The Murky Sea of Azov 618


Prima facie, it is Russia which is acting illegally in the Kerch Strait. As I wrote when it was the Russians who were being harassed in the English Channel:

Contrary to Article 44 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, to which the UK and Russia are both party, the UK has engaged in extensive illegal harassment of a Russian naval submarine engaged in fully lawful transit of the Dover Strait.

A Russian naval vessel en route between the Baltic and Black Seas is fully and specifically entitled under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea Articles 37 and 38 to the right of passage through the strait. This is in addition to the general right of passage through the territorial sea at Article 17. The Russian navy was in full compliance with the provision at Article 20 that, while in territorial waters, the submarine must be on the surface and displaying its flag, and in compliance with Articles 29 to 32 on warships.

Not only does the Russian Navy have every right to sail through the Dover strait on passage, it has been exercising that right – along with many other navies – for over a hundred years. The decision of the British government now to employ military harassment and threat is not only illegal, it is a gross and entirely deliberate act of provocation designed to sour international relations and disturb the atmosphere of world peace.

The author of this article, Craig Murray is a former Head of the Maritime Section of the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and former Alternate Head of the United Kingdom Delegation to the United Nations Preparatory Commission on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. He is a retired British Ambassador.

Russia is very definitely acting illegally in putting military personnel of another state on television to make statements, whether coerced or not (personally I found them precisely as believable – no more and no less – as Yulia Skripal’s strained statement to British TV).

Please note that Ukrainian ships have the right of innocent passage through the Kerch Strait irrespective of whether the Crimean side is viewed as Ukrainian or Russian. The coastal state does have the right to make arrangements for maritime safety which may include designating sea lanes and a notification regime akin to air traffic control. If Ukraine violated these provisions, (which seems probable), Russia had a right to take enforcement action. But that enforcement action specifically does not extend to substantive detention of vessels and crew.

The situation changes if Russia genuinely has evidence that the military vessels were engaged in a military attack. But it only changes, and the civilian rules only cease to apply, if one side or the other acknowledges that a state of war now exits. Ukraine came close to this
by demanding that its servicemen be treated as prisoners of war. There is no option to treat uniformed military personnel of another state as terrorists. But if Russia does not acknowledge a state of war, it has to let them go. Russia is certainly not entitled to impose a wider blockade of the strait to shipping to or from Ukraine – any more than Israel is entitled to blockade Gaza.

Given that Russia appears on the face of it to be very much in the wrong, the western powers have been remarkably quiet. I suspect this indicates knowledge that Poroshenko was indeed engaged in some sort of stupid stunt. In which case the Russians have played into his hands by a disproportionate reaction. Poroshenko’s own action in declaring martial law is of course also wildly disproportionate. My sense is that we have here two Presidents each with slipping popularity ratings, deliberately escalating a crisis as it suits each domestically. Such playing with fire is wildly irresponsible, far too many people have died in Ukraine already.

I expect the usual howls of protest from people for whom the application of impartial international law is anathema, who believe you must be on the side of the “goodies” against the “baddies”. I am aware that rationality and impartiality are not much valued in political discourse nowadays. I shall however stick to them with stoic resolve.


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618 thoughts on “The Murky Sea of Azov

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  • Paul Barbara

    ‘THE SAKER: UBER-LOSER POROSHENKO GOES “FULL SAAKASHVILI”:
    https://southfront.org/the-saker-uber-loser-poroshenko-goes-full-saakashvili/
    ‘…It is now becoming abundantly clear that the Ukronazi provocation was not only breathtakingly stupid and irresponsible, but also breathtakingly poorly planned and executed. The documents seized by the FSB on the Ukrainian ships show that the Ukrainian captains were given the order to “covertly” sneak under the Kerch bridge. I have no idea what the Ukronazi junta leaders were thinking, maybe they were drunk or terrified to tell Poroshenko that this was a suicidal mission (most likely he was too drunk to care anyway), but the fact that they could even imagine that three old boats could somehow sneak around the Crimean Peninsula and then covertly pass under the Kerch bridge is just amazing (as is the fact that the crews failed to destroy this damning evidence!). One of the most heavily monitored sections of our planet, right next to a war zone, which has been the object of innumerable threats, and yet they thought that they could somehow avoid being detected and intercepted….’
    Still think it was Russia to blame in law, Craig?

    • remember kronstadt

      if the chocolate orange revolutionary had any ambition he’d have mined a passing sub. boat fights are easily confused with ‘it’s a knock out’ which it wasn’t so go proxy for the nukes choco-man – they survive the terrestrials.

    • Kempe

      Why should Craig, or anyone else for that matter, allow their opinions to be influenced by that pro-Russian rambling? Saker’s just a one band with a blog.

      There was nothing covert about the Ukrainian voyage, it took place in broad daylight for one thing.

    • N_

      I noticed that the FSB was involved in the publicity on this case at an early stage. Can’t the Russian military speak for itself?

      Totally agreed this began with a Ukrainian provocation. Am waiting for the story to acquire an EU and Brexit angle. NATO have already gobbed off.

      • Paul Greenwood

        Border Guards are part of FSB. FSB has Military Forces unlike UK where “Border Guards” are Customs & Excise since UK is only interested in money not porous borders. Once you get to the UK you are in and remain

  • Sharp Ears

    There is something quite surreal seeing and hearing Robert Nisbet, ex BBC News, on the BBC News, attempting to justify the latest train fares price list for his new employer, the Rail Delivery Group!

