U.S. Hawks Beat War Drums Over Ukraine; Where Is The Free Press?

 

President Obama held an outwardly inconclusive bilateral strategy meeting this month at the White House with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that masked a deep struggle between war hawks in the United States and European allies. They are shown below in a White House photo taken in the Roosevelt Room.

bo_angela_merkel_2_9_2015_ukraine_wh

So far, the president and several of his advisors have resisted intense, bipartisan pressures from Congress, Wall Street and the establishment media to escalate U.S. arms support for the faltering Ukrainian government.

Such shipments would almost inevitably mean more U.S. training and other escalation. Although Russia has incurred serious hardship from sanctions and oil drop prices as widely reported there are countervailing developments little noted that help sustain its position and hurt Europe and the United States. Russia has been taking long-term measures, for example, to win such allies as the other BRICS nations (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) in trade agreements that reduce the impact of sanctions and dollar-based trading.

March 4 Update: Despite Russian Warnings, US Will Deploy a Battalion to Ukraine by the End of the Week from Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge. See also previous update: Defenders of the Donbass region under attack by NATO-backed Ukrainian forces reported on Feb. 17 a major victory underway in Debaltseve, where Donbass separatists surrounded between 5,000 and 8,000 Ukrainian troops before last week's ceasefire that took effect for the most part on Sunday except for the Debaltseve area.

The Saker, the pen name for a widely read pro-separatist military analyst based in the United States, wrote that field reports indicate that "All this is truly catastrophic news for the junta in Kiev" because their troops' capture or killing would represent a serious blow to the U.S.-backed Kiev government. That government has long denied that its troops were have been surrounded or seriously endangered in the "cauldron" in Debaltseve, which is a war-devastated city with a strategic railway junction between two rebellious regions with large Russian-ethnic populations.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department said U.S. interests are not served by a "proxy war" with Russia. The State Department statement at a press conference suggested that the Obama administration continues to resist congressional pressure for arm deliveries, especially in view of opposition of European powers and battlefield reverses for Ukrainian troops supported by NATO.

We have followed this debate closely for more than a year since taped conversations revealed the United States had orchestrated the coup in February 2014 that changed the country’s government and installed the current leaders.

Our research spans a full range of commentators. This editor attended, for example, the announcement at the Atlantic Council Feb. 2 of its major position paper seeking escalation and participated in a conference call the next day with the Ukraine’s new finance minister, U.S. native and former State Department employee Natalie Jaresko. She has lived in the Ukraine the past two decades and become a player with the help of $122 million in U.S. Agency for International Development funding. She answered questions from prominent news organizations. Our research includes also alternative commentators from the United States and Europe, including from the rebellious and largely Russian-speaking sectors of Eastern Ukraine known as the Donbass. Its residents are key players yet receive little coverage.

The Kiev-based NATO-backed new government has been encountering recruiting difficulties also, as indicated by this video clip on YouTube headlined, "Ukraine woman from Zaporozhia region brilliantly takes down the war and the draft."

Regarding the dangerous situation, Reuters reported over the weekend, Merkel defends Ukraine arms stance in face of U.S. criticism. 

Her concerns were pooh-poohed by those making the case for U.S. escalation at an important forum hosted in Washington, DC by the Atlantic Council Feb. 2, "The Ukraine Crisis: Withstand and Deter Russian Aggression."

Gen. Philip Breedlove Official PhotoThe New York Times broke the story U.S. Takes New Look at Arming Ukraine Forces, Officials Say of the new pressure by the neo-conservative and neo-liberal opinion leaders to double-down the United States investment in the Ukraine in the face of military, diplomatic and financial reverses for the West there during recent weeks following the overthrow of Ukraine's government a year ago.

Brookings Institution President Strobe Talbott helped lead the way last week in a joint report by him and seven other prominent centrist former diplomats and military leaders in urging a $3 billion "non-lethal defensive" arms and training rescue package for the Kiev-based Ukrainian government to begin as soon as possible and extend over the next three years. Talbott said Russia has committed "act of war" in the Ukraine.

Russia denies sending organized troops, only permitting volunteers. Virtually no debate has occurred in Western media regarding amounts of Western military and intelligence help so far for the Kiev government backed by the West. At the Atlantic Council forum, however, speakers estimated 150 to 200 Russian military personnel in the Ukrainian and an unspecified number of U.S. personnel.

NATO's top commander in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, shown in his official photo, has said weapons and equipment and other equipment are an option. As a sign of the pressures for escalation, his statement was unusual but little noted as such. The United States tradition has been for the military to defer to civilian leadership on policy.

Commentator Robert Parry, who broke the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s as an Associated Press and Newsweek reporter, wrote this week in Wretched US Journalism on Ukraine that he has never witnessed the media march so much in lock-stop to the leaks and pronouncements of the U.S. Department of State and other Western authorities. This includes, he wrote, the media’s parroting of the “Weapons of Mass Destruction” canard enabling the Iraq war in 2003.

Parry's warning is apt and worrisome, especially given the seldom reported historical background, recent events, and imminent decision-making.

The relentless pro-escalation, pro-Kiev, anti-Donbass slant in the Western media is not just within the United States. It is especially prevalent in the United Kingdom and its major news organizations, such as the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation). Two of its major recent stories were headlined: Ukraine conflict: Obama warns Putin ahead of peace talks on Feb. 11 and Ukraine crisis: UK 'cannot allow armed forces to collapse.'

Regarding historical background, no analysis of the situation can be meaningful without at least occasional reference to the $5 billion the United States has spent to destabilize the previous Ukrainian government and the coup last Victoria Nuland, Geoffrey Pyattt and Petro Poroschenko 2014February that changed leadership.

This was disclosed publicly and privately by the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Victoria Nuland, whose phone call to U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt was intercepted a year ago and widely reported, as in U.S. diplomat apologizes for profane remarks on E.U. in leaked phone call.

Nuland, wife of longtime author and interventionist Robert Kagan, an early advocate during the 1990s of a new U.S. war against Iraq, sneered at what she regarded as slow-moving European efforts to take action against the government of the Ukraine before the coup in late February 2014. Nuland and Pyatt are shown in a photo greeting Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko last year with Secretary of State John Kerry in the background.

Relevant also, albeit not necessary for constant repetition, is the history of the Ukraine.

More important, are the current concerns of ethnic Russian residents of Eastern Ukraine who are typically treated as non-players in the political and military events occurring around them except as victims of violence from unspecified sources.

Ukraine couple Фото: Валерий Мельников Ria Novosti Valeriy Meinikov

Glossed over in Western accounts is that much of the East did not participate in Poroshenko's election and instead chose different leaders during their succession.

Additionally, the civil war has almost entirely been waged within the East by troops predominately from elsewhere. For example, Poroshenko halted a 10-day ceasefire in the country’s east last July 1 and ordered the Ukrainian National Guard to resume fighting rebels.

The photo at right is from the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, which reported that Ukraine's central government attacked on July 2 civilians in the village of Luganskaya and nearby.

Such images should be part of Western news accounts even if debate can occur, as often in a war zone, regarding the specific circumstances.

The Russian news agency asserted that the damage came from Kiev-backed artillery shelling of civilian targets. But the agency also quoted Kiev authorities as denying they caused the damage. Kiev officials attributed the horrors to self-inflicted harm by rebels, an assertion disputed by some of the civilians interviewed in the bombing zone.

Most United States mainstream media have ignored the photos, attributed to RIA. Suppression helps keep news coverage focused on story lines advocated by the State Department, CIA and White House and those of like-minded news managers in other nations.

More generally, Western coverage seldom provides up-to-date maps and similar reporting on conditions in the Donbass, especially on any developments favorable to the rebel side. For nearly a week, most Western media have ignored in their maps and reporting evidence that rebels have surrounded an estimated 8,000 Kiev forces in what could be a major turning point in the battle, particularly given the Kiev government's recruiting and financial crises.
 
Comments and videos by leaders, soldiers and civilians from the east are available, as indicated below. News managers clearly deem it not newsworthy or reliable. But regarding reliability, there seems to be scant appreciation that in a deadly civil war propaganda comes from all sides.i

This raises a larger point that goes far beyond the Ukrainian situation:

Is the purpose of the U.S. and other Western media —including BBC, Reuters and other European media that have taken extremely pro-government stances in their news reports — primarily to amplify and otherwise repackage government messages? Or is the purpose to provide readers, viewers and voters a meaningful balance of perspectives from all relevant quarters to enable informed citizen decision-making? 

In that sense, NBC's Brian Williams suspension is part of this also. He has won many awards from his peers and yet has functioned more as a well paid actor portraying a reporter than a truth-seeker. It finally caught up with him, as blogger Bob Somerby, quoted below, has been writing for years. The Williams career is typical of many top-end anchors and other commentators whose slant is hard to detect and question in their most formal reports but becomes crystal clear in their books, high-paid lectures and other career-building appearances like those now hurting Williams.

Further, no one should doubt that those like Talbott and his peers are genuine experts. Talbott when he was Bill Clinton's roommate at Oxford, translated Nikita Khrushchev's historic, blockbuster memoirs -- illustrating how long he hasersed himself in these topics at a high level.

