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…
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.
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.
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…
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.
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?
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 –
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 –
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
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 –
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.
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 –
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 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!!
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.
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:
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.