Is NATO Falling Apart?

Is NATO Falling Apart?


Is NATO falling apart?

Something quite amazing has just happened.

Following the terrorist attack in Ankara which killed 34 people and injured another 125, Turkish authorities first declared that they will not accept US condolences.  Then the Turks launched a military operation against “Kurdish terrorists in northern Syria.  Turkey then claimed to have neutralized 184 terrorists.

What is not mentioned in those articles is that the target of the Turkish strike was the US-run center for the training and education of PKK militants in Rojava.  There are rumors that the Turks gave the US enough warning time to evacuate most of its personnel.

Does that sound familiar?

If it does, it is because it is very similar to what the Iranians did when they hit US bases in Iraq following the murder of General Solemani in a US drone strike.

If the above is true, and rumors are very much “if” and cannot be considered as proven fact, then that means that a NATO member state (Turkey) just attacked a US base and, like Iran, got away with it: the “The Finest Fighting Force in the History of the World” just got whacked hard and humiliated for a second time and could do absolutely nothing to defend itself or even save face.

How big a slap in the face did Uncle Shmuel get this time?  According to the Turkish defense minister, Hulusi Akar,

Terrorists’ shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels, and warehouses were successfully destroyed,” Akar said, adding that “the so-called headquarters of the terrorist organization were also hit and destroyed.” Overall, the Defense Ministry claimed that the strikes hit nearly 90 targets, which it said were connected to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG).

Even allowing for some “patriotic exaggeration”, it is pretty clear that Ergodan’s revenge strike was both quite substantial and, apparently, rather effective.

So, what do we have here? A NATO member state all but accused the US of a major terrorist attack against its capital city, and then that NATO member state openly attacked a US-run facility (let’s not call it a base, that would be inaccurate).

Is Erdogan’s claim even credible?  Absolutely!  Not only has the US already attempted to overthrow and kill Erdogan (ER: Back in July, 2016), who was saved in extremis by Russian special forces (same with Ianukovich, Ukraine), but we also know that the US overthrew General de Gaulle in 1968-1969 and that NATO covert forces were used to stage false flag attacks against NATO allies (especially Italy) in the so-called GLADIO operation.

NATO is not a defensive alliance – it never was –  but it is a tool of US colonial domination.

This was always true, hence the famous words spoken  in the now faraway 1950s when the first NATO Secretary General, British General Hasting Ismay, bluntly admitted that real the purpose of NATO was to keep the “Russians out, Americans in, Germans down“.  Let’s take these elements one by one, starting with the last one:

  • “Keep the Germans down”: here the word “Germans” is a placeholder for any and all European leaders or countries who want true sovereignty and agency.  Translation: enslave the Europeans
  • “Keep the Americans in”: in order to crush any European liberation movement. Translation: place US overlords over all the EU nations.
  • “Keep the Russians out”: make sure that Russia does not liberate Europe.  Translation: demonize Russia and do anything and everything to prevent peace on the European continent.  If possible, break-up, subjugate or otherwise destroy Russia.

Need proof?  How about the undeniable act of war against Germany (and, I would argue, the entire EU) when the Anglos blew up NS1/NS2 (Nord Stream)?  Is that not proof enough?

Against that background, we have to ask yourselves: what does it even mean to be a NATO member state in 2022?

The truth is that NATO was a pure creation of the Cold War and that in the real world of 2022, it is a total anachronism.  Being a NATO member state really means very little.  Not only are some “more equal than others” in NATO, but there are also non-NATO states which are far more “NATOized” than actual NATO members states (I think of Israel or, of course, the Nazi-occupied Ukraine).  And being a member of NATO does not protect you from anything, not from external attacks and not against internal ones either.

According to Col (Ret) MacGregor, the war in the Ukraine might well bring about the collapse of both NATO and the EU. I very much agree with him. I would say that such a collapse will not so much be the result of embarrassing defeats as it will be due to the deep internal contradictions inside both organizations.

By the way, this is not our topic today, but I think that the CSTO (ER: Collective Security Treaty Organization, a collection of six post-Soviet states – Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan & Kyrzgystan) has much of the same problems and contradictions as NATO.  So is what we observe a “NATO problem” or a problem of artificial and generally obsolete alliances?  I would argue for the latter.

But let’s leave a discussion of the CSTO for another day.

In the case of Turkey this problem is made even worse by a total incompatibility between Islam and the Woke ideology now openly promoted (and enforced) by the US and NATO.

Then there is geography.  Turkey has some pretty powerful regional neighbors, including not only Greece or Israel, but also Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Syria and, course, Russia.  Can Turkey count on any type of US/NATO “protection” from such powerful neighbors?

Ask the Saudis how much the US/NATO helped them against the Houthis!

Ask the Israelis how much the US/NATO helped them against Hezbollah?

If anything, the Iranian strikes on CENTCOM bases have demonstrated that the US does not have the stomach to take on Iran.  In sharp contrast, the Russian and Iranian intervention in Syria defeated the US plans for a “New Middle East” or, shall we say, it did bring about a “new Middle-East”, but most definitely not the one the US Neocons were hoping for! (ER: The Oded Yinon plan?)

Add to this the major deterioration in the relationship between the US and MBS’ Saudi Arabia and we get an amazing picture: the USA and NATO (which the US dragged into the region) are gradually becoming irrelevant in the Middle-East.  Instead, new “big actors” are gradually filling the void, including Russia and Iran who are now even gradually allowing Saudi Arabia to participate in a much needed regional dialog about the future of the region.

The phenomenal weakness of the US/NATO/CENTCOM is best illustrated by the US reaction to the Turkish strikes: Uncle Shmuel endorsed (no kidding!!!) the Turkish strikes 🙂

How absolutely pathetic is that for a wannabe superpower?

Will this process have an impact on the NATO war against Russia?

Well, let’s imagine that Russia would really strike some target inside Poland (which is what the Ukies claimed, as did the Poles until Uncle Shmuel told them to cool it).  What would happen next?

Does anybody still remember what happened when Erdogan flew to Mons to beg for NATO protection against Russia (following the downing of a Russian Su-24 over northern Syria by a joint US-Turkish operation, possibly executed without Erdogan’s knowledge, at least that was his claim).  What did NATO promise or give the Turks?  Absolutely *nothing* (other than “consultations”).

