Saturday 2nd of December 2023

erasing russia from history by the western mediocre media...


Media Priorities: Trump, Putin and the bias before our eyes


The media ignored only the second joint US-Russia statement in four years, to talk about silly hair and small hands

Joris De Draeck


April 25, 2020, marks the 75th Anniversary of the historic meeting between American and Soviet troops, who shook hands on the damaged bridge over the Elbe River. This event heralded the decisive defeat of the Nazi Regime.

Thus reads the first paragraph of a joint statement by President Donald J. Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

This statement correctly is called “rare” by two of the very few mainstream media articles addressing it. Props to Reuters and the New York Post for this one.

The only other time the US and Russia issued a joint statement or declaration was when Putin and Trump met in Helsinki back in July 2018.

Googling the press release using “trump putin joint statement” one would expect the page to be full of huge news corporation results but that’s not the case. Apart from Reuters and the New York Post, you’ll find a bunch of Australian sites and a Chinese one who cover it without much ado. [Google results widely differ geographically. I ran them from Belgium.]


Some others like The HillMarketWatchThe Week and Forbes apparently find ominous reasons for concern.  

They all cite the Wall Street Journal as the source for the unease.  

For the WSJ, issuing the statement in and by itself is considered “a move” by the Russians and it immediately follows its article with a link to a 2017 article on the same site about how the Pentagon and the State Department “have complained about Russia’s behaviour”.

Why hark back to 2017, I wonder; these two organisations consistently address Russia’s stance in the wider world quite negatively and could easily find more recent analyses in the same vein.

The WSJ addresses Russian fighter jets “buzzing American Navy planes over the Mediterranean Sea”; mentions the (entirely unproven) accusation of “Russia-based news organizations spreading disinformation about [the] coronavirus”; and adduces that “Russia was providing critical military support for Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s ongoing offensive in Idlib province” [sic].

Apart from the often cited “anonymous sources” on whose claims complete fabrications are often built, WSJ also refers to a certain Angela Stent, author of books like The Limits of Partnership: US-Russian Relations in the 21st Century, in which her anti-Russian bias is “apparent” while “inconvenient history is not mentioned”.


Let’s compare this muted response to the first joint statement by the leaders of the two nuclear superpowers to the disinfectant concoction prevalent on mainstream news ever since Friday.

Using the Google query “+Trump +disinfectant” which indicates that the results need to have both “Trump” and “disinfectant” in its article, we find — at the time of writing —  more than 4.000 pagesretrievable on The Guardian alone. Measure that number against a “+Trump +Putin +Elbe +Statement site:” query which yields only 8 results. All but one of those eight date from 2017, the one exception being from 2015.

In other words, the beacon of British “quality journalism” in the eyes of many fails to even report on what is a “rare joint statement” at all.


Maintaining social distancing here in Antwerp, we still are allowed outside and can talk to others. The public’s reaction to the disinfectant-story insanity is telling: “what a fool Trump is”, “he should inject it himself” then “we’d finally be rid of that fool”; “it goes to show how stupid and what a selfish asshole he really is” and so on.  What is worrying to me, is that such media sensationalism leads to too much polarisation.

Mainstream press, apparently, did its due with The Guardian apparently thinking that “Trump’s coronavirus disinfectant comments could be the tipping point”. 

The public at large was given yet another reason to despise no. 45 although Trump is the first president since before WWII who did not start any foreign intervention — as he promised in his 2016 election campaign.  For comparison: Nobel Peace prize winner Obama started seven wars, while the other winner Carter started four. Even JFK did the same! Not to mention the Bushes and Reagan.

Yet here we have a president who is vilified by the general “enlightened” public (as Guardian readers generally believe themselves to be) because of some of the following media stories.  I’ll state the number of page hits again:

  • About +Trump and +hands.  58,600 results.  They include coverage of his “tiny hands”, “him and Theresa May holding hands”, “Melania not holding his hand”, multiple references about his “strange shaking hands” and so on. All very relevant, don’t you think?
  • About +Trump and +Shithole.  756 results. Remember this one, which originated from The Washington Post? The topic led to worldwide outrage while the topic only was “according to several people briefed on the meeting” which doesn’t really tell a lot, does it?
  • About +Trump and his +Hair. 17,800 results.
  • About +Trump and his (lack of) +etiquette: 1220 results.

