On 14 January, a breaking news story from the New York Times informed its readers: "U.S. Says Russia Sent Saboteurs Into Ukraine to Create Pretext for Invasion."
Unsurprisingly, Washington "did not release details of the evidence it had collected." Why did the NYT not question the withholding of evidence? Why even deign to report what so easily could be dismissed, by definition, as hearsay? Is that because the White House is a paragon of truth-telling? Did its erroneous reporting by disgraced writer Judith Miller that Iraq possessed weapons-of-mass-destruction precipitating a US-led invasion not teach NYT a lesson?
Nevertheless, the NYT chooses to lend credence to the anti-Russia accusation. It sources Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, who "said the Russian military planned to begin these activities several weeks before a military invasion, which could begin between mid-January and mid-February. She said Moscow was using the same playbook as it did in 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula, a part of Ukraine."
It is one month since the Russians presented first to American diplomats and then to the world community their brazen demands to roll back NATO to its configuration status quo ante in May 1997 before the accession of former Warsaw Pact countries.
Those demands were taken up with seeming seriousness by the U.S. Government, then by NATO, whose Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, initially dismissed them out of hand as unacceptable. In short order dates were sketched in for a meeting of U.S. and Russian delegations in Geneva on 10 January. Then at U.S. insistence further meetings were scheduled with NATO in Brussels on 12 January and with the OSCE in Vienna on 13 January.
Western media were invited by their ‘high level but anonymous’ information sources in Washington to see these astonishing developments as required to de-escalate tensions at the Russian-Ukrainian border, where the Russians had amassed over 100,000 troops. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and his minions said repeatedly the troop concentration was in preparation for a Russian invasion of Ukraine. Such an invasion would spell a blitzkrieg victory for the Russians and would undo the 2.5 billion dollar U.S. investment made under two U.S. presidents to turn Ukraine from one more “catch” by the American team, as described by Gideon Rose, then editor in chief of Foreign Affairs magazine when it happened in February 2014, into a major military asset in the policy of threatening and containing the Russian Federation. Instead, this looked to become the second U.S. foreign policy debacle in less than a year after the shameful chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last August.
Given all the attention focused on the covid-19 pandemic, the Build Back Better bill, the January 6th attack on the Capitol and the media-hyped crises over Ukraine and Taiwan this past year, many other important issues have not received much attention. One example is the Palestinian/Israeli situation.
Views of Israel
There have been some major breakthroughs in the perception of Israel in 2021 with two major human rights organizations, B’Tselem in Israel and Human Rights Watch, concluding that Israel is an apartheid state. In addition, this past May, 93 US rabbinical students wrote a letter challenging the Zionist perception of Israel. They wrote: “As American Jews, our institutions tell stories of Israel rooted in hope for what could be, but oblivious to what is. Our tzedakah money funds a story we wish were true, but perpetuates a reality that is untenable and dangerous. Our political advocacy too often puts forth a narrative of victimization, but supports violent suppression of human rights and enables apartheid in the Palestinian territories, and the threat of annexation.”
Israel violates international law with impunity
There was also a particularly strong statement to the UN General Assembly this past October by Michael Lynk, the “Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967”. Ian Williams wrote about Lynk’s statement in the Jan-Feb 2022 issue of the Washington Report on the Middle East Affairs.
On Conflicts of Interest #216, Kyle Anzalone breaks down the CIA program to train insurgents in Ukraine. While only few details of the program were revealed, since 2015, the CIA has hired a paramilitary to train Ukrainians in the US on insurgency tactics. While the program is presented as defensive, officials admit the program has been used to make battlefield gains inside Ukraine.
Kyle discusses the recent talks between Russia and NATO. Much like the meeting between the US and Russia, the dialog ended without agreement or much progress being made. However, Russia arrested several members of a hacking group at the request of the US – presenting an opening for more dialog.
Kyle updates the war in Ethiopia. With US drones and airstrikes, the Ethiopian government has turned back the Tigray People Liberation Front’s advance. After halting the offensive, in a move that appears to be directed at ending the war, the Ethiopian government released several prisoners.. However, Ethiopia has not let up on its air war which, so far this year, has claimed the lives of over 100 Tigrayian civilians. Ethiopian leader Abiy spoke with Biden as Ethiopian drones targeted civilian camps.
Kyle explains the recent developments in the Yemen War. The UAE-backed Giants brigade made major gains against Houthi fighters in Maarib and Shabwah. However, the people of Yemen continue to flee to areas controlled by the Houthi as they are more stable and secure.
Kyle wraps up the show with a discussion of North Korea’s recent missile tests. Since South Korea President Moon Jae-in announced a possible end to the Korean war, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has carried out three missile tests. The US reacted to the tests with new sanctions on North Korea.
On COI #215, Kyle Anzalone is joined by Henri Henrikson to discuss Biden’s first year as president. Kyle and Henri break down Biden’s continuation of the Iraq War, his economic war against Afghanistan which is creating a humanitarian disaster, as well as his failure to bring accountability for America’s air wars and the myriad civilian casualties.
Chris ‘Henri’ Henrikson is an Iraq war veteran from Portland, OR. He deployed in support of Operation Noble Eagle at the Pentagon following 9/11 and served two tours in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A former MP team leader, Chris also served two years as a CID drug investigator. Follow him on Twitter at @henrihateswar.
The Russia-US-NATO-OSCE meetings this week have come and gone. The Russian verdict was succinctly delivered by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Ryabkov, who explained even before the OSCE session was over that the talks have come to “a dead end” and it was unlikely the Russians will participate in any follow-on talks.
This opens the question to what comes next.
Official Washington feels certain that what comes next is a Russian invasion of Ukraine, which could come in the next few weeks and thereby fall within the timetable for such an operation suggested by State Department officials when they met with NATO allies ahead of Biden’s December 7 virtual summit with Putin. The logic put out then was that January-February would be very suitable for a land invasion given that the frozen ground would well support tank movements. One might add to that argument on timing, one further argument that was not adduced: in midwinter it is questionable how long the Russians would want to keep 100,000 soldiers camped in field conditions near the border; such stasis in these severe conditions is not conducive to maintaining morale.