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As landmark INF treaty closes in 30 years, will it survive? (Part II)

Both Russian and the US accuse each other of violating the agreement that eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons

Alex Christoforou




(Oriental Review) – Part 2. US grievances against Russia

By the summer of 1991, the Soviet Union and US had completely eliminated all the land-based ballistic and cruise missiles and their launchers that were subject to the 1987 INF Treaty, as verified by extensive on-site inspections.

This was confirmed by both official Russian sources as well as a series of State Department reports, Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments. Not one of those State Department reports contains any documented, fact-based examples of how the Russians have ever shirked their commitments under the provisions of the INF Treaty.

As landmark INF nuclear treaty closes in 30 years, will it survive?

Feeble allusions to some kind of Russian “violations” of the 1987 treaty began to spread back in 2012, after two high-ranking representatives of the Obama administration met with the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, chaired by John Kerry. In June 2012, Republican Senator Michael Turner wrote a letter to the US National Security Council and to the heads of the American intelligence community, asking why Moscow’s tests of its strategic intercontinental ballistic missiles shouldn’t be considered a violation of the 1987 treaty.

In the response offered by US Under Secretary of Defense James Miller on Aug. 3 of that year, the latter stated that the Russian 2012 ICBM tests “do not fall under any of the provisions or restrictions set forth in the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles.” This was quite a reasonable answer, because in accordance with the Soviet-American and Russian-American treaties on the limitation and reduction of strategic offensive nuclear weapons, the term “intercontinental ballistic missiles” applies to missiles with a minimum range of 5,500 km, and thus the Russian ICBMs would not meet the definition of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles as found in the INF Treaty.

In December 2013, at the instigation of a number of senators, several US news sites once again began clamoring about Russian “violations” of the 1987 treaty. In 2013, a group of ten Republican senators, who had previously tried to pressure President Barack Obama over Russian “violations” of provisions of the INF Treaty, drafted an amendment to the FY 2014 defense appropriations bill. This amendment would require the 44th president’s administration to submit a report to Congress that would include any intelligence data available to NATO member states pertaining to Russian compliance with the INF Treaty.

The Russian ICBM RS-26, also known as Rubezh, was singled out for unfair criticism as well. It was patently obvious that the US lawmakers were complaining about this promising missile system because of its improved ability to pierce the American “missile shield.”

In an attempt to use political accusations to get rid of the RS-26 ICBMs, which has included claims that it actually has a shorter flight range, equal to that of an intermediate-range missile, US lawmakers have tried to trot out provisions of the INF Treaty as a legal basis for their efforts to get it banned, although the treaty has nothing whatsoever to do with the this ICBM, either directly or indirectly, since this missile is intercontinental.

The mobile launcher for RS-26 Rubezh

The mobile launcher for ICBM RS-26 Rubezh

Therefore, it couldn’t have been simpler for the Russians to fend off this attack: they released a statement that the missiles cited by the Americans were not subject to this agreement at all because it only applies to ballistic and cruise missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 km. With no hope of progress on their attempts to mix this ICBM into the INF Treaty, Washington pulled it from the agenda.

But in 2014, newly strident voices were heard in Washington alleging Russian “violations” of the 1987 treaty.

There were then charges that Russia’s operational R-500 cruise missile (NATO classification SSC-7) was in violation of the 1987 treaty. But that weapon was also completely exempt from the restrictions in the treaty’s provisions, as it has a flight range below the 500-kilometer cutoff.

In 2014, the well-known Dutch authority on nuclear weapons, Hans Kristensen, who is a director at the Federation of American Scientists, read through the relevant computations in the US State Department’s report on compliance with arms-control treaties, and he came up with two very reasonable questions: why did the Americans not name the type of missile that Russia had allegedly tested and why did it not cite the time of the test? Later, the American arms-control analyst Kingston Reif pointed to these two gray areas as well, and added that the report also lacked information about the number of tests and the location where they were carried out.

At the special consultations on this issue held at the Russian Foreign Ministry in September 2015 between the heads of the arms-control divisions of the Russian foreign ministry and US State Dept., the American delegation was never able to provide their Russian counterparts with any documented evidence of Russian “violations” of that treaty.