Now the Poles might be delusional enough to think that a US President might order a retaliatory attack on Russia if Russia strikes Poland, but those of us who know the USA and its ruling elites know that this is nonsense.  Why?  Simply because a US/NATO counter-strike on Russian forces would result in an immediate Russian response.

And then what?

The truth is very stark in its simplicity:

  • The US/NATO do not have the manpower or firepower needed to take on Russia in a conventional combined arms war.
  • Any use of nuclear weapons will result in an immediate retaliation most likely resulting into a unwinnable full-scale nuclear war.

So here is the deal: whether western politicians understand that or not, military professionals all know the truth – NATO can’t defend ANY of its members against a truly modern military. Why?

Let’s look at what capabilities the US/NATO truly have:

  • The USN has a superb submarine force (both SSNs and SSBNs) capable of firing large numbers of relatively obsolete cruise missiles (and plenty of SLBMs)
  • A still very capable, if rather old, nuclear triad
  • A quantitative (only!) conventional advantage over Russia
  • Superb (but very vulnerable!) C4ISR capabilities
  • A printing press allowing for the quasi infinite printing of dollars
  • comprador elite ruling over all the NATO/EU countries
  • The most formidable propaganda machine in history

So what does NATO lack to be a credible military force?

Obviously, “boots on the ground”. And I don’t mean a few subunits from the 101st or 82AB or US special forces or even a so-called “armored brigade” which, in reality, lacks adequate TO&E to qualify as such.  I am talking about a “land warfare” force capable of fighting a modern and extremely determined enemy.

[Sidebar: if this is a topic of interest to you, may I recommend my article “Debunking popular clichés about modern warfare” written in 2016 but which is still mostly relevant]

The USA, Israel and the KSA all fell into the same trap: the delusion that spending billions and billions of dollars on massively over-priced and massively under-performing military hardware will allow you to defeat an enemy assumed to be “less sophisticated”.  Hence the need to use:

  • Proxy forces
  • PMCs
  • PSYOPS
  • Corruption

All of the above are a normal part of any modern war, but in the case of the US/NATO they are not just part of a bigger plan, they are central to any US/NATO operation, thereby dramatically decreasing the true capabilities of the US/NATO.  In sharp contrast, countries like Russia or Iran can deploy “boots on the ground”, and very capable ones at that (remember that the Iranians are those who trained Hezbollah!).

What does all this mean practically?

It means that even if the Russians decided to strike at a NATO country, the tensions would go through the roof, but it is highly UN-likely that any US President would allow any action which could result in a full-scale nuclear war!  Remember, for Russia, this is an existential war, no less than WWII, whereas no Anglo leader would ever dare launch a suicidal attack on Russian forces which would most likely result in the full obliteration of the US/UK and any other country participating (for example by hosting forward deployed standoff weapons) in such an attack.

Does that mean that we have to anticipate a Russian strike on Poland, Romania or the UK?

No, not at all.  In fact, it would be very dangerous for the Russians to only leave a stark choice to the Hegemony: admit defeat or commit suicide.  And since the Russians do have escalation dominance (that is to say that they have balanced capabilities from the small-arms fire level to a full intercontinental nuclear war, and with all the stages in between these two extremes) they, unlike the US/NATO. are not stuck between the choice of surrender or suicide.

That being said, it would also be misguided to assume that Russia “would never dare strike a NATO member state”.  The Poles might be willing to wager their future and even existence on such an invalid inference, but not the folks at the Pentagon or elsewhere in the decision centers of the Hegemony.

Conclusion

Douglas MacGregor is right, the NATO war against Russia might very well result in the collapse of both NATO and the EU which, in turn, will place an official “last nail” into the coffin of an already long-deceased Hegemony, which currently still exists only because of its momentum and its propaganda machine.

I would argue that NATO is already falling apart before our eyes, a process which the economic, social, political, economic and spiritual crises which are plaguing the entire EU will only accelerate. And, of course, the most amazing thing about this is that this collapse is not the result of some Machiavellian plan cooked up by the Russians, the Chinese or the Iranian, but a direct consequence of decades of truly suicidal policies: they did it to themselves!

Now, the Russians, the Chinese and the Iranians are mostly waiting, watching (probably smiling) and planning for the Hegemony-free multi-polar world they want to bring about, with or without the participation of the USA and Europe.

Andrei

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US Colonel Douglas Macgregor: “Mr. Zelensky is in a panic”



ER Editor: The interviewer in the video from two days ago opens with an introductory summary of what Russia is doing in terms of strikes within Ukraine and the damage being done currently.

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US Colonel Douglas Macgregor: “Mr. Zelensky is in a panic”

FRONT NIEUWS

Morris: The Western media, especially the Washington Post today, is calling the attacks on Ukraine a turning point in this war. (…) Are we actually at a turning point and which way does the tide turn?

Macgregor: It is a turning point of sorts, perhaps not exactly as the Washington Post suggests (…) Let’s talk about the evolution of this conflict over the past seven months. War is not static, it is a constantly changing sea. Even though no one in the West wants to admit it, President Putin has been extremely reluctant to use his military might for the past seven months. We have never seen more than 20 percent of Russian ground forces in Ukraine. And many of the regular ground forces were also gradually withdrawn after the first four months, after the Ukrainian army, which we had built up over several years, was largely destroyed. What remains at the moment in Ukraine is a mix of different volunteers, militias, some allied forces such as the Chechen, Cuban and Cossack volunteers who have proved to be very good fighters, plus Wagner’s mercenary force which has also proved very efficient in ground combat. But the actual Russian army with its regular combat forces has largely withdrawn. I actually thought they would come back at the end of August, but apparently it was decided not to. What is currently happening in the Kremlin, I think, is that Putin and his advisers are realizing that there is no chance of ending this conflict through negotiations. But he probably held on to this hope even in April, when we and London had forbidden Zelensky to accept compromises such as neutrality. Now we are dealing with a different Russia. Yesterday we saw 202 missiles attack different targets all over Ukraine in three waves. This is something they could always have done. They have their precision weapons just like us. This time, however, they have hit not only the so-called critical infrastructure, but also the headquarters of the Secret Service, an organization notoriously engaged in killing people and recruiting recruits at gunpoint and forcing them into enemy fire, as well as analysis centers, proving that there is nowhere to be found. In Ukraine nothing happens without them knowing. Even in Western Ukraine, nothing happens without Moscow knowing. There is nothing there that the Russians cannot reach and destroy. I think we’ve had a taste of what’s to come in the fall. I predict large-scale ground offensives by the Russians once the ground is frozen, which will annihilate the Ukrainian forces.

