All filmed yesterday in Edinburgh, and Glasgow respectively, and thanks to Les Scott for assistance!
All filmed yesterday in Edinburgh, and Glasgow respectively, and thanks to Les Scott for assistance!
18 years ago today, began something that I, as a British person, feel ashamed of our involvement in, to this day. Operation ‘Noble Anvil‘, the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, which began on March 24th, 1999. It began after NATO’s claim that the Albanian population in Kosovo were being persecuted by Yugoslavian (FRY) forces, and that military action was needed to stop this.
NATO attempted to gain authorisation from the United Nations Security Council, but were opposed by Russia and China, meaning they launched the operation, which it decribed as ‘humanitarian intervention’ themselves – involved countries being NATO members Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and United States. It was NATO’s first action against a sovereign nation.
Here’s a look at what some sources say about events of 18 years ago:
The attacks started on March 24, 1999, lasted 11 weeks, and according to various sources, resulted in the deaths of between 1,200 and 2,500 people.
The 78-day bombing campaign caused severe damage to infrastructure, business facilities, schools, health care institutions, media outlets, monuments of culture.
Video of the time:
The attacks started a little before 20:00 hours, on the order of then NATO secretary-general, Javier Solana. The Yugoslav government declared a state of war the same night.
NATO’s campaign, that was referred to as aggression by the federal government, but also by numerous legal experts, came after the failed negotiations to solve the crisis in Kosovo, held in Rambouillet and Paris in February and March 1999.
There is different data on the material damage caused by the bombing, with then authorities assessing it at around 100 billion dollars, and seeking compensation from NATO members.
A group of economists known as G17 assessed it at 29.6 billion.
The bombing ended on June 10, 1999, with the adoption of Resolution 1244 at the UN Security Council.
As I was tweeting about this, some from Serbia expressed their own sentiments:
And as for Nis, this from the site ‘There Must be Justice’.
On that certain day, NATO aircrafts dropped United Nations forbidden mass-killing cluster bombs over two civilian neighborhoods in Serbian second major city of Nis. “Targets” were people at the marketplace, and city’s central civilian hospital. 15 people have died, more than 60 injured. Among them, also my teacher of literature, elder woman aged over 60. My parents have been in one of the bombed streets just 10 minutes before the bombings, so I guess they were lucky.
More from Twitter, where today evoked strong emotions:
And indeed, no one has ever been brought to justice for the NATO attacks. Who is ultimately responsible? Here, CNN, writing about US Secretary of State at the time, Madeleine Albright.
The Kosovo conflict is often referred to, by both her fans and foes, as Madeleine’s War. n a literal sense, of course, that’s not true these days. Now that it’s become an armed conflict, she plays a supporting role to the President, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Defense Secretary Bill Cohen and the military brass.
In March 1999, at the direction of the United States of America, NATO engaged in its first act of illegal aggressive war, beginning what can only be called the “dark age of intervention” in which we are living today. The fact that NATO was allowed to get away with the aggression on Serbia and Montenegro emboldened US/NATO and the US military industrial intelligence banking complex and since that day, under a doctrine of Responsibility to Protect, Humanitarian Interventionism, Preventive War and then the all encompassing “War on Terror”, US/NATO have proceeded to destroy country after country and do away with leaders that they have not found to be submissive enough to their will.
This aggression resulted in the loss of 4,000 human lives, including 88 children, and 10,000 people were severely wounded. Over two third of these victims were civilians. How many human lives have been lost in the meantime due to the consequences of weapons with depleted uranium, as well as of remaining cluster bombs, will hardly ever be established.
Breaching the basic norms of international law, its own founding act as well as constitutions of member countries, NATO was bombing Serbia and Montenegro during 78 days continuously destroying the economy, infrastructure, public services, radio and TV centers and transmitters, cultural and historical monuments. NATO bears responsibility for polluting the environment and endangering the health of present and future generations. Economic damage caused by the aggression is estimated at over USD 120 billion. War damage compensation has not yet been claimed, and judgments ruled by our court, by which the leaders of aggressor countries were convicted for the crimes against peace and humanity, were annulled after the coup d’état in 2000.
