Trains (mostly), Planes and Automobiles Part 4 211

Having entirely unexpected cause to become acquainted with the subject, I learn that all main railway stations in Germany have their own police stations. At Bochum, you have to walk round the outside to find a door with a buzzer, which nobody answers.

Heading back into the station, I approach the first pair of policemen I come across (the visible police presence on German stations is also remarkable). I explained to them I had a bag stolen and they walked me round to the police station which, once inside, is full of policemen, all carefully ignoring the buzzer.

I am ashamed by my lack of German and very impressed by the police language skills. But unlike his colleague in Frankfurt, this policeman made no pretence at all of interest in actually finding the thief.

He laughed nervously at my suggestion I was being targeted, having had two laptops stolen in four days. He looked at me suspecting I was not quite sane, and said it happens all the time. He just shook his head when I suggested the CCTV on Duisburg or Bochum stations might show the thief with the laptop bag.

He very quickly completed the theft report and gave it to me. I think he suspected I was engaged in a repeated insurance fraud he could not be bothered investigating, and just wanted me out of his hair.

We were staying in a particularly barren Mercure Hotel in a high block just opposite the station. I was on the 12th floor. Once checked in I decided that despondency would not help, and that I should turn the situation around by embracing the chance for laptop shopping.

Bochum is a city with dreadful problems. Leaving the next day we passed on the train a vast Opel plant which extended for miles and was in varying stages of decay. It closed down five years ago. Shortly before that Nokia closed a major plant in the city. Before that the mines closed.

If you go back further, three quarters of all the buildings of Bochum were destroyed by allied bombing in the Second World War. This was ironic because the city was predominantly Polish, one of those isolated populations left stranded by the tides of European history.

Large numbers of Poles were sent to the concentration camps alongside the Jewish population (many of whom were also Polish) and the rest put to forced labour. Additional slave labour was brought from Poland by the Nazis to keep the industries going.

As a centre of Ruhr heavy industry, Bochum was largely obliterated by the allies but most of the victims were Polish. With this horrible history, it seems churlish to note that the current shopping centre is just horribly modern and ugly.

I went to a large chain shop called Cyberport near the hotel. It had a great range of laptops but the prices were very inflated. Every laptop was marked not just with its price but with an interest free credit offer and the price of monthly instalments.

This explained the prices – it was a rip off, never never shop for computers. It was also an indicator of Bochum’s economic woes.

I next went to a flashy store called Gravis, where a very keen and polite assistant was all over me, but sadly they only sold Apple. I explained to him politely that I didn’t use Macs and was too old and tired to want to learn new systems. He replied they sold accessories not specific to Macs, like mouses and keyboards. I politely declined this rather random offer, and went in search of my next shop.

The streets of the centre were closed off for the Christmas Market, with little illuminated wooden kiosks everywhere and crowds it was difficult to get through.

These were in every city we visited, and great fun. But they had changed since I first saw them in Germany in the 1990’s, with much less selling of handicrafts and decorations, and a much higher percentage of alcohol and sausage stalls.

Bunches of people stood around in the freezing temperatures for hours eating and drinking. Bochum was a bit rowdier than most. It was snowing, and I was very much regretting that the thieves had got the Gore-tex gloves that had been a Christmas present from my sister.

Call me a grinch, but half an hour below zero with the Gluhwein is enough for me. Give me a nice warm pub.

Anyway I pushed my way through to Saturn, Germany’s big chain computer store. It was a huge shop, but the actual range of product surprisingly limited and customer service almost non-existent.

They had no model like the one just stolen. Then my eyes were drawn to a laptop with a glowing back and illuminated keys which constantly changed colour.

Colour-changing keys! I had to have it! It was a brand I had never heard of – Captiva – and it was half price because you were buying the display model.

Niels had helped me set up the Laptop of the Four Days with massive security, so I couldn’t even start up the damn thing. (The first stolen laptop had once been secured by Julian Assange with a process involving a gold plated USB stick. That too had been totally beyond me to get into, and much of that had to be removed).

Niels was horrified by my choice. It was a gaming laptop, he said. The money had all gone into graphics. It absolutely was not what I required.

If you can imagine somebody saying “Colour changing keys” in the voice of Homer Simpson saying “Donuts”,  that is how I replied. We bargained them down further from a half price 790 euros to 750 euros, and here I am! The keys were a sexy turquoise when I started that sentence and now they are the deepest ocean blue. What bliss.

Orange! They’ve gone orange!

We then had to get a taxi to the cinema, which was right on the semi-rural outskirts of the city, a lovely little independent venue in an old railway station building. It was a joint screening with Amnesty International, the cinema was full and the audience was not only comprised of committed activists.

I was also pleased to meet Bibi, who had been coordinating these events, and with Irmtrud Wojak, a local campaigner who has written a fascinating biography of Fritz Bauer. He was a great prosecutor who went after not just Eichmann, but the “respectable” Nazis and their enablers, particularly in the legal profession. She gave me an English copy which was to make train journeys pass faster.

The only problem with the location was that it was a long walk to the nearest restaurant and very cold and snowy outside. Niels and I had eaten no lunch or dinner so we were keen to eat while the film was showing, and we ordered pizza delivery.

I was just tucking in to my Hawaiian pizza, amid general comments on my bad taste, when my phone started pinging incessantly.  There was a whole stream of codes for two factor identification. They were from my various email accounts, from Facebook, Twitter, my bank, shops – a plethora of accounts.  All coming through almost simultaneously.

This meant that somebody had got past the password and fingerprint protection on one of the two stolen laptops, and then got through the passwords on the individual accounts (which had all been changed after the first theft).

The question was, had they access to my phone?

I will confess this put me in a state of some shock.  I had been trying very hard not to let the laptop thefts get to me. On the first laptop, I had convinced myself some random thief may have just pinched it when I was in the toilet, even though it was obviously outdated, filthy, cracked and in poor condition.

But the theft today was inexplicable. We had changed into that train at Frankfurt airport station, and that first class compartment was absolutely heaving with expensive luggage.

There were many choices to steal that looked much more potentially valuable than my twenty year old, large and very battered laptop bag. The luggage racks right by the exit doors were overflowing with expensive bags of all shapes and sizes.

The risk and technique required to lift my old bag from the overhead rack right above our heads in the middle of the carriage made no sense as a random theft, when many almost risk free thieving options were available.

At the micro level my bag was next to Niels’ camera bag. The contents of that were ten times more valuable and the bag looked like that would be the case. But it was not taken.

When I blew the whistle in 2005 on extraordinary rendition and torture, I was for a time subject to the very close and obvious attentions of the security services. That died down, but at times flared up again, particularly around interactions with Wikileaks.

In the Spanish case against UC Global for spying on Julian, on his lawyers and on others in the Ecuadorean Embassy, which included spying on me and hacking my phone, and following and burgling several people, Julian’s Spanish lawyer Aitor Martinez has told me that the evidence shows the CIA were “obsessed with” me as a target.

So none of this was new to me. Let me put it this way.

I am an admitted whistleblower of Top Secret information (to compare, nothing Chelsea Manning disclosed was above Secret). I collaborate with Wikileaks. I am at the most hardline end of supporters of Scottish Independence. I reject NATO, nuclear weapons, Israel and neo-liberalism. I have high level friends and contacts across the globe. If the security services are not targeting me, what are they doing?

I know the capabilities of the security services, and I have always assumed that they have access to the entire contents of my laptop anyway. Encryption may work for avoiding some mass surveillance, but not for individual targets when the state are prepared to put in the resource.

I also choose openness to my fellow man. I have no desire to view the world through a fug of suspicion. I have read the comments on previous instalments from the wise people who tell me that they never travel without a moneybag around their waist and their laptop bag tied to their legs.

Well, that is simply not who I am. The seven year laptop that was first stolen had been with me everywhere for hundreds of thousands of miles. It had traveled over much of Africa several times. It had been to the United States more than once. It had been simply all over Europe.

I had left it unattended while going to the loo on a train or in an airport lounge, many scores of times. I had left it sitting in hotel rooms in Washington DC. Once or twice I have checked it in to a flight. It had sat at the back of a bar at Doune the Rabbit Hole.  It has hung from restaurant coat racks. It has sat in the back of a pick-up in Ghana.

That was just that one laptop. I have used a succession of laptops for around thirty years and always acted in the way I describe. I have lived in Russia and Poland and Ghana and left my laptop bag on seats when I go dance, or on a table in a conference while I have some lunch. None had ever been stolen.

I could have spent thirty years with my laptop tied between my legs, but that would not be me.

If you choose to live that way, do what makes you feel happy and safe. But let me point out the logical fallacy that because you obsessively tie yourself to your laptop, it does not follow that anybody would have stolen it had you not done so.

Anyway, while two random thefts of laptops in four days was not impossible, I do not believe it was that, particularly given the quite extraordinary circumstances of the second theft.

This was also particularly annoying because of the loss of the other contents. The gloves I have noted. I had also lost my reading glasses, which are very essential, my phone charger, my bank verification machine, all the receipts from my trip and a variiety of other letters and documents.

With all those two factor verification notices coming through, I needed to get back to the hotel, set up my new laptop and change every password I have. But the audience was now waiting to hear me speak.

I am nothing if not an old trouper, so I went on. I believe it went very well. But frankly my mind was so frazzled I do not remember anything that evening after the phone started pinging.

Back at the hotel, Niels started setting up my new laptop with dizzying layers of disc encryption and self-destruct mechanisms.

Everything now had passwords of enormous length and complexity, containing characters I had no idea existed, from an external random generator.

Presumably, like the monkeys, if you kept it going infinitely you would get the complete works of Shakespeare.

It was 2am before I could actually start getting into my accounts.

There was no evidence that anybody had got past the two factor identification and actually been inside anywhere. As I say, I had always assumed they can remotely anyway, and I suspect most likely the whole thing is just an attempt at intimidation.

Most importantly of all, none of Niels’ security installations had stopped the keys from changing colour.

Merry Christmas Everybody.


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211 thoughts on “Trains (mostly), Planes and Automobiles Part 4

1 2
  • AG

    This is a lengthy one. So, my apologies:

    Jeremy Corbyn will be visiting Berlin for the premiere of the documentary “The Big Lie”. January 15th, Babylon Cinema.

    * * *

    And a book recommendation: Nicolai Petro´s “The Tragedy of Ukraine”, published by De Gruyter. Brand-new.

    I urge everyone to read it.

    Only downside, the price. But libraries have copies already.

    Of course I would be interested to hear Mr. Murray´s view on this: Nationalistic Ukraine.

    For my part, I think Petro´s work is an essential study.

    Attempt to comment on it:

    The country is sinking into nationalism. But that´s not a new phenomenon.

    Petro whose empathy I admire calls it nationalism. As a German citizien I call it right-wing/fascism.

    The nationalistic sentiment goes way beyond single places such as large cities in Western Ukraine.

    And it´s not just restricted to The Right Sector and Svoboda. Maidan was just the tip of the iceberg.

    Being anti-Russian has apparently become an almost ubiquitous ideology in the political and administrative sphere.

    I am saying “apparently” because this particular piece of info was new to me.

    From my limited experience with ex-pat Russians and Ukrainians nationalism towards Russians, hatred towards Russians, was never part of this.

    Instead there was an internationalism at play above such profanities.

    But apparently I was very wrong. At least regarding the political class in Ukraine in power which has virtually wiped out any progressive domestic project directed towards peaceful resolution.

    Page after page, footnote after footnote, Petro is laying out how the belligerence and the absolute denial of cooperation, of compromise and the lack of benevolence have become an extremely dangerous anti-Russian nationalistic project.

