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Anne Applebaum’s — and the Pentagon’s take on Europe

Europe is a peninsula of Eurasia, and it is at last awaking up to the fact that its trans-Atlantic bonds are what threaten its future

Alex Christoforou

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(New Eastern Outlook) – I remember during how during World War II Americans anxiously tuned in to their radios to hear the news from the US’s two fronts: invariably, there were figures on how many miles our troops had advanced in the latest battles. Journalists, which later came to be referred to as ‘embedded’ with the fighting forces, competed to publish the figures first.

Nowadays, American journalists simply state that in 2014 Russia ‘invaded’ Ukraine, without reporting how many kilometers its troops covered on any given day. (Obviously, Western journalists were not ‘embedded’ with the invading Russian force, however three years later, we still do not have the faintest idea how the invasion they still refer to went down. The mighty Russian army that ‘threatens’ Europe never arrived in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, a mere 236 miles from the Russian border. In fact, its presence on Ukrainian territory is limited to supporting two Russian-inhabited rebel provinces.

And yet, serious writers like Anne Applebaum, (wife of former Polish Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski and a scholar with a host of credentials), in a recent issue of the New York Review of Books, no differently than tv journalists, claims that ‘Russia invaded Ukraine’.

Applebaum’s marriage to a high-level Polish official (whose Wiki includes more details about his accomplishments than that of any international leader you can think of ), and her acquisition of Polish citizenship, (although dual nationality is officially frowned upon by the State Department), together with her professional focus on Eastern Europe, suggests the likelihood that she would write from a Polish perspective, which is tainted by centuries’ long enmity toward Russia.

Even allowing for that bias, Applebaum’s article, built around a review of six books on Europe, paints a dire picture, yet fails to mention the role US force-feeding of neo-liberal economic policies played in the EU’s downfall from worker paradise to a pariah ripe for Russian ‘taking’.

Applebaum’s list of problems includes the migrant crisis (which can be traced to US wars of aggression) terrorism (ditto) international corruption (which affects the entire world), the single currency, high youth unemployment and ‘Russian revan-chism’. Youth unemployment too can be laid at neo-liberalism’s door, as seen when France’s new president, a former banker and neo-liberal poster child, made it easier for companies to fire people, supposedly in order to boost employment: the breadth and violence of the reaction surpasses anything demo-prone France has seen since the 1968 Paris Spring.

While Applebaum laments the absence of a common foreign and defense policy between the EU’s member states, she knows that the US is probably lobbying to prevent this from happening. Quoting the author of ‘The Great Regression, Heinrich Geiselberger: “All the risks of globalization that were discerned (in the 90’s) actually became reality.” And “Many hoped (the EU and NATO) would also help integrate Russia and North Africa into Europe.’ (Note the hubris of that idea, as opposed to more cooperation between equals when it comes to Russia and the fact that much of Europe is viscerally opposed to welcoming ‘dark people’ especially if they are Muslims).

Applebaum goes on to muddy the waters by claiming that ‘the US and Great Britain, who see the EU as a ‘left-leaning’ institution, will be surprised to learn that many contributors to [Geiselberger’s] book see the EU as part of the same neo-liberal problem.” Applebaum practices here the neo-liberal sleight-of-hand that blames the victim for the problem. If the EU is part of the ‘neo-liberal problem’ it’s because its leaders are incapable of resisting the pressure of US-led globalization.

As for ‘Russian revanchism’, this claim is developed in detail in an article for the Department of Defense’s Center for Complex Operations, by John Herbst, the Director of the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center and a retired U.S. Ambassador toUkraine and Uzbekistan. In “PRISM Volume 6, Number 2 | July 18, 2016”, Herbst claims that:

For instance, Ossetia didn’t shell Georgia, it was invaded and a handful of Russian peacekeepers paid with their lives to buy Ossetians some time before “the cavalry” came. From the very first days of the post-Soviet world, Moscows security services developed the frozen conflict” tactic to limit the sovereignty of its neighbors. They supported Armenian separatists in the Azerbaijan region of Nagorno-Karabakh in order to exert pressure on Azeris, South Ossetians, and Ajarians; the Abkhaz in Georgia to pressure Tbilisi; and the Slavs in Transnistria in order to keep Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, in check. For those who mistakenly blame current tensions with Moscow on NATO enlargement, it is worth noting that Moscow had its frozen conflicts policy in place before talk of the first expansion of NATO.”

