The Russian Interference Report, Without Laughing 283

Now the madding crowd has moved on, I take a mature look at the report by the Intelligence and Security Committee on Russia. It is so flawed it is tempting simply to mock it. But in fact, it is extremely dangerous.

It calls expressly and repeatedly for the security services to be actively involved in “policing the democratic space” and castigates the security services for their unwillingness to interfere in democratic process. It calls for tough government action against social media companies who refuse to censor and remove from the internet material it believes to be inspired by foreign states. It specifically accepts the Integrity Initiative’s Christopher Donnelly and Ben Nimmo as examples of good identifiers of the material which should be banned – even though Nimmo is the man who stated that use of the phrase “Cui bono” is indicative of a Russian troll, and who accused scores of ordinary Scottish Independence supporters of being Russian trolls.

In order for you to assess the threat of a report which specifically calls on the social media companies to ban those individuals the British government identifies as Russian trolls, and which calls on the security services to act against those people, remember Ian.

Ian was identified by the British government as a Russian troll, on the word of Nimmo and Donnelly – exactly the “experts” on which this report relies. This report proposes Ian, and people like him, be banned from social media and subject to security service surveillance.

Listen to Ian:

In short the report is a real threat to democracy. Its evidence base is appalling, and that is what I shall look at first.

The ISC took evidence from just five “experts” outside the intelligence services. They were Anne Applebaum, Bill Browder, Christopher Donnelly, Edward Lucas and Christopher Steele. I do not quite know how to get over to you the full significance of this. It would be impossible to assemble a group of five witnesses with any pretence whatsoever to respectability (and some of them have an extremely tenuous link to respectability) that would be more far out, right wing and Russophobic. They are the extreme fringe of anti-Russian thinking. They are nowhere near the consensus among the academic, diplomatic and other genuinely expert communities on Russia.

There is simply no attempt at balance whatsoever. The best I can try to get over the extent of this would be to compare it to a hypothetical parliamentary inquiry into Old Firm rivalry where the only witnesses are Scott Brown, Neil Lennon, John Hartson, the Green Brigade, and a Cardinal. There is not any attempt from the ISC to interview any witness who is even remotely balanced or can give the view from the other side. Some might feel that a report entitled simply “Russia” which called zero actual Russians as witnesses is somewhat flawed.

To go through those witnesses.

Anne Applebaum is the most respectable of them. I should state that I know both Anne (whom I know as Ania) and her husband, Radek Sikorski MEP, slightly from my time as First Secretary at the British Embassy in Poland (1994-8). Anne is a right wing journalist who has worked at both the Spectator and the American Enterprise Institute, a Randian think tank. She identifies as Polish and shares the understandable visceral distrust of Russia felt by the Polish right. Her husband Radek Sikorski is a long term friend of Boris Johnson, member of the Bullingdon Club, also worked at the American Enterprise Institute and is a former Defence Minister of Poland. Radek’s persona as a politician is very much based around his hawkish stance on Russia. Both Anne and Radek have consistently argued for the aggressive eastward expansion of NATO and forward stationing of US troops and missiles towards Russia.

Bill Browder is a billionaire who made his money out of the Russian people from the fallout of Russia’s chaotic privatisation process. He achieved fame by portraying his highly corrupt accountant, Sergei Magnitskiy, as a human rights campaigner murdered by the Russian authorities. Browder’s account of events was found to be fundamentally false by the European Court of Human Rights, in a judgement which received zero truthful reporting in Western media. Here is an extract from the judgement of the ECHR:

The applicants argued that Mr Magnitskiy’s arrest had not been based on a reasonable suspicion of a
crime and that the authorities had lacked impartiality as they had actually wanted to force him to
retract his allegations of corruption by State officials. The Government argued that there had been
ample evidence of tax evasion and that Mr Magnitskiy had been a flight risk.
The Court reiterated the general principles on arbitrary detention, which could arise if the
authorities had complied with the letter of the law but had acted with bad faith or deception. It
found no such elements in this case: the enquiry into alleged tax evasion which had led to
Mr Magnitskiy’s arrest had begun long before he had complained of fraud by officials. The decision
to arrest him had only been made after investigators had learned that he had previously applied for
a UK visa, had booked tickets to Kyiv, and had not been residing at his registered address.
Furthermore, the evidence against him, including witness testimony, had been enough to satisfy an
objective observer that he might have committed the offence in question. The list of reasons given
by the domestic court to justify his subsequent detention had been specific and sufficiently detailed.
The Court thus rejected the applicants’ complaint about Mr Magnitskiy’s arrest and subsequent
detention as being manifestly ill-founded.

The ECJ found that Magnitskiy indeed died as a result of the shortcomings of Russia’s brutal prison regime – very similar to that of the United States in this regard – but that he was properly in prison on viable criminal charges. The western media may ignore the fact that Browder’s activism is motivated entirely by a desire to hold on to his own vast ill-gotten wealth, and that the highest of courts has found his campaigning is based on a false narrative, but it is deeply, deeply shocking that the members of the Intelligence and Security Committee, who must know the truth, still give Browder credibility. There is no sense in which Browder is a respectable witness.

Christopher Donnelly was forced to step down as a person with significant control of fake charity “The Institute for Statecraft” after the Scottish Charity Regulator found that:

“There was no clear explanation as to why the salaries being paid to charity trustees were considered reasonable and necessary, and we had concern about the charity trustees’ decision-making process around these payments. We do not consider that this private benefit was incidental to the organisation’s activities that advanced its purposes”.

In other words, making money for its trustees, principally Christopher Donnelly, was a purpose of the Institute for Statecraft, not an incidental benefit. This is what the Charity Regulator also found about this fake charity:

The Charity Regulator also found that the Integrity Initiative, run by the Institute for Statecraft, was sending out party political tweets. All of this activity was of course carried out with taxpayers money, the Integrity Initiative being funded by the FCO, the MOD, and the security services.

The Integrity Initiative is a covert propaganda organisation designed to do precisely what the ISC report accuses Russia of doing – covertly influencing politics in both the UK and numerous other countries by state sponsored propaganda disguised as independent journalism or social media posts. Christopher Donnelly heads the Integrity Initiative. Its basic method of operation is secretly to pay mainstream media journalists around the world to pump out disguised British government propaganda, and to run hidden social media campaigns doing the same thing.

All of the “expert witnesses” before the committee feature in the leaked Integrity Initiative documents as part of Integrity Initiative activites. They are all engaged in doing precisely what they here accuse the Russians of doing. The best exposition, to the highest academic standards, of the fascinating leaked documents of the Integrity Initiative operation is by the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and the Media. You can very happily spend an hour looking through their report.

So the UK UK was asking its own paid propagandists what they thought of the Russian propagandists. Every one of the witnesses makes their living from postulating the Russian threat. They therefore said the Russian threat is very big indeed.

Edward Lucas is a hilarious professional Russophobe. He is the go-to anti-Russia expert of the BBC, and can be guaranteed to say something stimulating, such as this:

Lucas actually uses #newcoldwar in his twitter profile, and is jolly keen on the idea.

Christopher Steele is a charlatan and con-man. He is by no means unique in trading on the glamour and reputation of MI6 to build up a consultancy business after an undistinguished career as a middle ranking MI6 officer.

When Steele produced, for a large sum of money, his famous “Pee dossier” on Donald Trump’s “collusion” with Russia, it was obvious to anyone with any professional background in intelligence analysis that it simply could not be genuine. It claimed to have a level of access into Russian security circles which is greater than the penetration ever secured by MI6 or the CIA. I immediately pointed out its deficiencies, but these were ignored by an establishment media desperate to explain away the Trump insurgency into their political space.

Since then the dossier has simply fallen apart. Steele has been successfully sued by people named in the dossier. The lawyer Michael Cohen has shown that he was definitively not in Prague on the date Steele claimed he was meeting Russian hackers there, and indeed has never been to Prague. Most telling of all, it turns out that most of the content of the dossier was simply a compilation of the gossip of the Russian emigre community in Washington by Igor Danchenko, formerly a junior staff member at the Brookings Institute, a liberal foreign policy thinktank.

The silence of the media on the unravelling of the Steele Dossier has been so remarkable it has drawn comment in unexpected quarters:

Having seen the quality of the input, it is unsurprising that the report is a case of “rubbish in, rubbish out”. So let us now, with rubber gloves and a peg on the nose, pick through the rubbish.

To start at para 1, the tone is immediately set of paranoid antagonism to Russia. There is no attempt at balance whatsoever; anti-Russian statement is built on anti-Russian statement until we are supposed to be carried away by the stream of rhetoric to accept each succeeding proposition as it is piled up. Like this one:

The murder of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 demonstrated that Russia under President Putin had moved from potential partner to established threat.

Did it really? Accepting for the sake of argument that the official British explanation of Litvinenko’s death is true and it was a murder by the Russian state, does that show that Russia is an “established threat”? It would certainly be an appalling abuse of human rights and show Russia is a threat to Russian dissidents, but would it really show Russia is an “established threat” to you and me? Plenty of other countries murder their opponents abroad, notably the USA, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Uzbekistan, countries the UK government is proud to call allies. The UK kills opponents abroad continually, in drone strikes, including deliberately by drone killing its own citizens and even killing young British children. I can condemn all such murders equally. But why should we be carried away by the anti-Russian rhetoric into finding it uniquely reprehensible, only when Russia does it?