In June 2015, a partially declassified report written by the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, claimed that Washington was considering deploying cruise missiles with nuclear warheads to Europe to offset Russian “violations” of the INF Treaty, although the goals set by that agreement had long been met.

the State Department’s Rose Gottemoeller, left, and the Defense Department’s Brian McKeon testify on December 1, 2015, at a hearing in the House of Representatives on Russia’s alleged violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The State Department’s Rose Gottemoeller, left, and the Defense Department’s Brian McKeon testify on December 1, 2015, at a hearing in the House of Representatives on Russia’s alleged violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

When the Trump administration took over at the White House in 2017 it once again began reiterating those unfounded accusations of Russian “non-compliance” with the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles.

By February of this year, the New York Times was citing sources in the US administration in its claims that the Russian military had allegedly deployed a fully operational division of ground-launched surface-to-surface cruise missiles, which, according to the US, violates the 1987 treaty.

A similar statement was made in March 2017 by General Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaking at a House Armed Services Committee hearing in Washington in March 2017. He estimated that the system that has been developed puts most of the alliance’s sites in Europe at risk and that the Russians have deliberately deployed it in order to pose a threat to NATO and to facilities within the NATO area of responsibility. He added that he had raised this issue during discussions with the Russians, but he did not provide details of the accusations he had made.

The authors of the State Department’s April 2017 report on compliance with arms-control treaties pointed out that the US has been expressing concern about Russia’s conduct in regard to this issue, and during that time it has provided more than enough information to the Russians to enable them to identify the missile in question .

In the document mentioned above, the US State Department makes reference to Articles I, IV, VI, and VII of the INF Treaty, which prohibit the parties from any future possession of intermediate- or shorter-range ballistic or cruise missiles, launchers for such missiles, or any support equipment or structures associated with such missiles or launchers, and ban the production of any stages of such missiles. But simply citing these articles does not mean that the other party has violated some provisions of the 1987 treaty.

It has been reported that the Pentagon has come up with its own in-house designation for a “new Russian” mobile, ground-based cruise missile, calling it the SSC-8 (from an interview that the Russian newspaper Kommersant conducted with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov). But the simple fact that a foreign missile system has been assigned a certain classification doesn’t really tell us anything.

The State Dept. report included a very significant admission, disavowing two previous accusations by the Americans regarding alleged Russian “violations” of the INF Treaty, one of which concerned the operational R-500 missile and the other – the RS-26 ICBM (the State Department has withdrawn its complaints). This admission means that previously, when Washington was accusing Moscow of “violating” the treaty based on Russia’s deployment of these two types of missiles that were not actually subject to the treaty’s restrictions, the US was merely bluffing and attempting to block their deployment by simply circulating baseless accusations.

Like previous reports of this type, the US State Dept. briefing on the INF Treaty, which was released in April 2017, offers no compelling evidence of any Russian “violations.”

The American Congress has more than once urged the US to not only withdraw from the 1987 treaty, but also to arm American NATO allies that are not INF signatories with new ground-launched cruise missiles, in order to “retaliate” against Russia. There have also been calls to introduce specific new sanctions against Russia, due to Moscow’s alleged non-compliance with the terms of that treaty.

Another justification that has been offered for a US pullout from the INF Treaty is that China, which is not bound by that agreement, will supposedly be able to develop an arsenal of nuclear missiles that will eclipse that of the US.

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, which was introduced in Congress in June 2017, would authorize the development of a new, conventional, road-mobile, ground-launched cruise missile system with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometers, i.e., precisely falling under the restrictions set by the 1987 treaty.

The bill that has been submitted accuses Russia of “violations” of the INF Treaty and allows the US to fully or partially suspend that agreement’s authority and to deploy additional missile-defense assets in Europe, in addition to the ground- and sea-based weaponry already stationed there. It would allow the Pentagon to refuse to comply with Article VI of the treaty, if it can be proven that Russia has violated that agreement. This article prohibits either party from producing or flight-testing intermediate-range or shorter-range missiles, or producing any stages or launchers of such missiles.

The bill directs a number of the country’s relevant departments and agencies to analyze the extent to which the Russian RS-26 ICBM is or is not in violation of the INF Treaty. If it turns out that this ICBM is not subject to the new START Treaty that is currently binding on Russia and the US, then this will mean that the RS-26 will be deemed to be in violation of the treaty.

