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A Russian’s Message to the West: Let’s put aside the Warmongers and talk Peace

General Sir Richard Shirreff’s prediction of war with Russia is an example of false and obsolete Western thinking about Russia which is creating an unnecessary conflict between the West and Russia.

Maxim Shashenkov

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British general Sir Richard Shirreff who between 2011 and 2014 served as the Deputy Supreme NATO allied Commander in Europe suddenly predicts that Russia will start World War III in May 2017 by invading Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Ukraine.

In fact, his book on the inevitable to war with Russia in 2017 was published last week.

In Russian we have a saying – “Всё это было бы смешно, когда бы не было так грустно”, which means ‘This all sounds very funny, if it was not so sad’.

There are lots of Whys to be addressed in regard to the General’s statements and his strategic views. Why would Russia want to invade the Baltics? Why next year? Why Word War III? Why the Baltics and Ukraine? Why at all?

Having lived in Britain for more than 25 years, I am actually Russian British. Russia is my motherland, but Britain is my home.  I and about 250,000 other Russians in Britain would lose massively from any war between Russia and NATO.  We – more than anybody else – want peace, good relations, good business contacts, and mutual respect between Russia and the West. We have a vested interest in good Russian British relations.

I will try to answer those whys from my perspective.

It looks to me that General Sir Richard Shirreff expressed what are his personal views, rather than the official policy line. This is fine. He is retired, and it is his right to express his personal views.

That is the good news.

The bad news is that General Sir Richard Shireff seems absolutely sincere in his analysis and conclusions. He does not make them for publicity, money etc.  He really believes what he is writing.

This is alarming. It reveals a worrying truth: that there is an ‘alarmist’ camp within the top NATO military command, which sees war with Russia as almost inevitable.

That is scary.

In my opinion this whole episode reflects some very worrying realities about NATO’s top generals.

First, there is a generational issue.  They were brought up, trained and taught to fight big conventional wars against the USSR.  They do not know anything else. Russia has simply replaced the USSR in their mental setup. Inertia works. It is psychologically more comfortable to stick to the familiar and confront the ‘old, good, well known enemy’, rather than to think and plan about new security threats to Europe.

Second, they are not well informed and briefed about both the situation on the ground in the Baltics, Ukraine, Russia etc – and, most worryingly – about Russian military strategy and plans. Crimea revealed it well.  The head of US military intelligence was removed soon after it happened. Even the almighty Americans failed to forecast Russian military and strategic moves.

Thirdly, they think that any ethnic clashes in the former Soviet Union can be a reasonable excuse to start Word War III. 

Here I advise my readers to watch the BBC movie about the beginning of war with Russia over the Baltics released a few months ago. In that movi, the British high command appears almost evenly split between those who think Russian actions in the former Soviet Union should be confronted if necessary with nuclear weapons, and those who are strongly against doing so.  It was a pretty realistic movie actually.

One thing is clear: if such a scenario were ever to unfold General Sir Richard Shirreff would be on the side of those who want to strike first.  He openly admits he belongs to the ‘hawkish camp’ of the British strategic establishment.

Let’s start with the basic facts. Let’s talk about the Baltics. Has anyone ever heard or read or watched anything about clashes between ethnic Russians and natives in these three states? Ever?

The short answer is of course no!

There are disagreements on the rights of citizenship, use of the Russian language, Russian World War II memorials, and many other things.  But there is no official political party, no underground movement, no secrets cells which call for joining Russia. None.

I have been to Latvia and Lithuania myself a few times in the past few years. The Russian community there is very smart.  Some/most will use the Baltic States as a platform to move to richer European states (Britain, Germany, France etc).   Some are doing well there. Nobody wants to fight to escape to Russia. It is a Western myth!

The scenario of Russia invading the Baltic states to protect ‘ethnic Russians’ is a grotesque fantasy. Ethnic Russians in the Baltics do not need that, and they laugh when you discuss such scenarios with them.

If there is no there ‘Baltic case’ then  – if you follow General Sir Richard Shirreff’s logic – Russia will nonetheless provoke one to justify its ‘invasion of Europe’.

It is all incredibly naïve!  I do not want to insult military people.  On the contrary I respect them. In any country the military are the pride of the nation.  That is true in Britain, Russia or America.

But why?  Why would Russia invade?

Just read Western official and social media. Almost daily, information gets published on how well the Russian elite has become integrated in Europe. Kids, schools, houses etc. Why does General Sir Richard Shirreff think this same elite plans to provoke World War III when – according to Western sources – they are living so happily and nicely in the West? Why would they want to change that?

What about Vladimir Putin?

He is a pragmatist, above all.  He wants Russia to become part of Europe, but as one of the leading states of Europe, not as a subordinate part of a Greater Europe.  As part of a group of states that include Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The Kremlin opposes people like General Sir Richard Shirreff because all Russians understand that we do not need more dividing lines in Europe. 

As for the West, it should give Russia the time and space it needs to reform itself.

This after all was given to other European nations.  France is one example.  It underwent a major transition from the 1940s to the 1960s. Nobody however at that time accused Paris of being non-European or non-Western despite France’s huge, tragic and bloody wars in North Africa and Indochina.  Certainly there was lots of criticism, internal and external.  But it never degenerated into an existential conflict. Nobody ever accused Paris of being non-Western because it was pursuing a colonial foreign policy.