I could go through every single para of the report, but life is too short. I will however pick out places where the logic is far less convincing than the rhetoric is impressive. From Para 3:

its lack of strong independent public bodies and the fusion of government and business allow it to leverage all its intelligence, military and economic power at the same time to pose an all-encompassing security threat.

Really? Is Russia really that unified? In fact, this is a startling over-simplification. The extreme oligarchic structure which resulted from the wholesale looting of assets in the western-inspired and western-overseen chaos of Russian privatisation has resulted in a state which is indeed not a healthy democracy. But neither is it a monolith with no dissent and no conflicting interests, and Putin has continually to balance the desires and goals of different oligarchs and factions. Not many Russians would recognise the portrayal here of a super efficient and coherent state and business machine.

Besides, even if it were true, Russia would still only have one fifth of the population of the European Union and an economy the size of Spain. The attempt to pump up Russia as a massive threatening superpower is simply nonsense. What Russia does have is the ability to take decisive politico-military action, on a small scale in limited theatres, such as Crimea or Syria. It does so with success because it has a leader who is better at the game of international realpolitik that his western contemporaries. That is not a value judgement: I personally believe Putin is right in Syria and wrong in Crimea. But to blame Russia for the decrepit state of current western diplomacy is a stretch.

By para 4 the report is surfing along on a surreal wave of nonsense:

The security threat posed by Russia is difficult for the West to manage as, in our view and that of many others, it appears fundamentally nihilistic.

Really? Nihilistic? Now the report has already stated that Russia is a remarkably monolithic and unified state apparatus, controlled presumably by President Putin. I can think of many adjectives to describe Putin, some of them not very pleasant – calculating, machiavellian and devious would be amongst them. But he is the absolute opposite of nihilist. He has a clearly defined view of Russia’s interests – and that view identifies Russian interests far too closely with himself and other oligarchs – and sets out diligently and consistently to advance those interests.

So you can define clear Russian policy goals in the international sphere. These include the consolidation of Russian influence in the former Soviet Union and, where possible, the re-integration of contiguous Russian majority speaking territory into Russia, as seen in Georgia and Ukraine. They include the reduction of democratic space for political dissent at home. They include the countering of American influence abroad, particularly in the Middle East and Central Asia. These are serious, hard-headed policies. The very last word I would use to describe them is nihilistic. The Russian oligarch class are as unquestioningly materialist as any class in any society, ever. They are not nihilists.

I can only imagine that the committee picked up on the word “nihilist” from one of the crazed flights of fancy of Edward Lucas.

Para 4 then blunders on into still stranger territory:

It is also seemingly fed by paranoia, believing that Western institutions such as NATO and the EU have a far more aggressive posture towards it than they do in reality.

What could give them that idea?

But what is really strange is the lack of self awareness; a report built entirely upon paranoia about the Russian threat accuses Russia of paranoia about the western threat.

The next few paragraphs make repeated reference to the “Salisbury attacks” and simply take for granted the narrative that Russia was responsible for these. This I am not prepared to do. Clearly some kind of spy subterfuge took place in Salisbury involving both the UK and Russia, but there are too many obvious lies in the official UK government account. I still have seen no answers to my ten outstanding questions, while the attribution of the poison gets ever shakier, with new revelations from that cesspool of corruption, the bureaucracy of the OPCW.

Paras 13 to 20, on cyber warfare, again show that complete lack of self-awareness. They attribute a number of cyber hacks to Russia and the GRU, as though we did not know from Wikileaks Vault 7 leaks that the CIA specifically has a programme, “Umbrage” for leaving behind fake evidence of a Russian hack. But more tellingly, they quote GCHQ as their source of information.

Now it is a simple truth that hacking Russian communications, including military, political, security, research and commercial communications, has been a core part of GCHQ tasking from its establishment. Assuming at least some of the attributions to Russia on cyber warfare are correct, the synthetic outrage at Russia doing what we have been doing to Russia on a far, far larger scale for decades, is laughable. Even more so when paras 20 to 24 talk of the need for the MOD and GCHQ to expand their offensive cyber warfare as though this were a retaliatory measure.

From para 27 onwards the committee is talking about broadcast and new media disinformation campaigns. Here it stops pretending it knows any secret intelligence and states its information is open source, as at footnote 24 where the sources are frothing mad Edward Lucas and fake charity purveyor Christopher Donnelly, telling us how terrible Russian troll campaigns are.

Yet again, there is a total lack of self awareness. The committee fails to note that Donnelly himself has been spending millions of UK taxpayers’ money (at least that which did not go into his own pocket) running absolutely, precisely the same kind of covert campaign of hidden influence propaganda that they are accusing Russia of running. They accuse Russia Today of bias as though the BBC did not have its own state propaganda bias. Yet again, the lack of self-awareness is stunning.

Now we start to reach the stage where all this sanctimonious hypocrisy become really dangerous. Before you read this next few paras of the report, I would remind you that the repression of every bad regime everywhere has always been, in the eyes of the repressive security service, defensive. It is always to protect the truth, to prevent the spread of the lies and disaffection of evil foreign influence. That was the justification of the Cheka, the Gestapo, the Stasi and every South American dictator. They were all protecting the people from foreign lies. Now read this from the committee, and consider what it really means:

33. Whilst we understand the nervousness around any suggestion that the intelligence
and security Agencies might be involved in democratic processes – certainly a fear that is
writ large in other countries – that cannot apply when it comes to the protection of those
processes. And without seeking in any way to imply that DCMS is not capable, or that the
Electoral Commission is not a staunch defender of democracy, it is a question of scale and
access. DCMS is a small Whitehall policy department and the Electoral Commission is an
arm’s length body; neither is in the central position required to tackle a major hostile state
threat to our democracy. Protecting our democratic discourse and processes from hostile
foreign interference is a central responsibility of Government, and should be a ministerial
34. In our opinion, the operational role must sit primarily with MI5, in line with its
statutory responsibility for “the protection of national security and, in particular, its
protection against threats from espionage, terrorism and sabotage, from the activities of
agents of foreign powers and from actions intended to overthrow or undermine
parliamentary democracy … ”.38 The policy role should sit with the Office for Security and
Counter-Terrorism (OSCT) – primarily due to its ten years of experience in countering the
terrorist threat and its position working closely with MI5 within the central Government
machinery. This would also have the advantage that the relationship built with social media
companies to encourage them to co-operate in dealing with terrorist use of social media
could be brought to bear against the hostile state threat; indeed, it is not clear to us why the
Government is not already doing this.
35. With that said, we note that – as with so many other issues currently – it is the social
media companies which hold the key and yet are failing to play their part. The Government must
now seek to establish a protocol with the social media companies to ensure that they take
covert hostile state use of their platforms seriously, and have clear timescales within which
they commit to removing such material. Government should ‘name and shame’ those which fail to
act. Such a protocol could, usefully, be expanded to encompass the other areas in which action
is required from the social media companies, since this issue is not unique to Hostile State
Activity. This matter is, in our view, urgent and we expect the Government to report on progress
in this area as soon as possible.

The government endorsed Donnelly/Nimmo operation identified Ian above as a Russian agent. I have no doubt they would count this article as Russian disinformation. They would set MI5 on Ian and I, and ensure our posts would be banned from social media. Only such a corrupt mainstream media as we have in the UK would fail entirely to note – and they have failed entirely to note – the extreme and illiberal aspects of this report.

There is a real danger identified by the report. But it is not Russia, it is the McCarthyite witch-hunt the report seeks to promote, ironically based upon an entire sea of disinformation.

By paragraph 42 the committee has left reality entirely behind in favour of a tour of Clintonland.

42. It was only when Russia completed a ‘hack and leak’ operation against the
Democratic National Committee in the US – with the stolen emails being made public a
month after the EU referendum – that it appears that the Government belatedly realised the
level of threat which Russia could pose in this area, given that the risk thresholds in the
Kremlin had clearly shifted, describing the US ‘hack and leak’ as a “game changer”,46 and
admitting that “prior to what we saw in the States, [Russian interference] wasn’t generally
understood as a big threat to [electoral] processes”.

Contrary to the committee’s bland assertion, it is now well established that there never was any Russian hack of the DNC. Mueller failed entirely, after spending US $32million, to establish either a hack or Russian “collusion” with the Trump campaign. The only “evidence” there ever was for the Russian hack was an affirmation by the DNC’s security consultants, Crowdstrike, and this summer we learnt that Crowdstrike had never had any evidence of a Russian hack either. While those of us close to Wikileaks have been explaining for years it was a leak, not a hack. We were ignored by the media as it did not fit with the official disinformation campaign.

The committee query why the UK security services were not alerted by the DNC hack to take additional measures against Russia. The answer to that is very simple. The UK and US security services share all intelligence, so the UK security services were well aware from the US intelligence information that there was in fact no Russian hack. Unlike their US counterparts, they were not led by Clinton appointed loyalists prepared to perpetuate and act upon the lie to try to serve their political masters. On the other hand, the UK security services evidently did not feel it necessary to dampen the ardour of the committee on this point when it was about to propose a large increase in their powers and their budgets.

I had already blogged on paragraph 41 of the report and its accusation of Russian interference in the election campaign, founded entirely on a published article on Medium by witch-finder general, the Livingston unionist Ben Nimmo. That article states, among other things, that many Independence supporters on social media also support Russia on Ukraine, and therefore must be agents of Russian influence – as opposed to Scots who happen to support Russia over Ukraine. It notes that a number of people who support Scottish Independence appear not to have English as their first language, and some have trouble with definite and indefinite articles; therefore, Nimmo concludes they must be Russian trolls. As though we have no migrants who support Scottish Independence – and ignoring the fact Polish, Lithuanian, indeed the majority of languages in the world, also do not use definite and indefinite articles.