Morris: The western media is trying to portray these air strikes as insignificant. Presumably they don’t really hurt Ukraine. This is what I’ve heard from some propaganda media in the last 24 hours. As I go through the laundry list of targets affected, I have to wonder. Polish troops who had joined to invade Russia have been hit, NATO targets have been hit, the SBU, thermal power plants, there are currently masses of people fleeing Ukraine because they have no fresh water, no running water, no electricity, no internet. So the Western media says that the attacks are insignificant, that Ukraine is okay. What do you say to that?

Macgregor: Biden or his advisers felt compelled to assure Zelensky that we would continue to support him and supply him with supplies. There will be no change. At the same time, Zelensky begged for more air defense weapons as 80 percent of Ukraine’s air defenses have been destroyed by Russian missile strikes. If someone suggests that this was trivial, we just have to look at the development and very quickly come to the conclusion: oh, this isn’t right. Mr. Zelensky is panicking. Undoubtedly, the Ukrainians now have serious logistical problems in moving things back and forth in the country. Suddenly, Russia has decided that enough is just enough – and to give up the restraints of the past.

Morris: Back to the air defense systems. Zelensky, as you just said, has asked for more of these systems. The US seems to want to settle. (…) What’s in it for Ukraine? Explain who would serve them. Would they be unmanned or would NATO soldiers take care of the air defense systems? Ukrainian soldiers?

Macgregor: These HIMARS systems are usually managed by so-called contractors. These are probably Americans in civilian clothes who have an employment contract with the Ukrainian government or who work under one of the other mechanisms we have put in place. They could be Europeans. But these systems require a long training period before they can be operated effectively. Not to mention the maintenance. NASAMS, one of the best defense systems against ground-to-ground missiles in the world, a highly complex radar, was located in Kiev – and was destroyed. How do you disable such a system? Just because of the large amount of missiles the system would have to defend against. That’s the way to get around any system, no matter how good it is. That’s what the Russians did. Zelensky’s forces aren’t trained for this.

Morris: What is the role of NATO forces at this turning point, given the decimation of the Ukrainian military? (…) The best forces have been eliminated. Replacing them is not easy. Will they be replaced by NATO troops? By contract forces? Who will fill the hole, man the ship?

Macgregor: Well, the people who are in direct ground fights are Ukrainians. There are reports of large numbers of Polish soldiers in Ukrainian uniforms replacing Ukrainian casualties. This has happened over the last few months because – as you pointed out – most of the best Ukrainian units no longer exist. They have been killed or injured. The Ukrainians have fatalities of about 100,000 men and perhaps 200-, 300- or even 400,000 wounded. This was once an army of 600,000 men. Remember, we built this army in 8 years with the aim of attacking Russia. That’s what it was founded for. That’s why the Russians attacked it. We also wanted to station missiles in eastern Ukraine that could have threatened Russia. So again, Eastern Ukraine had to be neutralized and that is why the Russians intervened there. In doing so, as I indicated earlier, they have exercised great restraint. First, this is a Slavic country, another Christian Orthodox Slavic country. The Russians have no interest in killing large numbers of people there. They also didn’t want to destroy a lot of infrastructure. The areas where the Russians are in the east and south of Ukraine were already Russian before. They wanted to ensure equal rights for Russians and other Ukrainians within Ukraine. That was the intention of the Minsk agreement, which was never complied with. Right now it’s like this: they’re looking at cannon fodder. People without proper training are rounded up, put in uniforms, handed an AK 47 and put in tanks or other vehicles. Do they have any training? A few have had a good one, most others have almost none. Consequently, the number of victims will be very high. But once you leave the so-called tactical level and look into the higher echelons, you’ll find NATO personnel there doing all the magic. People from France, Britain, the United States and other countries are working out the strategies and suggesting what to do next. There are indications that the Ukrainian president has not taken our advice very seriously. He is out to attack, attack and attack again. He probably sees himself in a position where he has everything to lose – but nothing to gain. He clearly thinks he can wear out the Russians. The fact is that for every Russian killed or injured, five, six or seven Ukrainians are killed or injured. It’s worth it for the Russians. They have a fairly cheap defense, while Ukraine can’t afford extremely expensive attacks. Ukraine is in a very serious crisis. Maybe it won’t survive. Especially when the expected Russian offensive starts in November when the ground is frozen, I don’t know what the Ukrainians will do about it. Then they face the regular Russian army, a large number of Russian troops, no longer just volunteers and allied units. They will have the operational freedom to do what many Russians have wanted from the start. Anything that appears dangerous or poses a threat to them is addressed and destroyed. A very different war is coming. while Ukraine can afford extremely expensive attacks. Ukraine is in a very serious crisis. Maybe it won’t survive. Especially when the expected Russian offensive starts in November, I don’t know what the Ukrainians will do about it. Then they face the regular Russian army, a large number of Russian troops, no longer just volunteers and allied units. They will have the operational freedom to do what many Russians have wanted from the start. Anything that appears dangerous or poses a threat to them is addressed and destroyed.

Morris: You predict that for November, so for the next few weeks?

Macgregor: Well, I’m not from the Russian General Staff, but if I look at the deployment that’s going on right now in the theater of war – and they’re coming in groups of 50,000 – around Ukraine and various other places, where they’re doing a lot of training and preparation now, they are going to unite for operational axes of advance, something we expected to happen at the start of the war, but didn’t happen then. They will then strike very hard and very deeply. Everything in Ukraine that hinders their advance will then be destroyed. That will be their mission: Destroy and destroy the enemy. Where do they stop their advance? I assume at the Dnieper. They were never interested in crossing the Dnieper. West of the Dnieper lies historic Ukraine. That’s where the Ukrainians live. Odessa will go to the Russians, Kharkiv too – and there’s not much we can do about that. No one in the West will be able to do anything about it unless they want to go to war with Russia. But I don’t see anyone wanting to do that. The only exception may be the Poles, but even there support for this war is crumbling. In the US, almost no one cares. We’re dealing with the hurricane in Florida. That’s also why we got away with what we’ve done in Ukraine so far. There were so many bad political decisions because Americans didn’t care. That has not changed much, even though it is slowly being realized that nothing they have been told in this regard is true.

