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The West doesn’t realize how moderate Vladimir Putin really is

Who Vladimir Putin truly is, and why you should thank God he’s president and not a more extreme candidate

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Putin is a moderate. The western portrayal of President Putin as a dangerous extremist is based on lies; it’s a narrative which can only survive so long as people are not educated about the real Russia, and the result of profound hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is the spirit which distinguishes politics of our age. Wherever you look, the Hypocrisy of western politics is far-reaching. The West supports wars in the middle east which kill millions and they can be described as “Humanitarian superpowers”, Russia allows Crimean people to reunite with their ancestral homeland in a transition which results in less than ten deaths, and somehow Russia is rebuilding the “axis of evil”.

To understand how a truly moderate statesman like Putin can be falsely portrayed as a radical, we must first understand how hypocrisy and split personality distorts one’s view of Russia.

Hypocrisy has created a madness in the west, an almost schizophrenic split personality, has taken root within the western soul. The split personality complex in the west has given rise to the two heads of the western establishment: The Neoconservatives and the Neoliberals. Together they form the Diarchy (rule of two) present in western governments, though perhaps the Latin synonym Duumvirate better describes it.

This split personality influences how they view reality.

Take for example their portrayal of Russia. There are two primary ways in which Russia is misrepresented in the west:

  1. As a toothless bear, a weak, anemic regional power nostalgic for old glory, incapable of letting go. A nation overall not unlike a destitute widow after the death of a great and powerful man, as Gogol described the Cossack lands of what we call Ukraine in Taras Bulba.

This is simply not reality.

  1. The dangerous bear, an Empire terrible and strong, ready to subject the world beneath the boot of an Imperialist, Fascist, Totalitarian, Communist, Soviet, Russian Orthodox Czar. If the West does not “do something” [the most terrifying words any third world country can hear] there will not be a free power in the world that will not kneel to the Czar of Moscow.

That statement is contradictory, primarily with the first image, but also with itself. You can not be a Communist or a Fascist, nor an Orthodox Tsarist for that matter all at once.

While the above examples are mutable to a degree, those are the prevailing stereotypes about Russia. They each serve two primary purposes:

  1. The portrayal of Russia as a declining power reduces panic when undesirable, for example when the Deep State feels comfortable with their position in society, and wish to promote their leadership as strong and stabilizing. It also reinforces overall pride and morale in the west. This is the favored personality of the Neo-Liberals.
  2. The portrayal of Russia as a resurgent, terrifying eastern horde on the verge of world dominance provides for the Military Industrial Complex, allows for increased military spending, and justifies both sabre rattling and adventurism, satisfying the warmongers. The portrayal of the Neo-Cons.

How does this split personality view Putin?

Putin is primarily viewed in a similar light by western pundits, though the dichotomy between two extreme portrayals is less pronounced – lines are blurred – to them, he is simply an Extremist. They cannot place him firmly on any end of the spectrum. Typically, when you do not fall on any extreme, that makes you a moderate.

They can call him a neo-Communist, nostalgic for Soviet power one moment and immediately compare him to the Russian Czars, saying he practically wants to create a Russian Orthodox Theocracy and rebuild the Russian Empire. Then they can compare him to Hitler, which is perhaps the most despicable and deplorable thing you can call a Russian. To the Russian people, Nazi is the worst “n-word”. His young brother died when the Nazis laid siege to Leningrad and killed MILLIONS in one city, show some humanity before you make such an insult to the entire Russian nation.

All of those ideologies are incompatible – you cannot be a Russian Orthodox Fascists Communist Statist Czarist Bolshevik all at once. Such an ignorance, a true lack of knowledge, to so easily throw these terms around in the same sentence proves those who do so fail to understand Russia and Putin. It also reveals the west is more interest in name-calling than in serious dialog. Find one moment where Putin outright insulted a western leader, in the same way as he was, to be called the most abhorrent of things – a Nazi.

So now that we have explored the falsehoods and hypocrisy, what is Putin?

The Truth:

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is a devout Orthodox Christian, and the President of the Russian Federation. Period.

