John Ridgway’s recent article on false flags may seem to take us some way of the climate track, but there are common factors at work in both the fog of war and the Foggy Science. The obvious one is the technological progress that enables anyone to run up a fake video or a fake graph and distribute it to anyone who’s interested. Present atrocities and future catastrophes tend to be judged by the same rules of audience interest rather than truth, and there are so many fun tech ways of arousing interest nowadays.

The growing complexity of our world shouldn’t lead us to conclude that it is necessarily becoming more difficult to separate the true from the false. I shall illustrate this with an analysis of three events in Ukraine in the past few days, but the conclusions I draw are equally applicable to other catastrophic events, like walruses falling off cliffs or polar bears floating on melting ice floes. The same kinds of talent are at work, appealing to the same kinds of prejudices and psychological weaknesses.

The first thing to observe is that the immediate reaction, the first impression, may hold important information that will tend to get lost in the following tsunami of reactions. To take an example from a totally different context: even with the meagre media resources available in the seventies, it was perfectly obvious to everyone at the time that the Bloody Sunday event in Derry in 1972 was a massacre and not a firefight. No-one was shocked when the next day the Irish Nationalist MP Bernadette Devlin physically attacked the Home Secretary in the House of Commons. What else was she suppose to do? Yet it took decades to establish the truth officially.

A second general observation: in matters of importance, the key facts are often pushed to the periphery, and media attention becomes focussed on the trivialities. This may be deliberate of course, an attempt to hide the truth, but I suggest it’s a psychological trait that affects all coverage of important events. If you look at rolling coverage of the war in Ukraine, for example in the Guardian or on the BBC website, it’s astonishing how few of the items actually deal with the war itself. Of course, much is censored, or unknown; journalists aren’t always present at key events in the most dangerous locations; it’s easier to film refugees and soldiers rescuing kittens than to record the actual fighting. But nothing can explain the fact that less than 5% of items in the rolling coverage I’ve read deals with the war itself. The dearth of maps in the Guardian’s coverage of the war in Ukraine matches the dearth of graphs in their coverage of climate change.

I’ll apply this simple observation to three events in the Ukraine. First:

1) the bombing of the Mariupol theatre:

It was announced on BBC’s rolling news coverage at 17:50, Wednesday 16th March by their correspondent in Lviv, on the other side of the country as follows:

Serhiy Orlov, Mariupol’s deputy mayor, tells the BBC that Russian bombing hit the city’s drama theatre where civilians were being sheltered. He estimates that between 1,000 and 1,200 people were there. The number of casualties is still unknown.

Subsequent reports at 18:22 and 20:27 showed two photographs, and now, about 14 hours later, these are still the only photos I can find of the bombing. They show the smouldering ruins of a building standing in a park in the evening. There is no-one around, not a vehicle or a firefighter, not even people watching. Lyse Doucet the BBC’s chief international correspondent, reported from Kyiv at 19:40 that the Russians had denied responsibility, and that “…again we’re left with who caused what, who is to blame.” And she quotes city officials as saying that continuing bombardment was making it impossible for rescue workers to reach the theatre.

The latter point is clearly false. The photos show a shattered building standing alone in a park, the only débris being that from the explosion. (A wider angle view of the same scene on the Guardian’s site this morning shows absolutely no damage to surrounding trees, lawn, or fencing, and an empty stretch of road in better nick than anything round where I live.) There are no surrounding buildings that could fall on emergency workers. Even if the official emergency services were unavailable, we know from images of thousands of similar tragedies that people will come out and tear at the rubble with their bare hands. It’s 0830 GMT now, and the BBC’s main headline is: “Images show bombed Mariupol Theatre where civilians were hiding,” but all they show is the 19 second video from which the photos were extracted yesterday evening. It’s been daylight in the Ukraine now for several hours, but there are no photos, and no reports of rescue activities at the scene where over a thousand people are reported to be trapped in basements under a partly demolished building.

Social media accounts favourable to Russia are reporting that Russian authorities published information two days previously warned that this would happen: that the theatre had been used by the Azov Battalion as a headquarters, with civilians held hostage as human shields, and that they had since moved out, and intended to blow the theatre up and accuse the Russians of the atrocity. Before John’s article this might have been taken as near-as-dammit incontrovertible proof of a false flag operation. Alas, we now know better.

It’s still possible that Ukrainian forces committed the atrocity. (Blowing up civilians wouldn’t be such a big deal for the openly Nazi Azov Battalion, given that most of the population is Russian speaking.) It’s also possible, following John, that the Russians deliberately announced beforehand their intention to massacre a large number of largely pro-Russian civilians, knowing that they would be condemned as barbarians by the entire world (except for a tiny number of naïve useful idiots like me who can’t help asking questions) as a cunning ruse to make us believe that they didn’t do it. We can’t know which version is true. What interests me is that, if there really are hundreds of civilians under the rubble, then this is by far the worst atrocity of the war so far, and no-one is screaming out for information. No-one is contacting the hundreds of thousands of people still in Mariupol begging for photos of the aftermath of the disaster. Although it’s the main headline in all the world’s media, no-one actually seems to care.

2) The Mariupol Hospital attack.

This occurred on 9th March, and already has its own Wikipaedia page

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mariupol_hospital_airstrike

which is well worth reading. It refers to video footage, but the reference it gives to an article from Al-Jazeera

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/9/ukraine-accuses-russia-of-bombing-childrens-hospital-in-mariupol

provides only a tiny extract of the original video (at approx 0’24” to 0’40”.) A second reference

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/03/09/childrens-hospital-mariupol-destroyed-russian-air-strikes/

shows a larger extract. (1’46”)

No doubt the whole film still exists somewhere on the internet.

It shows the outside of a two and three-storey building, lining three sides of a large square. In the square is a large crater and the wreckage of about six cars and I think some playground apparatus. There are about a hundred windows, all blown inward by the blast, and the corner of one of the buildings has been hit by an explosion. There follows film of the destruction inside, on an upper floor, with windows and doors torn off, and beds and furniture thrown around and spattered with blood. There is also a scene of rescue services administering aid outside, a woman having her head bandaged, a pregnant woman on a stretcher, a child being calmed by a soldier. There is one ambulance at the main entrance, about thirty people all told, and no activity visible at the other entrances.

There is a detailed analysis of this film on Twitter by Elena Evdokimova @elenaevdokimov7 which I recommend.The following points are taken largely from her analysis, with some of my own, and some probably picked up from other tweeters.

1) The official count of seventeen injured and four killed (two of whom died subsequently in another hospital) seems astonishingly low, given the hundred windows blown in. The official explanation is that the patients were all transferred to the basement. In which case, what explains the blood splattered upper rooms?

2) In a corridor is briefly seen a bucket containing a dark liquid, unspilled, despite the surrounding mayhem.

3) In a ward is a bloodstained mattress, with no sheet. On the mattress, in the middle of the bloodstain, is a heap of broken glass. What possible order of events could lead to that?

4) The oddest part of the video is not reproduced by either al Jazeera or the Telegraph. As far as I can see (though I haven’t checked all the references) it is not referred to in the Wikipaedia article, and I can’t find it with a quick google search. It shows a group of people (20 or so) emerging from the main hospital entrance, passing the single ambulance, and assembling before the camera. A pregnant woman passes on a stretcher; people stand around doing nothing, including two apparently wearing white medical blouses; someone seems to be heating something on a fire. This must be the only group of people anywhere in the world ever in which nobody is using a mobile phone. Perhaps they have nothing to say.

5) In a rush of images, the same young soldier is seen comforting a woman with a baby, talking to a child, and putting an unlikely looking bandage on the head of a woman who shows no sign of bleeding.

6) One of the pregnant women was later identified as Mariana Vishegirskaya, a fashion model or blogger/influencer (who was indeed pregnant. She’d previously blogged about it.) It was claimed that she had appeared as a victim in another attack. On a photo of her two days after the attack reproduced by CNN the cuts on her face had completely healed.

7) The pregnant woman on a stretcher was later reported to have been transferred to another hospital, where her baby was stillborn and she died. The report said that in the confusion of events it was not possible to ascertain her identity, but that her husband and father came and claimed her body for burial. This is another “glass shards on the bloodstained mattress” moment. How do two unknown men turn up at an unnamed hospital to claim the body of an anonymous woman? Try and imagine the interaction with the hospital staff. I can’t.

None of this is conclusive evidence of a false flag event. But the short video, which was widely reproduced at the time, just a week ago, was vaunted everywhere as the definitive evidence of a war crime. It’s a shame I can’t find it now, even on the official Wikipaedia page, because it has to be seen to be believed. Or not.

3) The attack on the Yavirov military base

Here there is no question of a false flag attack. There is no doubt that on the night of March 12th Russian planes launched cruise missiles on the base in the West of Ukraine, totally destroying at least one building, and causing between 35 (according to the Ukrainians) and 180 (according to the Russians) deaths. There’s a Wikipaedia article on this too, though they call it Yavoriv, not Yavirov. (Gosh, I’d hate to play Scrabble with a Ukrainian.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yavoriv_military_base

According to Wiki, the 150 square mile base is a Ukrainian and Russian training facility, and also “home to the International Center for Peacekeeping and Security within the framework of the Ukraine – NATO Partnership for Peace Program.” What an admirable example of international harmony that turned out to be.

It is known to be a training centre for foreign volunteers in the current war. Ukrainian officials claim there were no foreigners among the dead, though the Mirror and the Independent both report the deaths of at least three British ex-special forces. These were described as not being volunteers, but possibly instructors. There are numerous interviews on social media with recruits who escaped the bombing (I’ve seen interviews with Americans, Germans, and a Brazilian.) They all insist that at least a hundred foreigners died, and they all mention there being many British citizens on the base.

Next morning there was an interview on Sky news with the junior foreign minister Mr Cleverly awkwardly avoiding the question of the presence of British citizens among the dead.

Early reports of the attack on the Guardian’s rolling coverage mentioned the presence of their top foreign correspondent Luke Harding in Yavoriv, and there’s even a photo of the explosion attributed to Luke. The main article in the Guardian the following day is signed “Luke Harding in Yavoriv” plus two other Guardian reporters in nearby Lviv (or Lvov.) But the only eyewitness account comes not from Luke but from an emergency worker who hurried to the scene. No doubt Luke, along with everyone else, was asleep, and was woken by the blasts. It’s odd, though, to be present at one of the most significant events in the war so far, and not utter a peep about your experience.

The article continues:

The Yavoriv facility hit by Russia on Sunday has previously hosted foreign military trainers from the UK, US and other countries, but it was not clear whether any were at the base. […] There has been speculation too that the area has been used to receive incoming weapons shipments for Ukraine’s military and in the training of the large numbers of foreign volunteers flocking to the country.

It was not clear ..” “..speculation”… Maybe Luke should have asked someone who was there? Oh, he was. Or was he? The same 13th of March he tweets: “two rockets hit at 5.45am according to eywitnesses..” and on the same day: “Leaving Ukraine for a short break after two months…”

What kind of journalist, present at a momentous tragic event with possibly 200 dead, some of whom are almost certainly British, about which the authorities are clearly lying as part of a massive cover up, packs his bags and comes home?

The answer is to be found on Harding’s Wikipaedia page: the kind of journalist who falsely accused Paul Manafort and Julian Assange of having met at the Ecuadorean Embassy, with unforeseeable effects on the freedom and even the survival of these two (very different) victims of political persecution.

And this is where I came in, fifteen or more years ago, expressing my nagging doubts about the reliability of Guardian journalists’ accounts when it came to such momentous questions as the decline in polar sea ice, or the reliability of weighing dead fossil molluscs in order to prove the existence of a Sixth Great Extinction.

Gosh, you should have seen the hail of heavy artillery fire that I got on Comment is Free for daring to doubt the word of experts. It was like being in a war zone. I was lucky to survive.

137 Comments

  1. Excellent work, Geoff. I suspected the integrity of the hospital story from the start but your research is way ahead of my puny efforts, seems substantive and, though by no means proof, persuasive.

    As I’m sure you know, The Grauniad’s Luke Harding is known to many as Luke the Spook. See also https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Luke_Harding.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for answering my question (on the Faking False Fakery thread) about why you believe the Mariupol Theatre bombing may be a “false flag” incident. I still believe many of your own questions, which led you to your views, can be answered by reference to the appalling conditions and scarcities that must exist in the beleaguered city. As to the two other instances, you appear to raise some valid points but even these do not substantiate they are false flag incidents only that they may be or elements of them may have been embellished to place the Russians in the worst possible light.

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  3. From someone not in Mariupol in the last 24 hours:

    Peace?

    Britain and America encouraged Zelensky to reject diplomacy before the war.

    It seems probable they will encourage him to hold out and keep tweeting while more get killed. The media want more blood and Boris only exists to give the media what they want. The west’s graduate-Twitter-army is happy to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian. If only our brave pundits would fly east and hurl Molotovs at tanks themselves…

    And, with examples of the ‘Madness spreads…’ from recent tweets, which I won’t reproduce:

    This is a very bad interpretation but very widespread. The truth is that JFK had no idea about the near catastrophe in a Russian submarine that nearly triggered war. Cf. Arkhipov above. It is not true to portray Cuba as an example of deterrence ‘working’ because of ‘resolve’. WE WERE LUCKY AND DIDN’T REALISE AT THE TIME! Then, without knowing the full story, JFK and RFK span myths to the media which were repeated and are widely believed — ‘eyeball to eyeball’ etc.

    All over Twitter you have versions of this argument and much worse in the context of NFZ propaganda. I mention this guy because he is a former foreign minister. If he has such misunderstandings it’s no surprise so many others do.

    For up-to-date history of Cuba explaining some of the myths, read Dobbs.

    This guy (who made money in the 1990s advising Yeltsin on the ‘free market’ reforms that led to the oligarchs grabbing billions) has been saying Putin = Hitler, genocide etc. Now he says US should be planning to trump tactical nuclear weapons with ‘far worse’.

    The most important thing the UK can do in this war is NOT ‘help Ukraine’, it is ‘help avoid nuclear eascalation’. Yes this means Putin can get away with killing many and repression in Russia. This is better than killing hundreds of millions and destroying civilisation across Eurasia and North America. We lived with this reality for decades. We didn’t impose a NFZ over Hungary or Prague or Afghanistan. And even despite a lot of care, we came much closer to disaster than realised at the time. We now know this. It should make us MUCH MORE CAREFUL. Instead our idiocracy means we are increasingly battered by people saying patience is intolerable…

    NFZ is of course No Fly Zone.

    I don’t find the Fog of War aspects here amusing.

    I think Cummings is bang on.

    https://dominiccummings.substack.com/p/snippets?s=r

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Alan Kendall
    You’re quite right that I don’t establish a watertight case for the theatre bombing being a false flag. One couldn’t do it without a lot more evidence. There’s more of course. That was just a taster. Some of my points can be countered, e.g. Bill Bedford makes a good point on the other thread about phones not being charged to broadcast images. Nonetheless I stick by my argument that the reactions to the events in the Western media are so weird that the official version of events demands the utmost scepticism.

    Richard Drake
    I don’t find the fog of war aspects amusing either, and I apologise if I’ve given that impression. There is a huge contradiction between the gravity with which the politicians and media pretend to treat the subject and the utter triviality of the analysis provided. I’ve just watched an earnest discussion of the workings of Putin’s mind on French television against background images of the theatre bomb site, still without the slightest sign of an attempt to discover whether there are a thousand people, or nobody, dead or alive, down there. I see journalists and experts frozen rigid for fear of finding out something that would disturb their world view. They can’t express compassion in any but the most abstract terms until they’re sure their prejudices are not going to be challenged by uncomfortable facts.

    There’s been a lot of discussion of unconscious racism, about the fact that we care about blond Ukrainians but not about brown skinned Yemenis. That’s a part of the story, but it’s clear we don’t care about anyone if their existence disturbs the narrative. That goes for the women and children in the theatre basement (or bomb shelter, accounts differ) and the Westerners blown up on their way to fight for Ukraine. And that goes for the unvaxxed and the climate deniers. The list is widening alll the time.

