Shunning the “Rudi Giuliani Dictum” (lots of theories, but no evidence), Ray traces 15 years-worth of EVIDENCE – demonstrable FACTS – on Russia’s concerns over NATO encroachment; and how those fears led to the invasion of Ukraine.
Journalist Jeff J. Brown and Ray interviewees July 24, 2022
I pointed to three very important developments over recent days:
1 – Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian openly declared support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, casting the blame on NATO and the U.S.
2 – Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian did the same. Here’s part of his statement:
As the one who started the Ukraine crisis and the biggest factor fueling it, the US needs to deeply reflect on its erroneous actions of exerting extreme pressure and fanning the flame on the Ukraine issue and stop playing up bloc confrontation and creating a new Cold War by taking advantage of the situation. The US needs to facilitate a proper settlement of the crisis in a responsible way and create the environment and conditions needed for peace talks between parties concerned.
3 – Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced on July 20 that Moscow’s territorial aims have broadened beyond the Donbass. “Now the geography is different,” he explained, blaming the longer-range weapons being provided to Ukraine and citing HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) as exhibit A. (Their range is 50 miles.) Lavrov said such weapons will require Russian forces to “move even farther forward from the current line.
Several hours after Lavrov announced Russia’s change in policy, Austin was asked to talk about it and about HIMARS. This is what he said:
I’m sure that Ukrainian leadership will be pleased to hear Lavrov’s confirmation of the effectiveness of not only that system, but how they’re using that system. As you know, Russians are currently in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia [both mentioned by Lavrov as part of the new “geography”] So the Russian forces, they’re there now, so you have to wonder who he’s talking to. … I think he’s talking to the people in Russia who have been ill-informed throughout. … “
So, Russia announces a basic change of plans; it will be a wider war because of longer-range artillery coming in from the West that requires its army to push on beyond the Donbass, the Russian Foreign Minister says.
As for the U.S. Defense Secretary, he says, See? HIMARS works!
Corporate media are ignoring the stark implications of Russia’s stated intention to take control of more Ukrainian territory than just Donetsk and Luhansk. I discussed this on The Critical Hour yesterday and supplement those thoughts in the paragraphs below.
In his interview, Lavrov pointed specifically to HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, made by Lockheed-Martin) as the kind of “weapon that will pose a direct threat to our territory and the territories of those republics who have declared their independence (Donetsk and Luhansk)”. The HIMARS being provided to Ukraine have a range of 50 miles, putting them also at easy reach of Crimea — which Kyiv (and the U.S.) insist is legally still part of Ukraine. It all depends on “geography”.
I’ll See You and Raise You
Just a few hours after the Lavrov interview was reported came the announcement by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that the U.S. will give Ukraine four more HIMARS, bringing the total to 16. Austin bragged that HIMARS have already “made a difference on the battlefield”.
But which battlefield? Lavrov and Russian President Putin can have no illusions that the wider, strategic “battlefield” includes Russia. Indeed, this is the same benighted Lloyd Austin who let that cat out of the bag three months ago:
“One of the US’s goals in Ukraine is to see a weakened Russia. … The U.S. is ready to move heaven and earth to help Ukraine win the war against Russia.”
It seems a sure thing that Biden’s advisers anticipate being engaged in a proxy war in Ukraine at least until this November when the U.S. mid-term elections take place. Until then the Democrats surely will not want to appear to be slackers in confronting Russia on this critical issue (which, truth be told, they themselves did so much to create).
The reality, of course, is that U.S. policy makers go blithely along, enriching the MICIMATT (and enhancing campaign coffers) by giving advanced weaponry to Ukraine – and replacing them as needed. It’s very good for the multifaceted profiteering business. What is really troublesome is that there appears to be little understanding of the high stakes involved; little appreciation of what it means that Russia considers U.S./NATO behavior in Ukraine an existential threat — one that Russia is determined to remove, and can.
As fall approaches and more HIMARS arrive, their 50-mile range and (as Lavrov tried to explain) the dictates of “geography” may lead to a much deeper Russian offensive well beyond the Donbass. Military prospects for Washington’s proxies in Ukraine are already poor and are likely to grow worse as the mid-terms grow near. Understandably, Putin will be worried that the U.S. will move: “I’ll see you and raise you.”
President Putin is no stranger to the reality that U.S. presidents are beset by domestic political pressures. In June 2021, he acknowledged this specifically in a keynote speech to the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum:
“I am sure that it [US policy towards Russia] is primarily impacted by domestic political processes. Russia-US relations have to a certain extent become hostage to the internal political processes that are taking place in the United States.” ( See: https://tass.com/politics/1298867 )
In my view, this gives the Kremlin considerable incentive to defeat what’s left of the Ukrainian army and move west, taking control of Odessa and moving toward Moldova, in due course. Again, Putin would fully expect the Biden administration to raise the ante at that point. So, by October things could get quite dangerous quite quickly.