It truly is nobody’s right to apply a label to him that he did not ask for. We would all do well to stop viewing people as Conservatives, and Liberals, Monarchists and Socialists, Easterners and Westerners, and simply seeing each other as Humans. Russian Orthodoxy, the religion of Putin teaches us we are all created in the image and likeness of God, and as a result, we must respect the dignity within every human, even our worst enemy. By longstanding Cossack tradition, we must first respect our freemen, before we can have any dealings with them. This lack of mutual respect and understanding is a major roadblock in Russian relations with the west – and it is not Russia that shows no respect.

In the interest in a conclusion, I would like to humbly offer this perspective. Given how Putin has portrayed himself by his actions and words, perhaps the best label to apply if such a thing is necessary is that Putin is a moderate.

Putin the Moderate

What is a moderate? Simply put, in this context, someone who exists between two extremes. It is popular to place Putin at two radical ends by various groups, both to criticize him and even to praise him. For example, American socialists, liberals, and progressives have this view of him as an authoritarian, possibly misogynistic, far right dictator. They would be surprised to realize he leads a country FAR more socialist than America. Russia has government-funded universal healthcare for all citizens, free education even at university level for those accepted, and a strong heritage of women’s rights (first woman in space, long paid maternity leave, etc.) He shows no signs of wanting to detract from any of that, he actually is quite proud of those things.

Western conservatives stuck in the cold war view him as a “Commie”, a socialist KGB agent trying to restore the Soviet Union and destroy the “moral” west. If only they knew Russia is PROFOUNDLY more religious than the west…beyond compare. Russia is a country of millions of martyrs, and Putin can be seen praying piously in the Russian Orthodox way, a faith far more ancient than western protestant sects, with a direct line of succession to first-century church, described in acts of the apostles. Putin is aware of this, he has met with the leader of Syrian Christians, the Patriarch of Antioch, and taken a keen interest in defending Syria particularly, because of shared Orthodox faith.

A great example of western misunderstanding is when they jumped on Putin’s recent comment about Lenin’s body and Orthodox relics. The implication was that Putin is implying Lenin’s body on red square is just as Holy as the relics of an Orthodox Saint which people venerate. While it’s not my right to speak for Putin, it is clear to me this was a misunderstanding, perhaps due to poor understanding of the Russian language, by non-native speakers.

Having listened myself, I can say the connotation of his comment was more like “What the communists did with Lenin’s body isn’t an unheard of concept, we Orthodox people venerate saints. They just stole an ancient Russian tradition and hope no one notices”. That is a total paraphrase, but I believe it better explains what he said, than the connotation of the English translation.

Putin is right to make the comparison. I do not say Lenin’s body is equal to that of the Saints, certainly not! But the Bolsheviks copied what the church did. They were jealous of the Church, they wanted to be the new Church. This is entirely true. The way Lenin’s body was treated is indeed a form of mimicking and mockery of the holy relics.

The Bolsheviks took an approach of if you can’t beat them, join them almost. They even studied Orthodoxy to uncover knew means of self-promotion. Rather than destroying its role in Russia, they merely usurped it as a central ideology. Whereas before we had cross processions, then we march with Lenin pictures. Before we said God Save the Czar,  then we said Lenin lived, Lenin Lives, Lenin will live again!

In a way, they understood that no people can be without religion or a central ideology. Rather than destroying that thing all humans need, they just replaced Orthodoxy with communism. But of course, they failed. Orthodoxy is the organic ideology of the Russian people, the Faith which founded Russia, it can never be replaced by a pale imitation. That is why Putin was comparing communist things to Orthodox ones, because the communists coveted the zealotry Russians have for their faith. They mimicked Orthodoxy because it was familiar to the people, and in many ways, if it wasn’t for Orthodoxy teaching Russians how to be so loyal to a belief, Communism would not have been successful.

In many ways, Russian communism and the Soviet Union was more influenced by Orthodoxy than Marxism; the religious zeal with which they received it, the marching and the imperial loyalty to their leaders are all something they learned from Czarist Russia, not from Marx. It also doesn’t make you a communist or a bad Christian to note, as Putin did, Orthodoxy and Communist economic theory share some basic commonality – care for the poor and all the peoples of the world. The difference was communism was materialistic whereas Orthodoxy is spiritualistic.