    ‘Robert Nisbet is a British former journalist, now working as Regional Director for the Rail Delivery Group. Initially a programme presenter and correspondent for BBC News, presenting the Liquid News programme on BBC News 24 channel and Entertainment Correspondent for the BBC Six O’Clock News.’

    • michael norton

      Yet the E.U. is not without its own troubles.
      Yellow Vests now protest in Brussels against cost of living, lack of Democracy and crazy fuel prices.

      • Spencer Eagle

        We’d have had the yellow vests here if Poundworld hadn’t been fined £68k for selling fake safety vests that breached British Standards. They had the silver bits but they weren’t actually reflective.

      • Blunderbuss

        1) People urge the government to tackle global warming

        2) Government puts up fuel prices to tackle global warming

        3) People protest about high fuel prices

        4) What next?

        • Deepgreenpuddock

          dear Mr Blunder.
          an intersting observation. I suppose it would be necessary to create consent for the kinds of actions governments take. Price adjustment is a desperately crude means of controlling demand for such a key commodity, we need innovative policy, investment and clear evidence that the burdens are equably distributed between income groups.a price increase that is piffling to the wealthy can be disastrous to the poorly paid.

        • John A

          Mr Blunderbuss. One problem with fuel prices in France is that there is no mechanism for penalising gas guzzler cars. There is no road tax as such, the logic was that motorway tariff charges would offset that, but the motorway tariffs are a flat charge for cars as well. Unlike in Britain where the road tax does depend on car emission levels.
          Simply jacking up the prices like Macron has done hurts everyone, but the rich have benefited from his tax cuts to them, unlike the average person. Plus for years French politicians pushed diesel as the more energy efficient engine so there are far more diesel cars on the roads than in Britain. Of course, Macron is now jacking up diesel prices far more than petrol.

    • Dungroanin

      It means letting them go as soon as possible. They are not prisoners of war. That is what a brit would expect in the same circumstance. According to international law.

      It means that we don’t stop Russians (or anyone else) travessing through the Channel.

      Unless you want the seas to become lawless. The Russians should take heed to retain their so far reasonable reaction. Unless they have proof of criminal intent.

      • Paul Barbara

        @ Dungroanin December 1, 2018 at 01:28
        ‘..Unless they have proof of criminal intent…’
        I rather think my comment established that?

        • Dungroanin

          PB i wasn’t replying to your comment.
          If you mean the one where you claim documents were found on the Ukrainian boats – that is not in itself of any value. A criminal charge and court case may establish that – especially of the sailors say it without duress – though that would certainly open them to charges of treason at home!
          The whole thing was cooked up and greenlighted by Nato and Pompeo to get a reaction from Russia as the G20 was otherwise going to focus on MbS, Yemen, Syria, the non-existent Iran sanctions. China/India/Russia cleaving off the petrodollar…and of course Syria, especially the 10,000 odd headchopping nato proxies – just what to do with them?
          ‘Hey say the warmongering fuckwits and their MSM muppets why not get martial law on the Russian border and whack them in there! With no free reporting allowed they could get wiped out by Vlad, saving us the problem of watching them get mullered in Idlib..and we may get an excuse to get our forces in there!’ Or something like that?

      • N_

        If Russia were to state that Ukraine has committed an act of war and that these men were prisoners of war, they would be. That this was a military effort in Russian territorial waters outside of the agreed arrangements constitutes a case for considering it as an act of war. Of course this was a provocation, using tiny vessels, but the martial law suggests there is more to come.

        I hope the prisoners are treated well and released as soon as possible. These men were wearing uniform, obeying orders, and not occupying land, spying, or shooting at or killing anybody.

        Putin has no popularity ratings problem. This isn’t the west. But morale has to be managed competently in all armies.

  • Sharp Ears

    Julian Assange’s trials
    30 Nov, 2018

    The fate of Julian Assange is unclear. Washington is determined that he be sent to the USA to face criminal charges, most likely under the 1917 Espionage Act. The British government is more than happy to make this happen. Even the Ecuadoreans are in on the act. What we are watching unfold in front of our eyes is the criminalization of journalism.

    CrossTalking with Joe Lauria, Patrick Henningsen, and Gareth Porter.

    https://www.rt.com/shows/crosstalk/445221-julian-assange-trials-us/

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Sharp Ears November 30, 2018 at 20:53
      When JC gets in, Assange will be A OK, free to travel to Russia.
      Hang in, JA, the sooner this crap government bites the dust, we’ll be ‘On Our Way’:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJr_6O7dBGw
      JC ain’t no Bankster Puppet, which is why he is getting so much stick in our ‘sick’, sold out ‘MSM’.

      • nevermind

        What makes you think Julian Assange would not want to go and live in New Zealand, Paul, why are you perpetuating a made up comment printed in the MSM without basis or truth?

  • Hieroglyph

    In fairness, this is author’s area of wonkish expertise. He’s doubtless correct. I mean, it’s obviously a stupid dick waving contest too, so can’t hardly sympathize with the Ukrainian fascists. Sorry, western-backed Ukrainian fascists. What’s with that anyway? Ah, our power structures are hopelessly corrupt, and we’re descending into authoritarian fascism with a tech underpinning that will make Hitler’s Germany look like summer camp. So, I guess that’s what’s with that. I answer my own query.