Herbst fails to admit that harking back to a basic socialist tradition, one of Russia’s core principles is the defense of national sovereignty, while the US has systematically organized ‘color revolutions’ in the nations on Russia’s border in order to draw them into its orbit with the goal of eventually rendering Russia vulnerable to a takeover, complete with its trove of precious minerals and other resources.

According to Herbst:

“ After the Rose Revolution in Georgia in the fall of 2003, which drove President Eduard Shevardnadze from power, the Kremlin instituted a trade embargo and undertook various military provocations. In late July 2008, Russias South Ossetian proxies began to shell Georgian positions. A sharp Georgian response gave Moscow the pretext to send in troops in August, which promptly defeated the Georgians.”

The official Russian version of the ‘Georgian War’ is that Georgian soldiers stormed into the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali, causing Russia to send in troops to restore South Ossetian sovereignty. Yet Herbst continues:

Led by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Western mediators established a diplomatic process that led to a ceasefire. The United States sent humanitarian assistance to Georgia and, as a caution to Moscow not to send its troops further into Georgia beyond South Ossetia, delivered it via the U.S. military. Moscow did not take the war beyond South Ossetia.”

This account is a bit silly, as if by delivering aid ‘via the US military’ — whatever that means — was sufficient to deter Russia from further action. Why would Russia want to ‘take action’ against Georgia, anyway?

That’s just part of the usual obfuscation: there was actually a series of color revolutions, starting with the 2003 Rose Revolution in Georgia, the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the 2005 Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan. An American, Gene Sharp, is credited with providing the blueprint for the ‘color revolutions’ with his writings on non-violent change, and the US-educated and installed Sakashvili ruined Georgia all on his own, then sought refuge in Ukraine, where he was first given citizenship, then asked to leave. But Ukraine is another story.

Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution pitted a pro-Russian candidate against a nationalist, and was won by the nationalist. In the following election in that country, in 2010, the outcome was reversed, followed by EU efforts to woo Ukraine away from Russia by offering membership. American analysts never mention the reason why Russia opposed that membership: Russia has an economic treaty with Ukraine, that would not only result in EU and Ukrainian goods reciprocally circulating freely: EU goods would be able to enter Russia as well, with no reciprocity.

According to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in a speech to the Washington Press Club in December, 2013, the US spent five billion dollars encouraging Ukrainian demands for EU membership. That speech was uploaded to the internet the following February, when it became clear that violence in Kiev’s Maidan Square would culminate in a US-engineered coup against the elected pro-Russian President, Viktor Yanukovich. He fled on February, 22, 2014, after Neo-Nazi militiamen threatened an accord that had just been reached to end the clashes.

One of the militia leaders, Dmitri Yaros, who subsequently became Minister of the Interior, gave an expansive interview that Timepublished in its February 5, 2014 issue, and which was subsequently scrubbed from the internet. That interview, which can be accessed via the name of the interviewer, Simon Shuster is the most valuable document we have to prove that references to Neo-Nazis in Ukraine are vastly understated.

Yaros candidly traces the history of his movement from World War II, when Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera organized militias to kill Russians, Poles and Jews alongside Hitler’s SS, hoping the Reich would reward them with independence when it defeated the Soviet Union. (Ukraine only existed as an indepen-dent territorial entity for two years after World War I, and since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.) Today, the Ukrainian government is still supported by the Neo-Nazi militias that provided the muscle on the Maidan.

Back to Herbst’s version of history:

Putin has escalated his intervention [into Ukraine] several times. It began in April 2015 with Russian leadership, arms, and money” (almost a year after the formation of the Peoples’ Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk…). When Ukraine launched its counter-offensive under newly elected President Petro Poroshenko in June 2015, the Kremlin sent in increasingly sophisticated weapons, more fighters (including the Vostok Battalion of Chechens), and finally, the regular Russian army itself in August.

