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Ukraine War (Russian Special Military Operation) – Brief discussion on sources; An Annotated Bibliography

May 21, 2022

My position:

This is a war, the current conflict in Ukraine, planned for eight years by Washington and executed through proxies in Europe (the Zelensky government, NATO, etc). The Ukrainian military buildup on the borders of Russia is a part of a more global effort to surround both Russia and China to weaken the challenge these two countries represent to U.S. global hegemony. Any serious analysis of the causes of this war – call it what you want – the Russian invasion, Russian special military operation… doesn’t matter. The crisis itself must be understood in its global, not local context: the emerging, very much obvious, struggle between dying U.S. unilateralism, global hegemony and the emergence of a multi-polar world in which no one country – especially Washington – calls the shots.

To only look at the Ukrainian crisis as beginning on February 24, 2022, when Russian troops entered Ukraine from six different points from the north, east and south results in a skewed understanding of a conflict that has been going on – in the military realm for at least eight years. The more limited approach confuses, as is often the case – “the forest from the trees.” It also results in confusing the perpetrator from the victims, the victims in this case being the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine; the perpetrator being the Kiev government, itself little more than a pawn, a proxy for U.S. dominated NATO. Such an approach avoids, no cancels what has been an eight year of what amounts to ethnic cleansing of Ukraine’s Russian speaking population, eight years of war against the separatist Donbass republics that resulted, according to OCDE sources of 16,000 deaths, overwhelmingly in Ukraine’s Russian speaking areas. It also denies the very real and extensive Nazification of the Ukrainian military and Ukrainians society in general that celebrates and lionizes the life of Stefan Bandera – Ukrainian Nazi collaborator responsible for the murder of Ukrainian Poles and Jews during World War II. Read more…

Guest Blogger: “Ukraine is winning the battle on Twitter, but in the real world Kiev is losing the fight for the Donbass” by Scott Ritter (edited) on the War in the Ukraine – May 1, 2022

May 3, 2022

Hostages being released from the Azovstal Steel Complex, held there by the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion. The release was organized by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and carried out by the United Nations and the Red Cross. 

Russians are on the verge of dealing a crushing defeat to the US and NATO in Ukraine, which will impact the world order for decades to come – MK Badrakumar 

(Note 1: Scott Ritter is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of ‘SCORPION KING: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.’ He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, served in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991 to 1998 served as a chief weapons inspector with the UN in Iraq. Mr Ritter currently writes on issues pertaining to international security, military affairs, Russia, and the Middle East, as well as arms control and nonproliferation. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter. This article was published at the website RT-America has been banned here in the United States.)

(Note 2: COMMENT by Badrakumar Melkulangara, retired Indian diplomat on social media: “Make no mistake, this piece by Scott Ritter reg Ukraine war is from inside the Russian track. Ritter has been thoroughly briefed by the Russian side… Russians have a frustrating /deplorable history of not caring about optics and image-building and instead focus on their objectives in the heat of the battle. Second World War was a classic example – Hollywood made movies after movies on Patton while Georgy Zhukov remained a relatively obscure hero who turned the tide of the Nazi invasion … Again, legend was that Soviets ‘blinked’ during 1972 Cuban Missile Crisis – whereas, everyone agrees today that they indeed walked away laughing, having got the US nuclear missiles removed from Turkey, which was their strategic objective (unknown even to Fidel Castro!) History is repeating. Russians are on the verge of dealing a crushing defeat to the US and NATO in Ukraine, which will impact the world order for decades to come — Chinese are probably the only ones reading the tea leaves correctly, thanks to their access to information in Moscow. Now the Russians are getting ready to speak up with their version contradicting the established western narrative that they have been ‘defeated’ in Ukraine! Level of confidence is such that they even admit here their own intelligence failures & ‘self-goals’ initially – like the Israelis had suffered in 1973 Yom Kippur War due to flawed intelligence assessment, but only to swiftly turn the table around and crush the Egyptian army eventually.”)

(Note 3: This article is edited because of its lengthRJP. For the complete unedited article)

Ukraine is winning the battle on Twitter, but in the real world Kiev is losing the fight for the Donbass

Claims that Ukraine is set for victory on the ground are Kiev and Washington’s wishful thinking at best
Western media coverage of the Ukraine conflict has been so hysterically one-sided, and divorced from reality, that it’s probably only a matter of time before Iraq’s erstwhile ‘Comical Ali’ is brought out of retirement to insist that there are no Russians advancing towards the Ukrainian army’s front lines. Meanwhile, the actual fighting continues to result in a string of defeats for Kiev’s battered forces, who have already lost control of two major cities, despite unprecedented support from the US and its allies.

As American officials work with the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to craft a perception of Kiev’s victory against the Russian military, Moscow is preparing to counter with a harsh dose of reality.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on the heels of a dramatic visit to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev where, together with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, he met with Zelensky, testified before Congress that the goal of the Ukrainians in fighting their two-month-old conflict with Russia “would be to push the Russians out of the territory that they’re trying to occupy in eastern Ukraine.”

Western media coverage of the Ukraine conflict has been so hysterically one-sided, and divorced from reality, that it’s probably only a matter of time before Iraq’s erstwhile ‘Comical Ali’ is brought out of retirement to insist that there are no Russians advancing towards the Ukrainian army’s front lines. Meanwhile, the actual fighting continues to result in a string of defeats for Kiev’s battered forces, who have already lost control of two major cities, despite unprecedented support from the US and its allies.

Blinken added that the administration of US President Joe Biden was providing “full support” to Kiev to achieve this goal. The Secretary of State added that Zelensky’s objective was to degrade the Russian military so that it would not be able to attack Ukraine in the “next month, next year or in five years,” echoing similar sentiments expressed by Lloyd Austin, who had declared that the goal of the US was to “see Russia weakened” so that it cannot “do the kinds of things that it has done [in Ukraine].”

