I’m fairly active on the internet. I engage in discussions to learn and to share my knowledge, but as is often the case online nowadays, discussions frequently turn unfriendly. On more than a couple occasions, in conversations such as these, I’m called a ‘Kremlin troll’ or a ‘Russian bot’ or something along those lines. In fact, here in the neo-McCarthyite days of 2018, this happens pretty much all the time, even when I’m not talking about Russia. I find it very odd. I have allegiance only to the truth and to world peace and couldn’t care less about Russian, or American, or Cambodian or any other self-serving national interests.
The problem is, in an objective analysis of the data, Russia tends to come out relatively looking like the good guy in most of its conflicts of the last decade or so, and if you are to hear someone objectively relay the information, if you are uninformed or misled, that person’s objectivity could easily be mistaken for bias.
This post will be split into two parts, because it could get pretty long. In the first part, I’m going to look closely at Russian involvement in two foreign conflicts: the Russo-Georgian war and Russian involvement in Ukraine (including the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing situation in the Donbass). In part two I will focus on Russian involvement in Syria and will get into my admittedly limited knowledge of Russian domestic policy and Western disinformation about it. I’ve already mentioned Russian involvement in the 2016 American presidential election and how I think it’s utter nonsense. (See Russiagate) I feel similarly about the Skripal case.
You may recall that the so called ‘Russian invasion of Georgia’ was a hot topic for a few weeks in 2008. The media doesn’t like to mention this one too often, because their propaganda has not stood the test of time, and they’re really hoping we’ll just forget about it.
Former Georgian president (and NATO golden boy) Mikhail Saakashvili skipped trial on corruption charges in his home country, fled to Ukraine, and was appointed governor of Odessa Oblast by President Poroshenko (as if a dictator for hire, kind of like a college football coach being fired and then picked up by a lesser school). He was eventually brought up on unnamed charges initiated from Kiev and was deported. Somehow he weaseled out of being deported to Georgia (where we would face a prison sentence), and instead got to go to Poland and eventually took refuge in the Netherlands where he remains to this day. If NATO ever needs to install an anti-Russian puppet in the Hague, presumably he’s available.
To understand the Russo-Georgian war, you need to understand that Georgia has two break-away regions: South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
The main point of conflict in 2008 was South Ossetia. The Ossetians are an Iranian tribe with a language unrelated to Georgian. They first started to migrate into what is now Georgia from the Northern Caucasus in the 18th century when Georgia was divided into two principalities under Persian rule. The principalities united in 1762 and broke free of Iran, but were annexed by the Russian empire in 1801. Russia helped them fight off the Persians and Ottomans and regain some of their lost territory. Following the Russian revolution there was the short-live Transcaucasian Democratic Federative Republic: a union on convenience to stave off the ever-expansionist Turks. Georgia was once again annexed by the Russians, this time in the form of the Soviet Union, in 1921. Ossetians formed an early alliance with the Soviets, and after Tbilisi was conquered, were rewarded by being granted the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast, and enjoyed freedom from the Georgians.
When the Soviet Union dissolved, there was an Ossetian nationalist movement, but Georgia invaded South Ossetia in 1989. Racial tensions broke out again in 1991. This time, the Georgian army killed more than 2,000 Ossetians. More than 100,000 Ossetians fled South Ossetia and Georgia proper for Russia, while 23,000 Georgians fled South Ossetia. This left the area almost completely balkanized between the two ethnicities, leaving South Ossetia with a population of about 52,000, almost entirely Ossetian. After this time, South Ossetia has been independent all but officially. Tbilisi has zero authority over the region. The border is tightly controlled. Rubles are the official currency.
That about sets the stage for the 2008 ‘Russian invasion of Georgia.’ Hopefully now you are beginning to see how absurd that wording is.
The US has backed the Georgian army since the day the Soviet Union ended. They gave them $4.5 billion in 2008 alone. It is a little known fact that Georgians made up the 3rd largest allied fighting force in Iraq after the US and UK with 2,000 troops. The US flew them all back to Tbilisi. They had another job to do. Their job was to poke the bear.
In the early hours of August 8th 2008, more than 1,500 Georgian soldiers invaded the tiny territory. The army also indiscriminately shelled the SE capital of Tskhinvali. Tanks fired into apartment buildings at point blank range. People were gunned down as they drove down the highway to escape to Russia. You can hear first-hand accounts of all this in this surprisingly honest BBC report from November of 2008. At least 300 civilians were murdered that day as they slept in their beds or ran for cover.