According to Herbst:

Only the use of regular Russian forces stopped the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Throughout this period, the West was slow and weak in confronting the Kremlin. For instance, the G7 leaders had warned Putin in early June that if he did not cease his intervention in Ukraine by the end of the month, Russia would face sectoral sanctions. Yet by the end of June, despite the introduction of major Russian weapons systems into Ukraine, there was no more talk of sectoral sanctions. Only the July shooting-down of the Malaysian passenger jet, along with the invasion (sic) by Russian troops, persuaded the Europeans to put those sanctions in place.” (Once again, this is a doctored version of Russian history: MH17 was not shot down by “top of the line” Russian weapons, but is widely believed to have been brought down by a Buk, an old Soviet weapon no longer in use by the Russian military, but still used by Ukrainians at the time. Also, according to this paragraph, the so-called Russian ‘invasion’ took place more than a year after the Kiev coup and the Eastern provinces declarations of autonomy!)

After regular Russian forces defeated the Ukrainian army in early September 2015, Germany and France helped negotiate the Minsk I ceasefire, which Russia repeatedly violated by introducing more equipment and military supplies into Ukraine and taking an additional 500 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory. This escalated aggression, however, did not lead to any additional sanctions last year.”

Where are these 500 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory that have supposedly been ‘taken’ by Russia? Again, deliberate obfuscation reigns. The reference is to ‘regular Russian forces’ as in an invading army, when in reality Russian volunteers were aiding the citizen armies of the Russian-speaking Peoples Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, while President Putin discouraging their hopes for integration into Russia.

The case of Crimea is different: unlike Eastern Ukraine, it had always been part of Russia since Catherine the Great seized it from Turkey, and it hosts Russia’s only warm water fleet, per a long-term treaty with Kiev. Given the strong presence of fascists in the post-2014 government, Russia could not risk having its naval base confiscated. The ‘little green men’ so popular with journalists were part of the contingent regularly stationed in Sebastopol.

However, according to Herbst:

“Putin’s second vulnerability concerns the use of his army in Ukraine. While his media have conducted an extensive smear campaign against Ukraine and its leadership, they have not been able to persuade the Russian people that Russian troops should be used there. Since the summer of 2015, numerous polls by Moscow’s Levada Center have shown that a large majority of the Russian people oppose using troops in Ukraine. Because of this, Putin has denied the presence of Russian troops there, despite strong evidence to the contrary. For example, thousands of regular Russian troops were used in August and September of 2014 to stop Ukraines counter-offensive.” (We have heard nothing of these supposed military to military battles. Where were the journalists?)

In January 2015, Western intelligence estimates reported that there were anywhere between 250 to 1,000 Russian officers in Ukraine, while Ukrainian intelligence claimed that there were as many as 9,000 or 10,000 Russian troops. Even Putin finally acknowledged in December 2015 that there were “some” Russian military in the Donbass.”

Broadening his analysis, Herbst seemingly lets his imagina-tion run wild: in reality this is a shop-worn effort to present the US attitude toward Russia as being more than willing to engage in joint efforts:

The United States might also enhance cooperation with all interested Central Asian states to offset the potential destabilizing impact of its withdrawal from Afghanistan. While this may seem counterintuitive, this last initiative need not exclude the Kremlin. Indeed, NATO and the EU can also help strengthen some nations on Russias periphery by projects that include the Kremlin. This would also demonstrate that NATO and EU policies are designed not just to discourage Kremlin aggression, but also to resuscitate cooperation on matters of mutual interest.”

But then – inevitably:

Policy in the grey zone should also focus on state weaknesses that Moscow exploits to ensure its control. As discussed above, the Kremlin uses its intelligence services to recruit agents in the power ministries of the post-Soviet states. It also uses its firms to acquire key sectors of these countries’ economies and to buy political influence.

With interested countries, the United States and NATO should offer programs to help vet (sic) the security services and militaries to make clear that (or to ensure that?) they both are under the full control of the political leaders in these states. At the same time, the United States and the EU should expand programs to uncover corruption in the financial and other sectors of these countries’ economies.