The shared optimism of Blinken, Austin, and Zelensky comes from the joint embrace of a narrative of the Russian military operation against Ukraine which holds that the Russians are in the process of suffering a strategic defeat in Ukraine. But in a sign that this narrative may represent little more than wishful thinking on the part of these three leaders, the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, had a more nuanced take, noting that if Russia were to get away with what he termed its “aggression” against Ukraine “cost-free,” then “the global international security order” that has been in place since the end of the Second World War would be put at risk.

Far from projecting a sense of optimism as to the outcome of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Milley’s statements reflected a sense of urgency that comes with the recognition that the war in Ukraine has reached a critical juncture.

The gap between perception and reality when it comes to assessing the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is a direct result of the confusing nature of the conflict itself, where a well-oiled propaganda campaign waged by Ukraine and its Western partners, both government and media alike, contrasts with a Russian public relations effort which is reticent to delve deeply into Russian strategic goals and objectives, let alone the day-to-day details of the fighting on the ground. The result is an information war where two competing narratives wage an unequal conflict, and perception is ultimately trumped by reality.

Some harsh truths

Doctrinally, the Russian military was configured for the kind of warfare it had prepared for, where its overwhelming advantages in mass and firepower were optimized to produce the very battlefield results anticipated by most observers — the destruction of enemy defenses in depth with massed fire, followed by an aggressive armored assault that penetrated deep into the enemy rear areas, sowing confusion and disruption leading to the rapid loss of combat effectiveness on the part of those being attacked.

A Russian-Ukrainian war was always going to be primarily a ground war; neither the Ukrainian Air Force nor its Navy was expected to put up a sustained, viable resistance to their Russian counterparts. While the Ukrainian Army had been trained and equipped as a virtual NATO proxy force since 2015, the reality was that it had undergone a rapid expansion from 2014, when it could field some 6,000 combat-ready troops, to its pre-military operation composition of some 150,000 soldiers organized into 24 brigades. The expectation that Ukraine would be able to perfect anything more than basic battalion-sized combined arms operations (i.e., the coordinated employment of maneuver forces with artillery and air support) was wishful thinking.

While Ukraine had placed a great deal of effort in transitioning from an all-conscript military in 2014 to one where some 60% of its combat personnel were professional contract soldiers led by seasoned non-commissioned officers, one cannot create such a force in so short of time. Small unit leadership of the sort that represents the glue that holds a military force together under the strain and duress of sustained combat simply had not had enough time to take hold and mature in the Ukrainian army, leading many to assess that it would fold when placed under the stress of Russian doctrinal warfare.

However, the limitations of the Ukrainian armed forces did not allow it to turn its impressive tactical victories into positive operational and strategic outcomes. Despite costly initial setbacks, the Russian Army pressed home its attack, achieving impressive gains in the south, where Russian forces operating out of Crimea secured the strategic city of Kherson and advanced on the equally important city of Mariupol. There, they joined with Russian and allied forces from the Donetsk Republic to surround the Ukrainian forces defending Mariupol, eventually trapping the survivors, numbering several thousand strong, in the reinforced concrete underworld of the Azovstal steel factory. Further north, Russian forces, together with the forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics, advanced westward to drive Ukrainian forces from their prepared defenses to gain control of the totality of the territory encompassing the Donbass region.

The “Battle for Kiev

While securing the territorial integrity of the Donbass region was one of the primary objectives of the Russian special military operation, to accomplish this Russia carried out extensive supporting operations, which included a diversionary advance toward Kiev designed to fix Ukrainian forces in place and divert reinforcements away from the eastern front, as well as an amphibious feint off the coast of Odessa for the same purpose. For a diversionary attack and/or feint to be operationally viable, it must be believable, which means the forces carrying out the mission must be aggressive in the execution of the diversion, even under unfavorable conditions.

The Russian advance on Kiev was done by a force of some 40,000 men operating on two axes, one heading south, the other pushing southwest from the direction of Chernihiv.

The fact of the matter remains, however, that a force of 40,000 men, no matter how aggressively employed, cannot take, and hold, a city of some three million inhabitants defended by a mix of 60,000 regular, reserve, and territorial soldiers. But this was never their task. “These actions [i.e., the advance on Kiev],” Colonel General Sergey Rudskoy, the first deputy chief of Russia’s General Staff, announced during a briefing on March 26, “are carried out with the aim of causing such damage to military infrastructure, equipment, personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the results of which allow us not only to tie down their forces and prevent them from strengthening their grouping in the Donbass, but also will not allow them to do this until the Russian army completely liberates the territories of the [Donetsk People’s Republic] and [Lugansk People’s Republic].”

In an indication of both the intensity of the combat involved in the Kiev feint, and the importance of the assigned mission, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded the honorific title of ‘Guard’ to the 64th Detached Motor Rifle Brigade for its “astute and bold actions” during the Kiev fighting. “The unit’s staff became a role model in fulfilling its military duty, valor, dedication and professionalism,” Putin noted in the accompanying citation (the Ukrainian government has accused the 64th Brigade of committing war crimes in the town of Bucha, north of Kiev, a charge the Russian government vehemently denies.)

The so-called “Battle for Kiev” is a clear-cut example of the difference between perception and reality. The Ukrainian position is that its forces decisively defeated the Russian military on the approaches to Kiev, forcing not only a retreat, but also a complete re-design of the strategic objectives of the special military operation. This point of view has been echoed unquestioningly by a compliant Western media, and embraced by political and military leaders in Europe, Canada, and the US.

One of the major outcomes of this Ukrainian “victory” was the ability of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to leverage this perception into a fundamental shift of thinking on the part of his supporters in the West, resulting in an increase in both the amount of money allocated to supplying Ukraine with weapons, as well as the quality of the weapons themselves, as the West shifted away from an emphasis on light anti-tank weapons to more conventional armor and artillery.