    The world is changing in unpredictable ways and our élites know in their inner souls that they can’t deal with it. Their shallow certainties must be challenged before they lead us all to disaster. And that’s true even if Putin is responsible for every single death in Ukraine and ther Ukrainian army is a band of vctorious heroes.

    I’d be interested to know what’s in Cummings’ substack by the way, but it’s paywalled. Any clues?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. AP is reporting that no survivors have emerged from the ruins of the theatre, either because no-one was in there, or because they are still safe in the purpose-built bomb shelter (not a simple cellar) or because no-one Is looking for them. They publish a third photo of the front of the damaged building with the description:

    “This image made available by Azov Battalion, shows the drama theatre, damaged after shelling, in Mariupol… Rescuers are searching for survivors in the ruins of a theatre ripped apart by Russian airstrikes … (Azov Battalion via AP)

    This is an obvious lie. The photo shows the main entrance with the door blown away but the facade intact, rubble on the stairway but a clear space before the steps big enough to park dozens of ambulances. There’s no-one and no vehicle there. There is no attempt to rescue anyone.

    The Azov battalion is a Nazi unit of the regular Ukrainian army. Their symbol is borrowed from the Waffen SS, they idolise Bandera, the wartime Ukrainian Nazi responsible for the murder of thousands of Jews; they openly threatened to murder Zhelensky if he applied the Minsk accords, and they’re trained and armed by NATO.

    The story in the Western media is: this is a Russian atrocity. And if it isn’t, we’ll just forget about it and move on to the next Russian atrocity. This is how people end up sitting in TV studios calmly watching scenes where thousands are supposedly dying , without asking questions, without any attempt to seek the truth. This is how you end up being an Eichmann. We thought we’d learned this lesson, but it has to e continually relearned.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. The Azov battalion is a Nazi unit of the regular Ukrainian army. Their symbol is borrowed from the Waffen SS, they idolise Bandera, the wartime Ukrainian Nazi responsible for the murder of thousands of Jews; they openly threatened to murder Zhelensky if he applied the Minsk accords, and they’re trained and armed by NATO.

    Amazingly, this all appears to be true.

    Cummings has been learning about this aspect of the UKR ‘Fog’ since he began his ‘Snippets’ post on 7th March – or so it seems to this reader. He should have been following Steve Mc the last few years!

    There’s a further sobering update from DC this morning, from a genuine authority, about how a NFZ will lead to war between the West and Russia. I can’t begin to summarise the whole but I’ll say more later today.

    I didn’t think you were making light of things. But I wanted to nail my flag to the unamused mast.

    Like

  7. There is a lot of noise
    To cut to the bottom line .. a lot of people are dead
    It is an invasion ordered by Putin
    It isn’t justified and shouldn’t have happened.
    One can argue that Nato and the West left the window open for Putin to come in.

    Extraordinary deception ” maskirovka” has long been part of Russian warfare.
    I guess the west has learned to copy some of its techniques
    but that is hampered by the way the west has an extraordinary amount of information openess
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_military_deception.

    Summer 2009 I spent 8 weeks travelling around Ukraine
    I was about a week in Mariupol and another week in Donetsk/Lugansk

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  8. Having chosen a grimly comedic delivery in my ‘Faking False Fakery’ article, would it now be disingenuous of me to deny a false flag operation, even though I fly my flag from an ‘unamused mast’? I only ask because better men than I have come to grief by attempting to use humour to highlight the absurdity of war.

    As for the examples raised by Geoff, I have no counter-analysis to offer. I am not a details man, preferring instead to deal in platitudes that, nevertheless, offer a good framework within which to think about such things. With that in mind, I offer the following fridge magnet analysis:

    a) It has been some time now since nations settled their differences by finding a nice quiet field in which their opposing armies could engage in a ‘last man standing’ donnybrook. Total war is now the norm, and in total war civilians are deliberately targeted by both sides. Revulsion for the opponent’s tactics has propaganda value only. There is nothing that Putin could unleash on a civilian population that America has not already unleashed at some time or another in defence of the American way.

    b) Deception is as old as war itself. Both sides can be assumed to be doing it. Their success will be greatly assisted by the confusion that a battlefield invariably generates.

    c) The victor will get to decide who the war criminals are.

    d) For the people back home, only one message is ever acceptable to the powers that be: Our boys are brave, our cause is just, and our victory is assured.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. stewgreen says:

    “There is a lot of noise
    To cut to the bottom line .. a lot of people are dead
    It is an invasion ordered by Putin
    It isn’t justified and shouldn’t have happened.
    One can argue that Nato and the West left the window open for Putin to come in.”

    It’s easy enough for most people to recognise “their” propaganda, it takes a real sceptic to recognise “ours”

    Liked by 3 people

  10. John
    I admire your cynicism, but I don’t think you’re factually correct.
    a) targeting civilians has always been an option, frequently used. Enslavement was often preferred to massacre, but massacre is so much easier nowadays, and slavery is frowned upon.
    b) “Both sides can be assumed to be doing it“ (deception) We shouldn’t be assuming anything, but doing our best to ascertain the truth
    c) Agreed
    d) Not entirely true. Some rail against it. I do, I’m not entirely sure why. You start off gently bilking some silly Guardian environmental journalist and a decade on you find yourself ranting against the whole universe. I’m aware it’s not healthy.

    By the way, I can no longer “like” comments and WordPress won’t let me sign in on my new computer. I believe I sorted out a similar problem for you a while back but I can’t remember how; Any hints?

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Geoff, a little bit of clarification on my part may be in order:

    a) There is a nice distinction to be made here between civilian involvement during the prosecution of battle and the demise of a conquered civilization upon the conclusion of a battle. I was only trying to make the point that the winning of wars is much more likely to involve the spilling of civilian blood once the breaking of civilian morale is deemed a legitimate battlefield strategy. The question of whether the civilian population should be enslaved or massacred following a battle is more a question of how one chooses to ‘win the peace’ afterwards. Admittedly, a scorched earth approach has always been an option. The naïve modern idea is just to destroy everything that they had beforehand and then leave them to it, claiming it to be a liberation.

    b) Actually, I do think it is fair to assume that deception is employed by both sides as part of their strategy since it would fly in the face of common sense to believe that one side or other would pass up an opportunity to gain an advantage through deception. Where I do agree, however, is that every single situation should be approached with an open mind. There is never a good reason to presume that one side or the other is telling the true story – or indeed that anyone is. Observing crude and bungled fakery can sometimes be the only way that onlookers can resolve this quandary.

    c) Okay.

    d) I need to express myself in a less ambiguous way: “As far as the powers that be are concerned, the only acceptable message to give to the people is…” There will always be individuals, such as yourself, who refuse to swallow everything they are told, thank God!

    I’m sorry, but I am not the best person to ask for help on technical matters when it comes to WordPress. Yes, I have experienced similar problems, and you may very well have helped me in the past, but a combination of bit rot and brain rot leaves me with no lasting wisdom on the subject. As far as I am concerned WordPress just does things and then it doesn’t. That said, I have been struck by how much the choice of browser can influence things. For example, on my laptop Firefox is now the only browser that successfully invokes the editor for me, and it wasn’t always that way.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Agree with Geoff we should be ‘doing our best to ascertain the truth’. If we have the time.

    As an example of black humour, here’s nearly the latest from Cummings:

    Chechens v Nazis?

    Kadyrov has posted video purporting to be of his Chechens in Mariupol shouting Allahu Akbar as they whack, on behalf of Putin, some of the Azov battalion fighting on behalf of Ukraine — Azov are the guys who the NYT et al used to describe as ‘Nazi’ but have rebranded to ‘Ukrainian national guard’ (cos Ukraine are the goodies and goodies can’t be Nazis).

    Are we supposed to cheer for the Nazis and boo the Muslims, or other way round? Super-confusing!

    The collapse of media standards means the only sensible approach to most news on Ukraine can only be to ignore it (for most people) or triangulate among multiple independent sources with a record of trying/being accurate rather than moral-signalling (if you need to figure out what’s happening). See above for a handful of sources.

    This is the tweet DC pointed to about Kadrov

    I enjoyed the humour, not least because it draws attention to something extremely weird Nato has been up to. I’ve also, for three weeks, mostly been following “the only sensible approach to most news on Ukraine can only be to ignore it” not the triangulation option. As usual I don’t see any inconsistency in my many positions.

    The very latest from Cummings is this:

    I’m going to make this post public to all shortly and create another for subscribers only, then every 7-14 days roll them over. I’m much happier doing this than posting to Twitter bedlam…

    So no need for me to try to summarise for Geoff. Warning though: just to follow the citations properly might take a year. That also I do not feel is my bag.

    [Written before seeing John’s. And outta here for a while. Sorry.]

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Richard,

    I am reminded of the Mitchell and Webb sketch, ‘Are we the baddies?’

    Ruined by canned laughter but still quite funny:

    Liked by 2 people

  14. The Azov battalion is a Nazi unit of the regular Ukrainian army. Their symbol is borrowed from the Waffen SS, they idolise Bandera, the wartime Ukrainian Nazi responsible for the murder of thousands of Jews; they openly threatened to murder Zhelensky if he applied the Minsk accords, and they’re trained and armed by NATO.

    An independent unit like that is always going to be staffed by extremely violent Nationalists. They are the ones prepared to die for their country. It’s a tiny unit that gets an excessive amount of attention, because it suits purpose to focus on it and ignore the vastly non-Nazi rest of the country. It’s not like the Ukraine votes far right in any numbers. It’s not like Russia isn’t full of similar nasty fascists. Putin, for example.

    Azov are the most effective part of the Ukrainian army though. So, from a Russian point of view, they have to go — they were a real risk of taking back Lugansk and Donetsk.

    They are armed by NATO because the Ukraine is, not because NATO is specifically funding Nazis.

    The Bandera thing is a bit silly. They don’t have a lot of choices when finding people prepared to fight and die for the Ukraine. Irish Catholics find the English reverence for Oliver Cromwell repulsive. Given that many Russians still revere Stalin, a man with a track record of multiple genocides and known anti-Semitism, worrying about a few Ukrainians admiring Bandera seems a bit rich.

    At the end of the day I side with the Ukrainians because they were the ones invaded, and they are defending their homeland. I also sided with the vicious Iranian regime when Saddam Hussein invaded them too, for the same reason. A pox on both their houses politically, but countries who try to conquer other countries need to be stopped. We know from history that if not stopped they will keep doing it.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Chester: Well done for siding with the vicious Iranian regime in 1980. Were you at all disappointed that the war lasted eight bloody years, at enormous cost to ordinary families on both sides, and ended in stalemate, despite your support? There again, we can be thankful that neither side had nuclear capability. Horrific – more than most wars since WWII – but limited in the sense of the potential for hundreds of millions dying in a nuclear conflagration.

    I’ve now watched, h/t Dominic Cummings, Lt. Gen. David Deptula being interviewed on Defense News – the man who ran the No-Fly Zone over northern Iraq in the 1990s. The issue isn’t about which side we (nominally) take, it’s whether we escalate or not, leading to calamitous bloodshed. Deptula explains in patient detail why a No-Fly Zone over Ukraine is a crazy option. Yet it’s being actively pushed by some.

    Without reference to the Azov battalion, Peter Hitchens points out that the expansion of Nato post 1991 was perhaps the only issue on which both Noam Chomsky and Henry Kissinger have ever agreed: they both thought it was crazy. That’s more humour to mine for those with a droll side.

    You wrote:

    The Bandera thing is a bit silly. They don’t have a lot of choices when finding people prepared to fight and die for the Ukraine. Irish Catholics find the English reverence for Oliver Cromwell repulsive. Given that many Russians still revere Stalin, a man with a track record of multiple genocides and known anti-Semitism, worrying about a few Ukrainians admiring Bandera seems a bit rich.

    I wouldn’t use the word silly. He was a monster. So was Stalin. I agree with you that many Russians not facing up to Stalin’s evil (as we face up to in the UK with Cromwell in Ireland) is a terrible foundation for their future. And they have nuclear weapons. That simply isn’t funny.

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  16. Just to nuance what I wrote earlier, I should point out that deliberate deception may not be necessary to gain the required propaganda benefit. Sometimes all that is needed is a convenient assumption that is difficult to challenge at the time. The demise of the soldiers on Snake Island is a case in point. By the time that it emerged that they had all surrendered after their ammunition had run out, Zelensky had already declared 13 martyrs, and this had set the mood for much that ensued.

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  17. I find it of intense interest how different sceptical climate change blogs have reacted to two of the significant subjects of recent years. Covid-19 almost completely absorbed some sites, like Jo Nova, to the extent that reactions to climate news items almost disappeared. Here the subject was not ignored but never became overwhelming.

    This is not the case recently with respect to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I applaud Geoff’s attempt to nestle his article in the all embracing arms of climate, but I am not convinced.

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  18. Alan,

    Mea culpa. After having declared in a previous Cliscep article that the threat of nuclear war constitutes a risk that should be taken far more seriously than imminent climate catastrophe, I felt compelled to pursue that same theme in the wake of the Ukrainian invasion. Furthermore, because I genuinely believe it to be the case, I have become somewhat absorbed by current affairs and cannot bring myself to think very much about the climate change stuff anymore. Consequently, when I finally was inspired to write another article, it was about the information war that surrounds the invasion — not about the information war that surrounds climate change or vaccine effectiveness. However, my closing line had been intended to allude to an overarching theme that could apply in all three cases. I think what is ultimately at stake is what it means to be a rational sceptic. What, for example, determines the dividing line between not believing everything one is told, and believing that everything one is told is false? War seems to bring such issues alive in a way that is both stark and terrifying.

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  19. Oh I totally agree John. It was by no means a criticism, just an observation that I find interesting and only just worthy of comment. You will also note that I have submitted many comments recently which have no climate content.

    With regard to the authenticity of reports from Ukraine, I would suggest a third possibility. This is that reports we see could well be authentic but embellished. News reports are hideous but perhaps judged insufficiently so by the time news reporters arrived. They are then enhanced. Thus for the attack upon a hospital, by the time cameramen were allowed in, the absolute worst aspects had already been removed. They were then “recreated” for the cameras. Thus beds were draped with blooded sheets and then glass shards added on top. This doesn’t negate the possibility that patients were not injured or even killed in the same beds at a slightly earlier time.

    I remember as a student going to an all-night music session where some revellers lay down on the floor and fell asleep. As we left we noted TV cameramen kicking empty beer cans and other debris closer towards the sleepers to “enhance” the scene. Those images later appeared on the local news with the implication that all attendees were equally slovenly. The same “enhancement” could well be happening to stories in Ukraine.

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  20. It looks like it’s nearly twenty years since I tried to convince a Chelsea fan that Abramovich was a gangster who had been involved in the deaths of hundreds of accountants working in Russia’s aluminium industry.

    No, no, he said. Abramovich’s wealth came from oil, not aluminium, so he can’t be a gangster.

    Comments?

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  21. On Alan’s point about nestling the Ukraine war in the all embracing arms of climate, here’s Dominic Cummings in his latest missive for non-paying subscribers:

    For many years I’ve said that a Golden Rule of politics is that, given our leaders don’t take nuclear weapons seriously never assume they’re taking X seriously and there is a team deployed on X with the incentives and skills to succeed.

    X here being climate policy, which of course means energy policy, transport policy, industrial policy, and just about everything down to how you arrange the Nature Table in play school.

    Leading up to this is some quite radical criticism that would get Cummings placed politically as an extreme Maoist/Stalinist if anyone cared. (It doesn’t matter, because he’s already been dismissed in the sensible media as a book-reading nerd, which is the supreme insult in right-thinking, left-leaning circles.)