  • John Goss

    Craig is a very sensible man. Initially he repeated a statement to the effect that Russia’s actions were disproportionate to what the Law of the Sea required concerning innocent passage. His “stoic resolve” waned after the following comment appeared. Whether that was the reason I don’t know. But if members of the Ukrainian secret services were on board on this reconnaissance mission it

    https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2018/11/the-murky-sea-of-azov/comment-page-2/#comment-805855

    But if members of the Ukrainian secret services were on board on this reconnaissance mission it contravenes Article 19, 2, j, and Craig wisely dropped out of the thread.

    Article19

    Meaning of innocent passage

    1. Passage is innocent so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State. Such passage shall take place in conformity with this Convention and with other rules of international law.

    2. Passage of a foreign ship shall be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in any of the following activities:

    (a) any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;

    (b) any exercise or practice with weapons of any kind;

    (c) any act aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defence or security of the coastal State;

    (d) any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defence or security of the coastal State;

    (e) the launching, landing or taking on board of any aircraft;

    (f) the launching, landing or taking on board of any military device;

    (g) the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State;

    (h) any act of wilful and serious pollution contrary to this Convention;

    (i) any fishing activities;

    (j) the carrying out of research or survey activities;

    (k) any act aimed at interfering with any systems of communication or any other facilities or installations of the coastal State;

    (l) any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage.

        • Paul Barbara

          @ mark golding November 30, 2018 at 22:04
          Hate to regurgitate, but I did post this earlier:
          ‘..‘THE SAKER: UBER-LOSER POROSHENKO GOES “FULL SAAKASHVILI”:
          https://southfront.org/the-saker-uber-loser-poroshenko-goes-full-saakashvili/
          ‘…It is now becoming abundantly clear that the Ukronazi provocation was not only breathtakingly stupid and irresponsible, but also breathtakingly poorly planned and executed. The documents seized by the FSB on the Ukrainian ships show that the Ukrainian captains were given the order to “covertly” sneak under the Kerch bridge. I have no idea what the Ukronazi junta leaders were thinking, maybe they were drunk or terrified to tell Poroshenko that this was a suicidal mission (most likely he was too drunk to care anyway), but the fact that they could even imagine that three old boats could somehow sneak around the Crimean Peninsula and then covertly pass under the Kerch bridge is just amazing (as is the fact that the crews failed to destroy this damning evidence!). One of the most heavily monitored sections of our planet, right next to a war zone, which has been the object of innumerable threats, and yet they thought that they could somehow avoid being detected and intercepted….’
          Still think it was Russia to blame in law, Craig?..’

      • N_

        Thanks for this. I didn’t know that. Were they secret services or special forces? Ukraine would obviously want to knock out the bridge if large-scale war breaks out and possibly also in a prior action. All shipping that enters the Sea of Azov goes under the bridge, right, so a lot of the information about its construction and weak points won’t be exactly secret.

    • bj

      Maybe so, but did the Russians know beforehand these secret services were on board?

      IANAL, but if the police stop you in your car and illegally search your car and find contraband, does that make it a legal search and seizure?

      • Borncynical

        I think it would be classified as ‘a legal search and seizure’ if the reason for stopping your car in the first place was because you went through a red light and then refused to stop when the police ordered you to. I would regard that as an appropriate analogy to the Kerch Straits incident.

        • bj

          Even in that situation, police cannot search your car without your permission or without a warrant, but can after a lawful arrest.

          Best the analogy endeth here, I suppose.

          • Deb O'Nair

            “police cannot search your car without your permission or without a warrant”

            Yes, but they generally don’t let an inconvenience, like the law, get in their way.

        • bj

          P.S.
          FWIW, I think the Russians were within their ‘rights’, and acted fair and reasonable, and with cause, in light of earlier statements by Ukrainians and international voices about the Kerch bridge. YMMV.

          But they shouldn’t have put the prisoners in front of camera’s.

      • N_

        The answer is no: if the police search you illegally then nothing that happens later can make the search legal. Whether what they find can be used in evidence is another matter. If they find incriminating material so is whether you’d have a chance of successfully suing them for the illegality of the search.

      • Paul Greenwood

        Russians have agents inside SBU and probably monitor all SIGINT. There was a USAF P-8 ELIN`T plane circling above no doubt monitoring Russian responses

  • ItaliaUno

    Regardless of the sections of the relating to the free passage of ships, there is a 2003 treaty between Russia and Ukraine that requires all ships passing the Kerch strait to contact the base in Crimea and the Ukrainians deliberately failed to do so. When challenged by the Russian coastguard the ships behaved erratically and were deemed a danger to the border/infrastructure of the Russian federation. Russia has every right to inspect all ships entering the Azov sea. Again it is part of the treaty. Russia is perfectly within their rights to detain the ships and the crew who have illegally entered Russia without permission.

  • Darren Connors

    What you forget to add Craig is that the Ukranians manned their weapons as the Russian approached…. All RULES OFF.
    If it was America and not Russia, the boats would have been sunk

  • Litchfield

    Since the Ukrainians and others have openly suggested sabotaging the Kerch Strait Bridge, I think the Russians are justified in being on hyperalert.

    • Ralph

      Actually MADMAYHEM’s support for the fascist & war criminal poroshitko regime probably exceeds the combined EU’s backing of it.

      • giyane

        Ralph
        MADMAYHEM
        are you indirectly referring to Craig’s last-ditch for independence for Scotland mate Soros by any chance?

        In this morning’s tributes to Bush all participants conceded that Bush lived in an era of softer politics than what is now the norm. Hilarious that Craig doesn’t see Soros as a proxy of the neo-cons, but does see Trump as a neo-con even though post-neo-con Trump has destroyed the neo-cons Islamic State.

