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….

RUSI – the UK’s Favourite anti-Russia Warmonger, and Gavin Williamson’s Shocker…

So last week, we had ‘Chief of the General Staff’, of the UK Army, Sir Nick Carter, blasting out that Putin’s Russia is a ‘clear and present danger’ to the UK. Now, it’s one thing that senior UK officials are (on purpose?) just echoing popcorn Hollywood films, but in any case, what was the loud, intentionally headline-grabbing declaration of Sir Nick based on?

Well, have a read over the article yourself. It’s based on nothing other than the key sentence here ‘Using the dire warning to make the case for more money for the armed forces…..’ And there you have it. Now, you can scroll to the end and read the comments to see just how few people still believe this shit, and how much derision the rest pour on it.

But a key point, where was this striking, would be fear-instilling declaration made? It was made at RUSI, the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, the oldest defence and security think tank in the world, no less, set up at the behest of the Duke of Wellington. Apparently –

RUSI is a British institution, but operates with an international perspective. It promotes the study and discussion of developments in military doctrine, defence management and defence procurement. In recent years RUSI has broadened its remit to include all issues of defence and security, including terrorism and the ideologies which foster it and the challenges which we face from other man-made or man-assisted threats and from natural disasters.

Which all sounds very impressive. But what do RUSI actually do? Well, in recent times, they’ve given not only a platform, but extensive PR to Andriy Parubiy – in reality, a far-right, as in far-far right Ukrainian politician, who even set up the modern Ukrainian neo-Nazi party, Svoboda. Yet, in RUSI’s world, he is –

RUSI is delighted to welcome Andriy Parubiy, First Deputy Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada (Supreme Council of Ukraine) and former Head of the National Security and Defense Council, to discuss Ukraine’s experiences in countering separatist and Russian actions, with particular focus on assessing the role of hybrid warfare.

Western media ignored Parubiy’s visit, I wrote about it. 

Quite. Anyway, what did Parubiy do? Used his RUSI appearance to tear into Russia, of course. Someone RUSI also gave ample platform to the rabid ‘evil Russia’ spouting former UK Defence Secretary, until he resigned in disgrace last November, Michael Fallon (pictured). And therein lies the purpose of RUSI (a registered charity no less) of whom is written in their own wikipedia entry –

RUSI receives no core funding from government.

Of course not guys, of course not. It’s surely just a coincidence then that the job of RUSI in recent times has been not so much a ‘think tank’ as a feeder for any anti-Russian hysteria going round. And no anti-Russian hysteria is too absurd for them. Really, it’s not. You may think it was just a bad dream, or from an old Bond film, but in December of 2017, there really was a story doing the rounds about how Russia apparently wanted to ‘attack Britain’s underseas internet cables‘. That was a real thing, and who was it giving a platform (to Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, chief of UK defence staff) to pump it up the news food chain, here BBC… of course, RUSI –

And back to recent events and what came after Sir Nick’s ‘clear and present danger’ broadside? Well, with the bandwagon rolling, set in play by RUSI, new UK Defence Minister Gavin Williamson jumped on, upping the ante with his quite simply staggering warning that somehow Russia could cause ‘thousands and thousands of deaths‘ in the UK, as well as creating ‘total chaos in the country‘, somehow. Exactly how Russia was going to ‘kill thousands of Britons’ in a ‘cyber attack’, even the ambitious, career-climbing Williamson couldn’t say, in his interview to the Telegraph. Just that it was definitely, probably going to happen, so lots of extra funding for UK defence is required…

Now in essence, what Williamson was doing here is nothing new at all, scaremongering, as his predecessor Fallon did, using the ever-reliable ‘bad guy’ Russia to attempt to leverage for funds for the British military, boosting his own status in the process.

However, despite being set up by Sir Nick’s build-up play at RUSI, for what should have been a simple tap in, Williamson, young, impetuous, only in the job since November, desperate to make an impression … well Gavin contrived to blast it right over the bar. Russia slapped the 41-year-old down by comparing his claims both to War of the Worlds, and Monty Python.

And actually, Russia’s put-down of Williamson was so bang-on that even a western media loathe to give any favourable coverage to Russia, covered it everywhere, causing considerable embarrassment for the former Chief Whip. Things got worse for Williamson when UK energy experts dismissed, and branded his claim ‘scaremongering’.And worse still when it emerged that Williamson may have gone so big to deflect from a breaking story about an extra-marital affair he had. And even worse when he was then accused of actually leaking British intelligence secrets in his sensational Telegraph interview.

All of which rather mean this latest RUSI-led wave of anti-Russian hysteria, aimed at promoting the UK government’s position, and pumping up the UK’s military spending, as well as encouraging other countries to buy weapons – the UK really loves to sell weapons, to anyone – well it’s all ended this time in a rather tawdry, lurid manner.