Contrary to the McCarthyites, calling him a communist, there are also the Alt-Right, and certain conservative factions, who have this fascination with Putin as an ultra-macho strongman, what they wish their western leaders were like. They look to him riding shirtless or shooting guns, his judo skills, they enviously lust for his strength, wishing they hat it within them. These people look to the “anti-gay law” in Russia, as proof that Putin is a “tough, white, heterosexual man” putting the world back in its place, and women back in the kitchen.

While Putin is obviously white and heterosexual, and you’d have to be crazy to say he is not tough, he does not support their extremist borderline fascist view of the world. Putin is Orthodox both in the sense of the religion, and in his very conservative, non-alternative lifestyle, he is a traditional Russian man, not an edgy alt-righter living in his mother’s basement who can’t get a girlfriend. He exudes the philosophy “talk softly but carry a big stick”. He doesn’t feel the need to remind people he’s tough – everyone knows that. He would MUCH prefer solving issues with dialog than with fighting, even though he is capable of the latter if need be, much like his country.

When Russians think of him, they picture him well dressed (not riding a bear shirtless), leading the country in a responsible, ethical, diplomatic manner. Putin is a statesman of the old world – a modern Caesar, Peter the Great, or even Churchill (with regards to his iconic association with leading his homeland). He respects the past, takes what was good, rejects what was bad, and tries to make Russia strong in a responsible way.

He is the definition of diplomatic. As much as many of us hate political correctness, he IS politically correct, only in as much as he does his best not to offend any foreign leaders. Putin is a statesman, he puts Russia first, above his personal feelings and ambitions, everything he does, he does selflessly for the nation.

The so called “anti-gay laws” simply prevent homosexuals from either directly or indirectly propagating harmful perverted sexual lifestyles to minors. Putin does not support violence against gay people at large.

Putin is strong in the fight against terror. He helped Syrians save their country, raining down fire and destruction upon terrorists, and he lead the countries security forces when Grozny, the Chechen capital was raised to the ground. He also leads the country which REBUILT Grozny into one of Russia’s most beautiful, newest cities. He is not an enemy to all Muslims, only to violent extremists. Muslims fight in the Russian armed services, and Putin has allowed children from Syria to return to Russia freely. He won’t tolerate cynics who claim infants and toddlers are terrorists just as he won’t tolerate any terrorist stupid enough to attack Russia.

He is a practicing Orthodox Christian of good faith, he has spoken of the Church’s crucial role in Russia, but he does not support creating a theocracy. Neither does the Church for that matter. Putin also meets many leaders of other religions. He is a devout practicing Orthodox, so he primarily honors the prevailing role of Orthodox in Russia history and culture, but that’s it. The west constantly portrays him as this ultra-conservative man that wants to become Czar, but that’s not reality.

The reality is Russia has far more extreme political views to the left and right of Putin. You have people who think he’s not being conservative enough, and then of course the leftist—and I don’t mean the mythical liberal unicorns, I mean the communists are the primary leftist party in Russia. The west doesn’t realize how moderate Putin really is.

He has spoken very critically of the Bolsheviks, and is no communist by any means, but he at the same time does not speak of communists like they are evil people. Some Communists were evil, some were good, somewhere in between, capitalism is also a satanic ideology from a religious point of view, it advocates for worship of money just like Communism seeks utopia without God. Both are materialistic, and Putin neither loves nor hates both systems.

Putin once told Oliver Stone that Judo taught him to be flexible, and this is one of his defining characteristics. Russia itself can be a country of extremes for better or worse, and Putin is a flexible moderate at the core, bringing the people together, doing his best not to alienate any large group, and trying to help build “Sobornaya Rossia” a united Russia. Russia has had so many extremes come and go in the last century, Putin tries to be a stabilizing constant to help the nation stand firm in trying times.

