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Stalingrad at 75: Five ways legendary battle turned tide of WW2

On Februrary 2nd, 1943 the German offensive in southern Russia came to a disasterous end with the surrender of the 6th army

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The Battle of Stalingrad was the second bloodiest battle in human history (after the Seige of Leningrad), which broke the momentum of the Nazi-Warmachinemachine thereby beginning the push to victory. Technically, if you consider Leningrad a seige, and not a battle, (there is a distinction) then Stalingrad was the bloodiest the world had ever seen, resulting in millions of casualties.
Though the city has been renamed to Volgograd, it will forever remain Stalingrad in the annals of military glory, and, by Russian law, it will be Stalingrad again annually during 6 days out of the year. Those six days are the 9th of May, 22nd June, 23rd of August, 2nd of September,19th of November, and the 2nd of February.
The city was of course called Stalingrad in honor of Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin who was NOT in fact, Russian, but Georgian. The (in)famous Georgian received a special gift from King George VI of the United Kingdom – a sword in the honor of the Heroes of Stalingrad – for the Soviet Union’s role in saving Europe.
In our time, Volgograd will again have the world’s eyes upon it for being one of the 11 cities hosting the FIFA 2018 World Cup which we covered in this article.
One can only hope that foreign visitors will not get too distracted by sports, as to forget to pay honor to a shrine to the destruction of Nazism.

The Motherland Calls Statue and an Orthodox Church, two symbols of victory. Victory in war, and Victory over Death itself.

The entire city of Stalingrad is infused with the spirit of victory against impossible odds, the spirit of Russia herself.
February 2 marks the 75th anniversary of the German surrender at Stalingrad. While the five-month battle remains a symbol of World War II, its practical importance to defeating the Nazis deserves more attention.
Check out this great article by RT which documents five ways iconic battle turned the tide of WW2:

1. Inflicted huge losses

Stalingrad was the biggest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare. Estimates vary, but fighting between August 1942 and February 1943 is thought to have resulted in up to 2 million casualties, with more than a million dead.

This was not just a reflection of the forces involved, but the specific circumstances. Adolf Hitler’s increasingly obsessive desire to capture the city as he lost more and more troops came up against the resilience of the Soviets, who were defending their homeland under Joseph Stalin’s newly-issued Order 227 (“Not one step back!”).

The battleground was the bombed-out hulk of the city, providing the stage for the most notorious and vicious street fight in history – still known as the “Rat War” by the Germans – in which there was equal threat from being picked off by a sniper, ambushed crossing the road, or bayonetted in a sewer at night. The latter was a tactic favored by the Russians, who wanted to ensure the advancing army was constantly sleep-deprived and anxious.

This was a war of attrition that Germany could afford far less than the Soviet Union.

“For the Germans it becomes a meat grinder. Every division they send in is weakened, so they have to pull new ones off the flanks. According to 6th Army’s loss figures, most divisions go in rated combat-ready. Within a week, they’re rated either as weak or exhausted. The attrition rate is phenomenal. The Luftwaffe’s rubbling of the city only exacerbates things. In early November, they run out of divisions,” is how American historian David Glantz described the course of the battle.

Soldiers of the elite German 6th Army were not designated to be exchanged one-for-one with newly-trained peasant conscripts, nor were Panzers built to be stuck for months in static positions, to be shot from second-floor machine gun nests which they couldn’t even lift their guns to target. The idea of constant, aggressive engagement, disregarding large losses, was ingrained in Russia’s historic military doctrine. It found its ultimate application in World War II, where the Soviets possessed a significant advantage in manpower – and at Stalingrad, Hitler danced to their tune.

2. Handed Germans their first major defeat

Stalingrad was attacked as part of Operation Blau, which thought to cleave Soviet forces and allow Germany access to valuable oil in the Caucasus. But as it developed, the battle quickly grew its own logic and much bigger stakes, which fell outside any operational implications.

When Marshal Georgy Zhukov successfully conducted his pincer movement to encircle the weakened German forces, this represented the largest and most clear-cut defeat inflicted on the Wehrmacht since the start of the war. In comparison, the justly celebrated contemporaneous Allied victory at El Alamein involved forces and casualties that were at least ten times smaller.

“At Moscow in 1941, the Germans were repelled, here they were destroyed. Before, they could say this was a temporary reversal, but here Hitler ordered for the 6th Army to be rebuilt from the ground up – this was not a defeat that could be concealed,” says Konstantin Zalesskiy, a prominent historian.

