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Ukraine is being gripped by a new Maidan – but the western cameras and cookies are absent

The 2013/2014 Maidan was a ‘who’s who’ of the neo-con/liberal elite. Today’s events are like a ‘who’s he?’ of the Ukrainian far-right.

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The past several weeks have seen eerily familiar sights return to the infamous Maidan in central Kiev. However, while in the winter of 2013/2014, international camera crews descended on Kiev to video and photograph the violence, today, there are more angry demonstrators and camped out agitators than international journalists.

However, an anonymous journalist working with famed independent journalist Graham Phillips, who most prominently brought intentional audiences front-line footage from the war on Donbass, has filmed the following reportage documenting what can only be called Maidan 2.0.

The phrase, “the more things change–the more they stay the same”, very much comes to mind.

Miadan 2.0 is similar to the events in 2013/2014 in the following ways

1. Meet the new-neo-Nazis…same as the old neo-Nazis

Many if not most Maidanists are perpetually angry members of  far-right and neo-Nazi groups who proudly display the red and black flag of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, a Nazi collaborationist group which committed acts of genocide during the 1940s.

2. Anti-corruption 

New and old Maidanists are protesting a government they view as corrupt and unresponsive to their needs and desires

3. The Maidan camping experience 

Maidanists have set up camp with elaborate tends, food preparation facilities and have come prepared with their own riot shields and other utensils of urban warfare.

4. It’s growing–not shrinking

It does not look like the new Maidanists are prepared to leave, even if asked by the authorities, until various, however vague demands are met.

However, the differences between the 2013/2014 Maidan riots and the events today are more notable for their differences

1. There’s no Yanukovych to blame

In 2013/2014, Maidanists were protesting a government which took an open position towards both the EU and Russia. Far from being ‘pro-Russian’, the government of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych attempted to initiate discussions with the EU about a trade association agreement and visa-free regime, only to put the brakes on at the last moment when he realised that such an agreement was not going to be economically viable.

Viktor Yanukovych is more of a Pontius Pilate character than anything else, a totally uninspiring figure torn between wanting to preserve crucial economic and security ties with Russia, while also wanting to take advantage of alleged opportunities from Brussels. Ironically, disgraced former Trump campaign associate Paul Manafort helped encourage Yanukovych to move closer to Europe, a decision which proved politically fatal.

Ultimately, Yanukovych was ousted in a neo-fascist coup backed by the US and most of the EU. He responded by running away, thus abandoning his country to utter chaos and bloodshed.

2. Disgruntled military and true believers 

In the Poroshenko regime, one might think that on the surface, the far-right and neo-Nazi protesters got what they wanted. Poroshenko has destroyed relations with Russia, he continues to wage a savage war of aggression on the Donbass republics and has signed a visa-free agreement with the EU.

However, Poroshenko has destroyed Ukraine’s economy, crime is up, corruption which was always endemic in Ukraine, is now at levels which are setting world records and the safety situation is rapidly deteriorating in regime controlled areas.

While many of the most extreme Maidanists are upset that Poroshenko isn’t waging an even more aggressive war against the Donbass Republics, many of the new protesters are ex-Ukrainian soldiers who have become distraught at their lack of pay, in spite of having to fight an aggressive war with seemingly no forthcoming resolution.

Morale among Ukrainian troops is at an all time low, with non-battlefield casualties since the fascist regime came to power hitting 10,103. Over 3,000 troops have been killed away from the war-front with mental illness and desperate acts of internal violence fuelled by alcohol and drugs, being primary causes.

Demoralised troops may end up playing a large part in Maidan 2.0, an element that didn’t factor into the initial riots of the 2013/2014 Maidan.

3. Ukraine’s deathbed economy 

Economic realities are also a motivating factor. Many have taken to the Maidan because the idea of a Ukraine that had the living standards of the average EU country, with the added ‘benefit’ of cutting all links with Russia, hasn’t worked out.

Ukraine remains largely dependant on Russian investment and the more the Kiev regime cuts this investment off (which it is indeed doing), the less likely it is that anyone will fill the void. There is increasingly little money to be made in Ukraine and even pro-regime actors in Europe and the wider west, are all too aware of this.