Left unspoken was the need for this dramatic change in weapons priority, especially given the fact that Ukraine had, according to its own narrative, decisively defeated Russia using these very same light anti-tank weapons. The reality, however, was that the Russian Phase One operations had inflicted near-fatal damage to the Ukrainian military, killing and wounding tens of thousands of soldiers while destroying the vast bulk of Ukraine’s heavy weaponry — the artillery, tanks, and armored fighting vehicles critical to waging modern combined arms warfare. The reason Ukraine requested more tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery from its Western suppliers is that it had depleted its available stocks.

But equipment was the least of Ukraine’s worries. A military is only as good as its ability to logistically sustain its forces while in combat, and one of the primary objectives of the Russian Phase One campaign was to destroy Ukraine’s fuel and ammunition storage facilities and degrade Ukrainian command and control. The result is that while Ukraine held onto Kiev, it did so at an enormous cost in overall combat effectiveness. And while Russia was able to withdraw from the Kiev front and undergo a period of rest, rearmament, and reorientation (a normal action for military units that had been engaged in virtually non-stop combat operations for a month), the Ukrainian military remained under pressure from incessant Russian aerial attack and bombardment from precision-guided cruise missiles and Russian artillery.

Perception, when subjected to the harsh light of reality, is exposed as little more than wishful thinking. This is very much the case regarding the so-called “Battle for Kiev,” where the Ukrainian military was left holding territory which no longer served any useful purpose for the Russians. Russia was able to redeploy its forces to better support its prime objective, the seizure of Donbass, leaving the Ukrainian forces in Kiev frozen in place.

Mariupol and the battle for Donbass

The battle for Mariupol is another example where perception management clashed with ground-truth reality. The narrative surrounding the present fate of Mariupol is very much a tale of two cities. From the Ukrainian perspective, the city continues to be held by a heroic cadre of fighters who are tying down tens of thousands of Russian forces who otherwise could be redeployed elsewhere, supporting the Russian main effort against Donbass. So long as these defenders hold out, the Ukrainians contend, the vital land bridge connecting Crimea and the Russian Federation will be at risk. Likewise, their continued resistance serves a major propaganda purpose, denying Russia the ability to declare victory prior to the Victory Day celebration of May 9.

Russia, however, has already declared victory in Mariupol. While conceding that a few thousand defenders remain dug into the Cold War-era bunkers underneath the Azovstal steel factory, Russia says that these forces serve no meaningful military value. Indeed, rather than sacrifice Russian troops to dig the Ukrainian forces from their underground lairs, President Putin directed the military to seal off the Azov facility and wait the defenders out.

There is no doubt that the presence of Ukrainians in the Azovstal factory represents a propaganda victory for Ukraine. But the reality is that the city of Mariupol has fallen to Russia; while the Ukrainian defenders, possibly accompanied by thousands of civilians, waste away as their food supplies diminish, the rest of Mariupol is beginning the task of rebuilding a shattered city where an estimated 90% of the buildings have been damaged or destroyed in brutal street-to-street fighting. The Russian land bridge is intact, and the Russian offensive against Donbass is proceeding without delay.

The statements in Kiev by Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin are a byproduct of the perception of Ukrainian victory shaped by the twin Ukrainian “victories” in Kiev and Mariupol. The reality, however, is that Kiev was a masterful Russian deception that shaped the overall strategic situation in Ukraine in favor of Russia, and the Mariupol battle is likewise finished in terms of any strategic impact on the overall campaign. What is left is the harsh truth of simple “military math” which, when projected onto a map, provides the kind of unyielding fact-based evidence that Ukraine is losing its war with Russia.

The fact of the matter is that the military aid being provided to Ukraine by the West will not have any discernable impact on a battlefield where Russia is asserting its dominance more and more each day. Not only is there not enough equipment being provided. Hundreds of armored vehicles cannot replace the more than 2,580 that have been lost by Ukraine to date, nor can dozens of artillery pieces offset the more that 1,410 artillery tubes and rocket launchers destroyed by the Russian military.

The statements in Kiev by Antony Blinken and Lloyd Austin are a byproduct of the perception of Ukrainian victory shaped by the twin Ukrainian “victories” in Kiev and Mariupol. The reality, however, is that Kiev was a masterful Russian deception that shaped the overall strategic situation in Ukraine in favor of Russia, and the Mariupol battle is likewise finished in terms of any strategic impact on the overall campaign. What is left is the harsh truth of simple “military math” which, when projected onto a map, provides the kind of unyielding fact-based evidence that Ukraine is losing its war with Russia.

The fact of the matter is that the military aid being provided to Ukraine by the West will not have any discernable impact on a battlefield where Russia is asserting its dominance more and more each day. Not only is there not enough equipment being provided. Hundreds of armored vehicles cannot replace the more than 2,580 that have been lost by Ukraine to date, nor can dozens of artillery pieces offset the more that 1,410 artillery tubes and rocket launchers destroyed by the Russian military.

When two military forces of equal size and capability face off against one another, they seek to acquire an operational advantage through the attrition of their opponent’s capabilities which, in combination with effective maneuvering of their own forces, puts the opponent in an untenable situation. The transition from a battle of equals to decisive military victory is often rapid, representing as it does the culmination of acquired supremacy in the form of firepower and maneuver which is brought together in synchronistic fashion, creating a series of tactical and operational dilemmas for which the opponent has no viable solution.

This is the current situation with the Ukrainian military facing off against the Russians in Donbass today. The Ukrainians, lacking any meaningful artillery support of their own, are at the mercy of the Russian artillery and rocket launchers that pound their positions day in and day out, without respite. The Russian troops have taken a very deliberate approach to engaging with their Ukrainian opponents. Gone are the rapid advances by unprotected columns and convoys; now, the Russians isolate the Ukrainian defenders, pound them with artillery, and then carefully close in and destroy what remains with infantry supported by tanks and armored fighting vehicles. The casualty ratio in this fighting is unforgiving for Ukraine, with hundreds of soldiers lost each day in terms of killed, wounded and surrendered, while Russian casualties are measured in scores.

