In honour of International Women’s Day, I’m delighted to present my film about the legendary Doctor Liza, with full English subtitles.
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.
One year ago today, February 8th, there was an explosion in the Makeevka (by Donetsk) office of commander of Donetsk People’s Republic Somali battalion, Mikhail Sergeyevich Tolstykh, better known as – Givi.
The details – i.e. who detonated the explosion, and even what kind of explosion are contested to this day. But, the effect was that 36-year-old Givi, a native of Donbass, Ilovaisk, who had served with distinction since the beginning of the Donbass uprising, Slavyansk, noted for his service in the Battle of Ilovaisk, summer of 2014, and the retaking of Donetsk airport, late 2014, early 2015, was killed immediately, on the spot.
One year on from that day, Givi is remembered, and here’s how I remember him: (full English subs)
3 years ago, I was covering events in Donbass, as a freelance journalist. January 2015 was a month from hell, Ukrainian shelling hitting Donetsk every day, dead bodies every day.
But, in January 2015, Ukrainian forces saved perhaps the worst until last. In mid-afternoon, a completely unexpected, unprovoked fusillade of shelling rained down by the ‘Hotel Europe’ in the Kubishevsky district of Donetsk. I was there on the scene to cover the horrific aftermath, and these videos, I publish for the first time in a long time, having had to remove them because of YouTube policies.
3 years ago, January 30th, 2015, I covered events in Donetsk, as, in mid-afternoon, Ukrainian shelling hit the Kubishevsky region, killing people waiting there for humanitarian aid.
Tomorrow, the 30th, I’ll be publishing exclusive video from that day, which I long since had to remove from YouTube. For today, my photos from the day, and thoughts with the victims.
It was fantastic yesterday to return, the orthodox celebration of St Nicholas’ Day, to a place I’ve been many times, Lutugino Children’s Home, in Donbass, LPR. And thanks to donations collected from many parts of Russia – however must also give a special shout-out to Sean Taylor here – really fantastic to be able to take so much stuff for the kids there –
However, yesterday it was wonderful to be a part of bringing some happiness to these children!
Sad to say that this visit came at the time when Ukrainian forces had just unleashed their heaviest shelling in a long time on the LPR, with both Pervomaisk and Stakhanov coming under shelling the night before, with mass damage, at least one fatality, and injuries to civilians.
There are children in Lutugino, there are children in Pervomaisk and Stakhanov – let’s hope in 2018 they can live free of the fear of Ukrainian aggression, and Ukrainian shelling.
What’s the first thing you do when you look for a place? Of course, Google Maps, the world’s leading most popular online map, not only that, the world’s most popular app, with 54% of smartphones having it installed at least once.
Yesterday I wrote about Denmark, and despite all, the first thing I did was go to Google Maps. The ‘despite all’ part, is the following – that I’ve serious questions about the impartiality of the internet’s most comprehensive web-mapping service. The other week, I went to do a search for a place in Lugansk, this, th centre of the city of Lugansk, Donbass (now, ok, Google Maps are not going to describe it as the Lugansk People’s Republic, that’s not up for discussion now) –
Here, a closer look, and we can clearly see a ‘Monument of victims of ‘russian world’ terror’ marked –
Clearly, Russian written as ‘russian’ as a mark of disrespect. But that’s an incidental, because this monument, and let’s have a look at the satellite imagery here, for which Google Maps is renowned –
And here is the monument itself, in the centre of Lugansk. But it is not a monument to anything connected with ‘Russian terror’ – it’s a monument to victims of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army – who fought with the Nazis in WWII.
There are a few things to take into account here. A feature of Google Maps is indeed the ability to add, or name landmarks there. But is there really no limit? Could you just go to the Statue of Liberty and just name it as, well, take your pick… could you just go to Jerusalem, Palestine, etc….
More, I submitted a correction about this to Google a week ago, and they’ve done nothing about it yet. How long has it even been there? Clearly, providing accurate information here is not a priority for Google Maps – so the question is, in how many other places don’t they care about what’s on their maps?
This is Google Maps, over 7000 employees, constantly investing millions in adding new features – soon they’ll be able to tell you when to get off the bus. And they are so uninterested in checking their maps not only for accuracy, but for that which is clearly grossly offensive….
As for the sheer, crass cynicism of the ‘pro-Ukrainian’, to call them that, who renamed this to attack Russia, without any thought not only for the victims of the UIA, but more for the hundreds killed in Lugansk itself by Ukrainian shelling of the city, in 2014…. well, from them, that’s probably to be expected.
But from Google Maps, we should either expect more, or be aware that when we look at Google Maps, we may be looking at the work of fine geographers and cartographers. Or it could just be some angry activist running amok….