay Moscow’s alleged costs which included training 400 sailors, stripping off the Russian equipment, and shipping it back to Russia. In total, France repaid a sum comparable to the full cost of the deal and later managed to sell the two ships to Egypt.

    The symbolic button presented on 6 March 2009 in Geneva by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, with the Russian capture meaning “overload” instead of “reset.” Video screenshot via BBC Russian Service. ~

    The symbolic button presented on 6 March 2009 in Geneva by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, with the Russian capture meaning “overload” instead of “reset.” Video screenshot via BBC Russian Service.

    As of 2014, starting from the infamous reset in relations with the US of 2010, Russia obtained and signed a huge number of contracts for the supply of weapons and technology, for dual-use goods from European countries such as Italy, France, Germany, Israel. Mykhailo Samus says these included sensitive technologies, aviation tech, and radio electronics, naval technology, and special forces equipment.

    “For instance, Germany managed to build one state-of-the-art major ground training center in Russia, Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall Group did it. They were going to build four of them, one in each military district of Russia, but managed to build only in the Western MD. These contracts were terminated, although Rheinmetall too didn’t immediately cancel them, arguing that all those were signed in 2012,” Mr. Samus says.

    The Italian company IVECO had signed a contract to supply or assemble 1,775 LMV armored vehicles renamed “Rys” in Russia on Russian soil, and the company supplied Russia with them up until 2016.

    France also transferred  Russia military technologies other than Mistral helicopter carriers. For example, an interior photo of a Russian tank reportedly captured in August 2014 near Ukraine’s Ilovaisk had, according to Igor Sutyagin, an expert at the RUSI think-tank, a thermal-imaging fire control system made by French firm Thales.

    Mykhailo Samus says that these night-vision devices used to be supplied to Russia for many years and only after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine and the further ongoing conflict these supplies were cut.

    “It’s true that sometime after 2016 these international supplies stopped at some point, but it gets really interesting here, because Russia calls, say, the Forpost UAV Russian, which is actually also an Israeli drone, it’s officially said to be made from all Russian parts,” Mykhailo says.

    Russian drone Zastava a.k.a. Israeli BirdEye-400 shot down by Ukrainian border guards near Ukrainian positions 1.5 km deep inside Ukrainian territory in Luhansk Oblast about 25 km away from the warzone on 22 July 2015. Source ~

    Russian drone Zastava a.k.a. Israeli BirdEye-400 shot down by Ukrainian border guards near Ukrainian positions 1.5 km deep inside Ukrainian territory in Luhansk Oblast about 25 km away from the warzone on 22 July 2015.

    ”But the drones shot down by Ukrainian military in the Donbas still comprise Israeli components – the problem is that Israel had managed to build an entire plant in Russia to produce its drones. So, although a drone may have ‘Made in Russia’ written outside and its name is Russian, its components may remain Israeli. And although the Israeli side says the supplies were made before the ban, it is difficult to trace how true this really is. Because it’s difficult to determine whether these components were delivered now, or they were delivered before 2016 and Russia still uses them.”

    Plate showing Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) markings and serial numbers in the wreckage of a Russian UAV Forpost a.k.a. Israeli IAI Searcher shot down near Novopetrivske (47.844290, 38.816038), Donetsk Oblast in August 2014.

    Plate showing Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) markings and serial numbers in the wreckage of a Russian UAV Forpost a.k.a. Israeli IAI Searcher shot down near Novopetrivske (47.844290, 38.816038), Donetsk Oblast in August 2014. Source

    “In fact, Russia cannot substiute its imports by 100%, which is obvious, because how can you import and then produce the same Israeli drone? Even then you can make some new Russian one from local components, electronics, and so on. The fact is that Russia doesn’t have such components: any drone as an aircraft, which is, just like a plane, is a system created specifically, with its design being tested for the interaction of all its systems. If you change something, you need to actually make a new aircraft, as it happens with planes — changing some devices, systems actually requires new tests to see how it would affect the capabilities, capacities, characteristics of this plane or UAV,” Mr. Samus believes.

    That is why, the expert says, he has doubts that Israel had fully canceled supplies of drone components to Russia, despite official statements saying otherwise.


    No EU supplies now?

    As for the EU, after 2016, when there was a lot of pressure on European companies, they mostly stopped supplies, at least there are no direct confirmed military business contacts with Russia for now.

    The Russians are trying to replace European components with Chinese ones. Mykhailo says that the main reason for this is the European attitude to sanctions: it makes no sense for European companies to get themselves in trouble by earning only a couple of thousand or tens of thousands of dollars from Russia because the supplies to Russia are indeed prohibited by sanctions.

    “That is, in the regime of export control, this is a punishable violation, quite a serious one for a company that deals only with civilian products while its products can be used somewhere as a dual-use product or for military purposes. Especially if used in the conflict zone, it is better not to deal with such supplies to Russia, That’s why, I believe, European companies are trying to avoid that. Yet, as the Siemens turbines in Crimea show, when it comes to big money, they don’t mind it. Nevertheless, penalties and sanctions for the companies supplying the turbines are slightly different than for suppliers of military goods,” Mykhailo Samus says.


    Unofficial EU arms embargo on Ukraine

    With a number of military supplies to Russia prior to 2014 and some even after the introduction of the EU sanctions, Western-European countries had unofficially banned any military supplies to Ukraine long before the Russo-Ukrainian war and this “embargo” lasts to the present day, Mykhailo Samus states,

    There was another issue with Europe, especially prior to 2016 when Ukraine said the EU, “You’ve got interesting things out there: you supply weapons, military equipment and technology to the aggressor country, while Ukraine has been banned from military supplies since 2008 and from any contacts of a military-technical nature. This was then an implicit embargo on Ukraine, as Ukraine supplied arms to Georgia during the Georgian-Russian war. Nothing has changed since then: Europe — I mean Western Europe — does not supply us (Ukraine, – Ed.) with anything of this kind.

    Russia took note of Israeli drones having seen them in action in Georgia in 2008

    Russia became interested in Israeli drone technologies after it had countered Israeli-made drones operated by Georgia in the days of the 2008 Russo-Georgian war when Russia itself had to resort to sending fighter jets or even bombers to collect intelligence data or adjust artillery fire. In the subsequent years, Russia managed not only to purchase drones of several types in Israel, but Israel also built its drone factory in Russia so that Russia itself started manufacturing licensed Israeli drones.

    Israel believed that providing Russia with its drones would gain a lever to dissuade Moscow from supplying the sophisticated S-300 air defense systems to Iran. In 2010, Russia suspended its 2007 contract with Iran, but in 2015 Putin lifted the ban and started shipping S-300 components to Iran.

    Ukraine didn’t operate any military UAVs at the time of the beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian war in the late spring of 2014. However, the country could have developed drone capabilities long before the war if it were not for the reluctance of its political and military leadership of the Yanukovych era, Mykhailo Samus says.

    “Israel had managed to supply drones to Ukraine, too, but the military and political leadership simply didn’t want to buy them. I know for sure that around 2007-2008, one set of Birdeye was purchased in Israel, but it seems to have remained unused in storage,” Mykhailo said.

    Anyway, in September 2014, only a month after its ban of new drone contracts with Russia, Israel also banned all drone supplies to Ukraine, reportedly for maintaining good relations with Russia.


    Sanctions do have an effect on Russia, despite it saying otherwise

    The conclusion I can draw from the CAR study for myself is that the Russians are really experiencing huge problems due to the sanctions, huge problems from the fact that they didn’t have enough time before 2014 to obtain a full production cycle of all UAV components, and the same goes for ship technology in the Mistrals, and aviation technology, and so on. They immediately tried to solve it by turning to China, but it turned out that the Chinese components were of poor quality.

    According to Mykhailo, this applies not only to drones but also to the ship engines that they tried to replace – the diesel motors that they used to buy in Canada, the United States, Finland. The lack of new quality engines causes “huge problems in the Black Sea Fleet.”

    I think that as time goes on, Russia would get more and more sanction-caused problems, that’s why the Russians keep saying that sanctions don’t work, but for some reason, they are constantly trying to get them lifted.





    Find this story on 10 december 2021

    Russian drones shot down over Ukraine were full of Western parts. Can the U.S. cut them off?

    The surveillance drones contained computer chips and components made in the United States and Europe

    In early 2017, Ukrainian forces battling Russia-backed separatists shot down a drone conducting surveillance over the eastern flank of Ukraine.

    The unmanned aircraft, nearly six feet long with a cone-shaped nose and a shiny gray body, had all the external characteristics of a Russian military drone. When researchers cracked it open, however, they found electronic components manufactured by a half-dozen Western companies.

    The engine came from a German company that supplies model-airplane hobbyists. Computer chips for navigation and wireless communication were made by U.S. suppliers. A British company provided a motion-sensing chip. Other parts came from Switzerland and South Korea.

    “I was surprised when we looked at it all together to see the variety of different countries that had produced all these components,” said Damien Spleeters, an investigator with the London-based Conflict Armament Research (CAR) group, who traveled to Ukraine to dissect several drones. All were loaded with Western electronics.

    Without those parts, said Spleeters, who summarized his findings in a report funded by the European Union and Germany, Russia would have found it “much more difficult to produce and operate the drones for sure.”

    As tensions mount over a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officials are considering trade sanctions designed to deprive Russia of foreign-made computer chips and electronics. Spleeters’s investigation shows how profoundly the ban could hurt Russia’s military and why it might be hard to pull off.

    Russia is known for its scientists and hackers but makes little of its own electronics or computer hardware, relying largely on imports. Yet blocking the flow of these goods could prove difficult. Some of the drone components that CAR identified traveled to Russia via obscure middlemen and small trading companies whose businesses could be tough to track.

    What’s more, the relatively small quantities that Russia’s military is likely to need might allow it to acquire components surreptitiously, said Malcolm Penn, the chief executive of London-based semiconductor research firm Future Horizons.

    “If you only want 500 or 1,000, it’s easily doable and very hard to stop,” he said. “All throughout the Cold War, when in theory there were no exports to the Soviet Union, that didn’t stop them from getting things. There are always men with suitcases that go out to the Far East and buy stuff and come back.”

    Another big wild card is China, which could thwart any U.S. attempt to choke off chips to Russia. CAR estimated that the drones it examined were built between 2013 and 2016, when Western suppliers were more dominant in the chip industry. China has since become a much bigger manufacturer of electronic components, and is unlikely to fully comply with any attempted blockade, technology experts said.

    Russia relies on Asian and Western countries to supply most of its consumer electronics and computer chips, which are the brains that make electronics function. Russian imports of these goods in 2020 exceeded $38 billion, according to United Nations trade data.

    The Soviet Union had a variety of small semiconductor factories churning out chips, mostly for military use, according to Penn, who visited some of the facilities in the early 1990s. But the Soviet breakup pushed Russia into a long period of turmoil that thwarted development of technology industries and manufacturing.

    “The microelectronics industry was completely decimated in the 1990s,” said Sam Bendett, a Russian-military analyst at the Virginia-based research group CNA. “It was just easier to import these technologies, which were widely available in the global market.”

    The Russian and Ukrainian embassies in Washington did not respond to requests for comment. Russia retains some manufacturers that produce chips of older designs, including Mikron, which was founded in Soviet times near Moscow. Enterprises in the country also design chips known by the names Baikal and Elbrus — the latter used by the military — but send many of the designs to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest chip foundry, for fabrication.

    Russian defense contractors in recent years have claimed to have revived some domestic manufacturing of high-tech military equipment, including drones and their components, Bendett said.

    The United States and the European Union restrict their exports of defense-related electronics to Russia and have toughened those rules in recent years. Yet Russian networks have found ways around those obstacles. In 2015, several Russian agents were convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, federal charges of using a Texas-based company they set up to illegally export high-tech chips to Russian military and intelligence agencies.

    Under the broader blockade that U.S. officials are considering, the United States could compel many countries worldwide to cut their chip exports to Russia by telling them they aren’t allowed to use U.S. technology to make components for Russian buyers. Most chip factories worldwide, including those in China and Taiwan, use U.S. manufacturing tools or software in their production process, analysts said.

    The United States could limit the ban to Russia’s military and high-tech sectors or could apply it more broadly, potentially depriving Russian citizens of some smartphones, tablets and video game consoles, The Washington Post recently reported, citing administration officials.

    CAR determined that the drones it investigated were used for reconnaissance missions in eastern Ukraine, where Russia has been fueling a separatist war since 2014.

    At the invitation of Ukraine’s security services, Spleeters from CAR flew to Kyiv in late 2018 to dissect the drone that was shot down in 2017. Using a duffel bag stuffed with screwdrivers, Allen wrenches and cameras, Spleeters disassembled and photographed the aircraft, looking for serial numbers and markings that could help identify where the parts came from.

    He and his colleagues then contacted the component suppliers to try to trace how the parts wound up in the drone. One motion-sensing chip was manufactured by the British company Silicon Sensing Systems, which makes components for drones, car navigation systems and industrial machinery. The company told CAR that it sold the chip in August 2012 to a Russian civilian electronics distributor, sending it through UPS in a package with 50-odd components, according to the CAR report.

    The Russian distributor told Silicon Sensing that the chip was to be used in a drone; it later added that it sold the chip to a Russian entity called ANO PO KSI, which it said purchased such items for educational institutions in Russia, according to the CAR report.

    ANO PO KSI, which is a Russian acronym for Professional Association of Designers of Data Processing Systems, was added to a sanctions list by the United States in 2016 for allegedly aiding Russian military intelligence.

    On its website, ANO PO KSI describes itself as a nonprofit that makes high-tech products, including document scanners and cameras, for the Russian government and business customers. The organization didn’t respond to a request for comment.

    In an email to The Post, Silicon Sensing said it “vigorously” complies “with all export control laws and policies everywhere we do business.” It added, “These components were sold in 2012 to a commercial company that was not on an embargo list at that time. We have ceased doing business with that company and any related entities.”

    The drone also contained U.S.-made components designed for navigation and wireless communication. One of the suppliers, Digi International, based in Minnesota, told CAR that it sold the wireless communications component to a U.S.-based distributor in March 2012, but that the distributor was unable to identify the ultimate recipient, according to the CAR report.

    Digi International told The Post that it screens all sales to be sure it isn’t supplying any prohibited parties in violation of U.S. export control laws. “We do not know how the product in question ended up in a Russian drone. We do not condone the use of our modules by foreign actors in military use cases,” the company said in an emailed statement.

    Maxim Integrated, based in California, told CAR that it manufactured a navigation component found in the drone in 2013 and shipped it to its distributors in January 2014. It added that the component “is not designed for use in unmanned aerial vehicles.”

    Maxim parent company Analog Devices declined to clarify for The Post what the component is used for. In an emailed statement, the company said it “is committed to full compliance with U.S. laws including U.S. export controls, trade sanctions and regulations.”

    Other companies in Switzerland and the United Kingdom told CAR they were unable to track the chain of suppliers that had handled their components. The drone’s engine, a single-cylinder unit with an electronic ignition, traveled a particularly mysterious route, from a small company near Frankfurt, Germany, that makes parts for model airplanes.

    The company, 3W Modellmotoren Weinhold, which did not respond to a request for comment, told CAR that it had sent the engine to World Logistic Group, a company based in the Czech Republic, in October 2013.

    The Czech company, which ceased operations in 2018, could not be reached for comment. The company was founded in the spa town of Karlovy Vary in 2008 by two residents of Moscow, according to Czech business registration documents identified by CAR and reviewed by The Post.

    From 2012 to 2014, a third Moscow-area resident served as a director of the company, according to those documents. CAR researchers found that this person was also a member of an advisory council to the Main Directorate of Public Security for Moscow’s regional government. The directorate was established to “implement state policy in the field of public and economic security,” according to the website of Moscow’s regional government.

    According to CAR, similar drone models have been recovered after flying over Syria and Libya, countries where Russian troops or mercenaries have also engaged in military action. Lithuania, a member of NATO, discovered an identical model that crashed on its territory in 2016. That one contained foreign-made components and Russian software, according to CAR and Lithuanian security services.

    The case shows that Russia uses drones “for intelligence collection not only in conflict zones but also in peacetime in neighbouring NATO countries,” Lithuanian authorities said in a 2019 document.

    By Jeanne Whalen

    February 11, 2022 at 6:00 a.m. EST

    Find this story at 11 Februari 2022
    Russian drones shot down over Ukraine had been filled with Western components. Can the U.S. minimize them off?

    “I used to be stunned after we checked out all of it collectively to see the number of completely different nations that had produced all these elements,” stated Damien Spleeters, an investigator with the U.Okay.-based Battle Armament Analysis (CAR) group, who traveled to Ukraine to dissect a number of drones. All had been loaded with Western electronics.

    With out these components, stated Spleeters, who summarized his findings in a report funded by the European Union and Germany, Russia would have discovered it “far more troublesome to supply and function the drones, for positive.”

    As tensions mount over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. officers are contemplating commerce sanctions designed to deprive Russia of foreign-made pc chips and electronics. Spleeters’s investigation exhibits how profoundly the ban might damage Russia’s navy — and why it is perhaps laborious to tug off.

    Russia is thought for its scientists and hackers however makes little of its personal electronics or pc {hardware}, relying largely on imports. But blocking the stream of those items might show troublesome.

    A few of the drone elements that CAR recognized traveled to Russia through obscure middlemen and small buying and selling firms whose companies might be robust to trace.

    What’s extra, the comparatively small portions that Russia’s navy is prone to want may permit it to amass elements surreptitiously, stated Malcolm Penn, the chief government of London-based semiconductor analysis agency Future Horizons.

    “Should you solely need 500 or 1,000 it’s simply doable, and really laborious to cease,” he stated. “All all through the Chilly Struggle, when in concept there have been no exports to the Soviet Union, that didn’t cease them from getting issues. There are at all times males with suitcases that exit to the Far East and purchase stuff and are available again.”

    One other huge wild card is China, which might thwart any U.S. try to choke off chips to Russia. CAR estimated that the drones it examined had been constructed between 2013 and 2016, when Western suppliers had been extra dominant within the chip trade. China has since turn into a a lot greater producer of digital elements, and is unlikely to completely adjust to any tried blockade, know-how consultants stated.

    Russia depends on Asian and Western nations to provide most of its shopper electronics and pc chips, that are the brains that make electronics operate. Russia’s imports of those items in 2020 exceeded $38 billion, in line with United Nations commerce knowledge.

    The Soviet Union had quite a lot of small semiconductor factories churning out chips, principally for navy use, in line with Penn, who visited among the amenities within the early Nineteen Nineties. However the Soviet breakup pushed Russia into an extended interval of turmoil that thwarted growth of high-tech industries and manufacturing.

    “The microelectronics trade was utterly decimated within the Nineteen Nineties,” stated Sam Bendett, a Russian-military analyst on the Virginia-based analysis group CNA. “It was simply simpler to import these applied sciences, which had been extensively obtainable within the international market.”

    The Russian and Ukrainian embassies in Washington didn’t reply to requests for remark.

    Russia retains some producers that produce chips of older designs, together with Mikron, which was based in Soviet occasions close to Moscow. Enterprises within the nation additionally design chips identified by the names Baikal and Elbrus — the latter are utilized by the navy — however ship lots of the designs to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Firm, the world’s largest chip foundry, for fabrication.

    Russian protection contractors in recent times have claimed to have revived some home manufacturing of high-tech navy gear, together with drones and their elements, Bendett stated.

    America and the European Union already prohibit their exports of defense-related electronics to Russia and have toughened these guidelines in recent times. But Russian networks have discovered methods round these obstacles. In 2015, a number of Russian brokers had been convicted of, or pleaded responsible to, federal prices of utilizing a Texas-based firm they set as much as illegally export high-tech chips to Russian navy and intelligence businesses.

    Below the broader blockade that U.S. officers are contemplating, america might compel many nations worldwide to chop their chip exports to Russia by telling them they aren’t allowed to make use of U.S. know-how to make elements for Russian patrons. Most chip factories worldwide, together with these in China and Taiwan, use U.S. manufacturing instruments or software program of their manufacturing course of, analysts stated.

    America might restrict the ban to Russia’s navy and high-tech sectors or might apply it extra broadly, doubtlessly depriving Russian residents of some smartphones, tablets and online game consoles, The Washington Put up just lately reported, citing administration officers.

    On the invitation of Ukraine’s safety companies, Spleeters from CAR flew to Kyiv in late 2018 to dissect the drone that was shot down in 2017.

    Utilizing a duffel bag full of screwdrivers, Allen keys and cameras, Spleeters disassembled and photographed the plane, searching for serial numbers and markings that might assist establish the place the components got here from.

    He and his colleagues then contacted the part suppliers to attempt to hint how the components wound up within the drone.

    One motion-sensing chip was manufactured by the British firm Silicon Sensing Programs, which makes elements for drones, automobile navigation techniques and industrial equipment. The corporate informed CAR that it offered the chip in August 2012 to a Russian civilian electronics distributor, sending it through UPS in a bundle with 50-odd elements, in line with the CAR report.

    The Russian distributor informed Silicon Sensing that the chip was for use in a drone; it later added that it offered the chip to a Russian entity known as ANO PO KSI, which it stated bought such objects for academic establishments in Russia, in line with the CAR report.

    On its web site, ANO PO KSI describes itself as a nonprofit that makes high-tech merchandise, together with doc scanners and cameras, for the Russian authorities and enterprise prospects. The group didn’t reply to a request for remark.

    In an electronic mail to The Put up, Silicon Sensing stated it “vigorously” complies “with all export management legal guidelines and insurance policies in every single place we do enterprise.”

    “These elements had been offered in 2012 to a business firm that was not on an embargo checklist at the moment. We’ve ceased doing enterprise with that firm and any associated entities,” Silicon Sensing added.

    The drone additionally contained U.S.-made elements designed for navigation and wi-fi communication. One of many suppliers, Digi Worldwide, based mostly in Hopkins, Minn., informed CAR that it offered the wi-fi communications part to a U.S.-based distributor in March 2012, however that the distributor was unable to establish the final word recipient, in line with the CAR report.

    Digi Worldwide informed The Put up that it screens all gross sales to make certain it isn’t supplying any prohibited events in violation of U.S. export management legal guidelines.

    “We have no idea how the product in query ended up in a Russian drone. We don’t condone using our modules by overseas actors in navy use circumstances,” the corporate stated in an emailed assertion.

    Maxim Built-in, of San Jose, Calif., informed CAR that it manufactured a navigation part discovered within the drone in 2013 and shipped it to its distributors in January 2014. It added that the part “isn’t designed to be used in unmanned aerial autos.”

    Maxim’s father or mother firm, Analog Gadgets, declined to make clear for The Put up what the part is used for. In an emailed assertion, the corporate stated it “is dedicated to full compliance with U.S. legal guidelines together with U.S. export controls, commerce sanctions and rules.”

    Different firms in Switzerland and the U.Okay. informed CAR they had been unable to trace the chain of suppliers that had dealt with their elements.

    The drone’s engine — a single-cylinder unit with an digital ignition — traveled a very mysterious route, from a small firm close to Frankfurt, Germany, that makes components for mannequin airplanes.

    The corporate, 3W-Modellmotoren Weinhold, which didn’t reply to The Put up’s request for remark, informed CAR that it had despatched the engine to World Logistic Group, an organization based mostly within the Czech Republic, in October 2013.

    The Czech firm, which ceased operations in 2018, couldn’t be reached for remark. The corporate was based within the spa city of Karlovy Differ in 2008 by two residents of Moscow, in line with Czech enterprise registration paperwork recognized by CAR and reviewed by The Put up.

    From 2012 to 2014, a 3rd Moscow-area resident served as a director of the corporate, in line with these paperwork. CAR researchers discovered that this individual was additionally a member of an advisory council to the Principal Directorate of Public Safety for Moscow’s regional authorities.

    The directorate was established to “implement state coverage within the area of public and financial safety,” in line with the web site of Moscow’s regional authorities.

    In line with CAR, related drone fashions have been recovered after flying over Syria and Libya, nations the place Russian troops or mercenaries have additionally engaged in navy motion. Lithuania, a member of NATO, found an equivalent mannequin that crashed on its territory in 2016. That one contained foreign-made elements and Russian software program, in line with CAR and Lithuanian safety companies.

    The case exhibits “that Russia makes use of [drones] for intelligence assortment not solely in battle zones but in addition in peacetime in neighbouring NATO nations,” Lithuanian authorities stated in a 2019 doc.

    British parts found on downed Russian spy drones in Ukraine and EU

    British components have been found in Russian-made spy drones captured by Ukrainian and Lithuanian forces, a report shows.

    The parts are among European kit discovered on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) deployed over Ukraine and neighbouring countries during the conflict in the country’s eastern Donbass region, researchers have found.

    Ukraine is under the threat of invasion, with an estimated 130,000 Russian troops massed over the border and in Belarus and Crimea.

    The three-year investigation suggests that the Kremlin is using an opaque supply line to circumvent EU and US embargoes preventing it from buying electronic components for military use. The study traced the flow of weapons and military vehicles to Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass, who have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.

    One of the drones bearing UK-made parts was captured by Ukrainian defence and security forces near the coastal city of Mariupol in the Donetsk region, where the insurgents have established a self-declared republic.

    An autopsy on the equipment by Conflict Armament Research (CAR) found an inertial sensor, a type of measurement unit, made by a British firm named in the report as Silicon Sensing Systems.

    There is no suggestion that the company broke any laws or knew the part would end up being used for military purposes.

    The UAV, which was downed on February 8, 2017, was examined by the researchers as they documented materiel used in the conflict between Ukrainian forces and the Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass.

    Another part made by the company was found in a drone that crashed in Lithuania in October 2016, according to CAR.

    The project is ongoing at a time when the US has committed 3,000 additional troops to eastern Europe and NATO allies have sent defensive weaponry and small contingents of personnel to Ukraine.

    The spy drone examined by researchers was found to have a unit made in the UK (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    Damien Spleeters, deputy director of operations at CAR, told Metro.co.uk: ‘The conflict in eastern Ukraine has been covered by the media since 2014 and the common narrative is that the weapons used there are mostly old Soviet equipment. We wanted to put that narrative to the test.

    ‘We found that, as usual, the truth is more complex than that.

    ‘People might not be surprised at hearing that the weapons used in eastern Ukraine almost exclusively come from the Russian Federation, but the Russian drones we examined there held something more unexpected: A lot of their critical components actually come from the EU, the UK, and the US.’

    The report states that Silicon Sensing Systems, which provided information to CAR, sold the DMU02 unit to Radiant-Elcom CJSC, now known as Radiant Group LLC, a Russian civilian electronics distributor.

    Radiant said the end customer was a company serving ‘various educational institutional institutions’ in the country, according to the researchers.

    The final destination was found to be ANO ‘PO KSI’, which produces aerial surveillance systems for the Russian Ministry of Defence.

    The company was sanctioned by the US in 2016 for allegedly aiding Russian military intelligence agency cyber-operations.

    European-made electrical kit has been found on spy drones recovered in Ukraine and EU countries (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    European-made electrical kit has been found on spy drones recovered in Ukraine and EU countries (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    The measurement unit provided by the UK company was sold before August 1, 2014, when the EU and US banned trade in arms or ‘related material’ with Russian firms. Another unit made by the Plymouth-based firm was found on the drone recovered by the Lithuanian authorities.

    The report states that it was most likely sold to Radiant-Elcom between 2014 and 2015. Neither of the commercial parts traced back to the British company are on the UK Strategic Export Control List.

    Another electrical component found on the drone recovered in Ukraine was apparently made by NGK Spark Plugs in Japan, which states on its website that its parts should not be used in flight applications.

    The report documented weapons recovered in eastern Ukraine where the government has been fighting separatists (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    CAR asked the company’s Hertfordshire-based UK branch to assist in tracing the spark plug, but it was not able to determine the origin or supply of the product based on the limited information available to the researchers.


    The disassembled grey drone carries the serial number 2166 and an illegible number on a circuit board, part of a pattern of identifying details being obscured on some of the recovered weapons and vehicles.


    The investigation also found parts sent by a German company to Russian-owned World Logistics Group, which was registered in the Czech Republic before ceasing trading in October 2018.

    (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    An under-barrel grenade launcher documented in Mariupol (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    A designated marksman rifle documented by researchers (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)


    One of the directors was a ‘Russian citizen with links to political and security agencies of the Russian government’, according to the researchers.


    There is no proof that the company was acting on behalf of the state and CAR is carrying out work to ‘determine its activities and motivation’ in the wake of its report, entitled Weapons of the War in Ukraine.


    Wider use of Russian-made drones is evident from others recovered in EU member states, which have included British, Czech, French, German, Spanish and US components, the researchers say.


    The UAVs are among a wide range of weaponry linked to Russia by CAR, which examined kit linked to the conflict between Ukraine and the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk’s People’s Republics.

    (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    Detail of an obliterated area from the motherboard of a drone recovered in eastern Ukraine (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)


    The researchers also examined 43 weapons, including assault rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers, landmines, hand grenades, mortars and pistols.


    Factories based in what today is the Russian Federation were found to have made the majority of 4,793 rounds of small-calibre ammunition and all but two of the arms examined.


    Some of the materiel had certain identifying marks ‘obliterated’, probably to conceal evidence of the origin and diversion points for the hardware and components, according to CAR, an independent organisation which investigates weapons flows across the world.

    (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    A multiple rocket launcher documented by the researchers in Kyiv (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)

    The rocket launcher was found to have had an identification plaque unscrewed (Picture: Conflict Armament Research)


    The UK and US are among NATO countries that have sent ‘lethal aid’, including portable anti-tank weapons, to Ukraine as tensions with the Kremlin continue to escalate.


    With fresh sanctions threatened by the West as a response to Russian aggression, the report suggests a complex chain of companies is being used to secure components for battlefield gear despite the embargoes.


    Moscow has denied it is planning to invade Ukraine and accused the West of seeking to provoke it into a confrontation in the region.


    Mr Spleeters and his colleagues are continuing to look into several of the cases presented in the report. ‘In this kind of situation, there is always some ebb and flow of conflicting narratives where pieces of information are being used and distorted,’ he said.


    ‘We think it’s crucial to provide a front-line account of what is actually being used, in terms of weapons and equipment, not only against Ukrainian forces in their country, but against EU member states in the case of the drones we’ve documented.’

    NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd was unable to determine the origins and supply route of the component detailed in the report.

    In a statement, the company said: ‘As NGK Spark Plugs (UK) Ltd we distribute spark plugs on a wholesale basis to a variety of automotive, motorcycle and horticultural distributors.

    ‘Our spark plugs are commodity products available via parts distributors, retail accessory shops and the internet etc. Spark plugs are not manufactured in the UK but are distributed only as detailed above.

    ‘The majority of products are actually manufactured by NGK Spark Plug Co. Ltd in Japan, who clearly state on their website that NGK spark plugs should not be used in any flight applications.’

    Metro.co.uk has approached Silicon Sensing Systems for comment.

    Josh Layton

    4 Feb 2022


    Find this story on4 February 2022



    Fears Russian military drones made with British components could target UK soldiers

    Russian-made military drones containing British components are being used by pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine and can now be used to target UK soldiers deployed there in the event of an invasion of Moscow, I to learn.

    Arms experts said an analysis of Russian-made surveillance planes intercepted over Ukraine showed they were made with electronics and mechanical parts originating from Western countries, including the United Kingdom, which are lined up to oppose the Kremlin’s increasingly aggressive strategy toward Kiev.

    It is likely that this equipment will be used against Ukraine in the event of a conflict with Russia in the coming days or weeks. Former military commanders said I They worry that drones could be used against British forces sent to advise Ukraine as they prepare for a possible invasion.

    General Lord Richard Dannatt, former head of the British Army, said the outcome was “entirely possible”. The former Chief of the General Staff added: “Drones have become a reality in the airspace and on the battlefield.”

    When asked if he thought 100 British troops in Ukraine could be targeted by Russian planes, Colonel Richard Kemp, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan in 2003, said “they certainly could be” if they were operating near the front line.

    He called for “tightening of export regulations and control of exports to Russia of any kind that might have a military advantage.”

    The government said I It intends to clamp down on such sales with new export rules, in clear acknowledgment of existing loopholes

    Britain is one of several countries, including the United States, that in recent weeks has supplied Ukraine with advanced weapons designed to deter a Russian attack. London sent a shipment of advanced anti-tank missiles to Kiev earlier this month.

    But the evidence suggests that Russian defense manufacturers — responsible for largely modernizing President Vladimir Putin’s military machine in recent years — have managed to circumvent export rules to acquire Western components to allow them to produce military equipment likely to be used against Ukraine in the event of a conflict.

    Research conducted by specialists in London has found that six drones shot down in eastern Ukraine as recently as April 2020 contain advanced parts sourced from the West from Russian defense manufacturers.

    More about Ukraine

    According to government figures, Britain officially exports only trace amounts of defense or security equipment to Russia. Since 2015, only £1.5 million licenses have been approved, the vast majority of which are ammunition for sport or hunting.

    But the evidence suggests that advanced materials of importance and use for the Russian military were making their way into the Russian war machine via other routes.

    The study by Conflict Armament Research (CAR), funded by the European Union and the German government, found that a Russian reconnaissance drone, shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2017, contained specialized electronics manufactured by Plymouth-based Silicon Sensing Systems. Ltd.

    There is no indication of any wrongdoing by the company. Her Russian customer, a civilian electronics distributor in Moscow, told her that the “end user” was a company serving “educational institutions”. Because the equipment being sold did not appear on any British government lists of controlled goods, the company did not request an export license for the component and the sale was made before new controls were imposed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

    Silicon Sensing Systems has not responded to requests from I to comment. But in correspondence with CAR, the company said that none of the items it provided to its Russian customer exceeded the “performance standards” that would have required a UK export license, and that it was given no indication that its products were intended for the defense manufacturer.

    Automotive Research Center investigators found that rather than being destined for use in an educational setting, the final destination of the company component was in fact a supplier of air surveillance systems to the Russian Ministry of Defense. In 2017, the company, PO KSI, was named in sanctions by Washington for allegedly supporting malicious cyber operations by Russian military intelligence.

    The study found that an identical Russian-made drone of the type with a British-made component was found that crashed in Lithuania in 2016. CAR said that this drone contained an updated version of the silicon sensor systems component, but again the part did not meet The threshold for requesting an export license.

    A separate report by Lithuanian authorities found that the drone was on a surveillance mission to Poland and was of the type known to be used by Moscow’s security services.

    How the once dilapidated Russian army is now a deadly force

    Russia’s modern, well-armed and deadly armed forces are the result of a two-decade push by Vladimir Putin to place a new era of military power at the heart of Moscow’s foreign policy.

    When he came to power in 2000, he inherited a nuclear-armed but shrinking post-Soviet army that relied on conscripts and communist-era equipment.

    The Kremlin’s ability in 2022 to deploy an advanced combat force equipped with the latest technology, and in some cases significantly ahead of Western arms, comes on the heels of massive spending to develop the military. The country spends more on defense as a share of GDP than the United States.

    Thus, Moscow can deploy hypersonic missiles allegedly capable of deploying nuclear weapons at 20 times the speed of sound, and has tanks waiting on Ukraine’s border that are among the best aircraft in the world, complete with a state-of-the-art night. Fight the visual system.

    But at the same time, the Russian system has weaknesses. For all its strength in certain sectors, analysts say it lacks the domestic high-tech civilian manufacturing capacity that it has grown in other countries. As a result, Russia’s military-industrial sector has been forced to source technology from abroad, which has led to challenges with export rules and sanctions.

    Kahal Melmo


    The CAR study, which examined Russian-made drones that either crashed or were shot down between 2015 and 2020, found evidence of components from countries including Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, America and the Czech Republic.

    Components believed to have been supplied by British companies included specialized spark plugs and a shipment of electronics delivered in 2020 to a Russian drone maker whose products include the Kremlin’s first armed long-endurance drone, or UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle).

    “Our analysis and tracing efforts reveal that independent Russian electronics and components distributors obtained … foreign technology on behalf of sanctioned Russian defense and security entities,” the report said.

    A British defense source said I The drones shot down by Ukrainian forces formed part of the known Russian drone fleet and are likely to be used in the event of an invasion. “If things go wrong, the Russians will throw everything they have,” the source said. “And that will certainly include their drone surveillance capabilities.”

