‘Russian Tanks in Ukraine’: Tony Blair’s ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ for our times

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.”

Ukraine submitted a 45-page indictment to the court in January.

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: 


And – 


And – 


‘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.

Are there Russian Tanks in Ukraine? The Definitive Answer

Graham Phillips

Many many people in the west want to tell you there are ‘Russian tanks in Ukraine’. Russia wants to tell you there aren’t, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov in recent comments. 

Why are my thoughts on the matter relevant? Well, I’ve spent most of the last 3 years in Donbass, reporting from Donbass. And I’m the guy they often use in screengrabbed photos to try to show that there are ‘Russian tanks in Ukraine’. Apparently I’m some sort of ‘Russian propagandist’, who would have been mortified to ‘accidentally reveal this’ etc etc.

Graham Phillips tankActually, I’m an independent British journalist, and I would have been absolutely fine about showing ‘Russian tanks’ in Donbass, if they were there. Actually it would have been a real scoop, an exclusive.

However, to actually prove a tank is a ‘Russian tank’, takes a lot more than the various screenshots retweeted about. It would take a proper examination of the tank, especially with modifications to tanks commonplace, meaning one derivation of, say, a T-72, can easily be made to look like another.

But, then, even to prove it’s a Russian tank is entirely academic, there are hundreds upon hundreds of Russian tanks in Ukraine, around a thousand (mainly Russian-manufactured) T-72s in Ukraine, even.

Graham Phillips tankTo say there are ‘Russian tanks in Ukraine’, in the way the west throws the words – of great significance yet with casual irresponsibility – around, would take something quite clear: evidence of tanks crossing the border from Russia, in the time since early 2014.

Yet, all this satellite imagery we have access to, and still there’s no actual evidence at all of ‘Russian tanks in Ukraine’. All there is, is photos, screenshots, often featuring me, used to prop up a load of fake news, which a load of western governments want you to believe, because it fits what they want you to go along with – them sending more weapons to Ukraine.

5 Reasons Why Real Journalists Wouldn’t Have Said ‘Russian Tanks’

Russian tankThere’s a clear intended meaning when one casts out that there are ‘Russian tanks’ on the side of Novorossiya Forces. And it isn’t that it’s a ‘Russian tank’, which in any case it almost certainly is, the vast majority of Ukraine’s 2500+ tanks built in Soviet times as Ukraine’s tank building production collapsed post 1991 independence (Kharkov’s Malyshev factory which produced 800 a year in Soviet times, down to fewer than 10 a year in Ukrainian). Pictured here, a 1989 T72 from a Russian war museum.

What you are saying is that ‘Russia has sent tanks over the border, into Donbass, arming Novorossiya fighters’. It’s a hugely incendiary statement, one to incite yet further US / EU intervention in Ukraine, one to further provoke war.

UkrainetankfailSo it’s a statement which should only be made if there is firm evidence to support it. Yet it’s a statement made all the time by the Ukrainian, even western press, without any evidence to support it. In fact the claiming of Russian tanks, notably T-72 modifications, is common, oft-debunked part of the Ukrainian strategy.

Things have happened in the media in the Donbass conflict. An erosion of traditional western media sending their own correspondents to places, a willingness to take content from new media known as, in this case, pro-Ukraine / anti-Russia propaganda outlets – in the Donbass conflict notably Bellingcat, and Interpreter.

Interpreter ‘broke’ the story, then regurgitated by repeatedly discredited citizen ‘investigative journalism agency’ Bellingcat, under the headline ‘How These Adorable Puppies Exposed Russian Involvement in Ukraine

On February 15th, near Debaltsevo, I filmed tanks both these outlets, as well as any number of Ukrainian media, gleefully  seized on as ‘Russian tanks’, pumped that information  higher up the chain, cited in Buzzfeed here, albeit qualified with ‘claimed’.  Yet, still, the (mis)information put out there, circulated, shared, spread.  The original video here, by the way –

The difference between a piece of information, and provocative war-mongering – responsible journalism. To pass on, pass off these claims as fact, a hugely irresponsible, morally reprehensible act. Something that could never be done by a real journalist, here’s 5 Reasons Why Real Journalists Wouldn’t Have Said ‘Russian Tanks’

1. Few journalists are real experts in tanks. Interpreter magazine is not known for any military knowledge yet was insistent the tanks I filmed were T-72B3’s (a recent upgrade to the 44-year old Soviet T-72 model) – ‘These are Russian T-Gramtank72B3 tanks.’

The T-72B3 has not been exported outside Russia. These are therefore, not captured Ukrainian tanks in separatist hands, but the latest Russian tanks, likely manned by Russian troops or at least handed over to specially-trained local separatists.

A staggering claim that, so sure that the tanks in question are T-72B3 when even the article linked cites ‘observer misidentification‘, and uncertainty over where the ‘latest update of the venerable, Soviet-era T-72’ were deployed.

Even the popular pro-Ukraine news site ‘Inform Napalm’ admits that the T-72A and T-72BM, both in service with the Ukrainian army,  are ‘frequently confused with T-72B3.’

2. What Interpreter can do is draw yellow lines pointing to things, here, on a screenshot of my video, to the Kontakt-5 body armour –


Kontakt 5 armour also found on the T-72AG, in service with the Ukrainian army. T72-AG pictured here.


3. They can also draw red boxes on things – here, what they identify as the ‘ new Sosna-U’ – sighting system.


From a low quality resolution image, as a screenshot of a video is, it’s simply not possible to call the difference between Sosna-U and older sighting systems such as Buran-Catherine .

4. Even if it were Sosna-U, Belarusian in origin, but produced in Russia, it’s a small, easily-transportable piece of kit.


This video, one of several sites in Donbass for repairing, modifying tanks, carrying out modifications exactly such as sighting systems, armour upgrades.

5. There was no consensus these were T-72B3s. Have a look through the comments on the various YouTube videos, hundreds upon hundreds of comments. There were those who had clearly done in-depth research into the video, here, a super-imposed close-up of the track, then cross-compared against tracks of other modifications, and variations of the T-72.


It came down to track comparison among those with clear expertise in the sphere. Still no consensus. Discussion, debate, dispute, no consensus.

As a journalist, I’d be sure to be certain before making a claim with all the implications of this one. There is a place for ‘crowd-sourcing’ information, as happened here, but that’s surely before these claims are thrown out there, with in this case by the pro-Ukraine side, everything possible done to make them stick.

Fullscreen capture 25032015 182316.bmpIn Ukraine’s tank arsenal were an estimated 600-plus T-72s, Ukraine even used to trade them, selling 200 to Ethiopia in 2011, under President Yanukovych. This military blog from 2012 shows T72s being upgraded in Kiev.

Even IF the tanks I filmed could be proven to be T-72B3s, something which could only be done by an on-site technical, mechanical analysis, before saying they were ‘Russian tanks’, with all the implication that comes with that, I’d want to verify they were brought over the border in time of war, rather than prior to that,  in a Yanukovych era notable for a flow, and trade of weapons and military hardware unaccompanied by a proper paper trail. 

The people who make these ‘Russian tank’ claims are not real journalists, rather morally reprehensible, incredibly irresponsible purporters of propaganda. A desire to demonstrate ‘Russian tanks’, yet again shows the failings, professional and moral, of the western proxies of Ukrainian propaganda.