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How the US is now using Albania to trigger violence in FYROM after the Greece-Russia gas deal

At the exact same time that Greece has received a guarantee for billions of cubic meters’ worth of Russian gas, Macedonia is being rocked by the threat of a renewed Albanian insurgency designed to offset Moscow’s pipeline plans.

Alex Christoforou

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Post originally appeared on Sputnik News Agency by Andrew Korybko.

Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller announced that Russia will guarantee 47 billion cubic meters of gas a year to Greece via the Turkish Stream, which would then go onwards to supply the European market. While it’s not yet specified exactly which path the pipeline will take from Greece to the EU, it’s more than likely that it’ll go through Macedonia en route to the former South Stream’s envisioned Serbian hub, and thenceforth through Hungary, Austria, and beyond, just like Russia originally anticipated last year. There’s one major obstacle to that strategy, however, and it’s that the US is attempting to transform its failed Color Revolution in Macedonia into an Unconventional War to neutralize this geostrategic route, utilizing the specter of an Albanian terrorist campaign modeled off the Syrian template to achieve its destructive goals.

From Color Revolution to Unconventional War

In the years since the War on Yugoslavia, the US has perfected and patterned a novel method of regime change that proceeds according to pre-established escalation checkpoints. Washington first issues either a direct or implicit/covert ultimatum to the targeted government, the rejection of which serves as the ‘dog whistle’ for activating the dormant Color Revolution social infrastructure present in the country. Should that plan come to fail, then some of the associated destabilizing actors are transitioned into launching an Unconventional War. The final step, should that fail and a Great Power doesn’t diplomatically intervene (as Russia did with Syria in September 2013), is to repeat the Libyan Scenario of a conventional intervention that leaves no doubt as to the success of its regime change odds.

Adapting this template for the Macedonian application, it can be seen how the country has thus far successfully repelled the Color Revolution attempt by Zoran Zaev, which in turn led to concrete Russian investment in the country’s pipeline infrastructure that set the stage for the Putin-Tsipras agreement earlier this month. Now that the Balkan Stream pipeline plans are rapidly gaining traction, the US realized that it needs to act quickly to in order to sabotage them, hence the sudden reemergence of Albanian terrorism in Macedonia. While this problem was previously so serious as to push the country near civil war in 2001, it’s generally subsided since then, with only a handful of extremists unhappy with the generous Ochrid Agreements that guaranteed the Albanian minority vast political and social rights. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped the country of Albania, the US’ regional Lead From Behind proxy, from threatening regional destabilization in order to create Greater Albania.

Albanian Agitation

An international scandal rocked the Serbian capital of Belgrade last fall when Albanian nationalists used a drone to fly a Fascist-era Greater Albania flag through a football stadium during a heated match, threatening to rekindle ethnic tensions that had long remained on edge in that corner of the Balkans. The provocation thankfully didn’t result in any deaths, but it did raise fears that the same style of World War II historical revisionism from Ukraine was slithering down to the Balkans with implicit US strategic support, opening up a new geo-ideological front in the New Cold War. Earlier this month, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama confirmed that Fascist-era thinking is indeed alive and well in Tirana when he officially pushed for the creation of Greater Albania. He spoke of his country’s plans to annex the Serbian Province of Kosovo (which he calls “unification”), saying that it was “inevitable” and “unquestionable”, and that the only question is “Will it happen in the context of the EU as a natural process and understood by all, or will it happen as a reaction to EU blindness or laziness?” The Serbian government rightfully responded with indignation, warning Albania against “banging the war drums” and saying that the two entities would “never unite”.

This was just the opening salvo of Tirana’s regional agitations, however, as a short while later, Hashim Thaci, the former political leader of the terrorist Kosovo Liberation Army and Foreign Minister of the unilaterally self-proclaimed government of Kosovo, said he would travel to Belgrade to attend a conference he was invited to. Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic warned that “If he turns up in Belgrade, the Ministry of Interior will act according to the law and bring him to justice”, since Thaci had been convicted in absentia of terrorist-related offensives in 1997 and sentenced to a decade imprisonment. Not even a week later, about 40 individuals identifying themselves as members of the thought-to-be disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army, the same group that Thaci himself once led, crossed over from Kosovo (now under NATO occupation and no longer administered by Serbia) and raided a Macedonian police post near the border. They took a couple police officers hostage and ominously declared that “We will have an Albanian state”, before scurrying back to their NATO protectorate after a few hours.

Thus, just as Albanian nationalism threatened to make South Stream a pipedream, so too does it seem poised to do the same with Balkan Stream, as in the course of only six brief months, Albania and its Kosovo satellite have shockingly:

  • Flown a Fascist-era flag over Belgrade;
  • Openly declared their intentions to unilaterally impose a Greater Albania on the Balkans;
  • Revived an irredentist terrorist organization;
  • And staged a violent border incursion into Macedonia.

The most destabilizing aspect is that the US, EU, and NATO haven’t condemned any of this whatsoever, and in fact, Albania and Kosovo enjoy de-jure and de-facto NATO support, with the former being an official member and the latter being occupied by one of the US’ largest bases in Europe, Camp Bondsteel.  These disturbing facts reveal implicit Western support for Albanians aggressive actions, adding credence to the analysis that they are indeed being coordinated by the US in order to sabotage Russia’s Balkan Stream project.

Forecast Indicators And Coming Consequences

  • Here’s what to monitor as the situation further develops:
  • Possible expansion of terrorist raids into Serbia’s Albanian-populated Sandzak and Presevo Valley border regions;
  • Albanian/Kosovar/NATO/US military reactions and official statements to the terrorist incursion (whether in Macedonia and/or Serbia);
  • The loyalty of Albanian political parties to the democratically elected government of Macedonia;
  • And the ‘second wind’ potential of the Macedonian Color Revolution and its possible transformation into a EuroMaidan-like meltdown.

Other than the possible disruption of Balkan Stream’s construction and the violent formalization of Greater Albania, the consequences of renewed ethnic destabilization in the Balkans could include:

  • A strengthening of Serbian-Macedonian ties centered on shared victimhood;
  • Intensification of CSTO/SCO/Eurasian Union outreaches to beleaguered non-NATO and non-EU members Serbia and Macedonia;
  • The threatening of China’s Balkan Silk Road plan for high-speed rail from the Greek port of Piraeus to Budapest (via Macedonia and Serbia);
  • And subsequently, possible Chinese shadow mediation at settling the conflict before it spirals out of control.

Finally, be on the lookout for US/EU ‘mediation’ attempts that are nothing more than ‘good cop’ diplomatic tricks to pursue their ‘bad cop’ geopolitical designs. Also, be wary of any initiative or statement that could be interpreted as a subversive invitation for US/NATO military intervention in Serbia and/or Macedonia.

References:

http://sputniknews.com/columnists/20150422/1021229351.html

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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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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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