Let us remind ourselves of Ben Nimmo’s brilliant identification of top Russian trolls, nine out of ten of which turned out to be ordinary Scottish Independence supporters who simply tweeted things Nimmo does not like, while the tenth is a news aggregation bot which actually has the word “bot” in its name. That the committee takes this stuff seriously is a fact so eloquent in itself, I need hardly say more.

When we arrive at section 49 we finally reach material with which I can wholeheartedly agree. The UK, and the City of London in particular, was absolutely wrong to have welcomed in with open arms the Russian billionaires whose fortunes had been looted from the Russian people in the chaotic privatisation process, where assets were seized often by brute force, sometimes by bribery. There is no decent society in which the Deripaskas, the Usmanovs, the Lebvedevs, the Abramovics, should be accorded respect. Dirty money corrupts financial and political institutions. The committee is absolutely correct about that.

But have these people been living under a rock? UK politics and society have been a stinking morass of corruption for generations. Saudi money has worked in exactly the same way as Russian, and has had a bigger political influence, leading to a quite disgusting blind eye being turned to appalling human rights violations and military aggression against civilians. The same is true of all the Gulf states. London has been awash for over 40 years with Nigerian plutocrats, every single one of whose wealth has been corruptly looted. When I worked at the British High Commission in Lagos, the snobs’ estate agent Knight Frank and Rutley had an office there, staffed by expatriates, which did nothing but sell Surrey mansions and Docklands penthouses to crooks.

Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Angola, Sierra Leone, there is not a blood diamond or corruptly acquired oil barrel whose proceeds do not wash up in London. Four of the world’s top ten tax evasion bases are British colonies. The committee was right to describe the City of London as a “laundromat” for looted money, but wrong to ascribe that mainly to Russia. That is without considering the disgusting activities of our own UK and US billionaires, who control our media and ultimately our politics.

I can join in the committee’s condemnation of Russian oligarchs influence in British society, and especially their influence as donors on the Tory party. But remember Mandelson/Deripaska. The corruption has no ideological basis except selfishness. The financial interests of British, American, Russian, Saudi, French, Malaysian or any other billionaires are entirely intertwined, as is their political influence. It is the billionaires against the people. The nationality of the particular billionaire is irrelevant. I strongly recommend this report by Transparency International on the massive involvement of “respectable” British institutions in facilitating obviously corrupt transactions.

Does anybody seriously believe the influence of Russian billionaires is somehow more pernicious in the UK than the Saudis or any of the others I have mentioned? Of course nobody believes that; this report only achieves its aim by a blinkered focus on a singular anti-Russian racism. I am not going to expound on any more of the report, because there is a limit to how much racism I am prepared to wade through.

But before closing, I want to consider how enthusiasm for the new Cold War has swept up pretty well the entire political and media class. There are of course those who were enthusiasts for the last Cold War, the military and security services, the arms industry and bottom feeders like Christopher Steele and Christopher Donnelly, who make a surprisingly fat living from peddling the disinformation the state wishes to hear.

But the “Russia is the enemy” narrative has been taken up not just by the traditional right, but by those who would probably self-describe as liberal or social democrat, by supporters of Blair and Hillary.

Most of the explanation for this lies in the success of Blair and Clinton in diverting the “left” into the neo-con foreign policy agenda, through the doctrine of “liberal intervention”, which was the excuse for much Victorian imperialism. The notion is that if you only bomb and maim people in developing countries enough, they will develop democratic forms of government.

This thesis is at best unproven. But once you persuade people to accept one form of war, they seem to become enthusiasts for more of it, particularly those who work in media. It remains the most important single fact in British politics that, despite the fact almost everybody now acknowledges that it was a disaster, nobody ever lost their job for supporting the Iraq war. Quite a few lost their job for opposing it, Greg Dyke, Carne Ross, Elizabeth Wilmshurst and Piers Morgan being among the examples. It is a simple matter of fact that the Iraq War’s biggest cheerleaders dominate the London political and media landscape, whereas there is no critic of the Iraq War in an important position of power.

But apart from the argument that we must oppose Russia because it is not a democracy (but not oppose Saudi Arabia because… well, because), something else is in play. The cosy liberal worldview has been shattered by a populist surge, as represented by Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Both events are cataclysmic to the liberal mind and need to be explained.

For some reason, many mainstream liberals, especially the well-heeled ones who control the media and are columnists therein, are unable to acknowledge the truth. The truth is that our apparently comfortable modern society left a large number of people behind, who suffered loss of status from the ever-growing wealth gap and believed their opinions were not valued by an urban establishment they despised. These people revolted and had a right to revolt. That their discontent was seized upon and diverted by charlatans to unworthy political causes did not nullify the just causes of discontent. Loss of wages, job security and social status has bedeviled the disenfranchised at the same time that the plutocrats have been piling up personal wealth.

The upsurge of populism is a direct consequence of the vicious inequality of late stage capitalism, seasoned with racist attitudes to migrants which were themselves triggered by large waves of immigration the “liberal left” in fact caused with their obsessive pursuit of foreign invasion and destruction. That analysis, that the capitalist system they so wholeheartedly espouse and the wars for “freedom” they so ardently promote are the cause of the political setbacks they have encountered – is unpalatable to the media and political classes.

They therefore look for another cause for the raw political wounds of Trump and Brexit. Incredibly, they attempt to blame Putin for both. The notion that Russia, rather than deep disaffection of the less privileged classes, “caused” Trump, Brexit and even support for Scottish Independence is completely risible, yet uncritical acceptance of that analysis is fundamental to this report. It fits the mindset of the entire political and media establishment which is why it has been lauded, when it should be condemned as a real threat to the very political freedoms which it claims differentiate us from Russia.


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283 thoughts on “The Russian Interference Report, Without Laughing

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  • Guy Thornton

    Of the seven oligarchs who looted more than 50% of Russia’s total economy during the 1990s, six were Jewish: Boris Berezovsky, Vladimir Guzinsky, Alexander Smolensky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Mikhail Friedman and Vitaly Malkin. That fact is incontestable

    • Squeeth

      They may profess to be Jewish but do they walk the walk? How many rich bastards who profess other superstitions are any more sincere?

    • Shatnersrug

      Of the seven oligarchs who looted more than 50% of Russia’s total economy during the 1990s, all 7 of them were white.

      • Tatyana

        Russia did not have the habit of importing slaves en masse from Africa or Asia, so there were only “whites” here. Take this into account if you really want to emphasize race. The chances that “whites” will become oligarchs were 100%.

        But what’s interesting is that according to the 1989 census, there were 128 ethnicities here.

        One ethnicity out of 128 prevails among olygarchs, with an overwhelming majority – let me calculate it for you – 6 of 7 makes 85%. Surely you may think that this is just pure luck. But in my logical system, that that is so strikingly different from 50/50 – is the result of deliberate effort, rather than a fluke.

        • Shatnersrug

          I don’t care about the colour of oligarch skin, or the religions or cultures they profess to be a part of. There is only one enemy of working women and man and that is the capitalist.

          • Tatyana

            Good philosophy, but nevertheless, in the real world, ethnicity continues to mean something to people.

            Look, in your West, the words “nationality” or “ethnicity” have a slightly different connotation than here in Russia. After the atheism of the USSR, the new generation here does not take into account much of the religious aspect, but perceives the word “ethnicity” as a descriptor of culture, traditions and interpersonal ties. For example, a “Chechen” will pay attention to appearance and expensive accessories, respect his older family members, and seek business contacts among his diaspora, a Chechen girl hardly would marry a non-chechen man and most probably she would be virgin by the moment of the marriage.
            You see? There are differences in the cultural, traditional and social code of different ethnicities. It is a fact. It’s true regardless of either you care about it, or not.

          • bevin

            The profession of Judaism is not really an ethnic category. Race is a very nebulous concept but to call Jews members of a Jewish race raises an unusual number of questions.
            Was the Gorbals boy, for example a Scotsman, a Lithuanian or what?
            I’m with Shatnersrug on this.

          • Tatyana

            Perhaps it’s worth explaining how the word Jew is perceived in my country.

            During the Soviet era, obtaining Israeli citizenship was the goal of many who wanted to repatriate to Israel. The citizenship policy of the State of Israel states that the applicant must be a Jew by birth, or a non-Jew who converted to Judaism. Thus, in Russia, both ethnic and religious aspects are meant by the same word Jew.

            Why was it important for the non-jewish population of the country? The fact is, an Israeli passport gave and continues to give its owner a number of advantages, one of which is the shelter from the investigation of the Russian authorities. The State of Israel does not give out its citizens, even if they are criminals.
            This fact gave rise to a whole series of frauds with Russian property, followed by impunity.

            As you can imagine, this policy of the State of Israel does not find empathy among Russian citizens. The same Israeli policy is being supported by Britain, who protects ex-russians on its territory (and their habit of living on a grand scale in luxury parts of London provoke’s more and more ‘love’).
            This policy is also supported by the United States, direct evidence of which is Browder’s bragging about his immunity from being sought through Interpol.
            All that doesn’t add charm to Jews, Israel, Britain or the United States – in the eyes of Russian citizens.