    And this anti-Russian ideal is not just theoretical. It manifests itself in laws, violence, suppression.

    According to Petro much of this has nothing to do with Russian politics on the gorund.
    It´s endemic.

    The original avantgarde of this, what we now know as Right Sector and Svoboda, has been cultivating plans and ideology form the Ukrainian Nazi groups from the 30s and 40s since the early 1990s.

    It´s like a virus that was frozen for 50 years and has come back to life.

    Honestly I thought that such allegations were sometimes exaggerations when reffering to the country as a whole.

    But this is serious stuff.

    I mean not just for Ukraine but at least for Europe. And if it goes south, well that would apply to everyone.

    Even more so as “we” are converting this place into some kind of, to quote the Ukrainian government, “East European Israel”.

    Which is intended as a serious threat to the Russians.

    Even considering to supply these people with nuclear arms is utterly insane.
    There is a fanaticism that is deeply disturbing.

    Well, read the book.

    Petro is not a political activist with some agenda.
    He is a great scholar who follows what he finds.

    He believes in peace. He is sympathetic towards a Ukrainian nationalistic project as long as it leaves space for federal ideas.

    But the records and documents he has unearthed are, well breath-taking.

    Just three exemplary terms: “nationalistic suicide economics” / “chaotic Covid-management (Boris Johnson´s idiocy pales in comparison) / boycotting Minsk-2 over and over and over again.

    Btw: Poroshenko´s, Merkel´,s and now Hollande´s comments on the „true“ purpose of Minsk Accords (comments that I don´t buy) correspond with radio comments by, I think former Ukrainian Foreign Secretary from 2020: No interest in Minsk, only to gain time for military build-up.

    But that was on Radio Svoboda, not CNN , so nobody in Europe took notice.

    So the concept of „subterfuge“ is not new.

    And those who want a little example of the kind of racism I am speaking of, read this long interview with Oleksandra Koval (now that´s from my research), former boss of the Ukrainian Literature Forum I believe.

    It´s from May, a long conversation with Interfax.

    Use for translation if necessary.

    She wants to cleanse Ukrainian libraries of Russian literature. She estimates the purge of around 100 mio. books.

    And in case you didn´t know: It´s all Dostoevsky´s fault.

    (my comment: After all American and British literature is benign, and never had any sign of imperialism or sadism and what not. If you follow her lead.)

    • Stevie Boy

      I suspect there is more, much more to actually having a nuke than just having a big boy in the cupboard at the defence ministry left behind by your old bosses. You need the infrastructure, you need the delivery systems and you need the technical capabilities to continually monitor and maintain what you have. I suspect Ukraine and the other ex-soviet nuke armed satellite nations couldn’t realistically support having nukes without mother Russia, plus at that time the west didn’t want potentially rogue nations to have nukes. Although the situation has changed, politically, now, the only way Ukraine would ever have nukes would be NATO/US nukes – hence the current war.

      • AG

        re: nuclear arms´ development

        This is from historian Geoffrey Roberts´, University College Cork, contribution –

        “Now or Never’:The Immediate Origins of Putin’s Preventative War on Ukraine”

        to the Dec. issue of “Journal of Military and Strategic Studies”

        Putin replied:
        We take it that these words were primarily addressed to us. I want to say that we have heard them. Ever since Soviet times, Ukraine has had fairly broad nuclear competencies, they have several nuclear power units and the nuclear industry is fairly well developed, they have dedicated schools, there is everything there to solve this issue much faster than in those countries which are solving matters from scratch…
        They only lack one thing – uranium enrichment systems. But this is a matter of technology, it is not unsolvable for Ukraine, it can be remedied quite easily. As to delivery vehicles, they have old Soviet-made Tochka-U missiles with a range of 110 kilometres. This is also not a problem in view of the competencies, say, at Yuzhmash, which used to manufacture intercontinental ballistic missiles for the Soviet Union.
        What is the threat to us? The appearance of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine is a strategic threat to us. Because the range can be extended from 110 kilometres to 300, to 500 – and that is it, Moscow will be in the strike zone. This is a strategic threat to us. And that is how we took it. We definitely must and will take it very seriously (…)”

        and Roberts eventually: “(…) Doubtless, his professed fears of a future, nuclear-armed Ukraine were overstated, but the unfolding public narrative of his path to war strongly suggests that this may have been the factor that tipped the balance of his calculations in favour of an invasion.(…)”

        re: Ukraine – the raw material is in their mines I assume. Only thing left are the centrifuges or power plants for enrichment. That would make for an Iran 2.0 case but with the good guys on Ukraine´s side.

        • Stevie Boy

          Yes, I take your point, but digging stuff out of the ground, enriching it and then manufacturing a working warhead is a solely technical but not insignificant or quick task, and although I trust Putin more than any western ‘leader’, I wouldn’t expect him to underplay Ukraine’s capabilities. The fact is that within the first week of the special operation Ukraine was effectively neutralized/beaten – but – the risk has never been Ukraine, it is and always has been NATO/US expansion into Ukraine.

          • AG

            “the risk has never been Ukraine, it is and always has been NATO/US expansion into Ukraine.”

            oh, absolutely.

            I only brought up the minor Ukraine issue since many leftists are now arguing in reference to The Budapest Memo from 1994 that those concessions back then were actually the cause for all the bad things happening today.

            Which is absolutely dumb on so many levels.

            And I was therefore thankful for the Responsible Statecraft review just this morning.

            But even then: I have found it almost impossible to convince people. It´s mindboggling how blind and stubborn they are.

            Nothing changed since Galileo and the telescope as described by Brecht .

      • Goose

        It would have crippled Ukraine financially and have been of little or no security worth in their post-2014 coup, civil war. For it’s not just about having nukes it’s about supporting infrastructure and a viable means of delivery with MIRV, and interception evading hypersonic becoming essential factors in forming a credible threat. Maintaining modern thermonuclear weapons is prohibitively expensive.

        Nuclear weapons need constant maintenance or servicing; the key isotope, Tritium – used to boost the all-important ‘yield,’ decays with a half-life of ~12.3 years and thus needs topping-up or replacing, otherwise the nuclear explosive ‘yield’ drops and the weapon effectively becomes like a dud firework.

        All of the known nuclear powers: US, UK, France; Israel, India, Pakistan, N.Korea and Russia, China have extensive service infrastructure to make sure the weapons remain effective. Those saying Russia’s nukes probably won’t work are idiots given their regular servicing. It’s reported the US has a major problem with supplies of Tritium, mainly obtaining it and repurposing from their old nuclear weapons stockpiles.

        • AG

          Putin´s comment has to be read in context with Zelensky´s demand for nuclear capability articulated at the Munich Conference in February. Which I suppose would have entailed starting with an infrastructure that you are describing for state-of-the-art weaponery.

          But even an old style 15kt Plutonium bomb is horrendous enough if some crazies wished for an escalation or retaliatory strike like denotating such a device on the Crimean Peninsula. Eventually the dead and wounded won´t care how advanced the bomb was. And neither would Russian High Command.

          (Imagine how the US would react to any threat against Pearl Harbour, merely 4000 miles off their natural coast. Their exaggeration of the Chinese Diesel submarine fleet is just laughable)

          • Goose

            Zelensky was probably just deliberately goading the Russians at the behest of his US backers. US and UK geopolitical goals have clearly been to diminish a geopolitical rival(Russia), by ending Europe’s (esp. Germany’s) dependence on Russian gas. In this, the US seems to have succeeded after Russia took the bait. by invading.

            Those who now wish for a negotiated settlement are derided as appeasers and cowards, even people like former hawk Henry Kissinger are being called wimps. But what is the alternative? Further escalation? If Russia bolsters support in the captured previously pro-Russia areas, with Russian mainland ‘settlers’ to use the Israeli term and playbook, ‘changing the realities on the ground’ as the expression goes, moving them into occupied Ukrainian territory -Western hypocrisy much on the never mentioned Israel? If Russia do that, what hope of Ukraine ever fully regaining that territory back by force? Ukraine seems locked into a hopeless situation that only really suits the US and EU plus US-lackeys like von der Leyen and Burrell, plus the sketchy, once pacifist now hawkish, German greens, who are all singing from the same crazy hymn sheet .

          • Pears Morgaine

            Could somebody pinpoint just where Zelensky makes his demand for nuclear weapons. I’m struggling to find it.


            All and sundry must know that it would’ve been an impossible fantasy. There’s no way any country is just going to give away their nuclear weapons. As and when Ukraine joins NATO the US might station nuclear weapons in the country but they’d remain US property and firmly under American control. As already pointed out Ukraine can’t afford to develop their own either.

          • Goose

            Pears M

            I hardly think Russia, with their capital Moscow, a short flight time away, would be in any way comforted knowing the missiles pointed at them across the border were safely under the control of the US. Hypothetically, how do you think the US would react to Russian or Chinese nuclear capability being based in Nova Scotia? Would you seriously contest Washington based politicians be okay with that?

            Do you think they’d shrug and say, it’s Canada’s sovereign decision, and leave it at that? I hate the invasion, but there was some logic to trying to end Ukraine’s NATO ambitions and showing the west that Russia are serious about their red lines. This, even though at the same time, I’m equally appalled by the violence.

          • Pears Morgaine

            My point was that nobody is going to provide Ukraine with their own nuclear weapons.

          • Goose

            The technical question of ‘owns’ them, is a distinction that’s irrelevant, it’s where they are stationed. Look at the Cuban missile crisis, Cuba wasn’t taking ownership of the planned systems, was it?

            The US wouldn’t tolerate RUS or CHN missiles in Nova Scotia and tbh nor should they have to. It’s an act of extreme provocation stationing them so close to a stated geopolitical rival.

        • AG

          (re: missing reply button below)

          strange bed-fellows as of late – Chomsky & Kissinger???

          After reading the latest Nicolai Petro study in Ukraine, it appears not improbable that a constant state of emergency is of viable interest to the nationalist forces who have gained the upper hand.

          If one takes their public comments seriously near-war, constant crisis was desired by them.
          Of course because under peace terms their incompetence in policy-making and constructive governance would cost them elections eventually.

          So “what hope of Ukraine ever fully regaining that territory back by force” – that mantra would be the key to secure power.
          Better to be king in a partly destroyed Ukraine than back-bencher in a peaceful and fully restored country.

          as to the question of “bait” – the 1 Mio.$ question. Was it a bait or was there no alternative?

          I like to believe first, of course, as any sane person. But then, US geopolitics is not navigated by sanity.

          • Goose

            The thing is, Zelensky has gotten himself into a position politically where he simply can’t back down – the Azov battalion, Svoboda and other ultra-nationalist forces within the country wouldn’t allow him compromise by implementing Minsk, so they certainly wouldn’t countenance handing territory to Russia now after all this. Equally, the US has always been obsessed with its national pride, no peace without honour, Nixon’s variation, ‘peace with honor,’ re. Vietnam withdrawal. They certainly won’t want to allow Russia to claim anything that looks like a victory. There is no simple solution whereby Ukraine cedes territory for peace with so much Ukrainian, EU and US opposition to that. But Putin won’t back down either, and regardless of European political wishes, it’s unlikely any successor could or would either, Russia certainly wouldn’t abandon Crimea after spending so much blood and treasure.

            The impasse..

