Ukrainian Soldiers: Fighting against a Fantasy Army. And the Yankee Warmonger

There can be few wars in history where one side really didn’t know who they were fighting against. You would almost, ironically, have to go 1854, the Crimean war, and the Charge of the Light brigade who charged …. against the wrong target.

But, Kiev has reported that 77% of Ukrainian soldiers believe they are fighting against the actual Russian army. The actual Russian army. For almost 4 years. A figure which suggests a quite staggering level of brainwashing amongst those fighting for Ukraine – incidentally it was revealed by Kiev last week that over 500 of their number have committed suicide since Kiev declared the ‘ATO’ in 2014, and that just the official figure.

For lest we look at recent examples of actual Russian military involvement: Crimea, 2014. Russian army went in, on the clear will of the Crimean people it must be added (I was there), swiftly took control of the peninsula, without any casualties. Ukraine, despite being positioned right at the border, didn’t even dare to take them on. It was a no war. It was all over in days, in March of 2014.

Going back further. 2008. Then Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, with the backing of the US, used global attention on the Olympics in Beijing to launch all-out war on the breakaway region of South Ossetia (Georgian tanks advancing, here), on the night of August 7th, 8th. By mid-afternoon on August 8th, then Russian president Dmitiy Medvedev had sent the Russian army in. The war ended on August 12th, with comprehensive Georgian defeat, and retreat.

On August 13th, a peace plan was agreed between Georgia and South Ossetia, which has held since. Yet in Donbass, there’s no peace. And the Ukrainian soldiers think they’re fighting a Russian army, much stronger than it was in 2008, yet for some reason for four years, unable to effect the victory they achieved in five days of fighting in South Ossetia 2008, and without any fighting in Crimea 2014…

Actually the Ukrainian army are clearly far ‘braver’ than in 2014, when they didn’t even fire a shot in anger against the Russian army, as they’ve been shelling Donbass almost every day, for months now. And of course, they ‘can’ do this, because whatever happens, the US envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, will only report that ‘Russia is violating Minsk’.

This is the same Kurt Volker, ostensibly tasked with achieving peace in Donbass, who recently called for the ‘elimination’ of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics.  Fighting talk. Warmongering talk, to be precise. Interesting what those Ukrainian troops believing they are fighting against Russia must think, to hear Volker speaking this way. That the Russian army which just last week announced a host of super-weapons fit to protect the largest country in the world against any country in the world, could be defeated in territory of just 17,000 sq km2 (DNR and LNR) against Ukrainian forces, albeit US-backed, but still comprised for the large part in Donbass of battalions of radicals, ultra-nationals, and the far-right… (pictured, Azov battalion)

Of course, Volker knows full well there’s no Russian army there, allowing him to pull off a double-act of ‘US diplomacy’, provocative statements designed to fuel the continuation of war, in the knowledge there is no ‘Russian army’ there, so Kiev is safe. But the idea of ‘Russia’ there, oft-repeated enough, and entrenched enough, that they can still be blamed at will.

Interestingly, while smiling at a recent conference, Volker referred to the war in Donbass as still ‘hot’. And in his capacity, he’ll be sure to keep it that way, fanning the flames, adding the fuel of fantasy of Russian involvement, on Twitter, in the trenches, to make sure that war in Donbass continues without any current end in sight.

As for the Ukrainian forces, they clearly can’t see who’s in front of them, but the question is what percent can see who’s behind them, pulling the strings, running the show, using them for their own ends…

The current war that suits the US in Donbass is low-intensity war. But, if that changes, if the US creates a situation, as in Georgia, where Russia has to send the army in, to prevent a genocide, those 77% of Ukrainian soldiers may only find out the real difference when it’s too late.

Ukraine’s MFA Representative Mariana Betsa Caught out in Massive Lie

Ukraine’s 40-year-old Kiev native, MFA spokesperson Mariana Betsa is known for doing pretty much what all Ukrainian officials do – come out with a stream of tweets, in English, blaming Russia for everything wrong in Ukraine.

Mariana, who completed part of her studies at Westminster University in the UK, is known for frequently tweeting out stuff like this –

And of course, the eternal Kiev favourite, the ‘plight’ of the Crimean Tatar population – based on testimonies of those few pro-Ukraine Tatar activists in Kiev, rather than the hundreds of thousands of Crimean Tatars in Crimea…

So far, so standard for a Ukrainian diplomatic, and Betsa is usually a polished operator. However, something clearly happened recently – and it’s hard for me not to think it’s connected with the release of our own film Brit in Crimea.