    In both Germany and the United States, authorities have investigated allegations that Russian defense companies have deployed similar tactics to obtain advanced materials for night vision equipment, machine tools and semiconductors.

    CAR said there was evidence that Russia was able to take advantage of a “general lack of clarity” about exporters’ responsibility to determine “end-use” and “end-user” components, and the rules regarding “dual-use” technology could be used in both civilian and military applications. .

    Tell Mike Lewis, Head of Investigations for the Central African Republic IExport control regimes in the United Kingdom and the European Union face the same challenges in preventing sophisticated commercial technology from reaching military manufacturers in embargoed destinations such as the Russian Federation.

    “Currently, exporters are not obligated to carry out even basic due diligence towards their customers in such destinations. They simply have to wait until they are told by their government – or less commonly, their customers – that their products are for military purposes. There is no organized system for notifying exporters that Their products are found in military systems.”

    Activists said there was particular concern in Britain about the UK’s ability to verify where products licensed for export had come from.

    Dr Samuel Pirlo Freeman, Research Coordinator for the Campaign Against the Arms Trade said: “Overall, the UK makes no attempt to pursue the final destination and use of licensed equipment, in most cases. The potential for diversion of military and dual-use equipment provided by the UK is therefore the To unauthorized destinations is great.”

    Former Conservative Trade Secretary Marc Garnier, chair of the Arms Export Controls Committee (CAEC), said on Friday the findings were “extremely concerning” and that it was “critically important” Britain to prevent key technology from reaching its opponents.

    Garnier said that the adequacy of UK end-use controls and verification procedures was a key part of parliamentary scrutiny.

    Tell I: “Reports that British-made goods have been used in eastern Ukraine are of deep concern. It is critical that we prevent the diversion of UK exports for hostile purposes… It also illustrates the need for an export control system that is able to adapt quickly to global changes, not only in terms of demand for new licenses but also those already granted.”

    Labor MP Lloyd Russell Moyle, who sits at the CAEC, said he would ask the commission to investigate whether the findings mean the current system is powerful enough to thwart Moscow’s efforts to acquire British and Western technology.

    Tell I: “An essential part of any arms control regime that people who seek to harm us or our allies cannot obtain the resources or technology that we or our allies produce. If these technologies end up in the hands of the adversary, we should ask very serious questions.”

    The Department for International Trade, which oversees defense exports, said the government was looking to expand the definition of “military end use” to better deal with scenarios in which the sale of UK-made components could lead to threats to “national security, international peace and human rights”.

    A spokesperson for the Department of Trade and Industry said: “The UK takes its export control responsibilities very seriously and operates one of the most robust and transparent export control regimes in the world.”

    Fears that Russian military drones built with British components could be used to attack British soldiers during the Ukraine crisis.

    Pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine are using Russian-made military drones with British components, which could now be used to attack UK troops stationed there if Moscow invades.i has learned.

    An analysis of Russian-built surveillance drones intercepted over Ukraine found that they were built with electronics and mechanical parts from Western countries, including the United Kingdom, which are uniting to oppose the Kremlin’s increasingly belligerent strategy toward Kyiv.

    Should a conflict with Russia occur in the coming days or weeks, this equipment is likely to be used against Ukraine. Former military commanders have expressed their dissatisfaction with the current administration’s handlingiThey are concerned that the drones could be used against British forces stationed in Ukraine to advise it as it prepares for a possible invasion.

    Former British Army chief General Lord Richard Dannatt stated that such a scenario was “quite possible.” “Drones are becoming a fact in the airspace and the battle space,” the former Chief of General Staff continued.

    Colonel Richаrd Kemp, who commаnded British forces in Afghаnistаn in 2003, sаid “they certаinly could be” if they were operаting neаr the front line when аsked if he thought the 100 British troops in Ukrаine could be tаrgeted by Russiаn аircrаft.

    He cаlled for “tighter export regulаtions аnd control of аll exports to Russiа thаt could hаve militаry utility.”

    The Government hаs told ithаt it intends to use new export rules to crаck down on such sаles, implying thаt existing loopholes аre being exploited.

    The United Kingdom is one of severаl countries, including the United Stаtes, thаt hаve recently provided Ukrаine with аdvаnced weаponry аimed аt deterring а Russiаn аttаck. Eаrlier this month, London delivered to Kyiv а shipment of аdvаnced аnti-tаnk missiles.

    However, evidence suggests thаt Russiаn defence mаnufаcturers – who hаve been responsible for significаntly upgrаding President Vlаdimir Putin’s militаry mаchine in recent yeаrs – аre аble to get аround export restrictions to obtаin Western components, аllowing them to produce militаry equipment thаt could be used аgаinst Ukrаine if а conflict аrises.

    Six drones shot down in eаstern Ukrаine аs recently аs April 2020 contаined sophisticаted pаrts sourced from the West by Russiаn defense mаnufаcturers, аccording to reseаrch conducted by London-bаsed experts.

    Officiаlly, the United Kingdom exports only smаll аmounts of defense аnd security equipment to Russiа, аccording to government stаtistics. Since 2015, only £1.5 million in licenses hаve been grаnted, the vаst mаjority of which аre for sporting or hunting аmmunition.

    However, evidence suggests thаt аdvаnced militаry mаteriаl of interest аnd utility to Russiа’s militаry hаs entered Moscow’s wаr mаchine through other chаnnels.

    One Russiаn-mаde surveillаnce drone shot down over eаstern Ukrаine in 2017 contаined speciаlist electronics mаnufаctured by а Plymouth-bаsed compаny, Silicon Sensing Systems Ltd, аccording to а study by Conflict Armаment Reseаrch (CAR), which wаs funded by the Europeаn Union аnd the Germаn government.

    The compаny hаsn’t been аccused of аny wrongdoing. The ultimаte “end user” wаs а compаny serving “educаtionаl institutions,” аccording to its Russiаn customer, а civiliаn electronics distributor in Moscow. The compаny did not need аn export licence for the component becаuse it did not аppeаr on аny UK government lists of controlled goods, аnd the sаle took plаce before new controls were imposed following Russiа’s аnnexаtion of Crimeа in 2014.

    Silicon Sensing Systems hаs yet to respond to our requests.ito аdd to the discussion However, in а letter to CAR, the compаny stаted thаt none of the items it hаd provided to its Russiаn customer exceeded “performаnce pаrаmeters” thаt would hаve required а UK export license, аnd thаt it hаd received no indicаtion thаt its products were destined for а defense mаnufаcturer.

    The finаl destinаtion of the compаny’s component, аccording to CAR investigаtors, wаs а supplier of аeriаl surveillаnce systems to the Russiаn Ministry of Defense, rаther thаn being used in аn educаtionаl environment. PO KSI wаs sаnctioned by the US in 2017 for аllegedly аssisting Russiаn militаry intelligence in mаlicious cyber operаtions.

    An identicаl Russiаn-mаde drone to the type found with the UK-mаde component crаshed in Lithuаniа in 2016, аccording to the study. This drone, аccording to CAR, hаd аn updаted version of the Silicon Sensing Systems component, but the pаrt did not meet the threshold for requiring аn export license once аgаin.

    The drone hаd been on а surveillаnce mission to Polаnd, аccording to а sepаrаte report by Lithuаniаn аuthorities, аnd wаs of the type used by Moscow’s security services.


    How Russiа’s once-derelict militаry hаs been trаnsformed into а deаdly force

    Vlаdimir Putin’s two-decаde push to plаce а new erа of militаry might аt the center of Moscow’s foreign policy hаs resulted in Russiа’s well-аrmed аnd lethаl modern аrmed forces.

    He inherited а nucleаr-аrmed, but otherwise depleted post-Soviet militаry reliаnt on conscripts аnd Communist-erа equipment when he cаme to power in 2000.

    The Kremlin’s аbility in 2022 to deploy а sophisticаted fighting force complete with cutting-edge technology, in some cаses significаntly аheаd of Western weаponry, follows vаst spending to upgrаde the militаry. The country spends more on defence аs а shаre of GDP thаn even the United Stаtes.

    Consequently, Moscow cаn deploy hypersonic missiles аllegedly cаpаble of deploying nucleаr weаpons аt 20 times the speed of sound, аnd hаs tаnks wаiting on Ukrаine’s borders which аer considered аmong the best in the world, complete with а stаte-of-the-аrt night-fighting opticаl system.

    At the sаme time, however, the Russiаn system hаs weаknesses. For аll its prowess in certаin sectors, аnаlysts sаy it lаcks the home-grown civiliаn high-tech mаnufаcturing cаpаcity thаt other countries do. As а result, the Russiаn militаry-industriаl sector hаs been forced to source technology from аbroаd, running the gаuntlet of export rules аnd sаnctions.

    Cаhаl Milmo


    The CAR study, which scrutinised Russiаn-mаde drones which either crаshed or were shot down between 2015 аnd 2020, found evidence of components from countries including Britаin, Frаnce, Germаny, Spаin, Switzerlаnd, Americа аnd the Czech Republic.

    The components believed to hаve been supplied by UK compаnies included speciаlist spаrk plugs аnd а consignment of electronics delivered in 2020 to а Russiаn militаry drone mаnufаcturer whose products include the Kremlin’s first long-endurаnce аrmed drone, or UAV (Unmаnned Aeriаl Vehicle).

    The report sаid: “Our аnаlysis аnd trаcing efforts reveаl thаt independent Russiаn electronics аnd component distributors аcquired… foreign technology on behаlf of sаnctioned Russiаn defence аnd security entities.”

    A UK defence source told i thаt the drones downed by the Ukrаiniаn forces formed pаrt of the known Russiаn UAV fleet аnd were likely to be used in the event of аn invаsion. The source sаid: “If things go hot, then the Russiаns will throw everything they’ve got аt it. Thаt would certаinly include their UAV surveillаnce cаpаbilities.”

    In both Germаny аnd the US, the аuthorities hаve investigаted аllegаtions thаt Russiаn defence compаnies hаve deployed similаr tаctics to obtаin аdvаnced mаteriаls for night vision equipment, mаchine tools аnd semiconductors.

    CAR sаid there wаs evidence thаt Russiа hаd been аble to benefit from а “generаl lаck of clаrity” over the responsibility of exporters to estаblish the “end use” аnd “end user” of components, аnd the rules concerning “duаl use” technology, cаpаble of being used in both civiliаn аnd militаry аpplicаtions.

    Mike Lewis, heаd of investigаtions for CAR, told i: “Both UK аnd EU export control regimes fаce the sаme chаllenges of preventing sophisticаted commerciаl technology reаching militаry mаnufаcturers in embаrgoed destinаtions like the Russiаn Federаtion.

    “At present, exporters hаve no obligаtion to undertаke even bаsic due diligence on their customers in such destinаtions. They simply hаve to wаit until they аre told by their government – or, less commonly, their customers – thаt their products аre destined for militаry purposes. And there is no orgаnised system for notifying exporters thаt their products hаve been found in militаry systems.”

    Cаmpаigners sаid thаt in Britаin there wаs а pаrticulаr concern over the UK’s аbility to check where products licensed for export end up.

    Dr Sаmuel Perlo-Freemаn, reseаrch co-ordinаtor аt Cаmpаign Agаinst Arms Trаde, sаid: “In generаl, the UK does not mаke аny аttempt to follow up on the finаl destinаtion аnd use of licenced equipment, in most cаses. The potentiаl for diversion of UK-supplied militаry аnd duаl-use equipment to unаuthorised destinаtions is therefore substаntiаl.”

    Former Conservаtive trаde minister Mаrk Gаrnier, the chаirmаn of the Committees on Arms Export Controls (CAEC), sаid on Fridаy thаt the findings were “deeply concerning” аnd it wаs “pаrаmount” for Britаin to prevent key technology reаching its аdversаries.

    Mr Gаrnier sаid thаt the аdequаcy of Britаin’s end-use controls аnd verificаtion procedures wаs а key pаrt of Pаrliаmentаry scrutiny.

    He told i: “Reports thаt UK-mаnufаctured goods аre being used in eаstern Ukrаine аre deeply concerning. It is pаrаmount thаt we prevent UK exports being diverted for аdversаriаl purposes… It аlso illustrаtes the need for аn export controls system thаt is аble to аdаpt аt speed to globаl chаnges, not just in terms of new licence аpplicаtions but аlso those аlreаdy grаnted.”

    Lаbour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who sits on CAEC, sаid he would be аsking the committee to investigаte whether the findings meаn the current system is sufficiently robust to thwаrt Moscow’s efforts to obtаin British аnd Western technology.

    He told i: “It is а fundаmentаl pаrt of аny аrms control system thаt people who seek to hаrm us or our аllies аre not аble to obtаin the resources or technology produced by us or our аllies. If these technologies аre ending up in the hаnds of аn аdversаry, we should be аsking very serious questions.”

    The Depаrtment for Internаtionаl Trаde, which oversees defence exports, sаid the Government wаs looking to broаden the definition of “militаry end use” to better аddress scenаrios where the sаle of UK-mаde components could leаd to threаts to “nаtionаl security, internаtionаl peаce аnd humаn rights”.

    A DIT spokesperson sаid: “The UK tаkes its export control responsibilities very seriously аnd operаtes one of the most robust аnd trаnspаrent export control regimes in the world.”

    By Cahal Milmo, Joe Duggan
    Find this story on 5 Februari 2022
    Huurlingen voor Oekraïne

    De onafhankelijke republiek Oekraïne heeft, na een revolutie die zijn pro-Russische president verjoeg, nu in het oosten van zijn grondgebied een conflict met burgers van Russische afkomst waarbij aan beide zijden huursoldaten worden ingezet.

    Begin dit jaar hield de Russische bevolking van het schiereiland Krim een referendum dat door de regering van Oekraïne niet werd erkend, maar wel door de regering van Rusland. Het referendum resulteerde in de onafhankelijkheid en daarna de aansluiting van het gebied bij Rusland. Dit zeer tegen de wens van de autochtone bewoners van het schiereiland, de Krim-Tataren en de regering in Kiev.

    Korte tijd later kwamen inwoners van steden in het oosten van het land in opstand tegen het regime in Kiev. Men wilde zich afscheiden om zich vervolgens aan te kunnen sluiten bij Rusland. Op het Maidanplein in Kiev vond op 20 februari 2014 een slachting onder pro-Westerse burgers plaats. Wie daarvoor verantwoordelijk was, maakt deel uit van de propagandaoorlog die gaande is in Oekraïne.

    In de stad Odessa kwam het tot bloedvergieten tussen soldaten van onbekende herkomst en pro-Russische burgers waarbij veel slachtoffers vielen. Wat de situatie nog meer verward, is een oproep van Oekraïense Krim-Tataren die meevechten in de Syrische opstand. Eén van hun leiders riep op tot een Jihad, een heilige oorlog, tegen de Russen in de Oekraïne. Pro-Russische Tartaren aan de andere kant lijken het te hebben gemunt op de Tartaarse minderheid op het schiereiland.

    Mengt Rusland zich in het conflict?

    In het Westen wordt geroepen dat Rusland de rebellen zou steunen. Die steun was op de Krim duidelijk, daar waren echter ook Russische troepen gelegerd. In het Oosten van Oekraïne is de situatie veel onduidelijker. Wat wel duidelijk is geworden, is dat er Russen meevechten met de Pro-Russische separatisten. Sommige hebben zich ook opgeworpen als commandant of bestuurder van de onafhankelijke Donetsk People’s Republic en de Luhansk People’s Republic. Dat onder deze vrijwilligers Russische militairen meevechten, is waarschijnlijk. Maar dat zegt nog niets over een officiële Russische ondersteuning van de opstand in het Oosten van Rusland.

    Ditzelfde geldt voor de inzet van militair materieel van de Russen. Russische militairen die sympathiseren met de separatisten zullen materieel hebben meegenomen zodra ze daartoe in staat zijn geweest. De Russische grensbewakers zullen daarbij een oogje hebben dichtgeknepen, maar van structurele en grootschalige Russische ondersteuning lijkt vooralsnog geen sprake. De separatisten hebben ook nog een enkele militaire bases en politiebureaus overvallen waarbij wapens zijn buitgemaakt, het merendeel van Russische makelij.

    Van onomstotelijk bewijs voor directe Russische ondersteuning van de separatisten in Oost-Oekraïne lijkt echter geen sprake. Wel zijn er veel huurlingen in het gebied actief. Over de aanwezigheid van Tsjetsjeense strijders van het ‘leger’ van de leider van Tsjetsjenië, Ramzan Kadyrov, is door verschillende bronnen bericht. Zij zouden deel uitmaken van het Vostok Bataljon. Er zouden ook Ossetiërs, Oezbeken, Servische Chetniks en vrijwilligers van andere nationaliteiten meevechten met de Pro-Russen. Ook Oekraïners, zowel burgers als militairen, maken deel uit van de separatisten.

    Aan de kant van de regeringsgetrouwe Oekraïense troepen ligt de zaak zo mogelijk nog iets gecompliceerder. De Russen hebben meermaals het Westen ervan beschuldigd zich in het conflict te hebben gemengd. Begin juni werden deze beschuldigingen concreter en riep de Russische overheid de VS op haar huurlingen van private bedrijven terug te trekken. In maart doken de eerste berichten over Amerikaanse huurlingen aan Oekraïense zijde op. De pro-Russische krant Russia Today sprak van 300 tot 400 huurlingen, afkomstig van het particuliere bedrijf Academi (voorheen Xe Services en Blackwater). De huurlingen zouden zijn ingezet door de Oekraïense regering om demonstranten in het zuidoosten van het land te bestrijden.


    Het private Academi, dat taken van het Amerikaanse leger uitvoert, ontkende de beschuldigingen en beschuldigde op haar beurt een ‘onverantwoordelijke blogger’ en een ‘internetjournalist’ ervan de geruchten te hebben verspreid. Het bedrijf stelde op 17 maart dit jaar dat haar medewerkers niet actief zijn in Oekraïne. Waarom het bedrijf in haar persbericht het woord ‘onverantwoordelijk’ gebruikt, is onduidelijk. Het persbericht, inmiddels van hun website verwijderd, belicht vooral de reputatie van Academi en haar geschiedenis met namen als Blackwater, Xe Services en Erik Prince.

    Nadat de storm was geluwd, vroeg Rusland begin april nog opheldering over de aanwezigheid van Amerikaanse huurlingen, maar ook daarop kwam geen antwoord. De meeste media besteedden er geen aandacht aan. Pas toen de Duitse krant Bild am Sonntag begin mei berichtte dat 300 of 400 huurlingen van het bedrijf Academi meevochten tegen de separatisten, explodeerde de Duitse media. Van Der Spiegel tot de Aachener Nachrichten namen het bericht over. Dit had te maken met de claim van Bild dat de Duitse Bondskanselier Angela Merkel door de Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND), de Duitse inlichtingendienst, op de hoogte was gesteld van het feit dat 400 Amerikaanse huursoldaten meevochten. Volgens Bild am Sonntag was die informatie aan de BND ter beschikking gesteld door de Amerikaanse inlichtingendienst NSA.

    Opnieuw reageerde Academi met de verwijzing naar onverantwoordelijke media en dat het bedrijf niet aanwezig zou zijn in Oekraïne. Vervolgens ging het persbericht vooral over de namen Academi en Blackwater, die van Erik Prince en Xe Services komen niet langer voor. Ditmaal voelde het Witte Huis zich geroepen de aanwezigheid van de Amerikaanse huurlingen te ontkennen, waarbij de woordvoerder van de US National Security Council naar de website van Academi verwees. De Duitse krant Südwest Presse haalde op 22 mei een leverancier en bekende van Blackwater-baas Eric Prince aan die anoniem wenste te blijven. Volgens deze bron zouden er wel degelijk Amerikaanse huurlingen betrokken zijn bij talrijke vuurgevechten met pro-Russische separatisten.

    De beschuldigingen ten aanzien van de aanwezigheid van Amerikaanse huurlingen, maar ook helikopters van het Amerikaanse leger, volgen elkander in rap tempo op. De Russen herhaalden hun klacht in juni en augustus van dit jaar. Naast Academi, zouden ook Greystone Limited, onderdeel van Academi, en Cubic Applications International, actief zijn in Oekraïne. Zowel de Russische legercommandant Valeri Guerassimov als de onderminister van Buitenlandse Zaken Ryabkov, spreken van tientallen Amerikaanse huurlingen die mee zouden vechten met het Oekraïense leger, en westerse beveiligingsbedrijven die paramilitaire taken uitvoeren in Oekraïne.


    In het weekend van 12 en 13 april is de CIA-directeur John Brennan op een missie in Kiev geweest. Brennan kwam op het moment dat verschillende Oekraïense soldaten hun wapens overdroegen aan de pro-Russische rebellen. Het verhaal deed de ronde dat de Russen een geheime operatie uitvoerden in het gebied en het Oekraïense leger af bluften. Duidelijk was wel dat Kiev aan de verliezende hand was. De precieze strekking van de conversaties van de CIA-baas met de Oekraïners is niet duidelijk, maar Forbes magazine duidde de Amerikaanse hulp als ‘non-lethal help’. Gezien de intensieve relatie tussen Amerika en Oekraïne zal de CIA bepaalde informatie met het Oekraïense leger delen, zeker over de positie van Russische eenheden, maar ook over de separatisten.

    De slechte moraal van het Oekraïense leger en de bluf van de Russen zullen zeker hebben geleid tot een groot aantal verliezen. Verschillende militaire helikopters en vliegtuigen zijn door de rebellen uit de lucht geschoten in mei en juni van dit jaar. Op 19 mei beweerde de separatistische burgemeester van de Oost-Oekraïense stad Slavyansk dat de rebellen van de opstandige steden in het oosten 650 Oekraïense militairen zouden hebben gedood, verwond of gevangen hebben genomen. Onder hen 70 buitenlanders, zoals 13 CIA-operators en 14 medewerkers van Greystone, terwijl diverse medewerkers van de CIA en private bedrijven gewond zouden zijn geraakt.

    Deze beweringen en cijfers van verliezen aan de Oekraïense, maar ook aan de Pro-Russische zijde, zijn moeilijk te verifiëren. Wel is duidelijk dat het Oekraïense leger in eerste instantie op verschillende plaatsen in het oosten van het land zware verliezen heeft geleden. Na de aanslag op vlucht MH17 werden de Pro-Russische rebellen teruggedrongen en rukte het Oekraïense leger op. Of er buitenlanders zijn omgekomen aan beide zijden van het slagveld is nog onduidelijker.

    Brennan’s bezoek aan Kiev en het langzaam terugkerende vertrouwen bij het Oekraïense leger, duiden erop dat er ‘adviseurs’ aan het werk zijn. Het is dan ook niet gek dat de Russische wapenexpert Andrey Klintsevitsj in de Glavnoye Weekly News van 18 juni stelt dat er Amerikaanse specialisten aanwezig zijn in het conflictgebied om het Oekraïense leger te coördineren. Natuurlijk kan alles worden gezien in het licht van de Russische propaganda, maar dit geldt evenzeer voor de Amerikaanse ontkenningen over de aanwezigheid van Amerikaanse huurlingen.

    Ook de directeur van het Russische Instituut voor Strategische Studies, Leonid Resketnikov, beweert dat er Westerse troepen actief zijn. Hij stelt dat er Amerikaanse en Poolse sluipschutters worden ingezet in Donetsk. Ook Igor Strelkov (Igor Girkin), de minister van Defensie van de Donetsk People’s Republic, vertelde op een persbijeenkomst in juli dat een pro-Kiev checkpoint tussen Ilovaisk en Amvrosiyevka wordt bemand door Poolse huurlingen. Volgens hem droegen de soldaten kleding met emblemen van het Poolse leger.

    De Poolse regering ontkent de beschuldigingen, maar de voormalige baas van de Tsjechische militaire inlichtingendienst stelde in juni dat hij zich kon voorstellen dat er huurlingen aan het strijden zijn in Oekraïne. Hoewel hij geen informatie had over Tsjechische huurlingen in het land, vertelde hij over Tsjechen in Irak die waren gesneuveld en dat het niet de eerste keer zou zijn dat er huurlingen meevechten in een conflict binnen Europa of elders in de wereld.

    Het bewijs voor de aanwezigheid van Amerikaanse, Poolse of Tsjechische huurlingen is vooralsnog bepaald niet overtuigend. Er is een vage film op Youtube te zien van een gevangen genomen man die roept dat hij ‘US-citizen’ is. Ook andere nationaliteiten zouden meevechten.

    Volgens de Israëlische krant The Times of Israel vochten op het moment dat de regering in Kiev omvergeworpen werd door de huidige machthebbers – verschillende voormalige Israëlische militairen van Oekraïense afkomst die naar hun thuisland waren teruggekeerd – mee tegen het oude regime van Janoekovitsj. Een van hen zou Delta heten en het commando hebben over een eenheid van veertig mannen en vrouwen. Delta zou al in februari rond het protest op het Maidanplein actief zijn geweest.

    De foto van Delta maakt echter duidelijk hoe moeilijk de bewijslast is voor de aanwezigheid van huurlingen aan beide zijden van het slagveld. De meeste militairen dragen een bivakmuts en militaire uniformen lijken gemakkelijk uitwisselbaar. Tenzij mensen zelf aangeven dat zij meedoen aan de strijd in Oekraïne of huurlingen organiseren voor het slagveld, blijft het speculeren.


    In deze gepolariseerde oorlog waarbij de feiten vaak moeilijk te checken zijn en bronnen al evenmin, vinden regelmatig gebeurtenissen plaats die slechts binnen een van de ‘kampen’ wordt gerapporteerd. Zoals het bericht van Anonymous Ukraine, een website die in maart beweerde enkele e-mails te hebben onderschept van een Amerikaanse militair attaché in Kiev en een Oekraïense commandant die met elkaar communiceren. Daaruit blijkt dat de VS met hulp van Special Forces aanvallen zouden willen uitvoeren onder valse vlag op doelen in Oekraïne met de bedoeling de Russen hiervan de schuld te geven.

    De gehackte mails zijn niet verder onderzocht, maar Anonymous Ukraine zegt zich in te willen zetten om de wereld te tonen dat volgens hen de fascisten de macht hebben overgenomen in Oekraïne. De groep hackte daartoe eind februari allerlei Poolse websites en plaatste een ‘nazi-alert’ op de voorpagina’s. Hiermee doelt Anonymous Ukraine op extreem-rechtse partijen in het bestuur van het land. Svoboda en de SNA zijn na de ‘Maidan revolutie’ toegetreden tot de regering en Svoboda heeft de controle over ongeveer een kwart van de ministeries volgens Foreign Policy. Svoboda leverde de minister van Defensie, de vice-premier, de openbare aanklager en de vice-voorzitter van de nieuwe regering.

    De ‘revolutionaire’ regering in Kiev wordt door zijn tegenstanders, vooral de Russen, daarom ‘Bandera Nazi’s’ genoemd. Stepan Bandera was een Oekraïense nationalist die aan het einde van de Tweede Wereldoorlog vocht tegen Polen, de nazi’s en het Rode Leger. Bandera bleef tot in de jaren ’50 met zijn nationalistische rebellenbeweging militair actief. Vervolgens werd hij door een KGB-agent in München vermoord. Bandera werd in het westen van Oekraïne gezien als een held, terwijl het in het door Russen gedomineerde oosten van het land juist andersom was.

    Op 5 juli publiceerde de internetsite Antiwar.com een artikel genaamd The war on truth waarin wordt beweerd dat de protesten in het begin van dit jaar tegen president Janoekovitsj dubieus waren. Tijdens de zogeheten ‘Euromaidan-protesten’ werd een bloedbad aangericht waarbij zowel politiemensen als demonstranten zijn gedood. Uit nader onderzoek van de Oekraïense autoriteiten zou volgens de auteur zijn gebleken dat de slachtoffers aan beide zijden zijn gevallen door kogels afkomstig uit dezelfde vuurwapens.

    Ook het Duitse tv-programma Monitor van 10 april plaatste vraagtekens bij de ‘officiële’ versie van de gebeurtenissen op 20 februari 2014. Was het wel zo zeker dat de speciale eenheid Berkut verantwoordelijk is geweest voor het bloedbad en de vlucht van voormalig president Janoekovitsj? Het programma schetst een beeld van een onderzoek naar een bloedbad waarvan de conclusie bij voorbaat al vaststaat. Het leidt tot onduidelijkheid bij de slachtoffers en nabestaanden, terwijl een officier van justitie van de extreem-rechtse Svoboda duidelijk niet geïnteresseerd is in waarheidsvinding.

    ‘Maidan’ en de gevlucht Janoekovitsj vormen een keerpunt in de Oekraïense ‘revolutie’. De interim-regering die vervolgens werd gevormd, werd door zowel de VS als de EU snel erkend. De ‘ware’ toedracht op het Maidanplein en de opkomst van Svoboda is voor geen enkele Westers regime reden geweest om vragen te stellen over de legitimiteit van het huidige gezag in Oekraïne.

    Geld maakt macht

    Na ‘Maidan’ volgden de ontwikkelingen zich snel op. Eerst was er de strijd om de Krim en vervolgens Oost-Oekraïne. Het conflict in Oost-Oekraïne is echter van een ander kaliber dan de onafhankelijkheid van de Krim. Dat heeft niet alleen met de aanwezigheid van de Russische vloot te maken in de Zwarte Zee. Oost-Oekraïne is niet alleen bevolkt met merendeel etnische Russen, het is tevens het welvarende deel van het land met de aanwezigheid van grondstoffen en industrie. Zo zullen er bij het zenden van troepen naar het Zuid-Oosten van het land om de opstand neer te slaan naast nationalistische motieven ook economische motieven ten grondslag hebben gelegen.

    De gouverneur van de regio Dnepropretovsk, de oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, is één van de rijkste personen van het land. Hij heeft belangen in het geïndustrialiseerde oosten, waar tevens vele mijnen aanwezig zijn. Kolomoisky werd op 15 mei door de krant Russia Today genoemd als opdrachtgever van de massamoord in Odessa, waarbij tientallen pro-Russische betogers werden aangevallen en vermoord. De Britse krant The Independent gaf begin mei al aan dat Kolomoisky een geldbedrag had ingezet op elke gevangen genomen Russische ‘agent’.

    Kolomoisky is ook één van de financiers – sommigen zeggen samen met de VS – van een bijzondere legereenheid die onder bevel staat van het ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken. Op 15 juni noemde de Russische minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Lavrov in The Voice of Russia Kolomoisky hem als financier van dit speciale bataljon. Volgens een artikel dat op 1 juni verscheen op de website van het Canadese Global Research is ook de VS financier van deze eenheid, genaamd het Azov Bataljon. Wie de eenheid financiert, lijkt minder belangrijk dan de samenstelling van de groep.

    Azov bataljon

    De Fransman Gaston Besson, die eerder vocht als vrijwilliger in Birma, Laos, Suriname, Kroatië en Bosnië, was in juni en juli ter plaatse en fungeerde als contactpersoon voor geïnteresseerde vrijwilligers. Volgens Besson zijn er al Zweden, Italianen, Finnen en Tsjechen in de eenheid opgenomen. Hoewel de Tsjechische regering in een artikel begin juni in de Prague Post ontkent dat zijn onderdanen meevechten, wezen de opstandelingen al eerder op het feit dat er Polen en Tsjechen in het Azov Bataljon streden.

    Global Research openbaarde op 28 mei dat Poolse contractors en Oekraïense rechts-extremisten in Polen zijn opgeleid om burgerprotesten neer te slaan. Dat er Italianen en Zweden aanwezig zijn, blijkt uit diverse artikelen van Al-Jazeera over de aanwezigheid van Italiaanse en Zweedse fascisten. Ook werd bekend dat de neo-nazi Francesco Saverio Fontana in dienst gekomen is van de eenheid. Op 22 juli publiceerde Gaston Besson een krantenartikel op zijn Facebook-pagina waaruit blijkt dat een Zweedse neo-nazi in dienst van het Azov Bataljon gevangen genomen was door de separatisten. Het ging hier om Mikael Skillt, die de functie vervulde van sluipschutter.

    Het Azov Bataljon rekruteert actief buitenlandse vrijwilligers die moeten gaan dienen naast een substantiële hoeveelheid Oekraïense Russen die curieus genoeg al in de eenheid aanwezig zijn. Naast het Azov Bataljon zijn er nog enige andere bataljons die op soortgelijke manier georganiseerd zijn; de Dniepr en Donbass Bataljons. Op 20 juni verklaarde Lavrov in de Russia and CIS Military Weekly dat Azov een sleutelrol heeft vervuld bij de aanval op de Russische ambassade in Kiev medio juni.

    Social Nationalist Assembly

    Het Azov Bataljon is georganiseerd door de extreem-rechtse politieke partij Social Nationalist Assembly (SNA) die een wolfsangel gebruikt als embleem. Deze partij maakt deel uit van een coalitie van extreem-rechtse groepen, waar ook kozakken en de politieke straatbende White Hammer deel van uitmaken. Het geheel werd bekend onder de naam Pravyi Sektor (Right Sector). Het Azov Bataljon zelf heeft ook als embleem een omgekeerde wolfsangel, die erg veel lijkt op het embleem van de Waffen-SS divisie Das Reich, met op de achtergrond een ander nazi-teken, het zonnerad.

    Svoboda en SNA zijn niet hetzelfde, maar hebben grote overeenkomsten. SNA heeft zich eind 2013 aangesloten bij een groep van extreem-rechtse clubs in Oekraïne onder de naam Right Sector. Dmytro Yarosh van de Right Sector, Deputy Secretary of National Security van het land, stelde dat Right Sector en Svoboda veel vergelijkbare ideologische standpunten innemen. Hij beschuldigde Svoboda er echter wel van racistisch te zijn, maar leden van Right Sector worden ook genoemd bij aanvallen op Russen en joden.

    SNA-leider Andriy Biletskyy, die zijn eigen groep binnen Right Sector leidt, is ook de leider van het Azov Bataljon. Biletskyy zat enige maanden geleden nog in de gevangenis in zijn woonplaats Charkov op verdenking van moord. Nu is de 34-jarige oud-historicus en ultranationalist aanvoerder van een elite-eenheid die vuile klusjes moet opknappen voor de regering.

    In een interview op 17 juni op de Oekraïense website Ukrayinska Pravda vertelt Biletskyy dat niet magnaat Kolomoisky de eenheid financiert, maar verschillende zakenmensen uit de stad Mariupol. Volgens hem is de eenheid onafhankelijk en worden veel uitgaven als voedsel en onderdak door leden van de eenheid zelf bekostigd. Er zouden zo’n 30 tot 50 procent etnische Russen dienen in zijn bataljon.

    Waarom Azov zo’n belangrijke rol kan spelen en ingezet wordt aan het front, komt volgens Bileskyy omdat zijn eenheid bestaat uit vrijwilligers die graag willen vechten. Volgens hem zijn de leden van politie-eenheden en het leger juist in dienst gegaan om een onbezorgd leventje te kunnen leiden. Azov maakt in theorie onderdeel uit van de Nationale Garde, meldde de Eurasia Review van 29 juni.

    In dienst van de revolutie

    Gaston Besson geeft in een op zijn Facebook-pagina gepubliceerde bericht aan dat een basis van de SNA zal fungeren als contactplaats voor arriverende buitenlandse vrijwilligers. Deze vrijwilligers zullen, net zoals de Oekraïense vrijwilligers in de eenheid, niet worden betaald. Daarna volgt een lijst met gegevens die moeten worden doorgegeven, zoals leeftijd, woonplaats, motivatie en militaire ervaring. Voor instructeurs is er een minimum dienstverband van twee maanden en voor vrijwilligers die actief willen dienen in het bataljon is er een dienstverband van vier tot zes maanden.

    Besson: “We zijn socialist, nationalist en radicaal!”, en even verder: “We hebben sterke ideeën voor de toekomst van de Oekraïne en Europa.” Wat deze ideeën zijn, licht hij niet toe. Na weken van strijd tussen separatisten en speciale bataljons van de regering in Kiev, schrijft Besson op zijn Facebook-pagina: ‘Ukraine : De la Revolution a la Guerre […] Du ” Maidan ” au Pravyi Sektor , au S.N.A. et pour finir le Bataillon Azov sur le Front de l Est […] Et demain ? La grande reconquete Europeenne […] Gloire a l ‘Ukraine !’ De grote herovering van Europa!