            That’s what is so scary about this conflict; namely, the intractability on all sides, nobody wants to back down fearing loss of face. Maybe if the UN had more clout they could play a constructive role here, but the US and UK have diminished the UN’s importance, in defence of Israel, to the point where its leadership is a handpicked joke. The EU has a pair of US lackeys in von der Leyen and Borrell. Quite how the EU thinks this constant upping of the ante escalation will end (Ukraine boasting today US GPS-guided HIMARS took out 400 Russian troops over the New Year) ,Idk? Maybe Brussels has well stocked, very deep, large nuclear bunkers for von der Leyen and Borrell to go to?

          • Goose

            There’s an air of unreality about EU, US leaders’ and other prominent western officials’ commentary on Ukraine.

            John Bolton, remember him? He has a piece in the Telegraph today, talking up a Ukraine victory, it finishes basically with a rallying cry of onwards to victory in 2023.

            Putting aside the unlikelihood of that, let’s go there: what would victory for Ukraine look like? Martial law in the East with US/UK/EU peacekeepers acting as target practice for furious, disgruntled separatists? UN peacekeepers then – with expendable soldiers drawn from poorer nations? Separatists supplied with advanced weaponry flowing across an impossibly porous border with Russia. Maybe some border skirmishes with Russian troops thrown in for good measure? The US public simply wouldn’t understand planes flying home full of coffins draped in US flags after the $100bn + proxy war they funded was supposedly won.
            Think Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles, only on steroids. With the Eastern rebels possibly mounting a Russian backed brutal terror campaign across all of Ukraine. Isn’t the truth, that Zelensky should cut rebellious areas free, that is, if they really want to go? How else could a shattered Ukraine hope to rebuild without any unity and a reignited civil war?

          • Pears Morgaine

            What would a Russian victory look like? Ukraine annexed like Crimea and the Donbas (Putin has already said Ukraine is not a sovereign nation but a part of Russia) with a puppet government. Hundreds of thousands of Russian troops trying to hold down vicious partisan activity, daily sniping and IEDs (funding and training by NATO), with equally vicious reprisals. It could turn into another Afghanistan.

          • Bayard

            “What would a Russian victory look like?”

            That would depend on what it consisted of. The Russians would be mad to try and take all of Ukraine into the RF and, in any case, no-one has talked about doing it. The most likely model is that the Donbass and coast become part of Russia and the rest of Ukraine remains as a separate state, but neutral. There wouldn’t be much “vicious partisan activity, daily sniping and IEDs (funding and training by NATO), with equally vicious reprisals” because in the part that has become Russia, the population would be almost entirely Russian and in the other part, who and what would the partisans be fighting against?

          • Goose

            I posted this elsewhere..

            Reading US newspaper reports, and it appears to be dawning on the US (Pentagon and State Dept) that Ukraine cannot win.


            Well, what is required for a lasting, stable peace Ukraine desperately needs?


            Either one side has to be comprehensively defeated and sign an unconditional surrender, à la Japan, .September 2, 1945. Or, you need a mutually agreed cessation of all hostilities between the warring parties, with BOTH sides on board signed up and a fully negotiated, agreed settlement. On the first, Ukraine isn’t strong enough to push the Russians all the way back to Moscow – they couldn’t even take back separatist areas of Ukraine
            Maybe Russia can’t force Ukraine to surrender either, hence the stalemate, but they don’t need to; they can sit, occupying, lobbing occasional drones and missile salvos. Time isn’t on Ukraine’s side as their state deteriorates towards total ruination, whereas Russia have a functioning State, albeit one mildly impacted by western sanctions. Isn’t the truth that Ukraine have been led up a blind alley by western allies peddling pie in the sky fantasy about a glorious victory; one in which they’re driving the Russians out of Ukraine and taking back Crimea. It’s about as likely as the Palestinians evicting all Israeli settlers. And with no formal cessation in hostilities what has Ukraine got besides a broken state no one will invest in for fear of the Russians stepping up the conflict and lobbing missiles. This is what Israel is doing to Syria, frequently bombing vital infrastructure, prevent the regime getting the country back on its feet.

            I think the Palestinian analogy is a sound one, just as Arafat sat in his compound cursing Israel, Zelensky is powerless to change anything, he can only wait and hope from his bunker. But in all probability they’ll end up with a worse deal than Minsk offered. If you remember, the guardian carried images of banners unfurled from Ukrainian motorway bridges by Azov bat., Svoboda and Pravyi sektor supporters, with ‘Minsk = Treason,’ alongside a noose, as a warning to Zelensky.

            What Future will Zelensky have with those folks when the awful reality of compromise looms?

          • Goose


            As I understand things, the Russians don’t want to take over all Ukraine, that’d be a nightmare for them. They want to incorporate the historically pro-Russia or ethnic Russian areas and have a different leadership in Kyiv i.e. replacing the hostile Zelensky govt, replacing that with a govt they can negotiate with.

            That sounds a lot like the US/UK model of De-Ba’athification in Iraq, and the toppling, then eventual hanging of Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein – The outraged west seem to have memory holed that little misadventure, we are now outraged at Russia following our approach?

            I don’t like it, this ‘might is right’ approach whether it’s the US /UK, Israel or Russia, but I didn’t like events in Iraq either.

  • nevermind

    The German Greens should be castigated by global Greens allover the planet for getting into bed with the right wing in their country and elsewhere. Petra Kelly is turning in her grave as the Global Greens are being brown nosed by Ms. Baerbrock and her power hungry wannabe’s.
    The MSM in the west is as dangerous with their goading baseless headlines as Zelenski, their daily propaganda debates and arguments are out of line with the public’s expectation for change to the better. Not to talk about a cease fire and/or peace talks means that you are leaving a vacuum, you are limiting positive development and you are making accusatory noises towards destroying your own people, WHO HAD NO SAY OR GAVE YOU A MANDATE to behave like a spoiled ignorant self serving oik.

    The limitations of fertilizers world wide, the profiteering from the last fossil fuels and the ignorance to environmental chaotic weather patterns that will have catastrophic effects on the food chains worries politicians so much that they are actually contemplating an all out nuclear war.
    Thanks for the book link AG, much appreciated.

    • Goose

      Environmentalism is in vogue for good reason -Greta Thunberg is popular – access young minds, if you were seeking strategic sway and political influence which movement would you get involved with?

      If it is the CIA(?) it’s quite a smart strategy really, albeit highly unethical. If so, the people involved, leader Robert Habeck and co-leader Annalena Baerbock, are now so far from traditional Green positions, it’s becoming obvious to all they aren’t what they appeared to be. The way the corporate media in Germany, eg. Axel Springer SE’s ‘Die Welt’ started hyping Baerbock as the potential new Chancellor was a bit of a giveaway. The pre-election publicity the German Greens got was very flattering indeed, with puff pieces about ‘ rising star’ Baerbock being the future of Germany. There’s no way they’d get that were these truly independent politicians in my humble opinion. The corporate media is part of the bigger machine propping up the neoliberal order, after all.

      • nevermind

        I would not mention or compare Greta or Ms. Baerbock in the same breath. Greta is green at heart and says/does what it means, the Green Party in Germany has betrayed its membership and aims, what Baerbock says comes straight from Washingtom DC. Just as English/Scottish politicians have been fêted by the US Atlanticists, so have the Germans. I never understood why US bases in Germany outlived their purpose after the cold war, truth is the war must have been smouldering like a peat fire, out of sight, spreading underground in secret.

        • Goose

          I didn’t compare those two, I was merely stating that the Green movement has seen major growth in recent years and vast youth interest. As the climate has obviously become more volatile, and normal seasonal patterns have become more inconsistent.

          I think Greta has had a positive impact raising awareness of that, although, all that said, I think she has been somewhat exploited by her peers. She certainly wasn’t motivated by money though, and was a somewhat shy, reluctant ‘face’ of climate activism. Whereas, Baerbock and Habeck are strange Greens indeed: hawkish, and look at their shifting stance on nuclear. The Greens made their name campaigning against high military spending, nuclear power and dirty fossil fuels.. Across Europe the Greens used to be associated with anti-establishment radicalism too.
          If (?) targeted by certain agencies with near infinite resources – seeking promotion of certain candidates within their ranks – leveraging social media (see twitter files) it would be easy. It’s a perfectly viable proposition to get your people in place, people who will serve your interests.

          The idea of vast Russian meddling, may all be cover, a bogus distraction, from this real political interference?

          • Stevie Boy

            The mistake is to assume that Germany is some sort of sovereign, democracy that controls its own destiny. Both Japan and Germany were conquered and occupied during WW2, the conquerors never left and still control, absolutely, both nations. The US, and UK to a lesser extent, ‘stole’ the Nazi technologies and took over the major industries and at the same time set-up the state apparatus: government, police, security, military, etc. The Germans, and Japanese, dance to the american tune because there is no other for them. In the 70s groups like the Red Army Faction tried to fight back against the invaders but they were eventually destroyed. In the rest of the West ‘we’ have just rolled over and let the yankee dogs take over. Our politicians are the biggest enemy we have, they will destroy us. Happy New Year !

          • Goose

            This sort of ‘protecting liberal democracy : by rigging elections’ contradiction is probably the norm among western elites to justify interference among themselves. It’s really more about protecting capitalism and neoliberalism, things like embedding the privatisation agenda, and banking deregulation we’ve seen over the last 40 years. Most of all preventing some black sheep radical leftist govt straying from the flock. Corbyn being such a black sheep. His treatment being v.revealing as if a test subject.

            Parties need to be constantly vigilant, don’t dismiss the idea of potential interference as ‘conspiracy theories,’ by lazily and casually assuming everything within leading political parties’ structures and hierarchy just flows organically, i.e. leaders emerge naturally, that imho is BS. They don’t.

            A cliché maybe, but the ‘elite’ didn’t become the elite by letting the chips fall where they may politically. And it’s naive to think we live in anywhere near truly free democracies with so many vested interests and billionaires willing to exert big financial influence to remain billionaires. I know this is nothing revelatory or new, but it explains Assange’s strange treatment, as the bête noire of those in the shadows.

          • Goose

            Stevie Boy

            Germany is a democracy, it’s a federal state and the Bundesländer are powerful. It also has a constitution and constitutional court that are respected by politicians. Unlike the UK, where the political elite act like gods, talking up our marvellous ‘unwritten constitution’, …marvellous in the sense there are no rules, giving them and others total impunity when they’ve acted horrifically. One T. Blair being a good example of this.

            I stated, ‘parties need to be constantly vigilant,’ I should probably change that to parties with radical reform proposals need to be vigilant – to infiltration by those seeking to moderate their positions. The centre-right ‘conservatives’ are probably left well alone by those who’ll interfere to protect the status quo, as that’s their party. It explains how/why the UK conservatives were allowed scope to pursue their boneheaded, misfiring Brexit. A left-wing Labour govt, should it have cleared Pompeo’s infamous ‘gauntlet test’ and found itself in power, would never have been allowed the freedom to pursue such a radical policy shift. The army would’ve probably intervened or something.

          • U Watt


            You sound envious of this model German liberal constitutional democracy.

            Dismissive of any suggestion Germany may not actually be a proud free and sovereign nation.

            I would ask you to look closely at what they have said about the US/UK blowing up Nordstream and the German economy.

          • Stevie Boy

            Germany is a democracy.
            Canada is a democracy.
            Australia is a democracy.
            New Zealand is a democracy.
            The UK is a democracy.
            The USA is a democracy.
            Lying, cheating, corruption, repression, Assange, Manning, Snowden, Murray all symptomatic of a western democracy
            Democracy is the Common thread in our failed society, go figure …

          • Bayard

            None of those are democracies. According to Aristotle, and he should know, they are all oligarchies. After all, it’s an odd democracy where nearly all the executive control lies with the oligarchs and none with the demos.