        Like the post-feminists and the post modernists one would wish they’d just left the era of Bush senior as it was. Yesterday on radio 4 while being diverted from the M1 late at night I heard a feminist admit that she was troubled by the fact that the pilot on a flight she had boarded was a woman. She couldn’t find the word to describe her feelings, in spite of her amazing honesty. But I think the word she was searching for was that she was jealous. A fellow woman apparently being treated as an equal amongst men entirely on merit and clearly unencumbered by the intimacy of a small cockpit.

        One of the features of Syria and Iraq is that there have always been women who are treated as equals professionally like this. One of the reasons why USUKIS NATO’s bonkers jihadists have failed to put Iraq and Syria back to the Middle Ages is because of the unity of purpose by both sexes not to lose the ancient civilisation they have inherited to a bunch of jealous half-wits who think God made women just to be raped.

        • N_

          As for George Bush, when he was head of the CIA he was in London on the very day that the secret state forced prime minister Harold Wilson to resign in 1976.

        • Ralph

          No, I’m not. What I was pointing out is that self-determination trumps everything else: if that’s what the people want, that’s what they should get – withOUT outside interference.

  • John Goss

    My big fear in brief is this.

    The west wants you to believe this nonsense from a politician who short of a patriotic avalanche for a war with Russia cannot survive. Poroshenko would willingly engage all of Europe to fuel his megalomania. And there are politicians in more successful countries who support him.

    https://news.sky.com/story/ukraine-accuses-russia-of-putting-tanks-on-border-11567237

    And this is the reality for the UK.

    https://www.fort-russ.com/2018/11/british-admiral-urges-destroyer-mission-to-ukraine-to-take-on-russia/

    Here in the UK we have a PM who claims to have got us a deal over Brexit but has not even convinced her own party. Brexit occurs on 29th March 2019. Two days later Poroshenko, whose current chances of winning an election are quite close to zilch, has by law, by that date, to hold elections. Both these failed politicians are looking for the “Falklands” factor. Somebody has told them a good war will boost their ratings.

    Theresa May will allegedly take us out of Europe. All pundits believe that would be an economic disaster much worse than staying in. That includes her chancellor. Waiting in the wings is Jeremy Corbyn. For the 1% that would be seen as an economic disaster. No sensible person wants it but the world is heading for war, or even Armageddon. That’s my big fear.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ John Goss December 1, 2018 at 00:30
      ‘Putin Warns of World War III’: https://off-guardian.org/2018/03/03/putin-warns-of-world-war-iii/
      But Putin has reinforced this recently, re the ‘West’ enplacing nuke missiles in Europe.
      But heck, it can’t be a problem, the BBC and associated MSM haven’t alerted us: perhaps they think they are safe in the BBC’s basements, already? And a certain ME country, unable, who ‘proffeses’ to be worried about potential Iranian non-existent nukes, will, in the event of serious hostilities, be obliterated by REAL nukes. But so what? Netz and Co. like playing ‘Russian Roulette’.
      Such a thing. The foolish sheep chooses his own butcher.
      Armageddon has been written – it is coming.

      • John Goss

        That’s my fear Paul. The fear is not for us Oldies but our grandchildren – though none of us wants to go prematurely. We have a responsibility to behave responsibly.

        • Paul Barbara

          @ John Goss December 1, 2018 at 10:28
          I know the linked one was from March, but I wrote that he has recently reinforced that warning. There is a very recent youtube reinforcement, which I can’t find the link to, but here is another more recent link, from June 2018:
          ‘Vladimir Putin talks Third World War and Russia’s first World Cup in four-hour long TV call-in show’:
          https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/06/07/putin-warns-against-third-world-war-tv-call-in-show/
          That the US and NATO are intent on creating wars with Russia and China is even clearer than Hitler’s preparations for wars pre-1938.
          Hitler didn’t have around a thousand bases around the world when the balloon went up, unlike the ever-belligerant US and it’s NATO cronies.

    • Jo

      I do not remember any posts from Craig re the Integity Initiative clearly “our”government is using …as a former diplomat I wonder if he believes this is really supportive of UN charter or believes the diplomatic service has been completely compromised……to persue the Governments Russophic foreign policy which is more Bill Browders than anyone else.

    • Paul Greenwood

      Colonel Beck induced the British into an insane war through deceit and lies – though he destroyed his own country too

  • bj

    Here’s an interesting and possibly relevant article considering the subjecting of prisoners to ‘public curiosity’:

    https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-pow-march-war-crime/26548667.html

    I recall that during the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese were highly criticized for parading American POW’s through the streets of Hanoi, and for having some of them read confessions and condemnations of their home country, to be aired on TV.

    There’s a convention against all that somewhere.

    • Deb O'Nair

      “There’s a convention against all that somewhere.”

      It’s ‘resting’, along with the convention on legal use of force against a foreign country. This is the problem the West makes for itself by engaging in “exceptionalism” and double standards; when it’s done to them or their proxies they can only whinge and whine to the media, to little effect because the collective memory of the public is generally far longer than the modern news cycle.

      • bj

        That’s whataboutery.

        Feel free to do so.

        But that leaves you no leg to stand on before nightfall
        in all of your own gripes and calls for humanity, justice and reason.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ bj December 1, 2018 at 01:12
      Yeh, right. There are also conventions against torture, and against wars of aggression.
      Remind the States, and NATO, please?