    Remember, the media is totally and utterly unreliable on Russia. It has both ignored many awful aspects of the Putin mafia state for 20 years and invented nonsense about it. While individual journalists can be honest, you cannot rely on any serious corporate and generally enforced journalistic standards … in order to suppress the Hunter Biden email story (in order to avoid helping Trump), practically the entire US mainstream media spread the fiction that the emails were ‘Russian disinformation’… This sort of disinformation from our own media is routine. You only know about it if you actively search for such things which few do. Graduates are the biggest suckers.)

    (The point about graduates is a bit irrelevant, since practically everyone who can read and write is a graduate. This wasn’t always the case. It was once possible to leave school at 16 and end up Field Marshall or CEO of a major bank or manufacturing company, and read Shakespeare for pleasure. The current system of university as the passport to a superior caste is new and noxious.)

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  22. Geoff, as you will also have read:

    In autumn 2020, I forced the PM to carve out 3 hours to discuss the nuclear enterprise. I had wanted to have a whole weekend at Chequers, including sessions with outside specialists, but he balked at just a few hours. After sort of listening, including to an account of rotten infrastructure and the truly horrific bills amounting to many tens of billions we face in coming years because of 25 years of rot and shockingly bad procurement under both parties, we left the room.

    He picked up his phone (left outside for security), turned to me angry, and spat out. “What a waste of my time.”

    This sums up a lot not just about him but about our political system. Their single most important job is not seen as a priority!

    John is right to think that “the threat of nuclear war constitutes a risk that should be taken far more seriously than imminent climate catastrophe”. You are right that X=energy for the last 20-30 years now also presents a significant risk. (They should have listened to us.)

    Cummings also mentions:

    It was good that Daniel Finkelstein recently advised people to read Payne.

    A glimmer of hope there. The rest of the lengthy post you’re not able to read is a commentry on Keith Payne’s The fallacies of Cold War deterrence. [He’s doing The Great American Gamble: deterrence theory and practice from the Cold War to the twenty-first century in a later blog post.] It’s sobering.

    But Snippets and the comments thereon are now open to all. Recommended to those wanting to broaden their minds on the Ukraine conflict. And there are some mentions of energy 😉

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  23. Richard Drake

    One irrelevant thing I like about the Cummings article is a photo of a young Richard Feynman, looking like a Jack Kerouac character. The fifties is where I came in, culturally. The 60s and 70s were just the fag end of that revolutionary period; the serious stuff – the poetry, jazz, and serious thinking about politics, war and the meaning of life – were all quietlydropped in favour of sex drugs ’n rock ’n roll.
    And the amazing thing is, that a provincial British schoolboy could find out about the world via books available at WH Smiths and the public library. That is no longer the case. The internet is no replacement. Not with Biden telling opinion formers what to say about Ukraine, the climate and the sex of champion swimmers. (Hav I missed anything?)

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  24. Geoff: I love that photo too, not least for Feynman’s trademark casualness. But also a venerable von Neumann being part of the chat. Such a key figure for us in computer science and practice. The Von Neumann architecture is still with us. Though Alan Kay believes Bob Barton had a significantly better approach by the 1960s. (I’ll leave it there but it’s an illustration of the inertia of ideas even in the cut and thrust of free market tech competition.)

    I came in during the 60s I guess. What you say in your second paragraph is both evocative and infuriating.

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  25. One thing that worries me somewhat is the proliferation of the ‘don’t make the appeasement mistake again’ argument. Lots of people are saying that Putin only understands force and it is high time we called his bluff. I think this a very dangerous way of thinking. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you want to get inside Putin’s head you first have to understand that he is the living embodiment of Andropov. I don’t see many people, including Cummings, taking this on board. Consequently, I don’t see many people understanding that Putin is convinced that the West is committed to the doctrine of the pre-emptive nuclear strike, and any heightening of tension that feeds that paranoia is likely to end in tragedy. Putin is not irrational, but he follows a rationale that doesn’t fit into the West’s preconceptions of how the nuclear deterrent works. On that point Cummings is right.

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  26. P.S. the Cummings anecdote relating Bojo’s disregard for our parlous position in the ‘nuclear enterprise’ is very interesting. However, nothing that Cummings reveals about Bojo can surprise me. I think he is an intellectual lightweight and a moral deadweight.

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  27. John: Don’t disagree but Cummings going public about Boris in this way is a significant plea to others in SW1 to get rid of him. And rightly so. It could make a rethink of New Zero easier too.

    I don’t know about Putin channelling his inner Andropov. Do you have a reference on that? We agree about the principle though.

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  28. John – “I think he is an intellectual lightweight and a moral deadweight.”

    Who? Cummings or Bojo? I suspect you’re talking Bojo, in which case I agree with you. However, I suspect I’m less impressed by Cummings than are some here. Each to their own. 🙂

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  29. Richard,

    I gained my views regarding Andropov’s influence on Putin after reading a book about the spy Oleg Gordievsky, written by Ben Macintyre (‘The Spy and the Traitor’). I no longer have the book so I can’t provide any precise references or quotes. However, the following article gives you a flavour of the extent to which Putin is maintaining Andropov’s legacy:

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/putin-puts-yuri-andropov-back-on-his-pedestal-1.1145047

    Mark,

    I had meant Bojo. Cummings is indeed a bit of a curate’s egg.

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  30. Geoff, your title leaves no doubt about who was responsible for the theatre attack, but I think you have a large gap to bridge before you can say it was due to the Banderites. The default explanation for an attack on a building in a besieged city is surely that it is the attacking force who are to blame. According to reports 80-90% of buildings in Mariupol are damaged, 30% of them destroyed. Thus it is no suprise that large and conspicuous buildings have been hit. The first question then before any evidence is considered is “which explanation is more likely?” and the clear winner, by odds of 100:1 or so, is a bet on the besieging force.

    No doubt if the Putinites win then evidence of a Banderite massacre will be brought forward. I strongly doubt that it will be compelling.

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  31. John: Thanks greatly. Trelford is a blast from the past.

    It’s clear Putin cherishes the memory of Andropov. And I didn’t know Andropov, despite his record in Hungary in 1956, finally counselled Brezhnev against invading Poland in 1981, then promoted much younger men in Moscow including Gorbachev (knowing they were reformers?), during his brief stint as supremo himself. The hardline KGB chief who softened?

    But, question of questions, does Putin follow Andropov on nuclear matters? On the likely threat of a preemptive strike from the West? Or on doing the same thing first if Russia looks like it’s becoming an irrelevant non-power? (Peter Hitchens argues persuasively for me that this fate is now inevitable – and that’s tragic for ordinary Russians. But Hitchens has also said in the last three weeks that he’s become convinced that the nuclear weapon is the one that can never be used. I’d like to see his rigorous argument there!)

    Putin I’m sure admires Andropov’s anti-corruption drive. There was some reality there post the debacle of the 90s, when a drunken Yeltsin allowed the looting of the country’s resources. I believe some people hate Putin because he made sure they lost out. That’s the only explanation to me of the Browder/Magnitsky Act fake. Cummings (sorry Mark) has acknowledged this anti-corruption reality but sees it as limited, and often calls Putin himself a mafia boss running a kleptocracy.

    I’ll read the second article with care.

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  32. Jit
    You’re right that I believed that the theatre and hospital attacks were false flags, and I still do, based on what has emerged since.

    I must point out that I am not defending Putin’s brutal and illegal invasion. I am criticising the treatment of the war in the mainstream media, and incidentally (and this is the link with my climate scepticism) demonstrating, I hope, that you don’t need specialised knowledge to see through certain kinds of misinformation. You simply need to apply common sense to the media accounts and ask yourself some simple questions, like: “Why are they telling me about this, and not telling me about that?”

    Three weeks ago I thought fascism in Ukrainian society was a kind of minor blot, as has been described in numerous articles in the mainstream press. It represents only a minority opinion within Ukrainian politics after all. But it is a minority which has formed one or several armed militias; got those militias integrated into the official armed forces; trained other units of the army; and imposed its Nazi orthodoxy on society in dozens of ways, from rewriting school text books to renaming streets and deciding public holidays.

    How do I know this? Because authoritative people say so, and if it weren’t true the official media would be denying it, and they’re not.

    “What the BBC says, must be true” is a bad syllogism.

    “What the BBC doesn’t deny, when it goes against the official narrative, is very likely true” is a good ‘un.

    The population of Mariupol is largely pro-Russian. After the 2014 Maidan coup a pro-Russian local government was installed. Azov moved in and took power, assassinating local politicians and terrorising the population.

    There are numerous testimonies on-line of inhabitants who’ve fled saying that Azov hid its artillery in schools and blocks of flats, and blaming Azov for the large-scale casualties when the Russians riposted. There are films (I’ve seen three) of people duct taped to posts on the street, the men stripped naked, a man and boy taped together with their faces daubed with something nasty, two women whipped. Look at them and tell me they’re faked.

    On the theatre bombing: There ’s a hole in the centre of the roof and no sign of any damage in the surrounding park or street, so it was a deliberate attack by something as sure and precise as a cruise missile or a bomb in place. Official reports say that there were hundreds, maybe 1,200 civilians in an under-ground shelter, sometimes described as a cellar, sometimes as a purpose-built bomb shelter. Official reports say 130 people have escaped or been rescued. That leaves possibly a thousand women and children either crushed to death or slowly dying of starvation. Yet there are no photos of rescue attempts, and the Western press shows no interest in determining what happened.

    It’s the latter fact that convinces me that this was a fake attack that failed to convince the western media, and so was casually dropped. It has been argued that the bombing and shelling made immediate rescue attempts impossible, but yesterday’s attack on a barracks in Mykolaiv, which was also under constant shelling, was immediately followed with images of rescuers, complete with cranes etc.

    Your 100:1 argument doesn’t work. In an artillery battle, all shells are equal.

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  33. Thanks beththeserfsays:- 20 MAR 22 AT 12:48 AM

    another insight into where we are today re Russia.

    o/t – why is “Cummings” the go to man lately ?

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  34. Consequently, I don’t see many people understanding that Putin is convinced that the West is committed to the doctrine of the pre-emptive nuclear strike

    Why would a person convinced that the West is committed to a nuclear strike go out of his way to set up a situation where one could be justified? Even if the invasion was successful, how would that make him any safer? He would have control of one more country that doesn’t have nukes.

    I think the fact that Putin invaded a major country, with basically no provocation, is testament to his certainty that we would not reply with nuclear missiles.

    It is possible he thought Trump might. Hence the timing. But no-one with any brains would think Biden will hit the button early.

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  35. Chester,

    I can see where you are coming from; I even expressed a similar view when, on the ‘Games People Play’ thread, I asked:

    “I do have one crumb of comfort, however. If Putin genuinely suspects NATO of wishing to start WWIII on their terms, why would he have played into their hands by invading Ukraine?”

    I’m afraid, however, that his invasion of Ukraine can still be seen as consistent with his suspicions of NATO’s hostile intent if one assumes that Putin sees the westernisation (aka Nazification) of Ukraine as the last remaining element of NATO’s strategy. In that case, the answer to your question would be that he would invade Ukraine if he already saw it as an existential issue and he had nothing left to lose. The benefit to Russia would be the prevention of the sort of territorial encirclement that would facilitate a pre-emptive attack from NATO. The worst case scenario for him is that his invasion precipitates WWIII resulting in the demise of Russia, but if Putin was already assuming such a demise if he didn’t invade, then the logic that there is no point in having a world without Russia kicks in. Statements to that effect have been made recently by Lavrov, etc. They can be seen as a simple re-iteration of the logic of MAD, or they can be seen as the underlying logic behind the invasion of Ukraine, i.e. a complete inversion of what you and I would prefer to believe.

    I think the key to this analysis is whether or not Putin is fully signed up to the Andropov doctrine of pre-empting NATO’s pre-emption. I accept that there is no documentary proof that he is, but the fact that he and Andropov were both ex heads of Russia’s secret service is significant. The FSB inherited the KGB’s deep suspicions of NATO’s intended strategy of pre-emptive attack and I think that it is reasonable to believe that the same would apply with respect to Putin and Andropov (for whom Putin has expressed open admiration bordering upon hero worship). We should also remember that the West has history here. Stalin was so convinced that Hitler would not attack Russia that he had two spies shot when they reported to him that the invasion had already started. The shock to Stalin was profound and the cost of his misplaced trust is still reverberating.

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  36. I do wonder why on Earth that Ukraine needs to manufacture false flag incidents. From the first few days of the invasion we were treated to multiple scenes of missiles hitting residential flats, even of a Russian Z-marked tank firing directly into another block. Clear war crimes, Early on it might be argued that the Russians were concerned these flats were being used by the military, but now we have cities with entire districts made up of residential apartment blocks, every single one of which is a blackened ruin. Not all of them would have been used by the military. Last night a shopping centre was deliberately destroyed, the military value of which was?

    There is ample evidence, from the outset of the invasion, of Russian war crimes, so why the need to “manufacture” fake ones? If your intention is to reduce entire cities to rubble, you must take responsibility for hitting hospitals, schools and other “sensitive “ targets and receiving the opprobrium of much of the world. That is what is happening. The Ukrainians know they have the support of the West, so why potentially tarnish this with false flag operations? Why risk everything?

    Using Common Logic, it’s the Russians wot dun it.

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  37. The BBC has offered a reasonably good synopsis of the importance and difficulties of getting inside Putin’s head:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-60807134

    It doesn’t throw any light on whether Putin is likely to do an Andropov any time soon. But it does suggest that whatever actions he takes, they will be informed only by his own preconceptions, endorsed by a very small group of advisors who have been selected because they think in very similar ways.

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  38. Alan Kendall says:

    “I do wonder why on Earth that Ukraine needs to manufacture false flag incidents.”

    Listening to this guy who lives in Kharkiv may answer some of your questions:

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  39. Bill,

    I don’t think that the video actually contradicts what Alan had said. Technically, the bombings of schools and hospitals are not false flag operations because they were not perpetrated by the Ukrainian forces and then blamed on Russia. That doesn’t mean to say, however, that the Russians were not attacking a genuine military target. In an urban battle, where troops will deploy in accordance with tactical advantage, the risk of collateral damage to one’s own civilians becomes a problem. When that risk materialises, the defenders will always seek to maximise the propaganda value by claiming an unprovoked attack on the defenceless. That’s war I’m afraid. We can argue over who occupies the moral high ground here but, at the end of the day, Russia is attacking Ukranian cities and not the other way around.

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  40. Thinking about Bill’s video a little further, I would summarise as follows:

    For any given incident involving civilian casualties, there are three factors that require consideration:

    a) Was the act committed by the assailant or the civil defence forces?

    b) Was the outcome intended or the result of misjudgement?

    c) Was the target a legitimate military target or not?

    Answers to these questions can be given in any permutation, although some combinations are less likely. Assailants or defenders (e.g. those engaging in a false flag operation) deliberately destroying a non-military target would be committing a war crime. In the absence of evidence, I think the starting assumptions in an urban warfare setting should be:

    a) The assailant probably did it, since a false flag operation requires a greater level of disregard for one’s own civilians than can be expected from the assailant (assuming the reports of casualties are reliable). This calculation applies only to territory occupied by the defenders and becomes more problematic once the assailant starts to defend captured territory.

    b) The outcome was probably intended because even the destruction of a target that is not a legitimate military target will still advantage the assailant, i.e. even war crimes can be justified from a purely military viewpoint since streets become less easy to defend once the buildings are destroyed. Also, it should also be borne in mind that any civilian structure occupied by defending or attacking forces becomes a legitimate military target.

    c) The target was probably not a legitimate military target simply because these will outnumber the legitimate targets and the required levels of precision cannot be assumed (note here that collateral damage is still the consequence of targeting in the sense that not enough is done to avoid it or it may even be desired).