Not only can Russia maneuver virtually at will along the front as it closes with and destroys the Ukrainian defenders, but Russian troops also operate with absolute freedom in depth, meaning that they can pull back to refit, rearm, and rest without fear of Ukrainian artillery fire or counterattacking forces. The Ukrainians, meanwhile, remain pinned down, unable to move without fear of being detected and destroyed by Russian air power, and as such doomed to be isolated and destroyed by Russian troops in due course.

There is virtually no hope of reinforcement or relief for the Ukrainian forces operating on the front lines; Russia has interdicted the rail lines that had served as the conduit for resupply, and the likelihood of any Ukrainian forces which have received heavy weapons provided by the West reaching the frontlines in any discernable strength is virtually zero. The Battle for Donbass is reaching its culminating point, where the Ukrainian military rapidly transitions from a force capable of providing the semblance of resistance to one that has lost all meaningful combat capability.

This is the state of play entering the third month of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine. While the termination of any conflict is always a political question, one thing is for certain — if the operation extends into a fourth month, the battlefield will look vastly different from the one that the world currently sees. The battle for Donbass and eastern Ukraine is all but over. That is the hard reality, and no amount of wishful thinking or perception management by either Zelensky or his American partners can change that.

Read more…

Audio: The Ukraine Crisis – It’s Overflow Impact on the Middle East. KGNU, Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues – Part Three; Jim Nelson, Producer. Tuesday, April 26, 2022

April 27, 2022

China to Iran – one of the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative. Chinese-Iranian ties have given Iran confidence that it can face down U.S. sanctions successfully

(note on the audio: the audio is unfortunately truncated and only starts about 15 minutes within the interview… What I provide below is a transcript of my notes for that first period. Some of Ibrahim Kazerooni’s open remarks on the status of the JCPOA which followed this intro are lost, unfortunately. The essence of his remarks is that after looking as if at the end of March that an agreement might be achieved, shortly thereafter, the U.S. pulled back on its promises to eliminate sanctions against Iran as specified in the 2015 agreement. Iran refused to sign a statement that it would not seek revenge for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, killed in a drone rocket attack at the beginning of 2020 for which the Trump Administration took credit. Kazerooni argued (and I agree) that the likelihood of a revived JCPOA agreement has faded to naught. The audio begins with Kazerooni’s comments – and my response to his remarks on the consequences of the agreement’s failure.)

These notes are from the program’s beginning…

Rob Prince: We are now two months into what the Russians refer to as their Special Operation in the Ukraine, what the West is referring to as the Russian invasion of Ukraine…

It is not our goal to talk about the Russian military operation in Ukraine beyond its Middle Eastern effects but we would remind our listeners of a few points:

a. Take your pick of past examples of U.S. military intervention or one done by proxies – have been based on misinformation and lies – “the Gulf of Tonkin all over again.”

In all these cases, the American people have not told the truth and it is only after ten, fifteen years that “the truth” hits us – as happened in Afghanistan.

Why would Ukraine be any different?

b. Secondly, that if your starting point for the Russian invasion of Ukraine is February 24, 2022 – you come to one obvious conclusion about who is responsible for this war…

But if given a little historical perspective – starting with the consequences of the 2014 Maidan coup and the informal Ukrainian integration into NATO, then responsibility for this war, takes on quite a different character.

Our proposition is this: that as the global balance of power between the two blocks (US-NATO- Russia-Chine) shifts, that it is profoundly effecting the geopolitics of the Middle East region that opens up new possibilities – as distant as they might seem today – for greater stability and peace making. Read more…

Guest Blogger: Bhadrakumar Melkulangara: Israel Reaches Out to China Again.

April 7, 2022

The Bay Port at Haifa on the Mediterranean, will be operated by Shanghai International Port Group for a 25-year period

(Bhadrkumar Melkulangara is a retired Indian diplomat)

 

The phone call to the Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday by Israel’s alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid adds to the tectonic shifts… Lapid reached out to China within 10 days of the visit by Blinken…

 

The phone call to the Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Wednesday by Israel’s alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid adds to the tectonic shifts in the geopolitics of the Middle East of late. Lapid reached out to China within ten days of the visit by the US Secretary of State to Israel. 

The Chinese readout plays up the Israeli overture, quoting Lapid as making a strong pitch for the two countries who “understand and appreciate each other” to leverage their “strong innovation capacity” for “accelerating the modernisation process.” Lapid stated Israel’s interest in maintaining close high-level exchanges and deepening cooperation in various fields with China. 

Wang Yi reciprocated by signalling China’s interest “to push forward bilateral relations to continuously score new achievements with innovative cooperation as a key driving force.” The two leaders agreed to speed up the negotiation and signing of a free trade agreement.   

This interaction further points toward the winds of change in Israeli foreign policies against the backdrop of the US disengagement from the region and the lifting of US sanctions against Iran which would likely upturn the established regional order.  Read more…

Audio: The Ukraine Crisis – It’s Overflow Impact on the Middle East. KGNU, Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues; Tuesday, March 22, 2022

March 23, 2022

Iran. After 43 years of not-stop trying, the U.S. has not been able to achieve its goal of regime change. And now, Washington is offering Iran to drop sanctions in exchange for increased oil production

Middle Eastern countries are either silent or hostile to the Biden Administration’s effort to bring them onboard to support the U.S./NATO position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, especially where it concerns the imposition of sanctions. What’s it all about? From Mohammed Ben Salman Stiff-Arming The Biden Administration to the U.S. U-turn on returning to the JCPOA (now they are trying desperately to cut a deal with Iran), to Israeli and Turkish angst about their futures – the Middle East – as we have – noted in previous programs is in the process of geopolitical shifts of the first magnitude. The Russian invasion of Ukraine did not trigger these changes but it has magnified them already. Kazerooni and Prince continue the discussion of the Ukrainian conflict’s consequences for the Middle east.