One of the most controversial incidents of the 78-day campaign, the bombing of the Radio Television of Serbia headquarters. Here, Wikpedia:
The NATO bombing of the Radio Television of Serbia headquarters occurred on 23 April 1999, during the Kosovo War. It formed part of NATO’s aerial campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and severely damaged the Belgrade headquarters of Radio Television of Serbia (RTS). Other radio and electrical installations throughout the country were also attacked. Sixteen employees of RTS died when a single NATO missile hit the building. Many were trapped for days, only communicating over mobile phones. The station returned to the air 24 hours later from a secret location.
The BBC covered this at the time, putting the strong accent on justification of the attack, with several sources referenced giving explanations for the bombing, yet only one source condemning.
Nato has defended its bombing of Serbia’s state television station, saying it was a legitimate target and a “ministry of lies”.
International condemnation of NATO’s actions of 1999 has only increased over time, leading the BBC to take a more circumspect tone, albeit not retracting earlier statements. From 2015 –
In 1999, Serbia and Kosovo were engaged in a conflict over independence.
Another hugely controversial incident came on May 7th. Here, Wikipedia –
On May 7, 1999, during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia (Operation Allied Force), five US JDAM guided bombs hit the People’s Republic of China embassy in the Belgrade district of New Belgrade, killing three Chinese reporters and outraging the Chinese public. According to the U.S. government, the intention had been to bomb the nearby Yugoslav Federal Directorate for Supply and Procurement. President Bill Clinton later apologized for the bombing, stating it was accidental. Central Intelligence Agency director George Tenet testified before a congressional committee that the bombing was the only one in the campaign organized and directed by his agency, and that the CIA had identified the wrong coordinates for a Yugoslav military target on the same street. The Chinese government issued a statement on the day of the bombing stating that it was a “barbarian act”.
Here, an interesting article from Reddit, title – The CIA intentionally bombed the Chinese embassy in 1999.
On May 7, 1999 an American B-2 bomber dropped 5 guided munitions on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. The attack killed three Chinese nationals. The United States government has always maintained it was an accident.
I believe that at least some people in the CIA knew the target was actually the Chinese embassy and wanted it to be attacked. We have no 100% solid proof of this, but put enough evidence together and I believe it goes beyond a reasonable doubt.
The official account of the bombing from the U.S.’s perspective is fairly straightforward. The CIA wanted to target a Yugoslav arms agency. Due to out of date maps / mapping errors the Chinese embassy was attacked instead. No harm was meant, these things happen in war, etc, etc.
Their are a number of problems with this story.
In addition the CIA itself admitted it had up to date maps. http://cjonline.com/stories/072399/new_ciaembassybomb.shtml
Former NATO Secretary General Javier Solana ordered military action against Yugoslavia following a failure in negotiations on the Kosovo crisis in France’s Rambouillet and Paris in February and March 1999.
NATO’s decision was officially announced after talks between international mediators – known as the Contact Group – the Yugoslav government, and the delegation of Kosovo Albanians ended in a deadlock. Belgrade refused to allow foreign military presence on its territory while Albanians accepted the proposal.
Back then, Slobodan Milosevic‘s forces were engaged in armed conflict with an Albanian rebel group, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which sought the province’s separation from Yugoslavia. Former US President Bill Clinton’s special envoy to the Balkans, Robert Gelbard, had earlier described the KLA as “without any questions, a terrorist group.” (The KLA was later repeatedly accused of being involved in the organ trafficking of Serbs in the late 1990s.)
However, despite not announcing the link officially, NATO entered the conflict on the side of the KLA, accusing Serbian security forces of atrocities and “ethnic cleansing” against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. The main objective of the campaign was to make Milosevic’s forces pull out of the province. The fact that there was violence on both sides of the confrontation was ignored both by allied governments and Western media – which stirred up public anger by focusing only on Serbs’ atrocities and being far less vocal regarding abuses by Albanians.
“All efforts to achieve a negotiated political solution to the Kosovo crisis having failed, no alternative is open but to take military action,” Solana said on March 23, 1999. “We must halt the violence and bring an end to the humanitarian catastrophe now unfolding in Kosovo.”
Racak massacre controversy
An incident involving the “mass killing” of Albanians in central Kosovo’s village of Racak – a KLA stronghold – became a major excuse and justification for NATO’s decision to start its operation. Serbs were blamed for the deaths of dozens of Albanian “civilians” on January 15, 1999. However, it was alleged that the accusations could have been false and the bodies actually belonged to KLA insurgents whose clothes had been changed.