The bill authorizes the allocation of $50 million to develop a new missile system “in response to noncompliance of the Russian Federation with its obligations under the INF Treaty,” of which $25 million will be invested in the research, development, and production of new American missiles “with a maximum range of 5,500 kilometers.”

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill, which were overwhelmingly approved in both chambers, have been submitted to a conference committee for reconciliation, after which the consensus version of the bill will be sent to Donald Trump to request his signature, which – if given – will make the bill a valid law. The consensus version of the bill has already established a budget for these goals of $58 million. The background materials offered by Congress state that in light of the Russian Federation’s “violation” of the INF Treaty, the United States is legally justified in suspending its implementation entirely or in refusing to abide by a number of its articles.

The Washington Post acknowledges that the law calls for “[t]he establishment of a new medium-range ground missile program.” That article also argues that the development of such a program “ … would open the door to the United States withdrawing from the treaty and building new medium-range missiles of its own.”

Some American analysts have begun to question the wisdom of a US withdrawal from this treaty, but their voices are still being drowned out by the declamations of those who favor resolving the problem of the treaty in this manner.

For example, a July 29, 2017 editorial in the New York Times pointed out that the creation of a new US intermediate-range missile capable of flying up to 5,500 km, in addition to the withdrawal of Washington from the 1987 treaty, would “give leaders [of the two countries] little time to react.” The newspaper also criticized the readiness of the country’s military and political leaders to spend more than one trillion dollars to modernize the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The NYT believes that the US decision to withdraw from the INF Treaty would destroy the very framework of arms control, eliminate support for other, similar treaties, and cast further doubt on Washington’s commitment to its responsibilities – and those pledges have already begun to look shaky now that Donald Trump has pulled out of the Paris Climate Protocol. The newspaper’s editorial board quite rightly noted that the 1987 treaty includes a mechanism for resolving disputes between its signatories, and the US, backed by its allies, should pursue a solution in that forum, by which the board is clearly referring to the two countries’ Special Verification Commission.

The newspaper warned that the new Nuclear Posture Review being drafted by the Trump administration – a document that traditionally spells out the place and role of nuclear weapons in US defense and foreign policy – could stymie the plans of former President Barack Obama to try to reduce the numbers of nuclear weapons and to somewhat reduce their role in the country’s security strategy.

Speaking out against Washington’s renunciation of the INF Treaty, Thomas Graham, an American diplomat and member of the National Advisory Board at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, noted that by threatening to completely dismantle the INF Treaty, Congress risks making matters worse by opening the door to Russian deployment of intermediate- and shorter-range ballistic missiles in Europe. In his view, a US withdrawal from that treaty would remove all limits on Moscow’s intermediate- and shorter-range nuclear forces – limits that have strengthened the security of the United States and its allies for three decades.

Another American arms-control specialist, James Acton, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has noted that although the 1987 treaty was signed 30 years ago in a quite different geopolitical context, it still serves the security interests of the United States and its allies. And yet this analyst has suggested that American heavy bombers with air-launched cruise missiles be stationed in Europe, just in case the INF Treaty is terminated for some reason.

It is possible that the issue of Russian “violations” of the INF Treaty will be mentioned in the updated Nuclear Posture Review, which is being drafted in accordance with instructions received from Donald Trump last April.

Given this picture, the threat of a US withdrawal from the 1987 INF Treaty is looming as an increasingly real possibility.

Of course that would require a commensurate response from the Russian side, should this threat materialize during Donald Trump’s time in office. He would definitely go down in history as the leader whose abandonment of a treaty sparked a new round in the nuclear arms race, violating the nuclear nonproliferation regime, compromising the world’s strategic stability, and escalating the degree of mistrust between many states.

To be continued…

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Putin’s State of the Nation in review Part I – Military policy

“It seems that our partners fail to notice the depth and pace of change around the world and where it is headed.”

Seraphim Hanisch



Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his yearly State of the Nation speech on February 20th, 2019. Last year’s speech, given March 1, was a real topic of amazement for both Russia and the West, as the president revealed the new hypersonic weaponry that the Russian Federation has been developing, as well as other extremely sophisticated means of defense for the nation. At first the West mocked these claims, but time proved Mr. Putin correct.

