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UK man faces prison for volunteering in Donbass

Ben Stimpson is being punished for being a terrorist, but he is not a terrorist and nor are the people of Donbass. The fact that Stimpson never fired a shot in anger while a UK man who killed while fighting with the neo-Nazi Azov battalion is symptomatic of something worse than victor’s justice–it is an abuse of the justice system in the name of foreign policy.

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Ben Stimson was born in and lived most of his life in Britain. However, due to the lack of any real future in the land of his birth, he travelled to Donbass where he volunteered to help locals in their fight for freedom against the regime in Kiev.

Stimson was never one driven by ideology and had no prior connections to the people of Donbass, but he went and volunteered, even though he never fired a shot in anger.

Independent journalist Graham Phillips spent time with Stimpson in England and allowed him to explain his story in full. You can view the entire documentary at the bottom of this piece.

He returned to Britain from Donbass merely to liquidate his assets after which time he planned on moving to Russia where he spoke of having business opportunities that he did not have elsewhere.

However, he is currently behind bars, facing sentencing for terrorism related charges even though Ben Stimson is by no objective definition a terrorist or anything close.

Volunteers of many varieties frequently fight in conflicts that do not concern their motherland. Many leftists from the west fight with Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq and many Wahhabists/Salafists from all over the world, including Europe, fight for ISIS, al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups.

During the Spanish Civil War, individuals from many countries including the United States flew to Spain to participate in the conflict.

The issues that are raised are therefore three fold.

1. Should individuals be uniformly banned from volunteering in a foreign conflict not involving the armed forces of their country of citizenship? 

If this is the case, one could easily apply a uniform conviction for such people with sentences that ought to be next to nothing should the individual who volunteered abroad wish to return. Any further sentences would only be related to the nature of the activities a volunteer engaged in while abroad.

Because Mr. Stimpson’s country is not actively fighting with its army in Donbass, there can be no conceivable way in which aiding the Donbass fight for freedom could be injurious to the British public in any way, shape or form.

2. Are some volunteers abroad  freedom fighters and are others sinister? 

No one will ever universally agree on this. Sweden for example has recently taken the decision to not punish but to instead use government aid to help those returning to Sweden after fighting for ISIS.

If a country like Sweden does not believe that those who fought for ISIS are dangerous and ISIS is among the most universally reviled groups on the planet, there is clearly no chance to ever come up with a universal agreement on who is a good volunteer versus who should be punished for an act of malicious volunteerism.

Consequently, the idea of even trying to differentiate between ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ volunteers simply opens up more costly cans of worms than is worth while.

This leads to the third possible solution which is theoretically the best while unfortunately the most difficult to enforce, though critically not impossible in a rational society.

3. Allow ALL volunteers to fight legally abroad and only make arrests under separate but related war crimes charges when and if applicable 

This solution is not only just but it is the least restrictive method of approaching this issue which admittedly effects very few people in most countries.

It is already illegal to engage in war crimes or crimes against humanity both on an individual basis, from the position of being a mercenary or from the position of being a volunteer (as well as being a regular soldier).

The fight in Donbass is a fight for freedom, it is a fight among democratic activists who are fighting for their young republics (Donetsk and Lugansk) against a Ukrainian regime that refuses to give them their freedom.

The Donbass fighters have not waged war against the regime, but forces of the regime have waged war on the young Donbass republics. In this war, the regime has used chemical weapons on civilian targets, targeted civilians with conventional weapons, engaged in extra-legal assassinations in civilian locations, all the while its fighters have been caught out conducting child rape. 

Even so, the bigger irony of this is that because the horrific war crimes committed by the Kiev regime do not directly impact a country like Britain, a UK man called Chris Garrett, aka Swampy, has fought with the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion which is supported by the regime Garrett even boasted about killing a man.

Far from being questioned in Britain by the authorities, he is not only walking free, but insulting Russia while doing so.

One is therefore witnessing the perverse spectre of Chris Garrett, an individual who killed in the name of a neo-Nazi battalion walking free, while Ben Stimpson who never fired a shot in anger faces prison time.