A central role in labeling the events in Racak “a massacre” belonged to William Walker, who headed the OSCE Kosovo Verification Mission. He visited the site shortly after the incident and made his judgment.
“[Walker] arrived there having no powers to make conclusions regarding what had happened,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazenta paper in November last year.
Yugoslav authorities accused Walker of going beyond his mission and proclaimed him persona non grata, while Western leaders were infuriated over the Racak incident.
“And some time later the bombing started,” Lavrov recalled, adding that the situation in Racak became the “trigger point.”Moscow insisted that an investigation should be carried out. The EU commissioned a group of Finnish forensic experts to prepare a report on the incident. Later, the European Union handed it over to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Lavrov said. The full version of the document has never been made public, said the minister, who was Moscow’s permanent representative to the UN between 1994 and 2004.
“But parts of the report leaked and were quoted in the media saying that [the victims] were not civilians and that all the bodies found in Racak were in disguise and that bullet holes on clothes and bodies did not match. There was also no one who was killed at short range,” Lavrov said. “Even though I’ve repeatedly raised this issue, the report itself still has not been shown.”
NATO halted its air campaign with the signing of the Military Technical Agreement in Kumanovo on June 9, 1999, with the Yugoslav government agreeing to withdraw its forces from Kosovo. On June 10, 1999, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1244 to establish the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
3 years ago, I was living in Odessa, however I’d embarked on a tour of east Ukraine, as it then was, covering some 5000km in a week, at the wheel, to see for myself how things were, at a time when it felt like everything was falling apart in Ukraine. More about that here –
The culmination was Crimea, on referendum day, and here’s my video reportage from that day!
A polling station:
The streets of Simferopol:
The parliament itself, Simferopol:
A look at Russia, and Ukraine, in Crimea:
Speaking to Crimean Tatars –
And, to finish this on another electoral note, another polling station:
And that’s just how it was! It was a referendum which supported the overwhelming wishes of Crimeans. Some Crimean Tatars were unhappy, and I covered that, yet their leaders, media, had told them to feel this way.
3 years on, it’s a different story – Survey claims most Crimean Tatars satisfied with living in Russia – and as for the referendum, in polling stations everything was in order, there were no ‘little green men’, there was no ‘voting under the gun’ – that’s all nonsense from people who weren’t there, and don’t want to know the truth. I went there, just because I wanted to know the truth, and for you to know it too.
I know we live in an age, or rather the age of ‘open source’, etc, journalism. But I still believe that if you want to know about a situation, the best way is to go for yourself.
So it was, 3 years ago today, I was still travelling round the east of Ukraine, as it was (travelling some 5000km in a week, filming reportage, simply for my YouTube channel, from over a dozen places).
Without further ado, just as it was, 3 years ago today, the city of Kharkov –
As you read this, Ukraine is levelling a series of charges against Russia in the International Court of Justice, in The Hague. The Ukrainian government are asking the United Nations’ highest court, to fine Russia for “intervening militarily in Ukraine, financing acts of terrorism, and violating the human rights of millions of Ukraine’s citizens.”
There was something about that 45 which jumped out. Who can forget then PM Tony Blair standing in the Houses of Parliament, on September 24th 2002, and, declaring that “The Government dossier confirms that Iraq is self-sufficient in biological weapons and that the Iraqi military is ready to deploy those, and chemical weapons, at some 45 minutes’ notice.”
That speech which launched an Iraq war resulting in a massive bodycount, civilian, and military, on all sides. And fast-forward 15 years later, we have 45 again, more lies again, and this time it’s Ukraine trying to blame Russia, for a war in which many thousands have died.
But this time, it’s not non-existent ‘weapons of mass destruction’, it’s a Ukraine-fabricated ‘Russian invasion’, and ‘Russian tanks in Ukraine’. Particularly ‘Russian tanks’.
What does Ukraine want from all this? Some speculate, debt forgiveness. Yet Ukraine would also like the west to let it wage war to reclaim the parts of Donbass it believes are Ukraine, yet which broke away from Ukraine after the violent coup of Euromaidan (supported by the west). A war in which huge numbers would die.