    • U Watt

      Not one word across the entire German political and media spectrum.

      They know it was the Americans who blew up the Nordstream pipelines (with British help) and they know why the Americans did it: in order to deindustrialize Germany and destroy its commerce, to the benefit of US manufacturing and commerce.

      The Germans know very well their economy and living standards have been massively degraded in order to entrench US power, and have accepted it without a word.

      • AG

        oh, what you mean German government said nothing.

        (I thought they had made some comment on GB that had escaped me)

        Because as you say: I haven´t read a word.

        In fact, Germany´s The Left Party made an official inquiry in Parliament as to what is known re: NS 1&2.
        And the answer from the government was: Zero.

        Apparently not even otherwise well-informed committees for questions on national security were included this time.
        Absolute and complete secrecy on a subject of such vital importance for the entire population.

        And the fact that this goes almost uncommented in the mass media instead of arousing a never-ending scandal and fierce demands for discloure – that´s probably the worst part of it.

        Actually it´s difficult to wrap one´s mind around the sheer mass of acts of incompetence produced by the media and political ruling class in Germany in the past 10 months. The scale of failure is monumental.

        • U Watt

          It goes uncommented upon here let alone in Nato media. Probably because it shatters cherished shibboleths about Germany as muscular leader of European liberalism and the EU. You can see above how admiring some remain of German Democracy, even in the face of its craven submission to national destruction and humiliation by ‘allies’ the USA and UK.

        • Coldish

          Thanks, AG. As a Brit resident in Germany, I have been shaken by the capitulation of the ruling coalition to the requirements imposed by the USA (and its English sidekick).

          • AG

            of course you could argue: what has always been lingering in the shadows now has come to light.

            Only in a “pampered” environment where certain questions of loyalty (“who isn´t for us is against us”-like calls for duty) were spared from the Berlin elite could they simulate sovereignty of mind.

            Then the hour of truth dawned.
            And they failed in spectacular manner.

            It would make for some great novel or drama series – The Fall of the House of Cards.

            Former German secretary for Culture Julian Nida-Rümelin (a position first introduced by Gerhard Schröder) wrote a lengthy piece in Berliner Zeitung on the 29th of Dec. (print issue)

            In it there is a lot of usual “banter”, but since he is a puzzling creature, half philosopher, half politician, imitating some odd French pseudo-tradition, also worthwhile comment.

            Most interesting anecdote in his text: Foreign Secretary Baerbock, who has chosen the path of Madeleine Albright´s clone, in the last moments of truth in the Green Party about 1 year ago attacked Habeck for his belligerent demands re: Ukraine.

            Apparently she said some idiotic stuff about peace, negotiations, deescalation etc. (irony off.)

            So Baerbock did have a soul and a conscience once.

            Until she was summoned I guess to choose her future: Is it Albright´s career or some frustrated idealist who starved halfway to UN headquarters.

            You could repeat this story with most of these culprits, Habeck of course, Mützenich (Social Democrat majority leader – whip? – who is still not entirely lost), Scholz, Roth and several others.

            I don´t know – are Labour MPs in GB as oblivious of their once cherished ideals and goals from adolesecent times?

  • AG

    Pears Morgaine

    re: Munich conference

    Following Geoffrey Roberts´ footnote it leads to Gordon Hahn, who eventually identifies following passage in Zelensky´s speech as the one in question. Not to pronounce “nuclear weapon” is of course part of deranged diplomatic courtesy. But the term Budapest Memo has no other meaning. And everyone knew it.

    Zelensky´s quote:

    “(…)Since 2014, Ukraine has tried three times to convene consultations with the guarantor states of the Budapest Memorandum. Three times without success. Today Ukraine will do it for the fourth time. I, as President, will do this for the first time. But both Ukraine and I are doing this for the last time. I am initiating consultations in the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. The Minister of Foreign Affairs was commissioned to convene them. If they do not happen again or their results do not guarantee security for our country, Ukraine will have every right to believe that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and all the package decisions of 1994 are in doubt.(…)”

    In the translation presented on Hahn´s page:

    “I, as president, will do it for the first time. But Ukraine and I are doing it for the last time. I am launching consultations within the framework of the Budapest Memorandum. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has been asked to convene them. If they do not happen again or if their results do not guarantee the security of our country, Ukraine will have the right to think that the Budapest Memorandum is not working and that all the comprehensive decisions of 1994 are being questioned””

    • Pears Morgaine

      In the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, the United States, Russia, and Britain committed “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” and “to refrain from the threat or use of force” against the country. It’s these assurances that have been broken, shattered, by Russia. I don’t see Zelensky’s speech as a request for nuclear weapons, more a reminder for the US and UK to honour the assurances they gave and to castigate Russia.

      • AG

        Pears Morgaine –

        I have just started on the latest study concerning this issue:

        Mariana Budjeryn : “Inheriting the Bomb: The Collapse of the USSR and the Nuclear Disarmament of Ukraine” from 2022.

        published as part of the “Johns Hopkins Nuclear History and Contemporary Affairs”

        Before Budapest Memo RADA had to agree on NPT and giving up any ownership of nucelar arms.

        page 217:

        “(…) The Rada voted overwhelmingly to ratify the NPT, but once again qualified
        the ratification with a list of reservations. The Rada still insisted that
        Ukraine was the owner of the weapons it was relinquishing and that the
        NPT did not adequately capture Ukraine’s unique predicament. Hedging
        against the inadequacy of security commitments Ukraine was due to receive,
        Article 4 of the accession instrument stated that Ukraine would treat the use
        or threat of force against its territorial integrity and inviolability of borders,
        as well as economic coercion by a nuclear state, as “extraordinary circumstances
        that jeopardize its supreme interests,” a formulation taken verbatim
        from Article X of the NPT on withdrawal from the treaty. (…)”

        I guess this means: In case of an attack, Ukraine refrains from non-nuclear agreements made back then as part of the 90s honeymoon phase between East and West and by doing so would no longer be bound to a non-ownership of WMD.

        This is probably what Zelensky was referring to.

        Major obstacle back then was Ukraine´s claim to maintain some form of ownership of nuclear weapons even after they were handed over to Russia. This issue was eventually resolved.

        One should not forget, US and NATO were eager to disarm the former Soviet states and minimize the number of nuclear arms. They were therefore thankful to the Russians and the Ukrainians that they very smoothly accomplished the technical apect of this task.

        So if I am correct the issue is: The connection between NPT and Budapest Memo = no security guarantees from US/UK if Ukraine has nuclear WMDs an thus violates NPT.

        The study on Budapest in particular:

        on page 219

        “(…)On December 5–6, world leaders were due to converge on the Novotel hotel
        and conference center in Budapest to attend the CSCE summit. President
        Clinton was expected in Budapest for what William Safire called “a frantic fivehour
        photo op.” For the international community, the significance of the
        CSCE Budapest summit was not in putting final touches on Ukraine’s nuclear
        deal but in the issue of NATO enlargement to Eastern Europe, which Clinton
        came to announce, much to Russia’s chagrin.
        For Ukraine, however, the Budapest meeting would become historic. During
        the consultations the night before, the Russian side declared that it would
        not sign if the contentious language of nuclear ownership in the ratification
        instrument was not rectified. The United States and the United Kingdom
        were not concerned about Ukraine’s language of ownership as long as Ukraine
        acceded to the NPT as a NNWS, of which there was no doubt.168 In any case,
        the State Department lawyers advised that, as NPT depositaries, the United
        States, the United Kingdom, and Rus sia, had certain prerogatives in interpreting
        the treaty and the attending documents in such a way as to further the
        object and purpose of the treaty.
        Clearly, the Russian objections were not prompted by fears of any real possibility
        that Ukraine would claim a nuclear status under the NPT or stake
        claims to its nuclear inheritance following its adherence as a NNWS, but rather
        by the symbolic importance of denying any legitimation to Ukraine’s claim of
        nuclear owner ship before the NPT accession. Intense all- night negotiations on
        December 4–5, yielded a compromise whereby the MFA produced a note, attached
        to the Rus sian version of the memorandum on security assurances,
        stating that Ukraine was acceding to the NPT as a state that did not possess
        nuclear weapons.(…)”

      • Bayard

        “In the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, the United States, Russia, and Britain committed “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” and “to refrain from the threat or use of force” against the country.”

        Did it say anything about not mounting coups and toppling democratically elected governments? I think that comes under “respecting the independence and sovereignty” of Ukraine, don’t you? So the memorandum was already in tatters by the time Russia annexed Ukraine and it wasn’t them that tore it up.

        • Pears Morgaine

          It would definitely cover arming and training separatists and illegally annexing territory. President Yanukovych was voted out of office by 72% of the Ukrainian parliament for trying to do a private deal with Russia.

          • Bayard

            “It would definitely cover arming and training separatists and illegally annexing territory.”
            Try reading again what I wrote. The Memorandum was already in tatters by the time all that happened.
            “President Yanukovych was voted out of office by 72% of the Ukrainian parliament for trying to do a private deal with Russia.”
            Er, I think the point of a democracy is that the people do the voting. That’s why it’s called a democracy. Anyway, if you think Yanukovich was deposed without the interference of a foreign power, I have a bridge to sell you.

  • Fat Jon

    I believe this is going pretty much as the US want. People squabbling over the minutiae of history, and pointing the finger at who was responsible for this or that.

    Meanwhile, sanctions imposed by the US (and other NATO patsies forced to comply) are trashing the economies of the US’s biggest and most dangerous rival, the EU.

    Once Europe is crushed into an economic basket case, the US will be able to dominate the planet. QED.

    • Stevie Boy

      The world is more than the USA, EU and five swiveling eyes regimes. BRICS will be the future if the USA doesn’t go completely psychotic and start a nuclear armgedon.

    • Goose

      Fat Jon

      I doubt that’s the case.

      The US/UK ideal would see a totally isolated Russia, and that hasn’t happened because of the mutual suspicion & fear of the US, in India, China; and in historic foes of the US like Iran, N.Korea, Syria, and Pakistan ,some of the other Arab countries want to stay friends with Russia too, with one eye on Iran and specifically Russia’s growing military cooperation. And in S. American countries that have always viewed the US as a threat.

      Baffling to many in the US and Europe, will be the new Israeli Foreign minister, Eli Cohen’s comments, saying they want to maintain good relations with Russia. Though I’d guess this is pure self-interest from Israel, and will have the US’s tacit support. Fair to say Israel has looked on in horror at Russia and Iran’s growing military cooperation. Iran has a huge population and manufacturing capability, their drones are effective retrofitted with GLONASS, and other special components. If Russia give Iran state-of-the-art advanced missile technologies, Israel know a future attack on Iranian nuclear infrastructure could be completely off the table. Hence the Israeli’s are on this seemingly bizarre charm offensive with Russia.

      • Goose

        One other point….

        I fully understand the motivations behind the obvious heavy western online pro-Ukraine shilling, by NATO, UK MoD and everyone else, from Paul Mason et al. If all those involved, could somehow will Ukraine to victory, their forces would be closing in on Moscow by now. I do however, think it’s unethical. For much of the social media discourse amounts to abuse of those who hold different opinions; no one voted for these ostensibly defensive organisations to become online propaganda merchants wagging a metaphorical finger at domestic dissent. And simply saying the Russians are doing it, without providing supporting evidence isn’t good enough. And even if they are, is it really good to boast about stooping to the same level?