This is even worse than victors justice, it is a vicarious way of enforcing a political and geo-political agenda using poor people like Ben Stimpson as pawns.

If justice were truly blind, it would not matter that Ben Stimpson fought for freedom fighters whose goals are opposed by the British government of the day, all that ought to matter was that Ben Stimpson did not engage in any acts that harmed anyone.

It should also matter that no serious international body has accused the Donbass fighters of committing any crimes against humanity. The same cannot be said of the Ukrainian regime whose use of chemical weapons has incurred condemnation, just not in the west who are too busy hounding Syria based on false accusations that they have used and plan to use chemical weapons which as recently as 2014, the US admitted that Syria does not have. By the west’s own standards, the regime in Kiev should be legally removed from power.

This all goes back to the fact that not only is Ben Stimpson being treated unfairly, but he is the victim of gross double-standards. Domestic justice and foreign policy are two separate issues. If Ben Stimpson can be arrested and imprisoned for volunteering in Donbass, it is a short slippery slope before those who support Donbass are also harassed.

Quite rapidly, the battle for justice for a man who harmed not a single person and never intended to do so, becomes a battle for the free speech of everybody else.

Ben Stimpson’s only crime is falling on the wrong side of the western elite’s foreign policy position, yet he is being punished as a terrorist, just as Sweden helps actual terrorist fighters to live normal lives as though joining ISIS is perfectly acceptable.

The hypocrisy is as dangerous as it is mindbogglingly absurd.

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‘I will take over as Brexit Party leader’: Nigel Farage back on the frontline

Nigel Farage says that if the UK takes part in European elections, he will lead his new Brexit Party.

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Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has announced that he will lead his new Brexit Party into the European elections if UK MPs decide to delay Brexit beyond May 22.

Farage, who has ostensibly appointed himself leader, told various media, including the BBC and Sky News on Friday morning: “I will take over as leader of the Brexit Party and lead it into the European Elections.”

It comes after the Brexit Party’s leader, Catherine Blaiklock, quit over a series of alleged Islamophobic statements and retweets of far-right figures on social media.

It is not yet thought that Farage has officially been elected as leader, as the party does not, as yet, have a formal infrastructure to conduct such a vote.

The right-wing MEP vowed to put out a whole host of Brexit Party candidates if the UK participates in the upcoming EU elections in May, adding: “If we fight those elections, we will fight them on trust.”

On Thursday night, the EU agreed to PM May’s request for a delaying to Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. Brussels announced two new exit dates depending on what happens next week in the UK parliament.

The UK will have to leave the bloc on April 12 unless British MPs agree to May’s Brexit deal. If the withdrawal agreement is passed by next week, EU leaders have agreed to grant an extension until May 22.

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Baltics cannot rely on Germany any more

The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it is supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership blunders.

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Submitted by Adomas Abromaitis…

On March 29 Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will celebrate 15 years of becoming NATO member states. The way to the alliance membership was not simple for newly born independent countries. They have reached great success in fulfilling many of NATO demands: they have considerably increased their defence expenditures, renewed armaments and increased the number of military personnel.

In turn, they get used to rely on more powerful member states, their advice, help and even decision making. All these 15 years they felt more or less safe because of proclaimed European NATO allies’ capabilities.

Unfortunately, now it is high time to doubt. The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership’s blunders. Every member state does a bit. As for the Baltic states, they are particularly vulnerable, because they fully depend on other NATO member states in their defence. Thus, Germany, Canada and Britain are leading nations of the NATO battle group stationed in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia respectively.

But the state of national armed forces in Germany, for example, raises doubts and makes it impossible not only defend the Baltics against Russia, but Germany itself.

It turned out, that Germany itself remains dissatisfied with its combat readiness and minister of defence’s ability to perform her duties. Things are so bad, that the military’s annual readiness report would be kept classified for the first time for “security reasons.”

“Apparently the readiness of the Bundeswehr is so bad that the public should not be allowed to know about it,” said Tobias Lindner, a Greens member who serves on the budget and defense committees.

Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-arms/germany-not-satisfied-with-readiness-of-submarines-some-aircraft-idUSKBN1QS1G7) the average readiness of the country’s nearly 10,000 weapons systems stood at about 70 percent in 2018, which meant Germany was able to fulfill its military obligations despite increasing responsibilities.

No overall comparison figure was available for 2017, but last year’s report revealed readiness rates of under 50 percent for specific weapons such as the aging CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters and the Tornado fighter jets.

Zorn said this year’s report was more comprehensive and included details on five main weapons systems used by the cyber command, and eight arms critical for NATO’s high readiness task force, which Germany heads this year.

“The overall view allows such concrete conclusions about the current readiness of the Bundeswehr that knowledge by unauthorized individuals would harm the security interests of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he wrote.

Critics are sure of incompetence of the Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen. Though she has occupied the upper echelons of German politics for 14 years now — and shows no sign of success. This mother of seven, gynecologist by profession, by some miracle for a long time has been remaining in power, though has no trust even among German military elites. Despite numerous scandals she tries to manage the Armed Forces as a housewife does and, of course, the results are devastating for German military capabilities. The same statement could be easily apply for the Baltic States, which highly dependent on Germany in military sphere.

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Crimea: The Geopolitical Jewel Russia Continues to Polish

As Putin continues to polish his Black Sea jewel, Europe has to decide if it is going to continue playing the U.S’s games over Ukraine or begin the next phase of its independence.

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Authored by Tom Luongo via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


With all that is happening in the world Crimea has taken a bit of a backseat recently. Yes, the US, EU and Canada just added more sanctions on Russia via the odious Magnitsky legislation but this is inconsequential.

There’s been a flurry of good news coming out of Crimea and the Black Sea recently that bears discussion. Let’s start with the most important. President Vladimir Putin was in Crimea earlier this week to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the peninsula’s reunification with Russia. There he also officially inaugurated two major upgrades to Crimea’s power grid.

Located in Simferopol and Sevastopol, two new power plants will produce 940 megawatts and secure Crimea’s energy needs for now and into the future.

Power has been Crimea’s Achilles’ heel since breaking off from Ukraine in 2014. It received almost 90% of its power from the mainland. In November 2015, the trunk lines into Crimea were sabotaged by Ukrainian nationalist radicals, encouraged by President Petro Poroshenko plunging it into darkness as winter took hold.

Does this sound familiar? A place that defies US edicts geopolitically is first hit with a full trade embargo, sanctions and threatened militarily by proxies before having its electricity shut off?

*Cough* Venezuela *Cough*

And there are reports that the US has game-planned a similar fate for Iran as well. For Crimea it was easy because of the single-point-of-failure, the trunks from the mainland. For Venezuela it was as well, with the Guri dam, which affected nearly 70 percent of the country.

So, Putin timing the fifth anniversary of reunification with the announcement of the plants moving to full operational status was yet another smooth bit of international political maneuvering.

A not-so-subtle poke in the eye of the Gang Who Can’t Sanction Straight in D.C. as well as lame duck Poroshenko. Elections are at the end of the month and this celebration by Russia and Crimea will not sit well with many Ukrainians, especially the diaspora here in the US which is virulently anti-Putin in my experience.

Secure and stable power generation is a hallmark of a first world territory. Without that economic growth and stability are impossible. This is why to first help stabilize the situation in Crimea after the blackout Russia brought in 400 MW of power across the Kerch Strait from Krasnodor.

Tying Crimea to the mainland via the Kerch Strait bridge was a masterstroke by Putin. The initial power lines were simply a necessity. For those that complain he isn’t doing enough to counter US and European aggression need only look at the Kerch Strait bridge.

Not only did the Russians not seek international approval given the nearly universal refusal to recognize Crimea as Russian they built the thing in a time frame that defies description.

Imagine if this had been an EU project. They would still be debating the initial engineering plans and the political effects on some protected minority.