This year’s speech appears to be quite different in its focus, though of course the President had to discuss the matters of the defense of his nation and its response to pressure from the Western powers, most notably the United States and Great Britain. While the main focus of his speech, and indeed, this last presidential term, is on domestic issues within Russia, he had to still discuss military matters, which is what the Western media reacted to. Here is that section of the speech. We have reprinted it in full, but the emphases and comments that break the segment of the speech are ours:

Colleagues, Russia has been and always will be a sovereign and independent state. This is a given. It will either be that, or will simply cease to exist. We must clearly understand this. Without sovereignty, Russia cannot be a state. Some countries can do this, but not Russia.

Sound familiar, America?

Building relations with Russia means working together to find solutions to the most complex matters instead of trying to impose solutions. We make no secret of our foreign policy priorities. These include strengthening trust, countering global threats, promoting cooperation in the economy and trade, education, culture, science and technology, as well as facilitating people-to-people contact. These tenets underpin our work within the UN, the Commonwealth of Independent States, as well as within the Group of 20, BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

We believe in the importance of promoting closer cooperation within the Union State of Russia and Belarus, including close foreign policy and economic coordination. Together with our integration partners within the Eurasian Economic Union, we will continue creating common markets and outreach efforts. This includes implementing the decisions to coordinate the activities of the EAEU with China’s Belt and Road initiative on the way to a greater Eurasian partnership.

Russia’s equal and mutually beneficial relations with China currently serve as an important factor of stability in international affairs and in terms of Eurasian security, offering a model of productive economic cooperation. Russia attaches importance to realising the potential of the special privileged strategic partnership with India. We will continue to promote political dialogue and economic cooperation with Japan. Russia stands ready to work with Japan on finding mutually acceptable terms for signing a peace treaty. We intend to promote deeper ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

(Russia and Japan never concluded a treaty to end World War II, and negotiations continue to this day, even as commerce has redeveloped between the two countries.)

We also hope that the European Union and the major European countries will finally take actual steps to put political and economic relations with Russia back on track. People in these countries are looking forward to cooperation with Russia, which includes corporations, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, and European businesses in general. It goes without saying that this would serve our common interests.

This is significant and underreported in the United States news media, if not ignored outright. Americans usually get a strange “half” of the news, talking about the US trying to sell LNG to European allies at a high price when Russia, a huge producer of natural gas, is right next door (we will discuss this more in a companion piece).

And now we come to the heart of the matter, at least insofar as this issue makes the news in both countries.

The unilateral withdrawal of the USA from the INF Treaty is the most urgent and most discussed issue in Russian-American relations. This is why I am compelled to talk about it in more detail. Indeed, serious changes have taken place in the world since the Treaty was signed in 1987. Many countries have developed and continue to develop these weapons, but not Russia or the USA – we have limited ourselves in this respect, of our own free will. Understandably, this state of affairs raises questions. Our American partners should have just said so honestly rather than make far-fetched accusations against Russia to justify their unilateral withdrawal from the Treaty.

It would have been better if they had done what they did in 2002 when they walked away from the ABM Treaty and did so openly and honestly. Whether that was good or bad is another matter. I think it was bad, but they did it and that is that. They should have done the same thing this time, too. What are they doing in reality? First, they violate everything, then they look for excuses and appoint a guilty party. But they are also mobilising their satellites that are cautious but still make noises in support of the USA. At first, the Americans began developing and using medium-range missiles, calling them discretionary “target missiles” for missile defence. Then they began deploying Mk-41 universal launch systems that can make offensive combat use of Tomahawk medium-range cruise missiles possible.

I am talking about this and using my time and yours because we have to respond to the accusations that are leveled at us. But having done everything I have just described, the Americans openly and blatantly ignored the provisions envisaged by articles 4 and 6 of the INF Treaty. According to Item 1, Article VI (I am quoting): “Each Party shall eliminate all intermediate-range missiles and the launchers of such missiles… so that… no such missiles, launchers… shall be possessed by either party.” Paragraph 1 of Article VI provides that (and I quote) “upon entry into force of the Treaty and thereafter, neither Party may produce or flight-test any intermediate-range missile, or produce any stages or launchers of such missiles.” End of quote.