        Isn’t there the risk that by painting Ukraine as always dominating battles and winning, if it does all fall apart, European populations will wonder where the winning went, and become even more cynical?
        Looking at the cold realities and the cards Russia hold today, the land they hold, the ability to sit on Ukraine, cross the border at will etc. I honestly see no path to victory for Kyiv. Peace will inevitably be on Russia’s terms whether we like it or not, otherwise Russia can simply refuse to end hostilities. Russia can’t be forced to the table, and the longer this goes on the harder it’ll be to reach any settlement. Much like the Palestinians can’t take back what’s rightfully theirs from a larger more powerful foe, remember the much vaunted ‘two-state solution’ western govts were going to bring about? Now the Palestinians are told to ‘get real’ and accept the (settlement) realities on the ground.

        • John Kinsella

          Do you have any critical comments on the Putin regime and its actions.

          Your posts are not just Russophile but Putophile.

          • Laguerre

            Commenters are not allowed to be objective and sceptical; they have to be Russophobe or they’ll be accused of being putin-bots.

          • Goose

            I’ve got plenty of criticisms… But you can read criticisms of Putin/Russia everywhere across the western MSM and on social media, some true, some exaggerated and some outright false. But why act like an echo chamber for that here?

            On Ukraine, the events around Maidan and events since, are murky, with skulduggery from all sides. The proxy war didn’t start last year. It’s been going on since 2013, when Russia propped up Assad infuriating the US/UK who planned his removal.

            Criticisms? Here are a few…

            I don’t care for Putin personally, he’s failed to improve Russia on many levels, this despite that vast country’s natural resources. He’s too authoritarian, too controlling and has assumed the role of an autocrat, rather than embracing pluralism and drawing on the talents of all the Russian people.

            Russia having to court the likes of the thuggish Lukashenko, now a key ally, a man whose own position is deeply precarious; the authoritarian Iranian leadership and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, highlights Russia’s failure to win converts. A failure to cultivate better, respected international partners ..a failure of diplomatic relations – vital soft power – countries that’ll instinctively understand their concerns are thin on the ground.

          • Bayard

            “He’s too authoritarian, too controlling and has assumed the role of an autocrat, rather than embracing pluralism and drawing on the talents of all the Russian people.”

            That doesn’t sound much different from any other Russian ruler in history. Maybe that’s what it takes to rule Russia. How do you imagine Stalin would be reacting to the current state of affairs?

          • Bayard

            Laguerre, I have been called a “moral degenerate” for indulging in scepticism of that beacon of freedom and democracy, the current Ukraine regime.

          • Goose


            I agree. If post-USSR, Russia tried to implement a perfectly open democratic system à la the best examples from Scandinavia in the process weakening the centralised nature of Russia. Then the darker parts of the US state apparatus and intel agencies, would have fun using such a open system to divide, split-up and ultimately dissolve that country, eliminating a geopolitical rival.

            Look at the naivety of Yeltsin in trusting everyone in the West. Until we, the US and UK, become better democracies – more transparent, with openly stated, consistent, ethical foreign policies; until we become countries that aren’t secretly 24/7 striving for hegemonic dominance, largely unbeknownst to the population. Then the likes of China and Russia will feel they can’t let their guard down either. The current Russian and Chinese leaderships, are very much a reaction – ones shaped by our own ruthless approach. Reforming the US and UK into true democracies is the key to unlocking a better, more peaceful world where states can have mutually respectful relations.

          • Bayard

            Goose, the UK has always been an oligarchy except for, perhaps, just after WWII, when a large proportion of the male population had been trained how to use weapons and to kill.

          • Lapsed Agnostic

            It’s not particularly difficult to kill people with fire-arms at close range without military training, Bayard. There were few restrictions on owning guns in Britain in the 1920’s & 30’s and, although they were expensive relative to people’s pay packets, bear in mind that rents for most two-bed terraces were just ten to fifteen pounds a year, compared to annual wages for manual workers of £200-300 (with lower tax rates than today), largely due to an adequate supply of houses – so for the gainfully employed, only a few months’ savings would having been required. The reason that an Irish-type situation didn’t arise in Britain was because most British people either largely supported the elected governments of the day, or if not, supported the democratic process – even if it didn’t yet involve (almost) universal adult suffrage.

            Happy New Year.

          • Bayard

            “It’s not particularly difficult to kill people with fire-arms at close range without military training, Bayard.”

            Do you speak from experience? If so how many have you killed? If not, please refrain from pontificating until you have talked to someone who has.
            Lack of restrictions on gun ownership does not translate to widespread ownership of guns. In any case, you still needed to justify the ownership of a gun to get your firearms licence, something that the vast majority of the urban population were unable to do. However, after WWII, there were a lot of illegal guns around that had been kept from wartime. A friend of mine’s father had two machine guns and a rifle which he kept until the ’80s. Yes, the people were behind the post-war government, it was the powers that be that weren’t and it’s quite possible they were discouraged from pulling any coup stunts (like in “A Very British Coup”) by the level of firearms and combat experience of the population.

        • Laguerre

          Actually Goose’s comment is quite right. After all this propaganda narrative telling us that Ukraine is certain to win, what’s going to happen, if the critics were right and the Ukrainian front is close to collapse (the argument is quite strong). It would destroy the US hegemonic position in Europe, and might lead the US into a nuclear strike. I quite agree with Goose that Russia can’t lose in this war; though it won’t necessarily win either.

          • John Kinsella


            When you say that Russia ” can’t lose in this war” do you mean that Russia shouldn’t lose?

            Or that in your opinion, no matter what happens, Russia will not lose?

            Or that in your opinion, no matter what happens, Russia must not lose?


            To add:

          • Laguerre

            Kinsella, I said “can’t” because I meant it. You haven’t evaluated the situation correctly in believing the Ukro/western media narrative. Putin’s popularity in Russia is at a high; they agree with his policy. Let’s ask Tatiana. She will agree, I think. There’s no prospect of internal revolt; that’s just nonsense for the media. Ukraine however, has been suffering massive artillery casualties for months, though they don’t admit it. With a population limit, they must be reaching the limit of toleration. whether the limit will be reached soon or ever is unknown, but the suffering is great.

          • Goose

            I’ll try to explain Ukraine’s truly sad predicament.

            Russia can’t lose in the sense that, if every Russian soldier left tonight, everywhere sans the Crimean peninsula, Ukraine doesn’t have anything officially ending hostilities. No signed agreement formally ending hostilities. You may think so what, why is that a bad thing?

            Well, How can Ukraine rebuild if technically still at war with a large darkly menacing neighbour like Russia, a neighbour capable of regrouping, one that can invade again at any time of its choosing? Who’d invest in Ukraine with such a sword of Damocles hanging over the country? The fact is, the Ukrainians need closure and some sort of negotiated final agreement, yes, with Russia, not the US or EU, simply to move on from this. No one in the EU or the US will want to invest heavily in Ukraine with the situation with Russia unresolved.

            This is a problem Syrian, Gazan + West Bank + Lebanon populations face in trying to rebuild after an Israeli onslaught. Markets and lenders hate such instability and it makes things like getting insurance and attracting business investment and retaining talent incredibly difficult.

            At some point in the future Ukraine will have to give ground, don’t you think Russia, the US and EU all know this?

            I get no satisfaction pointing that out, it’s a shitty situation. But short of a Russian revolution that is the state of things.

  • nevermind

    Here goes the Atlantic Council again.
    Three ‘Newsnight political analists’ think for us all, predicting that lying Bojo will pull them out of the slump for the next election.
    The public is being primed and groomed to ensure that they are running in tune with BBC Propaganda.
    New year, same shit. only one digit at the end of the date changed.
    Have a positive, informed and ready new year.

    • Goose

      Staggering display, wasn’t it.

      Boris our saviour! Set to return in Q3-4 2023, refreshed, renewed, from his gap year, “he did an incredible job in his second term as London mayor,” one chimed in. Another, Stephen Bush, who was previously instrumental in pronouncing him politically ‘finished’, not long ago in fact, and on the very same programme! The supposed cream of the British media can do a 180 on anything and show not a scintilla of contrition.

      For the Tories + BBC, which is a conservative organisation itself, just like the guardian, albeit with a small ‘c’, have found the leadership grass isn’t greener. First, after oddball, calamity ‘Truss’ and now ‘too rich to care,’ Sunak, the present No.10, or more like TV’s ‘Big Brother’ with all the evictions? occupant , who may as well be 5cm tall for al the confidence and authority he commands among his MPs and wider electorate.

      They were clearly mad to dump Johnson, to say so, at the height of the BBC’s ‘partygate’ hysteria, would get you accused of spreading Kremlin, disinformation (see how silly that Paul Mason-esque paranoid groupthink thinking can become?), I based that opinion on logic; for Johnson for all his faults, at least has shown electoral form by winning, and although baffling to centrists, has a ‘base’ of popular support in the so-called, patronisingly named, red wall.

  • John Kinsella


    You said that
    “Kinsella, I said “can’t” because I meant it. You haven’t evaluated the situation correctly in believing the Ukro/western media narrative. Putin’s popularity in Russia is at a high; they agree with his policy. Let’s ask Tatiana. She will agree, I think. There’s no prospect of internal revolt; that’s just nonsense for the media. Ukraine however, has been suffering massive artillery casualties for months, though they don’t admit it. With a population limit, they must be reaching the limit of toleration. whether the limit will be reached soon or ever is unknown, but the suffering is great.”

    Putin’s popularity isn’t really the issue.
    (It would take a brave man to publicly protest against him.)

    If his armies fail then his popularity will also fail.

    And his armies are failing. Perhaps you believe Russia cannot ever be defeated?

    Did you see the nihilistic Russian TV comments that I linked to?

    • Tatyana

      Judging by the fact that you tried to draw attention to your link to the TV channel, I had no doubt that there would be a Solovyov show 🙂 This figure on Russian TV roughly corresponds to the figure of Arestovich on Ukrainian TV and causes the same urge to vomit in the audience. You have a distorted picture of Russia.

      Putin won his popularity not on “hey hey let’s beat everyone” slogans. Putin has liberalized the economy, removed redundant bureaucracy, and improved social guarantees, most notably in the state’s policy on families with children, and quite well in medicine.
      Putin’s policy towards Crimea was approved by the majority. Putin’s policy on the Donbass is considered too soft. Putin’s policy on the war in Ukraine is considered unacceptably soft. And you are wrong in saying that Putin is not criticized.
      Merkel and Hollande’s statements about the falsity of the Minsk agreements only transferred doubters to the camp of support for military operations.

      Public opinion can be expressed in two short expressions (I must apologize in advance for obscene language, but this is how it is, briefly and super-emotional. In Russian, obscene language indicates the extreme emotional involvement of the speaker, insult is not the goal) :
      1. хохлы совсем охуели
      2. на Западе одни пидарасы

      The first expression describes the Ukrainian government, which commits unacceptable acts, being confident of impunity. The second expresses the idea that making agreements with the governments of Western countries doesn’t make sense.
      And more and more people believe that the war for Donbass should have started earlier, and not wait 8 years.

      In society, a request is ripening for the government and the army, to finally start fighting. If Russia loses, Putin will be replaced by a person who is ready to resolve the issue with Kyiv in a tough Fallujah style.

      • John Kinsella


        You dislike and disapprove of Vladimir Rudolfovich Solovyov and his television programs?
        Then you yourself use extreme language against Ukraine.
        But let that pass.

        Solovyov is clearly favoured by the Putin regime as evidenced by his airtime on State TV and even by the incompetent and absurd staging of a plot against him

        Is there any television program on Russian State television that regularly criticises the Putin regime, not for its military failures but for launching this savage and unprovoked war?

        I expect that the answer is no but would be happy to be proven wrong.