            I dare say, equality and fairness should be at the core of normal relationship. In this situation we observe how the balance of equality is shifted – one group (which we identify by both ethnic and religious grounds, see above), one group has preferences, thus the rest are discriminated in their right for justice.

          • Tatyana

            The above comment inevitably entails a discussion of the issue raised in Mr. Murray’s blog – about Putin and his commitment to Russian interests.
            Putin is indeed supported by the majority of Russians, because his policy is aimed at returning Russian property to the country.

            One of the recent events has sparked widespread discussion, namely the amendments to the Russian Constitution. Western media and russian opposition drew attention to the clause allowing Putin to be re-elected. (Note that it only allows to be a candidate again, and does not guarantee a new presidential term)
            But in Russia, much more interest was aroused by the clause banning foreign citizens from holding public office.
            And yes, many people believe that this is right thing to implement. Also, many believe that Putin is acting in the country’s interests and therefore deserves to remain in power.

        • N_

          @Tatyana- Or one could compare 85% with 0.37% and 0.11% which are the official figures for the Jewish proportion of the population of the Russian Federation in 1989 and 2010 respectively.

          @Shatnersrug – Do you think it was racist to point out that South Africa had white rule? Or is it only wrong to point something out when a bourgeois democratic regime denies it? Is it wrong to point out the role of say the elite private schools in England? If you want to fight the ruling class, it’s good to look at the composition of that class and its reproduction mechanisms.

          • Shatnersrug

            N_ why do you do that? Aggressively put words in peoples mouths, I agree with much of what you say, but there really is no need to be aggressive. Socialism without compassion is not socialism.

          • glenn_uk

            Shatnersrug: N should contemplate that socialism with hefty doses of homophobia and other bigotry ain’t really socialism either. Conclusion is that N isn’t actually a socialist or Marxist.

            By the way, are we still all set to starve to death in September, N? That is what you were screaming about a few months back. The supermarkets all seem to be remarkably well stocked, considering. Haven’t heard you retract these predictions – don’t tell me you’re one of those tiresome people who never admit when they’re wrong.

        • J Galt

          And that he was enormously rich!

          What does the little stone placed on the cross signify, is it an Eastern Orthodox thing?

          • Tatyana

            He turned to christianity 2 months before death.
            For me personally, such an abandoned grave testifies that the deceased was such an asshole that none of his three wives, nor any of his six children, wanted to honor his memory with something more prominent than this modest wooden cross.

          • Kempe

            The wooden cross is a temporary marker not unusual in British cemeteries. The fact that the grave has been neglected is not unusual either.

      • N_

        What ethnicity was the founder of the religion that uses the cross as a symbol again?

        The idea that Jewish capitalists don’t fight each other is a total myth. See the Abramovich versus Berezovsky case – the largest claim the English legal system has ever seen. There are many other examples too. See what happened to Meyer Lansky’s “friend” Bugsy Siegel. Or the history of the diamond trade (Rotterdam and Tel Aviv).

        If you look at the Jewish “oligarchs” (a polite Chatham House word for mafia bosses, or since they don’t dress as smartly as real mafia bosses “organised crime bosses” might be more apt) from the former Soviet area you will see that at one end of the spectrum there are those most of whose wealth lies inside Russia and who are pals with Putin. There are others who got out with their loot to Israel or perhaps other places and who really couldn’t care a monkey’s what happens to Russia and who think Russia is beneath their contempt – or in some cases not only Russia but one of the central Asian “stans” too if they “came from” there. See for example Nevzlin. Then there are many in the middle who have one foot inside Russia and the other foot outside, who can be further analysed in terms of where their centre of gravity is, and of course in many cases it is not fixed. Berezovsky spent many years trying to change his. Sometimes it has looked as though Abramovich’s may suddenly shift too. (Don’t assume they can only change in one direction either.)

        Once it’s understood that that axis of variation exists, you can then look at the role of the Russian and Jewish STATES and in particular their foreign policies (~ oil etc., and how they each want to influence that cocky new “nation” recently established in North America) and their intelligence agencies (which cooperated to help Trump get elected in 2016, but only one of them seemed much interested in helping Le Pen in France – and in case any naive person is reading this, the policy of the other one was not anything whatsoever to do with feelings about what some short-lived German regime did 80 years ago).

        An important part of the foreign policies of both of these two states is their psychological warfare efforts on the internet, a field of warfare in which they are in fact the world’s two strongest powers.

        • N_

          (The founder being Paul – just in case anyone was about to self-troll. Same ethnicity as the geezer the religion is named after though.)

          • bevin

            It most certainly is. There is not a shred of evidence for N’s assertion, which discredits him/her.

        • SA

          “What ethnicity was the founder of the religion that uses the cross as a symbol again?”
          Therein is the crux of the matter whereby ethnicity has become conflated exclusively with one religion, whereas there is a multiplicity of religions practiced by those of the Semitic peoples.

          • Rhys Jaggar

            Particularly as the Jewish people form only a small minority of the Semitic peoples, a very grave embarrassment to all the disciplinarians who bandy about the term ‘anti-semitic’ whenever a Jew is criticised for poor behaviour. I look forward to the day when some Berber screams ‘antisemitism’ for being hauled over the coals….

  • Gregor

    Some of these links might help provide some useful context:

    • Fwl

      And then there is Michael Cohen’s book Revenge due out in September.

      Is there a Roy Cohn memoir or even a biography?

      • fwl

        Also – having read Robin Ramsey’s recent Lobster comments does Bill Binney now believe that it was a hack or a leak? I’m confused.

        • bevin

          He believes, as do all sensible people, including the director of Crowdstrike, that it was a leak. Only hacks hold otherwise.

  • Tatyana

    Did I understand correctly that until I can handle the definite / indefinite articles of your language at the level as if I were born in an English-speaking environment, until that I will remain a ‘bot’ in the eyes of Nimmo & Co?
    Thus, given that I cannot change the circumstance of my birth in the Russian-speaking environment, this company of people simply blatantly discriminates against me, as soon as my first language (as well as e.g. nationality or skin color) – are beyond my conscious will?

    • Tatyana

      Oh yes, they are doing just that!
      This is a completely disgusting trait in human nature, which I will never be able to understand or accept – to choose a disabled member of the community and incite hatred against him, arousing mistrust and fear, while being perfectly aware that the hate-trigger feature is innate and can’t be changed.
      It’s just disgusting. This is stunningly different from everything I know about British mentality from your literature and culture in general. There was the concept of “nobless”, and the concept of “gentleman” and the concept of “the essence of aristocracy” there. It was revealed in the inner moral purity and sincerity and benevolence. In that generous well-developed moral system, the concept of Handicap was envisaged, not bullying.

      • N_

        No human being would claim to be free of what they themselves say is a trait of “human nature”. An android might. (And that is a JOKE. Don’t get wound up. This is only the damned internet! ? )

        • Tatyana

          Normal people are ashamed of such traits in their nature and try to overcome it in themselves, or at least hide it when in society.
          Do you mind more Fun Math? 5 names from the report are: Appelbaum, Browder, Steel, Donelli and Nimmo – a company of brave avengers defending Britain from the horrible russian threat. The names however don’t look much like traditional British names. So, can you calculate how many generations back a Nimmo couldn’t manage English indefinite artickles?

          • Feral Finster

            Tatyana, you really must control yourself.

            See, if ever you express your opinion about United States politics in English or in a public place, some unsuspecting American or naive and trusting UK citizen might read what you wrote and be led astray.

            Therefore, if you want to avoid further conflict, you must not ever say or write anything or otherwise express your opinion about these things, otherwise you turn into an evil “Russian bot”. Just like magic! (Unless, of course, you are an officially designated Good Russian, such as the supposed sources for the Steele Dossier. Those Russians can be trusted implicitly.)

            Seriously, that’s what the “Russian bot” hysteria boils down to, Americans cannot get their information from unapproved sources.

          • Tatyana

            Feral Finster,
            Thank you for your kind concern, but before I met Mr. Murray’s site I got through the “military initiation” on other resources, where I was very closely acquainted with a rich selection of synonyms for the expressions “Russian bot”, “Putin’s troll” and several others that are not suitable for a decent society (although I do not regret a certain amount of wasted nerves, since I was able to enrich my English vocabulary. Curious phrase formation and amazing wit. Most interesting!)
            Anyway, I am grateful for every piece of normal human friendly communication. For a Russian on the Internet, this is becoming a rarity. I cherish every bit of it.

          • Tatyana

            By the way, you reminded me of an incident that happened on another site. That was the discussion section on the site for crafters, where many participants knew each other for many years.
            One of my unflattering comments was followed by a completely discouraging post from a person calling for other participants in the discussion – “Am I lonely in that I don’t like foreign citizens who come to our site and say unpleasant things about our country? I find this most offensive. How long are we going to tolerate this?”
            Needless to say, it was the American lady.
            More of that, the site was international selling venue for crafters, each participant paid the same price for being there and everyone believed we are treated equally 🙂 The “our site” was a revelation for many.

    • Goose

      Indeed. that’s the crux of it. Russians aren’t allowed to express an opinion online, well, as far as Nimmo and co are concerned.

      The US can invade Iraq, Afghanistan, bomb Libya into chaos, put a military base in Syria (without any legal justification), impacting on surrounding countries. But are Russians allowed an opinion? Nope, according to Nimmo, they should stay offline!

    • Bayard

      Er, no, Tatanya, it’s worse than that. Just refusing to join in the “Putin/Russia is the fount of all evil” chorus makes you a “Putin bot”. This from an intelligent and well-informed friend of mine. Sorry.

