The mainstream media is, without exception, repeating the unevidenced claim from the Biden administration that Russia is about to invade Ukraine. They do this with no proper journalistic questioning or scepticism. They do this despite the fact that, in the last month, not only have we had repeated cries that invasion is “imminent”, we have had specific secret intelligence sourced claims from the Americans, that a Russian staged false flag attack was about to happen, and from the British, that there was about to be a coup in Kiev led by very minor figures. Both claims turned out to be nonsense.
Perhaps more pertinently, the media do this as though the invasion of Iraq had never happened and they had never before been misled by US and UK governments, citing intelligence sources.
Last night I watched the Press Review of today’s papers on both Sky and BBC News. They showed all of today’s front pages, all of which repeated, without qualification, the warning that Russia will invade in the next few days. The discussion, like the news output all day, took the accuracy of this as certain.
Wars are of course good for the media; wars bring news viewers and sell newspapers. They are also very good for the arms industry. Pity the poor arms manufacturers and arms dealers, who haven’t had a really full-throated NATO military action since Libya. Massacring women and children in Yemen and through drone strikes throughout Middle East and Asia is a nice little business, but nothing like as profitable as proper all out war.
A BBC reporter on Radio 4 this morning stated that the USA was sending troops to the Baltic States and elsewhere in Eastern Europe “to deter Russian aggression”. What a stupid thing to say. The “aggressive” Russian forces are inside Russia. The American troops are 5,000 miles from home.
One swallow doth not a summer make; I was hopeful that this reporter’s following example might lead others to engage their brains, but that was fanciful:
It is interesting that a number of people lost their jobs for not supporting the Iraq War, both in the media and civil service. Greg Dyke lost the leadership of the BBC, because the BBC had questioned the non-existence of the Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. David Kelly was murdered for giving them information.
But not one single person suffered any career detriment at all for supporting the Iraq War and for spreading the lying narrative of the Iraqi WMD. In the UK, Blair, Campbell and Straw are treated as gurus by the media. The journalists who now shill for war with Russia are precisely the same journalists who shilled for war with Iraq. Why would they not push fake intelligence now, when pushing fake intelligence then boosted their careers, as they enabled so many of the powerful to get richer still from war?
The UK’s “Dirty dossier” on Iraqi WMD consisted more or less entirely, where it used intelligence sources, of declassified human intelligence rather than signals intelligence. “Human intelligence” simply means something an informant told us, usually for large sums of cash. The “intelligence” on Iraqi WMD did exist – there was no shortage at all of Iraqi colonels willing to make up stories about WMD in return for briefcases full of dollars or krugerrands. What Blair and Straw did, with the practical help of fellow war criminals like Sir Richard Dearlove and Sir John Scarlett, was to ignore the filters that assess such “intelligence” for credibility, in favour of presenting the picture the government wished to show to the world to justify war.
Signals intelligence, by contrast, is communications intercept, and is generally more accurate (though of course there can be planted misleading communications). I can tell you that the NSA have shared with GCHQ no communications intelligence that indicates an imminent Russian attack. As those two deeply integrated agencies share everything, this “imminent attack” knowledge is therefore human intelligence, like the Iraq dossier. Alternatively it issimply a surmise from satellite and other monitoring of the movement of Russian assets.
Biden and Johnson both have an interest in stoking the fires of conflict to try to improve (well deserved) terrible poll ratings at home. NATO has an interest in promoting Cold War, its traditional raison d’etre. The disastrous results of NATO’s attempts to expand its role in Afghanistan and Libya have led to the organisation needing an apparent success.
For all these western political interests, they see a win-win over Ukraine, because when Putin does not invade, they can claim it is a victory and that they forced Putin to back down.
There is a real problem here. By taunting Putin with the position that Johnson and Biden will claim Putin lost if he does not invade, they are effectively daring him to invade.
This is terrible diplomacy, unless the USA and UK actually want a war – and that takes us back again to the interests of the military and security services and the arms industry.