Stay tuned… Tuesday, March 22, 2022 @ 6-7 pm on KGNU Boulder, Colorado, Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince, produced by Jim Nelson.

Tune in – KGNU, Boulder, Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues – Tuesday, March 22, 2022 @ 6-7 pm, Mountain States Time. The Ukraine Conflict’s Consequences for the Middle East – Part Two: Biden’s Attempt to Build an anti-Russian Alliance: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

March 20, 2022

Source: NATO

www.kgnu.org

Middle Eastern countries are either silent or hostile to the Biden Administration’s effort to bring them onboard to support the U.S./NATO position on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, especially where it concerns the imposition of sanctions. What’s it all about? From Mohammed Ben Salman Stiff-Arming The Biden Administration to the U.S. U-turn on returning to the JCPOA (now they are trying desperately to cut a deal with Iran), to Israeli and Turkish angst about their futures – the Middle East – as we have – noted in previous programs is in the process of geopolitical shifts of the first magnitude. The Russian invasion of Ukraine did not trigger these changes but it has magnified them already. Kazerooni and Prince continue the discussion of the Ukrainian conflict’s consequences for the Middle east.

Stay tuned… Tuesday, March 22, 2022 @ 6-7 pm on KGNU Boulder, Colorado, Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince, produced by Jim Nelson.

Tribute to Barbara Hanst, Colorado Palestinian Human Rights Activist Who Just Died by Jane Thomas

March 19, 2022

Jane Thomas and Barbara Hanst

Mote: The passing of a Colorado peace activist, who worked for Palestinian human rights and against all forms of racism and bigotry. RJP)

Barbara Hanst, the person I was so privileged to call a friend, died yesterday morning.  She had been diagnosed with breast cancer last May, and then later diagnosed with lung cancer, for which she endured rounds of chemo and immunotherapy.  In December 2021, during a break in treatment, she was well enough to go with me to David Skaggs’ farm to walk the Advent maze designed by members of First Congregational Church.  Though tired, she was her usual animated, present self, full of concern about other people.  But by the beginning of 2022 she was in terrible pain.  At first doctors thought it might be her heart, so she was admitted to the hospital and tested.  Her heart was deemed in good shape.  But there was still the pain.  Then she was diagnosed with COVID, and her oxygen levels plummeted.  She was brought back to Frasier Meadows and put on hospice care just a few days ago.  Her son Jonathan lives in Lafayette and visited regularly, and her daughter flew in from Maui and was able to stay with her until the end.  Memorial services are planned for Boulder, Maryland, and Hawaii.

Barbara is the reason we exist as a Small Group at First Congregational Church.  Her passion for Palestine was well-known, but she also was active in human rights in general, for voting rights, and for social justice anywhere.  Her passion was as steadfast as her faith.  She was kind, compassionate, and funny, enthusiastic in her communication (using LOTS of capital letters in her emails!) and not afraid to speak truth to power or speak up generally.  She made friends wherever she went and kept those friendships going for years.  She was the kind of person I aspire to be, and I miss her so much.
I think she would have been very pleased to know that through her efforts, our small group has been able to join other groups working for human rights for Palestinians in the state of Colorado, and that a coalition has been formed with civic, religious, and non-religious groups to amplify our voices: Colorado Coalition for Human Rights for Palestine.  I told her once that she is a “weaver” because she brings people together.  Let us continue her work.
Rest in peace, Barbara

John Denver from the grave – “Let Us Begin” (to improve our relations with the world’s other major nuclear weapons power, Russia)

March 19, 2022
Nancy Fey and William Watts – Hirsohima event – Late May 1982
Let Us Begin
 
“What are we making weapons for? Why keep on feeding the war machine?”
 
-At the height of the Cold War – mid 1980s – John Denver came out with this song, “Let Us Begin”. Begin to do what? To try to put ourselves in the shoes of our then adversary, the USSR, now Russia, and they to put themselves in our shoes in an effort to reduce the danger of nuclear war.  It was a moving call for mutual U.S.-Soviet understanding. Given the unprecedented level of russophobia these days, we need songs like this now updated of course.
 
From my book, the best song that Denver ever wrote or performed.
 
– Ironically I had never heard it in the USA at the time but instead heard it on the radio in a small hotel room  in Copenhagen, Denmark  At the time, I was involved in the preparations for a major peace conference in October of 1986, the Copenhagen Peace Congress. If I recall correctly it brought together some 3000 peace activists from all over the world, including a sizeable delegation from Africa. Attacked in the Danish (and other) media viciously, the conference went off without a hitch. I’d like to believe that the connections made during those three days played a role in the eventual detente between the U.S. and then U.S.S.R. that followed in the late 1980s – the INF Treaty, Reduction in Conventional Forces Treaty of 1992.
 
– Earlier I had already crossed paths with John Denver in a chance meeting.
 
– I first came to Colorado in the Spring of 1969; for two months early in my stay I worked as a maintenance man on a golf course in Snowmass, by Aspen and lived for $100 a month in the Hotel Jerome which was then a kind of flop house young folk employed on the ski runs and the  golf courses in the area, a pretty wild, drug saturated scene – stunning scenery of course and although Aspen was already some kind of watering hole for the rich it still had a sizeable middle and working class living within the city limits – not like now where it would be impossible to find a place where the rent is affordable. Anyhow, one day on the streets of Aspen I ran into an old high school friend, from Jamaica High School in Queens, NY. There was Alan Garber; he had been a better than average pitcher for the school baseball team, which was one of the better ones in NYC at the time. Alan had come to Aspen to finetune his skills as a folk singer; That came as something of a surprise to me simply because I did not have any knowledge that he was interested in folk music. Alan invited me to join him in a jam session at an Aspen condo one evening. Sure, I said, I’ll come. And I did. And who was playing with Alan and several others – John Denver. And so thanks to Alan Garber, I met John Denver. I liked the music, came back again one evening, exchanged a few words with John Denver and Alan. That was it. Know what happened to John Denver but have always wondered about Alan Garber with whom I lost touch.
 