      • pretzelattack

        a large percentage of democrats have swallowed the russiagate crap whole and clamor for more.

    • Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh

      It so happens that Scottish Gaelic has a definite article but no indefinite article.

      I can’t find the original Russian of the following prose-poem by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, but here (whimsically) are English and Gaelic versions —

      English translation by Michael Glenny (c. 1971) —


      In our back yard a boy keeps his little dog Sharik chained up, a ball of fluff shackled since he was a puppy.

      One day I took him some chicken bones that were still warm and smelt delicious. The boy had just let the poor dog off his lead to have a run round the yard. The snow there was deep and feathery; Sharik was bounding about like a hare, first on his hind legs, then on his front ones, from one corner of the yard to the other, back and forth, burying his muzzle in the snow.

      He ran towards me, his coat all shaggy, jumped up at me, sniffed the bones—then off he went again, belly-deep in the snow.

      I don’t need your bones, he said. Just give me my freedom.

      (Stories and Prose Poems. Translated by Michael Glenny – New York, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1971)
      Gaelic translation by Ruaraidh MacThòmais / Derick Thomson (c. 1977) —


      Air a’ chlobhs againn
      tha balach
      aig a bheil abhag
      air lomhainn,
      car-a-mhuiltein cuilein
      ach fo ghlais
      bho bha e na ghlas-ghiullan.

      An là bha seo
      thug mi cnàmhan circe dha
      ’s iad fhathast blàth is sùghmhor.
      Bha am balach
      an dèidh a leigeil ma sgaoil,
      anns a’ ghàrradh.
      Sneachda domhainn mìn ann;
      bha an cuilean
      na leum man geàrr,
      air a chasan deiridh,
      air a chasan toisich,
      am meadhon a’ ghàrraidh,
      anns an oisean,
      na bhreislich,
      le shròin fodha anns an t-sneachda.

      Thàinig e na ruith,
      le chalg robach,
      a’ leum thugam,
      a’ snotraich nan cnàmhan —
      ’s a-mach à seo,
      suas gu bhroinn anns an t-sneachda.

      “Coma leam na seann chnàmhan sin,” ars esan,
      “’S e saorsa tha dhìth ormsa”.

      (BÀRDACHD NA ROINN-EÒRPA AN GÀIDHLIG: European Poetry in Gaelic, GAIRM, 1990)

      • David

        I’ve just been on holiday, so continuing the small furry/independence meme, everywhere I drove I saw a small graffiti:-

        FREE CAT!

        This was confusing to start with, as there was no contact number, no indications of how the ‘gratis moggie’ might be achieved?

        After visiting the amazing Dalì museum at Figureres, I then realised it was a more abstract thing, and that I might start to see:-

        FREE SCOT!

        spray-painted on billboards, in The North, and less-wonder where I could collect my ‘free scotnat’ from?

    • Rhys Jaggar

      I, as an English speaker with a Cambridge degree and a PhD and MBA to boot, am regarded as a bot coming from your proud and ancient land in the eyes of the Nobel-worthy genius called Nimmo.

      You see, I use that term ‘cui bono’ a bit too often, particularly at this blog and that of John Ward.

      If they wanted to call me a Russian agent, far better to say I commit the heinous crime of talking to Russian women occasionally.

      But keep very quiet about me speaking with Ukrainian ones, American ones, German ones, Czech ones and Polish ones.

      Very non-PC.

  • np

    In the 1930s, the head of the KGB’s New York operation (Pyotr Gutzeit) suggested that Moscow should buy a US newspaper publishing company to spread pro-Soviet stories and try to help people get elected to the US Congress who were “capable of directing and influencing US politics”.

    These and other ideas irritated his bosses back home who regarded him as “a dreamer in a service that was becoming increasingly professional”. He was eventually recalled to Moscow and executed.

    Source: The Spy Who Changed History by Svetlana Lokhova (2018)

    • J Galt

      Peter’s “Good Times” ended then.

      He should resisted the “invitation” home like a few who knew what it meant did!

  • Geoffrey

    Superb article Craig. I particulary enjoyed your change of tune concerning those you used to brand as ” Racists” as people who have a legitimate grievance.

  • CasualObserver

    Any report that includes the names of Browder and Steele is bound to be of the highest order of bullshit possible. Probably 99% of posters here know that, but imagine the blank stares you’ll get if mentioning the names in everyday life 🙂

    • romar

      Well, while Browder is an obsessive Russophobe, and richer, and thus more powerful (his obsession gave the US intel the idea of a “Magnitsky Act” as a tool to persecute Russia), and Steele is just a crook, Lucas’ Russophobia is more entertaining in its . Some of his ravings are really funny.
      Anne Applebaum’s Russophobia is more structured and systematic, compared to Lucas’ grotesque rantings, and thus more insidious: her articles, papers and books carry more weight and have a longer-lasting impact.
      She is, however, just as sick as the others, for Russophobia is really a disease of the mind and heart.
      It is a great pity that these and so many sufferers spend their time, energy and money contaminating so many ordinary people who have no reason to fear-hate Russia.

      • Rhys Jaggar

        You equate integrity and logic with climbing the greasy pole.

        The first rule of greasy pole climbing is that nothing you say is a lie per se, it is just a means of sending out messages.

        So spouting some Russophobia BS means: ‘You can trust me to not let the side down’.

        Trashing Jeremy Corbyn means: ‘We are loyal servants of Washington’.

        Talking about ‘the Chinese Virus’ means: ‘Mike Pompeo is a good bloke, torturing SE Asians was just one of those things’.

        You cannot speak in anything but forked tongues to rise up the greasy pole.

        It really must be very tiring not being able to express oneself freely.

        • Blissex

          «Trashing Jeremy Corbyn means: ‘We are loyal servants of Washington’.»

          It means “we are devoted admirers of the Likud party”. Washington much prefers thatcherites, but they could tolerate a mild social-democrat, as they do in some countries, as long as they kept quiet on foreign policy, instead of being pacifists.

  • Robyn

    Matt Taibi’s August 9th article provides an interesting parallel to Craig’s latest. Steven Schrage, who undertook doctoral studies at Cambridge under supervisor Stefan Halper, traces the origins of the Russia-Trump fake news media frenzy back to what he has dubbed the ‘Cambridge Four’ – Stefan Halper, Richard Dearlove, Christopher Steele, and Christopher Andrew. Australian readers will be interested in the role of Alexander Downer who was, at the time, High Commissioner to the UK. It’s a must-read.

  • Gerald

    Cognitive dissonance is rife in Washington and London in the political classes (and their tame pets in the press) To admit the truth is to admit the absolute and catastrophic failure of neoliberal and neocon capitalism and western interventionist foreign policies of the last 40 years, it is why people are growing to despise ‘liberalism’ which has become the real casualty. I can’t see anything on the horizon that will change this in a ‘healthy’ way, just more populism, more chaos, more revolution and thus more fascism as a response. The British most of all need to be careful, with out underfunded overspending, obsolete military we simply can’t afford to get involved in a scuffle with Russians (most probably off the back of US stupidity – oh and we are going to see sooo much more of that if/when Biden gets elected) It may seem only a sliver of a possibility, largely due to Russian patience and maturity – someone has to be the adult in the room – but as we’ve lost 20% of our GDP so far this year the political classes are only too keen for distraction to offset another gouging out of society via austerity. These games can’t end well for the British because we have absolutely nothing of substance to back us up when reality comes knocking.

    • Blissex

      «the absolute and catastrophic failure of neoliberal and neocon capitalism and western interventionist foreign policies of the last 40 years»

      Please, please, enough with the moronic leftoid attitudes! For the past 40 years the neoliberals and the neocons have enjoyed booming living standards, as their incomes and wealth have ballooned, they have controlled politics and media, they have enjoyed worldwide power while wrecking their enemies, all paid for by the money and suffering of their servants and adversaries, with only a few setbacks.
      The sponsors and voters of the neoliberal and neocon parties are very satisfied with their performance in the past 40 years, they just want more of the same.

      If one is not a neoliberal and neocon the problem is not their “absolute and catastrophic failure”, but that they have been so successful and won so much.

  • Mary

    There always has to be a bogeyman for the gangsters-in- charge in the West. Next up is China.

    • romar

      The really sad consequence of this, Mary, is that most people in the West believe these gangsters, and end up internalising the fear thus created.
      More than in the UK, US citizens are currently engulfed in a terrible info-war that is tearing the country to bits psychologically.
      The gangsters in the “intel community” constantly feed the media and political class with terrifying specters of Putin stealing their election in November to keep his puppet Trump in the WH.
      Consequently, social media is frothing with fearful battles between Trumpers and Never-Trumpers, the latter camp now so full of fear and hatred that many openly declare they’ll emigrate when Trump is reelected – or else kill themselves. And it’s no longer if, but when, since the latest intel report tells them that “Republicans Are Working With Russia to Reelect Trump”, which means there is “no one and nothing to stop Putin reinstating Trump.” Especially since Putin is also running down Biden, by getting his troll farms to post videos of his shufflings and fumblings and insisting he is senile, and going on about his Ukraine connections ( (A report by William Evanina, director of the US National Counterintelligence and Security Center)
      “Just as they did for Hillary, see, and that’s why she lost an we got Trump.”
      And while this “Evanina Report” is just as manipulative as the one discussed here, the former is having a truly destructive effect on the American people, already worried about the pandemic, the Floyd unrest and especially the presidential elections – all of which provide opportunities of Russian meddling, or so the spooks tirelessly point out…
      Due to its vagueness (intentional?), the American public read more into the Evanina report than it actually revealed, simply because it was published at a time of heightened tensions, and an increasingly frenzied “fear of Putin” resulting from the lies of the UK-US intelligence community.
      It is so bizarre to see how Western spooks, in their irrational hatred of Russia, have now turned on their own people and are damaging them with a terrible cruelty.
      I think the British were more skeptical of the “Putin-influenced-Brexit” tales, just as hey were of the Litvinenko scam and the more recent Skripal saga, but the effect of their analogues on the minds of the Americans is certainly devastating.
      Will no one defend the people from these ghouls?