I maintain the view that Putin is far too wily to be pushed into an invasion. If Putin really wished to escalate matters, he would be much more likely to cut gas supplies than to invade Ukraine. There are two points to make on this.
Firstly, Ukraine is said to be less dependent now on Russian gas because, rather than buy direct from Russia, it buys from third countries. But it is still Russian gas, which is being sold on by another state merely on paper. The multi-invoicing may provide some diplomatic cover and some protection against price sanction, but not against the tap being turned off.
Secondly, it is argued that if Russia cut gas to Ukraine, Ukraine could cut off transit supplies to much of the rest of Europe, reducing Russian income. But that would almost certainly happen more seriously if Putin did indeed invade Ukraine, which would almost certainly trigger Ukrainian destruction of transit infrastructure.
There remains much else Putin can do before invading. NATO’s ultra-aggressive attitude to Russia, insisting on encircling it with missile systems ever creeping closer, is unlikely to be changed in the short term. But Russia has already achieved the exodus of many NATO “trainers”, diplomats and nationals from Ukraine in the last few days.
While the West was looking the wrong way, Putin has also, with a tiny use of troops, greatly increased Russian influence in Kazakhstan, a massively resource rich country. That may well prove to be the most important diplomatic move of the year.
As for Ukraine itself, I annoyed some Putin fans when I posited that Russia’s annexation of Crimea was a pyrrhic victory for Putin. After 30 years of contention, it swung Kiev much more firmly into the Western diplomatic orbit and made the coup of 2014 irreversible, when it had been shaky.
The Minsk Agreements appear to be a very sensible way forward in Ukraine; in fact the principles embodied in the Minsk agreements appear to be essential to a settlement. They are really very simple, covering Ukraine gaining control of its borders, devolution and a high degree of autonomy for the Russian speaking areas in the East, disarmament and the withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Ukraine, release of prisoners and an amnesty.
The western media ignores or dismisses the Minsk agreements. But these were negotiated by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, of which both the UK and the USA are members, together with Russia and Ukraine. They were lodged with the United Nations as a binding international agreement.
Upon consideration and discussion of the proposals put forward by the
participants of the consultations in Minsk on 1 September 2014, the Trilateral
Contact Group, consisting of representatives of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and
the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), reached an
understanding with respect to the need to implement the following steps:
1. Ensure the immediate bilateral cessation of the use of weapons.
2. Ensure monitoring and verification by OSCE of the regime of non-use of
3. Implement decentralization of power, including by enacting the Law of
Ukraine on the interim status of local self-government in certain areas of the
Donetsk and Luhansk regions (Law on Special Status).
4. Ensure permanent monitoring on the Ukrainian-Russian State border and
verification by OSCE, along with the establishment of a security area in the border
regions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
5. Immediately release all hostages and unlawfully detained persons.
6. Enact a law prohibiting the prosecution and punishment of persons in
connection with the events that took place in certain areas of the Donetsk and
Luhansk regions of Ukraine.
7. Continue an inclusive national dialogue.
8. Adopt measures aimed at improving the humanitarian situation in
9. Ensure the holding of early local elections in accordance with the Law of
Ukraine on the interim status of local self-government in certain areas of the
Donetsk and Luhansk regions (Law on Special Status).
10. Remove unlawful military formations and military hardware, as well as
militants and mercenaries, from the territory of Ukraine.
11. Adopt a programme for the economic revival of Donbass and the
resumption of vital activity in the region.
12. Provide personal security guarantees for the participants of the
The second Minsk Agreement fleshes this out a little
Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk agreements
1. Immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions
of Ukraine and its strict implementation starting from 00.00 AM (Kiev time) on the 15th of
2. Withdrawal of heavy weapons by both sides on equal distances in order to create a security
zone at least 50 km wide from each other for the artillery systems with caliber greater than
100mm and more, a security zone of 70 km wide for MLRS and 140 km wide for MLRS
“Tornado-C”, “Uragan”, “Smerch” and Tactical missile systems “Tochka” (“Tochka U”):
– for the Ukrainian troops: from the de facto line of contact;
– for the armed formations from certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk oblast of Ukraine
from the line of contact according to the Minsk memorandum of September 19, 2014.