Yet our system is not supposed to be a few experts making war and peace decisions. That is why the president, the only one with a national constituency, is commander in chief.

There are, of course, other considerations, including news organization finances and political sensitivities. These make the Ukrainian situation all the more interesting. Few such case studies have the potential for war, disruption of both Russian and U.S. economies, and erosion of the United States relations with certain European nations. Significant elements of German and French leadership are opposed to the U.S. pressures to bulk up the Kiev government with arms. Yet congressional leaders from both major parties are pushing Obama to ramp up support.

Looming in the background are significant plans that Western defense contractors, energy companies and banking institutions have made for opportunities in the Ukraine, as well as a still-fervent anti-Russia segment of the American public. The mainstream media are increasingly part of that system, not a watchdog or educational services, as I've argued in my books and at this site.

Similar questions arise in many other foreign relations and domestic politics situations.

Prosecutors, for example, enjoy massive advantages in public relations battles against criminal defendants, for example, especially since financially strapped media have withdrawn routine coverage of the justice system except for pack journalism on high-profile cases.

These situations are too complex to resolve here. This is a start in raising the question, much like our recent column this month urging a fight against propaganda from the left, right and center.
 
In that spirit and in advance of important developments expected soon, we provide a sample of recent commentary on the Ukraine, including alternative views seldom reported in the West along with mainstream reports.
 
 
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Editor's Recommendations

Consortium News, Wretched US Journalism on Ukraine, Robert Parry, Feb. 9, 2015. Robert Parry, shown in a file photo, broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. Robert ParryThe U.S. news media has failed the American people often in recent years by not challenging U.S. government falsehoods, as with Iraq’s WMD. But the most dangerous violation of journalistic principles has occurred in the Ukraine crisis, which has the potential of a nuclear war. A basic rule of journalism is that there are almost always two sides to a story and that journalists should try to reflect that reality, a principle that is especially important when lives are at stake amid war fevers. With very few exceptions, the mainstream U.S. media has simply regurgitated the propaganda from the U.S. State Department and other entities favoring western Ukrainians. There has been little effort to view the worsening crisis through the eyes of ethnic Russian Ukrainians living in the east or the Russians witnessing a political and humanitarian crisis on their border. Frankly, I cannot recall any previous situation in which the U.S. media has been more biased -- across the board -- than on Ukraine. Not even the "group think" around Iraq's non-existent WMDs Lyndon Johnson Gulf of Tonkin talk LBJ Librarywas as single-minded as this.

Consortium News, Failing Tonkin Gulf Test on Ukraine, Robert Parry, Feb. 21, 2014. President Lyndon Johnson announces 'retaliatory' strike against North Vietnam in response to the supposed attacks on U.S. warships in the Gulf of Tonkin on Aug. 4, 1964. (Photo credit: LBJ Library) As the Ukraine crisis worsens, Official Washington fumes only about “Russian aggression,” much as a half century ago, the Tonkin Gulf talk was all about “North Vietnamese aggression.” But then and now there were other sides to the story – and questions that Congress needed to ask.

 

Breaking News and Analysis

Update

Zero Hedge, Despite Russian Warnings, US Will Deploy a Battalion to Ukraine by the End of the Week, Tyler Durden, March 4, 2015. The United States will deploy personnel by the end of this week to train the Ukrainian national guard, US 173rd Airborne Brigade Commander Colonel Michael Foster said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC on Monday. “Before this week is up, we’ll be deploying a battalion… to the Ukraine to train Ukrainian forces for the fight that’s taking place,” he stated. “If Russia will invade Ukraine, why would we not think they will invade the US next?” The current plan is for US forces to stay six months, he said, and noted there have been discussions about how to increase the duration and the scope of the training mission. Despite earlier warnings from Russia (and claims that NATO had not agreed to any such foreign ‘boots on the ground’ action’). This comes a week after PM David Cameron confirmed Britain will be sending 75 military personnel to help combat Russian military aggression. Russia’s Ambassador to the North Atlantic Alliance Alexander Grushko said on Monday Moscow will take all measures, including military-technical, to neutralize possible threat from NATO presence in Ukraine.

OpEdNews, Washington Has Resurrected The Threat Of Nuclear War, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in file photo), Feb. 24, 2015. Foreign Affairs is the publication of the elitist Council on Foreign Relations, a collection of former and current Paul Craig Robertsgovernment officials, academics, and corporate and financial executives who regard themselves as the custodian and formulator of U.S. foreign policy. One doesn’t expect to find humor in it, but I found myself roaring with laughter while reading an article in the February 5 online issue by Alexander J. Motyl, “Goodbye, Putin: Why the President’s Days Are Numbered.” Absurd statement followed absurd statement. I couldn’t stop laughing. To my dismay, I discovered that the absolute gibberish wasn’t a parody of Washington’s propaganda. Motyl, an ardent Ukrainian nationalist, is a professor at Rutgers University and was not joking. What we see here with Motyl is the purest expression of blatant propagandistic lies. Former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union (1987-91) Jack Matlock cautioned against the crazed propagandistic attack against Russia in his speech at the National Press Club on Feb. 11. Read Matlock. Don’t bother with the utter fool Motyl.

PaulCraigRoberts.org, Update of Minsk Peace Deal, Paul Craig Roberts, Feb. 13, 2015. The Saker and I are in agreement that the provisions of the peace deal are ridiculous and cannot and will not be implemented. Alexander Mercouris makes the point that one positive feature of the Minsk agreement, which isn’t actually a deal or an agreement, is that Europe is now involved and opposes Washington’s plan to escalate the military conflict. It is difficult to believe that European governments are not aware that the entire Ukraine crisis is a Washington orchestration. Now that Europeans are beginning to realize the risk and recklessness in Washington’s aggressive hostility toward Russia, Europeans might develop an independent foreign policy, as opposed to lining up with Washington, and cast off their vassalage.

OpEd News, The Battle Behind the Fog of Propaganda: The "Exceptional" U.S. Suffers Crushing Defeat in Debaltsevo, Mike Whitney, Feb. 21, 2015. "There's no city left. It's destroyed." -- Anonymous Ukrainian soldier following Ukraine Crisis Debaltsevethe battle of Debaltsevo. In less than a year, the United States has toppled the democratically-elected government of Ukraine, installed a Washington-backed stooge in Kiev, launched a bloody and costly war of annihilation on Russian-speaking people in the East, thrust the economy into a downward death spiral, and reduced the nation to an anarchic, failed state destined to endure a vicious fratricidal civil war for as far as the eye can see. Last week, Washington suffered its greatest military defeat in more than a decade when Ukraine's US-backed army was soundly routed in the major railway hub of Debaltsevo. Roughly, 8,000 Ukrainian regulars along with untold numbers of tanks and armored units were surrounded in what-came-to-be-known-as "the cauldron." The army of the Donetsk Peoples Republic led by DPR commander Alexander Zakharchenko, encircled the invading army and gradually tightened the cordon, eventually killing or capturing most [Editor's note: The numbers are disputed] of the troops within the pocket. The Ukrainian Armed Forces suffered major casualties ranging while a vast amount of lethal military hardware was left behind.

Associated Press via ABC News, US Troops Heading to Ukraine to Give Medical Training, Lolita C.  Baldor, Feb. 24, 2015. A U.S. military official said Tuesday the Pentagon will be deploying a small number of troops to Ukraine to provide combat medical training to forces there who have been battling Russian-backed separatists. Between five and 10 troops will go to western Ukraine next week for what will be a second round of coaching and mentoring members of the Ukraine military who will then go on to become trainers. The U.S. forces will deploy out of Europe. Last year, the U.S. trained about 300 Ukrainian troops on battlefield medicine. U.S. officials are continuing to review the range of instruction and other aid that can be provided to Ukraine. In London, meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced Tuesday that up to 75 British military personnel will deploy to Ukraine next month to provide advice and training to government forces. The U.K. servicemen will be based well away from the areas of conflict, and will offer medical, intelligence, logistics and infantry training.

Telegraph, British forces head for Ukraine as David Cameron issues warning to Vladimir Putin, Peter Dominiczak, Feb. 24, 2015. Prime Minister announces British infantry training mission to Ukraine as he warns of 'deeply damaging' consequences if EU fails to stand up to Vladimir Putin on Ukraine. British troops will be deployed in Ukraine to train soldiers fighting Russian separatists, David Cameron has said, as he delivered an extraordinary warning to Vladimir Putin over his continued aggression in eastern Europe. The Prime Minister said that there would be "deeply damaging" consequences for all of Europe if the EU fails to stand up to Putin in Ukraine, predicting that the Russian president could turn against the Baltic states or Moldova if he is not reined in now. Downing Street said that around 75 UK troops will travel to Ukraine to help with medical, intelligence, logistics and infantry skills.