Morris: We’ve been talking about this for weeks. What happens if Odessa falls. Ukraine is landlocked with no access to the sea. What will happen to Zelensky?

Macgregor: We can only speculate about that. I don’t know what’s going to happen to Zelensky. He could be removed by his own people or get on a plane to one of his estates, fly to Miami or Venice. As for Odessa, Odessa has always been a Russian city, even though about 50 percent of Ukrainians now live there after the Russians were expelled. The same goes for Kharkiv. Both cities were Russian cities from the beginning and Russian was always spoken. The Russians don’t take this nonsense any longer. They will pursue their goals as Russians always pursue their goals: Methodically sophisticated and ruthless. The new commander who has just been appointed is a capable person with a good reputation. He has done an excellent job for the Russians in Syria, he’s a hardliner and has all the options at his disposal that his predecessors didn’t get. This will be a turning point, but in a different way than the Washington Post would have you believe.

Morris and Macgregor then discuss Belarus and the fact that Russia is modernizing the aging Belarusian military. However, Macgregor thinks the Belarusians will be more likely to focus on their border with Poland.

Douglas Macgregor is a retired United States Army colonel, political scientist, military theorist, author and consultant. On July 29, 2020, President Donald Trump appointed him to succeed Richard Grenell as United States Ambassador to Germany. However, the Senate has not confirmed the nomination.

Via Freiewelt.net

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Russia and China Have Their Act Together While EU Outdoes Monty Python



All the Young Dudes, Carry the (Russian) News

The SCO in Samarkand and the UN General Assembly have demonstrated how virtually the whole Global South outside of NATOstan does not demonize Russia.

Coupled with the partial mobilization of up to 300,000 Russian reservists – arguably just a first phase – the raise-the-stakes consequences are immense. (ER: Simon Parkes’ intel puts the initial mobilization figure at 500,000 with another 500,000 planned.) Exit the previous soft format of the Special Military Operation (SMO): enter serious kinetic war, not hybrid, against any actor, vassal or otherwise, that dares to attack Russian territory.

There’s a very short window of Chinese-coined crisis/opportunity for the collective West, or NATOstan, to negotiate. They won’t. Even as anyone with an IQ over room temperature knows that the only way for the Empire of Chaos/Lies/Plunder to “win” – outside of the cover of The Economist – would be by launching a first-strike flurry of tactical nuclear weapons, which would meet a devastating Russian response.

The Kremlin knows it – President Putin has publicly alluded to it; the Russian General Staff (RGS) knows it; the Chinese know it (and have called, also publicly, for negotiations).

Instead, we have hysterical Russophobia reaching a paroxysm. And from the deer-caught-in-the-headlights vassals, an extra toxic sludge of fear and loathing.

Implications have been sharply and rationally addressed at The Saker and by Andrei Martyanov. On the realm of social network “influencing” – a key component of hybrid war – cheap entertainment has been provided by everyone from frightened Eurocrats to crappy retired U.S. generals threatening a “devastating strike” against the Black Sea Fleet “if Vladimir Putin uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine”.

One of these specimens is a mere P.R. front man for an Atlanticist think tank. He was properly disposed of by the now totally unplugged deputy head of Russia’s Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev: “Retired idiots with general’s stripes do not need to scare us with talk about a NATO strike on Crimea.”

Freak out on a moonage daydream? Oh yeah. Tawdry wet dreams, stripped off the Bowie glow.

Maskirovka meets Sun Tzu

Moscow’s rerouted strategy takes maskirovka – mask, feint, fool the enemy – to another level, actually dropping the mask, plus the velvet gloves. Now it’s all very clear: this is turbo-charged Sun Tzu (“May your plans be dark and impenetrable like the night, and when you move, strike like lightning.”)

There will be plenty of strikes like lightning ahead in the Ukrainian battlefield. This is the culmination of a process that started in Samarkand, during the SCO summit last week. According to diplomatic sources, Putin and Xi Jinping had a very serious conversation. Xi asked tough questions – as in, you must finish this off – and Putin arguably explained how things would reach the next level.

Yoda Patrushev was on the road to China immediately afterwards – meeting with his Yoda counterpart Yang Jiechi, head of the Foreign Affairs Commission, and the secretary of the Central Political and Legal Committee, Guo Shengkun.

Following-up on Samarkand, Patrushev outlined how Moscow will help Beijing militarily when the Empire tries anything funny in the next battlefield: Asia-Pacific. That should happen under the framework of the SCO. Crucially, the Patrushev meetings were requested by the Chinese.

So the Russia-China strategic partnership is about to achieve full-fledged cooperation before the going gets tough in the South China Sea. It’s as if Russia-China were on the brink of creating their own CSTO.

And that is happening even as the Chinese leadership continues to express – mostly in private – that war in Russia’s western borderlands is very bad for business (BRI, EAEU, SCO, BRICS+, all of them) and should be wrapped up a.s.a.p.

The problem is, a swift wrap-up is off the cards. Foreign Minister Lavrov, in New York for the UN General Assembly, has stressed how.

“Ukraine has eventually become a totalitarian Nazi sort of state” – unconditionally supported by the collective West.

NATOstan has predictably doubled down on its tactics since the non-response response to Russia’s demand for a serious discussion on indivisibility of security, in late 2021: it’s always about shelling Donbass.

This could not possibly be tolerated anymore by the Kremlin and Russian public opinion. Thus the partial mobilization – forcefully proposed by the siloviki and the Security Council for quite a while now, with Kostyukov at GRU, Naryshkin at SVR and Bortnikov at FSB on the forefront.

The symbolism is powerful: after so many years, Moscow is finally fully committed to supporting Donbass all the way to the baby bears coming to Mama for good.

There are – unconfirmed – rumors in Moscow that the decision was accelerated because GRU has intel on the Americans soon transferring long-range missiles to Kiev capable of striking Russian cities. That’s beyond a red line for the Kremlin – hence Putin’s express mention that every weapon available in Russia’s mighty arsenal will be used to protect the Motherland.