    Op 22 juli vermeldt de Facebook-pagina van Besson een oproep om geld te storten voor Azov met de toevoeging ‘for all other matters’ het mailadres van Besson. Dat Azov daadwerkelijk wordt ingezet en meevecht aan het front mag ook blijken uit een artikel van 7 juli van Agence France Presse. De separatistenleider Denis Pushikin geeft in het artikel aan dat zijn mannen tientallen leden van Azov hebben gedood bij gevechten in de regio Saur-Mogila.


    Aan beide zijden van de burgeroorlog vechten huurlingen mee. Zo wordt een proxy-oorlog gevoerd. Rusland is officieel geen partij, maar knijpt een oogje toe bij materieel dat over de grens rolt. Strijders uit het land melden zich vrijwillig aan en gaan vechten voor de pro-Russische separatisten. Rusland stelt zich ambivalent op, maar dat doet ook het Westen.

    Aan de andere kant van het slagveld vechten ook huurlingen, maar deze huurlingen zijn anders dan aan pro-Russische zijde niet alleen gemotiveerd door een territoriale oorlog. Het zijn fascisten die deel uitmaken van een huurlingenleger dat ook extreem-rechtse connecties heeft in de politiek. De val van de regering van Oekraïne zal niet veel veranderen aan deze strijdgroepen.

    Deze extreem-rechtse groepen zijn gemachtigd door de regering in Kiev om een eigen legertje te organiseren en die zorgen niet alleen in het oosten van het land voor spanningen. Veel joodse inwoners van het land zijn deze extreem-rechtse paramilitaire groepen een angstige voorbode in een land waar joden-vervolgingen vóór en tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog berucht en zeer omvangrijk waren. De aanvragen voor emigratie naar Israël stromen dan ook binnen.

    Of deze groepen actief door het Westen worden gesteund is even onduidelijk als de steun van de Russen voor de separatisten, maar Amerika en de EU leggen deze groepen geen strobreed in de weg. Oekraïne is er alles aan gelegen aansluiting te zoeken bij het rijke Westen. De EU en de Verenigde Staten is er echter ook alles aan gelegen om Oekraïne in hun invloedssferen te krijgen. Hierbij zullen zowel geopolitieke als economische motieven een rol spelen. Welke rol het Westen precies heeft gespeeld bij het afzetten van president Janoekovitsj en de steun aan de ultra-nationalisten zal waarschijnlijk nooit duidelijk worden, evenmin wat er op het Maidanplein is gebeurd.

    De ultranationalisten zijn nodig om het vuile werk op te knappen in een proxy-oorlog tussen twee grootmachten. Zij spelen een rol tijdens en vlak na een revolutie die met behulp van onduidelijke paramilitairen en private contractors voor de uitbreiding van de NAVO en om de bodemschatten uit de oostelijke Oekraïne toegankelijk maakt voor het Westen.

    Deze proxy-oorlog is ook een totale propaganda-oorlog geworden, waarbij waarheidsvinding als eerste wordt geslachtofferd. George Restle van het Duitse tv-programma Monitor postte op 30 juli een kort statement onder de titel ‘Oekraine: Alstublieft zwart – wit!’ Hij constateert dat in het huidige sociale media tijdperk, met de hoeveelheid aan overheidswoordvoerders, het niet langer gaat om waarheidsvinding, maar om een meningsvorming zonder onderzoek, waarbij nuancering niet past. Wie beide zijden van een conflict bekritiseert, hoort nergens meer bij…

    Rende van de Kamp

    Todesschüsse in Kiew: Wer ist für das Blutbad vom Maidan verantwortlich

    Todesschüsse in KiewPlay-IconTodesschüsse in Kiew: Wer ist für das Blutbad vom Maidan verantwortlich | 11:12 min | 10.04.2014 | Monitor (WDR) | Das Erste
    Moderation Georg Restle: „Die Krise in der Ukraine ist noch lange nicht vorbei. Dies haben uns die Bilder aus dem Osten des Landes von dieser Woche gelehrt. Und auch die Propagandaschlacht geht weiter. Eine der zentralen Fragen ist dabei, wer ist verantwortlich für das Blutbad, dem im Februar Dutzende Demonstranten und Polizisten zum Opfer fielen, und das schließlich zum Sturz des Präsidenten Janukowitsch führte? Wer also waren die Todesschützen auf dem Kiewer Maidan? Die vom Westen unterstützte Übergangsregierung hat sich letzte Woche festgelegt: Präsident Janukowitsch und seine Sonderkommandos tragen demnach allein die Schuld für die Toten. Doch an dieser Version gibt es jetzt erhebliche Zweifel, wie die Recherchen von Philipp Jahn, Olga Sviridenko und Stephan Stuchlik zeigen.“

    Was geschah am 20. Februar 2014 in Kiew? Aufgeheizte Stimmung, aus den ursprünglich friedlichen Demonstrationen ist ein Bürgerkrieg geworden. Teile der Demonstranten haben sich bewaffnet, rücken in Richtung Regierungsgebäude vor. In einzelnen Trupps versuchen die Demonstranten, auf die Instituts-Straße zu gelangen. Der blutige Donnerstag: Einzeln werden Demonstranten erschossen, viele von den Dächern umliegender Gebäude. Aber wer genau waren diese Scharfschützen, die auf die Demonstranten schossen?

    Diese Frage beschäftigt die Kiewer bis heute, zu Hunderten kommen sie täglich an den Platz des Massakers.

    Als wir ankommen, sechs Wochen danach, ist anscheinend noch nicht einmal die grundsätzliche Beweisaufnahme abgeschlossen. Sergeij, ein Waffenexperte, ist einer der vielen unabhängigen Ermittler, die eng mit der Staatsanwaltschaft zusammenarbeiten und die Ermittlungen in Gang halten. Vor unseren Augen sichert er noch Patronenhülsen. Danach alarmiert er die staatlichen Ermittler, die den Ort nach eigener Aussage schon gründlich untersucht haben. Erstaunlich, während sie noch arbeiten, hat sich ihre vorgesetzte Behörde in einer Pressekonferenz schon festgelegt, wer die Schuldigen sind.

    Oleg Machnitzki, Generalstaatsanwalt Ukraine (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Mit dem heutigen Tag klagt die Staatsanwaltschaft 12 Mitglieder der Spezialeinheit Berkut des Mordes an friedlichen Demonstranten an. Der damalige Präsident Janukowitsch befehligte direkt diese Spezialeinheit Berkut.“

    Die neue Regierung sagt also, die alte Regierung Janukowitsch wäre für das Blutbad verantwortlich.

    Doch was geschah wirklich am 20 Februar? Fest steht, die Demonstranten rückten auf der Institutsstraße Richtung Regierungsgebäude vor. Von gegenüber gerieten sie unter Feuer, vom Dach des Ministerkabinetts, der Zentralbank und weiteren Regierungsgebäuden. Doch schon früh gab es Hinweise, dass sie auch im Rücken getroffen wurden, von ihrer eigenen Zentrale aus, vom Hotel Ukraina.

    Aber welche Beweise gibt es dafür? Zum einen ist da dieses Video, das augenscheinlich beweist, dass der Oppositionelle mit dem Metallschild von hinten getroffen wird. Der Mann in Gelb auf dieser Aufnahme geht sogar noch weiter. Er gehörte zu den Demonstranten, war an diesem Tag stundenlang auf der Institutsstraße. Er heißt Mikola, wir treffen uns mit ihm am Ort des Geschehens. Er sagt uns, es wurde sogar mehrfach in den Rücken der Opposition geschossen.

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ja, am zwanzigsten wurden wir von hinten beschossen, vom Hotel Ukraina, vom 8. oder 9. Stock aus.“

    Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Von der achten oder neunten Etage?“

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ja, auf jeden Fall fast von ganz oben.“

    Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Von da oben?“

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ja, da standen Leute oben und haben geschossen und aus der anderen Richtung hier wurden wir auch beschossen.

    Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Und wer hat von oben geschossen?“

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Das weiß ich nicht.“

    Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Haben Sie eine Ahnung?“

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Das waren Söldner, auf jeden Fall Profis.“

    Das Ukraina-Hotel hier war das damalige Zentrum der Demonstranten. Hat sich der Augenzeuge geirrt? Wir sind nachts unterwegs mit Ermittler Sergej. Er zeigt uns mit einem Laser, dass es nicht nur Schusskanäle aus Richtung der Regierungsgebäude gibt. Einige Kanäle in den Bäumen deuten in die entgegengesetzte Richtung, wenn man durch Austrittsloch und Einschussloch leuchtet, oben ins Hotel Ukraina, damals die Zentrale der Opposition. Das aber passt schlecht zur Version des Generalstaatsanwalts, der uns nach Tagen Überzeugungsarbeit endlich empfängt. Er ist von der neuen Regierung eingesetzt, gehört dem rechtsnationalen Flügel der damaligen Opposition an, der umstrittenen Svobóda-Partei.

    Oleg Machnitzki, Generalstaatsanwalt, Ukraine (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir können wirklich heute schon sagen, nach allen Beweismitteln und Expertisen, die wir in der Hand haben, wer prinzipiell Schuld an den Sniper-Attacken ist: der damalige Präsident Viktor Janukowitsch, der ehemalige Verwaltungschef und der ehemalige Innenminister Sacharchenko.“

    Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Sie wissen auch, dass es Sniper vom Hotel Ukraina gab?“

    Oleg Machnitzki, Generalstaatsanwalt, Ukraine (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir untersuchen das.“

    Die Scharfschützen also alles Janukowitsch-Leute? Es gibt noch weitere Beweise, die diese These in Frage stellen. Wir treffen uns mit einem Radio-Amateur, der an diesem Tag aufgezeichnet hat, wie sich Janukowitsch-Scharfschützen untereinander unterhalten. Ihr Funkverkehr beweist: Da schießt jemand auf Unbewaffnete, jemand den sie nicht kennen.

    1. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „He, Leute, ihr da drüben, rechts vom Hotel Ukraina.“

    2. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wer hat da geschossen? Unsere Leute schießen nicht auf Unbewaffnete.“

    1. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Jungs, da sitzt ein Spotter, der zielt auf mich. Auf wen zielt der von der Ecke. Guckt mal!“

    2. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Auf dem Dach vom gelben Gebäude. Auf dem Kino, auf dem Kino.“

    1. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Den hat jemand erschossen. Aber nicht wir.“

    2. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Miron, Miron, gibt es da noch mehr Scharfschützen? Und wer sind die?“

    Wir halten fest: Es gab neben den Regierungs-Scharfschützen also noch andere unbekannte Schützen, die auf unbewaffnete Demonstranten geschossen haben. Und, wer immer vom Hotel Ukraina schießt, hat – so legt dieses Video nahe – auch diese Milizionäre getroffen. Dass Janukowitsch auf die eigenen Leute hat schießen lassen, ist unwahrscheinlich.

    Gab es also Scharfschützen der damaligen Opposition? Fest steht, es gab neben den vielen friedlichen Demonstranten durchaus eine Gruppe Radikaler mit professionellen Waffen, wie diese Aufnahmen zeigen.

    Und, das Hotel am Morgen des 20. Februar war fest in der Hand der Opposition. Wir sprechen mit Augenzeugen aus dem Hotel Ukraina, Journalisten, Oppositionelle. Sie alle bestätigen uns, am 20. Februar war das Hotel von der Opposition schwer bewacht. Es hätte sich also schwerlich ein Scharfschütze der Regierung einschleichen können.

    Haben also radikale Oppositionelle am Ende selbst geschossen, um Chaos zu erzeugen? Um Janukowitsch die Schuld anzuhängen? Die russischen Fernsehsender verbreiten Bilder, auf denen genau das zu sehen sein soll. Unsere Recherchen bestätigen, dass die Aufnahmen tatsächlich im Hotel Ukraina gemacht wurden. Aber wer da genau auf wen schießt, lässt sich nicht endgültig klären.

    Fest steht nur, es wurde nicht nur auf Oppositionelle, sondern auch auf die Milizen der Regierung geschossen. Vielleicht sogar von denselben Leuten? Wir treffen einen der wenigen Ärzte, der die Verwundeten beider Seiten versorgt hat.

    Oleksandr Lisowoi, Krankenhaus Nr. 6, Kiew (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Die Verwundeten, die wir behandelt haben, hatten denselben Typ Schussverletzungen, ich spreche jetzt von dem Typ Kugeln, die wir aus den Körpern herausoperiert haben, die waren identisch. Mehr kann ich nicht sagen.“

    Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Aber die haben Sie…“

    Oleksandr Lisowoi, Krankenhaus Nr. 6, Kiew (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Bei der Miliz und bei der Opposition gefunden.“

    Warum geht die Staatsanwaltschaft solchen Fragen nicht nach? Der deutsche Außenminister und die Europäische Union haben bereits im Februar per Abkommen festgestellt, dass die Schuldfrage in der Ukraine ein politisch zentrales Thema sei, die Aufarbeitung sollte „ergebnisoffen“ sein, um das Vertrauen in die neue ukrainische Regierung zu stärken. Doch mittlerweile mehren sich die Zweifel, ob wirklich sachgerecht ermittelt wird, auch bei den eigenen Mitarbeitern. Wir sprechen mit einem hochrangigen Mitglied der Ermittlungskommission. Er erzählt uns Unglaubliches.

    Zitat: „Das, was mir an Ergebnissen meiner Untersuchung vorliegt, stimmt nicht mit dem überein, was die Staatsanwaltschaft erklärt.“

    Wurden also Beweismittel unterdrückt oder sogar unterschlagen? Auch die Rechtsanwälte, die die Angehörigen der Toten vertreten, alle eigentlich auf Seiten der neuen Regierung, beklagen sich, dass sie überhaupt nicht darüber informiert werden, womit genau sich die Staatsanwaltschaft beschäftige.

    Roman Titikalo, Anwalt der Nebenklage (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir haben nicht gesagt bekommen, welcher Typ Waffen, wir bekommen keinen Zugang zu den Gutachten, wir bekommen die Einsatzpläne nicht. Die anderen Ermittlungsdokumente haben wir auch nicht, die Staatsanwaltschaft zeigt uns einfach keine Papiere.“

    Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Haben Sie ballistische Gutachten?“

    Roman Titikalo, Anwalt der Nebenklage (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Nein.“

    Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Rechtsmedizinische Gutachten?“

    Roman Titikalo, Anwalt der Nebenklage (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ich durfte in den Obduktionsbericht reingucken, aber nicht kopieren, ballistische Gutachten habe ich nicht bekommen.“

    Ein Anwalt der Verletzten geht sogar noch weiter:

    Oleksandr Baschuk, Anwalt der Geschädigten (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir kommen alle an keine Ermittlungsprotokolle ran und wenn Sie mich fragen, gibt es dafür einen einfachen Grund, es wird nicht richtig ermittelt. Ich als Anwalt der Verletzten sage Ihnen, die Staatsanwaltschaft ermittelt nicht richtig, die decken ihre Leute, die sind parteiisch, so wie früher. Die wollen wie in der Sowjetunion oder unter Janukowitsch alles unter der Decke halten, so ist das.“

    Der blutige Donnerstag: Über 30 Menschen werden an diesem Tag in Kiew ermordet, ein Blutbad im Zentrum einer europäischen Großstadt. Unsere Recherchen zeigen, dass in Kiew schon Schuldige präsentiert werden, obwohl es auch zahlreiche Hinweise gibt, die in Richtung Opposition weisen. Spuren, die nicht verfolgt werden. Und möglicherweise gibt es auch noch andere Kräfte, die an den Schießereien beteiligt waren. Die Kiewer Generalstaatsanwaltschaft ist sich in ihrer Einschätzung sicher, wir sind es nicht.

    Moderation Georg Restle: „Bei allen offenen Fragen, dass ein Vertreter der nationalistischen Svoboda-Partei als Generalstaatsanwalt die Aufklärung des Kiewer Blutbads ganz offensichtlich behindert, wirft ein schlechtes Bild auf die neue Übergangsregierung – und damit auch auf all jene westlichen Regierungen, die die neuen Machthaber in Kiew unterstützen.“

    Monitor Nr. 660 vom 10.04.2014

    Find this story at 10 April 2014

    © WDR 2014

    Extreemrechts in Oekraïne Een monster met eigen ambities

    Bewapende en goed georganiseerde fascistische milities fungeerden als de stoottroepen van de Euromaidan ‘revolutie’. Het waren deze krachten die de door de EU gesponsorde ‘vredesdeal’ afwezen. In plaats daarvan riepen ze versterkingen op van hun bondgenoten in Lviv, veelal lokale politiefunctionarissen, omsingelden het parlement in Kiev en zorgden voor de aanstelling van een regering die voornamelijk bestaat uit ultra-nationalisten en openlijke fascisten.

    De fascistische leden van de huidige Oekraïense regering zijn Andriy Parubiy, commandant van de Maidan zelfverdedigingskrachten en een van de oprichters van de partij Svoboda (‘Vrijheid’). Hij werd benoemd tot secretaris van de Nationale Veiligheids- en Defensieraad, die de leiding heeft over het ministerie van defensie en de krijgsmacht. Zijn adjunct-secretaris is Dmytro Yarosh, leider van Pravy Sektor (‘Rechtse Sector’) en een voormalig huurling die vocht met het Tsjetsjeense verzet. Belangrijke posten zijn toegekend aan Svoboda-leden Oleksandr Sych (vice-premier), Ihor Tenyukh (defensie), Serhiy Kvit (onderwijs), Oleh Makhnitsky (procureur-generaal), Ihor Shvaika (landbouw) en Andriy Mokhnyk (milieu).
    Pravy Sektor commandant Stepan Kubiv is de nieuwe voorzitter van de Nationale Bank van Oekraïne. Dmytro Bulatov en Tetiana Chornovol, beiden verbonden met de antisemitische en ultra- nationalistische paramilitaire organisatie Oekraïense Nationale Vergadering – Oekraïense Nationale Zelfverdediging zijn respectievelijk geplaatst op het Ministerie van Jeugd en Sport en de nieuwe ‘anti-corruptie commissie’ van de regering.

    Fascisten binnen de staatsmacht

    Door de sociale crisis in Oekraïne hebben nu de twee vleugels van het Oekraïense fascisme – de straatvechters en de politici – een plek binnen de staatsmacht veroverd. De regering die nu gevormd is heet officieel een ‘voorlopige’ of ’tijdelijke’ regering en heeft algemene verkiezingen uitgeschreven op 25 mei. Maar extreemrechts laat er geen gras over groeien en probeert nu al zoveel mogelijk van zijn agenda gerealiseerd te krijgen. In de eerste dagen van hun functioneren binnen de staatsmacht werden tientallen van hun gevangen medestanders vrijgelaten en dienden ze moties in om de officiële status van het Russisch en andere minderheidstalen te beëindigen, de autonomie van de Krim af te schaffen en de Communistische Partij van Oekraïne (KPU) te verbieden. Met deze acties namen zij een zware verantwoordelijkheid op zich voor het uitlokken van een golf van pro-Russische sentimenten in het Oosten en in het bijzonder op de Krim.
    De aanwezigheid van zoveel fascisten in de zelfbenoemde ‘overgangsregering’ is geen toeval. De groeiende wanhoop van een groot deel van de Oekraïense bevolking die steeds verder verarmde door de economische crisis heeft een hoofdrol gespeeld tijdens de Maidan protesten en het manoeuvreren tussen de rivaliserende Europese en Amerikaanse imperialisten. Fascistische en extreemrechtse milities namen steeds meer het voortouw in de protestbeweging en kwamen uiteindelijk in een positie waar hun eisen voor deelname aan de staatsmacht niet konden worden genegeerd. Vanaf het begin mobiliseerde de Euromaidan-beweging steun op basis van een reactionair beroep op chauvinistische en nationalistische ideeën van de Oekraïens sprekende bevolking die is geconcentreerd in het westen van het land.
    Met neo-nazi ’14/88′- en White Power-symbolen op hun schilden en de rood-zwarte vlag van het in de Tweede Wereldoorlog met de nazi’s collaborerende Oekraïense Opstandingsleger van Stepan Bandera, traden de fascisten naar voren als de sterkste kracht binnen de Euromaidan beweging.
    Hoewel het wellicht mogelijk was om een meer algemeen verzet tegen het impopulaire regime van Janoekovitsj te mobiliseren vervreemdde de invloed van extreem-rechts en zijn identificatie met nationalistische iconen als Stepan Bandera het Russisch-sprekende oosten van het land.

    Niet moet worden vergeten dat er veel meer Oekraïners tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog vochten in het Sovjet-leger en partizanengroepen dan in de pro-nazibeweging van Bandera, en dat, hoe grof en weerzinwekkend de misdaden van het stalinisme in Oekraïne ook waren (de hongersnood, de zuiveringen, de NKVD die nationalistische gevangenen om het leven bracht in 1941 en de massale deportatie van Krim-Tataren), die van de Duitse bezetter nooit uit het bewustzijn verdwenen.
    De discipline van extreemrechts en de afwezigheid van een even gedisciplineerd links zorgde ervoor dat de progressieve activisten verdreven werden van de Maidandemonstraties en dat er aanvallen werden uitgevoerd op feministen, vakbondsleden en anarchisten, zodat er een fysieke en politieke hegemonie over de beweging in het westen en het centrum van het land ontstond.
    De fascistische milities van Svoboda, waarvan de leider Oleh Tyahnybok een van de drie belangrijkste sprekers van de Euromaidan beweging was, en de Pravy Sektor vormden de voorhoede van de opstand. Ook prominent aanwezig waren Spilna správa en de zogenaamde Afghantsy (Afghanistan veteranen).
    De fascisten consolideerden hun positie binnen Euromaidan. Ze gebruikten hun strijdlustige gewapende bendes, eerst om het plein te verdedigen, en daarna om in het offensief te gaan. Begonnen werd met de bezetting van overheidsgebouwen om die te gebruiken als basis voor verdere vooruitgang, daarna werden politiebureaus en kazernes aangevallen, gevolgd door aanvallen op kantoren van de communistische partij en de vakbonden. Zij gebruikten hun positie om zich te wapenen en hun aanhangers voor te bereiden op de machtsovername. Zo veroverden zij een plaats in de leiding van de protestbeweging. Tyahnybok deelde het podium op het Maidanplein met oppositieleiders Vitali Klitschko en Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Hij werd daar omhelsd door de Amerikaanse senator en Republikeinse presidentskandidaat John McCain.

    EU compromis mislukt

    De bemiddelingspoging van de EU om tot een vredesakkoord te komen mislukte toen extreemrechts en de muitende politie weigerden om een regering van nationale redding te aanvaarden. Het accent lag nu op hun eigen milities als een levende belichaming van verlossing van het Russische imperialisme.
    De pogingen van de EU om een compromis tot stand te brengen, waarin ook de ontwapening van zowel de politie als de milities was opgenomen, kwamen te laat. Oppositieleiders die zich ervoor uitspraken werden weggehoond. De milities weigerden hun wapens in te leveren, in plaats daarvan kwamen er bussen vol versterkingen uit Lviv, het nationalistische bolwerk in het westen, dat zich reeds onafhankelijk van de regering in Kiev had verklaard. Het compromis, dat ook gericht was op het ondermijnen van de invloed van georganiseerd extreem-rechts, door het bevorderen van Klitschko als alternatief met ‘schone handen’, bezweek onder de fascistische invloed, ondersteund door kogels uit geweren die waren gedistribueerd door of in beslag genomen uit de politiedepots. Hun aanhangers eisten het hoofd van Janoekovitsj, in sommige gevallen letterlijk, maar zeker niet zijn samenwerking of die met zijn partij in het samenstellen van een coalitie die de associatieovereenkomst met de EU zou uitvoeren.

    Svoboda en de ‘respectabele’ nationalistische partners besloten dat hun belangen samenvielen toen ze gingen mobiliseren om Janoekovitsj te verdrijven, maar toen het uitliep op een gewapende strijd om de macht werden de nationalisten geconfronteerd met een monster met eigen ambities.

    De EU, die de aanwezigheid van de fascisten ’tolereerde’ zolang ze een nuttig instrument in de strijd tegen Janoekovitsj waren, wilde Klitschko aan het bewind of op zijn minst als een sterke controle op Julia Timosjenko ’s Batkivshchyna (‘Vaderland’). Maar de VS was Europa te slim af, door bereid te zijn een fascistische aanwezigheid in de regering te tolereren en zo de EU buiten spel te zetten.

    Het inmiddels beruchte afgeluisterde telefoongesprek van de Amerikaanse onderminister van Buitenlandse Zaken Victoria Nuland onthult de omvang van de rol van de VS in het bepalen van de samenstelling van de overgangsregering. Ze stond erop dat ‘Yats’ ( Yatsenyuk ) en niet Klitschko premier zou moeten zijn, en stond toe dat Svoboda verschillende ministeries zou kunnen hebben zolang Tyahnybok niet op een belangrijke post kwam. Haar commentaar ‘Fuck the EU’ liet weinig twijfel over de houding van de VS naar zijn vroegere bondgenoten in Berlijn.

    De opkomst van Svoboda

    De crisis in Oekraïne heeft Svoboda van onbekendheid naar internationale bekendheid gebracht. Met 15.000 leden en 37 parlementsleden is Svoboda de grootste extreem-rechtse organisatie in Oekraïne. Het heeft verbindingen in het Europees Parlement met de Hongaarse Jobbik, de British National Party, het Franse Front National (FN), de Nederlandse PVV en een aantal andere Europese extremistische partijen.
    Svoboda werd opgericht in 1991 als de Sociaal-Nationale Partij van Oekraïne (SNPU). De naam en het logo met de Wolfsangel werden aangenomen om de identificatie met Hitlers nazi’s uit te drukken. In de vroege jaren deed de SNPU veel moeite om zich te onderscheiden in het moeras van fascistische sekten die in het westen van Oekraïne ontstonden na de ineenstorting van de Sovjet-Unie. In 1999 richtte de SNPU de ‘Patriotten van Oekraïne’ op, een paramilitaire groep die verantwoordelijk is voor de aanvallen op linkse politici en vakbondsmensen.
    Patriotten van Oekraïne werd ontbonden in 2004, toen de partij Oleh Tyahnybok als leider koos tijdens het partijcongres van dat jaar. De SNPU begon met de hervorming van zijn publieke imago, met het voorbeeld en de adviezen van FN leider Jean-Marie Le Pen die zijn eigen organisatie had geleid van onbekendheid naar de derde partij van Frankrijk.

    Het Wolfsangel-logo van de SNPU

    De eerste stap was om de naam te veranderen en ter vervanging van de swastika-achtige Wolfsangel kwam de Tryzub, een symbool van het Oekraïense nationalisme. Bovendien werden plannen besproken om een rechtse politieke partij samen met het Congres van Oekraïense Nationalisten en de Organisatie van Oekraïense Nationalisten (OUN) te vormen.
    Om de heroriëntatie kracht bij te zetten kondigde Svoboda, zoals de partij intussen heette, zijn steun aan voor de presidentiële kandidatuur van de anti-Russische politicus Viktor Joesjtsjenko. Door een combinatie van zuiveringen en meer nadruk op sociale vraagstukken probeerde Tyahnybok de al te openlijke identificatie met neo-nazisme van Svoboda af te schudden. Maar tijdens een bijeenkomst waarbij Tyahnybok optrad als spreker bij een gedenkteken van Stepan Bandera, riep hij de Oekraïense bevolking op te strijden tegen de ‘Moskoviet-Joodse maffia’, die volgens hem het land beheerste. Hij prees Bandera’s organisatie, de oorspronkelijke OUN, voor ‘de strijd tegen de Russen, Duitsers, joden en ander gespuis die onze Oekraïense staat wilden vernietigen’. Bandera ’s OUN was verantwoordelijk voor de vernietiging van tienduizenden etnische Polen en Joden tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog. In 2005 publiceerde Tyahnybok een open brief waarin hij de ‘criminele activiteiten van het georganiseerde Jodendom’ aan de kaak stelde, die zo hij beweerde ‘genocide’ wilde plegen tegen het Oekraïense volk.

    Het nieuwe logo van Svoboda

    De groei van Svoboda

    Tyahnybok werd als leider van de partij meerdere malen herkozen en werd lid van de Verchovna Rada, het Oekraïense parlement. De politieke doorbraak voor Svoboda kwam in de regionale verkiezingen van 2009 in Ternopil oblast, waar de partij op de eerste plaats eindigde met 35 procent van de stemmen, door in te spelen op de ondergang van zowel het Blok van Julia Timosjenko en Joesjtsjenko’s Ons Oekraïne, voormalige bondgenoten die waren uitgevallen.
    Bij de regionale verkiezingen van 2010 kreeg Svoboda zetels in zeven regionale raden en in drie een meerderheid. Bij de algemene verkiezingen van 2012 veroverde zij 37 zetels in het parlement, de Verchovna Rada en 10 procent van de stemmen. Terwijl in de landelijke westelijke regio’s Svoboda bijna 40 procent van de stemmen kreeg behaalde de partij in het geïndustrialiseerde oosten minder dan 5 procent en in sommige regio’s slechts 1 procent.

    Ook in 2012 trad Svoboda toe tot het ‘Verzetscomité tegen de dictatuur’, een front opgericht om te protesteren tegen de strafrechtelijke veroordeling van JuliaTimosjenko, en de partij beloofde om samen te werken met de Verenigde Oppositie coalitie van Timosjenko’s Vaderlandpartij en Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s ‘Front voor Verandering’ als de oppositie de verkiezingen zou winnen. Dit was het ontstaan van de “Drievoudige alliantie’, die het regime van Janoekovitsj in 2014 omver zou werpen door geweld.
    Svoboda maakte slim gebruik van de desillusie bij de bevolking met de regering van Timosjenko en Joesjtsjenko. De partij nam deel aan tal van protesten met populistische leuzen over sociale kwesties en tegen het ‘onvaderlandslievende’ (dat wil zeggen, pro-EU) beleid, dat de aandacht afleidde van de reactionaire, extreemrechtse politieke lijn van haar leden en leiders, een politiek die een onoverkomelijke barrière vormde voor de groei van de partij in de oostelijke en zuidelijke delen van het land.
    Onder Joesjtsjenko’s presidentschap profiteerde Svoboda van de rehabilitatie door Joesjtsjenko van nazi-collaborateur Stepan Bandera en zijn nadruk op het Oekraïense nationalisme. Maar een belangrijk deel van Svoboda ’s populariteit komt ongetwijfeld ook voort uit het feit dat het wordt gezien als onbezoedeld door banden met de oligarchen, waarvan de onderlinge strijd (West met Timosjenko en Joesjtsjenko tegen Oost van Janoekovitsj) het land op de rand van economische ondergang bracht. Net zoals Hitler niet van de daken schreeuwde over zijn financiering door industriëlen Thyssen en Krupp, maakt Svoboda veel propaganda met ‘het verwerpen van elke financiering door de oligarchen’ en beweert dat het vooral kleine en middelgrote bedrijven zijn die hen financieren.

    Demonstratie van extreemrechts met portret van Bandera en op t-shirt Wolfsangel

    Nadat Janoekovitsj Partij van de Regio’s in 2010 de presidentsverkiezingen won, kreeg Svoboda veel publiciteit op de door Janoekovitsj gecontroleerde tv-zenders. Dit was een berekende zet om Svoboda als de partij van de oppositie te profileren, waardoor Janoekovitsj zijn tegenstanders aan de kaak kon stellen als nationalisten, Banderisten en fascisten. Dit zou moeten leiden tot een politiek doodvonnis in de Russisch-sprekende regio’s, waar nog steeds een sterke collectieve identificatie bestaat met het Sovjet-leger en de strijd van de partizanen tegen de nazi’s.
    Gezien de jaarlijkse processies die de partij ter herdenking van de sterfdag van Bandera organiseert, kan een dergelijke beschuldiging tegen Svoboda niet worden afgewezen. Terwijl Svoboda ontkent dat het racistisch is, maar gewoon ‘pro-Oekraïens’, blijft het lidmaatschap van de partij voorbehouden aan etnische Oekraïners.

    Ideologie van extreemrechts

    Svoboda tracht haar eigen ideologie te ontwikkelen door het combineren van nationalistische reactionaire tendensen uit de ‘Twee Revoluties’ doctrine, die werd ontwikkeld door de voormalige OUN leider Yaroslav Stetsko. De essentie van deze leer is dat ‘de revolutie niet zal eindigen met de oprichting van de Oekraïense staat, maar door zal gaan om gelijke kansen voor alle mensen te creëren en materiële en spirituele waarden te delen en in dit opzicht is de nationale revolutie ook een sociale’.
    Met andere woorden, zodra de politieke revolutie het heersende politieke regime omverwerpt, zal een ‘sociale’ revolutie volgen. Deze sociale demagogie leent het taalgebruik van de arbeidersbeweging, wat typisch is voor het nationaal-socialisme. Een onderzoek van het politieke programma van Svoboda laat zien dat de ideologie ten grondslag ligt aan deze nationale en sociale revolutie: staatscontrole over banken en belangrijke industrie, nationalisatie van de landbouwgrond, de bevordering van het gezin en de kerk, beperkingen op de sociale en economische rechten van vrouwen, achterstelling van nationale minderheden, promotie van de ‘Oekraïense cultuur’ enzovoort. Er zijn aanwijzingen dat er een geleidelijke matiging van het extremisme van de partij is om stemmen te winnen als bewijs van een verschuiving van de neo-nazi wortels. Er is geen twijfel aan dat de leiders van Svoboda politieke lessen hebben getrokken aan de hand van de ontwikkeling van een aantal West-Europese extreemrechtse partijen, als het FN in Frankrijk en de Alleanza Nazionale in Italië. Deze waren al tot de conclusie gekomen dat de klassieke fascistische strategie van het openen van de strijd om de macht door middel van het winnen van de fysieke controle in de straten in de omstandigheden van hun land contraproductief was en gingen over tot een strategie van het innemen van belangrijke overheidsinstellingen en ideologische posities door electorale middelen.
    Maar de omstandigheden die aanleiding gaven tot de meest succesvolle van deze extreemrechtse projecten, het Front National van Jean-Marie Le Pen, zijn niet de omstandigheden in Oekraïne, waar de fascisten zich al hebben verzekerd van de fysieke controle over de straten en de machtskwestie op de agenda staat. In Oekraïne zijn de sociale voorwaarden aanwezig voor een levensvatbare binnenlandse fascistische straatbeweging. Dat blijkt uit de leidende rol van de fascisten in de Maidan beweging.