– Thirteen years later, I saw John Denver again. It was June 1982. The United Nations was holding a “special session on nuclear disarmament”. A million people had gathered in Central Park calling for an end to the nuclear arms race. Here in Colorado, a two person delegation visited from Hiroshima Japan; they were “hibakushas” – survivors of the nuclear bomb dropped on Nagasaki on August 6, 1945. The two were on their way to the United Nations in NYC. A few days later, John Denver and Jimmy Buffet sang peace songs at the Capitol to an audience of 20,000+ one of the biggest demonstration’s in the state’s history up until then. Nancy and I went with our then four-year old daughter, Nancy was then seven months pregnant with Abbie who would arrive two months later.
 
– Today, the voices of the Administration in Washington DC and its accompanying media chorus is even more shill than in 1982. Then it was the “evil Soviet Union”; today the “evil Russia’. In some ways the level of anti-Russian hysteria is even greater than the anti-Soviet drum beat of the Reagan years. People seem to forget that the United States and Russia are the world’s two greatest nuclear weapons powers and that the importance of their being in communication with one another – respectful communication – could not be more vital To vilify a country and its leader to the extent that Russia and Putin have been savaged – and this long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine – eliminates the possibility of negotiations. And who are we, in the USA  – with our government having been involved in more foreign interventions that it is possible to count – to be giving morality lessons to Russia.
 
– These days we could use the likes of John Denver to remind us…
 
 
June, 1982 anti-nuclear Demonstration in Denver where John Denver and Jimmy Buffet sang
 
 
 
 

YouTube of Webinar: Exposing Israel’s Illegal Child Detention: A Colorado Call – Thursday, March 17, 2022

March 17, 2022

Beit Ummar, West Bank, Palestine. Ahed Akhil, 24 year old sweet shop (candy store as we would call it) in Beit Ummar, killed by an Israeli security guard and left for five hours to bleed to death in January 2021

Exposing Israel’s Illegal Child Detention: A Colorado Call

Produced by the Colorado Coalition for Palestinian Human Rights. For information contact Jeff Wright at jeffwright103@gmail.com or cfjcolorado@gmail.com

 

Webinar: Exposing Israel’s Illegal Child Detention: A Colorado Call – Thursday, March 17 @ 10:00 am Mountain States Time

March 15, 2022

Ahed Akhil, 24 year old sweet shop (candy store as we would call it) in Beit Ummar, killed by an Israeli security guard and left for five hours to bleed to death.

Dear friends and supporters,

Just a reminder that our webinar, “Exposing Israel’s Illegal Child Detention:  A Colorado Call,” hosted by the Colorado Coalition for Human Rights for Palestine, of which we are a part, will be this Thursday, March 17, 2022 at 10:00 am MT on the following platforms:

   

On YouTube: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UROLfRBg2o 

 

On Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/CFJColorado

Special Guests:

– Rami Khader – direct from Palestine

– Shaina Lowe – No Way To Treat A Child

Colorado Coalition for Human Rights for Palestine Participating Organizations

Boulder Friends Meeting
Boulder-Nablus Sister City Project
Center for Freedom and Justice, Colorado
Colorado Palestine Club
Democratic Socialists of America, Fort Collins
First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, Boulder
Foothills Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, Fort Collins
Friends of Sabeel Colorado, a Christian Voice for Peace
Islamic Center of Boulder (added 1OCT2021)
Jewish Voice for Peace, Denver-Boulder Chapter
The Lemon Tree, Boulder
Veterans for Peace Chapter 120 Boulder
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center
Unitarian Universalists, Palestine Group – Boulder

For information contact Jeff Wright: jeffwright103@gmail.com

Ukraine War Update 2 – March 15, 2022. The State of the War from the Two Opposing Narratives

March 15, 2022

Urkaine War Update – 2 – The state of the Ukraine war from the two opposing narratives; the non-significance of Zelensky’s Jewishness

The second in a series – This one examines the vastly opposing narratives of what is happening “on the ground” in the war, plus the significance or lack there of, of Ukrainian President Zelensky being Jewish

Ukraine War Update 1 – March 13, 2022

March 13, 2022

(The purpose of these updates is not to give detailed updates on the situation in Ukraine – the full scale Russian invasion which proceeds apace. Rather it is, at a time of a growing information/analysis blockade, to briefly add to the discussion and provide what to my mind are sources beyond what might be referred to as “the mainstream narrative”… or to make some points that have emerged through various lively discussions with friends. Another purpose, besides trying to break through the media blockade is to provide alternative informations sources that others might use )

  1. The first entry is lifted from a Facebook post by Fred Weir. I stumble across Weir’s Russian reporting a couple of years ago and have found it much more insightful on Russian developments than what I was reading in the NY Times, CNN, etc. He is also the co-author of a book – Russia’s Path from Gorbachev to Putin: The Demise of the Soviet System and the New Russia, co-authored with David Kotz, in my opinion, the best read on the collapse of the USSR and how Russian society has been organized since.

In what follows, Weir posted a piece from Ivan Katchanovski that appeared in the Ukrainian press detailing Russian demands to Ukraine for ending the war. Although I have heard anecdotally of some of them, I had not seen the demands spelled out so clearly as here. This is what the Russian government says it wants to accomplish politically by invading Ukraine.

ZN.UA стали известны шесть ультимативных требований России к Украине

“Well, there it is. [from Ivan Katchanovski]
Ukrainian media published 6 Russian demands to Ukraine to end the war. The first five of them should be included in the Constitution of Ukraine.