The red line is even more relevant than the much-ballyhooed Kiev all out counter-offensive, which could only happen by Spring 2023. With the partial mobilization, Russia may count on a new batch of fresh troops ready for war by the end of the year. The much-touted Ukrainian numerical advantage will soon be nullified.

Slaves humming “Das Rheingold”

So, the General Winter picture will be unveiling considerably less slow grind – the prevailing tactic so far – and way more vast scale maneuver-war-cum-devastating-strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure.

Europe meanwhile may go dark and freezing, flirting with a return to the Middle Ages, but the imperial Lords of War still will refuse to negotiate. The Kremlin and the RGS couldn’t care less. Because Russian public opinion overwhelmingly understands the Big Picture. Ukraine is just a pawn in their game – and what “they” want is to destroy and plunder Russia.

Defense Minister Shoigu put it in a – factual – way even a kid can understand. Russia is fighting the collective West; Western command centers in Kiev are running the show; and the entire array of NATO military and “civilian” satellites is mobilized against Russia.

By now, it’s already clear. If these NATO command centers tell Kiev to strike Russian territory after the referendums, we will have the Putin-promised decimation of “centers of decision”. And the same applies to the satellites.

This may be what the RGS wanted to do from the beginning. Now they can finally implement it, because of popular support in the internal front. This crucial factor is what NATOstan “intel” simply cannot understand and/or is incapable of professionally evaluating.

Former Pentagon advisor during the Trump administration, Colonel Douglas Macgregor, an extremely rare voice of sanity in the Beltway, totally understands the stakes: “Russia already controls the territory that produces 95 percent of Ukrainian GDP. It has no need to press further west.” Donbass will be fully liberated and the next step is Odessa. Moscow is “in no hurry. The Russians are nothing if not methodical and deliberate. Ukrainian forces are bleeding to death in counterattack after counterattack. Why rush?”

The SCO in Samarkand and the UN General Assembly have amply demonstrated how virtually the whole Global South outside of NATOstan does not demonize Russia, understand Russia’s position, and even profits from it, like China and India buying loads of gas and paying in rubles.

And then there’s the euro/dollar shuffle: to save the U.S. dollar, the Empire is breaking the euro. This is arguably the (italics mine) power play by the USG/Fed in cutting off the EU – most of all Germany – from cheap Russian energy by organizing a controlled demolition of the European economy and its currency.

Yet Stupid EUROcrats are so cosmically incompetent, they never saw it coming. So now they’d better start humming “Das Rheingold” all the way to a “hello darkness, my old friend” Middle Ages revival.

Switching to a Monty Python register, the sketch would run like an evil Putin masterminding the wreck of the Euro economy and industry; then making the Euros donate all their weapons to Ukraine; and then leaving NATO stranded in the fog, yelling desperate platitudes. In the end, Putin gets rid of his mask – after all, this is maskirovka – and reveals his true usual suspect face.

All the young dudes, carry the (Russian) news: let’s rock. It’s strike like lightning time.

************

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Ukraine – Congress Passes The Bucks, Realism Sneaks In, Poland Plans For More War

Ukraine – Congress Passes The Bucks, Realism Sneaks In, Poland Plans For More War


Ukraine – Congress Passes The Bucks, Realism Sneaks In, Poland Plans For More War

MOON OF ALABAMA

After a lot of talk about defeating Russia in the Ukraine and an alleged lack of Russian fighting abilities, Congress passed another $40 billion fund for weapons and economic support. That brings the total to some $53 billion for Ukraine.

Most of the money will go to the U.S. weapons industry, the CIA and to various Ukrainian oligarchs. Hardly anything will be received by those in need.

With that packet now passed, reality is allowed to sneak into U.S. media reporting on the issue.

Not one but two reports in the New York Times suddenly lament about the huge area of land the Russian troops have taken in east Ukraine:

From the latter:

Nonetheless, the Donbas seizure, combined with the Russian invasion’s early success in seizing parts of southern Ukraine adjoining the Crimean peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014, gives the Kremlin enormous leverage in any future negotiation to halt the conflict. And the Russians enjoy the added advantage of naval dominance in the Black Sea, the only maritime route for Ukrainian trade, which they have paralyzed with an embargo that could eventually starve Ukraine economically and is already contributing to a global grain shortage.

I have often pointed out that the Ukrainian frontline will have a huge number of casualties from Russian artillery strikes. It is even worse than I had thought:

At the main hospital in Kramatorsk, a city in Donetsk, ambulances stream in day and night, carrying soldiers wounded at the front, who describe being pinned down by near constant shelling.About 80 percent of the patients are wounded by explosives such as mines and artillery shells, said Capt. Eduard Antonovskyy, the deputy commander of the medical unit at the hospital. Because of this, he said, very few patients have serious injuries. Either you’re far enough from an explosion to survive or you aren’t, he said.

“We either get moderate injuries or deaths,” Captain Antonovskyy said.

Additional to those more realistic reports, the NYT allowed one of its authors to write an opinion piece against the widening of the war:

At first, the Western support for Ukraine was mainly designed to defend against the invasion. It is now set on a far grander ambition: to weaken Russia itself. Presented as a common-sense response to Russian aggression, the shift, in fact, amounts to a significant escalation. By expanding support to Ukraine across the board and shelving any diplomatic effort to stop the fighting, the United States and its allies have greatly increased the danger of an even larger conflict. They are taking a risk far out of step with any realistic strategic gain.

When I was in Ukraine during the first weeks of the war, even staunch Ukrainian nationalists expressed views far more pragmatic than those that are routine in America now. Talk of neutral status for Ukraine and internationally monitored plebiscites in Donetsk and Luhansk has been jettisoned in favor of bombast and grandstanding.

What’s more, the invasion has led directly to greater military spending in second- and third-tier European powers. The number of NATO troops in Eastern Europe has grown tenfold, and a Nordic expansion of the organization is likely. A general rearmament of Europe is taking place, driven not by desire for autonomy from American power but in service to it. For the United States, this should be success enough. It is unclear what more there is to gain by weakening Russia, beyond fantasies of regime change.