After the devastating losses just 18 months earlier, the Red Army was able to claim superiority over the vaunted invaders – both a function of improved doctrine and tactics, and a platform for future gains, as well as a remarkable triumph in its own right.

3. Gave hope to the world

Involuntarily, those who refer to Stalingrad as “symbolic” in the present day are speaking more in abstract and iconographic terms. But for those who lived through World War II and lived in fear of invasion or death, the importance of the battle to morale was far more immediate.

“There was a sense that if the city fell, all would be lost,”says historian Jochen Hellbeck, explaining that in Britain even at the time, the magnitude of the battle was clear to every radio bulletin listener.

 

Considering Germany’s dwindling resources, the destruction of the aura of invincibility that had surrounded its forces immediately cast the entire fate of World War II in a different light.

Conversely Stalingrad was a “shock to the German population,” says Zalesskiy.

For many residents this was the first realization that what had hitherto had been a triumphant foreign adventure could end up on their doorstep, and that every act of barbarity would meet its own retribution, as indeed came to pass.

In turn, German propaganda soon became more doom-laden, and just a fortnight later Joseph Goebbels made his apocalyptic Sportpalast speech, insisting that the very survival of his people was in the balance, and asking his audience, “Do you want a war more total and radical than anything that we can even yet imagine?”

4. Sent Hitler over the edge

“The problem was that Hitler had invested so much in propaganda terms – even Goebbels was worried about how much was being invested – into the capture of Stalingrad, that it was a question of pride, of vanity,”says Anthony Beevor, the best-selling war historian.

But the issue goes deeper. Hitler’s rapid ascent, both political and military, relied on manic self-belief and optimism that was carried straight into Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Even before Stalingrad, after the Soviet Union refused to surrender in the planned two months, the Führer was – perhaps subconsciously – aware that for the first time the endgame did not look promising.

A victim of the sunk cost fallacy, instead of cutting his losses and suing for peace, he doubled down, looking for the big win. And once the battle started, he did it again and again, even when there could no longer be any military justification for taking the city.

The realization of defeat, the impact of which he freely admitted, devastated Hitler. Out went the natural ebullience and Wagner sessions with the high command, in came regular amphetamine injections and a depression that prevented him even from making key addresses to the nation.

This is how two of his personal aides Otto Guensche and Heinze Linge described his mental state in the period to the Soviets who captured and interviewed them.

“The attacks of nervous irritation increased. One moment Hitler’s collar was too tight and was stopping his circulation; the next his trousers were too long. He complained that his skin itched. He suspected poison everywhere, in the lavatory cistern, on the soap, in the shaving cream or in the toothpaste, and demanded that these be minutely analyzed. The water used for cooking his food had to be investigated as well. Hitler chewed his fingernails and scratched his ears and neck until they bled. Because he suffered from insomnia, he took every possible sleeping pill,” reads the document, known as The Hitler Book.

In the next two years he would retreat further into delusion and despondency and literally into his underground bunker.

5. Set timer for the German defeat

Some historians like to argue  that  it was December 1941 – when Hitler was stopped on the edges on Moscow, and the United States entered the war following Pearl Harbor – that decided the outcome of World War II.

But if that month – better understood now, in hindsight – loaded the gun, Stalingrad firedit. Thanks to each factor above, it literally changed the direction of the war.

The Nazis never made any further advances into Russia. In fact, having scarcely lost before, other than the Third Battle of Kharkov in March 1943 they barely won another battle on the Eastern Front, and did not conduct a single successful campaign anywhere.

The victory at Stalingrad did not just save millions of Russians from Hitler’s occupation, but millions abroad, likely shortening the war by months or years.

Igor Ogorodnev for RT

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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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EU’s ‘toothless’ response to creation of Kosovo army risks worsening the crisis – Moscow

Russia’s ambassador to the UN said that the EU could have and should have done more to stop the breakaway region from creating its own army.

RT

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The creation of Kosovo’s own 5,000-strong army is a threat to peace and security in a turbulent region and may lead to a new escalation, Russia’s UN envoy has warned, calling the EU’s lackluster response irresponsible.

Speaking at the UN Security Council emergency meeting on Kosovo, Russia’s ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzya said that the EU could have and should have done more to stop the breakaway region from creating its own army to replace its lightly armed emergency response force.

“The EU reaction to the decision by Pristina cannot be described as other than toothless. This irresponsible policy has crossed the line,” Nebenzya said, after the UNSC meeting on Monday.

The diplomat said the lack of decisive action on the part of the 28-member bloc was a “great disappointment,” adding that the EU seems to “have turned a blind eye on the illegal creation of Kosovo’s ‘army.’”