    Since all three of the above assumptions are unsafe, an open mind is required when considering a given incident, and conclusions should be based upon the evidence available. For example, if it transpires that the reports of casualties were contrived (as per Geoff’s suspicions) then a false flag operation becomes more likely. However, as Alan has said, there is plenty of evidence that non-military structures are being deliberately targeted and civilian casualties are the intention.

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  41. Well Bill I watched about half of that recommended U-tube broadcast and it really stirred me up. I agree with John, nothing I saw in the broadcast explains or points to Ukraine devising false flag incidents. But the more I watched the more I felt I was entering a topsy turvy world where everything I thought I new about the war was wrong: the West is to blame for encouraging Ukraine to resist and prolonging an unwinnable conflict. Because of the mismatch in the committed military between Russia and the Ukraine, Russia was bound to win. Attacks on sensitive buildings could be justified on the basis that the Ukrainians were storing weaponry in them. How did the Russians know? because of a network of Russian-speaking informants throughout the country. The impression given was that (apart from the initial invasion which wasn’t covered in the part I watched) Russia is behaving appropriately.

    After switching off, I came to realise that to accept the message being offered by the broadcast also meant rejecting the various messages being delivered by western news programmes and their news reporters, not only the BBC but ITV, SKY and particularly Channel 4. Some were commentators that I have come to really respect over the years.

    So the programme came to have an interest for me as an example of, what I believe is News modified by pro-Russian propaganda. As an example how news can be so distorted. It makes me wonder how much news in the West is slanted. Very worrying.

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  42. Geoff Chambers: ‘it was perfectly obvious to everyone at the time that the Bloody Sunday event in Derry in 1972 was a massacre …’ And with that, your credibility sinks without trace.

    The first shot of the day was fired by the IRA (‘drainpipe shot’). This is admitted by IRA terrorists, including the one who fired the shot (labelled ‘OIRA1’ by the Bloody Sunday Inquiry), as well as testified to by various witnesses. This shot was before the paras entered the Bogside and cannot be said to have precipitated the paras’ later lethal firing. However, it dramatically escalated tension (as testified by various military witnesses), causing soldiers detailed to conduct the planned arrest operation armed only with batons or baton guns to retrieve their rifles as with IRA gunmen already firing at the army, the possibility of IRA gunmen had now become a certainty.

    Over the course of 10 minutes and six separate locations, 12 civilians and one member of ‘Fianna Éireann’ (IRA’s youth section) ended up fatally shot and 13 more injured. Not a ‘massacre’ but a series of separate events performed independently amidst the chaos of a riot. Only one woman was shot (in the leg, recovered), the eldest was 59 (hit by fragments from a ricocheting bullet), and the youngest 15 (an admitted stone-thrower, he was hit in the leg). The majority of those shot being military age males convincingly suggests the soldiers, rightly or wrongly, genuinely thought they were firing at legitimate targets presenting a threat; and when the threat was perceived as no longer presenting, they withheld fire (n.b. the 21 paras who fired returned nine-tenths of their ammunition that evening).

    The Inquiry also heard plentiful IRA terrorists and civilian witnesses testifying to armed IRA terrorists present and the IRA returning fire, evincing a number of IRA terrorists concealed amongst the demonstrators either already armed or able to easily and quickly retrieved cached arms, showing that the army were justified in fearing lethal threat from within the demonstrators.

    It was a balls-up: whether the soldiers missed their intended targets or mistook civilians for legitimate targets, it was a tragic cock-up, and no more than that. Young men, amidst a riot in the middle of an insurgency with multiple armed terrorist groups, understandably scared and confused, tragically and lethally erred; but there was no malice, no ‘mens rea’; and it would have been far, far worse if we really were as evil as Irish republicans allege. Be cautious of constantly accusing basically decent people of being evil, as there is a temptation for them to one day forego trying to do their best and instead show you what evil really looks like.

    What Bloody Sunday actually is, is an indictment of all those people persisting in pushing the Irish republican narrative, endlessly exploiting the unfortunate deaths of 13 people who were at the very least participants in an illegal demonstration, some of whom were violent rioters, and one a member of the IRA’s youth section, while ignoring the far greater slaughter perpetrated by the Irish republicans—and not of attendees of an illegal political demonstration, but of pub-goers, of shoppers, of men, women, pregnant women, children, infants, elderly, horses, dogs, of people sitting in their own home or paying their respects at a solemn memorial service.

    GC: ‘No-one was shocked when the next day the Irish Nationalist MP Bernadette Devlin physically attacked the Home Secretary …’ Surely some—people with human decency at least—were shocked at a 25 year old woman slapping a 55 year old man, a man only 6 years from his death? A woman, fully cognisant of Western double standards where a woman can proclaim herself a ‘stronk, independent womyn who don’t need no man, uh huh’ and then cry like a bitch the moment any man treats her like an equal and gives them a taste of their own medicine. She knew she was immune from physical response when she assaulted this elderly man over twice her age. She is naught but a thug (as also evinced by her arrest amidst riots in 1969 and conviction of inciting a riot in 1970).
    GC: ‘What else was she suppose to do?’ Behave like a decent human being?
    GC: ‘Yet it took decades to establish the truth officially.’ ‘Truth’ is neither decided by governments nor random bloggers, and the BSI’s conclusions (which you are at variance with) are entirely arguable.

    Anyone preferring to think for themselves can arrive at their own conclusions by reading at least the following:
    Murray, Douglas. Bloody Sunday: Truths, Lies and the Saville Inquiry. Biteback Publishing, 2011. (A good introduction to the 10-year long inquiry and pointer to the more important and interesting testimonies.)
    Report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry (10 vols. & Conclusions) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/report-of-the-bloody-sunday-inquiry
    Index to evidence (testimony transcripts, etc.), Report of The Bloody Sunday Inquiry. https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ukgwa/20101103103930/http:/bloody-sunday-inquiry.org/
    And a longer blog on topic I once wrote: https://ultimaratioregum.video.blog/2019/06/28/ni-sun-another-perspective/

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  43. John. Thank you for your last contribution (which I came to see immediately after posting my last effort). My immediate reaction is that you haven’t included consideration of what I consider a major factor: the distance between the target and the firing position. Firing from a distance always comes with a greater likelihood of causing unintended or collateral damage and thus includes a greater risk of causing war crimes (unintended or not).

    In the case of Ukrainian incidents, I have noticed that victims are always referred to as women and children ( sometimes mentioning the elderly) but able bodied men are never mentioned. Odd that.

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  44. Alan,

    No matter how hard I try to think methodically about this, I suspect that the complexities will win out. The reality is that urban warfare blurs the lines both literally and metaphorically. Even the very concept of the war crime becomes questionable. Add in the propaganda war and things become very difficult indeed. Even so, scepticism has to be bounded by a priori assumptions, and I think the ones I offer are probably as sound as anyone’s.

    P.S. I agree with your take on the video. Accusing the Ukrainian leaders of cynicism by encouraging their citizens to fight an unwinnable war seems to be coming from a strange place. The whole thing seemed very Lewis Carroll at times.

    Liked by 1 person

  45. John Ridgway says:

    “[…] at the end of the day, Russia is attacking Ukrainian cities and not the other way around.”

    That is the view of most Western commentators, what is happening on the ground does not seem to follow that scenario. It appears that the Russians are trying, and mostly succeeding, to defeat the Ukrainian army in open country. It is true that the Russians have surrounded the cities of Kyiv and Kharkiv, but have not made any effort to take either of them. Instead, they have left a humanitarian corridor in both cities so that civilians can escape. I believe that railways are still working and that the majority of the population have left both cities. The Russians tried to do much the same in Mariupol, but theUkrainian defenders fired on those trying to escape.

    I believe there was an article in the FT in the last couple of days that comes to much the same conclusion as I have. It is behind a paywall, so I haven’t read it.

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  46. Alan:

    It’s sadly shocking to be reminded that there were good reasons our country was known as ‘Perfidious Albion’ throughout most of the world

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  47. Bill,

    It is actually quite difficult from the comfort of my own armchair to determine where the majority of the fighting is occurring. The Western journalists seem to be concentrated in the cities and this may be resulting in a misleading focus. Nevertheless, cities are being targeted at least to some extent. Exactly how much this extent is governed by Russian self-restraint as opposed to lack of opportunity and resource is difficult to say. As for humanitarian corridors, this seems to be the subject of much propaganda on both sides and so I prefer not to draw conclusions.

    I should have thanked you before now for keeping the debate open by offering alternative perspectives. The truth is out there somewhere.

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  48. Here are some of the people I get my news on Ukraine from:
    Ben Pile, Stephen McIntyre, Valerius Ander (MM) Omnologos, (aka Maurizio Morabito) George Galloway, Pepe Escobar, Esha K, Our Hidden History, Russians with Attitude, Victor victop55, Carl Zha, Angelo Giuliano, Elena Evdokimova, Caitlin Johnstone, GEROMAN.

    Steve McIntyre is the latest to retweet a video of atrocities against Rom. This one shows a group of women being thrashed round the face with a rubber dildo at a bus stop in central Kiev, ignored by passers by. The thrasher turns towards the camera at one point to show them they’re being filmed.

    The best known of the above, like Galloway and Escobar, often get a thousand Likes for a tweet. McIntyre and Pile sometimes get a few dozen.

    Liked by 1 person

  49. Thanks to ScotchedEarth for the detailed response to Geoff’s comments about Bloody Sunday at 1:53pm.

    Something weird happened with this comment, which I got an email about at the time, which I confess I only just looked at. The WordPress system is showing me that Akismet, our spam filter, ‘cleared this comment’ 4 hours ago, then ‘caught this comment as spam’ 3 hours ago.

    I’ve just told WordPress that it isn’t spam.

    Liked by 1 person

  50. This article
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/21/the-russians-were-hunting-us-down-the-war-on-journalism-in-mariupol
    by AP correspondent Lori Hinnant, recounts the story of Mstyslav Chernov, the Associated Press reporter who took the video of the maternity hospital bombing. It aims to dispel doubts about the authenticity of the attack, but in fact it raises more questions and tends to confirm my suspicions of a false flag operation.

    Here’s the opening section (abbreviated):

    The Russians were hunting us down. They had a list of names, including ours, and they were closing in. We … were the only international journalists left in the city… Suddenly at dawn, a dozen soldiers burst in: “Where are the journalists, for fuck’s sake? … We’re here to get you out,” they said…
    We ran into the street, abandoning the doctors who had sheltered us, the pregnant women who had been shelled and the people who slept in the hallways because they had nowhere else to go. I felt terrible leaving them all behind… As shells crashed nearby, we dropped to the ground… We reached an entryway, and armoured cars whisked us to a darkened basement. Only then did we learn from a police officer we knew why the Ukrainians had risked the lives of soldiers to extract us from the hospital.
    “If they catch you, they will get you on camera and they will make you say that everything you filmed is a lie,” he said. “All your efforts and everything you have done in Mariupol will be in vain.”

    This is on the 15th March, six days after the hospital attack. Mstyslav describes himself and his colleague, photographer Evgeniy Maloletka as “international journalists,” but they are both Ukrainian. It’s a different hospital they are in when the Ukrainian army send a troop of soldiers in armoured cars to pick them up and eject them from Mariupol.

    The article continues with a harrowing description of the suffering they have seen in Mariupol, and a dozen photos, including one of the blogger and fashion model Mariana Vishegirskaya just after giving birth, two days after being rescued from the bombed maternity hospital, and one (already published) of the unknown pregnant woman who later died and whose body was claimed by two unknown men at another hospital.
    There ’s a lot about the difficulty of getting information and photos out of the city:

    For several days, the only link we had to the outside world was through a satellite phone. And the only spot where that phone worked was out in the open, right next to a shell crater. I would sit down, make myself small and try to catch the connection.

    And this about the maternity hospital attack:

    We watched smoke rise from a maternity hospital. When we arrived, emergency workers were still pulling bloodied pregnant women from the ruins. Our batteries were almost out of juice, and we had no connection to send the images. Curfew was minutes away. A police officer overheard us talking about how to get news of the hospital bombing out.
    “This will change the course of the war,” he said. He took us to a power source and an internet connection.
    We had recorded so many dead people and dead children, an endless line. I did not understand why he thought still more deaths could change anything. I was wrong. In the dark, we sent the images by lining up three mobile phones with the video file split into three parts to speed the process up. It took hours, well beyond curfew. The shelling continued, but the officers assigned to escort us through the city waited patiently.

    The detail about splitting the video up is odd. The video is clearly in three parts: a first part which pans crazily from one side of the square to the other through 270 degrees showing the exterior of the hospital; a second part taken inside, probably on the third floor, given the view through the shattered windows, rushing fast from one room to another; and a third more staidly filmed of the procession of wounded, including the unknown woman who later died, and Ms Vishegirskaya.

    We went back to an empty hotel basement with an aquarium now filled with dead goldfish. In our isolation, we knew nothing about a growing Russian disinformation campaign to discredit our work. The Russian embassy in London put out two tweets calling the AP photographs fake and claiming a pregnant woman was an actor. The Russian ambassador held up copies of the photos at a UN security council meeting and repeated lies about the attack on the maternity hospital.

    And two days later:

    On 11 March, in a brief call without details, our editor asked if we could find the women who survived the maternity hospital airstrike to prove their existence. I realised the footage must have been powerful enough to provoke a response from the Russian government. We found them at a hospital on the frontline, some with babies and others in labour. We also learned that one woman had lost her baby and then her own life.

    And then four days after that, they are ordered to leave Mariupol for their own safety:

    We crammed into a Hyundai with a family of three and pulled into a three-mile-long traffic jam out of the city. Around 30,000 people made it out of Mariupol that day, so many that Russian soldiers had no time to look closely into cars with windows covered with flapping bits of plastic… We crossed 15 Russian checkpoints. At each, the mother sitting in the front of our car would pray furiously, loud enough for us to hear.
    As we drove through them, the third, the 10th, the 15th, all manned with soldiers with heavy weapons, my hopes that Mariupol was going to survive were fading… The guards at checkpoint No 15 spoke Russian in the rough accent of the Caucasus… As we pulled up to the 16th checkpoint, we heard voices. Ukrainian voices. I felt an overwhelming relief. The mother in the front of the car burst into tears. We were out.
    We were the last journalists in Mariupol. Now there are none.

    For all the admiration and sympathy we may feel for the courage and suffering of these two journalists, there remain some points that need raising:

    Why did the Ukrainian army think their survival so important that they sent a troop with armoured cars to pick them up?
    Since their testimony of the Maternity hospital attack was considered so important (“this will change the course of the war”) why is the only photo of the event reproduced here one that has already been published?
    If they were sent specially by their editor to a hospital on the front line to find the pregnant women from the maternity hospital specifically to counter Russian propaganda, why don’t they publish photos or names of the women they found?
    Since their batteries were running low, why did Mstyslav, an experienced cameraman who has covered wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, waste juice panning back and forth several times across the front of the hospital, too fast to permit us to see clearly the damage?
    Why did he go up to the third floor to photograph the damage inside, (surely dangerous, given the destruction) and again, why pan so fast that it is difficult to assess what one is seeing?
    Why isn’t there a link in the article to the video?
    After filming at the maternity hospital, they go back to the “empty hotel basement.” But there is a photo in the article of the moment the maternity hospital was attacked, with the caption: “Evgeniy Maloletka points at the smoke rising after a strike on a maternity hospital in Mariupol on 9 March. Photograph: Mstyslav Chernov/AP” obviously taken from several floors up. Evgeniy’s arm can be seen pointing to a heavy plume of smoke on the horizon several kilometres away. They couldn’t possibly know that it was the maternity hospital. Why did they go out and cross the city to investigate this particular attack? How long did it take them to get there? “When we arrived, emergency workers were still pulling bloodied pregnant women from the ruins” suggests it took a long time, and they arrived just at the moment that two pregnant women (not very bloodied) one of them a well-known “influencer,” were being rescued.
    Five days later they escape in the back of a Hyundai. The Russians are looking for them specifically, and any men of military age in general, yet they pass through fifteen Russian checkpoints because “Russian soldiers had no time to look closely into cars with windows covered with flapping bits of plastic.”

