Saturday 26 April 2014

Ukraine update - 04/25/2014

John Kerry and the "last resort" rule as a cause for optimism

25 April, 2014

Listening to Kerry today I went through a series of rather contradictory emotions.  First, I felt disgusted, then my disgust turned to anger, then to outright amazement and, by the end, I actually felt rather happy.  Let me explain why.

First, of course, my stomach turns every time I hear this prototypical representative of the 1%er plutocracy speaking to the world as if he was some kind of Emperor-schoolteacher scolding a class of rather dumb and unruly kids for their bad behavior and promising them a spanking.  We all know that folks like Obama or Baby Bush are just puppets, a mostly empty shell shown to the zombified public as "The President and Commander in Chief" while in reality these guys are basically spokesmen.  Not so Kerry.  He is in the Dick Cheney or James Baker class, not quite at the top of the power pyramid, but much higher up.  These are the folks who step in when the mindless puppet makes a mess and some brains are needed on the frontlines.  I find these people profoundly repulsive (though I could not help admiring James Baker's fantastic diplomatic skills).

My initial disgust turned into rage when I heard Kerry speak such lies that out to make even a politician feel ashamed of himself.   Most of what Kerry said could quite literally be turned around by 180 degrees and become true.  Even though I am now 50 years old and I have seen all sorts of lies, deceptions, betrayals and falsehoods over the years, I still have a naive voice in me screaming "how can he say that?", "does he not feel horribly ashamed?", "how can he live with himself?".  I know.  I am naive and idealistic.  I just cannot get used to it.  Even after 50 years.

Eventually, my rage turned into outright amazement.  At this point, I was beyond good and evil, I was marveling at the nerve it takes to go on world-wide TV and basically state that he earth is not round, but triangular, that 2+2=317 and that black is pink with green dots.  He even added that it was impossible to turn black into grey, that black was just that, black.  At this point I was awed.

And then, suddenly, it hit me.  Kerry and the interests he represents are really terrified and frustrated.  His statement is a desperate attempt to do what the lawyers call the "last resort rule".  It goes like this: “If you have the law, hammer the law. If you have the facts, hammer the facts. If you have neither the law nor the facts, hammer the table”.  Kerry was hammering the table really very, very strongly and that, I realized, was an implicit admission that neither the (international) law nor the facts were on his side.  Had the facts or the law been on his side, there would have been no need for table hammering, of course.

His panic and frustration also showed in his rather clumsy 
attack on the Russia Today TV channel.  Here is what he said:
In fact, the propaganda bullhorn that is the state-sponsored Russia Today program, has been deployed to promote – actually, Russia Today network – has deployed to promote President Putin’s fantasy about what is playing out on the ground. They almost spend full time devoted to this effort to propagandize and to distort what is happening or not happening in Ukraine. Instead, in plain sight, Russia continues to fund, coordinate, and fuel a heavily armed separatist movement in Donetsk.
But think about it:  Russia Today does not broadcast in Ukrainian or Russian.  It broadcasts in English, Spanish and Arabic.  The only thing RT does broadcast in Russian are its documentaries on its dedicated website:  This is a tiny fraction of what the channel really does and its audience in Russia or the Ukraine is minute compared to the one of the big Russian TV channels.  So why did Kerry single our Russia Today?  The answer is obvious, of course, it is because Russia Today is a very popular TV channel outside Russia or the Ukraine.  According to Wikipedia,
The network's signal is carried by 22 satellites and over 230 operators, which allows some 644 million people to watch the channel in more than 100 countries. RT America is available to 85 million people in the United States.  In 2011 it was the second most-watched foreign news channel in the U.S. after BBC World News, and the number one foreign station in five major U.S. urban areas in 2012. It is also very popular among younger American people, U.S. college students, and in U.S. inner city neighborhoods. In 2013 RT has become the first TV news channel in history to reach 1 billion views on YouTube. According to the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board between 2.2–2.3 million Britons tuned their televisions to RT during the second half of 2012, making it the fourth-most watched rolling news channel in Britain, behind BBC News, Sky News and Al Jazeera English.
Remember the candid admission of Walter Isaacson, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, who openly declared that,
We can't allow ourselves to be out-communicated by our enemies, you've got Russia Today, Iran's Press TV, Venezuela's TeleSUR, and of course, China is launching an international broadcasting 24-hour news channel with correspondents around the world [and has] reportedly set aside $6 -10 billion dollars – we have to go to Capitol Hill with that number – to expand their overseas media operations.”
So there you have it.  The problem is not that Russia Today is stirring up the people of eastern Ukraine, the problem is that thanks to Russia Today the peoplein the West are beginning to see through the official propaganda!  That is the real reason for Kerry frustrated outburst.

So, to sum things up:

1) The law is not on Kerry's side.

2) The facts are not on Kerry's side.
3) The people in the West are beginning to see through the lies of the propaganda machine.
4) There is nothing the Empire can do about any of that.