    Svoboda concentreert zich op de penetratie van het staatsapparaat, met name de politie en het leger. Om zich ‘salonfähig’ te voorzien van ‘burgerlijk-democratisch fatsoen’ besteedt het de mobilisatie van een vechtende straatbeweging nu uit aan Pravy Sektor en andere groepen, die op hun beurt weer worden gestigmatiseerd door hun constante strijd met de politie en de ‘rechtstaat’. De aanwezigheid van zoveel fascisten in de regering creëert evenwel een ingebouwde instabiliteit in de vorm van een conflict tussen de behoeften van Svoboda om te reageren op zijn massabasis in de verarmde kleinburgerij en de wens van de grote oligarchen om hun monopolies uit te breiden, door de stedelijke en landelijke bevolking slachtoffer te maken van een IMF herstructurering of schuldbetalingen. Toch hebben de grote oligarchen geen bijzondere loyaliteit naar de Vaderlandpartij of Timosjenko persoonlijk. Dat blijkt wel uit het feit dat velen van hen eerder Janoekovitsj steunden. Maar zoals de wind waait waait mijn petje, luidt een oud Nederlands spreekwoord. En dus zal de nieuwe regering, onder leiding van oligarchen van Timosjenko ’s Vaderlandpartij, met de steun van verschillende oligarchen die werden benoemd als regionale gouverneurs, nu proberen haar macht te consolideren. Zij kan de politieke en financiële steun van Washington verwachten die haar aantreden enthousiast ontving.
    De fascisten zijn de stoottroepen van een offensief van de nieuwe regering tegen de verarmde bevolking die zich zal verzetten tegen de te nemen impopulaire maatregelen, vooral in de oostelijke regio waar de Russisch-sprekenden in de meerderheid zijn. Of Timosjenko en de leiders van de Vaderlandpartij hen al dan niet openlijk steunen maakt al niet meer uit, de fascisten zijn nu sterk genoeg om zelfstandig te mobiliseren en het initiatief te nemen als zij het gevoel krijgen dat de nieuwe regering zwakte of besluiteloosheid toont. Maar zij zullen ook een bittere vijand blijken te zijn van de democratische en libertaire elementen die de vroege fasen van de Maidandemonstraties ondersteunden.
    Als extreemrechts een grote aanhang verwerft bij de verkiezingen in mei, met meer leden in de Rada en dus meer ministers, dan zal een echte fascistische radicalisering van de staat kunnen optreden. In een land waar de regering zeer instabiel is, met een tijdelijke balans tussen de burgerlijke neoliberale en fascistische politici, met territoriale verdeeldheid tussen het oosten en het zuiden aan de ene kant en het centrum en het westen aan de andere kant, moet de linkse oppositie vechten om hun eigen vormen van bestuur en zelfverdediging te creëren. Ze moeten niet de macht van de resterende regionale oligarchen in het oosten, die nog niet zijn overgegaan naar het Kievregime, accepteren noch van die van het westen die de nieuwe regering van na de staatsgreep omarmen. Maar allereerst zal er het besef moeten ontstaan dat men met verdeeldheid altijd het slachtoffer zal worden. Het gaat dan om de verdediging van minderheden in Oekraïne: Tataren en Grieken op de Krim, Roemenen en Hongaren in het westen, Russen in het midden en oosten en joden. Elke poging om een eentalig en mono-etnisch Oekraïne te creëren zal alleen een verschrikkelijke ramp worden in de lijn van de oorlogen in Kroatië, Bosnië en Kosovo in de jaren 1990.
    De enige zekerheid ligt in een strijd voor een Oekraïne, waarin de economische en militaire middelen van het hele land onder de controle en ten dienste van de hele bevolking staan. Het gaat dan om een samenleving die de materiële sociale en culturele behoeften van eenieder bedient en die zich met hand en tand verzet tegen de reactionaire imperialistische machten Rusland uit het Oosten en de EU en VS uit het Westen. Tegen de politiek van de wanhoop zijn het antwoord en de inspiratie te vinden in de werkelijk democratische en internationalistische geest van de Bosnische protesten. ‘Weg met nationalisme!’ is de leuze daar, wanneer ze vechten voor alle nationaliteiten in hun land tegen bezuinigingen en ongelijkheid. Eenheid in de strijd van alle nationaliteiten tegen de nationale haat, armoede en kapitaal: dat is waar de hoop voor Oekraïne ligt.

    Bas van der Plas/INSUDOK, 12 maart 2014
    Met dank aan Luba en Tatyana uit Lugansk

    Find this story at 12 March 2014

    copyright Bas van der Plas/INSUDOK

    NEONAZIS & EUROMAIDAN. From democracy to dictatorship.

    “Whoever is not jumping is a Moskal” is a chant that women and
    men of different ages who took to Kiev Independence Square in winter
    2013-2014 repeated trying to get warm. They kept jumping and
    laughing, for nobody in the ‘brave new world’ of the Ukrainian revolution under Stepan Bandera’s banner fancied gaining the character of a staunch enemy of Ukrainian statehood.
    Mass demonstrations of “angry citizens” in Ukraine had objective
    reasons. This was a protest against ineffective and corrupt government, against police and bureaucratic abuse of power, against unclear and dead-end policies of the President and the Government.
    All national liberation movements use the popular ideas and political sentiments that dominate the society as their positive manifesto.
    Thus, exclusively le -wing ideologies were mainstream in the
    Russian Empire in 1917, radical Islamism was most popular in Arab
    countries during the Arab spring of 2012, whereas nationalism, also
    radical, turned mainstream in the Ukraine of 2013-2014.
    The book describes the development of Ukraine’s nationalist
    groups since 1991 un l present day. It focuses on the history of
    the parliamentary right-wing radical Svoboda party and the nonparliamentary Right Sector movement. The authors study the ideology, psychology and methods of political struggle of these structures. The experts seek to answer the questi on: how did the radical neo-Nazi groups manage to become the key driving force behind the Ukrainian revolution?

    Stanislav Byshok, Alexey Kochetkov

    Find this story at 2014

    copyright Stanislav Byshok, Alexey Kochetkov

    Driven by far-right ideology, Azov Battalion mans Ukraine’s front line

    A volunteer military unit is confronting Russia in the east, but future clashes with pro-Western Kiev may lie ahead

    URZUF, Ukraine — From his watch post overlooking the sandy beaches of the Azov Sea, Nemets is charged with guarding the shoreline against a possible Russian incursion.

    “Twenty minutes by boat, and you’re in Russia,” the 30-year-old said, as he squinted into the midday sun and shrugged to adjust the heavy bulletproof vest weighing down his narrow shoulders in the summer heat.

    Nemets, who prefers to go only by his nom de guerre, comes from the central Ukrainian city of Kirovohrad and is a member of the all-volunteer Azov Battalion, one of Ukraine’s many paramilitary groups formed in response to the government’s struggle against pro-Russian separatists in the country’s east, the territory where a Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down on July 17.

    “This is war, and this is how people become a nation,” he said. “This is the process in which we are learning who is strong and who isn’t.”

    The pro-Kiev battalion was named after the blue waters of this southeastern Ukrainian sea that Nemets now guards. More than half of the battalion’s fighters are Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainians, who were brought up in the region now being fought over and who may have spent summer holidays swimming in the sea’s warm waters.

    Many of the Azov Battalion members are, by their own description, ultra-right Ukrainian nationalists. Ideologically, they are aligned with the Social-National Assembly, a confederation of groups in Ukraine that have drawn heavy criticism for their radical form of nationalism since the start of the protest movement in Kiev last November, which eventually ousted the Kremlin-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych.

    But in Ukraine’s current war the lines have blurred between patriotism and extreme nationalism in this former Soviet republic, now deeply divided as it muddles through its worst political crisis since the breakup of the Soviet Union. At times, the government has coordinated with groups accused of extreme nationalism in its military operation against what it says is a Moscow-sponsored separatist movement. The fighters of the Azov Battalion are a symbol of that alliance, and it is a coordination that some analysts say should be watched carefully.

    “Modern history shows that any opportunistic cooperation of the authorities with the extreme right in the end results in problems for the government and society,” wrote Anton Shekhovtsov, an expert on Ukraine’s far right and a Ph.D. student at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at University College London, in his blog last month.

    The Azov Battalion is recognized as part of the Ministry of the Interior’s troops and has been actively engaged in battles in key areas of what the government calls an “anti-terrorist operation,” or ATO. It has included fights for Mariupol, the largest of the port cities on the Azov Sea, on May 9 and June 13.

    The battalion has adopted symbols and slogans that come close to those used by neo-Nazis, drawing alarm from many moderate Ukrainians and fueling the fire of Russian media accusations that the current Kiev government is a “fascist junta.”

    Oleh Odnorozhenko, the chief ideologist of the Social-National Assembly and a member of the Azov Battalion, insists that they and their sister organization the Right Sector are not neo-Nazis or neo-fascist, as the Russian media have depicted them.

    “That is all Putinism propaganda,” Odnorozhenko said about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claims that the groups are elements of an anti-Russian fascism determined to eradicate ethnic Russians from Ukraine. “We aren’t anti-Russian here. Two-thirds of the guys speak Russian. But we are anti-Putin.”

    For all the controversy surrounding the government’s association with paramilitary groups like Azov, some argue that it is a necessary evil in extreme times.

    “The country is quite radicalized on both sides now,” said Vasyl Arbuzov, a Donetsk native and an aide to the Kiev-appointed governor of the province, Sergei Taruta. “These aren’t the kind of guys I hang out with on the weekend, but at the moment they are the kind of guys we need because they are willing to fight.”

    When the battle for Ukraine’s east erupted in April, the country found that its defense forces were in a parlous state after decades of budgetary neglect. Ukraine, it turned out, was not prepared to wage a war on its own soil, particularly what the government claims is a fight against the heavily funded Russian military.

    “I’m not sure their nationalistic ideology is taken that seriously by the guys at the battalion, but it’s the thing that binds them together at the moment. It’s the tissue that’s holding them together as they fight for Ukraine,” Arbuzov said. “They aren’t here to protect the white race. They are here to protect the state of Ukraine against oppressors, which today is the Russian Federation.”

    The 300 or so troops of the Azov Battalion are living and training in the ousted president’s former summer residence here, a collection of multistoried beach homes in a landscaped setting atop a picturesque cliff overlooking the Azov Sea.

    On the training grounds, men run drills on storming buildings and urban fighting in an open space in the middle of the seaside resort’s territory. Nearby, there is a common building housing sleeping quarters and a cafeteria.

    While some of the men were on a training course, others were working out with free weights in makeshift outdoor gyms, or tinkering with the battalion’s military vehicles, including its own makeshift armored personnel carrier. A fighter who goes only by his nom de guerre, Malik, said he designed the APC himself, using welded steel to create attack-proof side panels on an old Russian Kamaz heavy truck.

    Malik said he was a motorcycle mechanic before he joined the battalion in May, after his native Crimea was annexed by Russia. His APC creation survived an attack during a fight in Mariupol last month. “Everyone wants one now. The Right Sector tried to copy my design, but they couldn’t do it,” Malik said. “But we need more equipment here, particularly technical weapons and body armor.”

    While the battalion is recognized by the Interior Ministry and provided with some arms, it is largely funded by charity from Ukrainians, wealthy businessmen, the Ukrainian diaspora and other European far-right groups.

    Its ideological alignment with other far-right, social-nationalist groups has attracted volunteers from Sweden, Italy, France, Canada and Russia.

    Lemko, a Canadian volunteer whose roots are Ukrainian, said he came to the Azov Battalion several weeks ago because he was concerned about the direction in which Ukraine was heading. He said he was a national socialist — though he rejected the term neo-Nazi — and was a member of far-right groups in Canada, many of which, he said, face problems with the Canadian government because of their political beliefs.

    The Canadian volunteer said he was fighting not just against the pro-Russian separatists in the east but for Ukraine’s future; that is, a future that does not include joining the European Union. Joining the EU would destroy Ukraine’s national identity, just as it destroyed the national states of the rest of Europe by admitting economic refugees across borders, he said.

    “Ukraine should be for Ukrainians,” Lemko said. “We don’t need the European idea of multicultural extremism here. Ukraine must protect its cultural and ethnic integrity.”

    Such sentiments — which go directly opposite to what the pro-European leadership in Kiev and many of its supporters want — might bode ill for the future of the alliance between the far right and Ukraine’s current government.

    Nor is Lemko alone. Sitting in a plastic lawn chair with a Kalashnikov resting on his lap, he discussed Ukraine’s future with two volunteer fighters from Sweden. They all agreed that Ukraine is a wealthy country whose economic potential was stolen by oligarchs. But recently elected President Petro Poroshenko was just another oligarch replacing the previous regime, they said.

    “I’m here to support a national idea of Ukraine. I’m willing to die helping them get these bandits out,” said Sevren, 28, from Gothenburg, Sweden.

    Lemko agreed. “We actually have two enemies now, the EU on one side and the Russian Federation on the other. But first, we need to deal with the separatists,” he said.

    July 24, 2014 5:00AM ET
    by Sabra Ayres @SabraAyres

    Find this story at 24 July 2014

    Neo-fascists train to fight Ukrainian rebels

    © 2014 Al Jazeera America

    Ukraine crisis: the neo-Nazi brigade fighting pro-Russian separatists

    Kiev throws paramilitaries – some openly neo-Nazi – into the front of the battle with rebels
    Phantom, 23, a fighter in the Azov battalion, outside its HQ in the Ukrainian seaside town of Urzuf

    The fighters of the Azov battalion lined up in single file to say farewell to their fallen comrade. His pallid corpse lay under the sun in an open casket trimmed with blue velvet.
    Some of the men placed carnations by the body, others roses. Many struck their chests with a closed fist before touching their dead friend’s arm. One fighter had an SS tattoo on his neck.
    Sergiy Grek, 22, lost a leg and died from massive blood loss after a radio-controlled anti-tank mine exploded near to him.
    As Ukraine’s armed forces tighten the noose around pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, the western-backed government in Kiev is throwing militia groups – some openly neo-Nazi – into the front of the battle.
    The Azov battalion has the most chilling reputation of all. Last week, it came to the fore as it mounted a bold attack on the rebel redoubt of Donetsk, striking deep into the suburbs of a city under siege.
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    Andriy Biletsky, in black T-shirt, commander of Ukraine’s Azov battalion (Tom Parfitt)
    In Marinka, on the western outskirts, the battalion was sent forward ahead of tanks and armoured vehicles of the Ukrainian army’s 51st Mechanised Brigade. A ferocious close-quarters fight ensued as they got caught in an ambush laid by well-trained separatists, who shot from 30 yards away. The Azov irregulars replied with a squall of fire, fending off the attack and seizing a rebel checkpoint.
    Mr Grek, also known as “Balagan”, died in the battle and 14 others were wounded. Speaking after the ceremony Andriy Biletsky, the battalion’s commander, told the Telegraph the operation had been a “100% success”. “The battalion is a family and every death is painful to us but these were minimal losses,” he said. “Most important of all, we established a bridgehead for the attack on Donetsk. And when that comes we will be leading the way.”
    The military achievement is hard to dispute. By securing Marinka the battalion “widened the front and tightened the circle”, around the rebels’ capital, as another fighter put it. While Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, prevaricates about sending an invasion force into Ukraine, the rebels he backs are losing ground fast.
    But Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries to stamp out the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics”, proclaimed in eastern Ukraine in March, should send a shiver down Europe’s spine. Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming.
    The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.

    The Azov battalion uses the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf”s Hook) symbol on its banner (Tom Parfitt)
    “Personally, I’m a Nazi,” said “Phantom”, a 23-year-old former lawyer at the ceremony wearing camouflage and holding a Kalashnikov. “I don’t hate any other nationalities but I believe each nation should have its own country.” He added: “We have one idea: to liberate our land from terrorists.”
    The Telegraph was invited to see some 300 Azov fighters pay respects to Mr Grek, their first comrade to die since the battalion was formed in May. An honour guard fired volleys into the air at the battalion’s headquarters on the edge of Urzuf, a small beach resort on Ukraine’s Azov Sea coast. Two more militiamen died on Sunday fighting north of Donetsk <>. Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s president, called one of them a hero.
    Each new recruit receives only a couple of weeks of training before joining the battalion. The interior ministry and private donors provide weapons.
    The HQ is a seaside dacha compound dotted with pines that once belonged to the ousted president of Ukraine, Vladimir Yanukovich, when he was governor of this region. Families in swimsuits with towels and inflatable rings walk past gate-guards toting automatic rifles.
    Parked inside among wooden gazebos overlooking the sea are the tools of Azov’s trade – two armoured personnel carriers, a converted truck with retractable steel shutters to cover its windows, and several Nissan pick-ups fitted with machine-gun mounts.

    A converted truck with steel shutters used by the Azov battalion and known to the fighters as ’the Lump of Iron’ (Tom Parfitt)
    Mr Biletsky, a muscular man in a black T-shirt and camouflage trousers, said the battalion was a light infantry unit, ideal for the urban warfare needed to take cities like Donetsk.
    The 35-year old commander began creating the battalion after he was released from pre-trial detention in February in the wake of pro-western protests in Kiev. He had denied a charge of attempted murder, claiming it was politically motivated.
    A former history student and amateur boxer, Mr Biletsky is also head of an extremist Ukrainian group called the Social National Assembly. “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival,” he wrote in a recent commentary. “A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”
    The battalion itself is founded on right wing views, the commander said in Urzuf, and no Nazi convictions could exclude a recruit. “The most important thing is being a good fighter and a good brother so that we can trust each other,” he said.
    Interestingly, many of the men in the battalion are Russians from eastern Ukraine who wear masks because they fear their relatives in rebel-controlled areas could be persecuted if their identities are revealed.
    Phantom said he was such a Russian but that he was opposed to Moscow supporting “terrorists” in his homeland: “I volunteered and all I demanded was a gun and the possibility to defend my country.”
    Asked about his Nazi sympathies, he said: “After the First World World War, Germany was a total mess and Hitler rebuilt it: he built houses and roads, put in telephone lines, and created jobs. I respect that.” Homosexuality is a mental illness and the scale of the Holocaust “is a big question”, he added.

    Fighters of the Azov battalion say farewell to their first comrade to die in the war against Russia-backed rebels (Tom Parfitt)
    Stepan, 23, another fighter, said that if leaders of the pro-Russian separatists were captured they should be executed after a military tribunal.
    Such notions seem a far cry from the spirit of the “Maidan” protests that peaked in Kiev in February with the ousting of Mr Yanukovich, who had refused to sign a trade agreement with the European Union. Young liberals led the way but the uprising, which ended with the president fleeing to Russia, provoked a huge patriotic awakening that sucked in hardline groups.
    Azov’s extremist profile and slick English–language pages on social media have even attracted foreign fighters. Mr Biletsky says he has men from Ireland, Italy, Greece and Scandinavia. At the base in Urzuf, Mikael Skillt, 37, a former sniper with the Swedish Army and National Guard, leads and trains a reconnaissance unit.
    “When I saw the Maidan protests I recognised bravery and suffering,” he told the Telegraph. “A warrior soul was awakened. But you can only do so much, going against the enemy with sticks and stones. I had some experience and I though maybe I could help.”
    Mr Skillt says he called himself a National Socialist as a young man and more recently he was active in the extreme right wing Party of the Swedes. “Now I’m fighting for the freedom of Ukraine against Putin’s imperialist front,” he said.
    His unit is improving fast under his tutelage. “What they lack in experience, they make up in balls,” he said. Once he is done with Azov –where he claimed he receives a nominal GBP100 a month – Mr Skillt plans to go to Syria to fight for President Bashar al-Assad as a hired gun earning “very good money”.
    Such characters under Kiev’s control play straight into the hands of Russian and separatist propaganda that portrays Ukraine’s government as a “fascist junta” manipulated by the West.
    “These battalions are made up of mercenaries, not volunteers,” said Sergei Kavtaradze, a representative of the rebel authorities in Donetsk. “They are real fascists who kill and rape civilians.” Mr Kavtaradze could not cite evidence of his claim and the battalion says it has not harmed a single civilian.
    Ukraine’s government is unrepentant about using the neo-Nazis. “The most important thing is their spirit and their desire to make Ukraine free and independent,” said Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to Arsen Avakov, the interior minister. “A person who takes a weapon in his hands and goes to defend his motherland is a hero. And his political views are his own affair.”
    Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russian and Ukrainian security affairs at New York University, fears battalions like Azov are becoming “magnets to attract violent fringe elements from across Ukraine and beyond”. “The danger is that this is part of the building up of a toxic legacy for when the war ends,” he said.
    Extremist paramilitary groups who have built up “their own little Freikorps” and who are fundamentally opposed to finding consensus may demand a part in public life as victors in the conflict, Mr Galeotti added. “And what do you do when the war is over and you get veterans from Azov swaggering down your high street, and in your own lives?”

    By Tom Parfitt, 11 Aug 2014

    Find this story at 11 August 2014

    © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2014

    Foreigners join far-right militias in Ukraine’s fight against rebels

    Fears that nationalist Azov Battalion and others could ultimately turn on new rulers

    Sitting in the shade of a broad pine tree and a pink-and-orange umbrella, two Swedes and a Canadian explain why they are ready to kill, and be killed, for the future of a free Ukraine.

    They are members of the Azov Battalion, one of several units of volunteers fighting alongside Ukraine’s military and national guard against separatist rebels – allegedly backed by Moscow – who want the country’s eastern regions to join Russia.

    The battalion is based by the Sea of Azov in southern Donetsk province, in a beachside complex formerly used as a holiday home by the family of Viktor Yanukovich, who was ousted as Ukraine’s president in February.
    The unit was formed by the Social National Assembly, a Ukrainian nationalist group described by critics as violently racist, and its emblem includes variations on the “black sun” and “wolf’s hook” symbols long associated with Nazism.

    Lurid propaganda

    The ideology of Azov is a gift to the Kremlin, which has used lurid propaganda to discredit Ukraine’s revolution as a fascist coup that threatens the country’s tens of millions of Russian-speakers and, more broadly, Europe.
    There are also growing fears in Ukraine that Azov and other far-right militias could ultimately turn on its new rulers, whom they see not as representatives of the revolution but of a venal oligarchy that has dominated the country for decades.

    Russia’s annexation of Crimea and covert support for rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk regions has fuelled radicalism in a Ukraine already reeling from the revolution, and stoked national passions in a country that feels attacked by its huge neighbour and largely abandoned by its supposed allies in the West.
    Azov now plans to expand its ranks from 300 to 500 men, and a French supporter called Gaston Besson – who fought for Croatian independence in the 1990s – is forming a brigade of foreigners willing to take up arms for Ukraine’s freedom and territory.
    “Volunteers have come from Russia, France, Italy, Belarus, Canada, Sweden, Slovenia – many countries,” said Oleg Odnorozhenko, a self-proclaimed ideologue of the Social National Assembly.
    “We have had about two dozen foreigners so far. Lots more want to come but we select those with relevant experience,” he added, noting that a Georgian special forces trainer was working “semi-officially” with Azov.
    The shouts of children on the beach drifted through Yanukovich’s old compound on a warm sea breeze, as three of Azov’s foreign contingent discussed why they were here, far from home, and ready to spill and shed blood for Ukraine.
    “I was sick of the television pictures from CNN and Russia Today, so I decided to come to Ukraine and see for myself. I found a great people, who desire freedom, being used in a tug-of-war,” said Severin (28) from Gothenburg in Sweden.
    “I would love to solve Ukraine’s problems with political discussions. But that’s impossible now,” he added.
    “I am in favour of a free European people. And I am here to help these European people live in freedom.”
    Severin calls himself a national socialist, but rejects the connotations that he says come with the term “neo-Nazi”. He wanted to serve in the Swedish army “to protect my land and people” but was rejected due to his political beliefs.

    Like the two men alongside him, Mikola from Stockholm and a man from Canada who uses the nickname “Lemko”, Severin is against immigration, multiculturalism, globalisation and the rampant capitalism and liberalism he sees ruining the modern world.
    The three men share a faith in the strength of ethnically pure nations, living according to their traditions.
    Lemko, who hails from Canada’s large Ukrainian diaspora, said he believed in a “Ukraine for the Ukrainian people” and saw the western social model as just as great a threat to the country’s future as the antipathy of the Kremlin. “I lived in western Europe for 11 years, so I know,” said Lemko, who is in his 30s. “Ukraine has two enemies – Russia and the EU.”
    Disillusioned by a western world that they regard as feckless, decadent and enslaved by high finance, the men saw an inspiring sense of purpose, patriotism and self-sacrifice in the tent camp on Kiev’s Independence Square, where the revolution played out last winter.
    First combat
    Severin saw his first combat action on June 13th, when the Azov Battalion fought separatist militants in the nearby port city of Mariupol.
    “On the way there, I thought this would be a special day. But it was harsh, and after experiencing that no one would say war was beautiful. Mortars went off close by and two of my comrades were injured. But I was proud to serve.”
    Lemko has no plans to return to Canada and Severin says he could be here for “two months or years”, while Mikola hopes to return to Sweden in the near future to continue his psychology studies.
    “I’m here to deal with the separatists,” Mikola said. “After that, let’s see.”
    The foreigners, like the local members of Azov, are derisive of Ukraine’s billionaire president, Petro Poroshenko, the pro-EU government in Kiev and western states that have been deeply reluctant to take a tough stand against Russia.
    “A split is a definite possibility,” Lemko said of fears that the various units fighting the rebels today will one day clash over political differences, and over who exactly controls these increasingly large and well-armed paramilitary battalions.
    What is clear is that Azov’s extreme nationalism does not have widespread support in Ukraine: three far-right candidates mustered barely 10 per cent of votes between them in May’s presidential election, even during a deep national crisis.
    Desire to defend
    Vasyl Arbuzov, an adviser to Donetsk governor Sergei Taruta, said Ukraine’s nationalists were bound far less by ideology than by a desire to defend the country.
    “These aren’t the kind of guys I hang out with on the weekend but, at the moment, they are the kind of guys we need because they are willing to fight,” he said.
    Inside their seaside base, Kalashnikovs on their laps, three of Azov’s foreigners said they were ready for anything.
    “How much talking can you do?” said Lemko.
    “Whatever it takes – there’s no turning back now.”

    Daniel McLaughlin
    Thu, Jul 17, 2014, 01:01

    Find this story at 17 July 2014

    © 2014 THE IRISH TIMES

    Interview with the Radio Sweden Concerning the Azov Battalion in Ukraine

    My Interview with the Radio Sweden Concerning the Azov Battalion in Ukraine

    What is Azov Battalion?
    This is a paramilitary/special police formation organized about 2 months ago by the Social- National Assembly (SNA) and its paramilitary wing, called Patriot of Ukraine (PU), with support of a leader of the Radical Party and the Ukrainian government. It was called a battalion, but initially it included only about 60 men. They are also called “black men” because of black uniform that they wear.
    Who’s in charge of Azov battalion?
    The battalion is formally subordinated to the Minister of Internal Affairs. But it is de facto subordinated to the Social National Assembly and it is commanded by leaders of the SNA/PU. The de facto commander of the battalion is Andrii Biletski, the leader of Patriot of Ukraine.
    Who’s fighting for them? (ideologically uninterested citizens, far right radicals etc.)
    The battalion mostly includes members of the SNA/PU, football ultras from Dynamo Kyiv, and other far right radicals. There are also far right sympathizers and some other Maidan activists.
    If comprised of far right radicals mainly, how important is the ideology for this group?
    The ideology is central to the battalion. Its new members give their oath in presence of the SNA/PU leaders and the SNA/PU flag, depicting Wolfsangel, a neo-Nazi symbol. During such a recent ceremony, they also recited a prayer honoring Stepan Bandera and other leaders of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, a radical nationalist and semi-fascist organization.
    If many of them are so-called neo-fascists, in what way exactly?
    The SNA/PU advocate a neo-Nazi ideology along with ultranationalism and racism. The same applies to the SNA/PU commanders and members of the Azov battalion and many football ultras and others who serve in this formation. Biletsky is called the “White Leader.” He and several other commanders of the battalion were imprisoned on murder or terrorism charges, but they were released after the fall of Yanukovych. The SNA/PU are one of the founders of the Right Sector.
    What happened in Mariupol last week? Is there any truth behind pro-Russian allegations of pro-Ukrainian forces harming civilians in Mariupol?
    The Azov battalion took control last week over Mariupol after a brief fight with a relatively small number of pro-Russian separatists. Their videos indicate that they assault civilians and torture their prisoners, but these cases are not investigated or prosecuted. The Azov battalion along with other formations also stormed the police headquarters in this city on May 9th when 9

    people were killed, including the attackers, policemen, and civilians. But it is difficult to say if these civilians were killed by the battalion, since there are no investigations.
    How many foreigners is estimated to fighting with the Azov battalion?
    The precise numbers are difficult to know. But various reports suggest that at least several foreigners are in the battalion, including at least one from Sweden.
    Do you have any information of the swede fighting for them, Mikael Skillt?

    Skillt came to Ukraine during the Euromaidan protests last winter. He then joined C14, a neo- Nazi organization affiliated with Svoboda, a major far right party which plays important role in the current government. Skillt now joined the Azov battalion.

    by Ivan Katchanovski
    June 19, 2014

    Find this story at 19 June 2014

    Academia © 2014

    Ukraine conflict: ‘White power’ warrior from Sweden

    The appearance of far-right activists, both foreign and home-grown, among the Ukrainian volunteers fighting in east Ukraine is causing unease.

    Mikael Skillt is a Swedish sniper, with seven years’ experience in the Swedish Army and the Swedish National Guard. He is currently fighting with the Azov Battalion, a pro-Ukrainian volunteer armed group in eastern Ukraine. He is known to be dangerous to the rebels: reportedly there is a bounty of nearly $7,000 (£4,090; 5,150 euros) on his head.

    In a telephone conversation from an undisclosed location, Mr Skillt told me more about his duties: “I have at least three purposes in the Azov Battalion: I am a commander of a small reconnaissance unit, I am also a sniper, and sometimes I work as a special coordinator for clearing houses and going into civilian areas.”

    As to his political views, Mr Skillt prefers to call himself a nationalist, but in fact his views are typical of a neo-Nazi.

    “It’s all about how you see it,” he says. “I would be an idiot if I said I did not want to see survival of white people. After World War Two, the victors wrote their history. They decided that it’s always a bad thing to say I am white and I am proud.”

    ‘One stray liberal’
    Mr Skillt believes races should not mix. He says the Jews are not white and should not mix with white people. His next project is to go fight for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad because he believes Mr Assad is standing up to “international Zionism”.

    Mikael Skillt in Ukraine
    Mikael Skillt in Ukraine
    Not all of Mr Skillt’s views are widely shared in the Azov Battalion, which is about 300-strong in total.

    He says his comrades do not discuss politics much, though some of them may be “national socialists” and may wear swastikas. On the other hand, “there is even one liberal, though I don’t know how he got there”, he adds, with a smile in his voice.

    Mr Skillt says there is only a handful of foreign fighters in the Azov Battalion and they do not get paid. “They see it as a good thing, to come and fight,” he explains. However, Mr Skillt is expecting more foreigners to join soon: he says there is now a recruiter who is looking for “serious fighters” from outside Ukraine.

    The key figures in the Azov Battalion are its commander, Andriy Biletsky, and his deputy, Ihor Mosiychuk.

    Andriy Biletsky is also the leader of a Ukrainian organisation called the Social National Assembly. Its aims are stated in one of their online publications:

    “to prepare Ukraine for further expansion and to struggle for the liberation of the entire White Race from the domination of the internationalist speculative capital”
    “to punish severely sexual perversions and any interracial contacts that lead to the extinction of the white man”
    This, according to experts, is a typical neo-Nazi narrative.

    ‘Foreign journalists’
    The Azov Battalion was formed and armed by Ukraine’s interior ministry. A ministerial adviser, Anton Gerashchenko, got angry when I asked him if the battalion had any neo-Nazi links through the Social National Assembly.

    Azov Battalion fighters parading with flags in Kiev, 3 June
    Azov Battalion fighters parading with the Wolfsangel banner favoured by neo-Nazis
    Young women say goodbye to Azov Battalion fighters in Kiev, 23 June
    Young women saying goodbye to Azov Battalion fighters in Kiev last month
    Azov fighters guarding suspected rebels in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, 13 June
    Azov fighters guarding suspected rebels in Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, last month
    “The Social National Assembly is not a neo-Nazi organisation,” he said.

    “It is a party of Ukrainian patriots who are giving their lives while the rich Europeans are only talking about supporting Ukraine. When, may I ask, will English people come here and help us fight terrorists sent by Russia’s President [Vladimir] Putin, instead of lecturing us on our moral values or people’s political affiliations?”

    Mr Gerashchenko was adamant, however, that there were no foreign citizens fighting in the Azov Battalion.

    Continue reading the main story

    Start Quote

    Neo-Nazis are as dangerous as pro-Russia extremists in Eastern Ukraine”

    Anton Shekhovtsov
    Expert on far right in Europe
    “There are foreign journalists, from Sweden, Spain and Italy, who have come to report on the heroic achievements of the fighters in their struggle against terrorism,” he said.

    He insisted he had never heard of Mikael Skillt, the Swedish sniper.

    Ukraine is a democratic state, which held a democratic election in May, where the far right and nationalist parties got hardly any votes. These views are not popular with the electorate.

    But Anton Shekhovtsov, a prominent expert on far-right and neo-Nazi movements in Europe, believes the Ukrainian government should be clear about whom it is arming to fight for Ukraine’s democratic cause.

    “It is a pressing concern, especially with regards to the anti-terrorist operation,” he said. “In my view, the war against pro-Russia separatists is the war for democratic values. Neo-Nazis are as dangerous as pro-Russia extremists in eastern Ukraine.”

    6 July 2014
    By Dina Newman

    Find this story at 6 July 2014

    Swedish neo-nazi Mikael Skillt is fighting in the Azov Battalion against separatist 

    BBC © 2014

    Why CIA Director Brennan Visited Kiev: In Ukraine The Covert War Has Begun

    Ukraine is on the brink of civil war, Vladimir Putin has said, and he should know because the country is already in the midst of a covert intelligence war. Over the weekend, CIA director John Brennan travelled to Kiev, nobody knows exactly why, but some speculate that he intends to open US intelligence resources to Ukrainian leaders about real-time Russian military maneuvers. The US has, thus far, refrained from sharing such knowledge because Moscow is believed to have penetrated much of Ukraine’s communications systems – and Washington isn’t about to hand over its surveillance secrets to the Russians.

    If you have any doubts that the battle is raging on the ‘covert ops’ front just consider today’s events in Pcholkino where Ukrainian soldiers from the 25th Airborn Division handed over their weapons and APC’s to pro-Russian militiamen and pretty much surrendered. The Ukrainian commander was quoted as saying “they’ve captured us and are using dirty tricks”. This is the kind of morale-busting incident that can spread quickly. It doesn’t happen spontaneously and it often begins with mixed messages, literally – messages purporting to come from the chain of command but actually originate from the enemy’s dirty tricks department.

    So what kind of conversations did Brennan have during his visit? There’s no way of knowing for sure of course. But, according to my sources, and based on my experience of reporting on the Russian invasion of Georgia, the US-Ukraine information exchange would go a lot further than simply tracking numbers and motions of Russian tanks and soldiers. The operative term here is ‘non-lethal’ help – that remains Washington’s official position. But in today’s digital and virtual battlefield, the game can be over before the first shot gets fired. And if Moscow’s mastery over the digital domain can be countered, Putin might think twice about risking the expensive hardware that he has invested billions in upgrading since the Georgian war.

    In that conflict, the US refused to sell air-cover missiles (Manpads) to Tbilisi while the Israelis deactivated the ones they’d sold after Putin threatened them with retaliation by selling Hezbollah comparable weapons. So Georgia was left with the Ukraine-made missiles it had purchased, which proved effective but not numerous enough. The Russians have undoubtedly rectified that vulnerability, especially as they and Ukraine share the same weapons systems. In effect, Russian warplanes have likely found ways to jam targeting vectors or to create illusory electronic clusters to decoy the manpads.

    So Brennan might have shared data on how to get past the jamming. The same kind of forensic struggle applies to aerial combat, a rare thing these days but one that may become decisive if ground-based missiles prove ineffectual. Since the Russians can hack into any kind of long-distance chatter about such details between the US and Kiev, Brennan probably had to physically hand them over to his Ukrainian interlocutors. That is, to fully vetted individuals, because as we’ve seen repeatedly during the current crisis, not least in the Maidan, Russian spies masquerading as Ukrainian patriots are not uncommon. Ukraine’s politicians and military personnel (though not nearly as much) have a long history of divided loyalties.

    Digital conflict, by its very nature, is a shadow conflict and therefore fundamentally psychological. If you lose touch with central command or you suspect the enemy is messing with your communications, you become isolated. You fire at your own side, shoot down your warplanes. In fact, you’re likely to stop shooting altogether, out of confusion and paralysis, as happened in some military bases in Georgia. And now is happening in Ukraine. You don’t know if the coded messages telling you to refrain from firing are a feint or genuine. In a modern war between two sides with hardware i.e. not a guerilla war, line-of-sight engagements occur less often than you’d think. Tanks and planes and artillery get knocked out from afar. Digital certainty is everything. The absence of it spells disaster.

    So Brennan needed to reassure his hosts above all on that matter. Or perhaps vice-versa. They might need to reassure the US that Ukraine’s military position is not hopeless. If the US assessed the Ukrainian armed forces as too electronically compromised to use heavy weapons systems, then Washington might discourage a confrontation, might refuse to help in crucial ways, as happened in Georgia. Or Washington might suggest alternate methodologies, low-tech or asymmetrical alternatives, to create enough confusion or humiliation as to tarnish Putin’s popularity. The Russian side has clearly initiated such tactics already. Brennan will try to shore up the security of Ukraine’s military signals systems. He will suggest ways to retaliate in kind by hacking into the pro-Moscow militia’s comms.

    To get an idea of how crucial is this stage of the confrontation, just witness how images of Ukrainian armored vehicles now driven by militias have gone global. Moscow will trumpet the news, claiming that even Ukrainian soldiers don’t want to fight, that the US is stoking artificial hatred. The government in Kiev will find itself snookered – either to admit that its signals channels are hopelessly compromised and therefore cannot mount a convincing military operation or that such incidents are spontaneous but limited. A tough position either way. One thing is certain, the war has begun.