Diplomatic efforts ought to be the centerpiece of a new Ukraine strategy. Instead, the war’s boundaries are being expanded and the war itself recast as a struggle between democracy and autocracy, in which the Donbas is the frontier of freedom. This is not just declamatory extravagance. It is reckless. The risks hardly need to be stated.

Indeed. The current U.S. strategy will end in a catastrophe for Ukraine because it is based on false narratives. Lt.Col. (ret) Daniel Davis has consistently provided a more realist view of the military situation in Ukraine. His latest piece fits that record:

Over the past few days, a flurry of senior leaders in both Ukraine and Washington have issued defiant claims of not merely resisting Russian aggression, but pushing towards outright victory. While such aspirations are entirely understandable, it is unwise to set policy seeking a preferred outcome if there does not exist a rational path by which Ukraine could accomplish that objective. At present, most indicators, fundamentals of war, and current battlefield trendlines support the prospect of a Ukrainian defeat.

Davis correctly describes the current military situation on the ground and concludes:

By continuing to seek a military victory in Ukraine, Ukraine’s troops will continue fighting, no negotiated settlement will be realistically sought, and most likely Russian troops continue making progress. As a result, more Ukrainian civilians and troops will continue to be killed and wounded, more cities destroyed, and the economic and food crises – for both Ukraine and the world – will worsen. The most likely outcome will not change (a negotiated settlement, not a Ukrainian military victory), but the cost to Kyiv will be much, much worse.

Another former military man who has a realist view of the war is Col. Douglas MacGregor (ret). During the first Gulf war he led a unit in the Battle of 73 Easting:

MacGregor was the “squadron operations officer who essentially directed the Battle of 73 Easting” during the Gulf War. Facing an Iraqi Republican Guard opponent, he led a contingent consisting of 19 tanks, 26 Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 4 M1064 mortar carriers through the sandstorm to the 73 Easting at roughly 16:18 hours on 26 February 1991 destroyed almost 70 Iraqi armored vehicles with no U.S. casualties in a 23-minute span of the battle.

The previously quoted Lt.Col. Davis was wounded in the same battle. As both men have seen real mechanized war, it is not by chance that they have come to similar conclusions.

MacGregor warns of a widening of the war through a Polish intervention in west Ukraine which would eventually drag NATO into the war:

Why would Poland, with the help of Lithuania, try to take western Ukraine? It is all about history:

The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, formally known as the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and, after 1791, as the Commonwealth of Poland, was a country and bi-federation of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch in real union, who was both King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. It was one of the largest and most populous countries of 16th to 17th-century Europe. At its largest territorial extent, in the early 17th century, the Commonwealth covered almost 1,000,000 km2 (400,000 sq mi) and as of 1618 sustained a multi-ethnic population of almost 12 million.

Here is how that commonwealth looked on a map with current borders:


bigger

There have been talks for a while that Poland would send a ‘peacekeeping’ force to occupy Galicia in west-Ukraine. I for one predicted it on February 24, at the very onset of the war:

Thanks to Stalin’s additions to the Ukraine, three countries, Poland, Hungary and Romania, have claims to certain areas in the Ukraine’s western regions. If they want to snatch those up again it is now probably the best time to do so. Despite being part of NATO, which likely would not support such moves, those three will have domestic policy difficulties withstanding the urge.

An official looking document now says that a Polish/Lithuanian operation will start on May 22-24.

Lord Of War @lord_of_war____ – 14:46 UTC · May 10, 2022
🇺🇦🇵🇱The document was sent to the President of the State Border Service of Ukraine, Serhiy Daynek, stating that it is 22-24. May joint “Lithuanian-Polish peacekeeping contingent” consisting of 4 battalions, 9,500 soldiers and 279 units of military equipment  [planned to enter the territory of Ukraine. Another confirmation of the development of plans for the occupation and further division of the country. Even if this particular document turns out to be false (which is not excluded), it does not change the general course of the West in relation to Ukraine.]
picture

9,500 soldiers are way more than would fit into 4 battalions. A battalion has typically some 400-800 soldiers. These are more like three small brigades with 3-4 battalions each.

A Polish/Lithuanian move is exactly what Col. MacGregor is warning of:

Ten weeks after the conflict began, it is instructive to re-examine the strategic picture. The war against Russia in Ukraine has evolved, but not in the way Western observers predicted. Ukrainian forces look shattered and exhausted. The supplies reaching Ukrainian troops fighting in Eastern Ukraine are a fraction of what is needed. In most cases, replacements and new weapons are destroyed long before they reach the front.

Confronted with the unambiguous failure of U.S. assistance and the influx of new weapons to rescue Ukrainian forces from certain destruction, the Biden administration is desperate to reverse the situation and save face. Poland seems to offer a way out. More important, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky have both expressed the desire to erase the borders between Poland and Ukraine.

Unconfirmed reports from Warsaw indicate that after Washington rejected the proposals for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, along with the transfer of Polish MIG-29 aircraft to Ukrainian pilots, the Polish general staff was quietly instructed to formulate plans for intervention in the Ukrainian conflict by seizing the western part of Ukraine. Naturally, military action of this scale would require Kiev’s approval, but given Washington’s de facto control of the Zelensky government, approval for Polish military intervention should not be a problem.

Presumably, the Biden administration may hope that a collision involving Russians and Poles in any form—including air and missile strikes against Polish forces on the Ukrainian side of the border—would potentially call for the NATO council to meet and address Article V of the NATO treaty.

It would mean that NATO, or at least major parts of it, would actively join the Ukrainian proxy war against Russia. While I believe that Russia has withheld forces from the current war to eventually defend against NATO, any entry of it into the war would significantly extend the fighting and the danger of a nuclear exchange would become imminent.

************

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••••

The Liberty Beacon Project is now expanding at a near exponential rate, and for this we are grateful and excited! But we must also be practical. For 7 years we have not asked for any donations, and have built this project with our own funds as we grew. We are now experiencing ever increasing growing pains due to the large number of websites and projects we represent. So we have just installed donation buttons on our websites and ask that you consider this when you visit them. Nothing is too small. We thank you for all your support and your considerations … (TLB)

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Comment Policy: As a privately owned web site, we reserve the right to remove comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence, racism, or personal/abusive attacks on other users. This also applies to trolling, the use of more than one alias, or just intentional mischief. Enforcement of this policy is at the discretion of this websites administrators. Repeat offenders may be blocked or permanently banned without prior warning.