It’s hard to decide whether this breezy program qualifies as mere hutzpa or beyond the pale delusion: to imagine that ‘the Stans’ that ring Russia’s southern border, where Muslims live peaceful and increasingly comfortable lives, would be interested in US hucksterism, is almost beyond belief. Clearly, the Pentagon’s imagination is running wild:

Two years after Russia began to tear Ukraine apart,(!) and seven years after it did the same in Georgia, (!!) the West is finally waking up to the danger of Kremlin revanchism.”

What do the Pentagon’s ‘experts’ know about the intricacies of South Ossetian, Abkhazian or Azerbaijani politics — much less these three small nations’ relations with Russia? (Do any of them even speak these countries’ languages?) We seem to have ended up a long way from Applebaum’s Europe, but only to the extent that we buy into her view of it as a superior ‘civilization’ which the countries that make up the major part of the Eurasian continent — as well as Africa —should emulate. Europe is a peninsula of Eurasia, and it is at last awaking up to the fact that its trans-Atlantic bonds are what threaten its future.

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Is the Violent Dismemberment of Russia Official US Policy?

Neocons make the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

The Duran

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Authored by Erik D’Amato via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity:


If there’s one thing everyone in today’s Washington can agree on, it’s that whenever an official or someone being paid by the government says something truly outrageous or dangerous, there should be consequences, if only a fleeting moment of media fury.

With one notable exception: Arguing that the US should be quietly working to promote the violent disintegration and carving up of the largest country on Earth.

Because so much of the discussion around US-Russian affairs is marked by hysteria and hyperbole, you are forgiven for assuming this is an exaggeration. Unfortunately it isn’t. Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title “Managing Russia’s dissolution,” author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow’s neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution.

Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between overhyping Russia’s might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation.But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an “imperial construct.”

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable…

To manage the process of dissolution and lessen the likelihood of conflict that spills over state borders, the West needs to establish links with Russia’s diverse regions and promote their peaceful transition toward statehood.

Even more alarming is Bugajski’s argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries. “Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past.”

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill’s piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who’s who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a “Calexit,” and many more in Mexico of a reconquista.)

Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a quasi-official voice like Bugajski’s coming out in favor of a similar policy vis-a-vis China, which has its own restive regions, and which in geopolitical terms is no more or less of a threat to the US than Russia. One reason may be that China would consider an American call for secession by the Tibetans or Uyghurs to be a serious intrusion into their internal affairs, unlike Russia, which doesn’t appear to have noticed or been ruffled by Bugajski’s immodest proposal.

Indeed, just as the real scandal in Washington is what’s legal rather than illegal, the real outrage in this case is that few or none in DC finds Bugajski’s virtual declaration of war notable.

But it is. It is the sort of provocation that international incidents are made of, and if you are a US taxpayer, it is being made in your name, and it should be among your outrages of the month.

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At Age 70, Time To Rethink NATO

The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:


“Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.”

So said President Charles De Gaulle, who in 1966 ordered NATO to vacate its Paris headquarters and get out of France.

NATO this year celebrates a major birthday. The young girl of 1966 is no longer young. The alliance is 70 years old.

And under this aging NATO today, the U.S. is committed to treat an attack on any one of 28 nations from Estonia to Montenegro to Romania to Albania as an attack on the United States.

The time is ripe for a strategic review of these war guarantees to fight a nuclear-armed Russia in defense of countries across the length of Europe that few could find on a map.

Apparently, President Donald Trump, on trips to Europe, raised questions as to whether these war guarantees comport with vital U.S. interests and whether they could pass a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

The shock of our establishment that Trump even raised this issue in front of Europeans suggests that the establishment, frozen in the realities of yesterday, ought to be made to justify these sweeping war guarantees.

Celebrated as “the most successful alliance in history,” NATO has had two histories. Some of us can yet recall its beginnings.

In 1948, Soviet troops, occupying eastern Germany all the way to the Elbe and surrounding Berlin, imposed a blockade on the city.

The regime in Prague was overthrown in a Communist coup. Foreign minister Jan Masaryk fell, or was thrown, from a third-story window to his death. In 1949, Stalin exploded an atomic bomb.