Using medium-range target missiles and deploying launchers in Romania and Poland that are fit for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles, the US has openly violated these clauses of the Treaty. They did this some time ago. These launchers are already stationed in Romania and nothing happens. It seems that nothing is happening. This is even strange. This is not at all strange for us, but people should be able to see and understand it.

And then comes the part that the Western media seized upon in their continuing campaign to malign and demonize both the Russian Federation and its president:

How are we evaluating the situation in this context? I have already said this and I want to repeat: Russia does not intend – this is very important, I am repeating this on purpose – Russia does not intend to deploy such missiles in Europe first. If they really are built and delivered to the European continent, and the United States has plans for this, at least we have not heard otherwise, it will dramatically exacerbate the international security situation, and create a serious threat to Russia, because some of these missiles can reach Moscow in just 10–12 minutes. This is a very serious threat to us. In this case, we will be forced, I would like to emphasise this, we will be forced to respond with mirror or asymmetric actions. What does this mean?

I am saying this directly and openly now, so that no one can blame us later, so that it will be clear to everyone in advance what is being said here. Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapons that can be used not only in the areas we are directly threatened from, but also in areas that contain decision-making centres for the missile systems threatening us.

What is important in this regard? There is some new information. These weapons will fully correspond to the threats directed against Russia in their technical specifications, including flight times to these decision-making centres.

This was the source of “media-induced” outrage in the West, which is honestly, likely not that much outrage. However, the addition of context in this speech is invaluable, and while the counter from the Americans may or may not be able to stipulate chapter and verse the violations of the INF treaty from the Russian side (though there appear to be no such violations), the Americans’ actions are clearly set in context, though conveniently ignored by the propagandists of the Western media. President Putin continues, making the most important points of his speech in regard to this topic:

We know how to do this and will implement these plans immediately, as soon as the threats to us become real. I do not think we need any further, irresponsible exacerbation of the current international situation. We do not want this.

What would I like to add? Our American colleagues have already tried to gain absolute military superiority with their global missile defence project. They need to stop deluding themselves. Our response will always be efficient and effective.

The work on promising prototypes and weapon systems that I spoke about in my Address last year continues as scheduled and without disruptions. We have launched serial production of the Avangard system, which I have already mentioned today. As planned, this year, the first regiment of the Strategic Missile Troops will be equipped with Avangard. The Sarmat super-heavy intercontinental missile of unprecedented power is undergoing a series of tests. The Peresvet laser weapon and the aviation systems equipped with Kinzhal hypersonic ballistic missiles proved their unique characteristics during test and combat alert missions while the personnel learned how to operate them. Next December, all the Peresvet missiles supplied to the Armed Forces will be put on standby alert. We will continue expanding the infrastructure for the MiG-31 interceptors carrying Kinzhal missiles. The Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile of unlimited range and the Poseidon nuclear-powered unmanned underwater vehicle of unlimited range are successfully undergoing tests.

In this context, I would like to make an important statement. We did not announce it before, but today we can say that as soon as this spring the first nuclear-powered submarine carrying this unmanned vehicle will be launched. The work is going as planned.

Today I also think I can officially inform you about another promising innovation. As you may remember, last time I said we had more to show but it was a little early for that. So I will reveal little by little what else we have up our sleeves. Another promising innovation, which is successfully being developed according to plan, is Tsirkon, a hypersonic missile that can reach speeds of approximately Mach 9 and strike a target more than 1,000 km away both under water and on the ground. It can be launched from water, from surface vessels and from submarines, including those that were developed and built for carrying Kalibr high-precision missiles, which means it comes at no additional cost for us.

On a related note, I want to highlight that for the defence of Russia’s national interests, two or three years ahead of the schedule set by the state arms programme, the Russian Navy will receive seven new multipurpose submarines, and construction will begin on five surface vessels designed for the open ocean. Sixteen more vessels of this class will enter service in the Russian Navy by 2027.

To conclude, on the unilateral withdrawal by the USA from the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, here is what I would like to say. The US policy toward Russia in recent years can hardly be called friendly. Russia’s legitimate interests are being ignored, there is constant anti-Russia campaigning, and more and more sanctions, which are illegal in terms of international law, are imposed without any reason whatsoever. Let me emphasise that we did nothing to provoke these sanctions. The international security architecture that took shape over the past decades is being completely and unilaterally dismantled, all while referring to Russia as almost the main threat to the USA.