    • Tom Welsh

      Am I the only one to find it odd that there should be a convention against exhibiting prisoners on TV – but the Western powers are perfectly happy to kidnap civilians off the street in foreign countries, render them to hellholes in other foreign countries, and torture them to death?

      If I were the prisoner in question, I would choose TV stardom like a shot rather than being waterboarded 1,000 times or kept in a cage until I went insane.

    • Paul Greenwood

      They used to read out their ID on Radio Hanoi. I recall the broadcasts listing ID and plane details.

      Maybe Russia used use the US tactic in 1945 and deny Geneva Convention protection by stating Germany no longer existed as a state and these were “Disarmed Enemy Forces” so they could be used as slave labour and denied rations. Eisenhower initiated this policy.

    • giyane

      SA

      The MSM have conceded the logistical possibility of Israel deliberately causing Syrian anti-ballistics to bring down a Russian plane in Syria. But they’re still trying to pin the blame on the Russians for MH17 in Ukraine.
      5 Eyes is allowing Huawei to supply and build 5 band internet services after they captured Chinese IT engineers travelling on MH370. One could say the only reason for hitting MH17 was to explain MH370.

      Australia has pulled out of using Huawei’s services because they don’t want their security to be infiltrated by China. The Empire does seem to have seriously lost the plot. First thing to break is our tentative peace with our nearest neighbours in Northern Ireland and the EU.

      As Mrs May said to Muhammad bin Salman pointing her finger in the air, ” If you keep on doing this I’ll have to use this finger to take out my own motes. “

    • Andyoldlabour

      @zoot, thanks for sharing that, it simply reinforces what most right minded people think about the US and US foreign policy.

  • Sharp Ears

    All the eulogies are appearing for another warmongering US President. George H W Bush, ‘dead at 94’, as one headline had it.

    The Gulf War and Panama. So true. His example did live on.

    ‘His example lives on’: Trump and Obama lead tributes after George HW Bush dies
    Donald Trump praises ‘unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country’ while Barack Obama notes ‘legacy of service that may never be matched’
    George HW Bush dies aged 94
    Obituary: steady hand during end of Cold War
    ‘Read my lips. No new taxes’: quotes from George HW Bush
    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/01/his-example-lives-on-trump-and-obama-lead-tributes-after-george-hw-bush-dies

    Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm 2 August 1990 – 28 February 1991
    The Iraqi casualties and losses:
    25,000–50,000 killed
    75,000+ wounded
    80,000 captured
    3,300 tanks destroyed
    2,100 APCs destroyed
    2,200 Artillery Pieces destroyed
    110 Aircraft destroyed
    137 Aircraft escaped to Iran
    19 ships sunk, 6 damaged

    Panama Operation Just Cause!! Mid-December 1989 – late January 1990.
    The Panamanian losses
    234–314 killed
    1,908 captured

    For Panama, read the UK. ‘Panama has extremes of wealth and poverty. The wealthiest 20 percent of Panamanians control more than 50 percent of the country’s wealth, while the poorest 40 percent only control 12 percent.’

    • Michael McNulty

      My mother believed Bush Senior being alive was the only thing that kept some of the neo-cons from bumping off Bush Junior who was President in name only. He’s not that bright and is prone to verbal gaffes which make him a liability, and he has long served his purpose.

      • J Galt

        On 9/11 at the school he did indeed look extremely frightened, looking as if he could not be entirely sure that himself being bumped off was part of the scenario, part of the scenario he hadn’t been told about in advance that is.

    • Tony

      1. “We have no opinion on your Arab-Arab conflicts, such as your dispute with Kuwait. Secretary Baker has directed me to emphasize the instruction, first given to Iraq in the 1960s, that the Kuwait issue is not associated with America.”

      U S Ambassador April Glaspie gives her green light to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.

      2. US troops sent to defend Saudi Arabia against threat of Iraqi invasion despite knowing that he was not in a position to do this ( ‘Desert Shield’).

      3. After mid-term elections, ‘Desert Shield’ becomes ‘Desert Storm’

      4 Rejection of ‘linkage’ between Kuwait and other issues such as Palestine despite linkage having been okay in the past in other areas of the world.

      For more on this see:
      http://media.leeds.ac.uk/papers/vp01742f.html

      The one good thing about the Gulf War was that it reminded us that wars do not bring long-term popularity as some politicians have sometimes thought.

      Bush’s approval rating went into the stratosphere after that war. He thought that by going on about it during the 1992 presidential election that would help him to get re-elected. It actually worked against him because the American people had moved on.

      During the ‘town hall’ style presidential debate, Clinton totally outclassed him. He moved towards the questioner and made a good impression. Bush looked bored and repeatedly looked at his watch.

      Things might have been different if Bush’s ruthless campaign strategist Lee Atwater had not died. He spotted Clinton and saw him as a serious threat whereas Bush and James Baker did not take him seriously.

    • Spencer Eagle

      You only have to read about HW’s father, Prescott Bush, to understand they were as much a crime dynasty as a political one. Prescott holds the unenviable record, adjusted for inflation, of having paid the single largest fine ever levied on an individual. He was prosecuted under the ‘Trading with the Enemy Act’ for basically money laundering the rise of the Nazi’s between the 1920’s and 1940’s.

      https://www.attackonamerica.net/george-w-bush/bushfamilyfundedhitler/

      The book Trading with the Enemy, by Charles Higham, is an astonishing read.