        • Tatyana

          Calling the user via @ does not work here.
          Using the comments section of this site for personal correspondence is indecent and most likely prohibited by the rules, you can check with the moderation team.
          Comments are intended for public discussion, I won’t even mention that it is desirable to do this on the topic set by the blog author in his article.

          But if the phrase ‘urge to vomit’ is not enough, and you need additional clarification on my opinion, you can contact me in any way that suits you, by clicking on my name.
          I must warn you that I don’t expect a productive discussion, or, an educational discussion, or even just a neutral and polite discussion. What can I say, I don’t expect any discussion from you at all, but rather you just splash out your set of stamps on me, and I’m not ready to rent my ears to everyone who is bored on the Internet. And I don’t care what makes you happy. But, if you’re interested of my personal opinions, you may try 🙂

          Another option, if you want to leave the conversation public, then you can use the Discussion Forum section, create a topic there, smth. like “Tatyana’s opinion about Solovyov”. You may even want to invite me there 🙂
          I have done many site rules abuses and caused much inconvenience, now is the time to repay the moderators for their patience and show that I keep my promise to improve! 🙂 Happy Holidays!

          • John Kinsella

            Hi Tatyana.

            My comment was public though in reply to you. The @ is a carry over from other forums.

            My mistake.

            You commented on my reference to Solovyov, I merely replied to you.

            On a forum like this, disagreement is inevitable. And I think allowable once expressed courteously.

            My point is that Solovyov (dispute his quasi-Nazi views) is not exceptional on Russkyi State TV.

            I also asked whether you are aware of any television program on Russian State television that regularly criticises the Putin regime, not for its military failures but for launching this savage and unprovoked war?

            I quite understand that you may not wish to answer.

            Or indeed that it may not be safe for you to do so?

            All the best,

          • Tatyana

            John, I wish I could answer, but I don’t watch TV. For several years already. Maybe for a decade. Nothing there that may be of interest for me.
            I know Soloviev from YouTube. When the war started and I tried to make my mind on what is going on, I couldn’t but watch some of his programmes. His opinions also are mentioned by other content-makers.

            You should look for a person who watches TV, then they may answer your questions. I’m really not interested to form my own opinions from media, either Russian, or Ukraininan, or BBC, or CNN etc.

            And I’d really appreciate it, if you just sincerely asked questions, without trying to load them with implied meanings, and without attributing all sorts of motives to me, and without predicting my behavior.
            I assure you, this manner does not make you an interesting debater. Rather, it resembles the manner of Solovyov, stamps showing through the negative, and the negative glowing behind a curtain of stamps.
            With this attitude, it’s hard to believe the commentator’s sincere interest, and at my age it would be foolish to expose myself to this shower of hatred, because I don’t consider myself a scapegoat. I hope I’ve explained clearly.
            Acceptable conversation format – you ask questions and expect an honest and sincere answer, because I live here, I’m a native speaker of Russian, I understand Ukrainian, I understand English, and I’m not stupid.

          • Goose

            “I also asked whether you are aware of any television program on Russian State television that regularly criticises the Putin regime, not for its military failures but for launching this savage and unprovoked war?”

            John Kinsella

            To be fair, Russian military personnel are deployed, it’d be absurd to have TV pundits in warm studios, basically second-guessing those conducting a live campaign, and/or saying their fellow countrymen and women are dying for nothing and undermining morale. It wouldn’t happen in the west either, not during wartime. Not once forces are deployed, active. In fact, western MSM is so infiltrated by overreaching security services (eg. Integrity Initiative), such questioning of decision making on foreign policy and national security, is not even happening in peacetime now.

            The guardian has fallen too, there is no major newspaper in the UK posing questions and conducting investigations that could potentially embarrass any of the security state, ministers or the MoD on National security & foreign policy. Snowden’s stuff was the last big shock for authorities. If approached today by some whistleblower offering the equivalent Snowden did, via Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras – reporting that they jointly won the Pulitzer Prize for. The guardian of today would reject running that story.

            On your other point. US Fox News is just as sensationalist as any Russian tabloidy type format show. I watched some of its coverage of the Iraq invasion 2003, and it was ‘shock ‘n’ awe’, on steroids. With wild-eyed, clearly overly caffeinated, ’embedded; reporters acting as little more than propagandists.

            Look at the planted media stories and newspaper headlines when the US/UK have plans to take future military action; propaganda wheels do start to turn.

            The public were primed to make them believe any and all of Saddam Hussein, the Taliban; Gaddafi then Assad posed an ‘imminent’ (for int law cover) existential threat, which in hindsight proved to be rubbish.

      • DunGroanin

        Hello Tatyana, you told him! And I believe that both quotes are fairly accurate descriptions of our Collective Waste ?

        Been a while to find a topic to post on here. I’m not blaming CM or complaining, there is plenty he does.

        However spotting your name and todays auspicious date for the Orthodox and if you or yours celebrate it , can I wish you all a Happy Holly Days.

        I am busy helping taking down decorations here a because it is supposedly ‘wrong’ to leave them up after today! No doubt a spillover from the schism.
        ‘We must in all ways find ways to separate us’.
        Some were pretty, but most of them were vulgar and garish- a bit like the British Military involvement in Ukraine as mercenaries, thugs and absolute lying murderous criminal tosspots.
        Here’s a pair of clowns on YT doing a job of parody soldier and commander with undercurrent of unrequited or even admitted sexual attraction.
        Unbelievable but true that such bs is rife in this day and age.

        Anyways all the best and HNY to all here.

    • Bayard

      “Putin’s popularity isn’t really the issue.
      (It would take a brave man to publicly protest against him.)”
      Do us a favour, will you? Are you really expecting anyone apart from your fellow Russophobes to swallow the line that Putin’s popularity is the result of intimidation?

      “And his armies are failing.”
      Come on, you know the rules, evidence please.

      • John Kinsella

        Is it your view that Russia is “just as much a democracy” as (say) France, Germany or any other European country (other than Hungary which is in my view a semi-democracy)?

        For the avoidance of doubt, in my view Russia is a authoritarian/police state which observes the forms of democracy (elections, political discussion..) but offers no real say to the “electorate”..

        • Bayard

          Are you, or have you ever been a politician? I ask, because you always seem to answer a questions with another, completely unrelated, one. I’ll take your answer to be no.
          My answer to your latest question is given above: none of them are democracies, they are all oligarchies. The only difference between them is that in some the head of state is one of the oligarchs, in others, they are simply under the oligarchs’ control.
          Edit: perhaps Switzerland is a democracy, of sorts.

          • Stevie Boy

            Yes, it’s like the UK being run by a multi millionaire banker with an American green card, off shore accounts held by him and his wife and who was voted in by his sycophantic party not by the electorate. That’s western democracy for you. Corrupt grifters with no allegiance to the country or its people.

          • John Kinsella

            A difference, one of many, between Russia and Western democracies is that, however flawed our democracies are, we can and do change our rulers.

            Putin has been in power for (?) over 20 years and his opponents are routinely jailed or murdered.

            No such fate awaited the opponents of Merkel, Hollande or Obama.

            In fact they were replaced by Scholz, Macron and Trump. None of them notably Russophobic.

            Here in Ireland our next government is likely to be led by Sinn Féin, a populist nationalist party.

            No SF TD’s are being imprisoned or murdered by the present Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green coalition government.

            And the Russian shills Clare Daly and Mick Wallace are elected MEPs who are widely criticized but neither imprisoned nor murdered.

            Funny that.

          • Laguerre

            “we can and do change our rulers.” Not at all. Have you tried changing a member of the House of Lords? The majority of parliamentarians are unelected and unchangeable.

          • Bayard

            “we can and do change our rulers.”

            I think you are confusing our elected representatives with those who really control the levers of power. All we can change are the former. Our government (and that of most other European countries) consists of a Legislature which makes laws and an Executive, which runs the government. Only half the Legislature are elected and none of the Executive are directly elected. A very small part of the Executive is chosen by the Head of State from the ranks of the elected (and unelected) Legislature. The rest of the Executive is the Civil Service. The people have no say whatsoever in the choice of the Executive, except, once every five years or so, to refuse to elect a potential member of the Executive to the Legislature. That is not, in any way, rule by the people.

            Even if you claim that such a system constitutes a democracy, then Russia, where the head of state is directly elected, is more democratic than the UK where they are not. We have two heads of state. One is hereditary and the other is chosen by their fellow party members. The people get no say in it whatsoever.

            “Putin has been in power for (?) over 20 years and his opponents are routinely jailed or murdered.”

            Full marks for persistence, but you are still not convincing anyone that his support is entirely due to intimidation.

            “No such fate awaited the opponents of Merkel, Hollande or Obama. In fact they were replaced by Scholz, Macron and Trump. ”

            Do try to keep up. Both Merkel and Obama stood down so would have been replaced however popular they were. Putin himself stood down in 2008. In any case, this is a non-sequiteur. It presupposes that the electoral gap between Putin and his opponents in the last presidential election was entirely due to intimidation, which is so improbable as to be virtually impossible. Also, all the opposition candidates in that election apart from Zhirinovsky are still alive and he, it appears, died from COVID. Moreover, if Putin was routinely intimidating his rivals, he singularly failed with Zhirinovsky, who stood against him in every election except that of 2004.

            “No SF TD’s are being imprisoned or murdered by the present Fianna Fáil/Fine Gael/Green coalition government.”

            Just how many opposition members of the Duma is Putin supposed to have imprisoned or murdered? Plenty of members of Sinn Fein who were not MPs have been imprisoned or murdered, though, since 1918 and it hasn’t discouraged the Party in the slightest. In fact the complete opposite. You underrate your fellow countrymen.

            “And the Russian shills Clare Daly and Mick Wallace are elected MEPs who are widely criticised but neither imprisoned nor murdered.”

            The oligarchs have more sense than to go after such small fry. If you really piss them off you do wind up in prison like Assange or dead like Seth Rich.

        • Goose

          China and Russia are more authoritarian, yes. Overtly so.

          In the west, traditionally open, with open debate and a free press, it’s been happening covertly. In a pernicious process powerful people have sought to regain ‘full spectrum’ control of all public messaging. We pretend we have a free press, but we know the corporate press is anything but free; journalists are ‘warned off’ or deliberately avoid controversial subjects. Now they are going after citizen journalists, bloggers, comment forums and social media platforms. This very blog might not survive the UK’s new draconian, misleadingly named, ‘Online Safety Bill,’ because the provisions within it are so broadly drawn, allowing unaccountable censors to levy crippling fines, it effectively risks closing small sites such as this down, making you wonder if that’s the intention?

          This is being done under the guise of countering Russian misinformation / disinformation. But as many have said, insomuch as that exists, because does it, seriously? There is v.little evidence of concerted western audience focused Russian internet campaigns. If it were a thing it’d be bleedin’ obvious. Those who claim it’s going on, throw around accusations like confetti, desperately trying to justify their own gullibility. Some claim they are winning the information war with Russia on social media but doesn’t ‘a war’ usually require two opposing sides? I’ve seen hundreds shilling for Ukraine and nobody countering them at all.

          The Russian threat is clearly being greatly exaggerated to justify draconian, censorial western legislation, by those who probably privately know it’s BS. But they’re happy using it as an excuse to push forward long-held pet projects and agendas to extend information control and keep jobs in the burgeoning ‘counter-disinformation experts’ industry that emerged after the bogus ‘Russiagate’ nonsense in the US.

          • Goose

            Fascinating thread, posted over the last few days on this subject by Matt Taibbi. Matt has access to the Twitter files. Picked up by Jonathan Cook also. Jonathan Cook and Glenn Greenwald have long been skeptics of media allegations about Russian influence activities online. Wouldn’t expect the MSM to report how they were duped into painting a false picture though.