Let me say outright that this is not true. Russia wants to have sound, equal and friendly relations with the USA. Russia is not threatening anyone, and all we do in terms of security is simply a response, which means that our actions are defensive. We are not interested in confrontation and we do not want it, especially with a global power like the United States of America. However, it seems that our partners fail to notice the depth and pace of change around the world and where it is headed. They continue with their destructive and clearly misguided policy. This hardly meets the interests of the USA itself. But this is not for us to decide.

We can see that we are dealing with proactive and talented people, but within the elite, there are also many people who have excessive faith in their exceptionalism and supremacy over the rest of the world. Of course, it is their right to think what they want. But can they count? Probably they can. So let them calculate the range and speed of our future arms systems. This is all we are asking: just do the maths first and take decisions that create additional serious threats to our country afterwards. It goes without saying that these decisions will prompt Russia to respond in order to ensure its security in a reliable and unconditional manner.

I have already said this, and I will repeat that we are ready to engage in disarmament talks, but we will not knock on a locked door anymore. We will wait until our partners are ready and become aware of the need for dialogue on this matter.

This is an appropriate and very honest stance. While it sounds forceful, it is not. It is actually the only thing one really can do. The US hawkish folks have not demonstrated the slightest interest in fixing this problem. In the US, they believe the exacerbation of tensions suits their ends.

This is a potentially tragic example of “my mind is made up; do not confuse me with the facts.” And sadly, the United States of America stands completely in the wrong on this matter.

We continue developing our Armed Forces and improving the intensity and quality of combat training, in part, using the experience we gained in the anti-terrorist operation in Syria. Much experience was gained by practically all the commanders of the Ground Forces, by covert operations forces and military police, warship crews, army, tactical, and strategic and military transport aviation.

I would like to emphasise again that we need peace for sustainable long-term development. Our efforts to enhance our defence capability are for only one purpose: to ensure the security of this country and our citizens so that nobody would even consider pressuring us, or launching an aggression against us.

While the rhetoric of “Defense” is always more palatable in our times than militarily offensive strategies, the difference between the defense rhetoric of the US and that of Russia is that the US creates threats out of thin air. Russia and China have the capability of taking over the world, but neither country is actually interested in doing such a thing. As noted by Russia’s own Vladimir Zhirinovsky, to be on top is not the best place, and the second and third great powers have shown unusual wisdom in understanding this.



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Photos of swastika on Ukrainian mall stairway creates a stir [Video]

Ukrainian nationalist press in damage-control mode to explain away the Nazi sign, but they forgot the name of the street the mall is on.

Seraphim Hanisch



One of the aspects of news about Ukraine that does not make it past the gatekeepers of the American and Western news media is how a significant contingent of Ukrainian nationalists have espoused a sense of reverence for Nazis. The idea that this could even happen anywhere in the world in an open manner makes the claim seem too absurd to be taken seriously. Gone are the days when the Nazi swastika adorned streets and buildings in Europe. Right?

Well, maybe, wrong.

This was seen in Kyiv’s Gorodok (or Horodok, if you insist) Gallery, a shopping center in that city, located on Bandera Avenue.

The pro-nationalist news service UNIAN wasted no time going to press with their explanation of this incident, which admittedly may be accurate:

Children and teenagers who participated in the All-Ukrainian break dance festival held in the Kyiv-based Gorodok Gallery shopping mall were shocked to see a swastika image projected onto an LED staircase.

The mall administration apologized to visitors, explaining saying that their computer system had apparently been hacked.

“The administration and staff have no relation to whatever was projected onto the LED-staircase, and in no way does it support such [an] act. Now we are actively searching for those involved in the attack,” it said in a statement.

According to Gorodok Gallery’s administrative office, it was not the first time a cyber breach took place.

As reported earlier, Ukraine is believed to be a testing ground for cyberattacks, many of which are launched from Russia. Hackers have earlier targeted critical energy infrastructure, state institutions, banks, and large businesses.