Reuters, Ukrainian forces quit besieged town after rebel assault, Gleb Garanich and Anton Zverev, Feb. 18, 2015. Government forces were pulling out of an encircled town in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday after a fierce assault by Russian-backed separatists which Kiev and Europe said violated a crumbling ceasefire. President Petro Poroshenko said more than 80 percent of his troops had left the rail hub following a heavy bombardment and street-by-street battles. The rebels say the ceasefire, negotiated by Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France at a summit in Belarus last week, does not apply to Debaltseve, which links the two rebel-controlled regions of eastern Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk. For Poroshenko (shown in a file photo), the retreat may have saved the lives of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers who were all but trapped in the town against a better-equipped army. But another military defeat, coming as Ukraine approaches the first anniversary of the overthrow of the Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich, may be difficult to stomach for a population weary of a long conflict and could further damage Poroshenko's standing.

Barack Obama and Petro Poroshenko June 4,2014For Poroshenko (shown with President Obama in a White House photo last year), the retreat may have saved the lives of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers who were all but trapped in the town against a better-equipped army. But another military defeat, coming as Ukraine approaches the first anniversary of the overthrow of the Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovich, may be difficult to stomach for a population weary of a long conflict and could further damage Poroshenko's standing. [Editor's note: In a story seldom mentioned by Western media, Wikileaks exposed U.S. Department of State cables identifying Poroshenko as a loyal ally whose allegedly corrupt financial dealings were known to U.S. officials.]

Voice of America, US: 'Proxy War' With Russia Over E. Ukraine Not in World's Interest, Staff report, Feb. 17, 2015. The U.S. State Department said Tuesday it was not in the interests of Ukraine or the world to get into a "proxy war" with Russia over eastern Ukraine, a comment suggesting Washington is now shifting away from arming Ukrainian forces. “Our belief here in the administration, and I would be surprised if others disagree, is that getting into a proxy war with Russia is not anything that's in the interest of Ukraine or in the interest of the international community,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. “And certainly, as we weigh options, we weigh that as one of the factors.”

Washington Post, Cease-fire in peril as rebels trap 5,000 Ukrainian troops, Karoun Demirjian, Feb. 17, 2015. Pro-Russian separatists claimed control of the strategic railway hub at Debaltseve, where fighting continued despite the three-day-old truce.

CounterPunch, The Russian Loan and the IMF’s One-Two Punch, Ukraine Denouement, Michael Hudson, Feb. 16, 2015. The fate of Ukraine is now shifting from the military battlefield back to the arena that counts most: that of international finance. Kiev is broke, having depleted its foreign reserves on waging war that has destroyed its industrial export and coal mining capacity in the Donbass (especially vis-à-vis Russia, which normally has bought 38 percent of Ukraine’s exports). Deeply in debt (with €3 billion falling due on December 20 to Russia), Ukraine faces insolvency if the IMF and Europe do not release new loans next month to pay for new imports as well as Russian and foreign bondholders. The Obama administration is upping the ante and going for broke, hoping that Europe has no alternative but to keep acquiescing. But the strategy is threatening to backfire. The Ukraine adventure turn out to be the first step in the United States losing Europe.

Ukraine Map Wikimedia CommonsBBC, Ukraine conflict: Obama warns Putin ahead of peace talks, Staff report, Feb. 11, 2015. President Barack Obama has warned President Vladimir Putin that Russia will face greater costs if it continues its "aggressive actions" in Ukraine. Obama urged his Russian counterpart to seize the opportunity of fresh talks to find a peaceful solution to the war that has raged since April last year. Putin is due to meet with the leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine at a summit in Belarus on Wednesday. However, there was intense fighting in eastern Ukraine ahead of the talks. On Tuesday, four soldiers and at least eight civilians were killed in rocket attacks on a key military base and a residential area in Kramatorsk. The summit in the Belarusian capital Minsk is expected to focus on securing a ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons, as well as the creation of a demilitarized zone. The BBC's diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall says it remains unclear what concessions President Putin might be prepared to make while he continues to deny Russian involvement.

Rival agendas at Ukraine talks

  • Ukraine: Restore government authority over breakaway areas, though Donetsk and Luhansk regions could get greater self-rule; disarm rebel forces; withdrawal of Russian troops; restore Kiev's control over Ukraine-Russia border; full prisoner exchange.
  • Pro-Russian rebels: Separation from rest of Ukraine and recognition of "people's republics" of Donetsk and Luhansk; no disarmament of separatist forces; amnesty for separatist leaders.
  • Russia: Legal guarantees for rights of Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine; full autonomy for Donetsk and Luhansk in a federal system - not necessarily independence; no return of Crimea to Ukraine; withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from combat zone.
  • EU and US: Restore Ukraine's territorial integrity; end Russian intervention in eastern Ukraine - withdrawal of all Russian troops and heavy weapons; effective monitoring of Russia-Ukraine border and demilitarised zone between the combatants; full democracy in Donetsk and Luhansk.

BBC, Ukraine crisis: UK 'cannot allow armed forces to collapse,' Staff Report, Feb. 10, 2015. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond: There must be ''no let-up'' in the pressure on Russia. The UK is not planning to send arms to Ukraine but it cannot allow its armed forces to collapse, the foreign secretary has said. Philip Hammond told the Commons there needed to be "a diplomatic solution" to the conflict but the UK would keep its no-arms decision "under review." His statement comes amid an escalation in fighting between government forces and pro-Russian separatist rebels. The US has said it has not ruled out sending "lethal defensive weapons." The leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany are due to meet on Wednesday to hammer out a peace deal.

Associated Press Via Huffington Post, Obama Reconsidering Lethal Assistance To Ukraine, Julie Pace, Feb. 7, 2015. President Barack Obama is reconsidering his opposition to giving Ukraine defensive weapons and other lethal aid to help its struggling military repel Russian-backed rebels, a possible escalation that has had strong support from many in his national security team. The shift suggests the White House is growing increasingly concerned that its reliance on punishing Russia with economic sanctions isn't doing enough to change President Vladimir Putin's thinking about backing fighters in ethnic-Russian eastern Ukraine. The president's worries about sending higher-powered equipment to Ukraine are threefold, according to the official. He sees risk in starting a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia, which the West accuses of supplying rebels in eastern Ukraine. He is worried that the Ukrainian military may not be well-trained enough to effectively use U.S. equipment and believes no amount of arms would put Ukraine on par with the Russian military.

OpEdNews, Why Ukraine Matters to Americans, Michael Collins, Feb. 6, 2015. The Obama administration and Congress have absolutely no business at all interfering in the internal politics and government of Ukraine. They have no business providing aid to civil society groups to promote democracy. They have no reason to take actions that directly provoke Russia by creating a virulently anti-Russian, extremist state right on Russia's border. Our rulers should be laser focused on critical issues like a dead economy, zombie banks, and climate changes that threaten the continuation of anything approaching normal life on earth. They're not even close. Instead, this administration and many in the past waste our precious time and resources playing Monopoly with nation states and the entirety of their populations. Ask the Libyans and Syrians if you doubt this. Ukraine is a sovereign nation, once a part of Russia. When our rulers interfere in the internal affairs of other nations, it represents pure hypocrisy. The United States wouldn't tolerate foreign interference in its internal affairs intended to destabilize a sitting government and replace it with one more controlled by the interfering foreign power. In addition, the U.S. constantly preaches against this sort of interference by other nations. Despite the extreme aversion to being subject to this type of destabilizing interference, the U.S. foreign policy apparatus provided $5 billion to pro-Western, Ukraine factions over a number of years. The purpose was and remains regime change from a neutral or slightly pro Russian government to a state lead by extremists and oligarchs.

Washington Post, Ukraine’s currency just collapsed 50 percent in two days, Matt O'Brien Feb. 6, 2015. Ukraine, to use a technical term, is broke. That's what you call a country whose currency has lost half its value in just two days. The problem is simple: Ukraine has no money and barely any economy. It's already talking to the IMF about a $15 billion bailout and what's euphemistically being called a debt "restructuring" — i.e., default—as its reserves have dwindled down to $6.42 billion, only enough to cover five weeks of imports. (Three months worth is considered the absolute least you can get by with).

Atlantic, Caught in the Crossfire in Eastern Ukraine, Alan Taylor, Feb. 4, 2015 (Photo essay). Battles in eastern Ukraine have surged anew, with the civilian population suffering dozens of deaths from ongoing rocket attacks. A collapse of peace talks in Belarus in mid-January preceded intensified fighting in Donetsk, with pro-Russian separatists making strides in capturing territory from the government in Kiev. Their main offensive is now directed at Debaltseve—a government-held railway junction once populated by 25,000 people that lies between the rebel-held cities of Luhansk and Donetsk. Almost 2,000 residents have fled in the last few days alone. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has accused Russia of sending thousands of troops to back the rebels, while the United States and European Union threaten tougher measures should Moscow fail to rein in the separatists. Warning: Several of these photographs are graphic in nature.

Zero Hedge, Russia Cuts Off Ukraine Gas Supply To 6 European Countries, Tyler Durden, Jan. 14, 2015. Vladimir Putin ordered the Russian state energy giant Gazprom to cut supplies to and through Ukraine amid accusations, according to the Daily Mail, that its neighbor has been siphoning off and stealing Russian gas. Due to these "transit risks for European consumers in the territory of Ukraine," Gazprom cut gas exports to Europe by 60%, plunging the continent into an energy crisis "within hours." The European Union raged that the sudden cut-off to some of its member countries was "completely unacceptable," but Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller later added that Russia plans to shift all its natural gas flows crossing Ukraine to a proposed route via Turkey. Gazprom, the world’s biggest natural gas supplier, plans to send 63 billion cubic meters through a proposed link under the Black Sea to Turkey, fully replacing shipments via Ukraine. Editor's Note: Initial reports did not indicate timing.