The withdrawal of the heavy weapons as specified above is to start on day 2 of the ceasefire at
the latest and to be completed within 14 days.
The process shall be facilitated by the OSCE and supported by the Trilateral Contact Group.
3. Ensure effective monitoring and verification of the ceasefire regime and the withdrawal of
heavy weapons by the OSCE from the day 1 of the withdrawal, using all technical equipment
necessary, including satellites, drones, radar equipment, etc.
4. Launch a dialogue, on day 1 of the withdrawal on modalities of local elections in accordance
with Ukrainian legislation and the Law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order in
certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions” as well as on the future regime of these
areas based on this Law.
Adopt promptly, by no later than 30 days after the date of signing of the document a
resolution of the Parliament of Ukraine specifying the area enjoying the special regime, under
the Law of Ukraine On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and
Lugansk regions”, based on the line of the Minsk Memorandum of September 19, 2014.
5. Ensure pardon and amnesty by enacting the law prohibiting the prosecution and punishment
of persons in connection with the events that took place in certain areas of the Donetsk and
Lugansk regions of Ukraine.
6. Ensure release and exchange of all hostages and unlawfully detained persons, based on the
principle “all for all”. This process is to be finished on the day 5 after the withdrawal at the
7. Ensure safe access, delivery, storage, and distribution of humanitarian assistance to those in
need, on the basis of an international mechanism.
8. Definition of modalities of full resumption of socio-economic ties, including social transfers,
such as pension, payments and other payments (incomes and revenues, timely payments of all
utility bills, reinstating taxation within the legal framework of Ukraine).
To this end, Ukraine shall reinstate control of the segment of its banking system in the conflict
affected areas and possibly an international mechanism to facilitate such transfers shall be
9. Reinstatement of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine throughout the
conflict area, starting on day 1 after the local elections and ending after the comprehensive
political settlement (local elections in certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions on the
basis of the Law of Ukraine and constitutional reform) to be finalized by the end of 2015,
provided that paragraph 11 has been implemented in consultation with and upon agreement
by representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in the framework of
the Trilateral Contact Group.
10. Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from
the territory of Ukraine under monitoring of the OSCE. Disarmament of all illegal groups.
11. Carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine with a new Constitution entering into force by
the end of 2015, providing for decentralization as a key element (including a reference to the
specificities of certain areas in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, agreed with the
representatives of these areas), as well as adopting permanent legislation on the special status
of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in line with measures as set out in the
footnote until the end of 2015
12. Based on the Law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the
Donetsk and Lugansk regions”, questions related to local elections will be discussed and
agreed upon with representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions in the
framework of the Trilateral Contact Group. Elections will be held in accordance with relevant
OSCE standards and monitored by OSCE/ODIHR.
13. Intensify the work of the Trilateral Contact Group including through the establishment of
working groups on the implementation of relevant aspects of the Minsk agreements. They will
reflect the composition of the Trilateral Contact Group.
The Minsk Agreements were endorsed by the UN Security Council. The UK and USA are therefore obliged in law to support them. Yet they have abandoned them in favour of the highly intransigent position of the government of Ukraine in refusing to accept any devolution to administrations in Eastern Ukraine. Instead the Ukrainian government insists on on a highly centralised Ukrainian nationalist state.
I choked on my tea two days ago when a BBC correspondent reported that Ukraine could never implement the Minsk Agreements, because it could result in some pro-Putin MPs being elected to the Ukrainian parliament from the Eastern areas. Remember that when they tell you they are starting a war for democracy.
Western warmongering is always disgusting, but still the more so when it involves abandonment of an entirely sensible framework for peace which they themselves initiated. The press and politicians all want a war. We have been here before, and we know that neither the people nor the truth can stop them.
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