  1. Refusal to join NATO. Neutral status of Ukraine. Russia is ready to become one of the guarantors.
    2 Russian becomes the second state language.
  2. Recognition of Crimea by Ukraine as Russian.
  3. Recognition by Ukraine of the independence of the DPR and LPR within the administrative boundaries of Donbas regions (including the territories now controlled by Ukraine).
  4. “Denazification”. Prohibition of the activities of ultra-nationalist, Nazi and neo-Nazi parties and public organizations, the abolition of existing laws on the glorification of Nazis and neo-Nazis.
  5. “Demilitarization of Ukraine”. A complete rejection of offensive weapons.”

2, Bhadrakumar Melkulangara is a retired Indian diplomat who was Indian ambassador to Russia and a number of other countries. His analysis is neither “pro-NATO” nor “pro-Russian”. Extremely sharp analyst who posts regularly on his Facebook page and also on his blog, Indian Punchline, one of the best from where I am sitting. You’ll get a much more accurate picture of what is – and isn’t – happening in the Ukraine (and elsewhere) from following his posts than from CBS News, Financial Times, etc.

There have been a number of posts, emails I have received, etc suggesting that as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that Putin’s days in power in Russia are numbered, that he is increasingly unpopular and will be swept from power by the Russian people themselves. If you think about it – this is the approach of the so-called “colored revolutions.” My own take is that this is utter nonsense – in spite of the antiwar demonstrations which have erupted in Russia – and that if anything, Russia’s war in Ukraine has strengthened Putin’s position and his popularity.

Responding to this particular line of thinking – the impending doom of the Putin government in Russia – B.M. commented (on social media)

“Popular western narrative about imminent regime change in Russia is bullshit. Their propagandistic narrative has no clue how this conflict in Ukraine is playing out in the psyche of Russian people. Putin’s & United Russia’s popularity is rising! For Russian people, this is Holy War against West (‘Christendom’) which is threatening their religion, race & culture by interfering in the internal affairs of the Orthodox Church & splitting it!”

In response to a question I posed to him about this subject, he elaborated – something worth thinking about:

“Rob Prince – Outsiders often do not know that Russia is a massive country of 11 time zones. And they fall for the propagandistic narrative that a regime change is imminent in Russia (over Ukraine conflict!) as if it can be micro-managed from the West. It is not easy to rule that country while remaining oblivious of the groundswell of opinion among what Marxists would call the ‘masses’. Putin has steadily maintained a rating (by independent pollsters) which is the envy of any politician in a ‘liberal democracy’ – 65-70%. In the past fortnight, Putin’s rating went up from 65% to 71%. For understanding Russia, one must know the language, and if that is not possible for some reason, immerse in Russian literature and music, & travel in that country, visit its churches, mix with that unique human species – ‘Russian intelligentsia’. Such ignorance about Russia is widely prevalent even among academics in India, despite the warm, ‘time tested’ state-to-state relationship. I find that in the US too, Russia studies have sharply declined and are of abysmally poor quality today. Maybe, Americans didn’t anticipate Russia’s infinite capacity to rise from the ashes, despite ample lessons that the country’s tumultuous history provide”

All for today… tomorrow I want to respond to “the Zelensky phenomenon”. A number of old friends have gone on about how since Zelensky is Jewish, how could the Ukrainian government be pro-fascist, or influenced by fascist currents.

Ukraine – The End of History, Fukuyama Celebrating Too Early – Wednesday, March 1, 2022 @ 8:30 pm MST

February 28, 2022
tags:

Ukraine – The End of History, Fukuyama Celebrating Too Early

Wednesday, March 1, 2022 @ 8:30 pm MST

Announcing the first of three interview discussions with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince, regular commentators on KGNU – Hemispheres (Boulder, Colorado) on the current crisis in the Ukraine. This one – the global considerations; the second part, the European dimension, the third part the roots of the Russian military offensive into Ukraine.

Without an understanding of how these there levels interact, we argue it is not possible to understand the crisis.

Live Link on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mNUzgWPEOc

Live Link on Facebook:  Facebook Page – Rob Prince, Denver, Colorado (note – there is a Christian fundamentalist minister with the same name on Facebook. That is not me)

Interview will be posted permanently both on Facebook and YouTube afterwards and will be available on this blog

Ibrahim Kazerooni is an imam at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn Michigan. He comes from Najaf, Iraq from a long line of Shi’ite religious imams. His family originates from Kazeroon, Iran.

Rob Prince is a (happily) retired Senior Lecturer of International Studies at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies. Born in Brooklyn and grew up in Jamaica Queens, New York his family emigrated to the United States from Grodno, Belarus and Bialystok Poland. He likes to take photographs of birds.

 

 

Audio: The Ukraine Crisis – It’s Overflow Impact on the Middle East. KGNU, Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues; Jim Nelson, Producer. Tuesday, February 22, 2022

February 23, 2022
tags: ,
Israeli military arresting Palestinian youth in Hebron, West Bank, Palestine recently

 

Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince discuss in the impact of the Ukraine crisis on Middle East politics

The tensions in the Ukraine between NATO/US and Russia continue to heat up. While Ukraine’s fate will influence Europe in more ways than appear, the crisis there is also impacting events in the Middle East and Central Asia, referred to as the “Arc of Instability”, which, although not shown on the map above, is just below. Recently there has been an uptick in tensions throughout the Middle East, Israeli attacks on Syria – and a Syria (unreported) missile response on Galilee, Turkish encouragement to use its mercenary proxies in Idlib province to complicate matters, no end to the Yemen War in site and the possibility that should the Ukraine crisis blow up, that the price of oil and natural gas will explode. The fate of Ukraine – and linked to it, the future of the Nord Stream II pipeline from Russia to Germany, will also greatly influence Middle East politics.

Washington’s Pyrrhic Victory in Europe – The Ukraine Crisis Comes to its Grand Finale

February 22, 2022

Prypriat, the abandoned town where employees of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant lived. April 1989; Author’s visit to Chernobyl with American and European scientists and peace activists.

February 22, 2022. Denver, Colorado.