Nations are like people. They grow up. Russians are simply a younger and more unique nation.  However they are a European nation, repeating many familiar patterns of the European nation-building process. The fact Russia is doing many things a hundred years later than say France or Britain means nothing.  That is a trifling period in terms of historical time.

The biggest problem complicating Moscow’s interaction with the West is the very ahistorical approach being taken by the Western side. The fact that big imperial nations like France or Britain with decades of decolonisation history behind them still attack Russia for its ‘imperial policy’ is very sad.  The lesson should be: Study your own History!  To repeat, one hundred years is nothing in terms of historical time.

Why then did General Sir Richard Shirreff make such a statement and write such a book?

I can see only two reasons:

1.     Ministry of Defence vested interest/ corporate loyalty. 

General Sir Richard Shirreff is a hugely respected part of the British military establishment.  He has to protect his ‘corporate interest’, his system. Its only reason for existence is the ‘Russian Threat’ so he plays it up.

In reality we all understand that there is no such threat. The threat to Britain comes from Islamist extremism and uncontrolled immigration. The two are interlinked. Uncontrolled immigration breeds more terrorism.

What does that mean? It means that more money should be given to the Police, MI5 and MI6.  They are the ones who are fighting the terror threat, not the Ministry of Defence.  The Ministry of Defence tried to do so in Iraq and Afghanistan under US stewardship and failed.

Unfortunately what is happening is that the Ministry of Defence is competing with the security services for money from the British budget so it is stirring up the mythical ‘Russian threat’ as the only way it can get it.  For its part I am sure MI6 is laughing silently to itself at General Sir Richard Shirreff’s absurd analysis and his forecast of war next year with Russia.

2.     Mentality and age.  Britain’s and NATO’s top brass are old.  They cannot properly assess where we – Europe, the West, Russia, indeed the world at large – are at the moment. 

That is sad and worry but let us pay our respects to great military leaders like General Sir Richard Shirreff.  They are trying to defend British interests even if they are doing it in completely the wrong way.  It’s not their fault that their time is long past and they should be put out quietly to pasture.

Having said all this, let’s put all this nonsense behind us and work together to avoid war. I know for a fact Russia has ZERO plans to attack the West. Russia is simply defending its own turf. If what you want is peace the answer is very simple: Don’t bring NATO closer to Russia.

Maxim Shashenkov is a senior banking professional with more than 20 years experience.

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US Pressures Germany To Ditch Huawei Over ‘Security Concerns’

This news will likely not go over well in Beijing, which is still struggling with the US and Canada over the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.

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Via Zerohedge


First it was Australia, New Zealand and Japan, now the US is pressing the German government to refuse to use equipment manufactured by Chinese telecom giant Huawei as Europe’s largest economy seeks to build out its 5G infrastructure.

According to Bloomberg, a US delegation met on Friday with German Foreign Ministry officials in Berlin to talk about the security risks presented by Huawei’s equipment, which the US says is vulnerable to spying. The meeting in Germany follows a report from late last month claiming the US had launched an “extraordinary outreach campaign” to warn its allies against using Huawei equipment (while its vulnerability to Chinese spying has been cited as the reason to avoid Huawei, it’s also worth noting that the US and China are locked in a battle for who will dominate the global 5G space…a battle that Huawei is currently winning).

Germany is set to hold an auction early next year to find a supplier to help expand its 5G network. The Berlin meeting took place one day after Deutsche Telekom said it would reexamine its decision to use Huawei equipment.

US officials are optimistic that their warnings are getting a hearing, though any detailed talks are in early stages and no concrete commitments have been made, according to one of the people.

The US pressure on Germany underscores increased scrutiny of Huawei as governments grapple with fears that the telecom-equipment maker’s gear is an enabler for Chinese espionage. The Berlin meeting took place a day after German carrier Deutsche Telekom AG said it will re-evaluate its purchasing strategy on Huawei, an indication that it may drop the Chinese company from its list of network suppliers.

France is also reportedly considering further restrictions after adding Huawei products to its “high alert” list. The US has already passed a ban preventing government agencies from using anything made by Huawei. But the telecoms equipment provider isn’t taking these threats to its business lying down.

U.S. warnings over espionage are a delicate matter in Germany. Revelations over the scale of the National Security Agency’s signals intelligence, including reports of tapping Merkel’s mobile phone, are still fresh in Berlin five years after they came to light.

Huawei is pushing back against the accusations. The company’s rotating chairman warned this week that blacklisting the Chinese company without proof will hurt the industry and disrupt the emergence of new wireless technology globally. Ken Hu, speaking at a Huawei manufacturing base in Dongguan, cited “groundless speculation,” in some of the first public comments since the shock arrest of the company’s chief financial officer.

This news will likely not go over well in Beijing, which is still struggling with the US and Canada over the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. In an editorial published Sunday, the Global Times, an English-language mouthpiece for the Communist Party, warned that China should retaliate against any country that – like Australia – takes a hard line against Huawei. So, if you’re a German citizen in Beijing, you might want to consider getting the hell out of Dodge.

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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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