    Melik KaylanMelik Kaylan
    WASHINGTON 4/16/2014 @ 4:30PM 9,980 views

    Find this story at 16 April 2014

    Copyright http://www.forbes.com/

    The foreigners who flocked to join the fight – in Ukraine

    Military leaders in Ukraine charged Russia was deepening its foray into Ukrainian territory and sending new troops to the Crimean border.
    Aug. 27, 2014 Bystanders watch a fire consuming a school in downtown Donetsk after being hit by shelling. Several civilians died when their car was completely burned after being hit by shell fragments in central Donetsk, the rebel-held city in eastern Ukraine. Francisco Leong/AFP/Getty Images
    View Photo Gallery —Refugees flee the violence, some seeking shelter in Russia, while Ukraine says its army has penetrated the rebel stronghold of Luhansk in what could prove to be a breakthrough development in the months-long conflict.

    Foreign fighters have become central to the narrative of the Islamic State and its fighting in Syria and Iraq: Just this week the distinct British accent of the man believed to have called American journalist James Foley was a grim reminder that thousands of foreigners have traveled to the Middle East to join the fight. It’s a big concern for many governments.

    But foreigners have also flocked to other world conflicts, notably Ukraine.

    This point was brought home this week, with the death of an American fighting in Ukraine. Mark Gregory Paslawsky, a 55-year-old born in New York, is believed to be the only U.S. citizen who has fought in Ukraine until he died in fighting on Aug. 19. His death was announced in a Facebook post by Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko.

    Paslawsky, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, grew up in a Ukrainian-American family. He had moved to Ukraine decades ago, but his decision to fight in the Ukrainian Army’s volunteer Donbas Battalion this year earned him the fascination of the global media. Vice Media produced a documentary about him just a few weeks ago, which you can watch below:

    Paslawsky was far from the only fighter with a foreign nationality in Ukraine: There seem to have been many from Russia and South Ossetia among the separatist ranks. But there are also reports of more unexpected guests.

    Last month the BBC profiled Mikael Skillt, a Swedish military veteran who had joined the pro-Ukrainian volunteer force Azov Battalion. While Paslawsky’s decision to fight seems to have been motivated by an understandable Ukrainian nationalism, Skillt’s decision seemed to be motivated by something more extremist, even neo-Nazi.

    “After World War II, the victors wrote their history,” Skillt told the BBC. “They decided that it’s always a bad thing to say I am white and I am proud.”

    The force Skillt reportedly fights for, the Azov Battalion, has become a source of controversy for its use of neo-Nazi symbols and rhetoric. The commander of the group has told reporters that he has fighters from Ireland, Italy, Greece and Scandinavia, with as many as two dozen foreigners fighting for it by mid-summer. There were also reports that an exclusively Polish militia was fighting in Ukraine, though the Polish government later released a statement saying that the information it has “does not corroborate such allegations.”

    The numbers may be small when compared to those who have gone to the Middle East, where there are estimated to be as many as 12,000 foreign fighters, but they are a reminder that foreign fighters are not a uniquely Islamist issue.

    You certainly have to wonder if attracting fringe far right groups, even in small numbers, is a positive for Ukraine. The BBC says Interior Ministry adviser Herashchenko became angry when asked about the Azov Battalion’s alleged extremist links and denied foreigners were fighting with the group. It also plays into the early Kremlin narrative that the Euromaidan protests were influenced by outside forces – months ago, the Russian Foreign Ministry accused a private firm of sending American mercenaries to fight separatists in Ukraine, though those claims were deemed “rubbish” by the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt.

    Pro-Russian separatist forces have some unlikely foreign allies too, however. Earlier this month Reuters reported that a number of Spanish “civil war nostalgics” were fighting alongside pro-Russian forces in eastern Ukraine. Two Spanish men, Rafael Muñoz Perez and Ángel, published a video on YouTube explaining their motivation for heading to Ukraine.

    “We are here to defend civil people,” Muñoz Perez explains.

    By Adam Taylor August 22

    Find this story at 22 august 2014

    Copyright http://www.washingtonpost.com/

    Israeli militia commander fights to protect Kiev

    Delta, a Ukrainian-born former IDF soldier, heads a force of 40 men and women, most of whom are not Jewish, against gov’t forces

    Ukraine appeals to UNSC over Russian invasionKerry warns Russia against intervention in UkraineYanukovych blames fascists, West for Ukraine chaosUkraine Reform shul defaced by anti-Semitic graffitiSwitzerland, Austria freeze Yanukovych’s assetsUnidentified armed men patrol Crimea airport

    He calls his troops “the Blue Helmets of Maidan,” but brown is the color of the headgear worn by Delta — the nom de guerre of the commander of a Jewish-led militia force that participated in the Ukrainian revolution. Under his helmet, he also wears a kippah.

    Delta, a Ukraine-born former soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, spoke to JTA Thursday on condition of anonymity. He explained how he came to use combat skills he acquired in the Shu’alei Shimshon reconnaissance battalion of the Givati infantry brigade to rise through the ranks of Kiev’s street fighters. He has headed a force of 40 men and women — including several fellow IDF veterans — in violent clashes with government forces.

    Several Ukrainian Jews, including Rabbi Moshe Azman, one of the country’s claimants to the title of chief rabbi, confirmed Delta’s identity and role in the still-unfinished revolution.

    The “Blue Helmets” nickname, a reference to the UN peacekeeping force, stuck after Delta’s unit last month prevented a mob from torching a building occupied by Ukrainian police, he said. “There were dozens of officers inside, surrounded by 1,200 demonstrators who wanted to burn them alive,” he recalled. “We intervened and negotiated their safe passage.”

    The problem, he said, was that the officers would not leave without their guns, citing orders. Delta told JTA his unit reasoned with the mob to allow the officers to leave with their guns. “It would have been a massacre, and that was not an option,” he said.

    The Blue Helmets comprise 35 men and women who are not Jewish, and who are led by five ex-IDF soldiers, says Delta, an Orthodox Jew in his late 30s who regularly prays at Azman’s Brodsky Synagogue. He declined to speak about his private life.

    Delta, who immigrated to Israel in the 1990s, moved back to Ukraine several years ago and has worked as a businessman. He says he joined the protest movement as a volunteer on Nov. 30, after witnessing violence by government forces against student protesters.

    “I saw unarmed civilians with no military background being ground by a well-oiled military machine, and it made my blood boil,” Delta told JTA in Hebrew laced with military jargon. “I joined them then and there, and I started fighting back the way I learned how, through urban warfare maneuvers. People followed, and I found myself heading a platoon of young men. Kids, really.”

    Anti-government protesters take a break on a barricade at Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 (photo credit: AP/ Marko Drobnjakovic)
    Anti-government protesters take a break on a barricade at Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 (photo credit: AP/ Marko Drobnjakovic)

    The other ex-IDF infantrymen joined the Blue Helmets later after hearing it was led by a fellow vet, Delta said.

    As platoon leader, Delta says he takes orders from activists connected to Svoboda, an ultra-nationalist party that has been frequently accused of anti-Semitism and whose members have been said to have had key positions in organizing the opposition protests.

    “I don’t belong [to Svoboda], but I take orders from their team. They know I’m Israeli, Jewish and an ex-IDF soldier. They call me ‘brother,’” he said. “What they’re saying about Svoboda is exaggerated, I know this for a fact. I don’t like them because they’re inconsistent, not because of [any] anti-Semitism issue.”

    The commanding position of Svoboda in the revolution is no secret, according to Ariel Cohen, a senior research fellow at the Washington DC-based Heritage Foundation think tank.

    “The driving force among the so-called white sector in the Maidan are the nationalists, who went against the SWAT teams and snipers who were shooting at them,” Cohen told JTA.

    Still, many Jews supported the revolution and actively participated in it.

    Earlier this week, an interim government was announced ahead of election scheduled for May, including ministers from several minority groups.

    Volodymyr Groysman, a former mayor of the city of Vinnytsia and the newly appointed deputy prime minister for regional policy, is a Jew, Rabbi Azman said.

    “There are no signs for concern yet,” said Cohen, “but the West needs to make it clear to Ukraine that how it is seen depends on how minorities are treated.”

    On Wednesday, Russian State Duma Chairman Sergey Naryshkin said Moscow was concerned about anti-Semitic declarations by radical groups in Ukraine.

    But Delta says the Kremlin is using the anti-Semitism card falsely to delegitimize the Ukrainian revolution, which is distancing Ukraine from Russia’s sphere of influence.

    “It’s bullshit. I never saw any expression of anti-Semitism during the protests, and the claims to the contrary were part of the reason I joined the movement. We’re trying to show that Jews care,” he said.

    Anti-government protesters lob stones during clashes with riot police outside Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Efrem Lukatsky)
    Anti-government protesters lob stones during clashes with riot police outside Ukraine’s parliament in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Efrem Lukatsky)

    Still, Delta’s reasons for not revealing his name betray his sense of feeling like an outsider. “If I were Ukrainian, I would have been a hero. But for me it’s better to not reveal my name if I want to keep living here in peace and quiet,” he said.

    Fellow Jews have criticized him for working with Svoboda. “Some asked me if instead of ‘Shalom’ they should now greet me with a ‘Sieg heil.’ I simply find it laughable,” he said. But he does have frustrations related to being an outsider. “Sometimes I tell myself, ‘What are you doing? This is not your army. This isn’t even your country.’”

    He recalls feeling this way during one of the fiercest battles he experienced, which took place last week at Institutskaya Street and left 12 protesters dead. “The snipers began firing rubber bullets at us. I fired back from my rubber-bullet rifle,” Delta said.

    “Then they opened live rounds, and my friend caught a bullet in his leg. They shot at us like at a firing range. I wasn’t ready for a last stand. I carried my friend and ordered my troops to fall back. They’re scared kids. I gave them some cash for phone calls and told them to take off their uniform and run away until further instructions. I didn’t want to see anyone else die that day.”

    Currently, the Blue Helmets are carrying out police work that include patrols and preventing looting and vandalism in a city of 3 million struggling to climb out of the chaos that engulfed it for the past three months.

    But Delta has another, more ambitious, project: He and Azman are organizing the airborne evacuation of seriously wounded protesters — none of them Jewish — for critical operations in Israel. One of the patients, a 19-year-old woman, was wounded at Institutskaya by a bullet that penetrated her eye and is lodged inside her brain, according to Delta. Azman says he hopes the plane of 17 patients will take off next week, with funding from private donors and with help from Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel.

    “The doctor told me that another millimeter to either direction and she would be dead,” Delta said. “And I told him it was the work of Hakadosh Baruch Hu.”

    BY CNAAN LIPHSHIZ February 28, 2014, 9:37 pm 50

    Find this story at 28 February 2014


    400 US mercenaries ‘deployed on ground’ in Ukraine military

    About 400 elite mercenaries from the notorious US private security firm Academi (formerly Blackwater) are taking part in the Ukrainian military operation against anti-government protesters in southeastern regions of the country, German media reports.

    The Bild am Sonntag newspaper, citing a source in intelligence circles, wrote Sunday that Academi employees are involved in the Kiev military crackdown on pro-autonomy activists in near the town of Slavyansk, in the Donetsk region.

    On April 29, German Intelligence Service (BND) informed Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government about the mercenaries’ participation in the operation, the paper said, RIA Novosti reported. It is not clear who commands the private military contractors and pays for their services, however.

    In March, media reports appeared suggesting that the coup-imposed government in Kiev could have employed up to 300 mercenaries.That was before the new government launched a military operation against anti-Maidan activists, or “terrorists” as Kiev put it, in southeast Ukraine.

    At the time, the Russian Foreign Ministry said then that reports claiming Kiev was planning to involve “involve staff from foreign military companies to ‘ensure the rule of law,’” could suggest that it wanted “to suppress civil protests and dissatisfaction.”

    In particular, Greystone Limited, which is currently registered in Barbados and is a part of Academi Corporation, is a candidate for such a gendarme role. It is a similar and probably an affiliated structure of the Blackwater private army, whose staff have been accused of cruel and systematic violations of human rights in various trouble spots on many occasions.

    “Among the candidates for the role of gendarme is the Barbados-registered company Greystone Limited, which is integrated with the Academi corporation,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “It is an analogue, and, probably and affiliated body of the Blackwater private army, whose employees have repeatedly been accused of committing grievous and systematic human rights abuses in different troubled regions.”

    Allegations increased further after unverified videos appeared on YouTube of unidentified armed men in the streets of Donetsk, the capital of the country’s industrial and coalmining region. In those videos, onlookers can be heard shouting “Mercenaries!”“Blackwater!,” and “Who are you going to shoot at?”

    (FILES) A picture taken on July 5, 2005 shows contractors of the US private security firm Blackwater securing the site of a roadside bomb attack near the Iranian embassy in central Baghdad. (AFP Photo / Ahmad Al-Rubaye)(FILES) A picture taken on July 5, 2005 shows contractors of the US private security firm Blackwater securing the site of a roadside bomb attack near the Iranian embassy in central Baghdad. (AFP Photo / Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

    Academi denied its involvement in Ukraine, claiming on its website that “rumors” were posted by “some irresponsible bloggers and online reporters.”

    “Such unfounded statements combined with the lack of factual reporting to support them and the lack of context about the company, are nothing more than sensationalistic efforts to create hysteria and headlines in times of genuine crisis,” the US firm stated.

    The American security company Blackwater gained worldwide notoriety for the substantial role it played in the Iraq war as a contractor for the US government. In recent years it has changed its name twice – in 2009 it was renamed Xe Services and in 2011 it got its current name, Academi.

    The firm became infamous for the alleged September 16, 2007 killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. The attack, which saw 20 others wounded, was allegedly without justification and in violation of deadly-force rules that pertained to American security contractors in Iraq at the time. Between 2005 and September 2007, Blackwater security guards were involved in at least 195 shooting incidents in Iraq and fired first in 163 of those cases, a Congressional report said at the time.

    Published time: May 11, 2014 15:04
    Edited time: May 12, 2014 21:59 Get short URL

    Find this story at 11 Mai 2014

    © Autonomous Nonprofit Organization “TV-Novosti”, 2005–2014.

    Einsatz gegen Separatisten Ukrainische Armee bekommt offenbar Unterstützung von US-Söldnern

    400 US-Söldner sollen in der Ostukraine gegen die Separatisten kämpfen. Das berichtet “Bild am Sonntag” und beruft sich dabei auf Geheimdienstinformationen. Die Kämpfer kommen demnach vom Militärdienstleister Academi, früher bekannt als Blackwater.

    Berlin – Es war ein eindeutig formuliertes Dementi. “Unverantwortliche Blogger und ein Onlinereporter” hätten “Gerüchte” verbreitet, wonach Angestellte der Firma Academi in der Ukraine im Einsatz seien. Das sei falsch und nichts mehr als ein “sensationalistischer Versuch, eine Hysterie zu kreieren”. So äußerte sich der US-Militärdienstleister, ehemals unter dem Namen Blackwater zu unrühmlicher Bekanntheit gelangt, am 17. März auf seiner Webseite.

    Die staatliche russische Nachrichtenagentur “Ria Novosti” legte freilich am 7. April nach: Blackwater-Kämpfer agierten in der Ostukraine – und zwar in der Uniform der ukrainischen Sonderpolizei “Sokol”. Eine unabhängige Bestätigung dafür gab es nicht.

    Ein Zeitungsbericht legt nun nahe, dass an der Sache womöglich doch etwas dran sein könnte: Laut “Bild am Sonntag” werden die ukrainischen Sicherheitskräfte von 400 Academi-Elitesoldaten unterstützt. Sie sollen Einsätze gegen prorussische Rebellen rund um die ostukrainische Stadt Slowjansk geführt haben. Demnach setzte der Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) die Bundesregierung am 29. April darüber in Kenntnis. Wer die Söldner beauftragt habe, sei noch unklar.

    Die Informationen sollen vom US-Geheimdienst stammen und seien während der sogenannten Nachrichtendienstlichen Lage, einer regelmäßigen Besprechung unter Leitung von Kanzleramtschef Peter Altmaier (CDU), vorgetragen worden. An dem Treffen hätten auch die Präsidenten der Nachrichtendienste und des Bundeskriminalamts, der Geheimdienstkoordinator des Kanzleramts und hochrangige Ministeriumsbeamte teilgenommen.

    Angeblich Luftraum gezielt verletzt

    Die Zeitung berichtet aus der Runde weiterhin, dass die US-Geheimdienstler auch über Informationen verfügten, wonach russische Flugzeuge absichtlich den Luftraum der Ukraine verletzt hätten. Die Regierung in Moskau hatte das dementiert. Der BND habe aber Informationen der Amerikaner, dass Moskaus Militärpiloten den Einsatzbefehl bekommen hätten, gezielt in den ukrainischen Luftraum einzudringen.

    Eine Bestätigung für den Bericht gibt es bisher nicht. Der BND habe eine Stellungnahme abgelehnt, so “Bild am Sonntag”. Private Sicherheitsfirmen wie Academi gerieten insbesondere während des Irak-Kriegs in die Kritik. In den USA stehen mehrere ehemalige Blackwater-Angestellte im Zusammenhang mit der Tötung von irakischen Zivilisten vor Gericht. Academi hat sich mit einer Millionenzahlung von Ermittlungen in den USA freigekauft.
    11. Mai 2014, 08:10 Uhr

    11. Mai 2014, 08:10 Uhr

    Find this story at 11 Mai 2014


    PRIVATE US-SICHERHEITSFIRMA ACADEMI Wer steckt hinter der Söldnertruppe?

    Ukrainer, Russen oder doch auch US-Amerikaner? Wer kämpft wirklich auf welcher Seite im ukrainischen Bürgerkrieg?
    Am Wochenende sorgte ein Bericht der „BILD am SONNTAG“ für Aufregung, wonach die ukrainischen Sicherheitskräfte von 400 Söldnern der US-Firma Academi unterstützt würden. Der Bundesnachrichtendienst habe die Bundesregierung am 29. April darüber in Kenntnis gesetzt. Die Informationen sollen vom US-Geheimdienst stammen.
    Das Dementi kam prompt:
    Academi habe nirgendwo in der Ukraine Personal präsent oder im Einsatz, sagte Vizeunternehmenschefin Suzanne Kelly „Zeit Online“. Es sei auch nicht geplant, in der Ukraine präsent zu sein oder einen Einsatz zu starten.

    Doch wer steckt wirklich hinter Academi?
    Das Unternehmen bezeichnet sich selbst als Anbieter von Sicherheitsdienstleistungen. Es verweist auf seine Erfahrung in den gefährlichsten Regionen der Welt, ein erstklassiges, weltweites Netzwerk von Sicherheitsexperten und seine vertrauensvolle Partnerschaft mit staatlichen und privaten Kunden.
    Academi ist aus der 1997 gegründeten privaten US-Sicherheitsfirma Blackwater hervorgegangen.
    Das Unternehmen erlangte traurige Berühmtheit, als im Irak-Krieg Blackwater-Mitarbeiter, die dort im Auftrag des Pentagon tätig waren, am 16. September 2007 im Westen von Bagdad 17 irakische Zivilisten erschossen. Zudem sollen Söldner an Folter-Verhören in Geheimgefängnissen der CIA beteiligt gewesen sein.
    Blackwater wurde 2009 in Xe Services umbenannt, was laut Beobachtern dabei helfen sollte, die Makel der Vergangenheit zu loszuwerden. 2010 kaufte eine private Investorengruppe die Firma. Der Gründer Erik Prince, ein früherer Marinesoldat und Millionenerbe, verließ das Unternehmen.
    VergrößernDer frühere Blackwater-Chef Erik Prince, Archivbild von 2007
    Der frühere Blackwater-Chef Erik Prince, Archivbild von 2007
    Foto: Reuters
    2011 erfolgte die erneute Umbenennung in Academi. Geleitet wird die Firma nun vom Ex-Brigadegeneral der US Army, Craig Nixon. Im Aufsichtsrat sitzt auch der ehemalige Justizminister unter Präsident George W. Bush, John Ashcroft.
    Das Management betont, rein gar nichts mehr mit Blackwater und Prince zu tun zu haben. Es sei „unglaublich unverantwortlich“, den Eindruck zu erwecken, Academi und Blackwater seien ein und dasselbe, schimpfte Vizechefin Kelly.
    Doch in seiner auf der Webseite des Unternehmens abrufbaren Image-Broschüre verweist Academi auf seine langjährige, über ein Jahrzehnt zurückreichende Erfolgsgeschichte.
    VergrößernMitarbeiter der privaten US-Sicherheitsfirma Blackwater schützen Paul Bremer, den zivilen US-Verwalter im Irak (Mitte), in Bagdad, Irak. Archivbild vom 8. September 2003
    Mitarbeiter der privaten US-Sicherheitsfirma Blackwater schützen Paul Bremer, den zivilen US-Verwalter im Irak (Mitte), in Bagdad, Irak. Archivbild vom 8. September 2003
    Foto: dpa
    Das Unternehmen erhält weiterhin lukrative Aufträge der US-Regierung, unter anderem als Betreiber von Militäranlagen in Afghanistan.
    Die Firma gibt an, pro Jahr rund 20 000 Mitarbeiter zu Aufträgen zu entsenden. Kunden seien Regierungen und private Einrichtungen. Nach brasilianischen Medienberichten schulte Academi zuletzt die Polizei des Landes für den Umgang mit terroristischen Bedrohungen bei der anstehenden Fußball-Weltmeisterschaft.
    Ob tatsächlich Academi-Söldner in der Ukraine im Einsatz sind, lässt sich schwer nachprüfen. Auf den bereits im März bei Youtube hochgeladenen Videos, die als „Beweis“ angeführt werden, sind lediglich maskierte, schwer bewaffnete Männer zu sehen. Aus einer wütenden Menge sind „Blackwater“-Rufe zu hören.

    Seit dem Erscheinen der Videos wird immer wieder spekuliert, dass Söldner die pro-westliche ukrainische Regierung unterstützen.
    Die russische Nachrichtenagentur Interfax verbreitete die Äußerungen eines russischen Diplomaten in Kiew, wonach 300 Söldner bereits in der ukrainischen Hauptstadt eingetroffen seien. Die meisten seien aus den USA und zuvor im Irak und in Afghanistan im Einsatz gewesen. Dabei wird auch immer wieder die private US-Sicherheitsfirma Greystone genannt – früher ebenfalls ein Tochterunternehmen von Blackwater.
    Die britische „Daily Mail“ fragte den Sicherheits-Experten Dr. Nafeez Amad vom unabhängigen Londoner Institut für Politikforschung und -entwicklung (IPRD), ob es sich bei den im Video gezeigten Soldaten um US-Söldner handeln könnte.
    Seine Antwort: „Schwer zu sagen. Es ist sicherlich im Bereich des Möglichen.“ Die Uniformen der Männer glichen denen von US-Söldnern. Die Männer sähen auch nicht wie russische Söldner aus.
    Andererseits sei die Frage, warum sich die Männer in dem Video so öffentlich zur Schau stellen, wird Dr. Amad weiter zitiert.
    „Natürlich ist auch möglich, dass das alles russische Propaganda ist.“

    14.05.2014 – 22:33 Uhr

    Find this story at 14 Mai 2014

    Copyright http://www.bild.de/

    OSZE in der Ukraine-Krise Friedensstifter im Kreuzfeuer

    Die Geiselnahme der OSZE-Militärbeobachter ist vorbei, die Debatte geht erst richtig los: CSU-Vize Gauweiler übt heftige Kritik, Verteidigungsministerin von der Leyen will den Einsatz überprüfen lassen. Und dann ist da noch der Vorwurf der Spionage, der die OSZE zu beschädigen droht.

    Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel hat am Sonntag den Telefonhörer in die Hand genommen. Am anderen Ende der Leitung: Wladimir Putin, der russische Präsident. Es war das erste Gespräch der beiden nach der Freilassung der OSZE-Militärbeobachter, die nach acht Tagen in der Gefangenschaft prorussischer Separatisten am Samstag freigekommen und nach Berlin ausgeflogen worden waren.

    Darüber habe sich Merkel am Telefon “erleichtert” gezeigt, teilte die Bundesregierung mit. Der Schwerpunkt des Gesprächs sei aber ein anderer gewesen: Die Kanzlerin habe mit Putin vor allem über den Besuch von Didier Burkhalter beim russischen Präsidenten am Mittwoch geredet.

    Welche Rolle spielt die OSZE?
    Burkhalter ist Bundespräsident der Schweiz und amtierender Vorsitzender der OSZE, der Organisation für Sicherheit und Zusammenarbeit in Europa. Ihre Hauptaufgabe: Frieden sichern. Die Ukraine, Russland und 55 weitere Staaten sind Mitglieder dieser Konferenz, die 1975 mit der Schlussakte von Helsinki unter dem Namen KSZE gegründet wurde und sich immer als blockübergreifend betrachtet hat. Damit ist sie – eigentlich – gut geeignet, um in der Ukraine-Krise zu vermitteln, in der es auch um die russische Furcht vor einer Ausbreitung der Nato nach Osten geht.


    Doch die Vermittlung hat sich seit Beginn der Krise als schwierig erwiesen. Burkhalters Idee einer internationalen Kontaktgruppe wurde nie umgesetzt. Von Burkhalters “persönlichem Gesandten” für die Ukraine, Tim Guldimann, ist wenig zu hören. Ein Mitte April zwischen der Ukraine, Russland, USA und EU vereinbartes Genfer Abkommen wird von Moskau als gescheitert betrachtet. In ihm war die Entwaffnung illegaler Kräfte und ein Gewaltverzicht vereinbart worden. Beides lässt auf sich warten, weshalb Bundesaußenminister Frank-Walter Steinmeier nun ein zweites Treffen in Genf fordert. Burkhalter hingegen will “runde Tische” etablieren, um die Präsidentschaftswahl in der Ukraine am 25. Mai vorzubereiten.

    Nato-Spione unter dem Deckmantel der OSZE?
    Vor allem in Deutschland wird die Arbeit der OSZE überlagert von der Debatte um die Geiselnahme in Slawjansk. Dort, im Osten der Ukraine, waren am 25. April die Militärbeobachter – darunter vier Deutsche – von prorussischen Separatisten entführt worden. Der Anführer der Separatisten, Wjatscheslaw Ponomarjow, rechtfertigte die Entführung mit dem Vorwurf, die Beobachter seien Spione der Nato.

    Seitdem tobt in der Politik, aber auch in Medien und Leserkommentarspalten, ein zum Teil erbitterter Streit über mehrere Punkte: Welche Rolle spielte die OSZE? Warum fuhren die Beobachter nach Slawjansk? Und, neuerdings: Warum war der deutsche Leiter der Gruppe, Axel Schneider, seinem Geiselnehmer gegenüber so höflich? Aber der Reihe nach.

    Direkt nach der Geiselnahme hatte Claus Neukirch, Sprecher der Organisation, im österreichischen Fernsehen erklärt: “Ich muss sagen, dass es sich im Grunde genommen nicht um Mitarbeiter der OSZE handelt.” Diese Passage wird seitdem immer wieder als Beweis dafür angeführt, dass es sich bei den Geiseln tatsächlich um Spione handle. Dabei sagte Neukirch auch: “Es sind Militärbeobachter, die dort bilateral unter einem OSZE-Dokument tätig sind.”

    Dieses “Wiener Dokument 2011” (hier als PDF) erlaubt es jedem der 57 OSZE-Mitgliedsländer, andere Länder um die Entsendung von Militärbeobachtern zu bitten, um “ungewöhnliche militärische Vorgänge” zu untersuchen. Genau das ist passiert. Die Ukraine berief sich darauf.

    Nach den gescheiterten Einsätzen auf der Krim gemäß Kapitel III des Dokuments (Verminderung der Risiken) bat Kiew um weitere Missionen gemäß der Kapitel IX (Einhaltung und Verifikation) und insbesondere Kapitel X (Regionale Maßnahmen), in dem es heißt: “Die Teilnehmerstaaten werden ermutigt, unter anderem auf der Grundlage von Sondervereinbarungen in bilateralem, multilateralem oder regionalem Zusammenhang Maßnahmen zur Steigerung der Transparenz und des Vertrauens zu ergreifen.” Diese Maßnahmen könnten angepasst und im regionalen Zusammenhang angewendet werden.

    Auf dieser Basis wurden in der Ukraine bislang nacheinander fünf multinationale Teams von jeweils etwa acht Militärbeobachtern aktiv. Die erste Mission begann Ende März unter dänischer Leitung, dann übernahm Polen als “Lead Nation”, gefolgt von den Niederlanden und schließlich Deutschland. Inzwischen ist eine neunköpfige Gruppe aktiv, die von Kanada geführt wird. Weitere Team-Mitglieder kommen aus Frankreich, Moldawien, den USA und der Ukraine selbst.

    Die OSZE listet die Mission auf ihrer Website unter dem Titel “Verschiedene Formen des OSZE-Engagements mit der Ukraine” auf. Ein OSZE-Twitterkanal sprach am Sonntag von einer “OSZE-Militärverifikationsmission”.

    Der Vorwurf, das Team habe nichts mit der OSZE zu tun gehabt, ist also haltlos. Was die Spionage betrifft: Während der Dolmetscher vom Bundessprachenamt in Hürth kommt, gehören die drei Soldaten dem Zentrum für Verifikationsaufgaben der Bundeswehr (ZVBw) im nordrhein-westfälischen Geilenkirchen an. Dort gibt es nach SZ-Informationen zwar auch eine geheime Außenstelle des Bundesnachrichtendienstes (BND). Doch keiner der Männer war für den Geheimdienst – oder sein militärisches Pendant, den Militärischen Abschirmdienst – tätig. Der BND berät deutsche OSZE-Beobachter allerdings vor ihren Einsätzen. Auch wenn die OSZE-Beobachter also selbst keine Spione sind, zu tun haben sie mit ihnen allemal.

    Warum gerade Slawjansk? Von der Leyen verspricht Prüfung
    Wie das deutsche Verteidigungsministerium erklärte, besuchen OSZE-Militärbeobachter, die über Diplomatenstatus verfügen, Orte auf Empfehlung des Gastgebers. Wohin sie fahren, entscheidet letztlich der jeweilige Leiter der Mission. Warum Oberst Axel Schneider das Risiko einging, sich in unmittelbare Nähe der Separatisten zu begeben, ist unklar – und ein Streitpunkt in Berlin, über die politischen Lager hinweg.

    Der SPD-Verteidigungsexperte Lars Klingbeil fordert in der Bild-Zeitung Aufklärung darüber, ob die Militärbeobachter wirklich die Aufgabe hatten, nach Slawjansk zu fahren. Die Bundesregierung habe das bislang “nicht plausibel erklären können”, kritisiert etwa die Vorsitzende der Linkspartei, Katja Kipping, im Gespräch mit der Zeitung Die Welt.

    Außenminister Steinmeier verteidigte hingegen die Mission: Sie habe wertvolle Hinweise geliefert. Verteidigungsministerin Ursula von der Leyen kündigte an, den Einsatz überprüfen zu wollen. Sie sagte aber auch: “Wir lassen uns nicht einschüchtern.”

    Der Verteidigungsexperte der Grünen im Bundestag, Omid Nouripour, sagte SZ.de, er sei für die Überprüfung des Einsatzes. “Aber wir dürfen jetzt nicht eine Diskussion anzetteln, die am Ende dazu führt, dass sich Deutschland nicht mehr beteiligt an einem jahrzehntelang bewährtem Instrumentarium.” Die OSZE-Mission sei “in vollem Wissen Russlands” absolviert worden. “Das Instrument ist ein Gutes.”

    Warum so höflich dem Geiselnehmer gegenüber? Alle gegen Gauweiler
    Als der selbsternannte Bürgermeister von Slawjansk, Ponomarjow, am 27. April seine Geiseln der Weltpresse vorführte, bedankte sich Oberst Schneider bei ihm und gab ihm die Hand. Der CSU-Bundestagsabgeordnete Peter Gauweiler hat das im Spiegel kritisiert: “Der ganze Vorgang macht auch für die Bundeswehr einen unguten Eindruck.” Deutschland habe sich “in dieser plumpen Weise noch tiefer in den Konflikt hineinziehen” lassen.

    Nun hagelt es wiederum Kritik an Gauweiler. Der CDU-Europaabgeordnete Elmar Brok nannte dessen Äußerungen “komplett unverständlich”. Der Parlamentarische Geschäftsführer der CSU-Landesgruppe, Max Straubinger, sprach von einer “ziemlichen Frechheit, vom gemütlichen Schreibtisch in München aus das Verhalten deutscher Soldaten in Geiselhaft zu maßregeln”.

    Und auch der Grüne Nouripour reagiert mit Unverständnis auf Gauweiler: Was er von Oberst Schneider auf der Pressekonferenz gesehen habe, sei konfliktentschärfend gewesen und damit “vorbildlich.”

    OSZE-Militärbeobachter werden vor ihrem Einsatz in Konfliktbewältigung geschult. Vermutlich hat Schneider also nur umgesetzt, was er gelernt hat.

    5. Mai 2014 13:46
    Von Michael König und Markus C. Schulte von Drach

    Find this story at 5 May 2014

    Copyright © Süddeutsche Zeitung Digitale Medien GmbH

    Inside Putin’s East European Spy Campaign

    Russian President Vladimir Putin’s well-organized espionage operations from the Baltic Sea to the Caucasus are described as “soft power with a hard edge,” but his efforts across the region have been more systematic than the unrest in Ukraine suggests

    On Sept. 8, 2012, the Russian Minister of Culture Vladimir Medinsky participated in the opening of a Russian nationalist organization called the Izborsky Club in the monastery town of Pskov, just across the border from Estonia. His speech itself was not particularly memorable, but the Russian official’s presence at the affair was not lost on the Estonian Internal Security Service, which believes the club’s imperialist message and outreach to ethnic Russians across the border are part of an anti-Estonian influence operation run by Moscow.

    The head of the club, Aleksandr Prokhanov, seemed to confirm the Estonian suspicions later that month when he declared, “Our club is a laboratory, where the ideology of the Russian state is being developed. It is an institute where the concept of a breakthrough is created; it is a military workshop, where an ideological weapon is being forged that will be sent straight into battle.”

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has many such weapons in his irredentist arsenal. The rapid collapse of the pro-Moscow government of Victor Yanukovich in Ukraine brought some of them, like paramilitary force, to the attention of the western public. But Putin’s efforts across the region have been far more systematic and carefully thought out than the recent chaos in Ukraine suggests. Over the last decade, Putin has established a well-organized, well-funded and often subtle overt and covert operation in the vast swath of neighboring countries, from Estonia on the Baltic Sea to Azerbaijan in the Caucuses, say western and regional government officials. “He’s implementing a plan that he’s had all along,” says Clifford Gaddy, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and co-author of a biography of Putin.

    The operation has been described by local intelligence officials as “soft power with a hard edge” and includes a range of Cold War espionage tools. His Baltic neighbors say, for example, that he has deployed agents provocateurs to stir up their minority ethnic Russian groups which make up 25% of the population in Estonia and as much as 40% of the population in Latvia. They say he has established government-controlled humanitarian front organizations in their capitals, infiltrated their security services and energy industry companies, instigated nationalist riots and launched cyber attacks. The goal, says the Estonian Ambassador to the U.S., Marina Kaljurand, is “to restore in one form or another the power of the Russian Federation on the lands where Russian people live.”

    The operation has the secondary, larger goal of undermining and rolling back western power, say U.S. and European officials. And while the greatest threat is to his immediate neighbors, his activities also challenge Europe and the U.S. All NATO countries have committed to each other’s mutual defense, which means the U.S. is treaty-bound to come to Russia’s NATO neighbors, like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, if Putin were to attack.

    For now, Putin seems unlikely to risk a direct conflict with NATO. But his espionage efforts in relatively weak NATO countries can be as effective as military action. “If you look at the complex sort of strategy that Moscow has employed in Crimea and in Ukraine it becomes much less clear what constitutes an invasion or measures to destabilize,” neighboring countries, says Sharyl Cross, director of the Kozmetsky Center at St. Edward’s University. That uncertainty about what kind of invasion the Baltics might face could make a strong NATO response impossible.

