Reports coming through from the south and east of Ukraine suggest that, despite the considerable material superiority of the Kiev junta’s military equipment, wild boasts that the resistance struggle is all-but “mopped up” reflect a good deal of wishful thinking on the part of the usurpers and their backers in the West.
The resistance stands firm
Donetsk, a city of about a million people, is no pushover. It has been able to repel Poroshenko’s forces which had been advancing on the west of Donetsk. The local news agency Novorossiya reported on 5 August that self-defence forces were driving back the enemy and continued to control the settlements of Krasnogorovka, Maryinka and Yasinovataya. The partisans were able to restore relative calm once they had succeeded in crushing the enemy’s 25th air mobile brigade. Other reports suggest that the partisans were able to do some serious damage to enemy forces assaulting the town of Shakhtyorsk. In the course of an assault on enemy positions near the settlement of Metallist, the militias succeeded in destroying a warehouse full of phosphorous ammunition as well as a tank and an armed personnel carrier.
As regards the defence militias’ inferiority in war materiel, this weakness is to a degree mitigated by the capture of arms in the course of battle and by the surrender of arms by Ukraine soldiers lacking the stomach for a fight. One Saturday night at the end of July over forty Ukraine servicemen quit their posts and requested safe passage into Russia, because they refused to fight their own people. Amongst them, a major and a senior warrant officer, asked for asylum and Russian citizenship. On another day in early August another 438 such soldiers crossed into Russia, leaving behind them weapons, armour and other supplies, all of which were promptly put to good use by the defence militias.
Latest reports suggest that Kiev’s ongoing attempt to bludgeon its way to regaining control of the liberated areas will continue to be met with stiff resistance. On 12 August the local news agency reported that preparations in Donetsk for a counter-strike against the junta’s forces were under way, including the massing of over two hundred armoured combat vehicles, some already held in reserve by the partisans, some captured in earlier brushes with the enemy.
Imperialist propaganda on the rocks again
Rattled by the failure of the liberated zones to collapse as predicted, and unwilling to face the fact that the Ukraine army is a demoralised force that has increasing difficulty in motivating its troops (or even hanging on to its own equipment), the West is having another go at blaming Russia for the junta’s military difficulties, inventing for the nth time another unsubstantiated “Russian incursion” to explain away the home-grown resilience of the partisans and serve as a pretext for war. Going one better, quisling “president” Poroshenko then rushed to claim credit for having “destroyed” the (non-existent) Russian column. As Russia’s defence ministry spokesman wearily explained, “No Russian military column crossed the Russian-Ukrainian border by night or by day,” adding caustically that, after all, maybe “It would be better if the Ukrainian artillery destroyed a phantom, rather than refugees or its own soldiers.”
The spiriting up of this latest “phantom”, initially by a twittering Guardian journalist and subsequently repeated as gospel by Washington, London and NATO, was in part intended to distract attention from the disastrous collapse of earlier attempts to blame Russia, the defence militias, or both for the tragic loss of life suffered in the Malaysian airline disaster. After weeks of public speculation as to the real cause of this disaster Russia calmly revealed to the world a mass of data gleaned from its own aerial reconnaissance. As Graham Pick explained in a piece published in Malta Now (2 August, “Flight MH17: Lies, More Lies, and Yet More Lies by Western Governments and Their Media”),
“ the Russian government, with almost every major global media outlet in attendance, released all of its air traffic data and satellite imaging data – all verifiable, including time stamps and supporting information. The entire content of the presentation was also handed over to the European authorities… According to clear satellite images provided for July 16th, the Ukrainian Army positioned 3-4 anti-aircraft BUK M1 SAM missile batteries close to Donetsk. These systems included full launching, loading and radio location units, located in the immediate vicinity of the MH17 crash site. On July 17th, the day of the incident, these batteries were moved to a position 8km south of Shahktyorsk. In addition to this, two other radio location units are also identified in the immediate vicinity. These SAM systems had a range of 35km distance, and 25km altitude. From July 18th, after the downing of MH17, Kiev’s BUK launchers were then moved away from the crash zone.
“At 5:20pm MH17 began to abruptly lose speed, eventually slowing to 124mph (200kmph). At this time, a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet appears on ATC radar and trailing MH17 on the same flight path approximately 2-3km behind MH17, and at the same altitude – only minutes before MH17 disappeared from radar. Note also that the Su-25 is armed with air-to-air missiles with a range of 5km-12km. Over the next four minutes, the Ukrainian fighter remained in the area.”
Pick observes pointedly that “Kiev government officials insisted on July 17th that “No military aircraft were available in the region.”