Paul Craig RobertsPaul Craig Roberts.org, Russia In The Cross Hairs, Paul Craig Roberts, Jan. 26, 2015. The conservative scholar Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was assistant Treasury secretary during the Reagan administration and associated editor of the Wall Street Journal. Washington’s attack on Russia has moved beyond the boundary of the absurd into the realm of insanity. The new chief of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, Andrew Lack, has declared the Russian news service, RT, which broadcasts in multiple languages, to be a terrorist organization equivalent to Boko Haram and the Islamic State, and Standard and Poor’s just downgraded Russia’s credit rating to junk status. Today, RT International interviewed me about these insane developments. In prior days, Lack’s charge would have led to him being laughed out of office. He would have had to resign and disappear from public life. Today in the make-believe world that Western propaganda has created, Lack’s statement is taken seriously. Yet another terrorist threat has been identified: RT.

Zero Hedge, Oliver Stone's New Movie: "Ukraine: The CIA Coup" Coming To A Theater Near You, Tyler Durden, Jan. 2, 2015. U.S. filmmaker Oliver Stone is currently engaged in production of a documentary about Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who fled the country following the February coup last year. As Sputnik reports, Stone's Facebook page notes, "[I] Interviewed Viktor Yanukovych 4 hours in Moscow for new English language documentary produced by Ukrainians. He [Yanukovych] was the legitimate President of Ukraine until he suddenly wasn't on February 22 of this year." The outspoken director then added, "the truth is not being aired in the West... many believe foreign elements were introduced by pro-Western factions with CIA fingerprints on it."
 

Other Related News Coverage

Mainstream Western Media

Update: Washington Post, Clashes over Ukraine rail hub test pledges for cease-fire, Karoun Demirjian, Feb. 17, 2015. Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels waged street-by-street battles in a strategic rail hub Tuesday, ignoring a cease-fire provision to begin withdrawing heavy weapons and exposing potential holes in the peace deal. Separatists appeared to make gains amid the chaos, claiming they took control of the prized railway station in Debaltseve. Government officials conceded that their forces lost ground and that some soldiers were taken prisoner, but they insisted that the fighting remained fluid. The various claims over Debaltseve could not be independently verified, and the Ukrainian statement did not give details on what areas were in rebel hands. Rebels claim key advances in contested Debaltseve, including possible control of railway station.

Atlantic Council, Report Calls on US to Provide Lethal Defensive Military Aid to Ukraine, Ashish Kumar Sem, Feb. 2, 2015. The United States must provide lethal defensive military assistance to Ukraine’s armed forces to make it “too costly” for Russia to continue meddling in its neighbor, according to a new report. The report, which was produced by the Atlantic Council, Brookings Institution, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, comes at a time of an escalation in fighting in eastern Ukraine and as the Obama administration reportedly reconsiders its options for dealing with that crisis.The report, "Preserving Ukraine’s Independence, Resisting Russian Aggression," specifically recommends:

  • The US should provide $1 billion in military assistance to Ukraine as soon as possible in 2015, followed by additional tranches of $1 billion in the next two fiscal years;
  • The provision of additional non-lethal assistance for Ukraine, including, counter-battery radars, drones, measures to combat enemy drones, secure communications capabilities, armored Humvees, and medical equipment; and
  • Other NATO members should also provide military assistance to Ukraine.

USA Today, Ukraine peace plan proposed amid pressure for lethal aid, Jane Onyanga-Omara and Oren Dorell, USA Today, Feb. 5, 2015. French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed a new John Kerrypeace initiative in Ukraine on Thursday, as pressure mounts for Western countries to provide the war-ravaged nation with the capacity to block further offensives from Russian-backed separatists. Hollande, who described the Ukraine conflict as a "war" said he and Merkel will travel to Moscow on Friday with a proposal "based on the territorial integrity of Ukraine." In Kiev, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Kerry urged Russia to cease its military support for separatists and commit to a diplomatic solution to the hostilities, but stopped short of promising military aid to Ukraine. The U.S. will discuss increasing sanctions on Russia, but no decision has been made on providing lethal aid to Ukraine, a senior State Department official on the way to Kiev said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly on the talks.

Economist, Fighting in Ukraine: Give war a chance, Staff report, Feb. 6, 2015. The war in south-east Ukraine continues to expand in both size and scope. After their latest push on Debaltseve, pro-Russian rebels are hemming in thousands of Ukrainian troops on three sides, and are close enough to shell their supply route from Artemovsk. Ukraine’s generals have ordered their men to hold the line while diplomats struggle to revive the Minsk peace deal. Their soldiers fight valiantly, but with little understanding of the strategy. “We’ve either got to attack and even out the line, or retreat,” says one. “We’re doing neither.” Debaltseve’s strategic value lies in its rail and road links. With time, it has assumed symbolic importance. “There is not a tactical explanation for what Ukraine is doing,” says Igor Sutyagin at RUSI, a London-based think-tank. “There is a political and psychological explanation.” Losing Debaltseve would dent morale. Doctors in Artemovsk say official casualty figures are understated. Draft-dodging haunts Ukraine’s mobilisation effort. Criticism of the generals has mounted since the loss of Donetsk airport. Although Ukraine’s forces have so far given up little ground at Debaltseve, its fall is a matter of time. The road to Debaltseve runs through fields dotted with craters. Inside the city, water, gas and electricity have all been cut. Artillery crumps relentlessly, driving thousands into their basements.

Reuters, Ukraine war heats up, Aleksandar Vasovic, Feb. 4, 2015. Pro-Russian rebels appeared to be in full control on Wednesday of one of the towns that has been a principal target of their advance as they attempt to surround a nearby garrison of Ukrainian forces. The apparent fall of the town of Vuhlehirsk would be a setback for Kiev, which has been trying to defend it and the larger neighboring town of Debaltseve, an important rail hub, from encirclement by advancing rebels. Kiev's Western allies are alarmed over the rebel advance in recent weeks, which scuppered a five-month-old ceasefire. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is due to visit Kiev on Thursday amid talk that Washington might begin to provide weapons to the Ukrainian government for the first time.

Associated Press Via Huffington Post, Obama Reconsidering Lethal Assistance To Ukraine, Julie Pace, Feb. 2, 2015. President Barack Obama is reconsidering his opposition to giving Ukraine defensive weapons and other lethal aid to help its struggling military repel Russian-backed rebels, a possible escalation that has had strong support from many in his national security team. The shift suggests the White House is growing increasingly concerned that its reliance on punishing Russia with economic sanctions isn't doing enough to change President Vladimir Putin's thinking about backing fighters in ethnic-Russian eastern Ukraine. The president's worries about sending higher-powered equipment to Ukraine are threefold, according to the official. He sees risk in starting a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia, which the West accuses of supplying rebels in eastern Ukraine. He is worried that the Ukrainian military may not be well-trained enough to effectively use U.S. equipment and believes no amount of arms would put Ukraine on par with the Russian military.

Associated Press Via Huffington Post, Ukraine Troops Fight To Avoid Being Surrounded By Rebels, Peter Leonard, Feb. 2, 2015. As Ukrainian troops fought Monday to defend a strategic railway hub, Russian-backed separatists pledged to boost the size of their force and Washington pondered whether to expand its assistance to Ukraine to include lethal aid. President Barack Obama has so far opposed sending lethal assistance, but an upsurge in fighting in eastern Ukraine has spurred the White House to take a fresh look at supplying Ukraine with such aid, a senior administration official said. Since the unrest in eastern Ukraine surged anew in early January, the separatists have made notable strides in clawing territory away from the government in Kiev. Their main offensive is now directed at Debaltseve — a government-held railway junction once populated by 25,000 people that lies between the rebel-held cities of Luhansk and Donetsk. Almost 2,000 residents have fled in the last few days alone. Rebel forces have mounted multiple assaults on government positions in Debaltseve but all were repelled, a spokesman for Ukrainian military operations in the east, Andriy Lysenko, said Monday. "The units that have arrived in support of our troops in Debaltseve are counterattacking and denying the enemy the opportunity to complete the encirclement," he said. Separatist fighters burst through Ukrainian lines last week in the village of Vuhlehirsk on the road west of Debaltseve, getting access to a ridge overlooking the highway running north from the town. On Monday, Associated Press reporters saw Ukrainian tanks shooting from open fields at the tree line on that ridge. Minutes later, the tanks rolled back onto the highway, leaving a heavy trail of mud in their wake, and taking up new field positions a few hundred meters (yards) away.

New York Times, U.S. Takes New Look at Arming Ukraine Forces, Officials Say, Michael R. Gofron and Eric Schmitt, Feb. 1, 2015. With Russian-backed separatists pressing their attacks in Ukraine, NATO’s military commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, now supports providing defensive weapons and equipment to Kiev’s beleaguered forces, and an array of administration and military officials appear to be edging toward that position, American officials said Sunday. President Obama has made no decisions on providing such lethal assistance. But after a series of striking reversals that Ukraine’s forces have suffered in recent weeks, the Obama administration is taking a fresh look at the question of military aid. Secretary of State John Kerry, who plans to visit Kiev on Thursday, is open to new discussions about providing lethal assistance, as is Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, officials said. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is leaving his post soon, backs sending defensive weapons to the Ukrainian forces.