    Like

  51. … and another thing. Why take a photo of Evgeniy’s arm pointing at a distant plume of smoke, when your “batteries are almost out of juice”? It’s just a plume of smoke at that point, like a thousand other plumes of smoke – unless of course you know that it’s coming from an event that will “change the course of the war”?

    Up to this point, I could believe that Mstyslav and Evgeniy were victims of a hoax, like the rest of us. Now I’m quite sure that they were part of the false flag operation.

    Like

  52. Scotched Earth (22 March 22 1.53pm)
    Sorry your comment got caught in the WordPress system, which tends to censor first time comments. And thanks to Richard for spotting it.

    I don’t dispute any of your factual points, since you obviously know the details, and I don’t,
    though I would argue that some of them don’t necessarily support the interpretation you draw from them. For example, the fact that the soldiers returned 90% of their ammunition doesn’t mean they didn’t know they’d just killed a lot of innocent people.

    I hold to my original point that there was an awareness that the Army – the country rather – had just committed a horrible crime, and that this immediate reaction testifies to a truth that is often lost in the fog of subsequent analysis. I went out that night to a local pub in an Irish part of London. There was a platoon lined up on the pavement of men in combat dress and balaclavas, with rifles, silent and still. People walked by, the police didn’t intervene. Some years later I was doing social research in an Army base and an officer told me, quite irrelevantly, that it was particularly unpleasant doing a tour of duty in Belfast after the Paras had been there.

    I have no sympathy for the IRA. I was nearly blown up by an IRA bomb in Brussels. We were supposed to perform in the main square but were held up in a traffic jam. We heard the explosion as the bomb (intended for an British army band performing before us) blew up the stage where we were told to park. (Luckily there were only two people slightly injured.) People may align with this or that side quite thoughtlessly. We saw this during the Troubles, where all the French people I knew who were vaguely leftwing thought the IRA to be the heroes, valiantly fighting British Imperialism. This is the kind of blind subservience I try to analyse and fight against.

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  53. df hunter (21 Mar 22 1.00am)
    “why is “Cummings” the go to man lately ?”

    Good question. He’s clever, and he has an enormous respect for people cleverer than himself. He’s also serious about serious questions. But mostly he’s extremely hard-working, and I think much of his criticism of others (the government, civil service, media ..) is about the fact that they are supposed to be running the country and they don’t work particularly hard at it.

    He reminds me a lot of Jordan Peterson, another clever person who has aroused an instant rejection from the chattering classes, and is taking up radical positions, almost in spite of himself. There’s a new alignment going on that I don’t understand. I think it will become clearer as current events unfold and comfortable people like us start having to stand in line in soup kitchens.

    Liked by 1 person

  54. Especially given the terrible humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine, I find this thread very disturbing. Who would have thought that a climate sceptic site would peddle conspiracy theories and fake news. Except for a few like Jit and Alan trying to inject some rationality, we are mostly treated to wild rants and ridiculous speculation.
    I won’t be commenting again at Cliscep. Presumably when you started this site you hoped to expand the group to include other like-minded people. This is not the way to do it.
    Bye.

    Like

  55. potentilla
    I’m very sorry to read your comment. I think this has happened before with Tiny CO2, another commenter I valued, and possibly with others, including former contributor Thomas Fuller.

    There may be some kind of internal cliscep inquiry into this, possibly even in public, since this site fails in its purpose if it loses its most thoughful commenters. I’m willing to shut up about current events to avoid losing readers like you.

    I agree with you that of course there’s a terrible humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine, and of course Putin as the illegal invader is primarily responsible. And of course I’m peddling conspiracy theories, because scepticism about any official account of anything has been defined as a conspiracy theory. That’s what I thought we were all fighting against.

    If you have any evidence that anything I’ve referred to is fake news, please tell me. And please reconsider your decision. I can always transfer my references to pictures of Gypsies in Kiev being taped to lampposts and whipped with the apparent approval of onlookers (including onlookers on Twitter) to my own blog.

    Like

  56. Alan Kendall (22 March 22 1.54pm)

    Firing from a distance always comes with a greater likelihood of causing unintended or collateral damage and thus includes a greater risk of causing war crimes (unintended or not).

    I think killing civilians is only a war crime if it’s intentional, so unintended deaths don’t count. This legal definition may seem rather unfair to Russia, which is killing far fewer civilians in Ukraine than Saudi Arabia in Yemen, or Israel in Gaza, or the Alliance in Iraq, simply because they are firing far fewer shells or missiles per hour or day. And they’ve only been doing it for a few weeks, unlike Saudi Arabia and Israel.

    On the fact that the victims are always women and children: this is obviously to gain sympathy for the victims. Also, it is naturally forbidden in wartime to reveal casualties among combatants. And if male non-combatants die, the question arises as to why they aren’t in the army.

    George Orwell once commented that he didn’t understand why there was more sympathy for dead women and children than for dead males – which is logical, though somehow shocking. Hillary Clinton once expressed a similar sentiment, though unconsciously , when she said “It’s always women who suffer most in wars. They lose their husbands, their sons, their fathers…”

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  57. Thank you sincerely for your reply, Geoff Chambers.

    I hold no brief for the paras—I’ve also read of army units being unhappy having to pick up the pieces after following the paras, due to their over-aggression; additionally, not having conducted an operational drop since Suez and being unlikely ever to again, they’re obsolete; for both reasons I’d disband them. But I believe them unfairly maligned over Bloody Sunday, and by extension so is the rest of the army and nation.

    I have no argument with any accusing the British Army of wanting in competence that day and hanging a metaphorical manslaughter charge on us. I only take issue with those going beyond that to accuse us of ‘massacre’, ‘planned murder’, etc.

    You don’t agree with my interpretation of some data—and this is the issue: we simply will never know exactly what happened that day. So all we are left with is our own individual interpretations of data that is incomplete and compromised, by such things as Military Police at the time not taking down what testifying soldiers considered relevant data, by IRA terrorists refusing to cooperate with the Inquiry despite assurances of legal immunity, witnesses having to recall events from two decades earlier, witnesses who in general are often very unreliable.

    E.g. Soldier F is written of very poorly by Douglas Murray, and his testimony did him few favours; nonetheless, there is no getting away from him handing back 37 rounds of his issued 50. If he is a psychopath, he seems an oddly discriminating one, as he ignored the ‘target-rich environment’ he found himself in to content himself with killing (so the BSI deemed) only three military age males. otoh, if assuming he was trying to identify threats and only fired at targets he perceived—perhaps wrongly—as threats, then leaving three military age males dead makes sense. I hold the latter interpretation, Murray obviously holds a different one; ymmv.
    E.g. Murray writes condescendingly of Soldier H (of the notorious 22 rounds), describing him as ‘not very bright’, that his ‘testimony was almost embarrassing’, and his account ‘seemed almost comic at times’ and ‘bumbling’. Yet I read H’s testimony—beginning it expecting a fool, given the apparent ludicrousness of his explanation of events that day—and found him quite intelligent, and successful in not allowing hostile lawyers to put words in his mouth. Same data—different interpretations.

    The Inquiry itself was wholly flawed. One problem being little to no military experience amongst or available to the legal staff, so arguments entered the official record—and the consciousness of the presiding justices—that were (sometimes laughably) inaccurate; on other occasions, opportunities were missed or avenues left unexplored (e.g. Bishop Daly’s shooing away of the soldier offering to help the injured Jack Duddy—every soldier being a trained first-aider with specific training in gunshot wounds could have given better aid than the Knight of Malta whose dressing was so poorly applied he had to trot along holding it to prevent it falling off; he might possibly even have been able to be saved with proper medical care, denied to him by Daly). Thus again, we have partial data that we can only try to honestly interpret and draw our own conclusions, rather than accept either the flawed BSI’s or mainstream narrative’s.

    Liked by 1 person

  58. Potentilla,

    I am surprised that you should be left with the impression that you have been “mostly treated to wild rants and ridiculous speculation”. Only one person has been “peddling conspiracy” on this thread and this has been openly challenged. I have not explicitly done so, preferring instead to warn against such speculation and to lay down some background factors that I think should guide our scepticism. Tolerating but also challenging controversial views is precisely what this site is supposed to be about. Contrary to what you might assume, we don’t want to just encourage like-minded people. So I am pleased to see that you have chosen to express your disapproval but unhappy to see that you don’t intend staying around to do so in future.

    On a final note, I don’t think anyone should be claiming to be more respectful of the suffering within Ukraine. We are all aghast.

    Liked by 1 person

  59. Potentilla. If you are adamant about not contributing further at this site that will be an enormous loss. In recent months I have come to really appreciate and value many of your comments. I have often wondered how someone at the far edge of (for me) a distant continent is so ohfay with news items originating in Britain. Please at the very least remain a lurker because then eventually someone will write something so provocative or stupid (possibly both) that you will be impelled to contribute once again.
    Alan

    Liked by 1 person

  60. Rather than go down the road of trying to decide what is fake news and what is fake fake news, can we at least agree that the very concept is so pernicious that it is bound to eat itself. Consequently, we see authorities hoovering the carpet to remove its stain whilst failing to notice that they have hoovered up the dog.

    Liked by 2 people

  61. Jit
    I read the BBC report and found it quite believable. Literally, you couldn’t make it up. But it doesn’t change the doubt as to who blew up the building.

    The witness escaped because she was luckily in the front of the building that didn’t totally collapse. She says the only thing she was concerned about was her dogs. Once she’d got over the shock, she walked out of the building and just kept walking until she was out of the city and was looked after by people in a nearby village. If everybody was like her, that would explain why there was no sign of rescue work in the two photos taken soon after the bombing. Fortunately, most people aren’t like her, so if there were really a thousand people in the underground shelter (which should be intact, since the report says the explosion happened above ground and the basement would have survived) then there should be hundreds of people lfting the rubble to get at survivors. We’re talking about masonry from a roof and two walls, not a collapsed tower block.

    The BBC agrees with me that the precision of the attack smack in the middle of the roof precludes it being an accident, so the question becomes: was it a laser guided Russian missile or a bomb placed by the Nazi Azov battalion (Mariupol is their main base)? Azov has the motivation (they’re facing annihilation without outside assistance.) There’s plenty of video evidence of civilians saying they were shot at and used as human shields by Ukrainian exteremists, and I’d suggest there’s nothing more difficult to fake than angry, desperate old ladies weeping and shouting at the camera.

    I’d guess and hope that the underground shelter is empty, that the only casualties are those in the theatre itself, and that the lack of a rescue attempt is to prolong the doubt and agony. But why aren’t the media asking these questions? Why didn’t the BBC put the simplest questions to their eyewitness, like where was the entrance to the cellar/shelter? I’d suggest that this is because they, like the Azov guys, want to prolong the anguish for propaganda purposes.

    There are similar questions about the 400 people supposedly trapped under the art school.

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  62. Geoff, my judgement is that you seem unwilling to use your sceptical powers to question elements of the false flag explanation or seek alternatives for “evidence” you use to argue your case. With a city so battered the absence of visible evidence of attempts to rescue trapped survivors could simply be due to an absence of viable and available vehicles and manpower. Photographs from drones and satellites of the city show utterly empty streets commonly choked with rubble. Only the port itself seems relatively intact, well away from the theatre.

    If the theatre damage was caused by the “Azov guys”, how does it benefit them? I don’t seem to have a mind capable of unravelling this mystery.

    Like

  63. (p.s. to my last, GC: sorry for my initially aggressive tone; please consider my intemperate remarks unreservedly withdrawn. Downside of social media: apart from lack of facial cues, etc., we drag every previous bunfight to each new social encounter (‘Get a cutting remark in before he runs behind a block, that’ll be… Oh, I’m actually getting a polite response… Well, don’t I feel like an asshole.’).
    Having got past that stumbling block to read rest of your article: no disagreement, but I’m left with nothing to add to it. Otherwise good article, asking the questions that should be asked if we still had journalists instead of government shills.)

    Liked by 2 people

  64. Geoff,

    Sometimes the obvious is the right answer. A Russian pilot is circling over a scene of devastation, with orders to do whatever it takes to root out and destroy the defending forces. Amongst the carnage he sees a big red building still intact, with a sign outside saying ‘No baddies hiding here’. He can’t be seen to return to base with bombs still attached and so faced with the option of rearranging the rubble or destroying a suspicious target, what’s he going to do? In the context of Russia’s ‘special military operation’ what he did was logical. In every other context, it was obscene. Other obscenities are available to explain the events, but that one seems to me the most likely.

    I don’t want to say any more since I feel uncomfortable speculating on specific incidents. Whatever the case, I’m certain these people are not dying so we can entertain ourselves debating the cause.

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  65. Alan Kendall
    What we know about the theatre attack: there were people inside, certainly in the theatre itself, possibly in the basement, possibly up to 1,200. 130 are reported to have escaped or been rescued. One has recounted her experience. No-one has been reported dead or injured. The only two photos show the damage but no people. Of course it’s not going to look “normal” in the horrible conditions, but surely someone would take a photo or interview a victim or an aid worker to dispel the kind of doubts I’m expressing, in order to limit the pro-Russian propaganda effect?

    How does it benefit the Azov guys? By demonstrating the evil nature of the Russians, for deliberately targeting children, and therefore the need to stop criticising the Azov guys. And the media are playing along by not doing what they always do in other circumstances – namely asking awkward questions.They dared ask questions when we bombed civilians in a shelter in Baghdad.

    It is possible at any time that definitive evidence that I’m wrong may turn up – contemporary photos of the remains of a missile for example. Or interviews and photos of aid workers.

    In a normal propaganda war you emphasise and even exaggerate the numbers of victims, risking your life not only to save them but to record the atrocity. In these two cases the victims are either non-existent or suspect – in the case of the maternity hospital, one authentic well-known personality slightly injured, and one anonymous woman whose body was removed from the hospital by two anonymous men.

    One last point on the Maternity hospital and I’ll stop. Associated Press are conducting a propaganda war, according to their own journalists. Because the Russians were casting doubt on the story, the editors phoned their journalists and asked them to cross the town and go to a hospital on the front line to get the names of the women from the maternity hospital. Utterly trivial information, and highly dangerous. Which the journalists did, though they don’t seem to have published the information they obtained at the risk of their lives.

    It’s all so transparent to a few thousand people discussing hundreds of cases like this on Twitter. Twitter could wipe this information tomorrow and it will be as if it never existed. But we’ll still WordPress. We hope.

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  66. Geoff so the attack demonstrates the Russians are BAD (but we have ample evidence for this already) and there has been evidence that the “Azov guys” are also BAD. Increasing the evidence of Russians’ badness in no way diminishes that of the Azov gang. Or am I just being naïve?

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  67. People seem to need to know where they stand, and so are very keen to separate combatants into good guys and bad guys. In practice, this is not so easy. Take, for example, the shirt-wrenching that took place when it emerged that the Russians were using cluster bombs and thermobaric weapons, in contravention of international treaty.

    I have pointed out before now that I’m something of a military aviation nerd, and so it shouldn’t surprise you too much to learn that my library includes a 350 page book on the history of the Ukrainian air force. Within its detail is a set of depictions of UKrAF Sukhoi Su-25M1s (NATO Codename ‘Frogfoot’) as they would have been on the day they were shot down during the Donbass conflict. Each depicts the squadron markings, camouflage and weaponry carried at the time of shootdown, based upon either what they were seen taking off with from Dnepropetrovsk airport or from the reconstruction of the wreckage. Without fuss or fanfare, one of the depictions shows a Frogfoot armed with ODAB-500PM air-fuel explosive bombs, whilst another is shown carrying RBK-500AO-2 cluster bombs.

    C’est la guerre.