On February 10th, Mariana tweeted out:

REMINDER to foreigners: all visits to occupied Crimea in violation of international&Ukrainian law -illegal&illegitimate. Entail responsibity

Let’s skip over whatever ‘Entail responsibity’ means, even if it were correctly spelled. Mariana has just made a key part of that up. Visiting Crimea violates no international law at all. Only ‘Ukrainian law’, such as it is.

And more, Mariana claims that ‘all’ visits to Crimea are thus ‘illegal&illegitimate’ – a clearly different line from the official Ukrainian position that visiting Crimea is legal, if you get permission from Kiev.

Mariana’s position would make all those Kiev-sanctioned journalists, who’ve gone to Crimea to film propaganda pieces, such as the BBC ‘illegal&illegitimate’…

Have a look at the tweet thread yourself, and see how many people have let Mariana know her error, errors even.  However, rather than do the normal thing in the circumstances, when one has made such an egregious error, delete the tweet, or write a correction, Marian has actually pinned the tweet.

And such is the upside-down, inside-out world of Ukrainian diplomacy where black can be whiter than white, vice versa, and open errors get pinned not binned….

Excellent News!! – No Ukraine at the World Cup 2018!

Despite the fact that I spent over 3 years in Donbass, much of it reporting on Ukrainian forces shelling civilian areas of Donbass, with mass loss of life, I still try to stay objective about Ukraine.

In 2012, when I worked at What’s On magazine in Kiev, I would write articles defending Ukraine from what was unjustified western attack. Here, for example, as in early 2012 I address the western campaign to trash Ukraine ahead of Euro 2012.

Of course, it’s a different world now, a different Ukraine. But even after covering events like this, where Ukraine had shelled civilians in Donbass –

And many, sadly, similar instances, I remind myself that these are people who claim to represent Ukraine, but are not Ukraine. Ukraine in the prism of those ‘ambassadors’ exists in a monstrified, maniacal form of its earlier self. A country of which a small minority overthrew a democratic government in early 2014, then set about attacking anyone who didn’t accept their actions. Whether that be shelling civilians of Donbass, who rejected their version of Ukraine, or doing as much mischief in Crimea as they are able to. 

But, from Crimea, where I write this, I’ve met many decent, nice Ukrainians, this year –

However, sadly, they are not the ones running the show in Ukraine at the moment. And whether they even represent the majority of Ukrainians anymore, is a moot point, with many in Ukraine having full-scale swallowed their own propaganda, that ‘everything is Russia’s fault‘, they must ‘hate Russia‘, ‘Putin is to blame‘ for all their own problems, and so on. Don’t just take my word for it, look at these Ukrainian fans, at Euro 2016 – 

They are whipped up, agitated into this baying, mob-mentality state in no small part by Ukraine’s bonkers president Poroshenko. Poroshenko came to power off the back of the Maidan coup which ultimately amounted to a few thousand ultra-national Ukrainians in Kiev, forcing then president Yanukovych to flee for his life. So he knows full well that the erstwhile latent but potentially ever-ready to rock radicals must be appeased, kept at bay.

Poroshenko does this by telling them just what they want to hear. It’s all ‘Slava Ukraina‘, a nationalist chant strongly associated with WW2 Ukrainian Nazism, endless glorifying of WW2 Ukrainian Nazi Stepan Bandera, and considerably more in this canon.

Of course, Poroshenko’s favourite refrain, and one which plays particularly well to a home crowd struggling with a country beset with problems only becoming worse, is that Russia is the root of all Ukraine’s problems. Poroshenko’s Twitter is awash with the kind of apropos of nothing abuse, vitriol directed at Russia of the kind one may more commonly associate with a one of the football fans in the above video – this just a sampling –

And of course, Poroshenko loves nothing more than combining his hatred of Russia with his love of creating a public spectacle. So, we have his brandishing a bit of a bus he claimed Russia was responsible for the destruction of, at the start of 2015 at the Davos Economic Forum, in Switzerland –

Waving Russian passports, as ‘proof of Russian involvement in war in Ukraine’, at the Munich Security Conference, also 2015 –

And the list really does go on, and on, and of course, western media loves it all, always happy to let Poroshenko turn any event into the ‘Poroshenko vs Russia’ show. Last night, before the match, Poroshenko tweeted his support for the Ukrainian team, as they faced Croatia in the final match of qualifying, Group I, for World Cup 2018. If Ukraine had won, they were in the play-offs, and in with a chance of making it to Russia.