••••

Disclaimer: TLB websites contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, health, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

••••

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Larry C. Johnson: “The Ukrainian Army Has Been Defeated. What’s Left Is Mop-Up”

Larry C. Johnson: “The Ukrainian Army Has Been Defeated. What’s Left Is Mop-Up”

ER Editor: Former CIA operative Larry C. Johnson answers several questions put to him by journalist Mike Whitney (we recommend this from Whitney – The Man Who Sold Ukraine). Johnson’s answers line up with a lot of what we’ve published and heard from various analysts.

We’re adding some informative tweets:

********

Larry C. Johnson: “The Ukrainian Army Has Been Defeated. What’s Left Is Mop-Up”

MIKE WHITNEY

Question 1– Can you explain to me why you think Russia is winning the war in Ukraine?

Larry C. Johnson– Within the first 24 hours of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, all Ukrainian Ground Radar Intercept capabilities were wiped out. Without those radars, the Ukrainian Air Force lost its ability to do air to air intercept. In the intervening three weeks, Russia has established a de facto No Fly Zone over Ukraine. While still vulnerable to shoulder-fired Surface to Air Missiles supplied by the U.S. and NATO to the Ukrainians, there is no evidence that Russia has had to curtail Combat Air Operations.

Russia’s arrival in Kiev within three days of the invasion also caught my attention. I recalled that the Nazi’s in Operation Barbarossa took seven weeks to reach Kiev and required 7 more weeks to subdue the city. The Nazis had the advantage of not pulling punches to avoid civilian casualties and were eager to destroy critical infrastructure. Yet many so-called American military experts claimed that Russia was bogged down. When a 24 mile (or 40 mile, depends on the news source) was positioned north of Kiev for more than a week, it was clear that Ukraine’s ability to launch significant military operations had been eliminated. If their artillery (ER: Russian) was intact, then that column was easy pickings for massive destruction. That did not happen. Alternatively, if the Ukrainian’s had a viable fixed wing or rotary wing capability, they should have destroyed that column from the air. That did not happen. Or, if they had a viable cruise missile capability, they should have rained down hell on the supposedly stalled Russian column. That did not happen. The Ukrainians did not even mount a significant infantry ambush of the column with their newly supplied U.S. Javelins.

The scale and scope of the Russian attack is remarkable. They captured territory in three weeks that is larger than the land mass of the United Kingdom. They then proceeded to carry out targeted attacks on key cities and military installations. We have not seen a single instance of a Ukrainian regiment or brigade size unit attacking and defeating a comparable Russian unit. Instead, the Russians have split the Ukrainian Army into fragments and cut their lines of communication. The Russians are consolidating their control of Mariupol and have secured all approaches on the Black Sea. Ukraine is now cut off in the South and the North.

ER: This map from March 15 gives an approximate idea.

I would note that the U.S. had a tougher time capturing this much territory in Iraq in 2003 while fighting against a far inferior, less capable military force. If anything, this Russian operation should scare the hell out of U.S. military and political leaders.

The really big news came this week with the Russian missile strikes on what are de facto NATO bases in Yavoriv (near the Polish border) and Zhytomyr (100 kms west of Kiev). NATO conducted cyber security training at Zhytomyr in September 2018 and described Ukraine as a “NATO partner.” Zhytomyr was destroyed with hypersonic missiles on Saturday. Yavoriv suffered a similar fate last Sunday. It was the primary training and logistics center that NATO and EUCOM used to supply fighters and weapons to Ukraine. A large number of the military and civilian personnel at that base became casualties.

Not only is Russia striking and destroying bases used by NATO regularly since 2015, but there was no air raid warning and there was no shutdown of the attacking missiles.

Question 2– Why is the media trying to convince the Ukrainian people that they can prevail in their war against Russia? If what you say is correct, then all the civilians that are being sent to fight the Russian army are dying in a war they can’t win. I don’t understand why the media would want to mislead people on something so serious. What are your thoughts on the matter?

Larry C. Johnson– This is a combination of ignorance and laziness. Rather than do real reporting, the vast majority of the media (print and electronic) as well as Big Tech are supporting a massive propaganda campaign. I remember when George W. Bush was Hitler. I remember when Donald Trump was Hitler. And now we have a new Hitler, Vladimir Putin. This is a tired, failed playbook. Anyone who dares to raise legitimate questions about is immediately tarred as a Putin puppet or a Russia stooge. When you cannot argue facts, the only recourse is name calling.

Question 3– Last week, Colonel Douglas MacGregor was a guest on the Tucker Carlson Show. His views on the war are strikingly similar to your own. Here’s what he said in the interview:

“The war is really over for the Ukrainians. They have been ground into bits, there is no question about that despite what we hear from our mainstream media. So, the real question for us at this stage is, Tucker, are we going to live with the Russian people and their government or we going to continue to pursue this sort of regime change dressed up as a Ukrainian war? Are we going to stop using Ukraine as a battering ram against Moscow, which is effectively what we’ve done.” (Tucker Carlson– MacGregor Interview)

Do you agree with MacGregor that the real purpose of goading Russia into a war in Ukraine was “regime change”?

Second, do you agree that Ukraine is being used as a staging ground for the US to carry out a proxy-war on Russia?

Larry C. Johnson– Doug is great analyst but I disagree with him—I don’t think there is anyone in the Biden Administration that is smart enough to think and plan in those strategic terms. In my view, the last 7 years have been the inertia of the NATO status quo. What I mean by that is that NATO and Washington believed they could continue to creep east on Russia’s borders without provoking a reaction. NATO and EUCOM regularly carried out exercises—including providing “offensive” training—and supplied equipment. I believe reports in the United States that the CIA was providing paramilitary training to Ukrainian units operating in the Donbass are credible. But I have trouble believing that after our debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan, we suddenly have Sun Tzu level strategists pulling the strings in Washington.

There is an air of desperation in Washington. Besides trying ban all things Russian, the Biden Administration is trying to bully China, India and Saudi Arabia. I do not see any of those countries falling into line. I believe the Biden crew made a fatal mistake by trying to demonize all things and all people Russian. If anything, this is uniting the Russian people behind Putin, and they are ready to dig in for a long struggle.