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  68. Eliot Higgins has just tweeted two short videos of the immediate aftermath of the theatre bombing from an organisation called TPYXA (that’s Cyrillic.) People walking down the stairs and apparentlyly just walking out of the building. Nobody shown hurt, no panic. Audio, no children crying, just a murmur of voices. TPYXA knew this nine days ago. Did Higgins? 2nd video is just the mess of fallen beams and plaster from the roof.

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  69. Geoff wrote to Potentilla three days ago:

    I’m willing to shut up about current events to avoid losing readers like you.

    I can’t agree. As examples of why, here are two tweets from two days ago:

    I’d love to get Alan’s detailed feedback on what Ridley writes (originally in The Sun) about UK fracking.

    And the energy implications of what Ritter has to say about the Ukraine conflict are truly immense.

    Ben used to be a Cliscep contributor. I don’t think we’ve moved to a more extreme position in recent months.

    Liked by 1 person

  70. Richard. I’ll try to satisfy your interest but will do so by writing an article for Cliscep on the topic of fracked gas deposits in England. I am by no means an expert and will need to confirm my current understandings with some research, so bear with me, it could take a week or so. In the mean time consider that the map used by Ridley is a pile of horse dung. There are no Bowland Shales in southern England. Much of his Sun article is, in my view, similarly full of errors or misleading statements.

    Liked by 1 person

  71. There’s been a good deal of talk in the MSM about the expectation of the Russians using chemical or biological weapons. Could this be the lead-up to another false flag operation?

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  72. Bill, on which side? Russia has been hugely talking up Ukraine manufacture and use of chemical and biological weapons for weeks (bringing this up twice in the UN security council). Probably, was the opinion of most other members of the council (not China), with the intent of laying the ground for a false flag operation; and completely unfounded too, they say. Everybody’s doing it, doin it doin it…

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  73. Obviously, the side which feels they need a PR coup because they know they are losing on the ground.

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  74. Both sides have severe difficulties of different kinds in this war; either would benefit from a PR coup, assuming it wasn’t rumbled in the first 5 minutes 0:

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  75. A mere 17 days ago dfhunter asked:

    o/t – why is “Cummings” the go to man lately ?

    Well, Geoff respects the guy, as he has explained, and I have been paying the monthly subscription for his Substack blog – more in total than I have paid for any other publication in the last five years I think. And I read very little else at the moment – just the things Cummings links me to and a few things from Twitter. That’s my choice. It may indeed make me odd. But, compared to a subscription to the Guardian, it feels reasonable. I’ve given two examples of things learned on other threads today – on the weirdness of the WHO’s stance on Covid being airborne, which must have caused many deaths since Feb 2020, and on the latest on energy policy from Dieter Helm. And, on Ukraine, there was this very important piece highlighted two days ago:

    “Now we're going to f*ck them all.” What's happening in Russia's elites after a month of war – Sanctions and propaganda have rallied even those who were against the invasion around Putin

    Cummings comments:

    Russian elites rallying behind Putin?

    This is an interesting piece.

    TLDR: much of the elite was against the invasion but are mostly rallying behind Putin.

    Many are buying the basic idea that Russia is going to create its own information-space and isolate itself from the west — Facebook, Twitter, BBC etc removed — in similar ways to China. An independent tech stack built.

    I think it is under-appreciated in London how able Putin’s economic team are thought to be by experts.

    I also think we’ve made a bad mistake in our public communication and action in appearing to be anti-Russia, not just anti-Putin. This has helped Putin. Cancelling anti-war chess players and artists is stupid. Cancelling scientific cooperation in space is stupid. As when Stalin was in charge, we should respond to Putin’s closing by being open to the Russian people.

    https://dominiccummings.substack.com/p/snippets-3

    Liked by 3 people

  76. Boris de Pfeffel would be over the moon to have even half the popularity rating of Vladimir Vladimirovich

    Liked by 2 people

  77. Richard
    Your snippets-3 link is still for paying guests only, but snippets 1&2 are now available for everyone, and from what I’ve read, Cummings is in top form, and veering on to subjects like energy policy. This could get interesting. His policy of making his pay site available free after a time seems an excellent system, enabling him to make money, while letting us proles into the mysteries in his good time. It is quite impossible to subscribe to all the interesting sites at substack etc, not to mention sites that live on tips from readers, like dailyexpose.uk

    I still haven’t got the hang of twitter, so my sources on Ukraine come streaming hot off the press mixed with Covid and climate. They provide the adrenalin boost I used to get from the Guardian’s KommentMachtFrei. It’s enjoyable, but I’ll be coming back to Cliscep one day I think for some more solid fare.

    As to dfhunter’s question -, I don’t have the answer. But Cummings, like Jordan Peterson, is a thinker who just couldn’t exist within the conventional academic/media set up. As the latter withers into irrelevance, things may become clearer.

    Liked by 1 person

  78. @Richard – thanks for the links.

    from your Dom link –
    “Instead of encouraging the war to continue, it would be better for the UK to push NATO members towards supporting UKR in seeking a peace deal, and this means accepting the unpleasant fact that a) Russia is going to take territory in the east/south and b) UKR is never joining NATO (which we should have agreed before, and instead of, encouraging the war). We should drop all our nonsense about any new NATO members. No more trying to humiliate Russia by pushing it around regarding NATO encroachment on its own borders.”

    I think that is the only way this war will stop. sad but true.
    ps – was just curious how Dom got quoted so much lately.

    Liked by 3 people

  79. df: Agreed, totally. But the media and social media aren’t making good statesmanship easy.

    Cummings keeps harking back to 1914. I hope it’s a warning that’s heeded.

    Like

  80. Geoff: Thanks. I will return to some of this (or more!) I agree that DC is being more explicit about the energy shambles of the last 20 years than he has in the past. How much influence will he have? Dunno. But will come back to this.

    Like

  81. dfhunter says:

    “b) UKR is never joining NATO (which we should have agreed before, and instead of, encouraging the war).”

    The Ukrainians have already conceded that they have to be neutral.

    “I think that is the only way this war will stop. sad but true.”

    The Russians have told us when they will stop. When Ukraine is demilitarised and denazified.

    Though that doesn’t allow for anything the US/NATO have been planning.

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  82. Tonight’s 8pm Radio4 show tackles Russian disinformation
    from about 8:30pm They talk about the Mariupol hospital
    and how Russia tried to say two different women, one who died after glass shards were on her face, were the same woman
    Actually the other woman Mariana the model escaped to Russian held territory days after

    War on Truth : Archive on 4
    What’s fake, what’s real? Stories from the information war over Ukraine. BBC disinformation reporter Marianna Spring speaks to people caught up in the battle for the truth.
    Families and friendships are being torn apart not only by the fighting, but by the radically different versions of reality that Ukrainians and Russians are being presented with, on TV and online.
    And social media has become a battleground for competing versions of truth. It’s a fight that is taking place in parallel to the military campaign – but one that also has real consequences for the people caught up in it.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00167st

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  83. STEW
    Claiming that something appearing on Russian media turned out to be wrong doesn’t count as a refutation. The point about coverage of the hospital bombing is that it doesn’t make sense. That Marianna is one person, and the anonymous dead lady seen on a stretcher in the AP video whose body was removed from another, unknown hospital by two unknown men is another, doesn’t alter that fact. The only coverage of the attack I’ve seen is the AP video, and the article in the Guardian by an AP journalist interviewing the two AP cameramen who witnessed the evacuation, plus the interview with Marianna.

    Since the attacks on the hospital and the theatre were widely claimed to have been the worst atrocities of the war at the time, one might expect the media to be making every effort to find evidence, interview witnesses, etc. BBC found a lady who lost her dogs in the theatre attack, and CNN found a girl from USAID who saved her kitten. Maybe Boris should send in the RSPCA Special forces.

    Nothing I’ve written above has turned out to be false, as far as I know. The railway station bombing has been proved to have been carried out by the Ukrainian army by the way. The media who’ve spent twenty years lying about climate just can’t stop themselves.

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  84. “The railway station bombing has been proved to have been carried out by the Ukrainian army by the way.”

    Proved where?

    “The media who’ve spent twenty years lying about climate just can’t stop themselves.”

    It’s mostly not lying in the climate case but avid belief, producing hugely strong bias. Even where this occurs to the point of complete fantasy, it is in principle *domain independent*. I.e. there may be reasonable objectivity on one subject despite complete fantasy on another, from the very same media outlets or even the very same people. In practice, this depends upon whether there are strong cultural links (alliance or opposition), or not, between the two subject domains, but for sure one must assume a blank slate for each domain unless very obviously linked (like say fracking and climate change). “They’re liars” is not an argument without proof of said lying that can be distinguished from strong bias, these often can’t be distinguished and behaviours should never be assumed across domains for any case.

    Liked by 1 person

  85. Andy West says:

    “The railway station bombing has been proved to have been carried out by the Ukrainian army by the way.”

    “Proved where?”

    It’s can be seen on most of the internet that’s not run by MI6.

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  86. Andy, according to the Moon of Alabama, the Russians don’t have any examples of the missile system they built. Nor can a detailed search of the internet find any evidence that they do.

    https://www.moonofalabama.org/2022/04/a-ukrainian-tochka-u-missile-killed-dozens-at-kramatorsk-train-station.html

    The subsequent post there claims that the position of the rocket motor (WSW of the station) proves that the missile came from that direction and could not therefore have been fired by the Russians, who don’t have any Tochka-U missiles, and in any case they never attack civilians whether by accident or design.

    The first “proof” bears no scrutiny whatsoever, and immediately indicates that its propagator only has any interest in evidence in a particular direction. However, the second “proof” has more merit. Its primary strength comes from the natural assumption that the rocket motor always falls short of the warhead. This may not be true. There is also the question of whether the warhead detonates above ground, i.e. before the terminus of its ballistic phase had it been an inert object. And whether more than one missile was used.

    A Russian Tochka-U missile struck a civilian evacuation point at the Kramatorsk rail station on April 8, killing at least 50 and wounding around a hundred evacuees.[11] Russian attempts to deny the strike are completely false. Pro-Russian Telegram channels and the Russian Ministry of Defense initially claimed Russian forces conducted precision strikes on railway stations in Donbas before deleting the claims once heavy civilian casualties emerged.[12] Russian and DNR sources claimed both that the strike did not occur and that Ukrainian forces launched the strike as a false flag, ludicrously claiming that Russian forces do not use the Tochka-U missile—despite the fact Russia designed the Tochka, has demonstrably used it in previous strikes, and confirmed reports that Russia’s 8th Combined Arms Army (operating in Donbas) is equipped with the missile.[13]

    https://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-april-8

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  87. Jit, thanks. Indeed there are now said to be two missiles, and cluster configurations normally eject their explosives just before reaching the target. But I’m not sure this means the engine will always fall short; that depends on the ejection system. At any rate, there are claims and counter claims, but none of which yet constitutes proof that I have seen.

    Bill; I’ve seen many claims outside of the mainstream media. I haven’t seen proof. You have a link?

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  88. Andy, that missile’s engine doesn’t always fall short, nor does it always follow the same path as the warhead after the separation. Or that’s what some (currently pro-invasion) Russian munitions nerds said at least five years ago:

    https://web.archive.org/web/20170520154526/https://lostarmour.info/articles/tochki-nad-u/

    The current, expanded version of that page still says the same things:

    URL:lostarmour.info/articles/tochki-nad-u/

    Nobody is ever going to own up to such an atrocity but in 10 or 20 years there might be a little plaque on the edge of these playing fields:

    URL:www.google.co.uk/maps/@48.0335681,38.5871121,229m/data=!3m1!1e3

    Liked by 1 person

  89. Vinny, thanks for the link, which is very educational. The analyst documents the poor performance of Ukraine’s Tochka-U’s in 2014-5. The following describes an attack in August 2014 (translated by Mr. Google):

    Note that the engine compartment, separated at an altitude of 2.2 km, fell 400 meters west of the center of the affected area. Moreover, the rocket flew from north to south. Those. compartment went to the right in the direction of fire. Did this happen under the influence of random factors, or is this a deviation characteristic of all missiles? The question hung in the air.

    Which just goes to show that the “obvious” conclusion from evidence available (that the landing point of the rocket motor gives the direction of flight) is sometimes the wrong one.

    Liked by 1 person

  90. BILL BEDFORD
    It was I who said the railway station bombing has been proved to have been carried out by the Ukrainian army, hoping it would encourage others to do the research, which they did, demonstrating that the cliscep gang is that rarity on the internet, a bunch of people interested in finding out things rather than taking sides.

    Moon of Alabama and others admit the Russians had these old Soviet missiles until 2019, but hadn’t used them, except possibly in an exercise with the Belarus army. It would always be possible to hold on to some old ones I suppose in order to use them and blame the enemy..
    There are two pieces of evidence regarding trajectory, 1) the direction the motor was pointing on impact, and 2) the fact that it should land before the explosion (whether on impact or airborne – I don’t see that that matters). Both point to a trajectory from the WSW, i.e. Ukraine held territory (Steve McIntyre did an independent verification of this.) To come from the opposite direction, the missile motor would have had to do two unusual things: 1) turn round 180° on or just before impact, and 2) carry on further than the explosive warhead.

    There was talk by anti-Uranian (or neutral) tweeters (Geroman, Scott Ritter or Gleb Basov?) about the the fact that the serial number of the motor would be a sure indicate of origin, and that the Ukrainians or this reason would probably destroy it to hide the evidence. Then ilm o the number turned up on Italian V and it turned out to be very close (within a few digits) to serial numbers recorded from Ukrainian missiles used against Donetsk.

    On motivation:
    – according to Moon of Alabama the railway line was already cut west of Kramatorsk, so Russians had no motivation to hit the station
    The victims were from the Russian speaking majority Donbass region
    Writing “for the children” in Russian on the motor, could only be seen as Russians celebrating the death of children, despite endless discussion of the exact translation of the pronoun and dative case etc.

    So the pro-Ukrainian case seems to be that the Russians attacked civilian refugees from a majority Russian speaking area, using a weapon they haven’t used anywhere else in this war, which they’d marked with a serial number identifying it as belonging to Ukrainian stock, adding a comment about killing children to show how barbaric they were, and that by an extraordinary fluke the motor unusually travelled on further than the explosive warhead and turned round on landing, giving the impression that it came from the opposite direction.

    VINNY

    Nobody is ever going to own up to such an atrocity

    But the “for the children” written on the motor in Russian was an owning up – if you believe the Ukrainian (and Western) version.

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  91. ALAN KENDALL
    “Extraordinary claims..”

    What counts as an extraordinary claim depends on your priors. Either Ukraine or Russia did it. It seems to me an extraordinary claim that Russia would deliberately kill Russian-speaking children from the Donbass, and write on the missile a message which means (according to your interpretation of Russian grammar) “this is to kill Donbass children” or “this is in revenge for the killing of Donbass children.” That’s my prior.

    The Ukrainian army, on the other hand, has been killing children in the Donbass for the past eight years. A Ukrainian journalist can be seen on Youtube saying that the Donbass contains a million and a half useless people, and that they should be killed. Zhelensky’s top advisor can be seen praising ISIS for their policy of terror killing of civilians. And the more civilians die, the greater pressure of public opinion in the west to send more weapons to Ukraine.

    The question, as I see it, is not so much whether I’m right in all aspects of the arguments I’ve been reproducing here, but rather whether there’s enough substance to them to make them worthy of discussion in the wider world. Because this is not happening.

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  92. I see Barry Woods of this parish has just retweeted this:

    Barry can”’t possibly be described as a Putin apologist.

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  93. Geoff:

    “It was I who said the railway station bombing has been proved to have been carried out by the Ukrainian army, hoping it would encourage others to do the research…”

    A noble motive, but claiming ‘proved’ in order to do this, is rather strong 0:

    “There are two pieces of evidence regarding trajectory, 1) the direction the motor was pointing on impact, and 2) the fact that it should land before the explosion…”

    1) is irrelevant, the expended motor is no longer aerodynamic and will tumble, indeed is described at some sites as doing so. 2) as Vinny and Jit point out, from the same missile in the past, the engine was found due West of a North-to-South trajectory, so one cannot rely on the landing point to identify the trajectory (and this from a pro-Russia site).