Bloomberg, U.S-Germany Rift on Ukraine Aids Putin, Josh Rogin, Feb. 7, 2015. Some European leaders are pushing back hard on Washington’s potential plan to send weaponry and other military goods directly to the Ukrainian military. This rift — over an initiative President Barack Obama has not even committed to — only benefits Russian President Vladimir Putin and the pro-Russian separatists inside Ukraine. The debate is playing out urgently here at the Munich Security Conference, where almost all the officials attending (not counting the Russians) can at least agree that the situation is deteriorating rapidly and that the West must act. But that’s where the agreement ends. The emerging split between the U.S. and Europe over Ukraine is exactly what Putin has been working toward. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel comes to Washington in two days, she and Obama will try to paper over that divide, but it is real and growing. Obama may ultimately decide that arming the Ukrainian military is too risky. Only after he says that openly could the U.S. and Europe start working on a real alternative strategy.

Reuters, Merkel defends Ukraine arms stance in face of U.S. criticism, Stephen Brown and Noah Barkin, Feb. 7, 2015. Germany's Angela Merkel said on Saturday that sending arms to help Ukraine fight pro-Russian separatists would not solve the crisis there, drawing sharp rebukes from U.S. politicians who accused Berlin of turning its back on an ally in distress. The heated exchanges at a security conference in Munich pointed to cracks in the transatlantic consensus on how to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin over a deepening conflict in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 5,000. U.S. senators Lyndsey Graham, shown in an official photo, and John McCain, both Republican hawks, were withering in their criticism of the German stance, which is supported by other big European countries like France. "At the end of the day, to our European friends, this is not working," Graham said of Merkel's diplomatic efforts. "Stand up to what is clearly a lie and a danger." McCain added: "The Ukrainians are being slaughtered and we're sending them blankets and meals. Blankets don't do well against Russian tanks." McCain added: "The Ukrainians are being slaughtered and we're sending them blankets and meals. Blankets don't do well against Russian tanks."

Associated Press Via Huffington Post, Ukraine Troops Fight To Avoid Being Surrounded By Rebels, Peter Leonard, Feb. 2, 2015. As Ukrainian troops fought Monday to defend a strategic railway hub, Russian-backed separatists pledged to boost the size of their force and Washington pondered whether to expand its assistance to Ukraine to include lethal aid. President Barack Obama has so far opposed sending lethal assistance, but an upsurge in fighting in eastern Ukraine has spurred the White House to take a fresh look at supplying Ukraine with such aid, a senior administration official said. Since the unrest in eastern Ukraine surged anew in early January, the separatists have made notable strides in clawing territory away from the government in Kiev. Their main offensive is now directed at Debaltseve — a government-held railway junction once populated by 25,000 people that lies between the rebel-held cities of Luhansk and Donetsk. Almost 2,000 residents have fled in the last few days alone. Rebel forces have mounted multiple assaults on government positions in Debaltseve but all were repelled, a spokesman for Ukrainian military operations in the east, Andriy Lysenko, said Monday. "The units that have arrived in support of our troops in Debaltseve are counterattacking and denying the enemy the opportunity to complete the encirclement," he said. Separatist fighters burst through Ukrainian lines last week in the village of Vuhlehirsk on the road west of Debaltseve, getting access to a ridge overlooking the highway running north from the town. On Monday, Associated Press reporters saw Ukrainian tanks shooting from open fields at the tree line on that ridge. Minutes later, the tanks rolled back onto the highway, leaving a heavy trail of mud in their wake, and taking up new field positions a few hundred meters (yards) away.

Reuters, New round of peace talks on Ukraine to be held soon: Kiev, Richard Balmforth, Jan. 14, 2015. A new round of peace talks on the conflict in Ukraine's east could be held in the next few days, Ukrainian officials said on Wednesday, even as Kiev called on the world to ostracize rebel forces over a deadly attack on a bus.

 

Anti-NATO English-Language Media

Kazzura and Newsfront via Vineyard of the Saker, Two Kazzura videos about Ukrainian POWs: 1) Journalists visited UA POWs to see the conditions they're being held in (above); and "Azov' regiment trooper press conference Donestsk (18:12 min.), Staff reports with English subtitles, Feb. 19, 2015.


Vineyard of the Saker, "Social warning" from Russia: we are ready for war. Are you? The Saker, Feb. 9, 2015. Saker (named for a large falcon native to Eurasia) is the pen name for a pro-separatist Eastern European native based in Florida and Delaware. One of the most striking Sakerdifferences between the Russian and Western media is the fact that the topic of a possible war is constantly discussed in the former and almost never in the latter. In Russia, the main news shows discuss the risks of war, as do a lot of well-known personalities. The second big difference is the rage and determination which are expressed by Russians of all walks of life. Russians find it amazing and absolutely crazy that the western "leaders" have apparently convinced themselves that the Russians will "blink" and let Obama scare them into not standing up for the Donbass. Russia will not attack first. That is utter nonsense. The mood is "if you really want a fight, then we will give you one." It gives me no pleasure to say that (actually it scares me), but I think that this warning must be circulated as widely as possible: Russia will not "blink" and Russia will not surrender.

Vineyard of the Saker, Yet another monumental failure for the junta, Feb. 17, 2015. All my sources confirm that Debaltsevo is mostly in Novorussian hands and that the junta forces are in full retreat to the south of the pocket. You can see that the cauldron "lid" has now closed on Debaltsevo from the north and that the junta forces are either surrendering of fleeing south where there is quite literally nothing for them to do then to wait until they run out of food and ammo. Bottom line: it's over for the Ukie forces in the Debaltsevo cauldron. Amazingly, the freaks in Kiev as still insisting that there is no cauldron but only a "bridgehead." All this is truly catastrophic news for the junta in Kiev.  First, their policy of denying the issue made it impossible for their forces to get out while it was still possible. According to Russian military experts, about half of all the (comparatively) combat capable units of the Ukrainian military have been surrounded in this cauldron and that means that 50% of the Ukrainian army is now gone. Second, while Poroshenko and the junta freaks tried as hard as they could to completely deny the very existence of the cauldron, thanks to the Internet and the Russian TV channels most folks in junta-controlled Ukraine know that they are being lied to. That, in turns, means that the regime is losing the very little credibility it might have had with the general public. Last and not least, now there will be a lot of very ugly recriminations from all sides of the political spectrum about who is guilty for that latest disaster.

South Front via YouTube, Military Report of Novorossia War in Ukraine, DPR, LPR, Staff report, Feb. 17, 2015. 2:23 minute video.

Executive Intelligence Review, Der Spiegel: ‘In the Crisis, Nuland Herself has Become the Problem,’ Staff report, Feb. 16, 2015. Germany’s Der Spiegel on Feb. 15 attacked Victoria Nuland, President Obama’s representative for Europe, as a threat to America’s allies. Der Spiegel described a closed-door meeting, apparently reported on anonymously both to it and to the Bild newspaper, held by Nuland at the Munich Security Conference one week ago, with "perhaps two dozen U.S. diplomats and Senators." There Nuland gave instructions to "fight against the Europeans" on the issue of arming Ukraine to fight Russia. She was described as "bitterly" referring to the German Chancellor Merkel’s and French President Hollande’s meeting with Russian President Putin as "Merkel’s Moscow junk," and "Moscow bullshit," and she welcomed a Senator’s calling German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen the "Defeatism Minister." These reports give the lie to Nuland’s claim on the morning of Feb. 11, when the Minsk Agreement was announced, that "we [the United States] enthusiastically support it." Der Spiegel says that Nuland does not stop short of calling for "heavy weapons" to be given by NATO to Ukraine. Wishfully, it says that her policy is quite different than Obama’s, and that he must deal with that.

RT, NATO top commander in Europe says 'military option' possible in Ukraine, Staff report, Feb. 7, 2015. NATO’s commander in chief says the West should not rule out arming Ukraine. General Philip Breedlove, shown in his official Gen. Philip Breedlove Official Photophoto, said no troops would be sent to the region, but providing Kiev with weapons and equipment was in the cards. Speaking to reporters at a security conference in Munich on Saturday, his strong comments come as the U.S. is considering sending weapons to help Kiev in its fight against anti-government militias. The chief commander of NATO, an Air Force general, said the proposal made by Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine was “completely unacceptable.” The head of the Russian Duma committee on CIS affairs and Eurasian integration, Leonid Slutsky, slammed Breedlove’s comments as “absolutely cynical.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Munich and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, while U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is also due to give a speech. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has already said the organization’s Response Force in Europe may increase to 30,000 troops — more than double the current 13,000 — with the majority to be posted near Russia’s borders. However, there are reports that NATO and the U.S. have been arming the Kiev forces. Russia’s ambassador to the organization, Aleksandr Grushko, says “there is a bulk of evidence that Western-made arms are being used in Ukraine,” mentioning lethal munitions such as NATO standard artillery shells. He has asked the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to investigate the claims.