If any confirmation of that was needed, it came today with the amazing performance of Mark Levine on today's CrossTalk show.  It's not on YouTube yet, but you can watch it here:  Levine turned CrossTalk into CrossShout, another clear case of "table hammering".  Why - for the same reasons as Kerry.  Nothing else works for him anymore.

Ever since Putin came back to power, Russia is not playing by the same set of rules as the ones drafted by the Empire.  Both in Syria and the Ukraine, Russia has been very carefully but steadily pushing back the international AngloZionist plutocracy and loosening its grip on the planet and this is directly reflected in the impotent rage of Kerry and his fellow 1%ers.

This, I think, is very good news indeed.


The Saker

Self-defense forces detain intl military observers in eastern Ukraine
Anti-government activists in Slavyansk have detained military observers who had been traveling with the OSCE mission. The OSCE dismissed the claim of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry that its mission has been detained in Slavyansk.

25 April, 2014

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) on Friday said that an international military mission has been detained in eastern Ukrainian Donetsk region but the group is not connected to the OSCE observers.

The detained team is "not OSCE monitors" but was sent by OSCE member states in accordance with the 2011 Vienna Document on military transparency, the organization explained on Twitter.

1/4 Comms with military observers in Donetsk region lost.Team not OSCE monitors but sent by States under Vienna Doc on military transparency

The “people’s mayor” of Slavyansk, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov, said that a vehicle containing the international inspectors has been stopped because it contained officers of the General Staff of Ukrainian Armed Forces, military-looking men and munitions.

It is true that we have detained the bus, as there we immediately found forbidden bullet shells and other munitions. We are currently sorting out who are these people driving inside it,” Ponomaryov told Interfax by telephone.

Ponomaryov later told RIA Novosti that the situation with the detained group will be resolved “by morning.”

It is the line-up of the delegation that has raised our suspicion. I had met with the representatives of the OSCE before, we had normal businesslike talks. But back then the line-up was totally different. Now there were some military, more like some special-service agents,” Ponomaryov said.

You have to understand that it is wartime here. We had to detain and check them,” he added.

Earlier Friday, Kiev authorities claimed that an OSCE mission working in eastern Ukraine has been detained by a group of “terrorists.”

On April 25, 2014, unidentified men stopped a bus with 13 passengers entering Slavyansk from the direction of Kramatorsk. Among them were seven representatives of the OSCE, five representatives of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and a driver of the vehicle,” the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said in a statement.

According to the ministry, the bus has been driven to the occupied Security Service building in Slavyansk and the passengers are currently being held there.

The German Foreign Ministry earlier said it had lost contact with the German-led group of military observers dispatched to eastern Ukraine on April 21. According to the ministry, the group is comprised of three German soldiers, a German translator and military observers from the Czech Republic, Poland, Sweden and Denmark.

The group had been traveling with the OSCE mission to Ukraine, AP reported.

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry says talks are ongoing with the anti-government activists on the release of the group.

On Friday, Kiev authorities launched the “second stage” of the so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in the city of Slavyansk, which has been one of the strongholds of anti-government activists in the Donetsk region. In the previous stage of the operation Thursday, five activists were reported killed in checkpoints raids, including a 22-year-old man. Slavyansk activists claim the victims were unarmed and stood guard at the checkpoints only to check the IDs of the drivers and to prevent the troops and Right Sector radicals from covertly entering the city.

Inside Slavyansk, stopping vehicles and checking of IDs by armed self-defense activists has recently become frequent amid a tense atmosphere and reports of forces loyal to Kiev infiltrating the defiant city. Protest leader Ponomaryov on Friday claimed that groups of Right Sector members armed with sniper rifles and night vision equipment have been trying to get into Slavyansk under the guise of the city’s blockade by the Ukrainian troops.

Ukraine: pro-Russian separatists hold European military observers captive
Monitors held in Slavyansk by Vyacheslav Ponomarev's militants, who captured Vice journalist Simon Ostrovsky

25 April, 2014

Pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine were holding a group of European military observers in the city of Slavyansk on Friday night, claiming they had been travelling with a spy for the Kiev government.

The group was operating under the mandate of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and comprised four Germans, a Pole, a Dane, a Swede and a Czech officer. According to the Ukrainian interior ministry, they were being escorted by five members of the Ukrainian armed forces when their bus was seized by separatists.

The ministry said it believed they were being held in the state security service (SBU) building in Slavyansk, which is being occupied by separatists led by a militant leader, Vyacheslav Ponomarev, who has declared himself the city's mayor.

Ponomarev told journalists: "It was reported to me that among them was an employee of the Kiev secret military staff … People who come here as observers for the European community bringing with them a real spy – that is inappropriate."

The detention came as the US, UK, France, Germany and Italy threatened Russia with new sanctions, accusing Moscow of stoking tensions in eastern Ukraine with bellicose rhetoric and military manoeuvres on the border.