      • Sharp Ears

        A bunch of psychopaths. Stuck indoors as the weather is so bad and I am sick to death of the eulogies. Not one mentions the victims of the Bush wars.
        The women, Barbara and Laura, stood by whilst the killing went on.

        It is maybe apocryphal but the story goes that Dubya as a boy inserted firecrackers into frogs’ rectums and enjoyed watching the explosions.

    • Alex Westlake

      In your opinion, what should have been the reaction of the US, and the rest of the world, when Iraq invaded and occupied all of Kuwait?

  • Patricia Ormsby

    It looks like the consensus of the commentariat is that Russia has the right to detain the disruptive ships and at least some of the crew indefinitely, given the circumstances and behavior, but having them confess on camera was going too far. A dumb move by the FSB IMHO, real bozos when it comes to PR. But then I don’t know the whole story either.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Patricia Ormsby December 1, 2018 at 08:51
      Not so dumb when you remember the way our governments and MSM react to anything Russia says – at least they have the filmed confessions and the confiscated documents to show the world.
      They warned of past and future CW attacks by the White Helmets/’rebels’, and even when recently they again attacked Aleppo, the West virtually ignored it, as there proxies and agents were obviously guilty, yet largely still blamed Assad.

  • Fwl

    79 years ago Churchill described Russia’s interests in the Black Sea and the Dardenelle strait as the key which unlocked “the riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma”.

    Chamberlain was then still PM. Soviet ambassador Maisky (no fan of the German – Russian non aggression pact) watching Chamberlain in Parliament on 3 September 1939 recorded in his diary: “This is the leader of a great Empire on a crucial day of its Existence! An old, leaky, faded umbrella! Whom can he save? If Chamberlain remains prime minister for much longer, the Empire is ruined…”

    5 September 1939 Maisky observed that Chamberlain had carried out a reconstruction of his cabinet but they were halfway steps and altered little in quality for although Churchill and Eden had been added if Chamberlain “goes no further, Churchill and Eden will find themselves hostages, and Britain will surely lose the war. But I think that the reconstruction cannot end at this point. This is just the beginning. Further steps will follow…”

    Maisky appreciated the character and quality of both Churchill and Lloyd George i.e. he had an idea as to who had skill, guts and could be effective in a crisis and who was not.

    And now?

    Who is there to turn to?

    • J Galt

      Aye and Churchill should have known all about that, being responsible for the Dardanelles “Fiasco”.

      In 1915 Russia wanted out of the war – a potential disaster for the cabal in Britain who had started it with a view to destroying Germany, largely with French and Russian cannon fodder.

      The solution – dangle the straits in front of Russia’s eyes by a deliberately “bungled” operation to take the straits sacrificing some expendable Australians – Russia fell for it.

      Of course part of the “kid on” was Churchill’s fall from grace.

      Churchill – one of the chief villains of the 20th century.

      • giyane

        Villain seems a rather innocuous word for a Zionist who destroyed the Ottoman Caliphate and carved up Kurdistan in order to deprive that large Sunni country from taking over from Turkey. Being Old School, Churchill was perfectly savvy about the caliphate’s setting British diplomats honey traps but he fell into them anyway because he had a bigger trap for the Caliphate than the boys they were setting for him: annihilation.

        In my mind’s eye I cannot think of his bronze, hollow statue opposite St Margaret’s and Parliament without seeing a column of fire burning within and shooting out of his facial orifices. A spiritual fire for the wretched souls of the enemies of Islam. I suppose you can call him a villain , rather a mild trem of reproach for a lesser grade of criminal, if you put him in the context of all of that death and destruction of centuries of violence and Empire and also if you realise that the Kurdish knew full well that although Islam might lose a caliphate, the British might lose an Empire. And Churchill, being a boris bluffing kind of poshboy gambler knew it too and gambled the empire away for a few night’s sex with his enemies children. Winston , you were the weakest link, with your wretched British inferiority complex toward the power and truth of Islam.

      • Andyoldlabour

        @J Galt,

        Not many people know about the dark, evil side of Churchill, preferring to think of him as one of our greatest men – which he was not.
        He was a great advocate of chemical weapons, first using them against the Bolsheviks in Northern Russia in 1919.

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2013/sep/01/winston-churchill-shocking-use-chemical-weapons

        We have a very dirty history, and our press has a nasty habit of covering up our dirty deeds when they are being committed.

  • fwl

    79 years ago Stalin turned against us and entered into the non-aggression pact with Germany thereby leaving us vulnerable.

    Now Trump (admittedly not in cahoots with the EU) threatens to leave us stranded and without the US as a trading partner leaving us vulnerable again.

    (This is in the same month that the US has proposed to stop BAT selling its menthol ciggies in the US, which is really very confusing: marijuana legal but menthol illegal).

    • Tom Welsh

      @fwl:

      “79 years ago Stalin turned against us and entered into the non-aggression pact with Germany thereby leaving us vulnerable”.

      What an astonishingly provincial, anglocentric point of view. Who made Stalin responsible for the security of Britain? (The country who giovernment attacked Crimea without provocation, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Russians, and then invaded the fledgling USSR in 1919 – and which had always been unremittingly hostile to Russia).

      Stalin’s main responsibility, like Mr Putin’s today, was the safety of his country and its people. Seeing that France had been rapidly defeated by Germany, that Britain had only narrowly escape the same fate, and that the USA had refused to take any part in the war against Hitler, Stalin understood that it was up to the USSR to look to its own interests. So he did.