Vineyard of the Saker, About US weapons deliveries and Novorussian mobilization plans, Feb. 6, 2015. U.S. political culture and propaganda have deeply ingrained in the minds of those exposed to the corporate media the notion that weapons or technologies win wars. Yes, when the difference in technologies is very big AND very wide this can help. But not one weapon system alone, and not when the difference in quality is marginal. Furthermore, a simpler, more "primitive" weapon which totally outclassed on the testing range can suddenly become much better suited to real combat then some techno-marvel. Even in the 21st century, what wins wars is not money or fancy gear, but courage, determination, moral strength, will power and the rage which seizes you when faced with brute, ugly evil. The junta forces have none of that. Their death squads (Aidar, Azov) can't fight a real ugly battle, and the regular military is demoralized. The real reason why U.S. weapon deliveries to the junta would be a big deal is not military, but political — it would be a visible sign of direct U.S. aggression against Novorussia and, through it, Russia herself. 

Fort Russ, The Debaltsevo Collapse, Yurasumy, Jan. 31, 2015. Fighting in Debaltsevo's outskirts has continued. Intensity approaches the earlier fight for the Donetsk Airport. During the winter when it became obvious the Ukrainian military is in no condition to attack, from the military point of view the salient should have been abandoned. But wars are started and ended by politicians. The soldiers just do the dying. The Ukrainian politicians, for their part, could not care less about Ukrainian soldiers. The media, in its attempt to consolidate Poroshenko’s oligarchic regime, inflated many myths, about the “cyborgs”, the “unbreakable three lines of defense,” etc., thus luring the Ukrainian army into the Debaltsevo noose out of which there is no way out. The Ukrainian soldiers were forbidden by their commanders, who were told by politicians that they HAVE TO hold on to Debaltsevo. No matter what. Even if it is an ideal target for modern artillery.

Ukraine war corpse 1498717_900 Валерий МельниковPortrayed is devastation in the Donbass in fighting during 2014.

Fort Russ, Order from Kiev: Break Donetsk at any cost, Staff report, Jan. 27. Translated from Russian by Tom Winter Feb. 6, 2015. The massive heavy artillery shelling on Donetsk has resumed. In several districts of the city, natural gas lines and electric substations are now out of service. Dozens more homes are without power and heat. Many are wounded, mostly peaceful citizens. At the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DNR), they have no doubt that Kiev is intent on aggravating the situation to the limit, and on striking the most vulnerable. Explosions are constantly heard, with fresh craters from the incoming shells. Close by, the roof of a house that people were still living in. The outskirts of the town are being systematically destroyed by artillery fire. There are dead and injured: the wounded are constantly being brought into hospitals, most with shrapnel wounds.

Fort Russ, Ukrainian POW's captured at Donetsk airport face NAF commander Givi and the fury of Donetsk residents, Staff report, Jan. 25, 2015. (Video: 22.14 min.) Warning: graphic content. This is a glimpse of war in Ukraine that you won't see on any mainstream TV channel.  See the captured Ukrainian military forced to meet the civilians that they were killing in the city that they were shelling. That is only fair, right? Background: What is happening in eastern Ukraine right now is being reported by the alternative media as a total rout of the Ukrainian troops by the Novorossian defenders who are defending their homes, families and properties from continuous shelling and death by the Ukrainian government, backed by the US and NATO who want to bloody Russia's nose and bring a larger war into the context of resource acquisition and global government. You won't get any of this from the mainstream news. All of this information is "off limits" to mainstream that is presenting the approximate opposite of all these facts. Let's be clear, the west organized a coup, a military takeover of the Ukrainian government complete with the installation of puppet leaders, even many of them foreigners. Ukraine hurriedly rewrote the constitution in order to accommodate their master's new rules. This is an attempt at more resource acquisitions by the west. The saga of American resource wars continues in Ukraine and innocent civilians are dying for the sake of these war crimes, same as in many other parts of the world, for many decades already, and intensifying in this decade with targets Russia and Iran on the table.

RT, Kiev Renews War On Eastern Ukraine, Paul Craig Roberts, Jan. 18, 2015. It was obvious from the beginning that the ceasefire that the Russian government supported would be used by Washington’s Kiev vassal state to recover from defeat by the Donetsk Republic and launch a new attack. The Western media, of course, will lie about the renewal of hostilities by Washington. Russian peoples will continue to be killed as long as the Russian government continues to rely on diplomacy with its “Western partners.” This euphemism is shopworn. The Russian government should cease using this deceptive term and acknowledge that the Western countries by their words and deeds have declared themselves to be enemies of the Russian people and the Russian government.

Fort Russ via Russia Insider, Ukraine's Poroshenko a Man of Peace Now? Joshua Tartakovsky, Jan. 4, 2015. Signs are he is engaged in the war against his better judgment. What is one to make of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s recent statement that violence and force have failed in suppressing the Donbass and that negotiations must be carried out? Poroshenko said that there is no military solution to the war in Donetsk and Lugansk while qualifying his statement by saying that if Russia will launch an intervention, Ukraine will introduce martial law. Poroshenko’s statement that  “we haven't got the resources for an offensive today" can be interpreted to mean that either he is planning to get the resources in the future or attempting to appear pragmatic so as to deflect accusations from ultra-nationalists that he betrayed their cause.  Poroshenko also said that he would meet the leaders of Russia, Germany and France in Kazakhstan on January 15 (incidentally the same day in which anti-Russian government protests are expected to be held in Moscow and around the world) to discuss a settlement.

Russia-Based Media Viewpoint/Backgrounder

RT, Russia must close NED, other US fronts for money laundering, Veronika Krasheninnikova, Oct. 1, 2012. Russia’s decision to shut down the US Agency for International Development (USAID) in Moscow, starting October 1st, was immediately followed by Washington’s “pledge to maneuver around the Kremlin,” according to a New York Times report. Indeed, State Department Press Secretary Victoria Nuland assured: “We will continue to be vigilant in supporting democracy, human rights, civil society in Russia. We’ll just do it another way.” Other US officials named possible avenues for such maneuvering: The National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and others. Let’s take a closer look at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), an umbrella organization that includes the two aforementioned institutes. It came to existence in quite a peculiar a way: US Code Title 22, ‘Foreign Relations and Intercourse,’ section 4411, ‘Findings,’ states, “The Congress finds that there has been established in the District of Columbia a private, nonprofit corporation known as the National Endowment for Democracy which is not an agency or establishment of the United States Government.”

The Reagan administration, after coming to power in 1981, was looking for a civilian cover for conducting subversive operations in the USSR after a vast plot involving the CIA funding of public organizations was uncovered by investigative journalists. As President of NED Carl Gershman stated in 1986, “We should not have to do this kind of work covertly. It would be terrible for democratic groups around the world to be seen as subsidized by the CIA. We saw that in the ‘60s, and that’s why it has been discontinued. We have not had the capability of doing this, and that’s why the endowment was created.” (The New York Times, June 1, 1986.) One of NED’s architects was Walter Raymond, Jr. According to the Washington Post, “From 1970 to 1982, he worked for the CIA, becoming an authority on overseas media operations.” In 1982, Raymond transferred to the National Security Council as Senior Director of International Communications and Information. In Gershman’s doublespeak, that reads as: “He was the democracy person at the White House, and his job, among other things, was to help the NED family take its first steps.” (Carl Gershman's tribute to Walt Raymond, April 24, 2003, is here: www.ned.org).

NED has been funded by the US Congress ever since, initially through the US Information Agency. After 1999, NED got its funds through the Department of State’s Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act. In 2011, the NED budget totaled $118 million, and $104 million this year. Just like any other government agency, NED directs its annual reports to the president and Congress. And one of NED’s founding fathers, Allen Weinstein, even confessed to the Washington Post in 1991 that, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.”

Who is running NED? Carl Gershman has held this position for almost thirty years, since 1984. What better shows to show Washington’s continuity, where “people is policy.” NED is supervised at the State Department by an Assistant Secretary in charge of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor. Barry F. Lowenkron held this position and oversaw NED from 2005 to 2007. According to his official biography, prior to this appointment Mr. Lowenkron served in the intelligence community, including two tours as Director of European Security Affairs on the National Security Council (1988-89 and 1991-93 – both critical times in Russia); Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence; Director of the National Intelligence Council's Analytic Staff; Civilian Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and other similar positions. Michael Posner currently supervises NED at the State Department. Previously, Mr. Posner was president of Human Rights First, whose stated mission is to “advance universal rights and freedoms.” Every year, Human Rights First presents their ‘Next Generation of Human Rights Defenders’ award. In 2008, Posner gave this award to a coordinator of Oborona, a leading Russian movement in the effort to foment a color revolution and oust Vladimir Putin.

NED is so clearly part of the US government that legislators had to pass a specific law stating that it was not. ‘Private’ organizations like NED are nothing but funding channels for activities that used to be run by the CIA under the title of ‘subversion.’ The fact that Washington is planning to redirect USAID funding through ‘private’ organizations reflects an outrageous level of disrespect for the decision of the Russian government. Russia needs to enforce its decision and shut operations of NED and its all four mandated grantees, namely the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity (ACILS). The process of concealing an institution’s income or funding is called money laundering, and is forbidden by international law.