The new sanctions would take the form of an expansion in the list of prominent Russian individuals and companies accused of direct involvement in Moscow's intervention in Ukraine and subject to visa bans and asset freezes. The EU list has been provisionally enlarged from 33 names to about 50, but it will only take effect once it has been approved by all member states. A foreign ministers' meeting is expected next week to debate the Ukraine crisis and make a final decision on the list.

It was not clear on Friday night when new US sanctions would be implemented. The White House said further steps would be taken in consultation with G7 and EU leaders. It was also not immediately clear whether the two G7 leaders not involved in the call, Canada's Stephen Harper and Japan's Shinzo Abe, had already been consulted separately.

The sanctions threat came after a conference call between Barack Obama – during a visit to Seoul – David Cameron, Fran├žois Hollande, Angela Merkel and Matteo Renzi.

"The leaders also agreed that Russia had not reciprocated – including by not publicly supporting the Geneva accord, nor calling on armed militant groups to lay down their arms and leave the government buildings they've occupied – and had in fact continued to escalate the situation through its increasingly concerning rhetoric and threatening military exercises on Ukraine's border," a White House statement said.

"The president noted that the United States is prepared to impose targeted sanctions to respond to Russia's latest actions."

Downing Street said the leaders had condemned "the absence of any efforts on the part of Russia to support the implementation of the Geneva agreement, and the further efforts to destabilise Ukraine".

The detained European observers were working for a small German-led military monitoring mission invited into the country by the Kiev government under an OSCE mandate. They report back directly to their national capitals, rather than to OSCE headquarters in Vienna.

Simon Ostrovsky, an American journalist from Vice News who was detained for four days in the same building as the monitors, gave a grim account of conditions. "On Monday night I was pulled out of a car at a checkpoint, then blindfolded, beaten, and tied up with tape. After spending hours alone on the floor of a damp cell with my hands tied behind my back and a hat pulled over my eyes, I was led into a room where I was accused of working for the CIA, FBI and Right Sector, the Ukrainian ultranationalist group," he wrote. "When I refused to give the password to my laptop, I was smacked in the arm with a truncheon. When I was asleep on the floor, masked men came to wake me up and tell me how no one would miss me if I died, and then kicked me in the ribs as they left."

He said he saw a dozen other detainees in the cellar, including Artyom Deyneha, a local computer programmer, Serhiy Lefter, a freelance journalist and Vadim Sukhonos, a deputy in the city council.

Ukraine announced it was launching the second phase of its "anti-terrorist operation" in the east of the country, designed to squeeze out separatist rebels from Slavyansk. The interior minister, Arsen Avakov, denied claims he had suspended the operation on Thursday because of the growing threat of Russian invasion.

A column of Ukrainian armoured vehicles flattened several checkpoints on the outskirts of the town, only to retreat. Avakov said on Facebook his troops had shown restraint in order to minimise risks to the "peaceful population".

Ukrainian officials said the latest operation was designed to encircle Slavyansk, the de facto rebel capital, controlled by heavily-armed pro-Russian gunmen. They said the "terrorists" inside the town – with a population of 120,000 – had hidden themselves in kindergartens and hospitals. Ukrainian forces would not try to weed them out because of the obvious risk of civilian casualties, they said.

There were few signs, however, that this blockade was real. Ukrainian forces maintained a checkpoint, set up on Thursday, some six miles east of the town, along a forest road. Several buses carrying troops arrived to the north. But there was no Ukrainian army presence on the main route between Donetsk, the regional capital, and Slavyansk. The separatists remained dug in at a key southern entrance over a bridge, as well as other entry points.

The body of a second person found tortured near Slavyansk was identified on Friday as Yuriy Popravko, a 19-year-old Kiev student and Maidan activist. He was found dumped next to Vladimir Rybak, a city councillor from the town of Horlivka, and a prominent opponent of separatism. Rybak was abducted shortly after trying to push his way into Horlivka city hall and remove the "Donetsk People's Republic" flag. Kiev says it has intercepts showing that Slavyansk's self-appointed mayor Vyacheslav Ponomarev was involved in Rybak's murder.

Popravko disappeared on 16 April, after apparently travelling to Kharkiv in the east of Ukraine to see his girlfriend. According to Vesti newspaper, his relatives are trying to retrieve his body from Slavyansk's pro-Russian militia, so far without success. Gruesome photos circulating on the internet show that Rybak and Popravko were tortured then drowned.

On Friday, meanwhile, at an airfield in Kramatorsk, 9 miles away, a Ukrainian military helicopter caught fire. Pro-Russian militants issued a statement saying they had shot it. Black and grey smoke billowed above the base, recaptured by Ukrainian forces last week. Defence officials in Kiev confirmed that a sniper had hit the fuel-tank, causing the Mi-8 helicopter to explode. The pilot managed to escape, they said.

From the US propaganda service, CNN

Ukraine foreign minister speaks to CNN Cnn News Latest

Ukraine airport blast: Moment of massive explosion caught on tape in Kramatorsk

Kramatorsk airfield in eastern Ukraine is covered with smoke spreading over the area according to numerous videos emerging online. Explosions are heard in near the site.

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