This act of war initially received media black out in the West. It was only Russia’s response, more than 48 hours later, that received coverage. TV viewers in the West were bombarded with hysterical diatribes of how Russia was trying to dominate the region, possibly even rebuild the USSR.
Russia’s response was pretty heavy-handed. They sent 20,000 troops and 500 tanks into South Ossetia, Abkazia, and even bombed targets in Georgia proper, including a military base in Gori and several small villages. When all was said and done the death toll was 65 Russians killed, 169 Georgian troops killed, 224 Georgian civilians killed (although disputed by Russia), 27 Ossetian troops, and 365 Ossetian civilians (although disputed by Georgia). Keep in mind that South Ossetia has a population of only 53,000.
I believe the idea was not the unrealistic task of taking the Russian protected region, but to provoke a Russian response that could be used to justify the continued expansion of an out-of-control military industrial complex, and possibly just to gauge the response of the Russians before the US decided to engage in future military adventures in Syria, Iran etc.
As I said, the truth has come out on this one. It started to fall apart pretty early. Here is a video of a Fox News propagandist cutting off a young girl for telling the truth. Of course they were using a kid to pull at the heart strings of people to get them riled up as they are known to do. (see The Weaponization of Children in Anti-Syria Propaganda) Georgia threw Saakashvili under the bus, blaming the whole affair on him. Now a new party is in charge in Tbilisi and Saakashvili is on the run.
At the time of the Warsaw pact, NATO vowed never to expand into Eastern Europe. Now they are right at Russia’s border in Estonia. Russia has every right to be defensive. Unfortunately, American exceptionalists think the US and its allies are the only countries allowed to have their own national interests.
Georgia was the beginning of a new era, and it set the stage for Ukraine. Similar to Syria, Ukraine is, to some extent, pipeline politics. It is a very strategic location. Similar to Georgia, the US had been pumping aid into the country, but, in this case, to the opposition.
I need to talk about this right now, because I think this conflict is about to heat up. Petro Poroshenko’s approval rating has dipped below 10% and Washington doesn’t appear to have a replacement, so if they have any unfinished business, the window of opportunity is closing quickly. Recently the Ukrainian government began the seizure of assets of Russian energy giant Gazprom. The election is looming next year, and NATO likes to stir up controversy on Russian’s doorstep right before they host an international event, when more eyes are on the TVs, and they can get their propaganda out to a wider audience. In case you didn’t know, Russia is hosting the World Cup this summer.
Ukraine was the seat of the Proto Eastern Slavic state known to historians as the Kievan Rus. (Named after its capital: Kiev) This was a country that existed from roughly 882 to 1240 and is the predecessor state to all three modern Eastern Slavic countries: Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
The history of Crimea goes back much further. It was a client kingdom of the Roman and later Byzantine Empires. Crimea was valued as an important Black Sea port, and fought over by Slavs, Turkic tribes, and Greeks for centuries. It was eventually captured by the Turkic Tartars and become a Vassal state of the Ottoman Empire from 1489 to 1783. From Crimea, the Tatars launched many raids into Russia and captured slaves to be sold in the Turkish markets.
After that, it returned to a place of combat, with the Russians, Turks, British and French fighting over it, culminating in the Crimean war of 1853. Ultimately, the Russians couldn’t be kept at bay. By the time of the Soviet Union, it was firmly in their hands, although the population remained mostly Tatar.
The reason why Russia’s antagonists have always wanted to deprive it of Crimea is that it is Russia’s only warm-water port in Europe. St. Petersburg is frozen for about half the year, and Russia’s Black Sea coast is too shallow.
In 1921 the Soviet’s named Crimea an Autonomous Republic, but in 1954, for reasons that are still obscure it was stripped of that status and given by Moscow to the Ukraine Republic.
After the Soviet Union dissolved, Crimea was stuck in Ukraine despite having a Russian majority population. This led to unrest in the region. In the end, Kiev granted it the status of Autonomous Republic of Crimea. So Ukraine had 24 provinces and one autonomous republic. It is important to understand that Crimea always had its own parliament.
After Kiev was taken over by a far-right anti-Russian government, Crimea held a referendum and voted 96.77% to join Russia, although Ukrainians did boycott the referendum, knowing they would lose. By our best estimates, a more accurate vote would have been more like 75-80%. It is important to ask why the West is in favor of referendums in places like Kosovo but against them in Crimea. If you’re going to be in favor of self determination, you need to be consistent. Look at the West’s wildly varying responses to Catalonia, Tibet, Panama, Kosovo, Crimea, Brexit, Western Sahara etc. Clearly they pick and choose without any objective principals.