Selected 2014 Coverage

Naked Capitalism, Meet and Greet Natalie Jaresko, U.S. Government Employee, Ukraine Finance Minister, Yves Smith, Dec. 4, 2014. The new finance minister of Ukraine, Natalie Jaresko, may have replaced her U.S. citizenship with Natalie JareskoUkrainian at the start of this week, but her employer continued to be the U.S. government, long after she claims she left the State Department. U.S. court and other records reveal that Jaresko has been the co-owner of a management company and Ukrainian investment funds registered in the state of Delaware, dependent for her salary and for investment funds on a $150 million grant from the US Agency for International Development. The records reveal that according to Jaresko’s former husband, Ihor Figlus, she is culpable in financial misconduct. Natalie Jaresko was appointed on Monday, and approved by a vote of the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday evening. A presidential tweet and an announcement from the office of President Petro Poroshenko say a decree has been signed granting Jaresko Ukrainian citizenship to qualify her to take office. The legality of the decree was challenged today by the head of Poroshenko’s bloc in parliament, Yury Lutsenko. Jaresko was born into the Ukrainian émigré community of Chicago. Figlus was at the U.S. Embassy in Kiev when Natalie was posted there. They married in 1989. Figlus went on to run the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine. He then took charge of the Western NIS Enterprise Fund. Since Jareshko and Figlus divorced in 2010, he has been airbrushed out of the business history she has portrayed as the basis of her experience and of her prepping to be the new finance minister of Ukraine. It hasn’t been rare for American spouses to go into the asset management business in the former Soviet Union, and make profits underwritten by the U.S. government with information supplied from their government positions or contacts. It is exceptional for them to fall out over the loot.

Hunter BidenPolitico, Hunter Biden named to Ukraine gas board, Lucy McCalmont, May 13, 2014. Hunter Biden, the younger son of Vice President Joe Biden, will be joining Ukraine’s largest private gas producer, the company announced in a statement. “The company’s strategy is aimed at the strongest concentration of professional staff and the introduction of best corporate practices, and we’re delighted that Mr. Biden is joining us to help us achieve these goals,” Alan Apter, Burisma Holdings’ chairman of the board of directors, said in a statement, which was reported by The Moscow Times on Tuesday. Biden, shown in a file photo, said the company will help strengthen Ukraine’s economy. "Burisma’s track record of innovations and industry leadership in the field of natural gas means that it can be a strong driver of a strong economy in Ukraine,” Biden said in a statement.

OpEdNews, Ukraine Coup Leaders Turn on People, Michael Collins, April 13, 2014. Ukrainian security forces are entering the city of Slavyansk in the eastern Ukraine according to reports from both RT and the Associated Press.  Protesters in that city seized several municipal buildings including police headquarters to protest government policies. The move came after the Ukraine's acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk issued a demand that citizens cease the occupation of public buildings across the eastern Ukraine. While the makeup of Ukrainian forces present in Slavyansk is not clear, their mission is to reclaim the police and other pubic buildings from protesters. The eastern Ukraine is the nation's industrial center. Over 60% of citizens are Russian-speaking. There is widespread concern about the Kiev government's plan to integrate with the European Union (EU) and shun Russian trade organizations. Much of the rhetoric was anti Russian. On March 2, Andrew Kreig reported: "The Ukraine's new deputy national security director has urged that Russia's most feared terrorist take action against Russia. In a shocking statement largely ignored by the Western media, Dmitry Yarosh asked the fugitive Doku Umarov March 1 to take advantage of the unique chance to win [in Chechnya] arising from disturbances in the Ukraine." Umarov was killed a few weeks later, reportedly as part of an effort by Russian security forces. Threats to Russians reached an even higher level in the new Ukrainian power structure. Former Prime Minister, oligarch, and current presidential candidate YuliaTymoshenko made the following threats after the citizens in Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation, "This is really beyond all boundaries. It's about time we grab our guns and kill go kill those damn Russians together with their leader," Tymoshenko said.

Vladimir PutinWashington Post, Putin: Will protect Russians in Ukraine, Kathy Lally and William Booth, March 4, 2014. He asserts that the pro-Russian former regime in Kiev was illegally overthrown and that the man he regards as Ukraine’s president asked him for military help.

Politico, RT Anchor Resigns On-Air: I Can't Be Part of Network 'That Whitewashes the Actions of Putin,' Dylan Byers, March 5, 2014. American 'RT' anchor quits in protest of network's Putin coverage. A Liz WahlWashington-based anchor for the Kremlin-backed RT news channel announced her resignation on-air Wednesday, saying she "could not be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashed the actions of Putin." Liz Wahl, an anchor in RT's D.C. bureau, told viewers how her parents had fled Soviet persecution during the Hungarian revolution. "That is why after this newscast, I'm resigning." Wahl's public resignation came two days after another anchor Abby Martin, condemned the military intervention during her own broadcast. "What Russia did is wrong," Martin said on Monday. "Military intervention is never the answer, and I will not sit here and apologize or defend military aggression." In the wake of Martin's remarks, RT (formerly Russia Today) released a statement saying that all RT journalists are "free to express their own opinions, not just in private but on the air" and that "there will be absolutely no reprimands made against Ms. Martin."

Op-Ed News, Propaganda Rules The News, Paul Craig Roberts, March 5, 2014. What has happened in Ukraine is that Washington plotted against and overthrew an elected legitimate government and then lost control to neo-nazis who are threatening the large Russian population in southern and eastern Ukraine, provinces that formerly were part of Russia. These threatened Russians have appealed for Russia's help, and just like the Russians in South Ossetia, they will receive Russia's help.

Washington Post, Why did Michelle Obama give a Ukrainian pop star the Women of Courage award?  Mamuma Ahuja, March 4, 2014. On Tuesday morning, first lady Michelle Obama and Deputy Secretary of State Heather Higginbottom presented 10 women from around the world the Secretary of State’s Women of Courage award. So how does a pop star from Ukraine make the list? "I think of myself as a volunteer ... showing people that we need to be here because there is no other way,” Ruslana said to Reuters in December. "Russia is our past, Europe must be our future," she explained. Even though Ruslana continues to be best known for her music, this isn't the pop star’s first foray into politics. Hercareer in activism and humanitarian work began long before the protests started in 2013. She was an active participant in the 2004 Orange Revolution, became the first ever UNICEF National Ambassador in Ukraine in 2005, was speaking out for renewable energy in 2008 and now acts as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

Barack Obama, John Kerry, Susan Rice, March 19, 2014

President Barack Obama talks with Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice in the Oval Office, March 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

New York Times, Pressure Rising as Obama Works to Rein In Russia, Peter Baker, March 2, 2014. As Russia dispatched more forces and tightened its grip on the Crimean Peninsula on Sunday, President Obama embarked on a strategy intended to isolate Moscow and prevent it from seizing more Ukrainian territory even as he was pressured at home to respond more forcefully. Working the telephone from the Oval Office, Mr. Obama rallied allies, agreed to send Secretary of State John Kerry to Kiev and approved a series of diplomatic and economic moves intended to “make it hurt,” as one administration official put it. But the president found himself besieged by advice to take more assertive action. The Russian occupation of Crimea has challenged Mr. Obama as has no other international crisis, and at its heart, the advice seemed to pose the same question: Is Mr. Obama tough enough to take on the former K.G.B. colonel in the Kremlin?

Washington Post, Obama speaks with Putin by phone, calls on Russia to pull forces back to Crimea bases, Karen DeYoung, March 1, 2014. President Obama spoke for 90 minutes with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday in what appeared to have been a testy exchange reflecting an escalating battle of wills and growing international tension over Ukraine. Obama expressed “deep concern” over Russia’s “violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity . . . [and] breach of international law,” the White House said. He called on Putin to pull Russian forces, now reportedly spread across Crimea, back to their bases in the autonomous Ukrainian region, according to a White House statement, and made clear that Russian refusal would lead to suspension of U.S. participation in planning for the upcoming Group of Eight summit in Sochi, Russia, scheduled for June, and “greater political and economic isolation.”

Geoffrey PyatttWashington Post, U.S. diplomat apologizes for profane remarks on E.U. in leaked phone call, Anne Gearan, Feb. 6, 2014. Victoria Nuland dismissively referred to slow-moving European efforts to address the crisis Victoria Nulandin Ukraine. The top U.S. diplomat for Europe apologized Thursday for comments about the European Union that were — to put it lightly — undiplomatic. “F--- the E.U.,” Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, left, said in a private telephone call to U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, right, that was intercepted and leaked online. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki acknowledged that the recording was authentic and said Nuland had apologized to E.U. officials. But U.S. officials were also quick to point the finger at Russia, which has bristled at U.S. involvement in Ukraine.