    That in turn, says former CIA chief John McLaughlin, could be even more damaging to the U.S. and Western Europe by fatally undermining one of the most successful peacetime alliances in history. “If he were to challenge NATO in some way that paralyzed us over an Article Five issue, that would be a dagger to the heart of the alliance,” McLaughlin says.

    The espionage confrontation between Russia and its Western neighbors started with their independence back in the early 1990s, but it escalated in 2007. In one particularly bad incident, the Estonian government removed a statue of a Russian soldier from central Tallinn in April that year, sparking riots by ethnic Russians. In the wake of the riots, Amb. Kaljurand, who was then the Estonian ambassador to Moscow, was attacked in her car by a mob on her way to a press conference. Days later a massive Distributed Denial Of Service cyber attack was launched against the computer systems of the Estonian government and major Estonian industries. In private meetings with the U.S. Ambassador to Estonia, top Estonian officials said Russia was behind the organization and implementation of all the attacks, according to confidential cables sent to Washington by the U.S. embassy and published by Wikileaks.

    The war in Georgia in August 2008, sharpened NATO’s focus on Putin’s threat. Russia declared it was protecting ethnic Russians from a hostile Georgian government, an assertion that was taken as a direct warning by other countries in the region with Russian minorities, including the Baltic States and Ukraine. Around the world, intelligence agencies noticed a shift in Russian behavior, according to other Wikileaks cables. In a meeting between a State Department intelligence officer and his counterpart from the Australian government in Canberra in mid-November 2008, for example, the Australian warned the U.S. that Russia was launching a regional program to destabilize its neighbors and advance its interests. In a secret cable back to Washington, the State official said his Australian counterpart “described the Baltic states and Ukraine as ‘countries that are in Russia’s sights,’ with the dangerous similarities in Moscow’s view of the ethnically Russian population and strategic geography of Crimea to those which motivated its recent actions against Georgia.”

    In response to the war in Georgia, the U.S. agreed for the first time that NATO should draw up contingency plans to respond to a Russian attack against the Baltic states. The alliance set about expanding plans known as Operation Eagle Guardian, which were developed to defend Poland, to include Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

    Russia for its part also stepped up its game. Putin encouraged the Russian parliament to pass a law authorizing him to intervene in other countries to protect ethnic Russians. More subtly, in 2008, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs established a national agency dedicated to advancing Russian interests especially in the former Soviet Union, now known as the Commonwealth of Independent States, and to engaging with and organizing what Moscow calls “compatriots living abroad.” Called Rossotrudnichestvo, the agency performs a variety of traditional cultural roles at embassies around the world. It also helps organize local ethnic Russian groups abroad in ways that unsettle host governments.

    According to a report by the Estonian security services, membership in one local ethnic Russian group in Estonia, “Coordination Council of Russian Compatriots” is approved by the Russian Embassy and its activities are guided by the embassy. The purpose of the group “is to organize and coordinate the Russian diaspora living in foreign countries to support the objectives and interests of Russian foreign policy under the direction of Russian departments,” according to the most recent report of the Estonian Internal Security Service. “The compatriot policy aims to influence decisions taken in the host countries, by guiding the Russian-speaking population, and by using influence operations inherited from the KGB,” the report says.

    Last October, Mother Jones magazine said the FBI had interviewed Americans who had accepted travel stipends from the office of Russotrudnichestvo in Washington as part of an investigation into potential spying by the Russian agency. The head of the Rossotrudnichestvo office denied the charges and called on the U.S. government to distance itself from the allegations. The FBI and other U.S. agencies declined to comment on the report.

    Russia also targets regional businesses and businessmen to establish influence over key sectors, especially energy. Recently, Latvian intelligence identified a top businessman in the energy sector holding clandestine meetings with a Russian intelligence officer operating under diplomatic cover out of the Russian embassy, according to an official familiar with NATO and Latvian intelligence. When Latvian security services reached out to the businessman in an attempt to work with him, his meetings with the Russian official stopped, but his trips to Russia increased. The Latvian intelligence services concluded he was meeting with his Russian handler out of their view, the official says.

    Putin has also used his intelligence advantage in neighboring countries to go after NATO itself. After Estonia arrested the former head of its National Security Authority, Herman Simm, in 2009 on charges of spying for Moscow, the Atlantic alliance uncovered and expelled two alleged Russian co-conspirators working at its headquarters in Brussels.

    Most recently during the crisis in Ukraine, Putin has stepped up the traditional use of media propaganda, especially on television. The propaganda peaked with outlandish and false accusations of attacks against Russians and Russian speakers in Ukraine. Russia’s neighbors have taken a variety of approaches to countering the propaganda, from outright censorship to counter-programming. On Mar. 21, Lithuania banned broadcasts of Gazprom-owned NTV Mir station after it showed a movie that the government said “spread lies about” Lithuania’s move to declare independence from the Soviet Union in early 1991. On Apr. 3, Latvia’s National Electronic Mass Media Council suspended the broadcast rights of Rossiya RTR for three weeks, claiming the station was peddling “war propaganda.”

    Estonia, for its part, considered banning Russian broadcasts but opted to leave Russian channels on and instead to compete with a barrage of “counter-programming” through Russian language TV, radio and print media. “If you ban things it creates more interest,” says Amb. Kaljurand, “The better way is to give better facts and the point of view of the West.”

    The U.S. and its allies are hardly innocents in the international spy game. The U.S. government uses overt and covert means to influence and organize pro-Western groups in many of the same countries Putin is targeting. It works through cultural and diplomatic channels to recruit intelligence sources around the world and in eastern Europe, and the Ukraine crisis has only heightened that work. Says CIA spokesman Dean Boyd, “The Agency’s strong partnerships throughout the region enable cooperation on a variety of intelligence issues. When a foreign crisis erupts, it’s normal for the CIA to shift into overdrive to ensure that our officers have access to the best available information to support the policy community.”

    It is also true that Russia’s western neighbors include some with anti-Russian and anti-Semitic views that are occasionally reflected in political debate. Lithuania and Latvia in particular are noted in repeated U.S. diplomatic cables from the region to Washington for the presence of “strident” anti-Russian and anti-Semitic voices in politics, some of them belonging to powerful figures.

    In late April the U.S. deployed 600 troops to the Baltics and Poland, and U.S. and other NATO countries increased air patrols in the Baltics. The largely symbolic deployment was intended to reassure all four countries that the U.S. takes its Article 5 obligations seriously, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said at the time. Likewise, Kirby said, “If there is a message to Moscow, it is the same exact message that we take our obligations very, very seriously on the continent of Europe.”

    Even the most nervous Russian neighbors believe Putin’s use of force is likely to stop in Ukraine, but his espionage program is likely to continue. “[He] is using the soft power tools and other forms of indirect coercion and influence against the Baltics states,” says the official familiar with NATO and Latvian intelligence, “He will use all of these tactics.”

    That is a particular concern for Moscow’s neighbors as Russians everywhere prepare to celebrate on May 9 Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany. “If we have a little bit of rioting that will make people become scared and they’ll say maybe we need to find an accommodation with the Russians,” the official says.

    Massimo Calabresi @calabresim May 7, 2014

    Find this story at 7 May 2014

    Copyright Time

    How MI5 and CIA Can Fight the Russian Threat

    After years reorienting itself toward counter-terrorism operations and hiring speakers of Urdu and Pashto, MI5, Britain’s domestic security and counterespionage agency, is now looking for Russian-speaking intelligence analysts. Meanwhile, a contact of mine suggested that the Russia desks in several European intelligence agencies are hastily expanding, with agents and analysts being transferred in from other sections. Yesterday, they were reading reports on North African politics and scanning the Chinese press. Now they are poring over YouTube footage of Russian armor on exercises near the Ukrainian border.

    All of a sudden, as talk of a new Cold War dominates opinion pages all over the world, Western intelligence and security agencies are rushing to regain capacities lost during the 1990s and 2000s. After all, those were the days of the “peace dividend.” During this period, Russia seemed at best a partner and at worst an irrelevance. But suddenly, the big, bad specter of al-Qaida and jihadi terrorism seemed the greater menace.

    I remember talking to a veteran of the U.S. intelligence community, who had experienced two purges. First, as a Russia hand, she had seen her section decimated after the Soviet collapse. Having managed to reinvent herself as a specialist in dealing with transnational organized crime — especially the Russian mob — she then saw the best and brightest of her unit summarily transferred to counter-terrorism work after 9/11.

    Now, the West is worried about the Russian threat again, and it is painfully aware of the deficiencies in its intelligence capacities in this region.

    Paradoxically, Western security agencies themselves have been warning for years of an upsurge in the scale and aggressiveness of Russian espionage operations.

    What’s more, there has been a steady stream of Russian espionage cases. Some were more Austin Powers than James Bond, such as the cell of Foreign Intelligence Service sleeper agents uncovered in the U.S. in 2010, best known for Anna Chapman. But others were very serious breaches of Western security. Jeffrey Delisle, a Canadian naval officer who offered his services to GRU, Russia’s military intelligence, had access to top-secret material from around the world. Herman Simm, a long-time Russian agent, was head of the Estonian Defense Ministry’s security department. And there are others in these categories.

    Yet for all this, there seems to have been an unwillingness to take the security breaches seriously. The Chapman case — and how galling it must be for other, more professional members of the cell to have been relegated by posterity into mere extras in her story — was more the grounds for titillation and entertainment than serious consideration. Other incidents tended to be five-day wonders at the most in the media.

    This was not because Western security agencies were not expressing their concerns. Indeed, back in 2010, MI5 issued a statement, saying “the threat from Russian espionage continues to be significant and is similar to the Cold War.” Rather, it reflected their political masters’ determination to classify Russia as a second-rate, has-been state. The other factor was the Western security agencies’ narrow focus on terrorism, as if ragged gangs of religious fanatics dodging drones from cave to cave halfway across the globe represented an existential threat to the Western order.

    It has taken the Ukrainian crisis to change attitudes. Last month, I attended the Lennart Meri Conference on Baltic security in Tallinn. There, the mood was tinged with more than a little of the “told you so,” especially among representatives from Central Europe. To them, the “western West” had for years been content to underestimate Russian intentions and capacities and to rely on bromides about “partnerships” and “restarts.” The West is only now realizing its mistake.

    Of course, the West has always spied on Russia and tried to counter its intelligence operations. But there is no escaping the damage done by nearly 25 years of neglect. Rebuilding counterintelligence assets, let alone agent networks on the ground and the analytic capacity at home, cannot be done quickly.

    Meanwhile, we must remember that democracies in particular have a tendency to lurch from one over-compensation to another. The West was too quick to write Russia off in the miserable 1990s. Will it now go to the other extreme and consider Russia as an existential enemy in the 2010s? If so, this would clearly exacerbate tensions with Moscow even further. It would also likely mean that the West’s spies once again become obsessed with Russian military capacities.

    The threat to Europe, though, is not that Russia will send its tanks into the Baltics, Poland or Romania. Even in its current emaciated condition, NATO is capable of delivering a devastating response to any Russian aggression in Europe. Nor is the problem that Russia’s unidentified special forces — aka “little green men” — will suddenly crop up in Estonia’s Russian-speaking city of Narva or among the Russian tourists in Karlovy Vary.

    Rather, the problem is that Russia could try to render the West impotent. First, it could divide Western leaders over the issue of how to best deal with the Russian threat. Germany is perhaps the best example of a country already divided over the “Russian problem.” Russia could also infiltrate Western financial institutions through cyberwarfare or dirty money. The question is whether Western security agencies, as they desperately scramble to respond to the new perceived challenge after running down their Cold War capabilities, will simply seek to recreate these again. That would be a mistake. What is needed is not a revival of the old, but the creation of new capabilities to respond to a new era of diffuse, complex asymmetric competition.

    Mark Galeotti is professor of global affairs at New York University.

    By Mark GaleottiMay. 06 2014 20:45 Last edited 20:46

    Find this story at 6 May 2014

    © Copyright 1992-2014. The Moscow Times

    Todesschüsse in Kiew+ Wer ist für das Blutbad vom Maidan verantwortlich

    Georg Restle: „Die Krise in der Ukraine ist noch lange nicht vorbei. Dies haben uns die Bilder aus dem Osten des Landes von dieser Woche gelehrt. Und auch die Propagandaschlacht geht weiter. Eine der zentralen Fragen ist dabei, wer ist verantwortlich für das Blutbad, dem im Februar Dutzende Demonstranten und Polizisten zum Opfer fielen, und das schließlich zum Sturz des Präsidenten Janukowitsch führte? Wer also waren die Todesschützen auf dem Kiewer Maidan? Die vom Westen unterstützte Übergangsregierung hat sich letzte Woche festgelegt: Präsident Janukowitsch und seine Sonderkommandos tragen demnach allein die Schuld für die Toten. Doch an dieser Version gibt es jetzt erhebliche Zweifel, wie die Recherchen von Philipp Jahn, Olga Sviridenko und Stephan Stuchlik zeigen.”

    Was geschah am 20. Februar 2014 in Kiew? Aufgeheizte Stimmung, aus den ursprünglich friedlichen Demonstrationen ist ein Bürgerkrieg geworden. Teile der Demonstranten haben sich bewaffnet, rücken in Richtung Regierungsgebäude vor. In einzelnen Trupps versuchen die Demonstranten, auf die Instituts-Straße zu gelangen. Der blutige Donnerstag: Einzeln werden Demonstranten erschossen, viele von den Dächern umliegender Gebäude. Aber wer genau waren diese Scharfschützen, die auf die Demonstranten schossen?

    Diese Frage beschäftigt die Kiewer bis heute, zu Hunderten kommen sie täglich an den Platz des Massakers.

    Als wir ankommen, sechs Wochen danach, ist anscheinend noch nicht einmal die grundsätzliche Beweisaufnahme abgeschlossen. Sergeij, ein Waffenexperte, ist einer der vielen unabhängigen Ermittler, die eng mit der Staatsanwaltschaft zusammenarbeiten und die Ermittlungen in Gang halten. Vor unseren Augen sichert er noch Patronenhülsen. Danach alarmiert er die staatlichen Ermittler, die den Ort nach eigener Aussage schon gründlich untersucht haben. Erstaunlich, während sie noch arbeiten, hat sich ihre vorgesetzte Behörde in einer Pressekonferenz schon festgelegt, wer die Schuldigen sind.

    Oleg Machnitzki, Generalstaatsanwalt Ukraine (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Mit dem heutigen Tag klagt die Staatsanwaltschaft 12 Mitglieder der Spezialeinheit Berkut des Mordes an friedlichen Demonstranten an. Der damalige Präsident Janukowitsch befehligte direkt diese Spezialeinheit Berkut.“

    Die neue Regierung sagt also, die alte Regierung Janukowitsch wäre für das Blutbad verantwortlich.

    Doch was geschah wirklich am 20 Februar? Fest steht, die Demonstranten rückten auf der Institutsstraße Richtung Regierungsgebäude vor. Von gegenüber gerieten sie unter Feuer, vom Dach des Ministerkabinetts, der Zentralbank und weiteren Regierungsgebäuden. Doch schon früh gab es Hinweise, dass sie auch im Rücken getroffen wurden, von ihrer eigenen Zentrale aus, vom Hotel Ukraina.

    Aber welche Beweise gibt es dafür? Zum einen ist da dieses Video, das augenscheinlich beweist, dass der Oppositionelle mit dem Metallschild von hinten getroffen wird. Der Mann in Gelb auf dieser Aufnahme geht sogar noch weiter. Er gehörte zu den Demonstranten, war an diesem Tag stundenlang auf der Institutsstraße. Er heißt Mikola, wir treffen uns mit ihm am Ort des Geschehens. Er sagt uns, es wurde sogar mehrfach in den Rücken der Opposition geschossen.

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ja, am zwanzigsten wurden wir von hinten beschossen, vom Hotel Ukraina, vom 8. oder 9. Stock aus.“

    Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Von der achten oder neunten Etage?“

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ja, auf jeden Fall fast von ganz oben.“

    Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Von da oben?“

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ja, da standen Leute oben und haben geschossen und aus der anderen Richtung hier wurden wir auch beschossen.“

    Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Und wer hat von oben geschossen?“

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Das weiß ich nicht.“

    Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Haben Sie eine Ahnung?“

    Mikola (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Das waren Söldner, auf jeden Fall Profis.“

    Das Ukraina-Hotel hier war das damalige Zentrum der Demonstranten. Hat sich der Augenzeuge geirrt? Wir sind nachts unterwegs mit Ermittler Sergej. Er zeigt uns mit einem Laser, dass es nicht nur Schusskanäle aus Richtung der Regierungsgebäude gibt. Einige Kanäle in den Bäumen deuten in die entgegengesetzte Richtung, wenn man durch Austrittsloch und Einschussloch leuchtet, oben ins Hotel Ukraina, damals die Zentrale der Opposition. Das aber passt schlecht zur Version des Generalstaatsanwalts, der uns nach Tagen Überzeugungsarbeit endlich empfängt. Er ist von der neuen Regierung eingesetzt, gehört dem rechtsnationalen Flügel der damaligen Opposition an, der umstrittenen Svobóda-Partei.

    Oleg Machnitzki, Generalstaatsanwalt, Ukraine (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir können wirklich heute schon sagen, nach allen Beweismitteln und Expertisen, die wir in der Hand haben, wer prinzipiell Schuld an den Sniper-Attacken ist: der damalige Präsident Viktor Janukowitsch, der ehemalige Verwaltungschef und der ehemalige Innenminister Sacharchenko.“

    Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Sie wissen auch, dass es Sniper vom Hotel Ukraina gab?“

    Oleg Machnitzki, Generalstaatsanwalt, Ukraine (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir untersuchen das.“

    Die Scharfschützen also alles Janukowitsch-Leute? Es gibt noch weitere Beweise, die diese These in Frage stellen. Wir treffen uns mit einem Radio-Amateur, der an diesem Tag aufgezeichnet hat, wie sich Janukowitsch-Scharfschützen untereinander unterhalten. Ihr Funkverkehr beweist: Da schießt jemand auf Unbewaffnete, jemand den sie nicht kennen.

    1. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „He, Leute, ihr da drüben, rechts vom Hotel Ukraina.“

    2. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wer hat da geschossen? Unsere Leute schießen nicht auf Unbewaffnete.“

    1. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Jungs, da sitzt ein Spotter, der zielt auf mich. Auf wen zielt der von der Ecke. Guckt mal!“

    2. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Auf dem Dach vom gelben Gebäude. Auf dem Kino, auf dem Kino.“

    1. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Den hat jemand erschossen. Aber nicht wir.“

    2. Scharfschütze (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Miron, Miron, gibt es da noch mehr Scharfschützen? Und wer sind die?“

    Wir halten fest: Es gab neben den Regierungs-Scharfschützen also noch andere unbekannte Schützen, die auf unbewaffnete Demonstranten geschossen haben. Und, wer immer vom Hotel Ukraina schießt, hat – so legt dieses Video nahe – auch diese Milizionäre getroffen. Dass Janukowitsch auf die eigenen Leute hat schießen lassen, ist unwahrscheinlich.

    Gab es also Scharfschützen der damaligen Opposition? Fest steht, es gab neben den vielen friedlichen Demonstranten durchaus eine Gruppe Radikaler mit professionellen Waffen, wie diese Aufnahmen zeigen.

    Und, das Hotel am Morgen des 20. Februar war fest in der Hand der Opposition. Wir sprechen mit Augenzeugen aus dem Hotel Ukraina, Journalisten, Oppositionelle. Sie alle bestätigen uns, am 20. Februar war das Hotel von der Opposition schwer bewacht. Es hätte sich also schwerlich ein Scharfschütze der Regierung einschleichen können.

    Haben also radikale Oppositionelle am Ende selbst geschossen, um Chaos zu erzeugen? Um Janukowitsch die Schuld anzuhängen? Die russischen Fernsehsender verbreiten Bilder, auf denen genau das zu sehen sein soll. Unsere Recherchen bestätigen, dass die Aufnahmen tatsächlich im Hotel Ukraina gemacht wurden. Aber wer da genau auf wen schießt, lässt sich nicht endgültig klären.

    Fest steht nur, es wurde nicht nur auf Oppositionelle, sondern auch auf die Milizen der Regierung geschossen. Vielleicht sogar von denselben Leuten? Wir treffen einen der wenigen Ärzte, der die Verwundeten beider Seiten versorgt hat.

    Oleksandr Lisowoi, Krankenhaus Nr. 6, Kiew (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Die Verwundeten, die wir behandelt haben, hatten denselben Typ Schussverletzungen, ich spreche jetzt von dem Typ Kugeln, die wir aus den Körpern herausoperiert haben, die waren identisch. Mehr kann ich nicht sagen.“

    Reporterin (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Aber die haben Sie…“

    Oleksandr Lisowoi, Krankenhaus Nr. 6, Kiew (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Bei der Miliz und bei der Opposition gefunden.“

    Warum geht die Staatsanwaltschaft solchen Fragen nicht nach? Der deutsche Außenminister und die Europäische Union haben bereits im Februar per Abkommen festgestellt, dass die Schuldfrage in der Ukraine ein politisch zentrales Thema sei, die Aufarbeitung sollte „ergebnisoffen“ sein, um das Vertrauen in die neue ukrainische Regierung zu stärken. Doch mittlerweile mehren sich die Zweifel, ob wirklich sachgerecht ermittelt wird, auch bei den eigenen Mitarbeitern. Wir sprechen mit einem hochrangigen Mitglied der Ermittlungskommission. Er erzählt uns Unglaubliches.

    Zitat: „Das, was mir an Ergebnissen meiner Untersuchung vorliegt, stimmt nicht mit dem überein, was die Staatsanwaltschaft erklärt.“

    Wurden also Beweismittel unterdrückt oder sogar unterschlagen? Auch die Rechtsanwälte, die die Angehörigen der Toten vertreten, alle eigentlich auf Seiten der neuen Regierung, beklagen sich, dass sie überhaupt nicht darüber informiert werden, womit genau sich die Staatsanwaltschaft beschäftige.

    Roman Titikalo, Anwalt der Nebenklage (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir haben nicht gesagt bekommen, welcher Typ Waffen, wir bekommen keinen Zugang zu den Gutachten, wir bekommen die Einsatzpläne nicht. Die anderen Ermittlungsdokumente haben wir auch nicht, die Staatsanwaltschaft zeigt uns einfach keine Papiere.“

    Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Haben Sie ballistische Gutachten?“

    Roman Titikalo, Anwalt der Nebenklage (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Nein.“

    Reporter (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Rechtsmedizinische Gutachten?“

    Roman Titikalo, Anwalt der Nebenklage (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Ich durfte in den Obduktionsbericht reingucken, aber nicht kopieren, ballistische Gutachten habe ich nicht bekommen.“

    Ein Anwalt der Verletzten geht sogar noch weiter:

    Oleksandr Baschuk, Anwalt der Geschädigten (Übersetzung MONITOR): „Wir kommen alle an keine Ermittlungsprotokolle ran und wenn Sie mich fragen, gibt es dafür einen einfachen Grund, es wird nicht richtig ermittelt. Ich als Anwalt der Verletzten sage Ihnen, die Staatsanwaltschaft ermittelt nicht richtig, die decken ihre Leute, die sind parteiisch, so wie früher. Die wollen wie in der Sowjetunion oder unter Janukowitsch alles unter der Decke halten, so ist das.“

    Der blutige Donnerstag: Über 30 Menschen werden an diesem Tag in Kiew ermordet, ein Blutbad im Zentrum einer europäischen Großstadt. Unsere Recherchen zeigen, dass in Kiew schon Schuldige präsentiert werden, obwohl es auch zahlreiche Hinweise gibt, die in Richtung Opposition weisen. Spuren, die nicht verfolgt werden. Und möglicherweise gibt es auch noch andere Kräfte, die an den Schießereien beteiligt waren. Die Kiewer Generalstaatsanwaltschaft ist sich in ihrer Einschätzung sicher, wir sind es nicht.

    Georg Restle: „Bei allen offenen Fragen, dass ein Vertreter der nationalistischen Svoboda-Partei als Generalstaatsanwalt die Aufklärung des Kiewer Blutbads ganz offensichtlich behindert, wirft ein schlechtes Bild auf die neue Übergangsregierung – und damit auch auf all jene westlichen Regierungen, die die neuen Machthaber in Kiew unterstützen.“

    DasErste.de – Monitor –

    Find this story at 10 April 2014

    © WDR 2014

    It’s not Russia that’s pushed Ukraine to the brink of war

    The attempt to lever Kiev into the western camp by ousting an elected leader made conflict certain. It could be a threat to us all

    ‘The reality is that after two decades of Nato expansion, this crisis was triggered by the west’s attempt to pull Ukraine decisively into its orbit … ‘ Illustration: Matt Kenyon
    The threat of war in Ukraine is growing. As the unelected government in Kiev declares itself unable to control the rebellion in the country’s east, John Kerry brands Russia a rogue state. The US and the European Union step up sanctions against the Kremlin, accusing it of destabilising Ukraine. The White House is reported to be set on a new cold war policy with the aim of turning Russia into a “pariah state”.

    That might be more explicable if what is going on in eastern Ukraine now were not the mirror image of what took place in Kiev a couple of months ago. Then, it was armed protesters in Maidan Square seizing government buildings and demanding a change of government and constitution. US and European leaders championed the “masked militants” and denounced the elected government for its crackdown, just as they now back the unelected government’s use of force against rebels occupying police stations and town halls in cities such as Slavyansk and Donetsk.

    “America is with you,” Senator John McCain told demonstrators then, standing shoulder to shoulder with the leader of the far-right Svoboda party as the US ambassador haggled with the state department over who would make up the new Ukrainian government.

    When the Ukrainian president was replaced by a US-selected administration, in an entirely unconstitutional takeover, politicians such as William Hague brazenly misled parliament about the legality of what had taken place: the imposition of a pro-western government on Russia’s most neuralgic and politically divided neighbour.

    Putin bit back, taking a leaf out of the US street-protest playbook – even though, as in Kiev, the protests that spread from Crimea to eastern Ukraine evidently have mass support. But what had been a glorious cry for freedom in Kiev became infiltration and insatiable aggression in Sevastopol and Luhansk.

    After Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to join Russia, the bulk of the western media abandoned any hint of even-handed coverage. So Putin is now routinely compared to Hitler, while the role of the fascistic right on the streets and in the new Ukrainian regime has been airbrushed out of most reporting as Putinist propaganda.

    So you don’t hear much about the Ukrainian government’s veneration of wartime Nazi collaborators and pogromists, or the arson attacks on the homes and offices of elected communist leaders, or the integration of the extreme Right Sector into the national guard, while the anti-semitism and white supremacism of the government’s ultra-nationalists is assiduously played down, and false identifications of Russian special forces are relayed as fact.

    The reality is that, after two decades of eastward Nato expansion, this crisis was triggered by the west’s attempt to pull Ukraine decisively into its orbit and defence structure, via an explicitly anti-Moscow EU association agreement. Its rejection led to the Maidan protests and the installation of an anti-Russian administration – rejected by half the country – that went on to sign the EU and International Monetary Fund agreements regardless.

    No Russian government could have acquiesced in such a threat from territory that was at the heart of both Russia and the Soviet Union. Putin’s absorption of Crimea and support for the rebellion in eastern Ukraine is clearly defensive, and the red line now drawn: the east of Ukraine, at least, is not going to be swallowed up by Nato or the EU.

    But the dangers are also multiplying. Ukraine has shown itself to be barely a functioning state: the former government was unable to clear Maidan, and the western-backed regime is “helpless” against the protests in the Soviet-nostalgic industrial east. For all the talk about the paramilitary “green men” (who turn out to be overwhelmingly Ukrainian), the rebellion also has strong social and democratic demands: who would argue against a referendum on autonomy and elected governors?

    Meanwhile, the US and its European allies impose sanctions and dictate terms to Russia and its proteges in Kiev, encouraging the military crackdown on protesters after visits from Joe Biden and the CIA director, John Brennan. But by what right is the US involved at all, incorporating under its strategic umbrella a state that has never been a member of Nato, and whose last elected government came to power on a platform of explicit neutrality? It has none, of course – which is why the Ukraine crisis is seen in such a different light across most of the world. There may be few global takers for Putin’s oligarchic conservatism and nationalism, but Russia’s counterweight to US imperial expansion is welcomed, from China to Brazil.

    In fact, one outcome of the crisis is likely to be a closer alliance between China and Russia, as the US continues its anti-Chinese “pivot” to Asia. And despite growing violence, the cost in lives of Russia’s arms-length involvement in Ukraine has so far been minimal compared with any significant western intervention you care to think of for decades.

    The risk of civil war is nevertheless growing, and with it the chances of outside powers being drawn into the conflict. Barack Obama has already sent token forces to eastern Europe and is under pressure, both from Republicans and Nato hawks such as Poland, to send many more. Both US and British troops are due to take part in Nato military exercises in Ukraine this summer.

    The US and EU have already overplayed their hand in Ukraine. Neither Russia nor the western powers may want to intervene directly, and the Ukrainian prime minister’s conjuring up of a third world war presumably isn’t authorised by his Washington sponsors. But a century after 1914, the risk of unintended consequences should be obvious enough – as the threat of a return of big-power conflict grows. Pressure for a negotiated end to the crisis is essential.

    Seumas Milne
    The Guardian, Wednesday 30 April 2014 21.01 BST

    Find this story at 30 April 2014

    © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

    Ist der BND in der Ukraine unterwegs?

    Sie ist schmutzig, sie ist wichtig: Warum gerade westliche Demokratien nicht auf Spionage verzichten können. Denn Politik basiert auf Täuschung. Auch im 21. Jahrhundert.

    Die Spionage ist – neben der Prostitution – das älteste Gewerbe der Welt. Schon in “Die Kunst des Krieges”, einem chinesischen Buch, das einem General namens Sun Tzu zugeschrieben wird und aus dem sechsten vorchristlichen Jahrhundert stammt, heißt es: “Spionageoperationen sind im Kriege von wesentlicher Bedeutung – Armeen verlassen sich auf sie, um sich in Bewegung zu setzen.”

    Der alte Chinese war keineswegs zimperlich, wenn es darum ging, die Aufgabe von Spionen zu definieren: Es gehe darum, pinselte er in zierlichen Schriftzeichen auf Bambuspapier, “Armeen zu schlagen, Städte anzugreifen und tödliche Attentate zu verüben”.

    Zu diesem Behufe müssen Spione “die Namen von Garnisonskommandanten, Flügeladjutanten, Pförtnern, Torhütern und Leibwächtern” herausfinden. Ganz unbezahlbar ist es, wenn man Spione in den eigenen Reihen entdeckt. Diese werden natürlich nicht hingerichtet, sondern umgedreht: Sie arbeiten hinfort als Doppelagenten und versorgen den Feind mit Erstunkenem und Erlogenem.

    Denn als Grundprinzip militärischer Operationen hatte Sun Tzu schon auf der ersten Seite seines klassischen Buchs erläutert: “Alle Kriegsführung basiert auf Täuschung.” In der Schlacht gewinnt am Ende nicht jener General, der den längeren Säbel hat, sondern jener, dem es am besten gelingt, den Feind hinters Licht zu führen: ihn zur Raserei zu bringen, ihm Stärke vorzutäuschen, wo man schwach ist und so weiter.

    Snowden fragt Putin
    “Etwas wie in den USA kann es bei uns nicht geben”
    Man begibt sich auf das Niveau der Feinde der Freiheit

    Nun sind diese Ratschläge mehrere Jahrtausende alt. Gelten sie heute noch? Und gelten sie insbesondere auch für liberale, aufgeklärte, westliche Länder? Begibt man sich nicht auf das Niveau der Feinde der Freiheit herab, wenn man Spionage betreibt; wenn man fremde Elektropost liest, Telefongespräche abhört und Agenten ausschickt, damit sie (nur zum Beispiel) iranische Atomphysiker niederschießen, bestechen oder mit schmutzigen kleinen Privatgeheimnissen erpressen?

    Während ich dies schreibe, schaue ich auf ein gerahmtes Foto an der Wand meines Büros, das ein mysteriöses Gerät zeigt: einen dunklen Holzkasten auf Rädern, in dessen Gehäuse seltsame kleine weiße Scheiben eingelassen sind. Es handelt sich um die “Turing-Bombe”, sozusagen: den prähistorischen Ur-Computer, den das britische Mathematikgenie Alan Turing erfunden hat.

    Dank der “Turing-Bombe” gelang es den Geheimdienstleuten in Bletchley Park bei London – den Vorläufern aller heutigen Abhördienste –, den deutschen “Enigma”-Code zu brechen. So wurde es möglich, deutsche Unterseeboote zu orten und zu versenken: Endlich waren die alliierten Geleitzüge sicher, die quer über den Atlantik schipperten, um Hitlers und Mussolinis Gegner mit Kriegsgerät zu versorgen.

    Heute gilt den Historikern als gesichert, dass die “Turing-Bombe” den großen Krieg um circa zwei Jahre verkürzt hat. Sie half also, ungezählte Menschenleben (auch deutsche) zu retten.

    Gibt es heute etwa keine Gefahren mehr?

    Waren das besondere Umstände, weil es schließlich um die Nazis ging? Gibt es heute keine Gefahren mehr? Gehört es nicht immer noch zu den Aufgaben jeder demokratisch gewählten Regierung, das fundamentalste Menschenrecht ihrer Bürger zu schützen – das Recht, am Leben zu bleiben?

    Zu den Enthüllungen des amerikanischen Überläufers Edward Snowden, der immer noch in Wladimir Putins Moskau lebt, gehört unter anderem diese: Der australische Geheimdienst ist tief in die Daten- und Kommunikationsnetzwerke Indonesiens eingedrungen und hat jedes Mal mitgehört, wenn indonesische Politiker miteinander sprachen. Was soll daran schockierend sein?

    Im September 2004 explodierte eine Autobombe vor der indonesischen Botschaft in Jakarta (neun Tote, 150 Verletzte). 2009 wurden in einer Serie von Bombenanschlägen in indonesischen Hotels drei Australier getötet.

    Indonesien ist seit dem Sturz des Diktators Suharto zwar eine Demokratie – aber es ist auch ein armes und korruptes Land, das auf seinem Territorium militante islamische Gruppierungen beherbergt.

    Zu Recht horcht Australien Indonesien ab

    Seit es die holländische Kolonialherrschaft abschüttelte, hat Indonesien zwei Revolutionen durchlebt. Hätten die Australier sich in diesem zutiefst instabilen Land auf die Behörden verlassen, hätten sie nett um Informationen bitten sollen?

    Warum soll es zudem verwerflich sein, wenn amerikanische Behörden sogenannte Metadaten sammeln – wenn sie also überprüfen, wer in den Vereinigten Staaten mit wem kommuniziert. Angenommen, mein Nachbar würde regelmäßig E-Mails mit Scheich Nasrallah, dem Chef der Hisbollah, austauschen: Wäre das dann seine Privatsache?

    Gewiss: Sollten amerikanische Behörden diese E-Mails mitgelesen haben, ohne dass sie sich vorher einen richterlichen Beschluss besorgt hätten, wäre dies ein Skandal und ein Rechtsbruch. Sie hätten dann den vierten Zusatzartikel zur amerikanischen Verfassung missachtet.

    Außerhalb der amerikanischen Landesgrenzen aber gilt der vierte Zusatzartikel nicht: Auslandsspionage ist grundsätzlich und grenzenlos erlaubt. Und warum sollte das anders sein? Der vierte Zusatzartikel zur amerikanischen Verfassung ist ja nicht gratis. Er schützt mich, weil ich amerikanischer Staatsbürger bin, aber dieser Schutz kostet: Ich bin hier steuerpflichtig, muss mich an die Gesetze halten (auch die idiotischen) und im Notfall bereit sein, meine Heimat mit der Waffe zu verteidigen.

    Ist der BND in der Ukraine unterwegs?

    Letzteres musste ich bei meiner Einbürgerung mit erhobener Hand schwören! Warum sollte das “Fourth Amendment” für Leute gelten, denen keine dieser Pflichten auferlegt ist?

    Wie steht es nun mit der Spionage unter Verbündeten? Sie ist seit eh und je üblich, weil die Welt aus Sicht der Geheimdienste in zwei scharf geschiedene Teile zerfällt: in “uns” und “die da”. Denn Bündnisse sind nicht ewig, sie können schon morgen wieder zerfallen sein. Allerdings – es gibt ein exklusives Abkommen zwischen den Vereinigten Staaten, Kanada, Australien, Neuseeland und Großbritannien, dass man einander nicht ausforscht.