    “The Ukrainian army, on the other hand, has been killing children in the Donbass for the past eight years.”

    Both sides have done so. For instance, in subjecting Kharkiv and Mariupol and other places to heavy shelling of suburban areas, which are in ~50% Russian speaking areas, it is inevitable that the Russians will have killed many Russian speakers of all ages. (Nor are Russian speakers all aligned to Russia, very many appear to be on the side of Ukraine, and hence are ‘enemies’ to Russia anyhow).

    “The question, as I see it, is not so much whether I’m right in all aspects of the arguments I’ve been reproducing here…”

    Well indeed, so perhaps better to avoid the word ‘proved’ then.

    “…but rather whether there’s enough substance to them to make them worthy of discussion in the wider world.”

    From my PoV there absolutely is, and the discussion is very worthwhile, and ought to be wider.

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  94. Geoff I acknowledge that in your replies to posts objecting to your conclusion that it wasn’t the Russians that fired a missile into the railway station you make a reasoned case. However on second thoughts all of your “evidence” implicates the Ukrainians which would make it an open and shut case. You have ignored any evidence implicating the Russians and certainly have not explained that away. In other words you have not made a prima facie case, which would be needed if you were to be able to use the word “proven”.

    I don’t know who or why the missile was fired. I find the mind set of whoever ordered it to beyond understanding or redemption. Nevertheless it was Russia that invaded parts of Ukraine in 2014 and again this year, it was the Russian military that has committed innumerable war crimes (for which the evidence is overwhelming) and the shelling of a railway station crammed with escaping refugees seems to me to be more consistent with Russian procedures and tactics. But what do I know?

    Liked by 1 person

  95. Geoff Chambers says:
    10 APR 22 AT 9:59 PM

    “It was I who said the railway station bombing has been proved to have been carried out by the Ukrainian army, hoping it would encourage others to do the research, which they did, demonstrating that the cliscep gang is that rarity on the internet, a bunch of people interested in finding out things rather than taking sides.”

    This was not the first time the Ukrainians dropped a Tochka-U Missile loaded with anti-personnel munitions onto a town in the Dombass:

    https://www.stalkerzone.org/terrorists-from-the-ukrainian-army-fired-a-tochka-u-missile-at-the-centre-of-donetsk/

    There may have been earlier ones but no one was interested before the 22nd of February.

    Liked by 1 person

  96. Vinny, Jit, Andy West

    Andy is right that “proved” is too strong. “Strongly suggests” would be better.

    Apologies for not having tried Vinny’s link until now. It’s in Russian, and obviously very detailed. If, as Vinny says, it suggests that tumbling and overshoot of the motor makes identifying of the direction impossible, then I’d retract that part of my argument, of course. There are maps with the same kind of acute angle estimates of direction of origin as Steve McIntyre reproduces in his tweets however, suggesting that such efforts are not considered useless.

    (I’d be a useless lawyer, since in retracting part of my evidence, I’d probably suggest to a jury that nothing I said was reliable, when logically it should make my argument stronger, since it shows my good faith. But this isn’t a jury trial, fortunately.)

    Jit’s second link is to an openly anti-Russian site that says it doesn’t investigate atrocities but adds:

    Russian and DNR sources claimed both that the strike did not occur and that Ukrainian forces launched the strike as a false flag, ludicrously claiming that Russian forces do not use the Tochka-U missile—despite the fact Russia designed the Tochka, has demonstrably used it in previous strikes, and confirmed reports that Russia’s 8th Combined Arms Army (operating in Donbas) is equipped with the missile.

    giving as its source a link to a comment in French on a Russian government site. The French is obviously (mis)translated from English, since it talks of a “grève” which means “strike” in the industrial sense. And it doesn’t contradict the Moon of Alabama information that the missile has been withdrawn from use by the Russian army and has only been used in exercises.

    A further piece of information that came up is that there are Ukrainian missile remains with similar handwritten messages as the one found on this one.

    The interest of this discussion to Cliscep is that it makes us focus on the whole question of how we decide to accept or reject certain pieces of evidence. When something is revealed by a chance photo from a Western source, like the serial number, which corresponds to Ukrainian numbers from inventories and missile strikes on Donbass, then it’s obviously more reliable than something from a Russian source, since nobody would claim that the Italian TV company faked the photo, or that the inventory lists were falsified. This constant evaluation is largely sub-conscious I think. Everybody here is constantly thinking: “how reliable is this information?” while so many we argue with are constantly thinking: “How useful is this as support for my thesis?”

    Liked by 1 person

  97. Geoff, I can’t spot any estimated missile origin maps on that LostArmour.info page, but its pictures load very slowly on my system and some might not load at all. (There are lots of pictures that use arrows and long straight lines, but those are about identifying photo locations, not missile paths.)

    LostArmour.info’s Twitter account has retweeted such a map – one that ‘proves’ that the Kramatorsk missile(s) came from Ukrainian territory that’s still occupied by Ukrainian forces – but LA.i is a biased outfit, especially at the mo, so…

    Re the serial numbers thing, even if it proved that the Kramatorsk missile was Ukrainian (and nobody has done that yet) that wouldn’t necessarily mean that it had been fired by Ukrainians. The Russians have said that they have captured usable Ukrainian munitions. It might seem unlikely that they have captured missile launchers, cos they aren’t frontline weapons, but it’s not impossible, especially during a rapid invasion.

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  98. Vinny Burgoo
    I expect you’re right abut the maps with arrows on the LostArmour site, and I was wrong.

    If, as you suggest, the Russians might have used a captured Ukrainian missile and missile launcher, the story would then be as follows:
    Russia used a captured Ukrainian missile to kill likely Russian-speaking civilians fleeing Donbass in order to blame it on the Ukrainians. By good luck the missile motor flew further than the warhead and tumbled in its fall so as to point backwards, both of which happy mishaps tended to confirm its Ukrainian origin. But the Russian had claimed responsibility by signing the motor with a slogan in Russian – a kind of fake false flag perhaps, to confuse the West into impotent bewilderment?

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  99. Bill – I notice from your above link, they say, with pics –

    “The wreckage of the Ukrainian Tochka-U missile, shot down in the centre of Donetsk”

    “Air defence works flawlessly – The remains of a downed Tochka-U over the very centre of Donetsk”

    “According to preliminary data, in the centre of Donetsk, at the site of the fall of the wreckage of the Tochka-U missile, 20 dead and 9 wounded. The information is being clarified.”

    so someone shot down this missile & bits of wreckage fell & killed people is how I read that link (wonder where the warhead ended up).

    ps – when they say “Air defence works flawlessly” I can’t help but wonder how many times this has happened & what weapon shot it down ?

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  100. Devil’s advocate 😉

    All discarded engines will tumble, as they have no drive and are not aero-dynamic either. It is not luck if they point in the ‘wrong’ direction, it would be a complete miracle if they pointed in the ‘right’ direction. There may not be a trajectory. Cluster configurations of some missiles use the engine to swing vertically above the target before release, to reduce the scatter pattern. Canisters or cassettes (containing explosives and shrapnel) are not aerodynamic at all, but at least now they’re only falling. Even to assist stability here, they may sometimes have a metal (or even cloth) ribbon attached. Released from height, depending on conditions this may mean they drift from the (tumbling) motor; the distances involved between motor and scatter pattern landings are very small indeed (in the Sky news video, it was only through the station main door to the outside). And possibly overlapping too (how do we know there aren’t munition landings on the station roof, or further out on the grass?) Could a physical analysis deduce anything useful at all in this circumstance? The Russians have indiscriminately slaughtered thousands of Russian-speaking civilians in the Donbass region, and outside of it too. What difference a few more? The Russians claimed a precise hit on the ‘military target’ of the station, until the many civilian casualties were then reported, after which the claim was replaced with denial. *If*, of course, we believe the report of the initial Russian claim, is itself true 0: Or indeed, for all of the above, *if* you believe a single word of any of it, or at least that it is relevant for this case! The situation is utterly perfect for the Ukrainian cause, of course (well, apart from the fact that it would be idiotic to write ‘for the children’ on the motor) both sides are almost certainly manufacturing incidents and information too, but flailing around with stuff we don’t know about, could easily be off-beam (part of my point above is that, how would we know?), all obtained through websites we’ve never heard of and layers we can’t trust for one reason or another, is not likely to do more than prop up pre-existing positions. The kind of truly objective forensic investigation that is required is not likely to happen until after the war, and even then that’s unlikely, whatever the war’s outcome.

    Liked by 1 person

  101. Andy West
    Nothing much to disagree with there in terms of what “might” be the case. Of course missile parts fall in unpredictable ways, and Russian media suppress tweets when they are embarrassing. It remains that the Ukrainian version of events -all events – reproduced without question in the western media, makes no sense and is almost certainly false. I continue to claim that it is not possible to make a coherent narrative about the Mariupol Theatre or maternity hospital bombings or the Kramatorsk station attack from western/Ukrainian accounts which makes any sense at all. This is not true of, say, the Reichstag fire or 9/11, or the Douma gas attack, where the official version has at least some evidence for it.

    My target here as always is not the Ukrainian army but the western media and western politicians who both use the media and are used by it. Of course the media have always distorted the news to suit their own political line. My interest in climate coverage in the Guardian and the BBC began because I couldn’t understand why coverage of such an erudite subject (minimal temperature changes over decades) was treated with such passion and authoritarian single-mindedness. (I still don’t, though I appreciate your efforts to enlighten us more than practically anything else I’ve come across.)

    Now that everything (race, sex, aesthetic opinions) is treated in the same intolerant fashion, climate change has become just one more subject on which the woke feel justified in ignoring or insulting and suppressing the rest of us. And the little yellow & blue flag on their posts is just the moral cherry on the cake.

    Because my views are likely to be considered extremist (i.e. extremely pro-Russian) I’d like to point out that I don’t share the moral outrage that I see expressed on both sides. If Zhelensky did decide to lob a bomb at a railway station to kill a few civilians and blame Russia, I don’t see that as a big deal, as any worse than many other decisions made in war, even if it is technically a war crime. It’s perfectly logical from his point of view to want to create a mood of anti-Russian hysteria in the western press. But it’s a bad idea for the rest of the world, and should be stopped.

    Liked by 1 person

  102. Now there’s (Andy West 11.40pm) an almost prima facie case for not being able to deduce who fired the missile and with what intent. Wish I were able to write it and like it.

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  103. This PJW video will please people
    as it calls out ITVnews for failing to mention Ukrainian warcrimes.
    However he is making false equivalence in 2 ways
    #1 Magnitude
    #2 The Russians invaded Ukraine, not the other way around.

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  104. Read this morning that the train scheduled to transport refugees from Kramatorsk Station was late. Does this alter things? If Russia fired the weapon they may not have known the station was still filled with civilians, if the Ukrainians committed the deed, then either there were poor communications or it was a deliberate attempt to blame Russia (but in which case why make so many “errors” pointing back to Ukraine)?
    I would argue that if the evidence were deemed by the West as equivocal about Russia’s culpability then this would have been expressed. I am guided by the near constant supplies of lies coming out of Russia.

    Liked by 1 person

  105. The BBC has an article about the missile with a most interesting photo
    https://www.bbc.com/news/61079356
    The article says:

    Sidharth Kaushal, a missile expert at the Royal United Services Institute (Rusi), said: “The impact mark is pretty consistent with a sub-munition like the 9N24, a Soviet-era cluster munition that can be carried by the Tochka missile.” He pointed to the fairly shallow central crater and the radiating fragmentation marks that appear to be in one direction, which is consistent with sub-munitions of that shape.

    The radiating fragmentation marks in the photo do NOT “appear to be in one direction” – that’s just the typical BBC journalist’s incapacity to describe anything correctly. They form a distinct oval shape, with the main crater off centre, and it is presumably the long axis of the oval that indicates the direction of origin.

    The article continues:

    The BBC has tried to identify the launch site for the missile, using social media video and images, but has so far been unable to do so.

    Which is more verbal sloppiness, or possibly deliberate misdirection. Nobody would expect to be able to identify the launch site -the simple direction of fire would do. And that is aided by the fact the there is a shadow across the image. A wider angle view of the crater would indicate the source of the shadow and provide an accurate estimate of the direction of fire.

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  106. Geoff: On the climate front, mucho thanks for the vote 🙂 On the woke front, most of this is cultural too, but newer and less bounded, so far less easy to measure, and to date far more of a Western thing only. Regarding the war, I don’t doubt as you say, that “everybody’s doing it”, so to speak, via both widespread biases at the back end, and some deliberate intent at the sharp end. This is pretty much situation normal for a war. And indeed adherents of cultural causes might also add a side’s flag to their virtual signalling stack for the wrong reasons. Which doesn’t however mean there cannot be right reasons. Or that these causes are linked in more than an opportunistic fashion, or that there’s some specific team acting to suppress us in all domains.

    My intent above was only to show that attempts to convince with what’s available and practically none of it trustable, no matter what side it supports, is an impossible task. And exactly because it can never be pinned down yet forms a nexus for argument, might also make things worse by effectively increasing such polarisation of views as already exists. However, it is not extremist to ask questions and highlight potential biases; that the topic is raised is better than if it wasn’t. But I think this is far more powerful if it stays generic, and doesn’t (impossibly) try to answer questions on detailed events in one direction or another. Neither is all hysteria wrong, in a sense, albeit even where appropriate it’s a terrible approximation – the Russian state (as opposed to its people) have acted in a manner that cumulatively creates it over many years, whatever one thinks of individual incidents. Pre-Putin, this didn’t have to be the case; one presumes he chose the path. Attempts to replace hysteria with objectivity are noble and right, but that there is inertia to work against is not entirely the fault of those afflicted.

    Liked by 1 person

  107. Geoff: “They form a distinct oval shape, with the main crater off centre, and it is presumably the long axis of the oval that indicates the direction of origin.”

    This is the impact mark of just one of the individual munitions that come out of the cluster! The pattern is caused by the ‘fragments’ it includes. Look at the scale of the marks on the concrete. This has nothing to do with the direction of the missile that released it, and nor is the article trying to say so. It is merely saying that this pattern identifies the type of cluster munition (there are several types and ages), which the article here calls bomblets.

    The pattern is presumably different for cannisters or cassettes or the cricket-ball type bomblets or whatever else. Although it’s a very simple diagram in the article, you can see that the cannisters (in the case drawn) will tumble everywhere (and nor will they have an inherent starting speed if the rocket vertically aligned over the site first). As noted above, some munitions have ribbons attached to keep them more stable as they fall, and certainly some older Russian designs have used this, but the pattern of an individual munitions blast is unlikely to tell you anything about the missile direction in any case.

    If you take a piccy from way up above the station, to see the pattern of *all* the munitions, this may or *may not* tell you something. The bit about the launch site is a new paragraph (albeit sloppily) not connected to the point about the munitions type. This is the danger of reading so much into so little; this piece helps not a jot, all sides have access to the appropriate cluster munitions. You are seeing shadows (and indeed the shadow over the pattern might be part of the photographer and his camera, or maybe a fence-post at the edge of the concrete, or anything!)

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  108. Andy West 11.59AM
    I take your point about this being just one impact of a cluster, so I’m wrong again. Except with the faint possibility that an analysis of the whole scene might suggest the direction of origin, if anyone wanted to. One doesn’t get the impression that the BBC is too interested in that, any more than they’re interested in discovering how many people are still buried under the Mariupol Theatre (zero? a thousand?) The BBC seems to be doing. better job of making the case or a Russian source for the missile, than I am of making the opposite case, and to a greater audience (though a less intelligent one.) That’s some compensation.