When it comes to the economic angle, the EU and US have largely given up on ‘project Maidan’. These ‘partners’ of the regime are keen to provoke Russia, but apparently less keen on giving the people of Ukraine any real economic opportunities. Many are already venting their frustrations about this on the Maidan.

4. No cookies from the west 

The 2013/2014 Maidan was something of a ‘who’s who’ of the western neo-liberal/neo-con/anti-Russian movement. From John McCain giving rousing speeches against Russia to Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland famously handing out cookies on the Maidan before secretly being recorded saying “fuck the EU”, should Europe try to take a more moderate approach to US regime change, events were something of a neo-con carnival in the midst of a violent freaks-show.

Today’s Maidan is less of a ‘who’s who’ of the neo-con elite than a ‘who’s he?’ of the Ukrainian far-right. If anything, today’s Maidan is more authentic than the first, as the US has no interests in funding and promoting a group of anti-Russian agitators who want to overthrow an equally anti-Russian regime. For the west, it is mission accomplished, all other matters are now largely domestic in nature and therefore, largely irrelevant in Washington and Brussels.

5. The Saakashvili factor

Mikheil Saakashvili, the disgraced former Georgian president who was once appointed the governor of the historically multi-ethnic Russian city of Odessa by Poroshenko, has now been stripped of his Ukrainian citizenship and is on a mission to not only get it back, but to lead Ukraine.

Saakashvili is currently doing the rounds with various disgruntled mobs throughout the country, trying to increase support for his bid to oust Poroshenko and take charge.

In 2013/2014, Saakashvili was hardly talked about in Ukraine, but now, because Poroshenko made him a kind of political martyr (by Ukrainian standards), he is in the midst of attempting to cultivate a personality cult and propel himself to power. Again, because if anything Saakashvili is even more connected to western elites than Poroshenko, no one in Washington or Brussels is particularly alarmed nor existed by Saakashvili’s self-proclaimed ‘march on Kiev’. The attitude is essentially: ‘if he takes over, we have a new puppet, if he doesn’t, nothing has changed’.

However, because Saakashvili’s record is more tainted in Georgia than Ukraine, by post-Maidan standards, Saakashvili is something of a ‘last man standing’ who could emerge as a possible successor to Poroshenko, something that seemed unthinkable not so long ago.

CONCLUSION: 

Ataturk infamously stated “they go as they come” and this will likely be the case with the Poroshenko regime, one way or another.

However, this will provide little meaningful change in Ukraine and will do equally little to end the war of aggression on the Donbass republics.

What is needed is a kind of caretaker government to stop the war and allow the Donbass republics to function in the framework of a frozen conflict that ultimately, Russia and other international partners will have to solve. If the circumstances were right, Russia could even work with an increasingly humbled German state to bring about a resolution based perhaps partly on the Minsk agreements which are violated by Kiev on an almost daily basis.

That being said, Donbass is almost certainly never going to give up its independence and the sooner Kiev and the rest of the world, including the Moscow elite realise that, the better it will be. An independent Donbass is the new reality and it will be more productive for the world to accept this rather than trying to ignore or change it.

Such a caretaker government in Kiev would ideally also work with others, including Russia, Belarus and the EU to fix the broken economy.

The problem is that, there are virtually no such candidates in Ukraine. The political landscape is so barren of any common sense, pragmatism or compassion, that the choices are generally between bad and worse.

At some point, it really does not matter who is in charge of Kiev, so long as the hateful, regressive and incompetent attitudes of its political class remain the same.

In this sense, the new Maidan is an expression of continued frustration, but this time without foreign aid, without the false optimism of the last Maidan and without any hope for change. Ukraine is about to hit rock bottom and from where things stand, getting a little bit worse will scarcely be noticeable in the immediate future. This is a reflection of just how bad things have become.

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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Five Saudis Face Death Penalty Over Khashoggi Killing; Crown Prince Cleared

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime.”

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Via Zerohedge


Saudi Arabia public prosecutor Sheikh Shaalan al-Shaalan said on Thursday that the kingdom will seek the death penalty for five suspects among the 11 charged in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, confirming suspicions that members of the murder squad purportedly sent to “interrogate” Khashoggi will now themselves face beheadings as the Saudi Royal Family closes ranks around the Crown Prince, per the FT.