There were zero casualties in the ‘invasion’ of Crimea. Instead of images of tanks rolling down streets and intense standoffs, all we have is footage of celebratory parades. It was the most peaceful transfer of power I can think of. People basically just got new passports and signed up for a new healthcare plan. All the Ukrainian police and military in Crimea acknowledged the referendum. You need to ask yourself why, when the media speaks of this in the language of war, are you never shown any images of war or testimony from victims.
I believe there were elements in Kiev that wanted to cut Crimea loose. Crimea had its own parliament and a high degree of autonomy, yet it could still vote in national elections, and it always voted for the pro-Russian candidate. I’m sure in America some Republicans would like to see California secede, and some Democrats would like to see Texas secede, because it would insure a majority for their teem in congress. So Kiev didn’t put up any fight to hold on to it. Likewise NATO and the American Deep State were perfectly happy with what happened.
In truth, like Georgia, what happened is exactly what NATO knew would happen and wanted to happen. So how did they instigate it?
Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland has said out loud than the US “invested $5 billion in Ukrainian aspirations to join the West.” No doubt this was done through the National Endowment for Democracy, an American NGO (CIA front) involved in fomenting ‘color revolutions’ around the world. They were involved in more than sixty different programs in Ukraine, including neo-Nazi groups. A phone call between Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt was recorded sometime before Feb, 4th 2014. In it, they are essentially discussing who they are going to install as the next President Ukraine. They wanted to sideline boxer and then opposition favorite Vitali Klitschko, which happened, and to elevate their favorite candidate Arseniy Yatsenyuk. Nuland also suggested Yatsenyuk consult Oleh Tyahnybok ‘four times weekly.’ Tyahnybok was the leader of the far-right Svoboda Party. They got all their wishes. Yatsenyuk became then interim Prime Minister and Tyahnybok was part of the coalition. The really crazy thing is that this conversation, presumably intercepted by Russian intelligence, took place some time before Feb 4th 2014, when it was uploaded to Youtube, and the coup didn’t take place until the 22nd.
The protests in Kiev now known as Euromaidan were largely theater. Both sides had paid agitators. But they did remain peaceful until the 18th, with the bloodiest day coming on the 20th. There were 130 confirmed deaths (112 civilian and 18 police). They were killed by snipers from a distance. It is believed that there were at least ten snipers. This is a common NATO tactic: for a third party to fire indiscriminately at both sides in a protest to escalate the situation. It was also used in Syrian in 2011. A forensic ballistic investigation was conducted by a ballistics expert from the GPU (Prosecutor General of Ukraine), and concluded that the same people with the same guns killed protesters and police. It is widely believed that they were a paramilitary unit with ties to the Svoboda Party and other far-right, neo-Nazi groups. However, Western propaganda outlets at the time reported it was all government forces killing civilians. Naturally, after the coup was finished, the interim government prevented any investigation from taking place, but investigations have now commenced.
Now the lead suspects in the massacre are three Georgians. Even our old friend Saakashvili was said to be connected and was subpoenaed to testify. Could this be why he was sent off to Poland? It’s weird how the same people just flow from one conflict to another. For a short but detailed documentary on manufacturing crisis watch this one by James Corbett. It features the Maidan massacre about 3:30 in.
Ukraine is a deeply divided country. People moved around during the Soviet era, and a lot of Russians were left on the wrong side of the border when it ended. Not only this, but through Russian domination in media and education, the local language has been somewhat phased out, especially in urban areas, similar to Belarus and Kazakhstan, where Russian is today the majority language. Russian speakers are more inclined to consume Russian media and entertainment and are more influenced by that culture. Most people in the south and east of the country speak Russian. It is a dialectal continuum, so people in central Ukraine speak a combination on Russian and Ukrainian (Although Russian is preferred in Kiev). Pure Ukrainian is only spoken by a minority in the west.
As you can see in this next picture, the more Russian a province is, the more likely they were to support the ousted president Victor Yanukovych.
In fact, take a close look at the above map. There were three places that supported Yanukovych by more than 75%. They were Crimea in the south and two provinces in the east called Danetsk and Luhansk. Those two provinces are collectively known as ‘the Donbass.’ That is the other major point of conflict.
The Dombass has largely drawn to a stalemate. Parts of it remain beyond Kiev’s control, but movements have been made towards reintegration with Ukraine.
Ukraine has long been a polarized society. This largely stems from the 1930s when Ukraine, then known as the bread basket of Europe, suffered a famine that killed around five million people. A collectivization of farms led to an inefficient harvest in ’32. This event is known as the Holodomor. Many Ukrainians today claim the Holodomor was a deliberate move by Stalin to kill the Ukrainian independence movement.