Washington Post, A quick guide to the people in the call on Ukraine, Terri Rupar, Feb. 6, 2014. Who Victoria Nuland is discussing in her phone call about the situation in Ukraine. In the call, Nuland, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO and State Department spokeswoman, was dismissively referring to slow-moving European efforts to address political paralysis and a looming fiscal crisis in Ukraine. But it was the blunt nature of her remarks, rather than U.S. diplomatic calculations, that seemed exceptional. Nuland also assessed the political skills of Ukrainian opposition figures with unusual candor and, along with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, debated strategy for their cause, laying bare a deep degree of U.S. involvement in affairs that Washington officially says are Ukraine’s to resolve.

Zero Hedge, "Behind The Kiev Snipers It Was Somebody From The New Coalition,"  Tyler Durden, March 5, 2014. When it comes to "dirty tricks" what is about to be presented blows the top off anything Russia may or has done to date. Earlier today an even more shocking recording has been "leaked" this time one between the always concerned about human rights EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet, in which it is revealed on tape that all those photos of horrifying deaths of Ukrainians by snipers during the last days of the Median stand off, were in fact caused not by snipers controlled by Yanukovich, but that the snipers shot at both protesters and police in Kiev were allegedly hired by Maidan leaders! Here is the key exchange, just after 8 minutes into the conversation:

Paet: "All the evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers from both sides, policemen and people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides.... Some photos that showed it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it is really disturbing that now the new coalition they don't want to investigate what exactly happened. So there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition."

Ashton: "I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh."

Paet: "It already discreditates (sic) this new coalition."

So first US orchestrates the Kiev overthrow, and now the new "leaders" of Ukraine are allegedly found to have fired against their own people -- the same provocation they subsequently used to run Yanukovich out of the country and install a pro-Western puppet government.

Of course, said pro-Western coalition has not been discredited because Ms. Ashton has sternly refused to investigate, knowing quite well how horribly this would reflect on the new Ukraine "leadership" -- a government which shot its own people to fabricate the pretext under which it rose to power. Is it any wonder then that Russia has responded the way it has?

War Is A Crime, The War Activists, David Swanson, March 21, 2014. War activists, like peace activists, push for an agenda. We don't think of them as activists because they rotate in and out of government positions, receive huge amounts of funding, have access to big media, and get meetings with top officials just by asking -- without having to generate a protest first. They also display great contempt for the public and openly discuss ways to manipulate people through fear and nationalism -- further shifting their image away from that of popular organizers. But war activists are not journalists, not researchers, not academics. They don't inform or educate. They advocate. They just advocate for something that most of the time, and increasingly, nobody wants. William Kristol and Robert Kagan and their organization, the Foreign Policy Initiative, stand out as exemplary war activists. They've modified their tone slightly since the days of the Project for the New American Century, an earlier war activist organization. They talk less about oil and more about human rights. But they insist on U.S. domination of the world. Kagan has worked for Hillary Clinton. His wife Victoria Nuland has just been stirring up trouble in the Ukraine as Assistant Secretary of State. This pair is something of a good-cop/bad-cop team. Kristol bashes Obama for being a wimp and not fighting enough wars. Kagan reassures Obama that he can be master of the universe if he'll only build up the military a bit more and maybe fight a couple more wars here and there.

New York Times, Russia Massing Military Forces Near Border With Ukraine, Steven Lee Myers and Alison Smale, March 13, 2014. Russia’s Defense Ministry announced new military operations in several regions near the Ukrainian border on Thursday, even as Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany warned the Kremlin to abandon the politics of the 19th and 20th centuries or face diplomatic and economic retaliation from a united Europe. The operations came as Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, said in a statement on his official website that he believed Russian forces massed near the border were “ready to intervene in Ukraine at anytime,” and that he hoped diplomatic efforts by Ukraine and sympathetic nations would “stop the aggression.” Underscoring the potential gravity of the troop movements, Russia’s senior commander, Valery V. Gerasimov, spoke by telephone with his NATO counterpart, Gen. Knud Bartles of Denmark, the news agency Interfax reported, citing a defense source.

National Press Club, NPC Newsmaker: Ruslana Lyzhychko, March 5, 2014 (70-minute video). As the tense political situation in Ukraine escalated, Ruslana Lyzhychko, one of Ukraine's most internationally recognizable and politically active citizens discussed the situation in her home country at the National Press Club on March 5, 2014. 30 minute mark

Henry KissingerWashington Post, How the Ukraine crisis ends, Henry A. Kissinger, March 5, 2014. Henry A. Kissinger, shown in a file photo from early in his career, was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977. Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins. Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them. Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States. The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.

Zbigniew BrzezinskiWashington Post, What is to be done? Putin’s aggression in Ukraine needs a response, Zbigniew Brzezinski, March 3, 2014. Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security adviser from 1977 to 1981, and co-founded the Trilateral Commission with David Rockefeller in 1974. Regarding the Russian aggression against Ukraine, much depends on what Vladimir Putin does next. Putin’s thuggish tactics in seizing Crimea offer some hints regarding his planning. He knew in advance that his thinly camouflaged invasion would meet with popular support from the Russian majority in Crimea. He was not sure how the thin and light Ukrainian military units stationed there would react, so he went in masked like a Mafia gangster. In the event of serious Ukrainian resistance, he could disown the initiative and pull back.

Washington Post, Putin: Will protect Russians in Ukraine,  Kathy Lally and William Booth, March 4, 2014. He asserts that the pro-Russian former regime in Kiev was illegally overthrown and that the man he regards as Ukraine’s president asked him for military help.

Washington Post, Cold War looms over NATO’s talks on Ukraine, Anthony Faiola, March 4, 2014. NATO members pledge “solidarity” at emergency meeting, but there are signs of division in Europe over how to respond to Russia’s intervention in Crimea. U.S. prepares sanctions on Russians.

RT, Andrew Kreig exclusive interview with RT international, March 1, 2014.

 

Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues

Reuters, Justice Department drops News Corp probe related to phone hacking, Staff report, Feb. 2, 2015. The United States Department of Justice has decided not to prosecute News Corp or its sister company Twenty-First Rupert MurdochCentury Fox after completing an investigation of scandals in Great Britain involving phone hacking and alleged bribery of public officials. The end of the probe, disclosed by News Corp in a regulatory filing on Monday, comes after the U.S. government spent years combing through thousands of e-mails from News Corp.'s servers. A U.S. law enforcement official confirmed to Reuters that the case, which included an investigation of possible violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, had been closed by the Justice Department. News Corp was notified about the decision on Jan. 28. The investigation was related to the 2011 phone hacking and bribery charges involving News Corp.'s British newspaper, the now-defunct News of the World. Journalists from News Corp.'s daily tabloid The Sun have also faced prosecution by British authorities. Rupert Murdoch controls both News Corp and Fox, which split into separate businesses in 2013.

Guardian, Litvinenko had long-standing bitter feud with Putin, inquiry told, Luke Harding and Esther Addley, Feb. 2, 2015. Alexander Litvinenko had a deeply personal and Alexander Litvinenko Hospital photolong-standing feud with Vladimir Putin, and months before his murder wrote that Russia’s president was a pedophile, the public inquiry into Litvinenko’s death has heard. Giving evidence for the first time, Marina Litvinenko said her husband waged a vociferous political campaign against Putin after they fled Moscow in 2000 and moved to London. In one of the last articles he wrote, before his poisoning in November 2006, Litvinenko alleged that Putin was a pedophile. The blogpost described how in July 2006 Putin bumped into a group of tourists in one of the Kremlin’s squares. He stopped to chat to them. Putin then lifted the T-shirt of a small boy and “kissed him on the tummy”, Robin Tam QC, the counsel to the inquiry, told the high court on Monday. A photo of the encounter accompanying Litvinenko’s piece was shown to the inquiry. Its provocative headline read: “The Kremlin Pedophile.” Litvinenko also wrote that after graduating from Leningrad’s KGB academy Putin – who spoke fluent German – might have expected a glamorous foreign posting. Instead he was given a relatively “junior position” because his bosses were aware of his tendencies, Tam said, quoting Litvinenko. Litvinenko offered no sources for the claim, Tam added. “If you were going to make friends with Mr Putin this was not the way to go about it?” Tam asked Marina Litvinenko. “Not at all,” she agreed.

Daily Howler, Increasingly, NBC’s Brian Williams seems like a bit of a nut, Bob Somerby, Feb. 9, 2015.  In interviews—largely not on news programs—he has made an array of peculiar statements down through the years.  These Brian Williamsstatements tend to have a bit of a Walter Mitty feel. They seem designed to heighten our sense of Williams’ heroism and moral greatness in the face of suffering and personal danger. Does any of this self-serving foolishness actually matter? Not necessarily, no! If a journalist does outstanding work but sometimes enters Mitty mode, the caliber of his actual work would still stand on his own. That said, Williams doesn’t do outstanding work; on the whole, neither does his team at NBC News. And his silly reinventions-of-self have been going on for a very long time now. The liberal world has tolerated this self-serving conduct from Williams, and from other big stars, every step of the way. We’ve even tolerated the selling-of-self from brand names in upper-end liberal journalism, not excluding the increasingly peculiar Nicholas Kristof. We’ve warned you for years about wealth and fame, about what “journalists” will do to obtain them. In our view, Williams has played a dishonest, sometimes destructive game as he has seemed to grab for the golden rail.  But then again, so have quite a few of our leading “liberal” journalists.