      • J Galt

        The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was entered into in August 1939, long before the defeat of France in June 1940.

        Stalin wished to watch from the sidelines as France, Britain and Germany weakened each other in a re-run of 1914-18 whilst he steadily prepared a massive invasion of Europe in 1942, fascists and democrats crushed together – he didn’t care!

        • Tom Welsh

          You have not explained why he should have cared. Britain and France joined to invade Crimea in 1852, with not the slightest pretext other than a desire to “take Russia down a peg”. Earlier, France under Napoleon had invaded Russia with the intention of conquering it. (One result was that Russian soldiers were quartered in Paris: the French name “bistro” for a fast-service restaurant derives from the Russian for “quickly!”).

          Then, as soon as the end of WW1 allowed, Britain joined the USA in invading the USSR with the aim of overthrowing its new government. Thousands of Russians other Soviet citizens were killed.

          The sheer entitlement of Westerners is staggering.

          • J Galt

            He didn’t – as I said a suitably weakened “Europe” was scheduled for inclusion in the USSR in 1942 – Cheka bullets in the neck for fascists and democrats alike!

            See “Icebreaker” by Victor Suvorov – if you can get a copy that is – selling millions in Russia it’s been more or less suppressed in the “west”.

        • Dungroanin

          What rot are you peddling Galt? And Why?

          ‘Suvorov’s view that a Soviet invasion of Germany was imminent in 1941 is not shared by most historians.

          A noteworthy rebuttal of Suvorov’s thesis is contained in Colonel David Glantz’s work Stumbling Colossus: The Red Army on the Eve of World War. Glantz views Suvorov’s argument as “incredible” on a variety of fronts: first, Suvorov rejects without examination classified ex-Soviet archival material, and makes highly selective picks from memoirs. Glantz points to this as a serious methodological flaw. Further, Glantz argues, Suvorov’s thesis is strongly contradicted both by ex-Soviet and German archival material, and the facts do not support the argument that the Red Army was prepared to invade Germany.[2] On the contrary, the appalling lack of readiness, poor training level, and abysmal state of deployments show that the Red Army was unprepared for static defense, much less large-scale offensive operations. Glantz’s conclusion is that “Stalin may well have been an unscrupulous tyrant, but he was not a lunatic.”‘
          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icebreaker_(Suvorov)

          What is he a Dan Brown of Russia? Utter bollocks and you are spreading it.

          • J Galt

            Oh Wikipedia and Colonel Glantz say Suvorov’s thesis is rubbish so that must be so!

            Have you read the books?

            Exhaustive research into the Soviet order of battle from Army Group (or Front as the soviets preferred) down through Army, Corps, Division, Brigade and Regiment. A detailed picture of soviet deployment backed up with extensive checkable references.

            If anyone was unprepared it was the Germans – Barbarossa was a scratch operation – they more or less ran out of fuel by September – the more intelligent of Hitler’s generals such as Guderian saw fairly early on that Barbarossa was doomed.

            Hitler was comprehensively outwitted by Stalin until the 22nd of June 1941 – but it was too little, too late.

            Finally if Wikipedia’s on your case you must be doing something right!

    • giyane

      Love it. Now that we have rumbled the neocunts every single one of their psy-ops turns into a psy-plop. But whose going to clear up all the plops, the wreckage of Libya and Syria, Somalia, Manchester and Iraq?
      As they say just about one ethnic group enslaved by the Empire, if they gave us all of the UK with all of its inhabitants and property, overseas property and global position they would never be able to compensate us fully for what they have taken. The Caribbean.

  • fwl

    Are there any leaders out there?

    Some politicians who think they are, but probably aren’t? Maybe someone unexpected who has not shown their hand?

    or is the people?

    I’m not a fan of another referendum. If there is to be another referendum then what are the questions:

    1 Stay in the EU?
    2 Leave with no deal?

    Anything more than 2 questions and its obviously skewed to split one side, which would be unfair.

    Brexiteers say that Brexit always meant a hard Brexit with the possibility of no deal and as there is no real deal and they say that everyone always knew this was a real possibility then the question is fair.

    If we are forced to stay in under the pretence of a deal akin to May’s dead deal now on the table which pretends that we are leaving then that is likely to have serious consequences and considerable resentment, i.e. we become a vessel state with all the psychology inherent in that i.e. a lot of little drummers banging their UKIP drums.

    Of course if we vote to remain we have to think about who we then are in the EU. It will not be the same as before. The EU and the world has changed and we have changed. If we were to have a further referendum and vote to remain it should not be with relief or out of weakness or like a beggar at the door. We go in an get a post nuptial deal. Not a pre-nuptial (which was never considered at the time of joining) or a divorce (which we have fecked up) but a post-nuptial where the marriage continues, but on new terms. Of course in a marriage there is usually one party who dictates the terms of a post-nuptial: the miscreant gets his tail docked.

    Just some foolish meanderings.

    Weekend calling ……

      • giyane

        civil unrest

        I doubt it. Unlike the French we are all so deeply indebted to the banks none of us can afford a day off work to start a revolution

    • Vivian O'Blivion

      A second referendum with a Remain outcome would certainly be shock therapy for the English Nationalist psych. That is to say a sizeable majority of the English electorate over the age of 40. To be unceremoniously disabused of the notion of superiority and exceptionalist global status. Cruel to be kind.
      It would also go some way to shoring up an increasing rickety United Kingdom.