The law, approved by Kosovo lawmakers on Friday, paves the way for doubling the size of the current Kosovo Security Force and for turning it into a de facto army, with 5,000 soldiers and 3,000 reservists.

The move did not go down well even with Kosovo’s usual backers, with both NATO and the EU voicing their indignation. NATO’s General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg called the decision “ill-timed” and lamented that Kosovo’s authorities had ignored “the concerns expressed by NATO.”

The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, has echoed those concerns, saying in a statement that the mandate of Kosovo’s forces “should only be changed through an inclusive and gradual process” in accordance with the state’s constitution.

The only nation to openly applaud the controversial move was the US, with its ambassador to Kosovo, Phillip Kosnett, saying that Washington “reaffirms its support” for the upgrade as it is “only natural for Kosovo as a sovereign, independent country” to have a full-fledged army.

The Kosovo MPs’ decision has drawn anger in the Serbian capital Belgrade and provoked a strong response from Moscow, which calledon the UN mission in Kosovo to demilitarize the area in accordance with UNSC resolution 1244, and to disband any armed units.

Nebenzya pointed out that the UN resolution does not allow any Kosovo Albanian military units to be present in the region’s territory. He accused Western countries, including members of the NATO-led international peacekeeping force (KFOR), of “condoning and supporting” the violation by Pristina of the resolution.

It is feared that the army, though a relatively small force, might inflame tensions in the region and impede attempts at reconciliation between Pristina and Belgrade. Serbia has warned that it might consider an armed intervention if the army becomes a threat to the 120,000-strong Serb minority in Kosovo.

“The advance of Kosovo’s army presents a threat to the peace and security in the region, which may lead to the recurrence of the armed conflict,” Nebenzya stated.

In addition to creating its own army, Kosovo in November hit Serbia with a 100 percent import tariff on goods, defying calls by the US and the EU to roll the measure back.

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Ukraine’s President Says “High” Threat Of Russian Invasion, Urges NATO Entry In Next 5 Years

Poroshenko is trying desperately to hold on to power, even if it means provoking Russia.

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Via Zerohedge


Perhaps still seeking to justify imposing martial law over broad swathes of his country, and attempting to keep international pressure and media focus on a narrative of “Russian aggression,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko denounced what he called the high “threat of Russian invasion” during a press conference on Sunday, according to Bloomberg.

Though what some analysts expected would be a rapid flair up of tit-for-tat incidents following the late November Kerch Strait seizure of three Ukrainian vessels and their crew by the Russian Navy has gone somewhat quiet, with no further major incident to follow, Poroshenko has continued to signal to the West that Russia could invade at any moment.

“The lion’s share of Russian troops remain” along the Russian border with Ukraine, Poroshenko told journalists at a press conference in the capital, Kiev. “Unfortunately, less than 10 percent were withdrawn,” he said, and added: “As of now, the threat of Russian troops invading remains. We have to be ready for this, we won’t allow a repeat of 2014.”

Poroshenko, who declared martial law on Nov. 26, citing at the time possible imminent “full-scale war with Russia” and Russian tank and troop build-up, on Sunday noted that he will end martial law on Dec. 26 and the temporarily suspended presidential campaign will kick off should there be no Russian invasion. He also previously banned all Russian males ages 16-60 from entering Ukraine as part of implementation of 30 days of martial law over ten provinces, though it’s unclear if this policy will be rescinded.

During his remarks, the Ukrainian president said his country should push to join NATO and the EU within the next five years, per Bloomberg:

While declining to announce whether he will seek a second term in the office, Poroshenko said that Ukraine should achieve peace, overcome the consequences of its economic crisis and to meet criteria to join the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization during next five years.

But concerning both his retaining power and his ongoing “threat exaggeration” — there’s even widespread domestic acknowledgement that the two are clearly linked.

According to The Globe and Mail:

While Mr. Poroshenko’s domestic rivals accuse him of exaggerating the threat in order to boost his own flagging political fortunes — polls suggest Mr. Poroshenko is on track to lose his job in a March election — military experts say there are reasons to take the Ukrainian president’s warning seriously.

As we observed previously, while European officials have urged both sides to exercise restraint, the incident shows just how easily Russia and the West could be drawn into a military conflict over Ukraine.

Certainly Poroshenko’s words appear designed to telegraph just such an outcome, which would keep him in power as a war-time president, hasten more and massive western military support and aid, and quicken his country’s entry into NATO — the latter which is already treating Ukraine as a de facto strategic outpost.

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