    Möchte die Bundesrepublik Deutschland als Mitglied in diesen Klub aufgenommen werden? Dann muss sie etwas mitbringen: wichtige geheimdienstliche Erkenntnisse. Hat sie solche? Sind Mitarbeiter des Bundesnachrichtendienstes in der Ukraine unterwegs, um die Lage vor Ort zu erkunden?

    Hören deutsche Beamte die Handys der russischen Regierung ab? Und sollte die Antwort “Nein” lauten – wozu zahlen Sie, geneigte Leserin, dann eigentlich Steuern?

    Von Hannes Stein

    Find this story at 21 April 2014

    © Axel Springer SE 2014.

    After Crimea, West’s spies, armies to raise Russia focus

    (Reuters) – As Western states enter a new era of potential confrontation with Moscow, they face an awkward reality.

    A quarter-century after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the level of expertise on Russia in intelligence agencies, armed forces and governments has diminished drastically.

    Rising concern over Russian government espionage – including increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks and computer spyware – had sparked some modest renewed interest in recent years, primarily in counterintelligence.

    But the way Washington and its allies were so blindsided by President Vladimir Putin’s military seizure and annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, is seen demonstrating a dramatic need for renewed focus.

    The bottom line, current and former officials say, is that with the post-September 11, 2001 focus on Islamist militancy and the Middle East and later the rise of China, the former Soviet Union was simply not seen a career enhancing speciality.

    Compared to the Cold War era, when most of Russian territory was off-limits to Westerners, regional specialists say there is no shortage of expertise among academics and in the business community today. But it has so far gone untapped.

    “There is a good supply of Russia experts out there – people who have lived there with lots of good experience – but the demand has just not been there from government,” says Fiona Hill, U.S. national intelligence officer for Russia in 2006-9 and now director for the Centre for the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution.

    “The Pentagon in particular has lost a lot of its Russia expertise, as has the White House.”

    More of those outside experts are now likely to find work in defence ministries and intelligence agencies, current and former officials say. But in an era of constrained budgets, focusing on Russia is likely to mean redeploying resources from elsewhere.

    Until the Ukraine crisis that did not seem a natural choice, people with knowledge of internal discussions say.

    “The main problem is one of capacity at a time when counterterrorism, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Arab awakening have taken up so much energy,” said one former Western intelligence officer on condition of anonymity.

    Russia is primarily a threat to its immediate neighbourhood only, officials and analysts say, but still one requiring greater vigilance that over the last two decades.


    Capacity alone is far from everything. The West’s legions of Soviet specialists, with few exceptions, missed the warning signs of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.

    Still, officials and analysts say there is a growing feeling that the West should have done more to increase its Russia focus particularly as Moscow’s defence spending rose some 30 percent after its 2008 war with Georgia.

    “The people who know the most about Russia’s defence capability have tended to take it the most seriously,” says former Pentagon official Elbridge Colby, now a senior fellow at the Centre for a New American Security.

    Some central and east European and Nordic states have long focused much if not all of their intelligence and defence resources on Russia. Poland and Sweden in particular are seen leading the pack. Others are now catching up.

    One reason Washington and its allies were so surprised by events in Crimea was that during Russia’s military build-up in the region, there was little or no signals chatter indicating an imminent takeover, intelligence sources say.

    Still, Moscow had very publicly mobilised its forces several days earlier ostensibly for an exercise. That such obvious clues were missed, some say, suggests analysts had lost their edge in assessing and predicting the actions of the Russian leadership.

    While U.S. officials are now monitoring closely a Russian troop build-up along Ukraine’s eastern border, Western experts differ over whether Putin plans to invade the region.


    For the United States, two espionage incidents in the last decade helped draw counterintelligence attention back to Moscow’s suspected activities.

    The first was the 2008 discovery of sophisticated spy software dubbed Agent BTZ that infected Department of Defence computers after apparently entering from a USB drive later found in the car park of a U.S. military base in the Middle East.

    Pentagon officials spent months cleaning systems and the attack is still seen one of the most serious breaches of U.S. government IT security. Although Washington never officially laid blame for the intrusion, several US officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Moscow was the prime suspect.

    Much higher profile was the 2010 arrest and expulsion of 10 “deep cover” spies in the United States including Anna Chapman, who became a Russian television presenter and celebrity. That followed information from a Russian defector and a major FBI investigation. There is little evidence the spies were hugely successful.

    In Britain, security agencies began paying more attention to Russia after the 2007 death of Putin opponent Alexander Litvinenko from radioactive poisoning.

    Until recently, however, military intelligence specialists were simply too busy with operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

    Russia’s Crimea annexation may revive military specialisms such as tank and submarine warfare neglected during the decade-long campaign in mountainous, landlocked Afghanistan.

    “Antisubmarine warfare is something that has been far too sidelined for the simple reason that the Taliban do not have submarines,” said one former senior European officer.

    Some of the problems in understanding Russia, however, may be societal rather than military.

    “For a country that is so patriotic, we can be highly intolerant of others’ patriotism,” former Pentagon official Colby said of the United States. “We just don’t see their patriotism as particularly legitimate.”

    LONDON Mon Apr 7, 2014 1:35pm BST
    (Reporting by Peter Apps; Editing by Paul Taylor)

    Find this story at 7 April 2014

    Copyright Thomson Reuters

    The U.S. has treated Russia like a loser since the end of the Cold War

    One afternoon in September 1987, Secretary of State George Shultz settled in a chair across the table from Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze in a New York conference room. Both were in the city for the United Nations General Assembly.

    As he habitually did at the start of such meetings , Shultz handed Shevardnadze a list of reported human rights abuses in the Soviet Union. Shevardnadze’s predecessor, Andrei Gromyko, had always received such lists grudgingly and would lecture us for interfering in Soviet internal affairs.

    This time, though, Shevardnadze looked Shultz in the eye and said through his interpreter: “George, I will check this out, and if your information is correct, I will do what I can to correct the problem. But I want you to know one thing: I am not doing this because you ask me to; I am doing it because it is what my country needs to do.”

    Shultz replied: “Eduard, that’s the only reason either of us should do something. Let me assure you that I will never ask you to do something that I believe is not in your country’s interest.”

    They stood and shook hands. As I watched the scene, with as much emotion as amazement, it dawned on me that the Cold War was over. The job of American ambassador in Moscow was going to be a lot easier for me than it had been for my predecessors.

    I thought back to that moment as talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia’s top diplomat this past week failed to resolve the crisis in Ukraine. It’s striking that the language being used publicly now is so much more strident than our language, public or private, was then. “It can get ugly fast if the wrong choices are made,” Kerry declared Wednesday, threatening sanctions.

    I don’t believe that we are witnessing a renewal of the Cold War. The tensions between Russia and the West are based more on misunderstandings, misrepresentations and posturing for domestic audiences than on any real clash of ideologies or national interests. And the issues are far fewer and much less dangerous than those we dealt with during the Cold War.

    But a failure to appreciate how the Cold War ended has had a profound impact on Russian and Western attitudes — and helps explain what we are seeing now.

    The common assumption that the West forced the collapse of the Soviet Union and thus won the Cold War is wrong . The fact is that the Cold War ended by negotiation to the advantage of both sides.

    At the December 1989 Malta summit, Mikhail Gorbachev and President George H.W. Bush confirmed that the ideological basis for the war was gone, stating that the two nations no longer regarded each other as enemies . Over the next two years, we worked more closely with the Soviets than with even some of our allies. Together, we halted the arms race, banned chemical weapons and agreed to drastically reduce nuclear weapons. I also witnessed the raising of the Iron Curtain, the liberation of Eastern Europe and the voluntary abandonment of communist ideology by the Soviet leader. Without an arms race ruining the Soviet economy and perpetuating totalitarianism, Gorbachev was freed to focus on internal reforms.

    Because the collapse of the Soviet Union happened so soon afterward, people often confuse it with the end of the Cold War. But they were separate events, and the former was not an inevitable outcome of the latter.

    Moreover, the breakup of the U.S.S.R. into 15 separate countries was not something the United States caused or wanted. We hoped that Gorbachev would forge a voluntary union of Soviet republics, minus the three Baltic countries. Bush made this clear in August 1991 when he urged the non-Russian Soviet republics to adopt the union treaty Gorbachev had proposed and warned against “suicidal nationalism.” Russians who regret the collapse of the Soviet Union should remember that it was the elected leader of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, who conspired with his Ukrainian and Belarusian counterparts to replace the U.S.S.R. with a loose and powerless “commonwealth.”

    Even after the U.S.S.R. ceased to exist, Gorbachev maintained that “the end of the Cold War is our common victory.” Yet the United States insisted on treating Russia as the loser.

    “By the grace of God, America won the Cold War,” Bush said during his 1992 State of the Union address. That rhetoric would not have been particularly damaging on its own. But it was reinforced by actions taken under the next three presidents.

    President Bill Clinton supported NATO’s bombing of Serbia without U.N. Security Council approval and the expansion of NATO to include former Warsaw Pact countries. Those moves seemed to violate the understanding that the United States would not take advantage of the Soviet retreat from Eastern Europe. The effect on Russians’ trust in the United States was devastating. In 1991, polls indicated that about 80 percent of Russian citizens had a favorable view of the United States; in 1999, nearly the same percentage had an unfavorable view.

    Vladi­mir Putin was elected in 2000 and initially followed a pro-Western orientation. When terrorists attacked the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, he was the first foreign leader to call and offer support. He cooperated with the United States when it invaded Afghanistan, and he voluntarily removed Russian bases from Cuba and Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam.

    What did he get in return? Some meaningless praise from President George W. Bush, who then delivered the diplomatic equivalent of swift kicks to the groin: further expansion of NATO in the Baltics and the Balkans, and plans for American bases there; withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; invasion of Iraq without U.N. Security Council approval; overt participation in the “color revolutions” in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan; and then, probing some of the firmest red lines any Russian leader would draw, talk of taking Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. Americans, heritors of the Monroe Doctrine, should have understood that Russia would be hypersensitive to foreign-dominated military alliances approaching or touching its borders.

    President Obama famously attempted a “reset” of relations with Russia, with some success: The New START treaty was an important achievement, and there was increased quiet cooperation on a number of regional issues. But then Congress’s penchant for minding other people’s business when it cannot cope with its own began to take its toll. The Magnitsky Act , which singled out Russia for human rights violations as if there were none of comparable gravity elsewhere, infuriated Russia’s rulers and confirmed with the broader public the image of the United States as an implacable enemy.

    The sad fact is that the cycle of dismissive actions by the United States met by overreactions by Russia has so poisoned the relationship that the sort of quiet diplomacy used to end the Cold War was impossible when the crisis in Ukraine burst upon the world’s consciousness. It’s why 43 percent of Russians are ready to believe that Western actions are behind the crisis and that Russia is under siege.

    Putin’s military occupation of Crimea has exacerbated the situation. If it leads to the incorporation of Crimea in the Russian Federation , it may well result in a period of mutual recrimination and economic sanctions reminiscent of the Cold War. In that scenario, there would be no winners, only losers: most of all Ukraine itself, which may not survive in its present form, and Russia, which would become more isolated. Russia may also see a rise in terrorist acts from anti-Russian extremists on its periphery and more resistance from neighboring governments to membership in the economic union it is promoting.

    Meanwhile, the United States and Europe would lose to the extent that a resentful Russia would make it even more difficult to address global and regional issues such as the Iranian nuclear program, North Korea and the Syrian civil war, to name a few. Russian policy in these areas has not always been all the United States desired, but it has been more helpful than many Americans realize. And encouraging a more obstructive Russia is not in anyone’s interest.

    By Jack F. Matlock Jr.,

    Jack F. Matlock Jr., ambassador to the U.S.S.R. from 1987 to 1991, is the author of “Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended.”

    Find this story at 14 March 2014

    © The Washington Post Company

    Former U.S. Ambassador: Behind Crimea Crisis, Russia Responding to Years of “Hostile” U.S. Policy

    The standoff over Ukraine and the fate of Crimea has sparked the worst East-West crisis since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. has imposed sanctions on top Russian officials while announcing new military exercises in Baltic states. Meanwhile in Moscow, the Russian government says it is considering changing its stance on Iran’s nuclear talks in response to newly imposed U.S. sanctions. As tensions rise, we are joined by Jack Matlock, who served as the last U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union. Matlock argues that Russian President Vladimir Putin is acting in response to years of perceived hostility from the U.S., from the eastward expansion of NATO to the bombing of Serbia to the expansion of American military bases in eastern Europe.

    This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: The Ukrainian government has announced plans to abandon its military bases in Crimea and evacuate its forces following Russia’s decision to annex the region. Earlier today, Russian forces reportedly released the commander of the Ukrainian Navy, who has been seized in his own headquarters in Crimea. At the United Nations, ambassadors sparred over the situation in Crimea. Yuriy Sergeyev is the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.N.

    YURIY SERGEYEV: The declaration of independence by the Crimean Republic is a direct consequence of the application of the use of force and threats against Ukraine by the Russian Federation, and, in view of Russian nuclear power status, has a particularly dangerous character for Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity, as well as for international peace and security in general. Accordingly, I assert that on the basis of customary norms and international law, that the international community is obliged not to recognize Crimea as a subject of international law or any situation, treaty or agreement that may be arise or be achieved by this territory.
    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, defended Moscow’s move to annex Crimea.

    VITALY CHURKIN: [translated] A historic injustice has been righted, which resulted from the arbitrary actions of the leader of the U.S.S.R. at the time, Nikita Khrushchev, who, with the stroke of a pen in 1954, in violation of the constitutional norms, transferred the Russian region of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which was part of the same state then. And he did this without informing the population of Crimea and, of course, without their consent. And nobody cared about the views of the Crimeans.
    AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the U.S. Navy warship, the Truxtun, a U.S. guided-missile destroyer, conducted a one-day military exercise in the Black Sea with the Bulgarian and Romanian navies. And Vice President Joe Biden has been meeting this week with the heads of states of Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, promising Washington would protect them from any Russian aggression. On Wednesday, President Obama addressed the crisis during an interview with NBC 7 San Diego.

    PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine. What we are going to do is mobilize all of our diplomatic resources to make sure that we’ve got a strong international coalition that sends a clear message, which is: The Ukraine should decide their own destiny. Russia, right now, is violating international law and the sovereignty of another country. You know, might doesn’t make right. And, you know, we are going to continue to ratchet up the pressure on Russia as it continues down its current course.
    AMY GOODMAN: To talk more about the growing crisis in Ukraine, we’re joined by Ambassador Jack Matlock. He served as U.S. ambassador to Moscow from 1987 to 1991. He’s the author of several books, including Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended. He recently wrote a column for The Washington Post headlined “The U.S. Has Treated Russia Like a Loser Since the End of the Cold War.”

    Ambassador Matlock, welcome to Democracy Now! Talk about the situation right now, what has just taken place, Ukraine now pulling out of Crimea.

    JACK MATLOCK JR.: Well, I think that what we have seen is a reaction, in many respects, to a long history of what the Russian government, the Russian president and many of the Russian people—most of them—feel has been a pattern of American activity that has been hostile to Russia and has simply disregarded their national interests. They feel that having thrown off communism, having dispensed with the Soviet Empire, that the U.S. systematically, from the time it started expanding NATO to the east, without them, and then using NATO to carry out what they consider offensive actions about an—against another country—in this case, Serbia—a country which had not attacked any NATO member, and then detached territory from it—this is very relevant now to what we’re seeing happening in Crimea—and then continued to place bases in these countries, to move closer and closer to borders, and then to talk of taking Ukraine, most of whose people didn’t want to be a member of NATO, into NATO, and Georgia. Now, this began an intrusion into an area which the Russians are very sensitive. Now, how would Americans feel if some Russian or Chinese or even West European started putting bases in Mexico or in the Caribbean, or trying to form governments that were hostile to us? You know, we saw how we virtually went ballistic over Cuba. And I think that we have not been very attentive to what it takes to have a harmonious relationship with Russia.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Ambassador Matlock, Americans often look at these crises in isolation, and some of the press coverage deals with them that way. But from your perspective, you argued that we should see the continuum of events that have happened from the Russian point of view—for instance, the Orange Revolution, the pronouncements of some of our leaders several years back, the crisis in Georgia a few years ago, and how the Russians are seeing the original good feeling that most Russians had toward the United States after the collapse of the Soviet Union compared to now.

    JACK MATLOCK JR.: Yes, that’s absolutely true. You see, in the Orange Revolution in Kiev, foreigners, including Americans, were very active in organizing people and inspiring them. Now, you know, I have to ask Americans: How would Occupy Wall Street have looked if you had foreigners out there leading them? Do you think that would have helped them get their point across? I don’t think so. And I think we have to understand that when we start directly interfering, particularly our government officials, in the internal makeup of other governments, we’re really asking for trouble.

    And, you know, we were pretty careful not to do that in my day. And I recall, for example, when I was being consulted by the newly elected leaders of what was still Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania. They were still in the Soviet Union, and they would come to us. We were, of course, sympathetic to their independence; we had never even recognized that they were legally part of the Soviet Union. But I had to tell them, “Keep it peaceful. If you are suppressed, there’s nothing we can do about it. We cannot come and help you. We’re not going to start a nuclear war.” Well, they kept it peaceful, despite provocations.

    Now, what have we been telling the Ukrainians, the Georgians—at least some of us, officials? “Just hold on. You can join NATO, and that will solve your problems for you.” You know, and yet, it is that very prospect, that the United States and its European allies were trying to surround Russia with hostile bases, that has raised the emotional temperature of all these things. And that was a huge mistake. As George Kennan wrote back in the ’90s when this question came up, the decision to expand NATO the way it was done was one of the most fateful and bad decisions of the late 20th century.

    AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to Vice President Joe Biden, who criticized Russia recently during his trip to Lithuania Wednesday.

    VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I want to make it clear: We stand resolutely with our Baltic allies in support of Ukrainian people and against Russian aggression. As long as Russia continues on this dark path, they will face increasing political and economic isolation. There are those who say that this action shows the old rules still apply. But Russia cannot escape the fact that the world is changing and rejecting outright their behavior.
    AMY GOODMAN: And in a speech Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin blasted what he called Western hypocrisy on Crimea, saying that the U.S. selectively applies international law according to its political interests.

    PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN: [translated] Our Western partners, headed by the United States of America, prefer in their practical policy to be guided not by international law, but by the right of the strong. They started to believe that they have been chosen and they are unique, that they are allowed to decide the fate of the world, that only they could always be right. They do whatever they want
    AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Jack Matlock, if you could respond to both Biden and Putin?

    JACK MATLOCK JR.: Well, I think that this rhetoric on both sides is being very unhelpful. The fact is, Russia now has returned Crimea to Russia. It has been, most of its recent history, in the last couple of centuries, been Russian. The majority of the people are Russian. They clearly would prefer to be in Russia. And the bottom line is, we can argue ’til doomsday over who did what and why and who was the legal and who was not—I’m sure historians generations from now will still be arguing it—but the fact is, Russia now is not going to give up Crimea. The fact also is, if you really look at it dispassionately, Ukraine is better off without Crimea, because Ukraine is divided enough as it is. Their big problem is internal, in putting together disparate people who have been put together in that country. The distraction of Crimea, where most of the people did not want to be in Ukraine and ended up in Ukraine as a result of really almost a bureaucratic whim, is—was, I think, a real liability for Ukraine.

    Now, the—we should be concentrating now on how we put Ukraine back together—not we, but the Ukrainians, with the help of the Europeans, with the help of the Russians, and with at least a benign view from the United States. Now, the American president and vice president directly challenging the Russian president and threatening them with isolation is going to bring the opposite effect. All of this has actually increased President Putin’s popularity among Russians. Now, you know, most politicians, they like to do things that make them more popular at home. And, you know, the idea that we are acting, you know, contrary to what Russians would consider their very natural interests—that is, in bringing an area which had been Russian and traditionally Russian for a long time back into Russia—they look at that as a good thing. It’s going to be very costly to Russia, they’re going to find out, in many ways. But to continue all of this rhetoric, I would ask, well, how is it going to end? What is your objective? Because it isn’t going to free up Crimea again or give it back to Ukraine.

    I think it would be most helpful to encourage the Ukrainians to form a united government that can begin reforms. The proposals before, both by the EU and by Russia, would not have solved their problems. And they are not going to solve the problems by taking a government that basically represents one half of the country and making it work on the whole country. And all of this interference, both by Russia and by the West, including the United States, has tended to split Ukraine. Now, that is the big issue there. And we need to turn our attention more to it. And I just hope everyone can calm down and look at realities and stop trying to start sort of a new Cold War over this. As compared to the issues of the Cold War, this is quite minor. It has many of the characteristics of a family dispute. And when outsiders get into a family dispute, they’re usually not very helpful.

    JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Ambassador Matlock, what would you, if you were counseling the president, urge him to do at this stage? Because obviously there are these pretty weak sanctions that have so far been announced. What would your advice be?

    JACK MATLOCK JR.: Well, I think, first of all, we should start keeping our voice down and sort of let things work out. You know, to ship in military equipment and so on is just going to be a further provocation. Obviously, this is not something that’s going to be solved by military confrontations. So, I think if we can find a way to speak less in public, to use more quiet diplomacy—and right now, frankly, the relationships between our presidents are so poisonous, they really should have representatives who can quietly go and, you know, work with counterparts elsewhere.

    But fundamentally, it’s going to be the Ukrainians who have to put their society back together. It is seriously broken now. And it seems to me they could take a leaf from the Finns, who have been very successful ever since World War II in putting together a country with both Finns and Swedes, by treating them equally, by being very respectful and careful about their relations with Russia, never getting into—anymore into military struggles or allowing foreign bases on their land. And they’ve been extremely successful. Why can’t the Ukrainians follow a policy of that sort? I think, for them, it would work, too. But first, they have to find a way to unite the disparate elements in Ukraine; otherwise, these pressures from Russia, on the one hand, and the West, on the other, is going to simply tear them apart. Now—

    AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador, on Wednesday—

    JACK MATLOCK JR.: —in the final analysis, if the—

    AMY GOODMAN: On Wednesday, the head of Ukraine’s First National TV was attacked in his office by members of the far-right Svoboda party, including at least one member of Parliament who serves on the parliamentary committee on freedom of speech. The attackers accused the station of working for the Russian authorities, after it aired a live broadcast of the signing of the agreement between President Putin and the de facto Crimean authorities. In a video posted online, the attackers are seen forcing the head of the channel to write a resignation letter. Heather McGill of Amnesty International condemned the attack, saying, quote, “The acting Ukrainian authorities must waste no time in demonstrating that basic human rights are protected in Ukraine and that nobody will face discrimination because of their political views or ethnic origin.” Ambassador Matlock, can you talk about this attack and the role of these far-right-wing parties in the new Ukrainian government?

    JACK MATLOCK JR.: Well, I’m not intimately informed about all of the details, but—and I would say that I think Russian media have exaggerated that right-wing threat. On the other hand, those who have ignored it, I think, are making a big mistake. We do have to understand that a significant part of the violence at the Maidan, the demonstrations in Kiev, were done by these extreme right-wing, sort of neo-fascist groups. And they do—some of their leaders do occupy prominent positions in the security forces of the new government. And I think—I think the Russians and others are quite legitimately concerned about that. Therefore, you know, many of these things are not nearly as black and white, when we begin to look at them, as is implied in much of the rhetoric that we’re hearing. And I do think that everybody needs now to take a quiet breath to really look at where we are and to see if we can’t find ways, by keeping our voices down, to help the Ukrainians in present-day Ukraine to get to a road to greater unity and reform that will make them a viable state.

    AMY GOODMAN: Jack Matlock, we want to thank—

    JACK MATLOCK JR.: And I would argue that—

    AMY GOODMAN: We want to—

    JACK MATLOCK JR.: —they are better off without Crimea.

    AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much for being with us. Ambassador Matlock served as the U.S. ambassador—

    JACK MATLOCK JR.: Thank you.

    AMY GOODMAN: —to Moscow from 1987 to 1991 under both President Reagan and President George H.W. Bush, and he’s the author of a number of books, including Superpower Illusions and Autopsy on an Empire: The American Ambassador’s Account of the Collapse of the Soviet Union, as well as Reagan and Gorbachev: How the Cold War Ended.

    When we come back, we’ll be joined by Raphael Warnock, the minister of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s church. He was among 39 people arrested this week in Atlanta. Stay with us.

    Creative Commons License The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

    THURSDAY, MARCH 20, 2014

    Find this story at 20 March 2014

    The forgotten coup – and how the godfather rules from Canberra to Kiev

    Washington’s role in the fascist putsch against an elected government in Ukraine will surprise only those who watch the news and ignore the historical record. Since 1945, dozens of governments, many of them democracies, have met a similar fate, usually with bloodshed.

    Nicaragua is one of the poorest countries on earth with fewer people than Wales, yet under the reformist Sandinistas in the 1980s it was regarded in Washington as a “strategic threat”. The logic was simple; if the weakest slipped the leash, setting an example, who else would try their luck?

    The great game of dominance offers no immunity for even the most loyal US “ally”. This is demonstrated by perhaps the least known of Washington’s coups – in Australia. The story of this forgotten coup is a salutary lesson for those governments that believe a “Ukraine” or a “Chile” could never happen to them.

    Australia’s deference to the United States makes Britain, by comparison, seem a renegade. During the American invasion of Vietnam – which Australia had pleaded to join – an official in Canberra voiced a rare complaint to Washington that the British knew more about US objectives in that war than its antipodean comrade-in-arms. The response was swift: “We have to keep the Brits informed to keep them happy. You are with us come what may.”

    This dictum was rudely set aside in 1972 with the election of the reformist Labor government of Gough Whitlam. Although not regarded as of the left, Whitlam – now in his 98th year – was a maverick social democrat of principle, pride, propriety and extraordinary political imagination. He believed that a foreign power should not control his country’s resources and dictate its economic and foreign policies. He proposed to “buy back the farm” and speak as a voice independent of London and Washington.

    On the day after his election, Whitlam ordered that his staff should not be “vetted or harassed” by the Australian security organisation, ASIO – then, as now, beholden to Anglo-American intelligence. When his ministers publicly condemned the Nixon/Kissinger administration as “corrupt and barbaric”, Frank Snepp, a CIA officer stationed in Saigon at the time, said later: “We were told the Australians might as well be regarded as North Vietnamese collaborators.”

    Whitlam demanded to know if and why the CIA was running a spy base at Pine Gap near Alice Springs, ostensibly a joint Australian/US “facility”. Pine Gap is a giant vacuum cleaner which, as the whistleblower Edward Snowden recently revealed, allows the US to spy on everyone. In the 1970s, most Australians had no idea that this secretive foreign enclave placed their country on the front line of a potential nuclear war with the Soviet Union.  Whitlam clearly knew the personal risk he was taking – as the minutes of a meeting with the US ambassador demonstrate. “Try to screw us or bounce us,” he warned, “[and Pine Gap] will become a matter of contention”.

    Victor Marchetti, the CIA officer who had helped set up Pine Gap, later told me, “This threat to close Pine Gap caused apoplexy in the White House. Consequences were inevitable… a kind of Chile was set in motion.”

    The CIA had just helped General Pinochet to crush the democratic government of another reformer, Salvador Allende, in Chile.

    In 1974, the White House sent the Marshall Green to Canberra as ambassador. Green was an imperious, very senior and sinister figure in the State Department who worked in the shadows of America’s “deep state”. Known as the “coupmaster”, he had played a played a central role in the 1965 coup against President Sukarno in Indonesia – which cost up to a million lives. One of his first speeches in Australia was to the Australian Institute of Directors – described by an alarmed member of the audience as “an incitement to the country’s business leaders to  rise against the government”.

    Pine Gap’s top-secret messages were de-coded in California by a CIA contractor, TRW. One of the de-coders was a young Christopher Boyce, an idealist who, troubled by the “deception and betrayal of an ally”, became a whistleblower. Boyce revealed that the CIA had infiltrated the Australian political and trade union elite and referred to the Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, as “our man Kerr”.

    In his black top hat and medal-laden mourning suit, Kerr was the embodiment of imperium. He was the Queen of England’s Australian viceroy in a country that still recognised her as head of state. His duties were ceremonial; yet Whitlam – who appointed him – was unaware of or chose to ignore Kerr’s long-standing ties to Anglo-American intelligence.

    The Governor-General was an enthusiastic member of the Australian Association for Cultural Freedom, described by the Jonathan Kwitny of the Wall Street Journal in his book, ‘The Crimes of Patriots’, as, “an elite, invitation-only group… exposed in Congress as being founded, funded and generally run by the CIA”. The CIA “paid for Kerr’s travel, built his prestige… Kerr continued to go to the CIA for money”.

    In 1975, Whitlam discovered that Britain’s MI6 had long been operating against his government. “The Brits were actually de-coding secret messages coming into my foreign affairs office,” he said later. One of his ministers, Clyde Cameron, told me, “We knew MI6 was bugging Cabinet meetings for the Americans.” In interviews in the 1980s with the American investigative journalist Joseph Trento, executive officers of the CIA disclosed that the “Whitlam problem” had been discussed “with urgency” by the CIA’s director, William Colby, and the head of MI6, Sir Maurice Oldfield, and that “arrangements” were made. A deputy director of the CIA told Trento: “Kerr did what he was told to do.”

    In 1975, Whitlam learned of a secret list of CIA personnel in Australia held by the Permanent Head of the Australian Defence Department, Sir Arthur Tange – a deeply conservative mandarin with unprecedented territorial power in Canberra. Whitlam demanded to see the list. On it was the name, Richard Stallings who, under cover, had set up Pine Gap as a provocative CIA installation. Whitlam now had the proof he was looking for.

    On 10 November, 1975, he was shown a top secret telex message sent by ASIO in Washington. This was later sourced to Theodore Shackley, head of the CIA’s East Asia Division and one of the most notorious figures spawned by the Agency. Shackley had been head of the CIA’s Miami-based operation to assassinate Fidel Castro and Station Chief in Laos and Vietnam. He had recently worked on the “Allende problem”.

    Shackley’s message was read to Whitlam. Incredibly, it said that the prime minister of Australia was a security risk in his own country.

    The day before, Kerr had visited the headquarters of the Defence Signals Directorate, Australia’s NSA whose ties to Washington were, and reman binding. He was briefed on the “security crisis”. He had then asked for a secure line and spent 20 minutes in hushed conversation.

    On 11 November – the day Whitlam was to inform Parliament about the secret CIA presence in Australia – he was summoned by Kerr. Invoking archaic vice-regal “reserve powers”, Kerr sacked the democratically elected prime minister. The problem was solved.

    John Pilger
    16 March 2014

    Find this story at 16 March 2014

    © John Pilger 2010 – 2014

    The Backstory to the Russia-Ukraine Confrontation: The US-NATO Encirclement of Russia (2014)

    The Big Picture: The U.S. and NATO Have Been Trying to Encircle Russia Militarily Since 1991

    The American press portrays Putin as being the bad guy and the aggressor in the Ukraine crisis.

    Putin is certainly no saint. A former KGB agent, Putin’s net worth is estimated at some $40 billion dollars … as he has squeezed money out of the Russian economy by treating the country as his own personal fiefdom. And all sides appear to have dirt on their hands in the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

    But we can only see the bigger picture if we take a step back and gain a little understanding of the history underlying the current tensions.

    Indeed, the fact that the U.S. has allegedly paid billions of dollars to anti-Russian forces in Ukraine – and even purportedly picked the Ukrainian president – has to be seen in context.

    Veteran New York Times reporter Steven Kinzer notes at the Boston Globe:

    From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. [Background here, here and here.] It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders.

    “I think it is the beginning of a new cold war,” warned George Kennan, the renowned diplomat and Russia-watcher, as NATO began expanding eastward. “I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely, and it will affect their policies.”

    Stephen Cohen – professor emeritus at New York University and Princeton University who has long focused on Russia – explained this weekend on CNN:

    We are witnessing as we talk the making possibly of the worst history of our lifetime. We are watching the descending of a new cold war divide between west and east, only this time, it is not in far away Berlin, it’s right on Russia’s borders through the historical civilization in Ukraine. It’s a crisis of historic magnitude. If you ask how we got in it, how we got into the crisis, and how therefore do we get out, it is time to stop asking why Putin – why Putin is doing this or that, but ask about the American policy, and the European Union policy that led to this moment.


    I don’t know if you your listeners or views remember George Kennan. He was considered [a] great strategic thinker about Russia among American diplomats but he warned when we expanded NATO [under Bill Clinton], that this was the most fateful mistake of American foreign policy and that it would lead to a new Cold War. George lived to his hundreds, died a few years ago, but his truth goes marching on. The decision to move NATO beginning in the 90′s continuing under Bush and continuing under Obama, is right now on Russia’s borders.

    And if you want to know for sure, and I have spent a lot of time in Moscow, if you want to know what the Russian power elite thinks Ukraine is about, it is about bringing it into NATO. One last point, that so-called economic partnership that Yanukovych, the elected president of Ukraine did not sign, and that set off the streets – the protests in the streets in November, which led to this violence in and confrontation today, that so-called economic agreement included military clauses which said that Ukraine by signing this so called civilization agreement had to abide by NATO military policy. This is what this is about from the Russian point of view, the ongoing western march towards post Soviet Russia.

    Jonathan Steele writes at the Guardian

    Both John Kerry’s threats to expel Russia from the G8 and the Ukrainian government’s plea for Nato aid mark a dangerous escalation of a crisis that can easily be contained if cool heads prevail. Hysteria seems to be the mood in Washington and Kiev, with the new Ukrainian prime minister claiming, “We are on the brink of disaster” as he calls up army reserves in response to Russian military movements in Crimea.

    Were he talking about the country’s economic plight he would have a point. Instead, along with much of the US and European media, he was over-dramatising developments in the east, where Russian speakers are understandably alarmed after the new Kiev authorities scrapped a law allowing Russian as an official language in their areas. They see it as proof that the anti-Russian ultra-nationalists from western Ukraine who were the dominant force in last month’s insurrection still control it. Eastern Ukrainians fear similar tactics of storming public buildings could be used against their elected officials.

    Kerry’s rush to punish Russia and Nato’s decision to respond to Kiev’s call by holding a meeting of member states’ ambassadors in Brussels today were mistakes. Ukraine is not part of the alliance, so none of the obligations of common defence come into play. Nato should refrain from interfering in Ukraine by word or deed. The fact that it insists on getting engaged reveals the elephant in the room: underlying the crisis in Crimea and Russia’s fierce resistance to potential changes is Nato’s undisguised ambition to continue two decades of expansion into what used to be called “post-Soviet space”, led by Bill Clinton and taken up by successive administrations in Washington. At the back of Pentagon minds, no doubt, is the dream that a US navy will one day replace the Russian Black Sea fleet in the Crimean ports of Sevastopol and Balaclava.


    Vladimir Putin’s troop movements in Crimea, which are supported by most Russians, are of questionable legality under the terms of the peace and friendship treaty that Russia signed with Ukraine in 1997. But their illegality is considerably less clear-cut than that of the US-led invasion of Iraq, or of Afghanistan, where the UN security council only authorised the intervention several weeks after it had happened. [Indeed, top American leaders admit that the Iraq war was for reasons different than publicly stated. And the U.S. military sticks its nose in other countries’ business all over the world. And see this.] And Russia’s troop movements can be reversed if the crisis abates. That would require the restoration of the language law in eastern Ukraine and firm action to prevent armed groups of anti-Russian nationalists threatening public buildings there.

    Again, we don’t believe that there are angels on any side. But we do believe that everyone has to take a step back, look at the bigger picture, calm down and reach a negotiated diplomatic resolution.

    And see this, this, this and this (interview with a 27-year CIA veteran, who chaired National Intelligence Estimates and personally delivered intelligence briefings to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and the Joint Chiefs of Staff).

    By Washington’s Blog
    Global Research, March 04, 2014

    Find this story at 4 March 2014

    Copyright © 2005-2014 GlobalResearch.ca

    CIA reportedly says Russia sees treaty as justifying Ukraine moves (2014)

    [Updated, 8 p.m., March 3: WASHINGTON — CIA director John Brennan told a senior lawmaker Monday that a 1997 treaty between Russia and Ukraine allows up to 25,000 Russia troops in the vital Crimea region, so Russia may not consider its recent troop movements to be an invasion, U.S. officials said.