Woke up to the news – all over the NY Times and I assume the rest of the media – Russia has recognized the independence of the Donetsk and Luhansk Republics, which it has not done until now, and will probably send troops to the region to counter the Ukrainian government’s military offensive there, the first attack of which, unreported in the western media, was repelled, but serious enough for the leadership in these regions to call for help.

Russia responded. The Russian decision to send troops to these two regions, frankly, is not to provoke a war but to prevent one – specifically it cuts short the Ukrainian militarys offensive against the two regions, a military flushed with Western arms and prodded on by Washington

Although I would be rather surprised if their military incursion into Ukraine goes beyond these two break away republics to seize Kiev, which Washington is baiting them to do. There are some reports, yet to be confirmed, that Ukrainian military forces have entered Russia itself. If this is the case, they will be repulsed and made short shrift of.

In the short run, this Washington fabricated crisis will work in the United States’ favor but as the whole affair, crisis, whatever has been so entirely cynical from the outset, the positive results will be short lived, perhaps very short-lived and will morph into a larger global crisis. There are signs of this already. One such sign – in Madrid, a demonstration in support of the Zelensky government drew 500 people, it is reported mostly people of Ukrainian nationality living there. In 2002, just prior to the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, a million people came out in the streets of Madrid to oppose the U.S. Iraq intervention. Nor is there much public jubilation in other European cities. To the contrary and they know, or sense, the events in Ukraine are nothing for Europeans – or anyone else – to celebrate about.

Washington’s pyrrhic victory in the Ukraine killed Nord Stream II; there will be more sanctions against Russia already well prepared. Whimpering Germany and France will return “back in the NATO fold” after a short fling with neutrality and a mores sensible, constructive approach to Russia. Ukraine, in all this, is little more than a sacrificial lamb. This whole affair was less about Ukraine and more about the global geo-political wrestling match between Washington and its sheepish European allies on the one hand and the growing influence and cooperation between Russia and China on the other. Normalizing European ties with Russia made Washington uncomfortable; the Biden Administration had to throw a monkey wrench into it these European (especially German, but also French, Italian ties with Russia) and that they accomplished.

What we – the world is witnessing – is nothing short of a major episode global hybrid warfare, where military confrontation (between great powers) takes a back seat to economic pressures (sanctions), and media struggles over “controlling narratives” or as Chomsky brilliantly pointed out “manufacturing consent”. If you don’t know what that means, look it up; I’m tired of explaining it. Having suffered major political defeats in Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, U.S policy scores a “win” (but not really) over Ukraine by drawing the Russians in on Ukraine militarily into the Donbass region. Biden Administration hopes to ride the Ukraine events out to strengthen their position in the polls for 2022 elections having failed to produce anything of substance domestically. My own take, after a very minor spike upward in the polls, that the Dems are even in more trouble for 2022 than previously.

What we – the world is witnessing – is nothing short of a major episode global hybrid warfare, where military confrontation (between great powers) takes a back seat to economic pressures (sanctions), and media struggles over “controlling narratives” or as Chomsky brilliantly pointed out “manufacturing consent”. If you don’t know what that means, look it up; I’m tired of explaining it. Having suffered major political defeats in Afghanistan and Kazakhstan, U.S policy scores a “win” (but not really) over Ukraine by drawing the Russians in on Ukraine militarily into the Donbas region. Biden Administration hopes to ride the Ukraine events out to strengthen their position in the polls for 2022 elections having failed to produce anything of substance domestically. My own take, after a very minor spike upward in the polls, that the Dems are even in more trouble for 2022 than previously.

For all the hype and the hysterical media vilifying Putin specifically and Russia in general, I have to wonder just how much the American people as a whole care that much about the goings on in Ukraine as the deepening socio-economic and political crisis here at home continues to deepen. It saddens me to see how many good people – liberals, even leftists have swallowed the cool aid on Russia as they did on Iraq, Libya.

In the medium and long term

Concerning Ukraine… Washington has “promised” – based on very little – that it could compensate for Germany – and Europe’s loss of Nord Stream II liquified natural gas from Russia – something that Germany lobbied Russia for and not the contrary – with increased shipments from other places – USA, Algeria, Qatar come to mind although this is questionable as all three have their lng (liquified natural gas) contracts – much of their production already locked up. If Washington cannot deliver on this – and from what I can glean – it really is “iffy” – the price of energy in Europe – and globally – will spike to punishing levels – the price of crude oil itself is already approaching $100 a barrel in some places. One consequence could be an artificially triggered global recession in which Western Europe will take the most punishing hit.

Russia too from these sanctions will take a hit; it will feel it for a couple of years, but as it has done up until now in response to sanctions, it will learn to make due and recover. Geopolitically – obviously – it will strengthen its already solid ties with China, Iran while, I would bet, maintaining some connections with India even if that country is drawn into to U.S. orbit. And Russia will continue to strengthen is position and influence in the Middle East.

In the end this Washington-manufactured crisis – is a road to nowhere.. short term “victory”… of little consequence and another key historical marker on the road to U.S. global decline.

Cheers… Rob Prince/Denver, Colorado

A rally in Kiev’s main soccer stadium, April 1989. It was ostensibly to call for openness, “glasnost” on the radioactive consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, which the Soviet government was less than forthcoming about, so it had, if you like, an environmental aspect to it which was genuine. However, as in the Baltic countries, environmental concerns morphed or were packaged as part of the growing movement for Ukrainian independence from the USSR. I happened to be in Kiev at the time and frankly was just out for an evening walk on a lovely spring day. I saw a large crowd of people heading towards the stadium and simply followed them out of curiosity and found myself in a stadium with 75,000 people. I commented to myself out loud..”I wish I understood what “they” – those on the podium were talking about. A woman behind me came forward, introduced her self and interpreted the whole event. It made a powerful impression upon me and although I didn’t know what would follow, the dissolution of the USSR and independence of Ukraine… I was not surprised when that happened.