As for Mohammed bin Salman who runs the day to day affairs of the world’s top oil exporter and is the de facto head of OPEC, the prosecutor said had “no knowledge” of the mission, effectively absolving him of any domestic suspicion, if not international.

The charges were handed down after the kingdom dismissed five senior intelligence officers and arrested 18 Saudi nationals in connection with Khashoggi’s disappearance. The Saudi insider-turned-dissident journalist disappeared on Oct. 2 after entering the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul to pick up documents that would have allowed him to marry his fiance. Khashoggi was a legal resident of Virginia.

According to the Saudi prosecutor, five people charged are believed to have been involved in “ordering and executing the crime,” according to CNN.

The prosecutor said that the former Saudi deputy intelligence chief, Ahmed al-Assiri, ordered a mission to force Khashoggi to go back to Saudi Arabia and formed a team of 15 people.

They were divided into three groups, the Saudi Public Prosecutor said: a negotiation team, an intelligence team and a logistical team.

It was the head of the negotiating team who ordered the killing of Khashoggi, the prosecutor said.

The Saudis stuck by latest (ever changing) narrative that the Washington Post columnist was killed after a mission to abduct him went awry. The deputy chief of intelligence ordered that Khashoggi be brought back to the kingdom, Shaalan said. The team killed him after the talks failed and his body was handed to a “collaborator” in Turkey, he said.

Asked whether Saud al-Qahtanti, an aide to Prince Mohammed, had any role in the case, Shaalan said that a royal adviser had a coordinating role and had provided information. The former adviser was now under investigation, the prosecutor said, declining to reveal the names of any of those facing charges.

Al-Shaalan did reveal that a total of 21 suspects are now being held in connection with the case. Notably, the decision to charge the 5 comes after National Security Advisor John Bolton repudiated reports that a recording of Khashoggi’s murder made by Turkish authorities suggested that Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was behind the murder plot.

But as long as OPEC+ is planning to do “whatever it takes” to boost oil prices, the US’s willingness to give the Saudis a pass could always be tested if crude prices again turn sharply higher.

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U.S. May Impose Sanctions Against Turkey Over S-400 “Threat” To F-35

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform.

The Duran

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Authored by Al Masdar News:


Turkish officials have repeatedly insisted that Ankara’s purchase of the advanced Russian air defense system poses no threat whatsoever to the NATO alliance. Last month, the Turkish defense ministry announced that delivery of S-400s to Turkey would begin in October 2019.

The United States continues to consider the S-400 air defense system a threat to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform, and may impose sanctions against Ankara, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency has reported, citing a high-ranking source in Washington.

“I can’t say for certain whether sanctions will be imposed on Ankara over the S-400 contract, but the possibility is there. The US administration is not optimistic about this issue,” the source said.

While admitting that Turkey was a sovereign state and therefore had the right to make decisions on whom it buys its weapons from, the source stressed that from the perspective of these weapons’ integration with NATO systems, the S-400 was “problematic.”

The source also characterized the deployment of S-400s in areas where US F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighters are set to fly as “a threat,” without elaborating.

Emphasizing that negotiations between Washington and Ankara on the issue were “continuing,” the source said that there were also “positive tendencies” in negotiations between the two countries on the procurement of the Patriot system, Washington’s closest analogue to the S-400 in terms of capabilities.

Designed to stop enemy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles at ranges of up to 400 km and altitudes of up to 30 km, the S-400 is currently the most advanced mobile air defense system in Russia’s arsenal. Russia and India signed a ruble-denominated contract on the delivery of five regiments of S-400s worth $5 billion late last month.

Last week, the Saudi Ambassador to Russia said that talks on the sale of the system to his country were ongoing. In addition to Russia, S-400s are presently operated by Belarus and China, with Beijing expecting another delivery of S-400s by 2020.

Washington has already slapped China with sanctions over its purchase of S-400s and Su-35 combat aircraft in September. India, however, has voiced confidence that it would not be hit with similar restrictions, which the US Treasury has pursued under the 2017 Counter America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

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