As the U.S. Army had gone home after V-E Day, the U.S. formed a new alliance to protect the crucial European powers — West Germany, France, Britain, Italy. Twelve nations agreed that an attack on one would be treated as an attack on them all.

Cross the Elbe and you are at war with us, including the U.S. with its nuclear arsenal, Stalin was, in effect, told. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops returned to Europe to send the message that America was serious.

Crucial to the alliance was the Yalta line dividing Europe agreed to by Stalin, FDR and Churchill at the 1945 Crimean summit on the Black Sea.

U.S. presidents, even when monstrous outrages were committed in Soviet-occupied Europe, did not cross this line into the Soviet sphere.

Truman did not send armored units up the highway to Berlin. He launched an airlift to break the Berlin blockade. Ike did not intervene to save the Hungarian rebels in 1956. JFK confined his rage at the building of the Berlin Wall to the rhetorical: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

LBJ did nothing to help the Czechs when, before the Democratic convention in 1968, Leonid Brezhnev sent Warsaw Pact tank armies to crush the Prague Spring.

When the Solidarity movement of Lech Walesa was crushed in Gdansk, Reagan sent copy and printing machines. At the Berlin Wall in 1988, he called on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Reagan never threatened to tear it down himself.

But beginning in 1989, the Wall was torn down, Germany was united, the Red Army went home, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the USSR broke apart into 15 nations, and Leninism expired in its birthplace.

As the threat that had led to NATO disappeared, many argued that the alliance created to deal with that threat should be allowed to fade away, and a free and prosperous Europe should now provide for its own defense.

It was not to be. The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

This, said Kennan, would “inflame the nationalistic and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion” and “restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations.” Kennan was proven right.

America is now burdened with the duty to defend Europe from the Atlantic to the Baltic, even as we face a far greater threat in China, with an economy and population 10 times that of Russia.

And we must do this with a defense budget that is not half the share of the federal budget or the GDP that Eisenhower and Kennedy had.

Trump is president today because the American people concluded that our foreign policy elite, with their endless interventions where no vital U.S. interest was imperiled, had bled and virtually bankrupted us, while kicking away all of the fruits of our Cold War victory.

Halfway into Trump’s term, the question is whether he is going to just talk about halting Cold War II with Russia, about demanding that Europe pay for its own defense, and about bringing the troops home — or whether he is going to act upon his convictions.

Our foreign policy establishment is determined to prevent Trump from carrying out his mandate. And if he means to carry out his agenda, he had best get on with it.

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Photos of new Iskander base near Ukrainian border creates media hype

But research into the photos and cross-checking of news reports reveals only the standard anti-Russian narrative that has gone on for years.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News obtained satellite photos that claim that Russia has recently installed new Iskander missile batteries, one of them “near” to the Ukrainian border. However, what the Fox article does not say is left for the reader to discover: that in regards to Ukraine, these missiles are probably not that significant, unless the missiles are much longer range than reported:

The intelligence report provided to Fox by Imagesat International showed the new deployment in Krasnodar, 270 miles from the Ukrainian border. In the images is visible what appears to be an Iskander compound, with a few bunkers and another compound of hangars. There is a second new installation that was discovered by satellite photos, but this one is much farther to the east, in the region relatively near to Ulan-Ude, a city relatively close to the Mongolian border.

Both Ukraine and Mongolia are nations that have good relations with the West, but Mongolia has good relations with both its immediate neighbors, Russia and China, and in fact participated with both countries in the massive Vostok-2018 military war-games earlier this year.

Fox News provided these photos of the Iskander emplacement near Krasnodar:

Imagesat International

Fox annotated this photo in this way:

Near the launcher, there is a transloader vehicle which enables quick reloading of the missiles into the launcher. One of the bunker’s door is open, and another reloading vehicle is seen exiting from it.

[Fox:] The Iskander ballistic missile has a range up to 310 miles, and can carry both unconventional as well as nuclear warheads, putting most of America’s NATO allies at risk. The second deployment is near the border with Mongolia, in Ulan-Ude in Sothern Russia, where there are four launchers and another reloading vehicle.