  • Sharp Ears

    David McIlwain has written about Salisbury on Off Guardian.

    The Incapacitation of Salisbury
    29th November 2018
    This is a sequel to “The Poison Paradox – who knew?”, and a logical extrapolation of facts already established “beyond reasonable doubt” on the Salisbury poisonings. In the absence of a properly established scientific inquiry, and tribunal involving all the parties to this dispute, such “unprejudiced speculation” must suffice.
    https://off-guardian.org/2018/11/29/the-incapacitation-of-salisbury/
    +47 comments thereon

    On BBC South Today the other day we were told that the cost so far to the ‘authorities’ involved in the case has been £11.5m

  • N_

    First it was “May gives Mohammed bin Salman an awfully stern look”.

    Oh and May “refuses to say whether she will raise the Khashoggi murder”. Clearly Tory Woman has got her handbag and she means business.

    Mix that with “Putin and MBS high-five each other”, and then with “Macron and MBS have a tête-à-tête”, and it looks as though the British poshboy regime’s propagandists are doing well with their “Foreigners are dirty” and “You know what? They connive with each other!” memes.

    Then – oops! – the Saudi authorities release the photo of the May-MBS handshake.

    Can the poshboys recover with Sky’s “May faces crown prince at G20 over ‘appalling’ Khashoggi murder”?

    She “faces” him. It seems that the poshboys are reeling a bit. As for the murder, it was so “appalling”. Absolutely not “clickbait-tastic”, with the fangers at Google drooling at the thought of the advertising revenue when SITE releases the video.

  • N_

    Re. the Kerch Strait incident, I doubt the causes are only local.

    What’s happening to the insurance payments for the bridge?

    Someone will be coining it from martial law too, which isn’t mobilisation but the reporting is crap as usual.

  • giyane

    I see NATO gangster boss head of Islamic State was standing at the front of the G20 photo.
    Tha tells you all you need to know about NATO’s puppet the Muslim Brotherhood which Britain founded 100 years ago to infiltrate and manipulate the world’s Muslims. Multi-murderer and chief proxy thug whose secret services throttled Jacky Sutton. Jacky was investigating NATO’s proxy Erdogan’s proxy IS jihadist mafia’s horrific abuse of women in Iraq and Syria, unlike Kashoggi who was shilling for NATO on the Washington Post.

    • Tom Welsh

      “I see NATO gangster boss head of Islamic State was standing at the front of the G20 photo”.

      Do you refer to MbS or Donald Trump?

      • giyane

        Tom Welsh

        Trump is only friends with white supremacists and Israel because he needs their votes and power. that’s his bread and butter. He has to annoy intelligent US citizens and to annoy Muslims in order to stay in power for one second. He’s a pussycat really, or mobcat to be more accurate.

        MbS is behoven to resist the Shi’isation of the Middle East. last night on Neil MacGregor’s show about pilgrimage a Hindu was pontificating on the human need for proximity to the sacred, the need to rub cloths onto the bones or relics of saints and holy men. MbS is charged with the de-Hindui-isation of Islam and its lands. This unfortunately involves war against the deviancies of Shi’ism and the jewish and Christian traditions. unfortunately in order to avoid destruction his bread and butter are NATO, NATO’s Islamists and its Zionists.

        Erdogan to whom you know full well I was referring has imperial delusions of being a sultan similar to Craig’s rags to riches hero Sikunder Burnes. I look forward to him being betrayed in a similar fashion, after being used and abused by the neo-cons.

  • Titch

    “I expect the usual howls of protest from people for whom the application of impartial international law is anathema, who believe you must be on the side of the “goodies” against the “baddies”. I am aware that rationality and impartiality are not much valued in political discourse nowadays. I shall however stick to them with stoic resolve.”

    Craig is a man of integrity. Most people go with “my country/ my side, right or wrong”, but Craig has been consistent in representing the truth as he sees it, after careful analysis. This doesn’t guarantee that he will be infallibly correct every time, but it does mean we can trust his integrity.

    • Paul Barbara

      @ Titch December 1, 2018 at 11:38
      If one lives in the US, UK, France or I*rael and you are aware of history and present machinations, the best attitude is ‘My country, always wrong’!

  • Sharp Ears

    13 more Palestinians were injured in the border protest in Gaza yesterday, most probably by dum dum bullets (illegal under international law). They expand on impact and cause horrific injuries to flesh, bone and joints often resulting in amputation of the limbs.

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20181130-israel-injures-13-palestinians-in-gaza-solidarity-protests/
    ‘Thirteen people Palestinians were injured, the Ministry of Health reported, and dozens more suffered from suffocation as a result of Israel’s use of tear gas to break up the protests.’

    ‘More than 200 Palestinians have been killed while taking part in the mass peaceful protests, while 21,500 have been injured.’

    I also read about this act of the Israeli planning authorities who have given permission for 2,300 houses to be built for ultra-orthodox Israelis in Deir Yassin. That is the Palestinian village which was razed in al Naqba in 1948 and the remains of which now lie under the coniferous National Forest.

    Israel to build 2,300 ultra-Orthodox houses on site of Deir Yassin massacre
    November 29, 2018
    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20181129-israel-to-build-2300-ultra-orthodox-houses-on-site-of-deir-yassin-massacre/

    The coup de grâce. Despicable.

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    And in the wake of GHW Bush’s death, remember that his legacy lives on in the West still trying to get rid of Russia – what Pappy was deeply involved in ever since the end of WWII.

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