What I am getting at is this: isn’t it remarkable that incredibly banal topics as well as flat out lies and/or misinterpretations get a lot more coverage than a “rare joint statement” by the US and Russia that carries a message of hope and cooperation, no less?

I think it is and it shows not only how amazingly biased mainstream news really is about both presidents but also how easily the public at large are led astray in forming their opinions based on these “reputable” sources’ flat out propagandistic coverage.

Joris De Draeck is an independent journalist, creator of Planet News and contributor to Fort Russ News, SOTT and Global Research. He focuses on major international conflicts. You can follow him on Twitter @DeDraeck.


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Raising a Flag over the Reichstag, a photograph taken during the Battle of Berlin on 2 May 1945

the battle of berlin...

The Battle of Berlin, designated the Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation by the Soviet Union, and also known as the Fall of Berlin, was one of the last major offensives of the European theatre of World War II.[f]

Following the Vistula–Oder Offensive of January–February 1945, the Red Army had temporarily halted on a line 60 km (37 mi) east of Berlin. On 9 March, Germany established its defence plan for the city with Operation Clausewitz. The first defensive preparations at the outskirts of Berlin were made on 20 March, under the newly appointed commander of Army Group Vistula, General Gotthard Heinrici.

When the Soviet offensive resumed on 16 April, two Soviet fronts (army groups) attacked Berlin from the east and south, while a third overran German forces positioned north of Berlin. Before the main battle in Berlin commenced, the Red Army encircled the city after successful battles of the Seelow Heights and Halbe. On 20 April 1945, Hitler's birthday, the 1st Belorussian Front led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, advancing from the east and north, started shelling Berlin's city centre, while Marshal Ivan Konev's 1st Ukrainian Front broke through Army Group Centre and advanced towards the southern suburbs of Berlin. On 23 April General Helmuth Weidling assumed command of the forces within Berlin. The garrison consisted of several depleted and disorganised Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS divisions, along with poorly trained Volkssturm and Hitler Youth members. Over the course of the next week, the Red Army gradually took the entire city.

On 30 April, Hitler committed suicide (with several of his officials also committing suicide shortly afterwards). The city's garrison surrendered on 2 May but fighting continued to the north-west, west, and south-west of the city until the end of the war in Europe on 8 May (9 May in the Soviet Union) as some German units fought westward so that they could surrender to the Western Allies rather than to the Soviets...



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a word from professor vladimir...


A Faith Based Community

Vladimir Golstein

One American wit imagined that there is a reality- or fact-based community in the United States.

Where did he find it, and what was he smoking?

But here are clear signs by which you can identify the members of the Faith Based Community, the loyal followers of Tertullian’s “Credo quia absurdum.”

1.  They believe that Trump is an alien body of American Politics, the ultimate embodiment of evil, brought to these blessed shores from afar. In the manner of a virus or something.

2.  The main agents responsible for unleashing Trump upon Americans are Russians. In fact, the real name of Trump is Daniil Trampov. He is just one of those Manchurian Candidates created in the secret KGB labs to wreak havoc upon otherwise peace loving, trusting, and never violent Americans who even view guns as toys and collect them in their glass cabinets like others collect exotic dolls.

3.  It is only those Russians and other authoritarians who kill people. And they do it on mass scale. Never in dozens, always in millions. Peace loving Americans, on the other hand, just shoot an unarmed man here, a few school-children there, or bomb a small wedding somewhere, but never on the scale of these authoritarian SOBs.

4.  Miraculously, all other nations engaged in mass-butchery, like Germans, Ukrainians or Poles, immediately become peace-loving, democratic and helpless victims of authoritarian Russians the minute they turn themselves into American servants. From SOBs they become SODs — Sons of Democracy, or Saudis, for short.  The same applies to anyone, no matter how outrageous his actions or views are. As long as this person says, “Down with Trump” — all his sins are washed off, and he becomes a born again SOD.

5.  People living in Democracies have real problems: raising children, paying bills, making a living. Those who live under evil dictatorships, like Russians, don’t have any problems — their dictators take care of their lives and deaths — consequently, the only thing left for Russians or Chinese to do is to interfere in the American way of life. They interfere day and night, face to face and over internet, on social media and in public elections. It is them Russians who’ve taught Americans hate each other. Just look at their literature: War and Peace, Crime and Punishment, Fathers and Children. It is always division, always discord.