    The number of Russian troops that have surged into Ukraine in recent days remains well below that threshold, Brennan said, according to U.S. officials who declined to be named in describing private discussions and declined to name the legislator.

    Though Brennan disagrees that the treaty justifies Russia’s incursion, he urged a cautious approach, the officials said. Administration officials have said Moscow violated the treaty, which requires the Russian navy, which bases its Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol, to coordinate all military movements on the Crimean peninsula with Ukraine.]

    The next day, Russian troops took up positions around key facilities in Crimea, and by nightfall the CIA assessed that Russia was in control of the region, officials said.

    “This was not predicted,” said a U.S. official, who asked not to be named in discussing the classified briefings.

    The intelligence officials defended their analysis, however, saying Putin may have made a spur of the moment decision to take military action.

    U.S. intelligence agencies have “provided timely and valuable information that has helped policymakers understand the situation on the ground and make informed decisions,” said Shawn Turner, a spokesman for the director of national intelligence. “That continues to be the case. Any suggestion that there were intelligence shortcomings related to the situation in Ukraine are uninformed and misleading.”

    The difficulty in predicting the Russian military moves echoed a similar intelligence gap in August 2008 when Russian troops backed separatist forces in South Ossetia against the republic of Georgia in a five-day war. The CIA was caught off guard at the time, officials said later.

    A former CIA case officer, who also declined to be named in discussing sensitive issues, said that the agency’s focus on counter-terrorism over the last 13 years has undermined its ability to conduct traditional espionage against key adversaries, including Russia.

    The CIA station in Kiev, Ukraine, “cannot be larger than two or three case officers,” the former official said. “Did they have sources that could have forecast Russian intentions? Almost certainly not.”

    Another former senior intelligence officer with experience in the region said the CIA doesn’t have sources that could have forecast Putin’s plans in Crimea. But, he said, it shouldn’t be viewed as an intelligence failure if analysts didn’t anticipate the actions of Russian troops operating out of bases there.

    “The presence of Russian troops there is a fait accompli, so nobody is going to be watching what’s happening in those bases,” he said.

    A CIA spokesman rebuffed the notion that the agency’s espionage muscles had atrophied.

    “Although we do not talk about our specific intelligence efforts, the agency is a versatile global organization that is more than capable of addressing a range of national security threats simultaneously and it does so every day,” said spokesman Dean Boyd. “Anyone suggesting otherwise is seriously misinformed.”

    By Ken Dilanian This post has been updated, as indicated below.
    March 3, 2014, 8:19 p.m.

    Find this story at 3 March 2014

    Copyright 2014 Los Angeles Times

    Encircling Russia with US Military Bases: Moscow Catches CIA Spy Red-Handed (2013)

    CIA agents operate most everywhere. Some pose as diplomats.

    Diplomacy provides cover for why they’re sent. Christopher Fogle was caught red-handed. He was assigned to Washington’s Moscow embassy political section. He was third secretary.

    A web site name search found no match. It’s no surprise why. He was arrested, declared persona non grata, and expelled. He got off easy. He committed espionage. He should have been imprisoned.

    On May 14, Voice of Russia (VOR) headlined “FSB catches CIA Agent Controller red handed,” saying:

    The previous evening, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said Fogle “was arrested while in the process of attempting to recruit a member of one of the Russian special services.” No name was mentioned.

    According to the embassy’s political section, it

    “presents US foreign and security policy positions to the Government of the Russian Federation and interprets for Washington, Russia’s major foreign, defense and security policies.”

    “Also, (it) analyzes and reports on significant events and trends in Russian domestic politics (elections, political parties, Kremlin-regional relations, media, human rights etc.) in so far as they affect Russia’s relationship with the US.”

    “The section consists of three units: External Affairs, Political-Military Affairs, Internal Affairs.”

    In other words, it spies. It does so under cover of diplomacy. It’s much like during Cold War days. Washington spends unknown sums doing it. Black budgets aren’t revealed.

    VOR said:

    “While the CIA may place an agent or officer under official cover in any position, even ambassador, it is important to note that the section this particular agent was working in would have been responsible for whatever operations the US has connected to the recent Russian opposition and meddling in the elections processes in Russia.”

    When Fogle was arrested, FSB said he had technical devices, a disguise, a large stack of 500-euro notes (about $650 each), and Russian instructions for an intelligence agent he tried to recruit.

    A photo showed him lying face down. His arms were pinned behind his back. Instructions apparently were in letter form. It was addressed to a “Dear friend,” saying:


    “This is an advance from someone who has been highly impressed by your professionalism, and who would highly value your cooperation in the future.”

    “We are willing to offer you $100,000 and discuss your experience, expertise and cooperation, and payment could be significantly larger, if you are willing to answer concrete questions.”

    It added that $1 million annually would be paid for longterm cooperation. Bonuses were promised for special information.

    Instructions explained an anonymous Internet cafe gmail account – unbacggdA@gmail.com. Write to the address was said, wait seven days, and check for an answer.

    The closing comment was: “Thank you for reading this. We are very anxious for the opportunity to be working with you in the near future. Your friends.”

    VOR said embassy undercover work is “old school….(W)hat’s interesting is the apparent desperation the CIA is operating under in attempting to obtain intelligence about Russia.”

    Using an anonymous gmail address is another twist. Russia’s FSB said:

    “Recently, the US intelligence community has repeatedly attempted to recruit employees of Russian law enforcement agencies and special departments.”

    These attempts were “recorded and passed to FSB Counter-Intelligence.” It prevents widespread internal US meddling. It does so effectively.

    Various schemes were discovered. Doing so foiled US schemes. VOR said Washington’s color revolution plot failed. USAID was expelled.

    On Wednesday, Russia’s Channel 1 television aired comments from a man called an FSB officer. His identify was concealed. He said:

    “Over the past two years we have been observing persistent attempts by the CIA to recruit employees of Russian law enforcement and security agencies.”

    “We asked our American colleagues to discontinue such disturbing practices with regard to Russian citizens. However, our requests were ignored.”

    He added that Russian counterintelligence knew Fogle was a career CIA agent the moment he arrived. He was closely monitored.

    His foiled espionage mission wasn’t his first. His amateurish disguise wasn’t the first time he used one.

    Other CIA operatives infest Russia. Its counterintelligence perhaps is on to their schemes. It’s had decades learning how. Its Cold War adversary hasn’t changed.

    Golos is a so-called independent NGO election monitor. America’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funds it.

    In last year’s Russian elections, it alleged over 2,000 irregularities, including 900 in Moscow. Executive director Grigory Melkonyants claimed “massive serious violations.” He was well paid to say it.

    NED, its National Democratic Institute (NDI) arm, the International Republican Institute (IRI), USAID, and similar organizations function as destabilizing US foreign policy tools.

    Russia’s a prime target. The Cold War never ended. It’s reinvented in new form.

    Taking NED or other foreign money violates Russian law. Making baseless accusations compounds malfeasance. Golos is considered a foreign agent.

    It’s been fined two or more times. Charges involved violating Russian electoral law. It still operates. Strict new reporting measures are enforced. All NGOs must comply.

    Washington’s subversion and destabilization schemes are harder to implement successfully. Fewer opportunities are afforded.

    Moscow prefers cooperative relations with America. Good faith offers are made. Washington’s confrontational policies prevent them.

    America’s covert war persists. It’s much like the bad old days. Names, faces, strategies and technology alone changed.

    Russian effectiveness in preventing CIA subversion exposes a “very large gap in US intelligence,” said VOR.

    Michael McFaul is US ambassador. On May 15, he was summoned to Russia’s Foreign Minister to explain. The previous day, he refused to answer journalists’ questions. He faced tougher official ones.

    At the same time, Moscow’s Center for Political Information general director Alexei Mukhin believes Russian-US relations won’t change much. “Despite being a very unpleasant incident,” he said, “it is still more or an embarrassment.”

    He’s likely right. Both countries know the other spies. Most nations do it. Key is not getting caught. Other issues take precedence. They affect normalized relations.

    Last December, America’s Magnitsky Act became law. Putin called it “purely political (and) unfriendly.”

    Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian attorney. In 2009, he died in police custody. His death drew international media attention.

    He specialized in civil law. He did anti-corruption work. He uncovered evidence of tax fraud. He implicated police, judiciary figures, tax officials, bankers, and Russia’s mafia.

    He accused them of stealing around $230 million dollars in 2007 through fraudulent tax refunds.

    Initially his death was blamed on medical neglect. Later claims suggested murder. Official investigations began. In July 2011, death by medical neglect was ruled.

    Enacting Magnitsky normalized US/Russian trade relations. Doing so came with strings. Moscow raised legitimate objections.

    The legislation imposes visa bans, asset freezes, and other sanctions on Russian nationals accused of committing human rights abuses. Other disturbing provisions were included.

    Russia responded. The Dima Yakovlev bill was enacted. It imposes visa bans and asset freezes on US officials accused of violating the rights of Russian citizens abroad.

    It prohibits US-sponsored NGOs from operating in Russia disruptively. It also targets US citizens associated with them. Another provision bans US citizens from adopting Russian orphans.

    At issue is neglect causing harm or death. Dima Yakovlev was a Russian boy. His adoptive father’s reprehensible negligence and abuse caused his death. He was acquitted on manslaughter charges.

    Lax US adoption laws and follow-through procedures prevent knowing how other Russian orphans are treated.

    US-Russia 2009 reset policies promised a “fresh start.” Rhetoric was more promise than fulfillment. Washington’s intentions prevent normalized relations. Obama is more belligerent than Bush. Conflict is prioritized over diplomacy.

    Encircling Russia with US bases is major thorn affecting normalized relations. Militarizing North Africa, the Middle East and part of Eurasia breached GHW Bush’s pledge to Mikhail Gorbachev not to do so.

    Washington’s promises aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Russia understands well. At a time no nation threatens America, the Pentagon maintain a growing network of well over 1,000 global bases. Unknown secret ones exist.

    Many are positioned near Russia’s borders. Doing so is provocative and belligerent. So called missile defense systems and advanced tracking radar are for offense, not defense.

    Friendly countries don’t treat others this way. Doing so is fraught with risks. Russia knows it’s targeted. US policy destroys trust.

    Fogel’s arrest appears strategically timed. On June 17 and 18, Putin and Obama will attend the G8 summit. It’s scheduled for Northern Ireland. They’ll likely talk privately.

    In September, they’ll meet again. The G20 summit is scheduled for St. Petersburg. Egg on Obama’s face affords Putin more leverage. How things will play out remains to be seen.

    Major bilateral and geopolitical issues must be addressed. On May 15, Russia Today (RT) headlined “Presidential post: Putin’s response to Obama letter to be ‘mailed’ soon.”

    Obama’s letter discussed missile defense, nuclear disarmament and transparent interaction. Putin’s response is expected shortly. It’s “exact content” isn’t known.

    Russia’s Kommersant daily learned the main topics. RT said Obama proposed a legally binding agreement. He wants to assure neither country plans aggressive moves against the other.

    It bears repeating, American promises aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. The 2010 New Start treaty was deeply flawed. It reflected old wine in new bottles.

    Nuclear disarmament isn’t planned. Rhetoric changed, not policy. Washington plans new, upgraded weapons. They’ll replace outdated ones.

    Dangerous testing continues. First-strike capability is prioritized. Plans include doing so from space. Putin understands the threat. Mutual distrust won’t change. Putin has just cause for concern.

    On May 15, he chaired a council of Russia’s top military officials. Discussion focused on developing defensive missile systems. At issue is countering America’s threat. It’s a menace too great to ignore.

    Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

    By Stephen Lendman
    Global Research, May 16, 2013

    Find this story at 16 May 2013

    Copyright © 2005-2014 GlobalResearch.ca

    Encircling Russia, Targeting China (2010)

    NATO’S True Role in US Grand Strategy

    On November 19 and 20, NATO leaders meet in Lisbon for what is billed as a summit on “NATO’s Strategic Concept”. Among topics of discussion will be an array of scary “threats”, from cyberwar to climate change, as well as nice protective things like nuclear weapons and a high tech Maginot Line boondoggle supposed to stop enemy missiles in mid-air. The NATO leaders will be unable to avoid talking about the war in Afghanistan, that endless crusade that unites the civilized world against the elusive Old Man of the Mountain, Hassan i Sabah, eleventh century chief of the Assassins in his latest reincarnation as Osama bin Laden. There will no doubt be much talk of “our shared values”.

    Most of what they will discuss is fiction with a price tag.

    The one thing missing from the Strategic Concept summit agenda is a serious discussion of strategy.

    This is partly because NATO as such has no strategy, and cannot have its own strategy. NATO is in reality an instrument of United States strategy. Its only operative Strategic Concept is the one put into practice by the United States. But even that is an elusive phantom. American leaders seem to prefer striking postures, “showing resolve”, to defining strategies.

    One who does presume to define strategy is Zbigniew Brzezinski, godfather of the Afghan Mujahidin back when they could be used to destroy the Soviet Union. Brzezinski was not shy about bluntly stating the strategic objective of U.S. policy in his 1993 book The Grand Chessboard: “American primacy”. As for NATO, he described it as one of the institutions serving to perpetuate American hegemony, “making the United States a key participant even in intra-European affairs.” In its “global web of specialized institutions”, which of course includes NATO, the United States exercises power through “continuous bargaining, dialogue, diffusion, and quest for formal consensus, even though that power originates ultimately from a single source, namely, Washington, D.C.”

    The description perfectly fits the Lisbon “Strategic Concept” conference. Last week, NATO’s Danish secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, announced that “we are pretty close to a consensus”. And this consensus, according to the New York Times, “will probably follow President Barack Obama’s own formulation: to work toward a non-nuclear world while maintaining a nuclear deterrent”.

    Wait a minute, does that make sense? No, but it is the stuff of NATO consensus. Peace through war, nuclear disarmament through nuclear armament, and above all, defense of member states by sending expeditionary forces to infuriate the natives of distant lands.

    A strategy is not a consensus written by committees.

    The American method of “continuous bargaining, dialogue, diffusion, and quest for formal consensus” wears down whatever resistance may occasionally appear. Thus Germany and France initially resisted Georgian membership in NATO, as well as the notorious “missile shield”, both seen as blatant provocations apt to set off a new arms race with Russia and damage fruitful German and French relations with Moscow, for no useful purpose. But the United States does not take no for an answer, and keeps repeating its imperatives until resistance fades. The one recent exception was the French refusal to join the invasion of Iraq, but the angry U.S. reaction scared the conservative French political class into supporting the pro-American Nicolas Sarkozy.

    In search of “threats” and “challenges”

    The very heart of what passes for a “strategic concept” was first declared and put into operation in the spring of 1999, when NATO defied international law, the United Nations and its own original charter by waging an aggressive war outside its defensive perimeter against Yugoslavia. That transformed NATO from a defensive to an offensive alliance. Ten years later, the godmother of that war, Madeleine Albright, was picked to chair the “group of experts” that spent several months holding seminars, consultations and meetings preparing the Lisbon agenda. Prominent in these gatherings were Lord Peter Levene, chairman of Lloyd’s of London, the insurance giant, and the former chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, Jeroen van der Veer. These ruling class figures are not exactly military strategists, but their participation should reassure the international business community that their worldwide interests are being taken into consideration.

    Indeed, a catalogue of threats enumerated by Rasmussen in a speech last year seemed to suggest that NATO was working for the insurance industry. NATO, he said, was needed to deal with piracy, cyber security, climate change, extreme weather events such as catastrophic storms and flooding, rising sea levels, large-scale population movement into inhabited areas, sometimes across borders, water shortages, droughts, decreasing food production, global warming, CO2 emissions, the retreat of Arctic ice uncovering hitherto inaccessible resources, fuel efficiency and dependence on foreign sources, etc.

    Most of the enumerated threats cannot even remotely be construed as calling for military solutions. Surely no “rogue states” or “outposts of tyranny” or “international terrorists” are responsible for climate change, yet Rasmussen presents them as challenges to NATO.

    On the other hand, some of the results of these scenarios, such as population movements caused by rising sea levels or drought, can indeed be seen as potentially causing crises. The ominous aspect of the enumeration is precisely that all such problems are eagerly snatched up by NATO as requiring military solutions.

    The main threat to NATO is its own obsolescence. And the search for a “strategic concept” is the search for pretexts to keep it going.

    NATO’s Threat to the World

    While it searches for threats, NATO itself is a growing threat to the world. The basic threat is its contribution to strengthening the U.S.-led tendency to abandon diplomacy and negotiations in favor of military force. This is seen clearly in Rasmussen’s inclusion of weather phenomena in his list of threats to NATO, when they should, instead, be problems for international diplomacy and negotiations. The growing danger is that Western diplomacy is dying. The United States has set the tone: we are virtuous, we have the power, the rest of the world must obey or else. Diplomacy is despised as weakness. The State Department has long since ceased to be at the core of U.S. foreign policy. With its vast network of military bases the world over, as well as military attachés in embassies and countless missions to client countries, the Pentagon is incomparably more powerful and influential in the world than the State Department. Recent Secretaries of State, far from seeking diplomatic alternatives to war, have actually played a leading role in advocating war instead of diplomacy, whether Madeleine Albright in the Balkans or Colin Powell waving fake test tubes in the United Nations Security Council. Policy is defined by the National Security Advisor, various privately-funded think tanks and the Pentagon, with interference from a Congress which itself is composed of politicians eager to obtain military contracts for their constituencies.

    NATO is dragging Washington’s European allies down the same path. Just as the Pentagon has replaced the State Department, NATO itself is being used by the United States as a potential substitute for the United Nations. The 1999 “Kosovo war” was a first major step in that direction. Sarkozy’s France, after rejoining the NATO joint command, is gutting the traditionally skilled French foreign service, cutting back on civilian representation throughout the world. The European Union foreign service now being created by Lady Ashton will have no policy and no authority of its own.

    Bureaucratic Inertia

    Behind its appeals to “common values”, NATO is driven above all by bureaucratic inertia. The alliance itself is an excrescence of the U.S. military-industrial complex. For sixty years, military procurements and Pentagon contracts have been an essential source of industrial research, profits, jobs, Congressional careers, even university funding. The interplay of these varied interests converge to determine an implicit U.S. strategy of world conquest.

    An ever-expanding global network of somewhere between 800 and a thousand military bases on foreign soil.

    Bilateral military accords with client states which offer training while obliging them to purchase U.S.-made weapons and redesign their armed forces away from national defense toward internal security (i.e. repression) and possible integration into U.S.-led wars of aggression.

    Use of these close relationships with local armed forces to influence the domestic politics of weaker states.

    Perpetual military exercises with client states, which provide the Pentagon with perfect knowledge of the military potential of client states, integrate them into the U.S. military machine, and sustain a “ready for war” mentality.

    Deployment of its network of bases, “allies” and military exercises so as to surround, isolate, intimidate and eventually provoke major nations perceived as potential rivals, notably Russia and China.

    The implicit strategy of the United States, as perceived by its actions, is a gradual military conquest to ensure world domination. One original feature of this world conquest project is that, although extremely active, day after day, it is virtually ignored by the vast majority of the population of the conquering nation, as well as by its most closely dominated allies, i.e., the NATO states. The endless propaganda about “terrorist threats” (the fleas on the elephant) and other diversions keep most Americans totally unaware of what is going on, all the more easily in that Americans are almost uniquely ignorant of the rest of the world and thus totally uninterested. The U.S. may bomb a country off the map before more than a small fraction of Americans know where to find it.

    The main task of U.S. strategists, whose careers take them between think tanks, boards of directors, consultancy firms and the government, is to justify this giant mechanism much more than to steer it. To a large extent, it steers itself. Since the collapse of the “Soviet threat”, policy-makers have settled for invisible or potential threats. U.S. military doctrine has as its aim to move preventively against any potential rival to U.S. world hegemony. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia retains the largest arsenal outside the United States, and China is a rapidly rising economic power. Neither one threatens the United States or Western Europe. On the contrary, both are ready and willing to concentrate on peaceful business.

    However, they are increasingly alarmed by the military encirclement and provocative military exercises carried on by the United States on their very doorsteps. The implicit aggressive strategy may be obscure to most Americans, but leaders in the targeted countries are quite certain they understand what it is going on.

    The Russia-Iran-Israel Triangle

    Currently, the main explicit “enemy” is Iran. Washington claims that the “missile shield” which it is forcing on its European allies is designed to defend the West from Iran. But the Russians see quite clearly that the missile shield is aimed at themselves. First of all, they understand quite clearly that Iran has no such missiles nor any possible motive for using them against the West. It is perfectly obvious to all informed analysts that even if Iran developed nuclear weapons and missiles, they would be conceived as a deterrent against Israel, the regional nuclear superpower which enjoys a free hand attacking neighboring countries. Israel does not want to lose that freedom to attack, and thus naturally opposes the Iranian deterrent. Israeli propagandists scream loudly about the threat from Iran, and have worked incessantly to infect NATO with their paranoia.

    Israel has even been described as “Global NATO’s 29th member”. Israeli officials have assiduously worked on a receptive Madeleine Albright to make sure that Israeli interests are included in the “Strategic Concept”. During the past five years, Israel and NATO have been taking part in joint naval exercises in the Red Sea and in the Mediterranean, as well as joint ground exercises from Brussels to Ukraine. On October 16, 2006, Israel became the first non-European country to reach a so-called “Individual Cooperation Program” agreement with NATO for cooperation in 27 different areas. It is worth noting that Israel is the only country outside Europe which the U.S. includes in the area of responsibility of its European Command (rather than the Central Command that covers the rest of the Middle East).

    At a NATO-Israel Relations seminar in Herzliya on October 24, 2006, the Israeli foreign minister at the time, Tzipi Livni, declared that “The alliance between NATO and Israel is only natural….Israel and NATO share a common strategic vision. In many ways, Israel is the front line defending our common way of life.”

    Not everybody in European countries would consider that Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine reflect “our common way of life”. This is no doubt one reason why the deepening union between NATO and Israel has not taken the open form of NATO membership. Especially after the savage attack on Gaza, such a move would arouse objections in European countries. Nevertheless, Israel continues to invite itself into NATO, ardently supported, of course, by its faithful followers in the U.S. Congress.

    The principal cause of this growing Israel-NATO symbiosis has been identified by Mearsheimer and Walt: the vigorous and powerful pro-Israel lobby in the United States. Israeli lobbies are also strong in France, Britain and the UK. They have zealously developed the theme of Israel as the “front line” in the defense of “Western values” against militant Islam. The fact that militant Islam is largely a product of that “front line” creates a perfect vicious circle.

    Israel’s aggressive stance toward its regional neighbors would be a serious liability for NATO, apt to be dragged into wars of Israel’s choosing which are by no means in the interest of Europe.

    However, there is one subtle strategic advantage in the Israeli connection which the United States seems to be using… against Russia. By subscribing to the hysterical “Iranian threat” theory, the United States can continue to claim with a straight face that the planned missile shield is directed against Iran, not Russia. This cannot be expected to convince the Russians. But it can be used to make their protests sound “paranoid” – at least to the ears of the Western faithful. Dear me, what can they be complaining about when we “reset” our relations with Moscow and invite the Russian president to our “Strategic Concept” happy gathering?

    However, the Russians know quite well that:

    The missile shield is to be constructed surrounding Russia, which does have missiles, which it keeps for deterrence.

    By neutralizing Russian missiles, the United States would free its own hand to attack Russia, knowing that the Russia could not retaliate.

    Therefore, whatever is said, the missile shield, if it worked, would serve to facilitate eventual aggression against Russia.

    Encircling Russia

    The encirclement of Russia continues in the Black Sea, the Baltic and the Arctic circle.

    United States officials continue to claim that Ukraine must join NATO. Just this week, in a New York Times column, Zbigniew’s son Ian J. Brzezinski advised Obama against abandoning the “vision” of a “whole, free and secure” Europe including “eventual Georgian and Ukrainian membership in NATO and the European Union.” The fact that the vast majority of the people of Ukraine are against NATO membership is of no account. For the current scion of the noble Brzezinski dynasty it is the minority that counts. Abandoning the vision “undercuts those in Georgia and Ukraine who see their future in Europe. It reinforces Kremlin aspirations for a sphere of influence…” The notion that “the Kremlin” aspires to a “sphere of influence” in Ukraine is absurd considering the extremely close historic links between Russia and Ukraine, whose capital Kiev was the cradle of the Russian state. But the Brzezinski family hailed from Galicia, the part of Western Ukraine which once belonged to Poland, and which is the center of the anti-Russian minority. U.S. foreign policy is all too frequently influenced by such foreign rivalries of which the vast majority of Americans are totally ignorant.

    Relentless U.S. insistence on absorbing Ukraine continues despite the fact that it would imply expelling the Russian Black Sea fleet from its base in the Crimean peninsula, where the local population is overwhelmingly Russian speaking and pro-Russian. This is a recipe for war with Russia if ever there was one.

    And meanwhile, U.S. officials continue to declare their support for Georgia, whose American-trained president openly hopes to bring NATO support into his next war against Russia. Aside from provocative naval maneuvers in the Black Sea, the United States, NATO and (as yet) non-NATO members Sweden and Finland regularly carry out major military exercises in the Baltic Sea, virtually in sight of the Russia cities Saint Petersburg and Kaliningrad. These exercises involve thousands of ground troops, hundreds of aircraft including F-15 jet fighters, AWACS, as well as naval forces including the U.S. Carrier Strike Group 12, landing craft and warships from a dozen countries.

    Perhaps most ominous of all, in the Arctic region, the United States has been persistently engaging Canada and the Scandinavian states (including Denmark via Greenland) in a military deployment openly directed against Russia. The point of these Arctic deployment was stated by Fogh Rasmussen when he mentioned, among “threats” to be met by NATO, the fact that “Arctic ice is retreating, for resources that had, until now, been covered under ice.” Now, one might consider that this uncovering of resources would be an opportunity for cooperation in exploiting them. But that is not the official U.S. mind set.

    Last October, US Admiral James G Stavridis, supreme Nato commander for Europe, said global warming and a race for resources could lead to a conflict in the Arctic. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Christopher C. Colvin, in charge of Alaska’s coastline, said Russian shipping activity in the Arctic Ocean was “of particular concern” for the US and called for more military facilities in the region. The US Geological Service believes that the Arctic contains up to a quarter of the world’s unexplored deposits of oil and gas. Under the 1982 United Nations Law of the Sea Convention, a coastal state is entitled to a 200-nautical mile EEZ and can claim a further 150 miles if it proves that the seabed is a continuation of its continental shelf. Russia is applying to make this claim. After pushing for the rest of the world to adopt the Convention, the United States Senate has still not ratified the Treaty. In January 2009, NATO declared the “High North” to be “of strategic interest to the Alliance,” and since then, NATO has held several major war games clearly preparing for eventual conflict with Russia over Arctic resources.

    Russia largely dismantled its defenses in the Arctic after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and has called for negotiating compromises over resource control. Last September, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin called for joint efforts to protect the fragile ecosystem, attract foreign investment, promote environmentally friendly technologies and work to resolve disputes through international law. But the United States, as usual, prefers to settle the issue by throwing its weight around. This could lead to a new arms race in the Arctic, and even to armed clashes.

    Despite all these provocative moves, it is most unlikely that the United States actually seeks war with Russia, although skirmishes and incidents here and there cannot be ruled out. The U.S. policy appears to be to encircle and intimidate Russia to such an extent that it accepts a semi-satellite status that neutralizes it in the anticipated future conflict with China.

    Target China

    The only reason to target China is like the proverbial reason to climb the mountain: it is there. It is big. And the US must be on top of everything.

    The strategy for dominating China is the same as for Russia. It is classic warfare: encirclement, siege, more or less clandestine support for internal disorder. As examples of this strategy:

    The United States is provocatively strengthening its military presence along the Pacific shores of China, offering “protection against China” to East Asian countries.

    During the Cold War, when India got its armaments from the Soviet Union and struck a non-aligned posture, the United States armed Pakistan as its main regional ally. Now the U.S. is shifting its favors to India, in order to keep India out of the orbit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and to build it as a counterweight to China.

    The United States and its allies support any internal dissidence that might weaken China, whether it is the Dalai Lama, the Uighurs, or Liu Xiaobo, the jailed dissident.

    The Nobel Peace Prize was bestowed on Liu Xiaobo by a committee of Norwegian legislators headed by Thorbjorn Jagland, Norway’s echo of Tony Blair, who has served as Norway’s prime minister and foreign minister, and has been one of his country’s main cheerleaders for NATO. At a NATO-sponsored conference of European parliamentarians last year, Jagland declared: “When we are not able to stop tyranny, war starts. This is why NATO is indispensable. NATO is the only multilateral military organization rooted in international law. It is an organization that the U.N. can use when necessary — to stop tyranny, like we did in the Balkans.” This is an astoundingly bold misstatement of fact, considering that NATO openly defied international law and the United Nations to make war in the Balkans – where in reality there was ethnic conflict, but no “tyranny”.

    In announcing the choice of Liu, the Norwegian Nobel committee, headed by Jagland, declared that it “has long believed that there is a close connection between human rights and peace.” The “close connection”, to follow the logic of Jagland’s own statements, is that if a foreign state fails to respect human rights according to Western interpretations, it may be bombed, as NATO bombed Yugoslavia. Indeed, the very powers that make the most noise about “human rights”, notably the United States and Britain, are the ones making the most wars all over the world. The Norwegian’s statements make it clear that granting the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu (who in his youth spent time in Norway) amounted in reality to an endorsement of NATO.

    “Democracies” to replace the United Nations

    The European members of NATO add relatively little to the military power of the United States. Their contribution is above all political. Their presence maintains the illusion of an “International Community”. The world conquest being pursued by the bureaucratic inertia of the Pentagon can be presented as the crusade by the world’s “democracies” to spread their enlightened political order to the rest of a recalcitrant world.

    The Euro-Atlantic governments proclaim their “democracy” as proof of their absolute right to intervene in the affairs of the rest of the world. On the basis of the fallacy that “human rights are necessary for peace”, they proclaim their right to make war.

    A crucial question is whether “Western democracy” still has the strength to dismantle this war machine before it is too late.

    Note: Grateful thanks to Rick Rozoff for his constant flow of important information.

    DIANA JOHNSTONE is the author of Fools Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions.She can be reached at diana.josto@yahoo.fr

    NOVEMBER 18, 2010

    Find this story at 18 November 2010

    Copyright © CounterPunch

    Encircling Russia (2004)

    The latest expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation by taking in seven countries, all except one of them members of the erstwhile Warsaw Pact, is a step closer to the encirclement of Russia by the Western military alliance.

    NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer (fourth from right) with Foreign Ministers of the seven new NATO members, (from left) Bulgaria’s Solomon Isaac Passy, Lituania’s Antanas Valionis, Slovenia’s Dimitri Rupel, Estonia’s Kristina Ojuland, Romania’s Mircea Dan Geoana, Latvia’s Rihards Piks and Slovakia’s Eduard Kukan at the alliance headquarters in Brussels on April 2.

    ON March 29, United States President George W. Bush formally welcomed seven new members to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) at a ceremony in the White House. The new members are Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. Except Slovenia, all of them were part of the Warsaw Pact, which was the military counter-weight to NATO in Europe during the Cold War. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were part of the Soviet Union.

    President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics Mikhail Gorbachev was given an assurance by the West prior to the dismantling of the Berlin Wall that NATO too would be disbanded eventually. Many in the West argued that with the disappearance of the so-called Communist threat, the rationale for the existence of NATO no longer existed. In retrospect, Washington had long-term plans aimed at ensuring its continued military dominance in East and Central Europe.

    NATO was formed on April 4, 1949, by 12 countries – Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States. The first formal expansion of NATO took place in 1999, when three former Warsaw Pact members, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, were welcomed into the alliance.

    Moscow, while not publicly pressing the panic button, has reasons to be worried. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov has said that his country will be forced to revise its defence policy unless NATO revised its military doctrine. “Why is an organisation that was designed to oppose the Soviet Union and its allies in Eastern Europe still necessary in today’s world?” he asked. The Russian leadership had made it clear to the U.S. that it considers the recent expansion as an unfriendly step and an extension of U.S. hegemony into Central-Eastern Europe. With the U.S. pulling all the strings in NATO, that means the setting up of U.S. military bases and deep penetration by the U.S. of the military and security systems of East Europe. NATO encirclement will also mean that U.S. missiles will be seconds away from Moscow and U.S. spy planes will be constantly snooping on Russian defence and scientific installations.

    Even some NATO members, notably France and Germany, are not too happy with the unseemly haste with which the new members have been brought in. The seven new members form part of what U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has characterised as “new Europe”. The U.S. hopes to downsize further the influence of Western Europe in NATO as it completes the encirclement of Russia. With the addition of the new members, NATO’s access to the Kalingrad region as well as the Black Sea will be further circumscribed.

    By European standards, barring Slovenia, the new members are relatively poor but are all part of President Bush’s “coalition of the willing” in the so-called `War on Terror’. Membership of NATO was one of the inducements offered to these countries. U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel had described the new NATO members as the “Coalition of the Bought” last year. In lieu of their token participation in Iraq, the Bush administration had given these countries a lot of inducements, including the setting up of a $100-million Central European Investment Fund, enhanced trade status and easier access to international capital. Many of the new members joined the “coalition of the willing” without taking their Parliaments or people into confidence. NATO is being expanded when older NATO members such as Spain, which is the sixth biggest contributor of troops, have given notice that they are withdrawing troops from Iraq. There are 1,300 Spanish troops in Iraq. Even the Polish government has hinted that the withdrawal of its 2,460 troops from Iraq is a distinct possibility. Poland has the fourth largest number of troops in that country. The new NATO members have so far contributed only a token number of soldiers.

    The Russian Defence Minster, in a signed article, has said that Russia has valid reasons to be concerned about NATO’s ongoing expansion, particularly if it goes ahead with the plan to build big military bases in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. “The alliance is gaining greater ability to control and monitor Russian territory. We cannot turn a blind eye as NATO’s air and military bases get much closer to cities and defence complexes in European Russia,” he wrote. Russia has also expressed its concerns about NATO’s new priorities, which are contrary to its charter and stated goals. At the NATO summit held in Prague in 2002, the alliance agreed to undertake military operations even outside the territory of member-nations, whenever deemed necessary, without a United Nations mandate. “Any NATO actions not approved by the U.N. should therefore be considered illegal – including `preventive wars’ like that in Iraq,” wrote Ivanov. He told the Russian media in early April that he regretted that NATO was “much more concerned about the deployment of military bases and strike aircraft as close to the Russian borders as possible”.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin said in the first week of April that NATO’s enlargement would not help solve international problems. “Practice has shown that a mechanical enlargement cannot help us ward off the threats we face. This enlargement could not prevent the terrorist acts in Madrid, nor could it help us solve the problems in Afghanistan,” Putin pointed out. The Kremlin has reason to be wary about Washington’s game plan. In the last two years, American military bases have been established in Russia’s “Asian underbelly” – the states of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The U.S. has bases in Georgia and Bulgaria. NATO now has a foothold in the Baltic, Caspian and Black Seas. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and French President Jacques Chirac were in Moscow in the first week of April. They were the first Western leaders to visit Moscow after Putin’s re-election. The NATO expansion would have no doubt been on top of their agenda for discussion. Putin has said on several occasions that Russia, Germany and France have “practically coinciding” positions on most international issues.

    Though the Russian leadership is not openly articulating it, NATO is being perceived as a political organisation that has illegally appropriated global responsibilities. Its recent actions have also shown that it is a military-political alliance inimical to Russia. NATO has made it clear that it will go on expanding until it seals once and for all the political results of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The next round of expansion could involve Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Uzbekistan and other Central Asian countries, completing the geopolitical encirclement of Russia. Some Russian commentators say that the eastward expansion of NATO constitutes the biggest threat to their country since the Great Patriotic War (Second World War ). Before its neighbours joined NATO, Russia had nothing to fear from their armies. Now it has to confront the might of NATO at its doorstep. Statements by Western leaders that they consider Russia as “a partner not an enemy” will no longer be taken seriously.

    Volume 21 – Issue 09, April 24 – May 07, 2004


    Find this story April May 2004

    Copyright © 2004, Frontline.