And this, would have been all Poroshenko’s christmases (which he wants tomove the date of, by the way – the existing January 7th date ‘too Russian’), coming at once. The opportunities and possibilities presented by Ukrainian qualification for the World Cup 2018, would have been simply mind-blowing. Boycott? Ok, that’s one. Or what about go to Russia, and take every opportunity with the eyes of the world on Russia, to create scandal, drag politics into sport, cause scenes, conflict, agitation, provocation, make the football a sideshow to the Poroshenko show, with him using the World Cup as a platform to boost his bid for the 2019 Ukrainian presidential elections. Pause for a moment, just imagine the opportunity afforded by a World Cup to do what one will, at one’s will, in the full knowledge a sympathetic global media will be cheering you on….

But, it wasn’t to be. 2 decent, but defendable goals by Andrej Kramarić, and Ukraine won’t play any part of 2018’s World Cup, apart from the inevitable trolling and attempts to capitalise on the attention, now reflected, anyway. But, that will meet with limited success. Sore losers. Ghosts at the feast. They had a winnable match against a Croatia side on a slump, with a new coach, in their own backyard, and they turned a performance so limp as to suggest some of the players themselves didn’t much fancy being a part of the Poroshenko spectacle of Ukraine at the 2018 World Cup.

Ukraine blew it. For all the good Ukrainians who support their national team, it’s bad news. For all the other Ukrainians who couldn’t wait to go to Russia, and delight in causing as many problems as they can with the ‘get out of jail card’ of knowing what an image a Russian police officer arresting a Ukrainian would present, no matter what they’d done, it’s worse news. For Poroshenko, it’s a major blow, suddenly the world stage Russia 2018 presents has no place for him to go and, figuratively of course, piss all over it.

For fans of football, it’s truly excellent news. It means we can look forward to a World Cup 2018 of sport, of high-octane clashes between the world’s best players, at some of the world’s best stadiums, devoid of all the drama that would have cast black clouds over proceedings. There will be other issues, and scandals, of course there will. But, none to hold a candle to what Ukraine was going to unleash.

It’s a reminder that in sport, there is an innate fairness. Invariably, the best team wins. Ukraine’s footballers were taken apart on their own turf last night. The trojan horse that Ukraine’s footballers would have brought to Russia 2018 didn’t get over the last hurdle. A victory for Croatia in Kiev, a victory for football fans all over the world. A rare instance where Ukraine must actually admit their own failings have nothing to do with a Russia on which they will look on in 2018, but with few looking back at them.

On a purely footballing level, as a football fan, from me – it’s a like!! 

Pro-Ukraine Troll Blasts Ukrainian Authorities after God-Daughter is Killed

In February of 2015, Twitter user @Natalyp72 wrote an abusive message, directed, to the city of Lugansk, Donbass, which in 2014 had endured a hellish campaign of shelling by the Ukrainian military in 2014, with mass loss of life.

She wished those who had voted out of Ukraine (after the terrorist coup of Euromaidan installed a far-right government in Ukraine, in early 2014), to be, in strong terms ‘cursed‘.

Last Friday, September 15th, fire broke out at the Victoria children’s camp, in Odessa. The fire engulfed one of the three-story wooden dorms, three girls perished, burned alive.

Firefighters complained that putting out the first was made very difficult by there being no emergency water sources on the territory of the children’s facility (praised by Ukrainian president Poroshenko in May as being ‘excellent’), and the pressure from the fire hydrant was weak, the fire reservoir had insufficient water, and was blocked. Firefighters could only find water supply over a kilometre from the campus, taking over two hours to extinguish the flames. Too late for the 3 young girls, aged 8,9 and 12, with a further two children injured in the dorm, which housed 42.

Mikhail Vovka, from the Federal State Dispatch Service for Odessa region, told reporters on Saturday, that the management of the camp had terminated their contract with a fire safety monitoring company. Therefore, when the fire started, no alarm had sounded.

In 2016, a modern fire alarm was purchased, installed and put into operation in the camp, but then it was deliberately brought to a non-operational state,” Vovka said, as reported by the Odessa Life portal.