6.  Americans and Western people in general, have only one protector from these evil interference, NATO, and its two reliable and sparkling clean civilian branches: mass media and security agencies. If any of these branches blames evil authoritarians for interfering, installing Trumpov into White House, or doing any other sort of mischief — trust them!

7.  The only person that equals Trumpov in villainy is his one time associate, Flynnov. Caught red-handed and forced to confess that he’s met the Russian Ambassador — and now oh, horror of horrors — released from eternal damnation by another Trumpov associate, William Barr, i.e. Vladimir Barrov.

8.  The duty of all peace loving Americans is to put on the mask, tin-foil-pussy hat, and lock themselves up in the basement to prevent the virus from spreading.  Yet, it is Russians who agitate Americans, and Trumpov in particular, to get back to the streets and into the sunlight. First, Russians killed their own people, now they are after Americans. That should be resisted.

9.  The leader of the resistance is Joe Biden. He’s been on the lockdown, long before it even started. Just to make sure, he already locked down his brain, because it is obvious that the brain is the main apparatus through which the outside world communicates with human beings.  No brain=perfect lockdown.

10.  Needless to say, Russians will now concentrate all their efforts on undermining and interfering with Biden’s bid for power. One just hopes that our valiant guardians, like NATO, security agencies, mass media, and select Democratic Politicians, like Adam Schiff of California, will continue their exposure of dirty Russian tricks.


Vladimir Golstein, former associate professor at Yale University, is currently Chair of the Department of Slavic Studies at Brown University.



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declassified yalta-1945 photos...

As part of a WWII document trove declassified ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Yalta summit, never before seen photographs show US and British leaders and officers arriving in Crimea and touring Sevastopol with Soviet hosts.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt traveled to Crimea in February 1945, to meet with Soviet leader Joseph Stalin at the Black Sea town of Yalta.

Official photos from the Yalta conference itself were taken by American photographers at the Livadia Palace, where the US delegation was staying. Prior to the summit, however, Soviet photographers captured the arrival of Allied leaders and their activities in Sevastopol.


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чтобы мы не забыли...

Russian President Vladimir Putin has written an article about the 75th Anniversary of World War II for the US magazine National Interest, where he argues "The Munich Betrayal showed to the Soviet Union that the Western countries would deal with security issues without taking its interests into account."

Seventy-five years have passed since the end of the Great Patriotic War. Several generations have grown up over the years. The political map of the planet has changed. The Soviet Union that claimed an epic, crushing victory over Nazism and saved the entire world is gone. Besides, the events of that war have long become a distant memory, even for its participants. So why does Russia celebrate the 9th of May as the biggest holiday? Why does life almost come to a halt on June 22? And why does one feel a lump rise in their throat?

They usually say that the war has left a deep imprint on every family's history. Behind these words, there are fates of millions of people, their sufferings and the pain of loss. Behind these words, there is also the pride, the truth and the memory.

For my parents, the war meant the terrible ordeals of the Siege of Leningrad where my two-year-old brother Vitya died. It was the place where my mother miraculously managed to survive. My father, despite being exempt from active duty, volunteered to defend his hometown. He made the same decision as millions of Soviet citizens. He fought at the Nevsky Pyatachok bridgehead and was severely wounded. And the more years pass, the more I feel the need to talk to my parents and learn more about the war period of their lives. However, I no longer have the opportunity to do so. This is the reason why I treasure in my heart those conversations I had with my father and mother on this subject, as well as the little emotion they showed

People of my age and I believe it is important that our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren understand the torment and hardships their ancestors had to endure. They need to understand how their ancestors managed to persevere and win. Where did their sheer, unbending willpower that amazed and fascinated the whole world come from? Sure, they were defending their home, their children, loved ones and families. However, what they shared was the love for their homeland, their Motherland. That deep-seated, intimate feeling is fully reflected in the very essence of our nation and became one of the decisive factors in its heroic, sacrificial fight against the Nazis.

I often wonder: What would today's generation do? How will it act when faced with a crisis situation? I see young doctors, nurses, sometimes fresh graduates that go to the "red zone" to save lives. I see our servicemen that fight international terrorism in the Northern Caucasus and fought to the bitter end in Syria. They are so young. Many servicemen who were part of the legendary, immortal 6th Paratroop Company were 19-20 years old. But all of them proved that they deserved to inherit the feat of the warriors of our homeland that defended it during the Great Patriotic War.