What will come of Williamson, we’ll all see, he’s a high profile figure after all. But come what may, RUSI will be there in the background, ready to launch the next wave of ‘Russia did it’…. some will work better than others, and Williamson’s over-reaching overkill is going to make the next one even harder to stick, as judging by comments in articles, the British public has very definitely smelt a rat. But, there will be more to come, and RUSI  (among their various other activities) will be there churning the wheels. Is it really any wonder that Russia is now openly making fun of us Brits, on a diplomatic level, even in music videos?

Euro 2012, my Life in, and Best Work from Ukraine, Before the War

As the draw for the World Cup 2018 has just finished, throwing up a favourable draw for England, I couldn’t help but reflect on the run-up to Euro 2012 – the main reason I moved to Ukraine in the first place, sensing an exciting time to be in a country in the build-up to a major football tournament, with opportunities in journalism to be found.

In I worked at the magazine What’s On in Kiev, 2011, and 12. Their website was down for ages, but recently came back to life. And with it, not all, but 90 of my articles from that time.

Looking back over them, and not only, I can hold my hands up and say that ‘pre-war’, I perhaps did write a bit too much about the ladies. But, it was a different time, and far from just that, I’m actually proud of a lot of the work I did back then, although in the context of things now, they are rather like ‘notes from a lost country‘…

So here’s a ‘top 10’ of my work from Ukraine, pre-war: 

10. The Pain of Ukraine? 

My first article for What’s On magazine, January 2012, and it was about defending Ukraine from the attacks and prophecies of doom in the western media –

https://whatson-kiev.com/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=11540

9. Remembering River Palace

From October 2012, I had a look into the murky history, and mystery, of the former ‘floating brothel’ of Kiev, River Palace, for the Kyiv Post –

https://www.kyivpost.com/article/guide/about-kyiv/remembering-river-palace-314970.html

8. Tracking down Tymoshenko 

February of 2012, and I went looking for Tymoshenko in Kharkov, with some interesting results –

https://whatson-kiev.com/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=11662

7. That Said – 

My weekly column from What’s On, in which I tried to cover all aspects of life in Ukraine. From all of them, I pick this one to represent how it was to live in Ukraine, at that time, the spirit –

https://whatson-kiev.com/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=12064

6. Ok, it was a bit light-hearted, but you could hardly be in Ukraine pre-war, and not write about the sexual side of things. This piece, a cover-story for What’s On, was about the men who came to Ukraine expressly to pick-up women, and how that was working out for them – I liked how it came out, and felt it made a point –

https://whatson-kiev.com/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=12021

5. Odessa – from March of 2012, my first trip to Odessa, for a travel piece for What’s On – it was to be love at first sight, in Odessa, something captured here –

https://whatson-kiev.com/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=12310

4. Dnepropetrovsk – Always Parus 

I wrote this for my blog, and it was a labour of love, one of my the themes which most drew me in Ukraine, on which I wrote extensively – abandoned buildings, and the story behind them –

https://thetruthspeaker.co/2015/02/09/abandoned-dnipropetrosk-always-parus/

3. The Russian Heart of Ukraine – in which I wrote of my own experience of visiting Donetsk in summer of 2012, for What’s On magazine, and the Russian heart of that city, and not only –

https://whatson-kiev.com/index.php?go=News&in=view&id=12700

2. November 2012, for Pravda and I wrote about the post Euro-2012, post 2012 election malaise which had befallen Ukraine, and the state of the country at that time –

http://www.pravdareport.com/business/finance/26-11-2012/122926-ukraine_euro-0/

1.  In October of 2012, I wrote what I believe to be my most significant pre-war piece from Ukraine, about the case of Oksana Makar, her tragic murder, and the implications for Ukraine (a case I continued investigating, going to her hometown of Nikolaev), here for the New Statesman

https://www.newstatesman.com/world-affairs/2012/10/tragic-case-ukraines-oksana-makar-draws-close

And there we have it, some of my essays from a different time, a different world. 

Ukraine and the New Saakashvili Maidan the West is Staying Silent about

When Euromaidan kicked off almost exactly 4 years ago in Ukraine’s capital of Kiev, you could hardly move for western correspondents there covering it, telling us all about the heroic protesters wishing to overthrow the awful regime of Yanukovych and his government (both, democratically elected, btw) –

What happened next? Maidan and the west got their way, Yanukovych and his government were booted out, the west’s people were installed. What happened after Poroshenko Ukrainethat? Well, going on 4 years of chaos, inflation, unemployment, in Ukraine, and war in Donbass, of course. All of which the west have been a bit shy in telling you about, given it’s their guys at the wheel….