      • Rhys Jaggar

        Absolutely right, which is why we the people must withdraw from engaging with the MSM.

        I detoxified from the MSM 5 years ago, not that I ever really believed it. I spent 10 years trying to change it, then realised it could not be changed. So I refused to have anything more to do with it.

        Sadly, far too many still do.

        The spooks cannot use the MSM to control us if we do not use the MSM.

        They will try to do so even if we do not.

        But the more alt-media sites there are, the greater their work will be.

        We need to be nimble and move on each time we see an alt-media site become infested with spookery.

        To date, Mr Murray and Mr Ward remain relatively spook-free. Off-G and RT operate a bit differently, but are still worth scanning.

        I have not visited the Guardian website in 5 years and ignore the BBC news at all times.

        If you do not take drugs, you do not get addicted, do not suffer cold turkey and are capable of thinking for yourself.

      • Natasha

        “gangsters … ghouls”? Why not just call them what they are: psychopaths. A good start would be to demand all candidates for elections to public office, publish their own professionally prepared Hare / Checkley psychopathy test – same as many prisoners take, meaning there’s plenty of professional expertise and experience available. Let demand that MPs publishers theirs NOW. Nothing to hide if they score low on the psychopathic test, no? The rest of us, the 99% or so, who are not manipulative empathy free psychopathic shits, can start a conversation, grounded in psychological science, on whether we want these extremely dangerous people, hell bent on destruction at all costs in public office? So first, we have to identify and have a public conversation about psychopaths in public office – and there’s plenty to choose from, 650 or so candidates in Westminster for example. We can then begin designing better ways of not allowing psychopathic people to purse their elusive shot of pleasure at public expense, which they can never achieve, because they have no empathy.—psychopath-test-all-policymakers

  • Photios

    “Ian doesn’t trust us.
    Ian does research.
    Ergo: Ian is dangerous.”

    Et tu, Craige!

    Mind how you go…

  • Baalbek

    Excellent piece that skewers the nonsensical propaganda that is passed off as serious news these days. Unfortunately, pieces like this one are mainly preaching to the converted. The people who most need the scales pulled from their eyes tend not to wander out of the mainstream media reservation very often.

    The longer a person has been beholden to the state/corporate media, the more broken is their ability to think critically and independently. There is also the fact that many people, thanks to internet induced brain rot, only scan headlines or quickly skim articles rather than taking the time to read carefully and reflect.

    Blogs like this one, providing it doesn’t get disappeared or succumb to bit rot, will provide valuable clues to future historians, and people who haven’t had their capacity to think degraded, trying to piece together why western civilization corrupted and destroyed itself.

    • romar

      “… the more broken is their ability to think critically and independently.”
      And soon it’ll be their ability to think, tout court.
      I think the combined work of the spooks and media and other political propagandists is very dangerous for people’s psychological balance. I’m surely no alone in seeing the maddening effect it has on so many.
      You are right about “internet induced brain rot”, of course, but we should reflect on the probable outcome of this rot on society, especially when we see how keen the intel people are on feeding the media with frightening tales of the Russians – and now Chinese and Iranians – plotting to devour them.
      Collective madness is not far off.

  • Giyane

    ” How close they put their country to our military bases ” is pure goldfish bowl projection. Why did the goldfish choose to live in my house? Obviously to carry out its nihilist fantasies against myself.

    US politics serves up Disney fantasies, against which very stupid right wing policies can look sane and relevant. I can’t help thinking the UK scriptwriters , ie. Policy executives sit down with their US and Russian equivalents and agree a narrative which all parties can equally ignore, however insulting it may be to all human intelligence.

    The creme of the creme of British intellectual achievement is employed to create and discuss fantasy emotions so that the business of carving up the world can quietly proceed under the camouflage of fake inter-state tensions.

    Only the super stupid would be interested in dedicating their entire lives to the manufacture of fake news.
    But at the end of an entirely unsatisfactory life they might have a spanking stone mansion in the Cotswolds and a little address book of similarly bonkers people like Blair or Theresa May to invite to dinner in their fortified castles.

  • Bayard

    The only consoling fact is that the government don’t need a report like this to do what the report recommends. If they were going to do it, they would do it anyway.

    • SA

      It is merely a statement for history and to justify their actions to the public and to strengthen the propaganda by yet another ‘proof’.

    • Rhys Jaggar

      The report is just a signal to other governments that the UK is still the loyal yapdog of the USA.

      No-one really reads these pieces of drivel, they just serve as the basis for journalists’ headlines for a week or so.

  • Fredi

    The only ‘lie’ they could pin on the twitter guy was that he liked Ron Paul, and would have voted for him if he could have. Globally millions, myself included, felt the same way, as Ron Paul was the only credible US politician at the time, he could have saved that country and spared the World a lot of pain, but it wasn’t to be.

    If that guy is a Russian ‘bot’ then we need more of them. Being against unjustified wars of aggression that generally only benefit a bunch of armament industrialists and Israel is no sin. Every time they drag us into a war of aggression in the middle east, the justifications are always a large pile of lies.

  • Jo

    Fantastic. Thank you. The United Kingdom has become so corrupted …everything that we should aspire to has been turned upside down….and it is rotten through and through.The struggle to regain what we could be is now so overwhelming as to be almost impossible…eg current Labour Party. Fabric of UK society is threadbare if not falling apart at the seams.. a service economy based so largely on spending on social freedoms and wishes rather than manufacturing and industrial. Lawlessness in society and tribal like groups….a sense of powerlessness in the fight against crime…violent crime still seems to be so prevalent. Decades of problems of illegal immigration still continuing. Despite more monies on the NHS there are still largescale failures eg Staffordshire maternity situation. Huge wastes of money on fighting the virus due to false expediency. There seems to be so little conmonsense and logical linked connected thinking in government. Rhe UK internationalist perspectives such as monies spent on white helmets.. 16 billion on coalition against Syria…reliance on arms sales to Saudi for income…there seems to be no conscience much for our populous ourselves ….we are so low down on the list. Government seems to be so decided to follow the USA …..totally disastrous.

    • Stevie Boy

      Jo, “Government seems to be so decided to follow the USA …”. The UK is not so much as following the USA, as being led by it.

      • Our defence industry is totally controlled by US MIC corporations and that includes BAe.
      • Our future trade partners are dictated by the US president, eg. Huawei.
      • Our NHS is already effectively controlled by US corporations, and the Tories MPs, all of them, voted to sell off the rest.
      • The major US Corporations operating in the UK don’t contribute fairly, if at all, to the UKs tax incomes.
      • UK laws do not apply to US military and security personnel operating in the UK.
      • UK extradition treaties with the US are primarily rubber stamp exercises to support rendition to the US.
        Etc ?!?
    • romar

      Unfortunately, the people can no longer react against these terrible abuses and crimes: they have been conditioned over the years and decades to accept them as necessary to “deter Russia”. Everything is being done to protect them from Putin.
      And they have long been deprived on the ability to see that “evil Putin” is brandished as the boogeyman to scare them into swallowing all their propaganda, and no longer dare to assess the “Russian threat” for themselves.
      And the people are thus maintained in the prison of a make-believe world, where all their problems are caused by Russia “interfering in our democracy” – hence out democracy doesn’t function well, which is shy we have all those problems. Therefore, deterring Russia is the only thing that will improve our lives…
      Which means, in practical terms, that they – the people – have no role in solving their Putin-cased problems, given the obvious fact that they lack the means to “tackle a major hostile state threat to our democracy.”
      So leave it all to MI5, and don’t ask any question: just have faith and hope and love for our spooks, and all will be well…

  • Socrates MacSporran

    “Scott Brown, Neil Lennon, John Hartson, the Green Brigade and a Cardinal.”

    Thank you Craig, for that one line on its own. I really needed a good laugh this morning, and that one delivered.

  • Jo

    Very strange that Michael Cohen the lawyer of DT and petson who has known him longest in his political events too…..publishing a book soon where he seems to wish to reassert everything that we believe has been disproved against DT ….has he been bought and turned?

    Unless he was part of the whole thing from the beginning. Gonna get nasty out there folks….people are beginning to head for the hills .

  • Monster

    God. How was Edward Lucas ever perceived as a credible observer of Russia. This so-called author, whose books are dictated by British Intelligence, has the limited perspective of a star nosed mole. His lust for money was noted by the IntegrIty Initiative, alas his only outlet was an occasional puff piece in the Economist and a non-English newspaper in Estonia. Not good enough for taxpayers money. So, some behind the scenes manouevring forced Murdoch to grant him space, alongside the philosophic outpourings of Jeremy Clarkson, in his main UK rag to cut and paste the offerings of his Intelligence masters to a wider audience. His spittle flecked narratives, well known to the Soros funded European Council for Foreign Relations, cause much mirth at their gatherings, especially his pomposity during the Chatham House after-parties, well documented in books.