Media Consumers in for Shock?
Given the Walter-Mitty-type reporting on how well Kyiv’s forces are doing, and the overall absence of balanced reporting and commentary in Establishment media, future Russian army advances beyond the Donbass are likely to come as a shock. Factor in the 6-year-long indoctrination/brainwashing on Russia’s “interference” in elections and its other alleged Russia-gate misdeeds (now disproven, but with the truth still hidden). Salt with a dollop of Russophobia and continual one-side-of-the-story reporting, and U.S. media consumers would probably be malleable enough to support giving Ukraine even longer-range weapons systems and/or aircraft.
Surprise, surprise: This week the New York Times failed to put 1 and 1 together, so to speak: (1) Lavrov on “geography” and HIMARS prompting Russia to go deeper into Ukraine; and (1) and Austin’s pledge of four more HIMARS to make “a difference on the battlefield”.
Instead, NYT readers today get front-page, above-the-fold, he-said-she-said drivel from Andrew E. Kramer in Kyiv; his piece is titled To Rally Allies, Ukraine points to Fresh Gains.
“Through it all, the Ukrainians’ message to the world did not change. We can win. Our strategy is working, if slowly. Just keep the weapons coming.”
Among the successes the Ukrainians have told Kramer about is a strike on a Russian ammunition depot with, you guessed it, HIMARS. And, scraping the very bottom of the barrel, Kramer reports that the head of Britain’s MI6 (the UK counterpart to the CIA) believes Russian forces “are about to run out of steam … giving Ukrainians opportunities to strike back”. To remind (because Kramer forgot to), MI6 has a well deserved reputation for “fixing the intelligence and facts around the policy”, as official British documents show it did before the U.S./UK attack on Iraq in March 2003.
What Really Matters
One must skim half-way through Kramer’s 38-paragraph article to find a sensible paragraph on what really matters. But he does hit paydirt with this one:
The question of whether the long-range weaponry now arriving in Ukraine can indeed roll back the Russian army has become a pivotal unknown in the war.
Agreed: the answer to that cannot be known now with certainty. But the risk of tit-for-tat escalation getting out of hand, as early as this fall, can be known. A pity that NY Times readers are not warned of that.
A certain “Drew Hunkins” (I don’t know who h/she is) has written some provocative remarks in a “comment” under Information Clearing House’s (commendable) posting of an unusual article by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Hunkins’s comments are very hard to ague against. I guess that’s why no Establishment media would touch them with a 10-foot Pole – or a 12-foot Czech.
Here is Hunkins’s text: See what you think.
Comment by Drew Hunkins: The Six Reasons Why
It’s becoming clear that “NATO” (i.e., the Washington-Zio-militarist imperium) is now set on upping the ante in Ukraine by attempting to bleed Russia dry. The occasional HIMARS artillery launch into Russia proper will be occurring regularly as well as attacks on the ethnic Russians in Donbas. The Russian military and DPR and LPR forces are adept at blowing up much of the NATO weaponry sent to the Ukies, but it’s almost impossible to destroy it all.
So where does this all end? The Kremlin had no choice but to embark on its liberating SMO since Washington was baiting and harassing Russia’s border for several years. Washington is not intending to back down to enter a Cold War style detente any time soon. Ergo, we stare down the barrel of a potential low simmering World War III that will rage for many years to come.
It’s noteworthy to remember why Washington is intent on destabilizing Russia to eventually foment regime change. The following are those reasons:
1.) To enforce the Wolfowitz Doctrine despite the potential danger. This dictated that Washington would never allow a competing power to rise on the global stage, one that could potentially put a check on neocon/Ziocon global ambitions.
2.) To return Russia to the 1990s when it was exploited and pillaged and plundered at will by the Wall St boys of international finance. During this lost decade poverty skyrocketed as well as unemployment and deaths of despair.
3.) As payback for interceding in Russia successfully interceding in Syria to essentially defeat the jihadi mercenary lunatic terrorists who were supported by the Zionist power configuration to destabilize the Assad administration.
4.) Washington’s proxy war on Russia in Ukraine is being conducted in order to de-link the growing economic ties between Russia and Western Europe, especially Germany. Washington’s goal for NATO’s Western Euro policy was always to keep Germany down, Russia out, and the U.S. in.
5.) Finally, Washington’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine is the first step in an eventual attack on China. No way could Washington expect to be successful in a Sino U.S. war with Russia still in the picture, so the first step is to take on the Russian bear first then turn to the rising Chinese economic juggernaut.