Readers will judge for themselves the conclusions that should be drawn from this damning evidence. Suffice it to say, it hardly supports the notion that either Russia or the partisans was the author of the disaster, and to the contrary appears to offer a sturdy evidential basis for any number of theories in all of which the Kiev junta and its friends loom large as prime suspects. Time will tell whether this tragedy was (a) a botched assassination plot against President Putin, en route back from his triumphant Latin American tour; (b) a false flag operation to serve as a pretext to escalate the war; or even (c) a warning to Malaysia not to step too far out of line (for example, by having dared to host the 2011 Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Tribunal which branded Bush and Blair as war criminals). Either way, it is clear that imperialism’s bloody fingerprints are all over the crime scene.
It is no accident that the present writer was obliged to reference the relatively obscure publication Malta Now for coverage of the data released by Russia. The fact is that there has been a conspiracy of silence spreading across most of the media world, blocking out the mounting body of evidence putting Kiev in the frame.
BBC censors itself
Most brazen of all in this respect has been the BBC, which has now even taken to censoring its own reports. On 23 July the BBC Russian service published a video report submitted by Olga Iyshina, in which she goes to the area from which Kiev claims missiles were launched against flight MH17. She finds no trace of a launch site in an area photographed by Kiev, and concludes that the smoke trail identified by Kiev as tracing the path of a missile could equally have come from a nearby coal mine or from the frequent fighting in the neighbourhood. More to the point, every eyewitness she interviews offers damning testimony putting the Ukraine air force in the frame:
Olga Iyshina: The inhabitants of the nearby villages are certain that they saw military aircraft in the sky shortly prior to the catastrophe. According to them, it actually was the jet fighters that brought down the Boeing.
Eyewitness #1 : There were two explosions in the air. And this is how it broke apart. And [the fragments] blew apart like this, to the sides. And when …
Eyewitness #2 : … And there was another aircraft, a military one, beside it. Everybody saw it.
Eyewitness #1 : Yes, yes. It was flying under it, because it could be seen. It was proceeding underneath, below the civilian one.
Eyewitness #3 : There were sounds of an explosion. But they were in the sky. They came from the sky.
Olga Iyshina’s impartial and thorough report, the result of proper investigative legwork rather than the usual slavish addiction to newswire spoon-feeds, might have gone some way to moderating the BBC’s current image as the shameless whore of imperialism. At least it might have done so – had the BBC not realised its gaffe, deleted the article from its website and crept back under the imperialist skirts.
Sanctions: a double-edged weapon
Meanwhile, as imperialism suffers these setbacks on the military and propaganda front, the economic war it has initiated with its sanctions against Russia is also hitting choppy waters. Washington is desperate to drag Europe into line behind plans to move from the earlier largely tokenistic measures (like travel bans on prominent individuals) to a more serious coordinated effort to sabotage Russia’s economy. But whilst Germany and some others have been shrill in their dutiful reversion to Cold War rhetoric, this cannot conceal a deep and growing reluctance to match that rhetoric with the wholesale adoption of measures which could end up damaging imperialist economic interests more seriously than those of the intended victim. It is probable that anglo-american efforts to keep Europe in line in an economic war against Russia will fail, exposing both the splits between the US and Europe and within Europe itself. Hungary’s prime minister was reported by Reuters as saying that the EU had harmed itself economically with the sanctions against Russia and called for a rethink, whilst his Slovak counterpart criticised the sanctions as meaningless and would threaten growth across the EU.
All these negative consequences for the West will be intensified if Russia feels obliged to implement the full range of proposed reverse sanctions which it has now unveiled. Some interesting analysis of the significance of this development appears in an article posted by “Saker” on 8 August ( http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.com.br/) indelicately but accurately entitled “You Wanna be Uncle Sam’s Bitch? Pay the Price!”
The article sums up the broad sweep of the proposed counter thrust to the trade war initiated by the West:
“Russia is introducing a full 12 months embargo on the import of beef, pork, fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and the Kingdom of Norway. Russia is also introducing an airspace ban against European and US airlines that fly over our airspace to Eastern Asia, namely, the Asia-Pacific Region and is considering changing the so-called Russian airspace entry and exit points for European scheduled and charter flights. Furthermore, Russia is ready to revise the rules of using the trans-Siberian routes, and will also discontinue talks with the US air authorities on the use of the trans-Siberian routes. Finally, starting this winter, we may revoke the additional rights issued by the Russian air authorities beyond the previous agreements.”
Air travel restrictions, whilst imposing higher costs on EU carriers traversing the Europe to Asia route, will yield a corresponding advantage to Asian carriers to whom the restrictions naturally will not apply.
Specially hard hit by the agricultural ban will be countries like Spain and Greece whose economies are heavily dependent on agricultural exports, and which have already become the chief whipping boys for a crisis which in fact originates, not on the periphery, but at the centres of imperialsim. Neither Berlin nor Washington should bank on such countries forever happily sacrificing their national interests on the altar of monopoly capital.