I am shocked at the miscalculation in thinking economic sanctions on Russia would bring them to their knees. The opposite is true. Russia is self-sufficient and is not dependent on imports. Its exports are critical to the economic well-being of the West. If they withhold wheat, potash, gas, oil, palladium, finished nickel and other key minerals from the West, the European and U.S. economies will be savaged. And this attempt to coerce Russia with sanctions has now made it very likely that the U.S. dollar’s role as the international reserve currency will show up in the dustbin of history.

Question 4– Ever since he delivered his famous speech in Munich in 2007, Putin has been complaining about the “architecture of global security”. In Ukraine we can see how these

nagging security issues can evolve into a full-blown war. As you know, in December Putin made a number of demands related to Russian security, but the Biden administration shrugged them off and never responded. Putin wanted written assurances that NATO expansion would not include Ukraine (membership) and that nuclear missile systems would not be deployed to Romania or Poland. Do you think Putin’s demands are unreasonable?

Larry C. Johnson– I think Putin’s demands are quite reasonable. The problem is that 99% of Americans have no idea of the kind of military provocation that NATO and the U.S. have carried out over the last 7 years. The public was always told the military exercises were “defensive.” That simply is not true. Now we have news that DTRA was funding biolabs in Ukraine. I guess Putin could agree to allow U.S. nuclear missile systems in Poland and Romania if Biden agrees to allow comparable Russian systems to be deployed in Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico. When we look at it in those terms, we can begin to understand that Putin’s demands are not crazy nor unreasonable.

Question 5– Russian media reports that Russian “high precision, air-launched” missiles struck a facility in west Ukraine “killing more than 100 local troops and foreign mercenaries.” Apparently, the Special Operations training center was located near the town of Ovruch which is just 15 miles from the Polish border. What can you tell us about this incident? Was Russia trying to send a message to NATO?

Larry C. Johnson– Short answer—YES! Russian military strikes in Western Ukraine during the past week have shocked and alarmed NATO officials. The first blow came on Sunday, March 13 at Yavoriv, Ukraine. Russia hit the base with several missiles, some reportedly hypersonic. Over 200 personnel were killed, which included American and British military and intelligence personnel, and hundreds more wounded. Many suffered catastrophic wounds, such as amputations, and are in hospital. Yet, NATO and the western media have shown little interest in reporting on this disaster.

Yavoriv was an important forward base for NATO (see here). Until February (prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine), the U.S. 7th Army Training Command was operating from Yavoriv as late as mid-February. Russia has not stopped there. ASB Military news reports Russia hit another site, Delyatyn, which is 60 miles southeast of Yavoriv (on Thursday I believe). Yesterday, Russia hit Zhytomyr, another site where NATO previously had a presence. Putin has sent a very clear message—NATO forces in Ukraine will be viewed and treated as combatants. Period.

Question 6– Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been lionized in the western media as a “wartime leader” and a modern-day “Winston Churchill”. What the media fails to tell its readers is that Zelensky has taken a number of steps to strengthen his grip on power while damaging fragile democratic institutions in Ukraine. For example, Zelensky has “banned eleven opposition-owned news organizations” and tried to bar the head of Ukraine’s largest opposition party, Viktor Medvedchuk, from running for office on a bogus “terrorist financing” charge. This is not the behavior of a leader that is seriously committed to democracy.

What’s your take on Zelensky? Is he really the “patriotic leader” the media makes him out to be?

Larry C. Johnson– Zelensky is a comedian and an actor. Not a very good one at that in my view. The West is cynically using the fact he is Jewish as a diversion from the size-able contingent of Neo-Nazis (and I mean genuine Nazis who still celebrate the Ukrainian Waffen SS unit’s accomplishments while fighting with the Nazis in WW II). The facts are clear—he is banning opposition political parties and shutting down opposition media. I guess that is the new definition of “democracy.”

Question 7– How does this end? There’s an excellent post at the Moon of Alabama site titled “What Will Be The Geographic End State Of The War In Ukraine. The author of the post, Bernard, seems to think that Ukraine will eventually be partitioned along the Dnieper River “and south along the coast that holds a majority ethnic Russian population.” He also says this:

“This would eliminate Ukrainian access to the Black Sea and create a land bridge towards the Moldavian breakaway Transnistria which is under Russian protection. The rest of the Ukraine would be a land confined, mostly agricultural state, disarmed and too poor to be build up to a new threat to Russia anytime soon. Politically it would be dominated by fascists from Galicia, which would then become a major problem for the European Union.”

What do you think? Will Putin impose his own territorial settlement on Ukraine in order to reinforce Russian security and bring the hostilities to an end or is a different scenario more likely?

Larry C. Johnson– I agree with Moon. Putin’s primary objective is to secure Russia from foreign threats and effect a divorce with the West. Russia has the physical resources to be an independent sovereign and is in the process of making that vision come true.

Bio– Larry C Johnson is a veteran of the CIA and the State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism. He is the founder and managing partner of BERG Associates, which was established in 1998. Larry provided training to the US Military’s Special Operations community for 24 years. He has been vilified by the right and the left, which means he must be doing something right. His analysis and commentary can be found at his blog, https://sonar21.com/

************

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••••

The Liberty Beacon Project is now expanding at a near exponential rate, and for this we are grateful and excited! But we must also be practical. For 7 years we have not asked for any donations, and have built this project with our own funds as we grew. We are now experiencing ever increasing growing pains due to the large number of websites and projects we represent. So we have just installed donation buttons on our websites and ask that you consider this when you visit them. Nothing is too small. We thank you for all your support and your considerations … (TLB)

••••

Comment Policy: As a privately owned web site, we reserve the right to remove comments that contain spam, advertising, vulgarity, threats of violence, racism, or personal/abusive attacks on other users. This also applies to trolling, the use of more than one alias, or just intentional mischief. Enforcement of this policy is at the discretion of this websites administrators. Repeat offenders may be blocked or permanently banned without prior warning.

••••

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Disclaimer: The information and opinions shared are for informational purposes only including, but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material are not intended as medical advice or instruction. Nothing mentioned is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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