Putin actually sits in the middle of a spectrum of extremes, a peacemaker with the rare gift of calling all to order for the greater good of Russia. Those that wish for him to lose the election should be careful what they wish for, the result they get may be more than they bargained for.

The fact is Russian westernizing liberals are largely unicorns, they don’t exist, and when they do, they aren’t by any means popular. An alternative to Putin would not likely be Pro-Western, but the west may actually get to see a real Russian Communist, or Czarist, or authoritarianist.

Popular candidate Zhirinovsky for example, describes himself as the “drum” to Putin’s “cello.” He represents a group of Russians who actually think Putin is too restrained, that he isn’t tough enough. That may surprise you, but it’s true. Some Russians believe Russia should have actively intervened with full military might in Ukraine. Let’s face it, Ukrainians aren’t friends…they’re family. Russia’s family is being slaughtered in the Ukraine…yes…primarily by other Ukrainians, but this wouldn’t have happened if western backed fascists did not take power.

Zhirinovsky advocated for an intervention and occupation to restore legitimate Ukrainian rule before the fascist Kiev regime would have taken power in what the first east Slavic Chronicles call “The Mother of Russian Cities” – Kiev. Likewise, some Russians wanted to see Russia’s military take the fight to enemies on the ground in Syria, which could have potentially risked conflict with US forces occupying territory there.

The Communist party also advocated for Russia to do more to save Russian-Ukrainian people from fascist occupation. If Zhirinovsky or a communist candidate was president, Russia could have occupied all of Ukraine, or be currently fighting a war in the heart of Europe. Russia and Ukraine are twins, as a result, they both have that tendency to be a land of extremes. The difference is Putin, who kept the extreme ends of Russia from tearing each other apart, like what is happening in Ukraine.

Putin’s Russia is an incredibly diverse country. Unlike in the west, were the only real variety approved by the Deep State is Neoconservatism, or Neoliberalism, where the Right and Left are all the same on core issues where it counts, Russia is a country that truly offers diversity. Many diverse ideologies coexist in Russia, unlike in the west which claims to be the capital of diversity, the offer truly divergent and profoundly different worldviews.

For those who believe the Russian media is all the same, take a look at: Tsargrad, Komsmopolskaya Pravda, Pravoslavie.ru, RIA Novosti, Radio Mayak, Vesti, Sputnik, and RT, not to mention the plethora of openly anti-Kremlin websites which exist freely like Radio Svaboda. If people only knew the amount of anti-patriotic and anti-Russian fifth columns that are allowed to operate freely. This also doesn’t include pro-Russian and anti-Russian news from Ukraine.

Putin’s Russia is ideologically and politically far more diverse than most places, and that’s because it’s run by a moderate who welcomes dialog, and not an extremist who wishes to silence all descending voices.

Putin was the moderate who saved Syria from destruction, got the legitimate government back on its feet, then handed over the reigns and said, “Take it from here”. He was the moderate who reunited Crimea with Russia, but allowed Donbass to fight for itself, providing only humanitarian aid and fully supporting the Minsk agreements. Whether or not it’s right or wrong, his actions may have prevented a greater war.

Putin is a moderate, because he has miraculously and flexibly reconciled almost all aspects of Russian society, getting them to work together. Under Putin, for the first time, Communist leaders were saying “Christ is Risen” on Easter. Under Putin, Crimea was reunited, and Syria was saved without provoking a dangerous war with another great power.

Putin is a moderate, because he has encouraged all ideologies in Russia to collaborate patriotically for the common good, setting aside their profound differences. Putin’s work has been to stabilize Russia after centuries of storms, to help lead her into the future, so future generations of Russians will be safe and strong. Then will Russians choose whether to pursue for Russia a Monarchist, Communist, Traditionalist, Leftist, or whatever future for Russia. Because of Putin, they may build something entirely new. So call Putin a moderate if you’d like, it seems to fit.

Above all, Putin is a statesman for the stability of the country. He knows the importance of Orthodoxy as the foundation of Russian culture, which co-suffered with the people since the beginning. He is also an Orthodox Christian of genuine faith, and the lawful president with the people’s support.

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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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