6.) The domestic US military-industrial-complex must have a formidable enough foe that strikes fear in the public in order to justify the trillion dollar annual budget and careerism of the MIC personnel. Of course Russia fills the role of evil villain quite well, though obviously the criminality of Russia is almost entirely exaggerated by the Western media who also profit off the ruse.
Of course, none of this has to happen. But right now Washington’s dominated by sociopathic and extremely dangerous Ziocon/neocons in the form of Blinken, Sherman, Sullivan, and Nuland. All bets are off when folks of this kind are running the show. [End of Hunkins’s comment.)
I believe the U.S. objectives described in paragraphs 1 through 5 are the main ones in play. But their achievement is fanciful and — as long this is not understood as fanciful – those aims are downright dangerous. Paragraph 6, though, is a different kettle of fish. The dominating power of the MICIMATT makes paragraph 6 of transcendent importance.
As long as greed, lies, exceptionalism, and racism prevail, those who profiteer on arms making/selling, and who prostitute politicians with the proceeds will prevail — UNLESS we use the freedoms we still have to confront them.
As for the greedy politicians who acquire and sit forever in lucrative seats in House and Senate by funding and sharing in the profits from arms manufacturers and traders, Pope Francis chided them directly at a joint session of Congress on Sept. 24, 2015, but they didn’t seem to “get it”. Francis minced no words:
“Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.”
The blood-drenched arms traders. Are we powerless before them?
Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – The Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, pulled back the curtain for the Alarabiya news channel (Saudi-owned but based in Dubai) on what transpired at the meeting between President Joe Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman:
Al-Jubeir confirmed that Biden, as he had pledged, quickly brought up the murder in a Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, which the US CIA assessed had been ordered by Bin Salman himself.
Bin Salman allegedly replied that measures had been taken to avoid a repeat of such an incident and those involved had been punished (this is not true). Al-Jubeir also pointed out that the CIA gets things wrong, as with the 2002 report that Dick Cheney made it write confirming weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Aside from throwing up the smokescreen of a show trial of low-level participants or alleged participants in Khashoggi’s murder, Bin Salman then went on the offensive.
He said that lots of countries, including the U.S., had been responsible for such errors. He pointed to the Abu Ghraib torture scandal that broke in 2004 when US military personnel set dogs on Iraqi detainees,tortured them, kept them in stress positions, and made them strip naked and masturbate, which I wrote about at the time for Tomdispatch.
Bin Salman went on to point out that the US had soft-pedaled the Israeli murder of Shireen Abu Akleh . This is true. A CNN investigation found that the hail of bullets that the Israeli sniper fired at her was closely spaced, which indicates intentionality rather than random fire. Moreover, she was wearing a helmet and bullet proof vest with PRESS written on it in big letters, and it is highly unlikely that a stray bullet just happened to slam into her skull right below the edge of her helmet. Given eye witness accounts and forensics, it is near certain that the Israelis assassinated Shireen because they did not like her gutsy reporting on Israeli war crimes in the militarily Occupied Palestinian West Bank. The order may have come from high up in the Israeli government. But Biden had no difficulty shaking hands with Naftali Bennet, the then prime minister, who once boasted that he had “killed a lot of Arabs.” Biden’s State Department, without conducting any in-depth investigation, concluded that Shireen was likely killed by an Israeli bullet but that the killing was “unintentional.” That is outrageous.
The US government didn’t care about the Israelis assassinating Shireen Abu Akleh, (and many other unlawful killings of Palestinian journalists and just ordinary Palestinian non-combatants) and it does not stop the US from forking over to Israel $4 billion a year in foreign aid, a tax on all Americans in support of Greater Israel expansionism. So why should Biden, Bin Salman wants to know, boycott Saudi Arabia over the killing of a single journalist?
Bin Salman’s smarmy reply underlines the way in which the US government’s lawlessness in misadventures like invading Iraq and its weird commitment to Israeli Apartheid practices against the Palestinians undermine its moral standing to argue for “a rules-based global order.” Almost no one in the US dares say this, but for the rest of the world it is a commonplace insight. [Emphasis added.]
But at least, now that Biden has fist-bumped both Naftali Bennett and Mohammed Bin Salman, the president has attained a sort of sordid consistency.
The truth is finally out – in extremely sad but digestible form. With a US-made bulldozer Israel deliberately crushed 23 year-old US citizen Rachel Corrie dead in Gaza on March 16, 2003. Jelly-spined US officials knew the details, but have covered up for Israel.
In 2004, over a long brunch with Rachel’s parents, Cindy and Craig, I asked Craig about the green wristband he was wearing. He took it off and let me read it. It said simply: “ Rachel Corrie, April 10, 1979 – March 16, 2003”. I was moved; Craig asked me if I wanted to have it. He took it off his wrist; I put it on mine. I have worn it ever since.
The Intercept piece by Alice Speri is MUST reading.