    Liked by 1 person

  109. The analyst at Lost Armour shows that the cluster munitions detonate within a close approximation to a circle, so that they are falling vertically. In soft ground the individual bomblets make a conical crater. As the BBC pic shows, the ejecta fire out and, over asphalt etc, unimpeded, hit the ground hard in concentric rings.

    The rocket motor part seems to fall in a random spot after separating from the armament high in the sky. It can land anywhere and in any orientation.

    So far none of these features provides evidence in either direction.

    What would be good evidence? If Maxar comes out and publishes a satellite photograph with 2-3 launchers pointing in the right direction, within range. How often their instrument overflies and how long the launchers were in place is another question we could idly speculate about.

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  110. Jit: “the cluster munitions detonate within a close approximation to a circle”

    There can be axes to the pattern; the photograph Geoff notes above seems more oval. But this likely represents the shape of the device (there are oblongs, and cylinders, and cricket-ball type shapes often with a band around the centre), plus the angle of strike (which is random unless the device is tailed, and probably not much better even if it is), not anything to do with the missile’s original direction.

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  111. Bill, I read somewhere Johnson mtravelled by train to Kyiv.

    Everybody. If the interpretation of the missile payload is correct, then this must have been intended as an anti-personnel weapon. This assumes those that fired it knew that there were sufficient people around to justify its use. This again returns to the point that the train was late. If it had been on time, perhaps passengers might have already departed and the weapon not used.

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  112. I’ve been studying the photographs and looking up the properties of the weaponry available to the combatants and I think I have managed to solve the puzzle: It was the Russians in the ballroom with the lead piping.

    Sorry to be so flippant but the trouble is that the greatest mystery, as far as I am concerned, is how the Western media have convinced anyone that it matters whether or not the Russians have used any nasty weapons on civilians, as if this would set them apart and establish any new level of evil in the history of warfare. It’s as if Hiroshima and Nagasaki never happened, or the fire-bombing of Dresden and Tokyo, or the prolific use of napalm against villages in Vietnam, or the Coalition’s use of thermobaric weapons in Afghanistan, or even the Ukrainian’s use of cluster bombs and thermobaric weapons in the Donbas conflict. For Heaven’s sake, even chemical warfare goes back to WWI.

    Why are we still caring who is doing what to whom? That’s what I’d like to know. War isn’t a Carry On film with Kenneth Williams gurning ‘Ooh Matron!’

    Liked by 3 people

  113. Alan

    That’s interesting. Do you have any evidence?

    There are persistent rumours that Zelensky is in Poland, so a long train ride would not have been needed.

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  114. John I suppose it is because there are treaties and other international agreements banning the use of certain types of weapons, signed by most countries (with exceptions like Russia and Ukraine). Also warfare “ideally” should be between military and should not involve civilians. So the direct targeting of civilians by the Russians now and by Ukrainians and Donbasites over the past eight years really should be beyond the Pale. As to what Russians did to civilians in North Ukraine, it is unconscionable (see account of identifying bodies by police at Bucha on the BBC News website, just published. It is chilling).

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  115. Bill, but Johnson was shown walking streets in Lijv, so he had to travel there rather than just to Poland. Other European leaders have or are to make the same journey.

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  116. If I may have the temerity to quote Ridgway and Cummings in the same breath:

    Sorry to be so flippant but the trouble is that the greatest mystery, as far as I am concerned, is how the Western media have convinced anyone that it matters whether or not the Russians have used any nasty weapons on civilians, as if this would set them apart and establish any new level of evil in the history of warfare.

    But let’s remember what level of evil is being talked about. Cummings wrote this on 14th March:

    A pundit often quoted by other pundits is Bruno Macaes. I scrolled through his Twitter at the weekend. It is deranged. It is also in line with a substantial network of pundits. A lot of the US media is pushing these memes.

    [He provides a screenshot of Macaes’ Twitter feed of a month ago.]

    I love the it’s ‘genocide’ and ‘I’ve been right on everything’ conclusion.

    These people want the West to attack Putin and hope either a) Putin sucks it up and does not retaliate with nuclear weapons or b) we have to suck up nuclear war — dems da breaks!

    This is not a fringe view. A substantial element of the media, especially the political pundit class, agrees. ‘Putin as bad as / even worse than Hitler’ is a favourite meme. What’s the state of your head when you think what’s happening in Ukraine is as bad as / worse than Auschwitz? In a healthy culture such foolishness would have no purchase in mainstream media. In our culture it’s widespread (among the Twitter-addicted watch-politics-as-spectator-sport graduate class — not the public generally).

    If a President or PM actually went along with this lunacy, they would be cheered by much of the media. If our PM thinks he has to echo it to survive, he’ll echo it and we’ll all move closer to the abyss.

    My emphasis. Careless talk costs lives. Maybe a billion or so in this case.

    Liked by 3 people

  117. Richard,

    Yes, Cummings has got a point. The war of words is scaring the bejezus out of me. As Alan points out, treaties are being broken and atrocities are being committed, but the greater peril may be that the art of diplomacy now seems dead. I am not advocating appeasement but I see nothing to be gained by backing Putin into a corner where he has nothing left to lose. Whatever happened to leaving the adversary with a get out?

    Liked by 3 people

  118. Apologies to Potentilla for the fact that I’ve only just looked at the link at his comment (17March 2022, 5.49pm) to an article by three Associated Press reporters in which it is stated:

    “In the nearly three weeks since Russia’s war began, two AP journalists have been the only international media present in Mariupol, chronicling its fall into chaos and despair.”

    These two are Mstyslav and Evgeniy, whose article in the Guardian I mention in my comment at (22 Mar 22 6.49PM)
    AP has since produced a large number of articles based on their reporting, all aimed at countering the claims that the theatre and maternity hospital attacks were false flags. I’ll examine these AP articles one day in an article at my blog.

    I’ve miraculously recovered the ability to “like” comments here, and started doing so. I should really like to “like” every comment, in recognition of the civilised atmosphere that has been maintained on a subject on which people hold strong opinions. Thanks everyone. Cliscep is unique.

    Liked by 2 people

  119. ahh ha – “the ability to “like” comments” – me as well (it comes & goes).

    re – Mariupol Steel Works – I can’t help but wonder if the outside world via MSM is getting the full story.

    as I recall the Russians asked the fighters to surrender & they said no.

    no problem with that, brave men who will fight to the death, hero’s.

    but why are woman & children still there?

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  120. If the Russians won’t let women and children out without all the fighters surrendering, then the Ukrainians are in a bind.

    It used to be quite normal to insist on all surrender or none. The reason being that it depletes the food supplies of the defenders faster to have extra mouths.

    You can find histories where the defenders in a siege chucked out all non-fighting people, and the besiegers refused to let them through the lines. So they literally starved to death outside the city walls.

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  121. Geoff (6 May 22 at 9:44pm):

    I’ve miraculously recovered the ability to “like” comments here, and started doing so. I should really like to “like” every comment, in recognition of the civilised atmosphere that has been maintained on a subject on which people hold strong opinions. Thanks everyone. Cliscep is unique.

    Thanks for saying this. Coming back for a brief peruse, after an intellectually challenging business trip, the comity is indeed remarkable.

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  122. What happened in Bucha is still being investigated, including by the BBC. Ukraine: The children’s camp that became an execution ground was published on the state broadcaster’s website less than 24 hours ago.

    But on 22nd April Bucha and what was believed to have happened there had already had a dramatic impact on the UK’s involvement in the conflict:

    What UK’s tanks announcement signifies

    Frank Gardner, BBC News, Security Correspondent

    Sending British main battle tanks to Poland, if confirmed, would be a very significant move.

    As one senior British Army officer put it, it would raise the UK’s commitment to Ukraine by a further notch but also increases the chances of Britain – and Nato – eventually becoming co-belligerents in this conflict.

    The Ministry of Defence says Challenger 2 main battle tanks would be sent to Poland if the move gets the go-ahead – and these would be intended to “backfill” for the T72 tanks that Poland is sending directly to Ukraine. There are no plans to send British tanks or crews into action in Ukraine.

    Until very recently Nato countries have been reluctant to supply heavy weaponry to the Ukrainians for fear of antagonising President Putin and risking an all-out European war that puts Nato forces into direct conflict with Russia.

    But with each reported Russian atrocity that is revealed, notably in Bucha, these Western inhibitions have melted away.

    This raises the key issue of reporting of atrocities, by all sides, in any war. On Friday I’d been thinking back to 1914 and the reports of atrocities carried out by German troops (including an innocent nun being crucified, if I remember correctly). Then I realised that Dominic Cummings had added to his blog on Wednesday night:

    Snippets 4 & AMA 1200 13 May: hundreds of Auschwitz’s in a few hours… and the media cheers like the crowds of summer 1914…

    “Hundreds of Auschwitz’s in a few hours” refers of course to the possibility of escalation of the conflict into a full nuclear war. Which the senior British Army officer Frank Gardner talked to had made clear had gotten more likely, due to Bucha. So reported atrocities are not unimportant. Early on this is what Cummings wrote on the subject:

    Some of what we send to UKR is going to actual Nazis, as Putin claims. Our media has rebranded these Nazis, obviously, as heroic freedom fighters.

    When these Nazis commit atrocities our governments and media rebrand them as Russian ‘genocide’.

    and then there was this section, reminding me of my own thoughts about 1914:

    Atrocity propaganda

    In 1914 all sides pushed a lot of atrocity propaganda. Remember some of the propaganda used to mobilise the media behind the Iraq invasion? Saddam ‘tearing babies from Kuwaiti incubators’? Saddam was actually so bad — including verified use of chemical weapons — that they didn’t need to invent things but they did anyway. It can be very hard to figure out in real-time what’s true.

    One of the best examples in a century filled with them is the horrific Katyn massacre 1940, the slaughter of ~20,000-25,000 Poles. In 1943 the Nazis revealed it and blamed the Soviets. The West defined this as fake news and pinned it on the Nazis. It took many decades for the truth to came out. It was ordered by Stalin and carried out by the NKVD. The Nazis were telling the truth for once, our governments had knowingly lied.

    We shouldn’t condemn Churchill for his wartime decision. When you’re trying to beat Hitler you have many hideous calls like this to make. But we should keep this in mind when watching our media report atrocities about a conflict where we have no direct interests.

    Previously I showed how the Guardian manufactures quotes. They also print columns by a guy who proudly supports Azov — without explaining who he is and portraying him as a normal UKR journalist.

    The NYT has promoted the Azov Battalion from ‘a Ukrainian neo-Nazi paramilitary organisation’ (2019) to ‘a unit of the Ukrainian National Guard’ (now).

    Some atrocities being amplified by our media as ‘Russian atrocities’ will be shown to be Azov / Azov-adjacent.

    My point is not that UKR atrocities should be amplified, nor that ‘UKR and Russia are the same’. It’s that our media is ‘in campaign mode’, as the FT described itself during the referendum. It would be better if they were in ‘trying to do objective journalism and make accessible facts like geolocation and where the image first appeared on the internet’ mode. But they’ve given up on that.

    Ironically, the shift to ‘campaign mode’ has actually helped their greatest hate figure — Trump — who is favourite to win in 2024 if he runs because the media is now so distrusted that all the negative stories about him are regarded by GOP voters as ‘just more media lies’.

    I’ve tried to include all the links there.

    I’d been intending to provide some commentary of my own at this point but suffice to say that I strongly resonated with Cummings on reading this. I always thought Geoff’s post was a fool’s errand – because we’ll never get across all the atrocity stories with sufficient real-time ‘fact-checking’. This is just a plea to take extreme care. Hundreds of Auschwitz’s in a few hours may be at stake.

    Liked by 1 person

  123. Richard
    My ”like” button and ability to comment without identifying myself every time has disappeared again. WordPress is persecuting me. Just to say I agree entirely about Cummings and his innate seriousness. You don’t have to agree with him or like him, but if you can’t see that he’s saying things that are important, you’re not paying attention.

    That the media is “in campaign mode” is obvious. Indeed, the main reason I got into the climate change discussion was because “my” media (Guardian, BBC) were in campaign mode on the subject, and it seemed an aberration. Then, soon after we started this blog, the aberration spread to Brexit and Trump, both subjects trailing suspicions of Russian interference, which turned out to be conspiratorial fantasies. Now that Putin has interfered for real, all pretence of objective reporting has gone out the window.

    I’ve not come back to the three “flags” I mentioned in the article, though I haven’t seen any subsequent reporting which falsifies my interpretation. Associated Press claimed to have the only two “international” (in fact, Ukrainian) reporters in Mariupol during the fighting, and were almost the only source of reports of the theatre and maternity hospital attacks. Their subsequent reporting has been borderline insane (e.g. with a calculation of the number of likely bodies under the theatre based on computer projections of the surface area and estimates of how many sq metres each inhabitant occupied – mathematical modelling of body counts in other words.)

    For real journalism I rely on twitter accounts like @Youblacksoul
    and @DaniMayakovski who reproduce interviews with Russian and Ukrainian soldiers, POWs, and civilians, probably from pro-Russian sources. They recount atrocities, brutality, looting by Ukrainian troops, and sometimes decent treatment from Russians. Though no single item can be authenticated, it’s not possible that they should all be fake. It’s a matter of judgement of course, but I don’t see how you can fake the anger of old ladies – not hundreds of times.

    I follow dozens of pro-Ukrainian sites but I haven’t seen anything comparable accusing the Russians. The Sunday Times had a big article about rape, but naturally with no names or face to-face interviews. Luke Harding of the Guardian interviews a woman on camera who recounts Russians shooting innocent civilians, but he admits she’s a friend of a friend. The Guardian had an old guy who escaped from Mariupol and walked 200 km to freedom with his dog Zhu Zhu. In fact they have 4 or 5 articles about him and his bloody dog’s hurt paw. It reads like every Guardian article I’ve read in the past 15 years about how global warming has dried up some African’s mangrove swamp, and I end up not caring. That a dog’s hurt paw can make it on to the Guardian’s live feed on the war is just one more indication of insanity.

    Maybe the Guardian just doesn’t know how to interview peasants, and the Twitter guys do.

    Liked by 1 person

  124. Geoff:

    Just to say I agree entirely about Cummings and his innate seriousness. You don’t have to agree with him or like him, but if you can’t see that he’s saying things that are important, you’re not paying attention.

    That the media is “in campaign mode” is obvious. Indeed, the main reason I got into the climate change discussion was because “my” media (Guardian, BBC) were in campaign mode on the subject, and it seemed an aberration. Then, soon after we started this blog, the aberration spread to Brexit and Trump, both subjects trailing suspicions of Russian interference, which turned out to be conspiratorial fantasies. Now that Putin has interfered for real, all pretence of objective reporting has gone out the window.

    The similarity of the “campaign mode” in all these cases suggests by now a dangerous infection. As I once mooted “climate is a gateway drug.” On Cummings’ “innate seriousness” there was this discussion on his first ‘Snippets’ post, on 7-8th March, now open source:

    Contarini: The nonchalance of American and British and other leaders and pundits about Russia’s nuclear weapons, and the prospects of a catastrophic use of those weapons, is the most horrible thing about this episode. And the danger is only increasing … People are floating along as if everything will be as it has always been, and this war will fit into their existing world, not lead to a flaming destruction of that world. The psychology seems very Summer of 1914. Not good. If you are religious. pray for peace.

    Cummings: I think it’s sensible to look at Putin’s own words seriously. He has explained repeatedly his ideas re Russian history. West has ignored and largely shifted from naive trust in him (20 yrs ago) to insults. There has never been a phase of taking seriously, figuring out goals, negotiating.

    UKR is existential for Putin. Our leaders ignored this, though they were warned by likes of Richard Pipes 25 yrs ago

    The desire to understand Putin in his own terms pertains strongly to John’s recent Putin the Record Straight. And Cummings seems to have taken on board the evidence of Nazi influence in the Azov battalion presented at that time, notably by ‘303Bookworm’. He’s not infallible, of course, but he is, as you say, serious.

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