Angry crowds of relatives, and more have protested outside Odessa City Hall, demanding answers (pictured). The tragic blaze has seen an investigation opened, mass sackings of senior staff there, several officials in local government dismissed, arrests even, of camp staff. There has also been anger at Ukrainian president Poroshenko, who hasn’t even bothered to visit Odessa, and has barely spoken of the tragedy. (Perhaps the lack of possibility to blame Russia influencing his inaction).

In the blaze, Twitter user @Natalyp72 ‘s god-daughter, Nastya, 9, persished. Natalyp72 (Natalya) tweeted in fury ‘Those scumbags forgot about the children there! They were trapped, and burned alive!

Condolences to Natalya on her loss. I went to her Twitter account, only to see she’d blocked me, despite our never having interacted. She seems to have removed her tweet of abuse directed at Lugansk, from 2015, but a number of similar, often fairly extreme pro-Ukraine tweets.

Sadly for Natalya, she’s found out, that in this Ukraine of 2017, not even children in a children’s camp described as ‘exemplary’ by the president of Ukraine, are safe.

A Graham Newsletter (#35) Misinformation, Disinformation, and how to fight all that.

Recent weeks have seen many developments, including the blocking of my YouTube channel, for 2 weeks, for a video from Donbass, from 2014, of which I’ve written about here –

The actions of YouTube have forced me to remove all 18+ video material – from the war in Donbass, from my YouTube channel – I’ve written about that here, and will be posting the material here.

In removing this material, I removed an archive of over 100 videos, much of it documenting Ukrainian war crimes in Donbass. Millions of views, new views every day. Of course, people need to know this, to see this. I’ll be using this site, the Truth Speaker, where there’s no censor at all, to present these videos in the correct format. This video, result of Ukrainian shelling of Lugansk, August 2014 –

And here, information about, and context of this video –

Not able to use YouTube, which holds an effective monopoly for videos, means we need to try that bit harder to get the word, the truth, out. Please, share, repost, like, do what you can – we need to be together in this goal, of more people knowing the truth! 

This was the video which started the problems with YouTube, with them removing this, then content featured in the video (already on YouTube for years)

I’ve now taken the necessary steps to bring my account in line with ‘YouTube Community Standards’, but the problem is that the ‘standards’ have changed – a video that was approved by them in 2014, and on the site for years, is now a ‘violation’. That video, my first to pass 2 million views, and rising all the time, one which had a real impact in showing people the realities of war in Donbass

Of course, it can be hard, emotionally, for me to remember these thing. I’ve written about that here. 

Censorship is just one of the issues facing journalists. There are the dangers inherent with the profession, for which some journalists have made the ultimate sacrifice. Here, I’ve written about US journalist Christopher Allen, killed while covering conflict in Sudan –

And Kim Wall, recently killed while reporting on a homemade submarine, off Denmark. 

May they both rest in peace, and be remembered for their work. 

I’ve written about them both here, and about the role of a journalist, to go to where there is either the least information, or the most misinformation –

The world has several current key epicentres of mis, and disinformation. North Korea is certainly one of them. I was very pleased to present an exclusive interview, on the Truth Speaker, with the guys who made this indie documentary, The Haircut, well worth a watch:

And the exclusive interview, with Alex and Aleksa – here!

As for me, I’ve written here, about moving on from Donbass, but staying with Donbass, when I’ll return there, and more. 

For now, I’m in another of one of the world’s disinformation capitals, Crimea!!

That began with, a simple, but effective, tackling of the constant rhetoric from Ukraine that the beaches in Crimea are ’empty’, ‘everything is bad’ etc... How better to do that, than to let Ukrainians in Crimea themselves, speak for themselves –

Full interviews here! 

And look out for much more reportage to come! Fighting information, and disinformation, on the beaches and on! 

Interviews with Ukrainians on Crimean Beaches…

All of the propaganda about Crimea this summer, and yet how was it, really? Here, the words of Ukrainians, on holiday in Crimea, Russia:

Here, a ‘pro-Ukraine’ lady, from Kiev, on holiday in Crimea, gives her view:

Here, ladies from Kharkov:

The words of real people, real Ukrainians, versus the wall of western, Ukrainian propaganda…

One Year on from my Interview with a Ukrainian Terrorist

Almost exactly one year since this interview, after which I received thousands, really thousands of messages, comments, threats, death threats, a bounty put out to kill me, by Ukrainian government-backed Mirotvorets. It was shown to committees, governments, and more. What a fuss!

For me then, as now – simply a standard interview with a Ukrainian terrorist.