All of this has contributed to 80% of Ukrainians now being against president Poroshenko, again, something the western press are strangely reticent to report on. Actually, there’s a long list of things the west would rather you didn’t know about their new Ukraine. Such as this, on October 14th, that open neo-Nazis now brazenly march through Kiev in their thousands –

And that shortly after that, the new Maidan kicked off in Kiev, spearheaded by former Saakashvili UkraineGeorgian president (now wanted on high-level charges there), recently of a disastrous reign as governor of Odessa, even more recently, September, simply barging over the Ukrainian border. Since that September border-barge, Saakashvili has been on a trouble-making tour of Ukraine, as he attempts to topple incumbent president Poroshenko.

All of which has left the western press in a bit of  dilemma. Who to support – the western installed uber pro-west Poroshenko, or the darling of the west, wanting-to-be-western-installed Saakashvili, who has even gone to far as to be sleeping in the tents on the new Maidan. All of which would surely be screaming for sympathetic western media coverage. Yet, Saakashvili is going up against their man. So he’s out of luck. No fawning western coverage this time, no glorious new Maidan for him. Almost no western press coverage at all.

Saakashvili PoroshenkoThis has left Saakashvili rather pathetically pleading with the Ukrainian people to protect him against Poroshenko’s apparent wish to deport him back to Georgia. Meanwhile, Ukrainian ultra-nationalists storming and attempting to occupy a court in Kiev similarly find themselves out of luck – the west only supported that in Ukraine in 2013, guys. Now, the west supports Poroshenko, who seemingly entirely without irony, or memory, is attempting to deport the tent-dwelling Saakashvili for his attempt in an ‘illegal overthrow of government’. 

Post-Euromaidan Ukraine is certainly never boring. Not so much a car crash, as a neverending demolition derby.

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!! 

Donbass, Referendums, and a Truly Horrible Situation

A few words about the complications of filming in Donbass, early 2014. I made hundreds, really hundreds of videos from there, which were seen all over the world, on the news, and more, of people saying they didn’t want Ukraine, wanted a referendum, wanted the Donetsk, Lugansk People’s Republic, and more.

Had a referendum, voted for the DPR, LPR. No one in the west listened, actually they supported Ukraine against them.
Then, in July of 2014, Ukrainian forces took a lot of these towns and cities – Mariupol, Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, and set about a campaign of ‘cleansing’ of separatists. People were beaten, people disappeared.
I removed all the videos I’d made which may have put people still there in a position of danger. But, my videos had already been put everywhere, I wrote to people asking them to remove them. And of course, not only my videos – there were many, many videos made at this time, and most still online.

A video which one month tells the world the truth, the next month can put their life in danger. A really horrible situation.

Here, Slavyansk, April 2014: 

(18+) Children Killed by Ukrainian War Crimes in Donbass (#1) Marina, Refugee Bus

By the most conservative estimates, over 100 children have been killed in the breakaway regions of Donbass, by Ukrainian military action. Yet, the west are silent on this. Why?

Is it because western governments are supporting this?

I am a British journalist, Graham Phillips, who has been covering the war in Donbass for over 3 years. In that time, sadly, I’ve covered the deaths of around 15 children, killed by Ukrainian military action, with many more wounded.

This is the first in a series, documenting children killed by the Ukrainian military.

On August 20th, 2014, mid-afternoon, Marina, 7, and her mother Natalya were queueing for humanitarian aid in the centre of a crisis-hit Lugansk.

Shelling, fired by Ukrainian forces from their positions at the nearby Lugansk airport, hit, seriously wounding Natalya, and blowing off Marina’s leg. A couple of days later, I filmed this interview with Natalya at a Lugansk hospital: full English subs –

Marina was in a coma at this time, she never emerged from that, dying the next morning.

In early September, the 2nd, 2014, I filmed the following scene, by the village of Khryaschuvate, a few kilometres outside of Lugansk. A refugee truck, destroyed on August 18th. Ukrainian forces had pulled over the truck at their blockpost. A member of the Lugansk People’s Militia was escorting the truck, with some 20 mostly women and children trying to flee war, on it.

Upon seeing the member of the people’s militia, Ukrainian forces immediately opened fire on the truck. This was the result, at least 17 killed, in their number, many children, as you can see –

Realising their mistake, the Ukrainian side told a strange, convoluted story about this one. On Tuesday the 19th, they were already declaring to the press that they’d ‘recovered 15 bodies’ from the fatal incident, while trying to blame it on the Lugansk People’s militia. Yet, some two weeks later, I found the above scene – in the meantime, Ukrainian forces had held positions right next to the destroyed truck, with the bodies of its victims scattered around:

Photos here:

These were to be the first, but sadly far from the last time I would see children killed by the Ukrainian military in Donbass. The series will continue.

Please, help to spread this, share this, so more people know the truth about Ukrainian war crimes in Donbass.