Something they like to seize on is the presence of ‘Russian tanks’, the tank a tangible invariably the T-72B3, claiming this proves a ‘Russian invasion’, etc. And they often like to use screenshots of me in ‘proving’ this. It’s a strange world we live in when these people decide you’re a ‘propagandist’, because you often report news they don’t like. Then, when you report something which suits their ends, it’s a ‘mistake’, and so on. When actually, all you do is report everything you see, all the time, as it is…
Anyway, the Ukrainian, even western press like using me as the ‘poster boy’ for ‘Russian tanks’ in Donbass, one of the reasons for that being they believe this irritates me, when actually I am entirely calm about it all. I certainly notice the irony in, for example, this latest video here, made by Ukrainian media to coincide with the Hague hearing. The narrator of the piece, who calls himself a journalist, calls me a ‘propagandist’ before himself making entirely unsubstantiated claims about the tanks in my video. And, as we can see from seconds 42, and 43 here, of their own video, use of fancy technology can’t hide that they’ve made the tank I filmed look like one with several significant differences:
If you’re looking for a full debunk, I’ve written that here:
‘Russian invasion’, of Ukraine, and particularly ‘Russian tanks’, are the lie of our times, Tony Blair’s ‘weapons of mass destruction’ of our day. War may change, but the lies used to justify wars, clearly, stay the same, as do the deaths as a result of that.
Anyone interacting with me on Twitter invariably finds themselves swamped by spammers levelling all sorts of abuse at me. These accounts are, as they would call themselves ‘pro-Ukrainian’. So, why don’t ‘pro-Ukrainians’ like me? Here are 10 reasons:
1. They want you to think that Euromaidan was the ‘Revolution of Dignity’ etc, but I reported the truth about Euromaidan –
2. They can’t just claim my reportage is ‘Russian propaganda’ (as is their habit), without sounding a bit ridiculous. I had a short, fairly acrimonious relationship with RT in late 2013 to July 2014, did some work for the Zvezda channel until February 2015. So, for over 2 years, I’ve had no affiliations with any media outlet, from any country – my journalism is real, independent journalism.
4. I’ve stayed with these places, bringing you the stories they don’t want you to see. The reality of Crimea (in which I’ve filmed hundreds of videos of reportage, made several films). I’ve extensively covered Donbass and told the story they don’t want you to know – Ukrainian killing has killed thousands of civilians there –
5. Almost no other western correspondent has reported any of the above. And ‘pro-Ukrainians’ are enraged that I have, and do.
6. People watch my work – over 60 million views on my own YouTube channel alone, from almost every country in the world which has internet.
7. I produce a lot – over 4500 videos on my YouTube channel, plus articles, and more.
8. I’ve never been caught out in a lie, or fabrication. I don’t do that. There’s nothing to discredit my work.
9. The stakes are high. ‘Pro-Ukrainians’ want to present an unblemished image of their country, to speed their ‘European integration’, get more IMF funding, and on…
10. But, my work punctures that carefully constructed illusion of Ukraine. It reports the truth, just as it is. And, ‘pro-Ukrainians’ don’t like the truth. In fact many of them even loathe it. And if you’ve interacted with me on Twitter, they may well be trolling you now!
Exactly 3 years ago, I was in Donetsk, albeit not for the first time:
Yet this time, 3 years ago, of course, things were a bit different. It was March 2014, (former) president Yanukovych had recently been ousted, Euromaidan had declared victory and installed an unelected, far-right government in power.
In Donbass, a region which had notabily either not supported Maidan, or been in direct opposition to it, no one quite knew what to expect next.
At the time, I was living in Odessa, and, feeling a time of history, and a moment to be seized, I wrapped up things there (I had a teaching business, to supplement my journalism) and in my car, headed east, simply for myself, to see for myself what was happening.
So, this is my reportage from Donetsk, 3 years ago today. At the time, I was trying to do every piece in English, so (in almost all) where someone speaks Russian, I then translate, or attempt to, my Russian of the time was not the best!
These videos are all unedited, the mood from the streets, and more, things just how they were at that moment in time, which turned out to be a moment in history as less than a month later, I was back in Donetsk, and conflict had already begun.
So, without further ado:
Lenin Square –
By the statue of Lenin itself:
And, finally, by the city’s administrative building –
And that’s that!