Also at risk would be the economies of the Baltic countries. So vociferous in their rhetoric against Russia, such countries might find endless subservience to the West a less attractive prospect if the price to pay were that “some of their most profitable industries (such as fisheries), which were 90% dependent on Russia, will have to shut down.”
Meanwhile Russia could actually benefit from a moratorium on agricultural imports, taking the opportunity to undo some of the economic damage done under the drunken capitalist tool Yeltsin.
“Let me explain: after the collapse of the USSR the Russian agriculture was in disarray, and Yeltsin only made things worse. Russian farmers simply could not compete against advanced western agro-industrial concerns… The Russian agricultural sector badly, desperately, needed barriers and tariffs to be protected form the western capitalist giants and, instead, Russia voluntarily abided by the terms of the WTO and then eventually became member. Now Russia is using this total embargo to provide a crucially needed time for the Russian agriculture to invest and take up a much bigger share on the Russian market… This embargo now gives them a powerful boost to invest, develop and conquer market shares.”
In the article’s most intriguing speculation, it is suggested that “what is happening is a gradual decoupling of Russia from the western economies. The West severed some of the financial, military and aerospace ties, Russia severed the monetary, agricultural and industrial ones. Keep in mind that the US/EU market is a sinking one, affected by deep systemic problems and huge social issues. In a way, the perfect comparison is the Titanic whose orchestra continued to play music while the ship was sinking. Well, Russia is like a passenger who is told that the Titanic’s authorities have decided to disembark him at the next port. Well, gee, too bad, right?”
Kiev blocks aid convoy
Humanitarian disasters ring bells with the imperialist media only when a pretended humanitarian concern can serve as smokescreen for further meddling. So whilst “rescuing the Yazidis” serves as a good cover for recruiting some Kurdish secessionists to serve as pawns in another proxy war, then the welfare of this hitherto obscure Zoroastrian sect abruptly tops the West’s “humanitarian” bill. In truth, Cameron cares no more for the Zoroastrians than he does for any other corner of suffering humanity. It’s just that going through the motions of “helping” them provides useful cover for the further destabilisation and break-up of an Iraq which showed worrying signs of transforming from a puppet state into a member of the axis of resistance.
Least of all is imperialism concerned with the suffering being imposed upon the embattled populations of Donetsk and Lugansk at the hands of its auxiliaries in the Ukraine army and the fascist National Guard. But with pictures beamed around the world of row upon row of white Russian trucks waiting patiently at the Russia-Ukraine border, just waiting for the signal to move in and bring urgently needed food and medicines to the sick and starving, it has proved impossible to hide the scale of this unacknowledged humanitarian disaster. Nor is it possible to hide from people how day after day Kiev prolonged the delay, one day trying to insist that the entire contents of the lorries be dumped on the roadside then repacked into Red Cross vehicles, another day making mad accusations about Russia trying to smuggle an entire S-300 air defence system in amongst the dried milk and rice sacks, and another day refusing to give the Red Cross the go-ahead to conduct its own search of the convoy – every day another excuse. At time of writing it is reported that the trucks continue to stand at the border, with fears expressed by some drivers over their own safety should the order to roll on ever actually come.
We sincerely hope that by the time you read this aid will have reached its destination, for the need is most acute. According to the UN, 117,000 are internally displaced whilst 730,000 have taken refuge in Russia. RT reported on 11 August that a quarter of a million people in besieged Lugansk had been without water, electric or phone-lines for over a week, with some residents reduced to queuing for water at a pump. The bowsers that had earlier provided a stopgap supply have had to stop because the shelling is so intense, with one driver said to have been killed. A resident told RT, ” They’re terrorizing us and attacking us daily – and they step up the shelling at the weekend. They’ve attacked all of our businesses, which were the main hope for our economy.” (RT, 11 August, “On the brink of survival: No electricity, water, communications in besieged Lugansk, E. Ukraine”)
Lugansk and Gaza: a common grief and a common struggle
Whether the war crimes are committed against Gaza by Zionist thugs, or committed against Lugansk by Ukraine fascist thugs, or committed against Syria by ISIS thugs,
it is the same grisly spectre that skulks behind in the shadows. It is imperialism, an imperialism tormented by its own insoluble contradictions, whose interests are being served by its proxies on the ground, and it is the overthrow of imperialism which can alone end these horrors for good.
In reality, it is not possible to give sincere support to the forces of intifada in Palestine but at the same time deny the same support to Syria, Hizbollah and Iran, the best allies of the Palestinian people. To proclaim one’s sympathies for Palestine, but in the next breath mutter that one is “uncomfortable” with supporting the partisans of Donetsk and Lugansk or Syria’s struggle against jihadist subversion, is to turn one’s “support” for Palestine into an empty and hypocritical posture.
Victory to the partisans of Donetsk and Lugansk!