    • Goose

      Authorities aren’t bothered about Israeli interference, because they’re an ally. Ditto KSA and other Gulf monarchies and what they get away with in terms of pursuing foreign dissidents.

      Always found it incredible that those with dual citizenship, British-Israeli dual nationals, can go serve in the IDF, possibly kill and maim, possibly becoming implicated in war crimes – enforcing an illegal occupation – then swan back to the UK as if that’s no problem. If someone were to be involved somehow with Palestinian resistance, for UK authorities it’d be a whole different matter. But in reality the latter is more morally justifiable, it’d be similar to the hundreds of Britons who went to fight fascism in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.

      • Goose

        …Can you imagine a journo putting this point to a leading UK politician? It’d never happen.

        And then some officials wonder why people are turning away from the BBC and MSM and instead turning to blogs like this.

        It’s not about being anti-American or anti-Israeli, as the idiots criticising Craig allege, it’s about basic objectivity and fairness in coverage, something the UK used to strive for. What happened?

      • romar

        “Always found it incredible…”
        Ilhan Omar spoke of a “spell”. Perhaps she’s unto something.

  • Tom74

    Yes, and the left are again being diverted into the “Neo-Con foreign policy agenda” you mention with Boris Johnson’s latest travel bans. Under the cloak of a virus and ‘public health’, Johnson is stepping up his hostilities against the European continent on behalf of his bosses in Washngton. While the progressively inclined are being led up the garden path by the Guardian, BBC, Labour Party and other pseudo-left-wing outfits, with hand-wringing debates about A-levels and masks, the far right are tightening their grip on the UK, while also trying to stir up tensions on the continent. Sadly, it has been obvious for some time that democracy will not be enough to stop Johnson, Cummings and their evil associates.

  • Mara Moreau

    Craig, it was not Putin that was responsible for the bomb attack on the apartment block housing Russian military officers and their families, but Chechyn terrorists avenging strikes on their bases by the same military officers. Please listen to an interview by Afshin Ratansi of Going Underground RT with Aimen Dean. The evidence he presents was enough to convince Tony Blair, though M16 continued the ‘Putin did it’ propaganda. The discussion starts at 16 minutes and goes for about 5 mins.

  • Charley

    “Accepting for the sake of argument that the official British explanation of Litvinenko’s death is true and it was a murder by the Russian state, does that show that Russia is an “established threat”? It would certainly be an appalling abuse of human rights and show Russia is a threat to Russian dissidents, but would it really show Russia is an “established threat” to you and me?”
    Craig- this was an act of nuclear terrorism in a NATO state that could have triggered World War Three in a different time and place. Is that why you have a question mark over “the official British explanation”?

    But thank you for an otherwise brilliant analysis.

    • Feral Finster

      Charley: Hogwash. In the late 1970s, Georgii Markov was murdered using ricin, probably by the Bulgarian security services.

      No nuclear war ensued. Not even a small one.

      • Charley

        The murder of Markov was only arguably an act of terrorism.

        But it was not an act of NUCLEAR terrorism that endangered the lives of innocent parties. The reckless, polonium poisoning of Litvinenko ticks both boxes.

        Unlike the assassin of Markov, the bungling killers, Kovtun and Lugovoi could have killed scores of prople.

      • John A

        Markov was more likely killed by British ‘intelligence’. Litvinenko was smuggling the radioactive stuff from Israel, the plane seat he sat on from Tel Aviv to Heathrow was shown to have traces of it.

          • Phil Espin

            Charley, you have a strange concept of nuclear terrorism. How many kilotons do you think were unleashed from Litvinenko’s cup of tea? Or are you suggesting it was akin to a dirty bomb? Either way the suggestion that this despicable act could have triggered a nuclear war is risible to my mind.

          • Pigeon English

            YouTube Operation Beluga interview with Paul Barril, French Intelligence officer.
            BTW can anyone with good french confirm that at 4 min Paul says that Polonium 10 is used as medicine.
            Our friend Browder is mentioned as well.

          • Tatyana

            Mr. Murray, you may also be interested in the Andrei Lugovoy’s interview

            0:40 – “British justice is misleading the entire world community, because there was no public hearing. They just say “there were public hearings”, and everyone believes that since British justice is saying that, then this is the last instance. In fact that’s not true. In 2013, by decision of the British Foreign Office and the Home Office (we have papers signed by the top officials of these departments), the coroner’s investigation was suspended due to the fact that the materials were classified.”

            2:02 – “The fact that now (interview is dated 21 january 2016) … besides me and Kovtun, they are trying to involve the Russian state … suggests that the British establishment is preparing some kind of another adventure related to the aggravation of Russian-British relations.”

            2:35 – “Litvinenko was MI5/MI6 agent, this is officially confirmed by his wife and by some materials from the case”

            3:17 – “Litvinenko and Berezovsky died, but it was Berezovsky who was one of the main witnesses, who, incidentally, was ready to change his testimony on the eve of his death”

            The circumstances of Berezovsky’s death are extremely mysterious. On the day of his death not a single CCTV camera was working and all the security had disappeared somewhere. It was officially announced about suicide by strangulation, although it is unlikely that the deceased could have suffocated, and then after death, take off his scarf and put it aside for about a meter, right? I believed that dead people are not capable of such actions, but obviously the British investigation has its own ideas about the veracity of this.

          • Pigeon English

            I am sorry, I believed it was in this interview that was mentioned that traces of Polonium were found on flight between Israel and Uk.

          • John A

            The murder was over 40 years ago, nobody was ever arrested. It is many years since I read about it in more depth and that was one theory I came across, too long ago to remember where. But like the Skripals, MH17 and Litvenenko, it appears we are not allowed to veer from the official script.

    • Keith+McClary

      Why does Russia (supposedly) use these exotic methods of assassination, while The State of the Jewish People mostly gets by with conventional means?:

      The claim is that the Evil Putin does this to terrorize others, but I think the Palestinians are equally terrorized by SotJP’s plain old bombs and bullets (which kill innocent bystanders – Act of War?).

  • Cherrycoke

    This is wonderful. Thank you very much!

    Here are a few fragments of an even larger picture which I hope may be of interest:

    In case anybody’s wondering why the Intelligence and Security Commitee would select as its experts la créme de la créme de Russiophobia: Chair Julian Lewis is a veteran of Cold War anti-communist black propaganda operations with links to the Information Research Department as well as Brian Crozier’s Institute for the Study of Conflict and 61.

    Wiki on the Coalition for Peace and Security (Julian Lewis was the Research Director of the organization):

    “The CPS attracted criticism for not revealing its sources of funding whilst alleging that parts of the anti-nuclear movement were funded by the Soviet Union. The CPS was not a membership organisation and was financed by The 61, ‘a private sector operational intelligence agency” said by its founder, Brian Crozier, to be funded by ‘rich individuals and a few private companies’. The CPS was said to have also received funding from the Heritage Foundation in 1982.”

    Who was Brian Crozier?

    “Crozier provided advice to the British Secret Intelligence Service, to the Information Research Department (IRD) of the British Foreign Office, and to the CIA. Lecturing to Britain’s staff college for army officers during the early 1970s, when the Labour Party was in power under Harold Wilson, Crozier stated if the government went ‘too far’, it was the armed forces’ duty to intervene (he claimed that he was enthusiastically applauded). In 1982, it was revealed from the papers of a former Bavarian state security chief, Hans Langemann, that Crozier was an attendant of Le Cercle and headed a secret international group that tried to influence the West German federal election of 1980 by using secret-service connections and cover-up financial transactions to make Franz Josef Strauß Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany.

    Crozier was a co-founder of the group The 61, an organisation that wanted to counter Soviet communist propaganda.”

    Wiki, “Brian Crozier”

    Surely a predecessor of the II. Chris Donnelly not only was a member of the same political/military circles in the Seventies and Eighties, he is now once again of the opinion that civil rights have to be suspended in light of the “Russian threat” which jeopardizes “national survival”:

    “Rules for peacetime don’t work when you’re at war for national survival

    “(…) it’s important for us and not just for Ukraine, of getting the population to understand that it is at war, but it is a new kind of war; and get the political elite to learn how to fight the war; and thirdly to find a way to get the people to understand how to develop a war-time mentality that deals with this kind of hybrid war. And part of that is knowing what democratic institutions need to be amended or suspended to allow the country to fight the war successfully, and how to ensure that the population has faith that when the war ends – and that the war will have an end – that then the freedoms and rights which were suspended when the war started to enable the country to fight the war – will be returned to them.”

  • Feral Finster

    The United States and UK need a boogeyman, a Scary Enemy, shadowy and all-powerful to distract the masses’ attention away from a steady erosion of living standards and unending pointless wars, someone to distract from calls for reform.

    “We don;’t have time for that now, don’t you know we gotta fight Saddam/Milosevic/Islamic Terrorism (but not Saudi Arabia!)/Saddam again/Russia/China/Whatever!”

    • Goose

      Terence McKenna was one of the most enlightened observers. Here’s a few quotes taken from hundreds of hours of improvised public lectures.

      “Not to know one’s true identity is to be a mad, dis-ensouled thing — a golem. And, indeed, this image, sickeningly Orwellian, applies to the mass of human beings now living in the high-tech industrial democracies. Their authenticity lies in their ability to obey and follow mass style changes that are conveyed through the media. Immersed in junk food, trash media, and crypto-fascist politics, they are condemned to toxic lives of low awareness. Sedated by the prescripted daily television fix, they are a living dead, lost to all but the act of consuming.”