Not only does it open up the Eastern Black Sea to trade via Crimea but it ends the use of the Sea of Azov as a potential staging ground for naval provocations as last fall’s incident proved. Ukraine is cut off from acting aggressively and cannot count on any help from the US and Europe.

Moreover, Crimea is now permanently Russia’s. And every bit of infrastructure Russia builds there ties the two further together and weakens any bonds Crimea had with Ukraine. The resultant growth and modernization will make its way, economically and culturally back into southern Ukraine and erode the hard border over time.

This is far more important than striking out and metaphorically punching Poroshenko in the mouth, that many of Putin’s detractors wish for.

Presidents change, after all. Patience and attrition is how you beat an aggressive, distant enemy like the US

To remind everyone just how insane the Trump White House has become on matters international, no less than Vice President Mike Pence lobbied Germany to provoke another naval incident at the Kerch Strait.

If there was ever an example of how little Trump’s gang of moldy neocons think of Europe it is this bit of news. In effect, Pence was saying, “We can’t start a war with Russia because it would go nuclear, but you can because Russia can’t live without your trade.”

This coming after the US unilaterally pulled out of the INF treaty and is now flying nuclear bombers to eastern Europe. The message is clear. If the EU doesn’t get with this open-ended belligerent program against Russia and China of John Bolton’s they will be the ones paying the price when chaos breaks out.

On the other side there is Putin; building bridges, pipelines, power plants and roads.

He’s making it clear what the future holds not only for Europe but the Middle East, central Asia and India. We will defend Crimea at all costs, develop it not only into a tourist destination but also a major trade hub as well.

You are more than welcome to join us. But, we don’t need you.

These power plants will raise Crimea’s power output well beyond its current needs, allowing first export of power as well as providing the foundation for future growth.

And as if it weren’t coordinated in any way, the Chinese, on the morning of Putin’s speech, announced that Crimea would be an excellent fit for investment projects attached to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

That’s according to the head of the association of Chinese compatriots on the peninsula, Ge Zhili. “Our organization is bolstering cooperation ties, exchanges and friendly contacts with the Crimean society,” he said at an event dedicated to the fifth anniversary of Crimea’s reunification with Russia, which was held in the Russian Embassy in Beijing on Monday.

It is also ready to contribute to the establishment of “reliable partner ties” and the explanation of legal details of business cooperation with Crimea, Ge Zhili said. “The Chinese society hopes for the development of friendly cooperation with Crimea; we are ready to overcome difficulties for fruitful results.”

Again this is a direct challenge to the US who has Crimea under strict sanctions in the West. China is happy now to move forward with integrating Crimea into its plans. It’s just another example of how Russia and China simply ignore Trump’s fulminations and move on.

I can’t wait until I get to write this article all over again, this time about North Korea, now that Bolton has thrown Russian and Chinese assistance in getting North Korea to the negotiating table back in their face by destroying the Hanoi talks.

This announcement is not to be underestimated given that Chinese Premier Xi Jinping is in Rome this week to open up relations with the new Italian government. Five Star Movement’s Leader Luigi Di Maio said he would welcome becoming a part of BRI, much to the consternation of Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as his coalition partner Lega Leader Matteo Salvini.

It’s already well known that Salvini is interested in ending sanctions on Crimea and re-opening trade with Russia. Italy is desperate for new markets and opportunities, currently stifled under the euro itself as well as Germany’s insistence on austerity hollowing out Italy’s economy and its future prospects.

These issues as well as energy security ones are coming to a head this year with Brexit, the European Parliamentary elections in May and the completion of the Nordstream 2 pipeline later this year.

As Putin continues to polish his Black Sea jewel, Europe has to decide if it is going to continue playing the U.S’s games over Ukraine or begin the next phase of its independence. Salvini will lead a Euroskeptic revolt within the European Parliament in May. It may be big enough to finally defy Merkel and end EU sanctions on Russia over Crimea.

At that point the US will also have a choice, burn down the world economy with even more sanctions, tariffs and acts of war or accept the facts on the ground.

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