This time, it appears, hackers aimed to feed the Kremlin’s narrative of “Nazis in power in Ukraine” and create a relevant hype-driving viral story for Russian media to spread it worldwide.

The Gorodok Gallery also apologized on its Facebook page and said that this was a result of hacking.

But what about the street that the mall is on? From the self-same Facebook page, this is what we see:

To translate, for those who do not read Ukrainian or Russian, the address says the following:

23 Steven Bandera Prospekt, Kyiv, Ukraine 04073

This street was formerly called “Moscow Avenue.” Big change, as we shall see.

Steven Bandera got his birthday designated as a national holiday in Ukraine last December. He is known in Ukraine’s history for one thing. According to the Jerusalem Post:

The street where the shopping mall is located is named for Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who briefly collaborated with Nazi Germany in its fight against Russia.

His troops are believed to have killed thousands of Jews.

Several Israeli papers picked this bit of news up, and of course, the reasons are understandable. However, for the West, it appears possible that this news event will largely go unnoticed, even by that great nation that is often called “Israel’s proxy”, the United States.

This is probably because for certain people in the US, there is a sense of desperation to mask the nature of events that are happening in Ukraine.

The usual fare of mainstream news for the West probably consists of things like “Putin’s military seizes innocent Ukrainian sailors in Kerch incident” or, “Ukraine’s Orthodox Church declared fully independent by Patriarch of Constantinople” (not that too many Americans know what a Constantinople even is, anyway), but the overriding narrative for the American people about this country is “Ukraine are the good guys, and Russia are the bad guys,” and this will not be pushed aside, even to accommodate the logical grievance of Israel to this incident.

If this article gets to Western papers at all, it will be the UNIAN line they adhere to, that evil pro-Russia hackers caused this stairway to have a swastika to provoke the idea that Ukraine somehow supports Naziism.

But UNIAN neglected to mention that the street name was recently changed to Stephan Bandera (in 2016), and no one appears to have hacked this. Nor does UNIAN talk about the Azov fighters that openly espoused much of the Nazi ideology. For nationalist Ukrainians, this is all for the greater good of getting rid of all things Russia.

A further sad fact about this is the near impossibility of getting assuredly honest and neutral information about this and other similar happenings. Both Ukrainian nationalists and Russian media agencies have dogs in the race, so to speak. They are both personally connected to these events. However, the Russian media cannot be discounted here, because they do offer a witness and perspective, probably the closest to any objective look at what is going on in Ukraine. We include a video of a “torchlight march” that took place in 2017 that featured such hypernationalist activity, which is not reported in the West.

More such reports are available, but this one seemed the best one to summarize the character of what is going on in the country.

While we do not know the motive and identities of whoever programmed the swastika, it cannot really be stated that this was just a random publicity stunt in a country that has no relationship with Nazi veneration.

The street the mall is on bears witness to that.

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Putin: If mid-range missiles deployed in Europe, Russia will station arms to strike decision centers

Putin: If US deploys mid-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to respond.





Via RT…

If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond by stationing weapons aimed not only against missiles themselves, but also at command and control centers, from which a launch order would come.

The warning came from President Vladimir Putin, who announced Russia’s planned actions after the US withdraws from the INF Treaty – a Cold War-era agreement between Washington and Moscow which banned both sides form having ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles and developing relevant technology.

The US is set to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty in six months, which opens the possibility of once again deploying these missiles in Europe. Russia would see that as a major threat and respond with its own deployments, Putin said.

Intermediate-range missiles were banned and removed from Europe because they would leave a very short window of opportunity for the other side to decide whether to fire in retaliation after detecting a launch – mere minutes. This poses the threat of an accidental nuclear exchange triggered by a false launch warning, with the officer in charge having no time to double check.

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapon systems, which can be used not only against the territories from which this direct threat would be projected, but also against those territories where decision centers are located, from which an order to use those weapons against us may come.” The Russian president, who was delivering a keynote address to the Russian parliament on Wednesday, did not elaborate on whether any counter-deployment would only target US command-and-control sites in Europe or would also include targets on American soil.

He did say the Russian weapon system in terms of flight times and other specifications would “correspond” to those targeting Russia.

“We know how to do it and we will implement those plans without a delay once the relevant threats against us materialize,”he said.

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