            The thread, based on info from Twitter’s own internal records, illustrates how, in order to sustain the public/press hysteria and lies about ‘huge’ Russian online influence activity, activity that in fact barely registered with no certainty Russia was responsible. Social media companies were asked to falsify the picture to make it suit the narrative the politicians were pushing. Surely that was the worst kind of disinformation.

          • Goose

            With no irony, Matt himself is now being accused of being a Russian shill, simply for publishing these internal Twitter communications, by some of these so-called ‘counter-disinformation experts.’ Further proof of how deep the McCarthyite accusatory rot goes.

            They fail to understand, that for many this issue isn’t about defending Russia, the issue is about basic honesty. If we live in countries where politicians, intel agencies and the media think it’s fine to tell blatant lies about other countries. Then what are these ‘western’ values we’re so keen on talking up and defending?

          • AG

            thx for the Twitter link.

            Historian Richard Sakwa mentions it too in his latest book “Russiagate”.
            The minuscule seize of it all.

            But of course there´s a shiny TV-Show by CBS on this, COMEY´s RULE, based on the memoirs of the former FBI dircetor.

            He is pictured as friendly, idealistic, a bit too eager to shine but all in all too good for this world.

            Trump is of course a dangerous, deranged clown.
            Surrounded by seedy Reps.

            I have seldom seen such whitewashing of FBI agents.
            Audiences who don´t know what happened will think this is real.

            Watch it if you can. It´s like a crazy fairy-tale.
            I am not sure why Billy Ray wrote that entire thing.
            (I guess pre-emptively someone had purchased the rights to the Comey-autobiography)

            But considering the implications it´s irresponsible.
            Interesting how things have turned upside down since THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR and ALL THE PRESIDENT´s MEN.

            Even if I were completely unknowing, I would scratch my head observing how media outlets suddenly are parroting their government. That´s just not how it works.

            re: Corbyn – on the show “Useful Idiots” Norman Finkelstein said that a similiar fate like the one Corbyn suffered was meant for Bernie Sanders in case he had gotten past Clinton for the nomination.

            That awkward little story of Gloria Steinem and her attack on Sanders for sexual misconduct I believe, was intended as the kick-off to a major campaign.

            Eventually it was shelved because Bernie lost. But in how far Steinem did realize how she would have been manipulated?

            Sometimes I wonder how these things work out in detail.
            Like when Corbyn said in the summer: Pompeo actually threatened him personally. And several intel people warned Corbyn.

            May be that´s how it was with Scholz and NS 1&2. Furious members of the German intelligence community ranting about the Americans (remembering the NSA scandal about bugging Merkel) and in between Scholz smiling helplessly weighing in his options.

  • John Kinsella

    Hi Tatyana.

    As a Russian living in Russia, I am interested in your opinions although I generally don’t agree with them.

    As we say in Irish, Sin É.

  • jens schellhammer

    1. You ought not to be embarrassed by your lack of German.
    2. Cyberport have actually really good offers, and good stuff/staff, unless you come barging in..
    3. I’ve said the same thing about Saturn. But then I, when it comes to bookstores, in Wales, Ireland, Scotland, I’ve said the opposite: just let me browse/peruse.
    4.”As a centre of Ruhr heavy industry, Bochum was largely obliterated by the allies but most of the victims were Polish. With this horrible history, it seems churlish to note that the current shopping centre is just horribly modern and ugly.” – Well, define “victim”, by all means. In numbers alone, it certainly wasn’t the Poles. That doesnt mean it might not that have been the Poles in Bochum who might have suffered the most.
    5. Jesus: if you know that your Laptops keep getting stolen, why don’t you try to protect them? A thief once snatched my portemonnaie in Bruxelles, and someone managed to steal my phone from my coatpocket in Madrid. But these are 2 incidents in 20 years.
    6. People should not steal (unless it’s absolutely neccessary).
    7. German Police is what it is. Some are helpful, some are fascist, some are lazy, some are disilusiioned writers, some had children at 25 and no other choice, some made a choice at 37 or whatever.

    • AG

      jens schellhammer

      “German Police is what it is (…) some are disilusiioned writers”

      Sounds interesting. Who did you have in mind? / How does that work out – part-time writers?

      • nevermind

        Jens seems to indicate that Polizisten and Polizistinnen Buecher/Geschichten/Gedichte und Ihre Resignations formulare schreiben, um von dem Rechts radikalen traditionellen Infiltrations a
        Allueren eines Rechts radikalen States wegzukommen.

        • nevermind

          Banning young journalists who dare to blog from Dombass and Crimea, sentencing them in absence and deprive them of access to their bank accounts, infiltrating and criminalising people who are demonstrating for Palestinian land rights, they are now being harassed and history is being re written as anti Zionism is outlawed under the description of antisemitism.

          I know that guilt of WW2’s violence murder and excesses by the NSDAP in Germany is easily raised, but it seems that there is a right wing pandemic sweeping Europe in the wake of modern Banderite support in the form of 21.7 billion spend on arms for Ukraine, petrol on a fire.
          It’s as if Russia was never an ally fighting the Nazis, their lost lives never counted.

          Today’s support for Ukraine’s Banderite path towards burning Russian books, their treatment of black foreign students, the bombardment we overlooked studiously since 2014, should open eyes.

          Wonder whether Jens lives in Germany and is allowed to express himself on these issues.

          • AG

            I am not being addressed, but if I may add my 2 cents:

            I don´t know about Jens.
            I could express myself.
            Whether it would be published or not and where is a different matter.

            The point is not whether contradicting views are non-existent.

            They are there.

            Berliner Zeitung is publishing critical views regularly, but they are treated as an exotic view, in the “open-source” section.
            Heavily “guarded” by articles by regular staff that sometimes make you question their sanity (see the Nordstream business e.g.).

            Sueddeutsche Zeitung and TAZ across 10 months had a couple of critical texts (the degree of criticism is of course a different question).

            But those were outweighed by Hundreds of articles reiterating the same narrative over and over again.

            Publishing a few critical words of course is a great way to use differing opinions as straw-men in a fake “open” discussion.
            Nothing better than a real specimen for Russian propaganda to point fingers at.

            So if above commentator John Kinsella stipulates that we are democratic because we got to choose – well what it´s worth if the choice is between Adidas and Nike?

            If you were to produce sneakers that really are worker-friendly you would be crushed.

            It´s similiar with party politics and media practice.

            Bit like Monty Python about Protestants – “we could have sexual intercourse if we wanted to any time – but we don´t.”

    • Pears Morgaine

      Message was reportedly sent one minute after the explosions occurred. Seeing as somebody would have to have got the news to her before she could relay it on that doesn’t sound feasible. You’d have thought they’d have used some codeword too.

          • AG

            I am still more than sceptical (Kim Dotcom is not particularly a trustworthy fellow and he is the only source so far that I could find).
            However I see no technological obstacle for such immediate announcement as done by Liz T.
            Live coverage of black ops are most likely standard by now on that security level.
            I would assume.

          • Dom

            If Truss had been sitting waiting for confirmation, desperate for US Brownie points, she probably fired that text off within 2 seconds of getting the nod. How much good it did her or Britain in the end is up for debate.

    • Dom

      Nothing is too dumb when it comes to Liz Truss, I would have thought that was obvious to everyone.

      The British security state was apparently also the key mover in blowing up the Kerch Bridge to Crimea. According to documents seen by the Grayzone UK intelligence agencies are also engaged in planning assassinations, terror attacks, military offensives and artillery attacks in Ukraine, and are recruiting intelligence assets in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. I would like to hear what Craig as a former foreign office man has heard of this and to hear his thoughts on what Britain stands to gain by it.

      • AG

        “Nothing is too dumb when it comes to Liz Truss, I would have thought that was obvious to everyone. ”

        Don´t underestimate the degree of stupidity among German politicians.
        We have enough of our own to look after.

        Besides Liz didn´t provide much time to get familiar with her dumbness being in office for like 48 hours.
        (my impression – she was there and then, like a magic trick, she was gone again.)

        But honestly I don´t see any sense in following Britain in that regard since there is so little substance there that I could discern from afar as such, it´s all just bragging and lying and insults to me, complete waste of time. Especially since I am not familiar with the really interesting background of it all (networks, Eaton, quid-pro-quo deals, etc.).

        One reason I like to peek into this forum from time to time. I can learn a thing or two.

        • Stevie Boy

          I thought that Liz Truss was a sex doll left behind in the spare bedroom by Boris. The Tories voted her in because she always let them do whatever they wanted.

  • John Kinsella

    Hello Laguerre.

    You posted ” “we can and do change our rulers.” Not at all. Have you tried changing a member of the House of Lords? The majority of parliamentarians are unelected and unchangeable.”

    My references were to France, Germany and my own Ireland.

    (Ireland has an indirectly elected Senate, nominated by trade unions, farmers, the arts etc and elected mainly by local councillors.)

    Britain is unusual in having an unelected upper house. But if you guys want to change that, you can and should.

    • Bayard

      Because they don’t stick to the narrative, I would expect. After all, no-one would deviate from it unless they were paid to do so, would they?

      • John Kinsella

        Hello Bayard.

        Most people in Ireland are embarrassed by Wallace and Daly.

        To call them tankies would be to flatter them.

        Completely uncritical of the Putin regime and no doubt ‘supported’ by Russkiy gold.

        Another revealing Russkiy TV clip:

        • Bayard

          Tell me, are you paid to be supportive of the UK and US’s policy towards Russia? No? then why do you assume that Daly and Wallace are paid to be critical of it. Most of what they say is pretty bleedin’ obvious, anyway. Believing in Santa Claus is one thing, but believing in the veracity of the mainstream media is a whole different level of gullibility or wilful self-deception. You don’t have to be paid not be suffer from that particular handicap.

          • John Kinsella

            Hello Bayard.
            No I’m not paid by anyone to post (are you?).
            Unlike you, I post using my actual name.

            I was skeptical of Ukrainian ‘paranoia’ about Putin’s intentions to invade Ukraine right up to late February last.
            Remember those amusing cartoons showing the guy waiting.. and waiting… for the Russkiy invasion?
            The joke was on me and the rest of us who laughed.
            Putin is a dangerous piece of used dog food who took us all for fools.

            Remember Bertold Brecht?
            “Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.”


          • AG

            (I´d rather doubt BB would find it proper to use his Hitler analogy in this case.
            Perhaps find a less preposterous piece to quote.
            But neither am I clear on what the sense was in posting the Russkiy TV clip.
            Since it has nothing to do with any arguments brought forward here I believe.
            Nor does it help understand the situation better.)

          • Bayard

            “No I’m not paid by anyone to post (are you?)”
            So why do assume that people who express opinions with which you disagree are, simply because they express those opinions?
            No I am not. I wish I were, I’d be rich.

            “I was skeptical of Ukrainian ‘paranoia’ about Putin’s intentions to invade Ukraine right up to late February last.”

            So was I, but, unlike you, I don’t think that Putin woke up one morning and thought, “you know what I am going to do today, I’m going to invade Ukraine. I haven’t had a good invasion in years and I think I really need one to perk me up. I’ve got all the troops along the border, all I have to do is give the word and it’s game on”.

        • U Watt

          Stop lying. They condemn Putin completely as a neoliberal on steroids who probably cheated his way to victory at the last election. They always say Putin’s politics and ideology align far more closely with those of the Irish political and media class (and their ,apologists) than their’s.

          • John Kinsella

            Hello U Watt.
            If that comment is directed at me?