(As a side note. In the Russo-Georgian dispute, the Stalin controversy is reversed. Stalin was of course Georgian, his real name Ioseb Jughashvili, and is still revered by many Georgians. Stalin has largely fallen out of favor in Russia, and Georgians’ continued respect for him is viewed by some Russians as evidence Georgians lacking moral integrity)
The Holodomor helped bolster the rise of fascism in Ukraine. Ukrainians quickly surrendered to the Nazis in WWII and happily handed over their large Jewish population. It’s hard to say for sure, but there was probably more Nazi support than red army support among ethnic Ukrainians early in the war.
A robust neo-Nazi movement remains in the country today, probably more so than any other Western country, and their main enemy is the Russians: a sentiment the US State Department was quick to take advantage of, as I pointed out earlier. Take a look at their boy Tyahnybok with senator John McCain.
Now it is not fair to blame Russians today for the Holodomor, but that is human nature. We are hardwired to support our tribe.
One of the new Kiev government’s first moves was to enforce a law making Ukrainian the sole official language, allowing only it to be used in secondary schools and limiting foreign languages in the media. This was obviously a big middle finger to the huge Russian-speaking population, especially in the Donbass where many are unable to speak Ukrainian.
Residents of the Donbass are commonly referred to in the Western media as ‘pro-Russian separatists,’ but actually many, prior to the coup, were proud Ukrainians. Donetsk and Luhansk both held their own referendums in 2014 and overwhelmingly voted (89.7% in Donetsk and 96.2% in Luhanks) not to join Russian, but to become sovereign republics. Russia has still not publicly recognized their autonomy. So it is more accurate to call them ‘anti-coup nationalists’ than ‘pro-Russian separatists.’
Ukraine responded to the referendums by employing one of NATOs favorite tricks: indiscriminately shelling civilian areas.
Protests also erupted in other Russian majority cities like Odessa. The responce from Ukrainians was predictably harsh. Thirty-four Russians were burned alive.
In all, nearly 3,000 civilians have been killed.
Of course the Western propaganda outlets reported rebel fighters being supported by Russia without providing a bit of evidence. While I wouldn’t rule out the possibility, Russia tends to go all in on these sort of things. (See South Osettia, Crimea, and Syria) Engaging in a prolonged proxy war is not in their best interest. If they were aiding the fighters, I think it would be obvious.
I’m not going to pretend I know for sure what happened to Malaysian Airlines flight 17, but when the West jumps to conclusion without any investigation, it is more than a little suspicious. In fact, in this case, they actively prevented any investigation, similar to the Skripal case, investigators claimed Russia wouldn’t let them get to the site, similar to Douma, even though independent reporters had no trouble, and authorities in Donetsk stated anyone was welcome. Are you sensing a pattern here yet?
Again, I think this is largely due to the fact that a money-consuming black hole like the Military Industrial Complex needs a steady supply of convincing boogeymen to justify its existence. The Dombass at face value, isn’t extremely relevant, but if it can be used to demonize another nuclear power, that’s all the relevance war profiteers need.
Another possible motive for instigating this conflict could be as simple as the deep state showing Putin and Obama we aren’t friends.
You may recall the tensions in Syria in 2013. Assad supposedly crossed a ‘red line,’ and Obama and Kerry were ready to go to war for a while. Then Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov negotiated for Syria to give up its chemical weapons. This was lauded as an achievement of diplomacy over war, as indeed it was. On Sept. 11th 2013 Putin pinned an op-ed in the New York Times, appealing to the American people for the US and Russia to work together in fighting terrorism. Relations had seldom looked better between Putin and the West. Perhaps the Deep State had to take care of that.
I’ve often heard anti-interventionists say something like, “Russia and the West are equally at fault for these proxy war. The whole world has gone mad. Why can’t we just get along.” Now I’m not naive enough to think that Russia is acting purely altruistically. If it wasn’t for their navel base, they probably wouldn’t care about Crimea, and without their natural gas interests, Syria would probably not be a top concern. But all these conflicts are being started by one side, and the other side is acting defensively. Not to mention, they’re all over there, not in Mexico. It’s intellectually dishonest to draw a false equivalence here.
To conclude this first installment in my Defense of Russia, I’m going to give a shout out to one of my favorite blogs, which I read as part of my daily routine. It is Caitlin Johnstone’s Medium. She had an article yesterday that I read prior to working on this. The title alone beautifully sums up the reality of how absurd these claims of ‘Russian talking points’ are. It is “Russian Talking Points” Look An Awful Lot Like Well-Documented Facts.
For part 2 click In Defense of Russia: Part 2