[Fox:] Earlier this week, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said authorities of the former Soviet republic are being “controlled” by the West, warning it stands to lose its independence and identity as a consequence. “The continuation of such policy by the Kiev authorities can contribute to the loss of Ukraine’s statehood,” Mr Patrushev told Rossiyskaya Gazeta, according to Russian news agency TASS.

This situation was placed by Fox in context with the Kerch Strait incident, in which three Ukrainian vessels and twenty-four crew and soldiers were fired upon by Russian coast guard ships as they manuevered in the Kerch Strait without permission from Russian authorities based in Crimea. There are many indications that this incident was a deliberate attempt on the part of Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, to create a sensational incident, possibly to bolster his flagging re-election campaign. After the incident, the President blustered and set ten provinces in Ukraine under martial law for 30 days, insisting to the world, and especially to the United States, that Russia was “preparing to invade” his country.

Russia expressed no such sentiment in any way, but they are holding the soldiers until the end of January. However, on January 17th, a Moscow court extended the detention of eight of these captured Ukrainian sailors despite protests from Kyiv and Washington.

In addition to the tensions in Ukraine, the other significant point of disagreement between the Russian Federation and the US is the US’ plan to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Russia sees this treaty as extremely important, but the US point of view expressed by John Bolton, National Security Adviser, is that the treaty is useless because it does not include any other parties that have intermediate range nukes or the capability for them, such as Iran, North Korea, and China. This is an unsolved problem, and it is possible that the moves of the Iskander batteries is a subtle warning from the Russians that they really would rather the US stay in the treaty.

Discussions on this matter at public levels between the Russian government and the US have been very difficult because of the fierce anti-Russia and anti-Trump campaigns in the media and political establishments of the United States. President Putin and President Trump have both expressed the desire to meet, but complications like the Kerch Strait Incident conveniently arise, and have repeatedly disrupted the attempts for these two leaders to meet.

Where Fox News appears to get it wrong shows in a few places:

First, the known range for Iskander missiles maxes at about 310 miles. The placement of the battery near Krasnodar is 270 miles from the eastern Ukrainian border, but the eastern part of Ukraine is Russian-friendly and two provinces, Donetsk and Lugansk, are breakaway provinces acting as independent republics. The battery appears to be no threat to Kyiv or to that part of Ukraine which is aligned with the West. Although the missiles could reach into US ally Georgia, Krasnodar is 376 miles from Tbilisi, and so again it seems that there is no significant target for these missiles. (This is assuming the location given is accurate.)

Second, the location shown in the photo is (44,47,29.440N at 39,13,04.754E). The date on the “Krasnodar” photo is January 17, 2019. However, a photo of the region taken July 24, 2018 reveals a different layout. It takes a moment or two to study this, but there is not much of an exact match here:

Third, Fox News reported of “further Russian troops deployment and S-400 Surface to air missile days after the escalation started, hinting Russia might have orchestrated the naval incident.”

It may be true that Russia deployed weapons to this base area in Crimea, but this is now Russian territory. S-400s can be used offensively, but their primary purpose is defensive. Troops on the Crimean Peninsula, especially at this location far to the north of the area, are not in a position strategically to invade Kherson Oblast (a pushback would probably corner such forces on the Crimean peninsula with nowhere to go except the Black Sea). However, this does look like a possible defense installation should Ukraine’s forces try to invade or bomb Crimea.

Fox has this wrong, but it is no great surprise, because the American stance about Ukraine and Russia is similar – Russia can do no right, and Ukraine can do no wrong. Fox News is not monolithic on this point of view, of course, with anchors and journalists such as Tucker Carlson, who seem willing to acknowledge the US propaganda about the region. However, there are a lot of hawks as well. While photos in the articles about the S-400s and the Russian troops are accurately located, it does appear that the one about Iskanders is not, and that the folks behind this original article are guessing that the photos will not be questioned. After all, no one in the US knows where anything is in Russia and Ukraine, anyway, right?

That there is an issue here is likely. But is it appears that there is strong evidence that it is opposite what Fox reported here, it leaves much to be questioned.

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