      When you look for guidance, direction, mentorship we always look towards institutions; I’ll go to this university or I’ll go to join the army, or I’ll do something somebody will tell me will give me a larger purpose, but it’s really yourself as the final arbiter and if you keep yourself as the final arbiter you’ll be less susceptible to infection by cultural illusion.

      Don’t transfer loyalty to ideologies, to money, to a party, to friends, all of these things are outside the core of your reality and centuries of programming have been laid on to us to take away the power of our own direct experience. We have really accepted the idea that truth descends through hierarchy, basically from Newsweek, and Time and the Washington post down to us as consumers of these various images of what’s going on. An empowered individual in touch with their own existential core can do what that guy did with the 18 tanks, it was an idea that stopped the tanks and it was an idea expressed not over state radio, not through the newspapers but by one person taking a stand.

  • Jack

    Looking what is going on in Belarus now its like Ukraine/Maidan all over, now EU threat them with sanctions, talk about meddling!
    Its like the western world do not learn from mistakes, heck even when Ukraine crisis is not solved the european nations move on to start chaos in another country.

    • Goose

      My take…

      The removal of Lukashenko is potentially a hugely healthy development for human development, expression, as he’s atrociously authoritarian. Nobody would want to live under such conditions … So , providing it’s a genuinely organic movement and external forces aren’t driving it, it’s a positive change.

      • Goose

        …If they do drive Lukashenko from power I hope all interested parties in civil society there have a plan, if they don’t have a plan they will become part of somebody else’s plan….Something the SNP should ponder.

        i.e., beware Victoria Nuland and co bearing gifts, and advice on who should run the country.

        As Henry Kissinger stated, the US only has no friends only interests, and Belarus will be seen as a pawn in its continuing proxy war with Russia.

      • Jack


        Yes I guess Lukashenko should have carried out quite a few reforms past years, then there would be no protests.
        Although probably a lot of people have no issue with such a leadership, it’s very common, especially in Asia.

        • Goose


          Any popularity he may have once had( mainly rural) has waned in the 26 years since he came to power. He rules with a rod of iron, ‘Europe’s last dictator’ isn’t just an epithet, it’s the daily reality. Were the int. media not watching the crackdown would be much, much worse too.

          We have to be consistent, you can’t want the Scottish people to take back their independence and not want the same for other freedom demanding peoples. There’s a huge concern external forces will seek to manipulate eg a tug of war between the US and Russia over the emergent Belarus’ loyalties, but that’s why the EU should try to help.

          • Jack


            I still believe he is quite popular mainly because there are no real alternative, let alone he almost got 80% of the votes (yes fraud is possible to a certain extent).
            I agree with you that the younger generation would definately see him go while the older, rural is ok with him.
            Overall he doesnt seem to play his card that good, protests could hardly come as a surprise to him and I agree with you that Belarus need to develop to its needs.

            Personally the issue is not on the internal – it is a issue for belarusians themselves – but external forces that try to meddle in Belarus, EU is not better than the US on this tip. And as one could have figured, Lukashenko have “responded” today by siding with Putin ( at the same time Russia seems to have bit of a lukewarm attitude towards Belarus so we wll see.

          • Goose


            “Lukashenko have “responded” today by siding with Putin…”

            Which is incredible, as a couple of weeks before the vote he was accusing Russia. Belarus detained 33 Russians who were accused of plotting a terror attack shortly before the presidential vote:

            “The men are officially accused of plotting a terrorist attack, and authorities have said they belong to the Wagner Group, a private Kremlin-linked security and paramilitary organization. ” from

            Now he suddenly loves Russia again? Stinks of desperation.

  • Mark Golding

    With an economy the size of Spain, it appears there is no limit to the almighty power of Putin’s Russia, a nuclear petrostate with close ties to China and Iran. The rub here that manifests from the British elite, the compliant media, and the pathologically mistaken sycophants loaded with Peerage gongs, titles, and an obsession for war, past and present, is that wrong is cloaked in a compulsion to grab the tiger by the tail and disseminate a misguided patriotism towards the commoners.

    This collective mental illness is a deliberate removal of nuance towards tyranny, towards subtraction of historical content, relevant comparison, proven facts, and more, skewed and cloaked by the absurd Bayesian thinking entrenched within the watchtowers of the British secret services and their gate-keepers..

    • bevin

      “.. an economy the size of Spain”
      This looks to me like something very close to economic illiteracy. It is meaningless. Russia has an enormous economy but it consumes most of what it produces . More than a century of sanctions, cordons sanitaire and boycotts have encouraged it to self reliance.

      • Mark Golding

        I was of course attempting to counter the attempt to pump up Russia as a massive threatening superpower which is simply nonsense and her prosperity (roughly measured by GDP per capita, living standard) does not correlate with fire-power. Russia’s predicted 2019 economic ranking is 11th, just behind Canada and in front of South Korea at 12th. At $66 billion, its 4th-place annual military expenditure was less than Saudi Arabia’s, and far less than the $600 billion of the US. Meanwhile, Russia currently has the 9th-largest population, and leads no economic or military union that can challenge the EU or NATO.

        Your comment on ‘economic illiteracy’ is perhaps a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

        • Jack

          I agree. That is what so weird about the russiaphobes: sometimes Russia is the almighty threat; next day it’s a “regime” that has a small economy and will collapse any day.

    • Tom Welsh

      Without prejudice to bevin’s perfectly correct and sufficient reply, Russia’s GDP, measured by PPP, is a little over $4 trillion. That of Spain is substantially less than half that. (And the UK’s is substantially less than Russia’s). Indeed, Russia’s GDP (PPP) ranks sixth in the world, behind China, USA, the EU (if we count that), India, and Japan. It is roughly the same as Germany’s.

      China, India and the EU have far larger populations than Russia; the USA has more than double; and Japan’s is not much smaller than Russia’s.

      “List of countries by GDP (PPP)”

  • Goose

    Getting back to the deeply flawed ISC report. The testimony of some of these Russophobic nutjobs, who probably see Russians on every street corner, is now going to change our laws. Their readiness to accuse their fellow citizens of subversion on the flimsiest basis … I mean, ‘cui bono’? ffs? Is probably going to result in a witch hunt.

    The govt says it intends to give MI5, GCHQ et al ‘new powers’ (I’d imagine they’ve got more than enough already) to find these Russian moles in our midst. My own view is that agencies should be able to investigate anyone, with a couple of vital safeguards:
    I. the investigations should be time limited, not rolling over into months, years like some Stasi-esque, file keeping police state.
    II. Notification – Authorities have to notify the subject(s) of their surveillance by law when their investigations have concluded, even if and especially if no further action is to be taken.

    These conditions should be a perfectly reasonable, in a country that claims it abides by the law and due process, and respects human rights. The only basis for not accepting those two conditions would be a desire to abuse surveillance powers. Andrew Neil (mentioned above) was flabbergasted when Tim Farron, the then leader of the Lib Dems, spoke in defence of notification (which was in the Lib Dem 2017 manifesto later dropped by Swinson for 2019’s) – Notification is law in some other EU countries and currently to subject of a case in the ECHR; the case brought against the UK by Liberty et al. This basic ‘right to know’, is a basic fundamental safeguard against abuse of surveillance powers and it must be incorporated in the UK. It would much harder to spy on people illegally, and abuse powers when they know that by law they are legally obligated to inform at some point.

  • John Gilberts

    Speaking of that crooked hustler Bill Browder, it seems he doesn’t just do anti-Russia/ anti-Putin material anymore. This from a recent standup at a Canadian stink-tank recently….

    Sanctioning Chinese Officials Under the Magnitsky Act: Bill Browder

    See if you can read this without laughing. I couldn’t. Perhaps it will give you a sense (or nonsense) of what Justin Trudeau calls his ‘feminist foreign policy’, which really means do whatever Washington wants. Including kidnapping Meng Wanzhou the CFO of Huawei,or sending Canadian Forces to arm and train Ukrainian Nazis for ‘Russian interference’ in an unfrozen conflict that may not stay that way much longer…

    • Mark Golding

      Meanwhile one tenth of GCHG is engaged in commercial subterfuge twix earvesdropping on negotiations, usually China’s BRI aspirations such integration with Italy and Huawei, Australia and Huawei, Chinese investments and the Belt and Road Initiative in Sri Lanka, debt relief in Ghana and funding for a substantial road construction project in Ghana as part of a $2 billion infrastructure deal which gives Beijing access to the country’s reserves of bauxite, a crucial source of aluminum.

      A plan to choke oil imports to China through the Straits of Malacca is fed with SIGINT from GCHQ to the CIA.

      Transactions from the China Development Bank (CDB), the Export-Import Bank of China, and special funds established for the purpose of BRI lending, such as the Silk Road Fund are intercepted at Bude and passed directly to the US. Here VPN tunnel encryption forms the major work of GCHQ mathematicians both symmetric (private keys) and asymmetric (public keys) mostly with the AES system.

      Propaganda is another ‘closed door’ facet of GCHQ esp. promulgating the lack of information and transparency to European companies seeking involvement in China’s Belt and Road Initiative and this disinformation passed for instance to the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.

      British military intelligence is, of course, active and involved with winning wars using pre-emptive nuclear first strikes again using Bayesian probabilities of a successful outcome. This if duplicitous undermining of Russia and China reaches end-point.

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