            Wallace and Daly did not criticise the Russian invasion of Ukraine at its beginning and have not criticised it subsequently.

            Their calls for ceasefires (never for Russian withdrawal) are cynical as they would simply offer the Putin regime an opportunity to bring up more armaments and conscripts without ceding territory stolen from Ukraine.

            The two MEPs are bought and paid for with Russian gold. An embarrassment to Ireland and traitors to peace and democracy.

          • U Watt

            No, they are strong critics of Putin and neoliberalism in general. They are in the best tradition of fearless Irish socialists, rebels and truthtellers. You on the other hand come over as a toe curling establishment mouthpiece who cares about national sovereignty and human rights about as much as Nato and the US Congress do.

      • John Kinsella

        Hello U Watt.
        I am Irish, living in Ireland.
        Where do you live?
        I expect that I am better informed about Wallace and Daly than you are.
        They are at best useful idiots for the Putin regime and at worst traitors to peace and freedom in Europe.

        They are very unlikely to be re-elected as most people can see through them.
        Wallace is a failed property developer with unpaid taxes and debts to his workers.

        Daly was once a courageous anti establishment activist. She seems now to be in a relationship with Wallace. Sad.

        • Walt

          “I am Irish, living in Ireland.”
          How strange. You said earlier that you are Russian. Though I thought then that you don’t have a Russian name.
          You wrote: “As a Russian living in Russia, I am interested in your opinions although I generally don’t agree with them.”

          • John Kinsella

            My comment was addressed to Tatyana who is (I understand) a Russian living in Russia.

            I am an Irishman living in Ireland. I post under my own name.

          • John Kinsella

            My comment was addressed to Tatyana who is (I understand) a Russian living in Russia.

          • Bayard

            JK, If you write, as you did “As a Russian living in Russia, I am interested…” that means that you are saying that you are Russian. That’s how any English speaker would understand it. The clause “As a Russian living in Russia” describes the subject of the sentence, which is “I”, not the object which is “your opinions”. Perhaps it’s different in Irish.

        • John Kinsella

          No need to imagine.
          I support Sinn Féin.

          I used to support Irish Labour but they sold out to the conservative parties FF and FG.

        • John Kinsella

          Hello U Watt.
          I am Irish, living in Ireland.
          I post under my own name.

          I expect that I am better informed about Wallace and Daly than you are.
          They are at best useful idiots for the Putin regime and at worst traitors to peace and freedom in Europe.

          They are very unlikely to be re-elected as most people can see through them.
          Wallace is a failed property developer with unpaid taxes and debts to his workers.

          Daly was once a courageous anti establishment activist. She seems now to be in a relationship with Wallace. Sad.

          • U Watt

            Unfortunately for you anybody can listen to their speeches or interviews and make their own minds up. It makes zero difference where the listener is, what name they post under or how prolifically.

            However to have listened to those two speaking forthright truths and then single them out for abuse and smears (out of all the corrupt self-servers that compose Ireland polity?) well, that speaks volumes I’m afraid.

          • Goose

            The fact that these two MEPs are so well known if anything highlights the astonishing lack of curiosity among their fellow MEPs. How many other MEPs can you name?

            As Matt Taibbi pointed out, as he himself takes flak for exploring the Twitter files : [we live under] system(s) that value tribal loyalty over truth and as a result stories that go against narrative,..don’t reach audiences.

            Daly and Wallace may get things wrong, they could also be getting things right? Who knows? At least they’re posing the questions, and trying to hold powerful people to account. There are people exercising power in the west, who welcome transparency and being accountable, about as much as the likes of Lukashenko does.

      • John Kinsella

        Hello UWatt.

        I have seen regular and repeated calls by Wallace for NATO to stop supplying arms to Ukraine.

        No calls by Wallace for Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.

        Or indeed for third countries (N Korea or (?) China) to stop supplying arms to Russia.

        My conclusion is that Wallace (and his ally Daly) is a hypocrite tankie who uncritically supports the Putin regime’s genocidal and unprovoked war against Ukraine.

        As has been said elsewhere; “if Russia stops fighting, the war is finished. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine is finished.”

        • glenn_nl

          If that’s your conclusion, it says more about your idle bias than anything factual or reality based.

          Idle slogans have indeed “been said elsewhere” many times, for many years, but repetition isn’t proof, you know. Heard this old knee-slapper : “If the Palestinians put down their weapons, we will have peace. But if the Israelis put down their weapons, there will be no more Jews.”

          Utter, simplistic, disingenuous BS.

          One truth you really ought to admit – if the Russians behaved anything like the Americans, we would already have nuclear war. Or perhaps you think the Yanks would be OK with having Russian (or Chinese) weapons and military lining up against American borders?

          • John Kinsella

            Hello glenn_nl.

            You clearly disagree with the claim that “if Russia stops fighting, the war is finished. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine is finished.”

            Would you care to critique it rather than change the subject to Palestine/Israel?

          • glenn_nl

            An empty slogan does not a good argument make, with all due respect, John.

            If Russia accepts that the Minsk accords are all worthless (i.e. that we gave assurances in bad faith) and it’s fine to continue to stack NATO (i.e. US) weapons right up against its borders, then you might call that ‘peace’. You might even think there wouldn’t be any reason for Russia to be concerned, if you’re assured that America/NATO is a benevolent, peace-loving bunch. You would be saying that Russia has to accept what we – and definitely the Americans – would not countenance for a second.

            Daly and Wallace have made no suggestions that they support Putin, nor is there a scrap of evidence that they are in his pay. Unless you know otherwise, of course. But suggesting anyone disagreeing with you is simply corrupt sounds like a baseless slur, and a lazy way of avoiding any points they actually make.

            Doubtless you overlooked the question in my post to you, but would you agree that any thought of provoking the US by placing hostile forces right next to it, would result in armed conflict pretty much immediately? Why do you think the Russians absolutely have to exercise far greater restraint?

            As a side note, do you know much about the history of American imperialism, and how it has been behaving towards the rest of the world for the past few hundred years, particularly in the past few decades? You seem to place a huge deal of trust in their honesty and good intentions.

        • Goose

          Adding their voices to that European chorus wouldn’t make one iota of difference.

          You say they’re effectively whitewashing Russia’s invasion, but aren’t you also guilty of similar behaviour, by not acknowledging the recent history of Ukraine: the US-backed coup, in which a democratically elected leader was removed; the subsequent civil war and Kyiv’s brutal tactics against the Donbas. The EU leaders’ ‘bad faith’ negotiations around the Minsk I&II accords, with Merkel admitting in a recent interview, that the negotiations were used to buy time and rearm Ukraine. And Zelensky’s appeasement of the various far-right factions in that country.

          None of that excuses Russia’s illegal invasion, but it does provide a slightly different backdrop to the western political / media pushed narrative of a ‘completely unprovoked invasion.’

          • John Kinsella

            Hello Goose.

            I didn’t use the word ” whitewashing” but it fits.

            Wallace and Daly have not criticized Russia’s illegal invasion but have called on NATO to stop supplying arms to Ukraine.

            I seem to remember reading that Britain and France refused to supply weapons to the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War.

            Hitler and Mussolini had no compunction. (Nor did the equally despicable Stalin.)

            The Spanish Republic was of course defeated by Franco and his Fascists.

            And of course Ukraine, denied support by the West, would fall.

            That’s something that Wallace and Daly seem quite relaxed about.

          • Goose

            They are democratically elected. If people agree with you then they’ll likely be voted out.

            The sort of CCP levels of conformity you seem to be demanding from MEPs, is why the public are losing all faith in democracy. Politician says ‘X’ followed by feigned press outrage about it. Parties react to the controversy by taking tighter control, calling it ‘message discipline’ and you end up with parties full of careerist clones who seem more like production line automatons. All parroting the same lines, tweeting the same tweets. That isn’t ‘representation’ worthy of the description.

          • Goose

            Ukraine, denied support by the West, would fall.

            Indeed. But Daly, Wallace might hold the view it’ll fall regardless, and therefore many lives, on both sides, can be saved by forcing Ukraine into swift negotiated resolution. One that would involve allowing Ukraine’s rebellious East to decide their own destiny. Both Henry Kissinger and Elon Musk have expressed similar views. Unless the EU wants to endorse ethnic cleansing, how on earth would an unlikely victorious Kyiv reincorporate the people who’ve fought alongside the Russians?

            The US has a stated aim of using this conflict to bleed Russia dry – financially and militarily; it’s the Ukrainians doing the fighting so US service folks dying isn’t a hot political issue back home. The US are selling their LNG to Europe (in place of cheap Russian gas) and US defence industry order books are full thanks to new and existing NATO members ramping up defence spending. I understand fully why this war’s continuation aligns with US geopolitical objectives, but not so much how it aligns with the EU’s?

          • U Watt


            Are you impressed by the German/EU silence on the US/UK blowing up the NS pipeline?

            How do you think their silence is going to be rewarded?

          • Goose

            It illustrates Europe lacks any meaningful sovereignty.

            Just how far down the US subservience rabbit hole are our supposed rulers? Baerbock, von der Leyen and Borrell act more like US diplomats. There’s only Macron dropping infrequent hints that Europe needs its own independent foreign policy positions and central to that is managing its own defence. Some claim NATO allows for dissent, behind closed doors of course. But imagine being a NATO member foreign or defence minister, trying to argue positions that don’t align with those of the US. The US would exert influence to have you demoted and replaced by someone more conducive to Washington’s worldview. Any European leader ignoring these demands/hints, likely delivered by a US ambassador, would get the full Corbyn treatment via the corporate media. The US know citizens would be furious hence why there’s an obsession with secrecy.

          • Goose

            Some try to paint being opposed to NATO as automatically pro-Russia / China, in reality, for many, it’s actually always been about sovereignty and independence.

            The US doesn’t shoulder the huge costs of NATO because they just enjoy being charitable. It gives them real diplomatic clout and with it the leverage to bring European policy on everything from Israel – Palestine, to China, Russia, directly into line with Washington’s. Those who say NATO should be ‘at the core’ of our defence, are effectively arguing for our foreign policy to forever be decided in Washington.

          • U Watt


            More even than the politicians it is the uniform silence and complicity of Europe’s journalists that illustrates the depth of the mire. Who could have foreseen Europeans silently submitting to such brazen economic destruction and humiliation by the US/UK? If such a scenario had been depicted in a work of fiction it would have been dismissed as too far fetched.

          • Goose

            Indeed, this from today’s guardian:

            Exclusive : Leak reveals Roman Abramovich’s billion-dollar trusts transferred before Russia sanctions

            This is probably the sort of limp lettuce intel-sourced story Kath Viner and the guardian traded their investigatory soul for. Hardly the Snowden revelations, is it?

  • John Kinsella

    Hello Goose.

    You said (of Wallace and Daly) ” They are democratically elected. If people agree with you then they’ll likely be voted out.”.

    If they were out and out Nazis would you be so blasé?

  • kashmiri

    “I had always assumed they can [access my mailbox] remotely anyway”.

    Not entirely correct. In most cases, they can’t. Large Western email providers have too many corporate customers who pay millions for email security, and too much of investors’ trust, to allow what essentially is a security gap: an possibility for anonymous external parties to access customers’ emails. That’s not the case with Russian or Chinese email providers, though. Also, it’s documented that Yahoo had provided a backdoor that allowed the NSA to read emails in transit, as they were arriving at or leaving the target mailbox (but not to access the mailbox content).

    It’s possible and actually not too complicated to set up own secure mailbox, either on a virtual private server or even on a small home device, with near certainty that no external party will have access to it.

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