This is why I am confident that one of the characteristic features of the peoples of Russia is to fulfill their duty without feeling sorry for themselves when the circumstances so demand. Such values as selflessness, patriotism, love for their home, their family and Motherland remain fundamental and integral to the Russian society to this day. These values are, to a large extent, the backbone of our country's sovereignty.

Nowadays, we have new traditions created by the people, such as the Immortal Regiment. This is the memory march that symbolizes our gratitude, as well as the living connection and the blood ties between generations. Millions of people come out to the streets carrying the photographs of their relatives that defended their Motherland and defeated the Nazis. This means that their lives, their ordeals and sacrifices, as well as the Victory that they left to us will never be forgotten.

We have a responsibility to our past and our future to do our utmost to prevent those horrible tragedies from happening ever again. Hence, I was compelled to come out with an article about World War II and the Great Patriotic War. I have discussed this idea on several occasions with world leaders, and they have showed their support. At the summit of CIS leaders held at the end of last year, we all agreed on one thing: it is essential to pass on to future generations the memory of the fact that the Nazis were defeated first and foremost by the Soviet people and that representatives of all republics of the Soviet Union fought side by side together in that heroic battle, both on the frontlines and in the rear. During that summit, I also talked with my counterparts about the challenging pre-war period.

That conversation caused a stir in Europe and the world. It means that it is indeed high time that we revisited the lessons of the past. At the same time, there were many emotional outbursts, poorly disguised insecurities and loud accusations that followed. Acting out of habit, certain politicians rushed to claim that Russia was trying to rewrite history. However, they failed to rebut a single fact or refute a single argument. It is indeed difficult, if not impossible, to argue with the original documents that, by the way, can be found not only in the Russian, but also in the foreign archives.

Thus, there is a need to further examine the reasons that caused the world war and reflect on its complicated events, tragedies and victories, as well as its lessons, both for our country and the entire world. And like I said, it is crucial to rely exclusively on archive documents and contemporary evidence while avoiding any ideological or politicized speculations.

I would like to once again recall the obvious fact. The root causes of World War II mainly stem from the decisions made after World War I. The Treaty of Versailles became a symbol of grave injustice for Germany. It basically implied that the country was to be robbed, being forced to pay enormous reparations to the Western allies that drained its economy. French marshal Ferdinand Foch who served as the Supreme Allied Commander gave a prophetic description of that Treaty: "This is not peace. It is an armistice for twenty years."

It was the national humiliation that became a fertile ground for radical sentiments of revenge in Germany. The Nazis skillfully played on people's emotions and built their propaganda promising to deliver Germany from the "legacy of Versailles" and restore the country to its former power while essentially pushing German people into war. Paradoxically, the Western states, particularly the United Kingdom and the United States, directly or indirectly contributed to this. Their financial and industrial enterprises actively invested in German factories and plants manufacturing military products. Besides, many people in the aristocracy and political establishment supported radical, far-right and nationalist movements that were on the rise both in Germany and in Europe.

The "Versailles world order" caused numerous implicit controversies and apparent conflicts. They revolved around the borders of new European states randomly set by the victors in World War I. That boundary delimitation was almost immediately followed by territorial disputes and mutual claims that turned into "time bombs".

One of the major outcomes of World War I was the establishment of the League of Nations. There were high expectations for that international organization to ensure lasting peace and collective security. It was a progressive idea that, if followed through consistently, could actually prevent the horrors of a global war from happening again.

However, the League of Nations dominated by the victorious powers of France and the United Kingdom proved ineffective and just got swamped by pointless discussions. The League of Nations and the European continent in general turned a deaf ear to the repeated calls of the Soviet Union to establish an equitable collective security system, and sign an Eastern European pact and a Pacific pact to prevent aggression. These proposals were disregarded.

The League of Nations also failed to prevent conflicts in various parts of the world, such as the attack of Italy on Ethiopia, the civil war in Spain, the Japanese aggression against China and the Anschluss of Austria. Furthermore, in case of the Munich Betrayal that, in addition to Hitler and Mussolini, involved British and French leaders, Czechoslovakia was taken apart with the full approval of the League of Nations. I would like to point out in this regard that, unlike many other European leaders of that time, Stalin did not disgrace himself by meeting with Hitler who was known among the Western nations as quite a reputable politician and was a welcome guest in the European capitals.

Poland was also engaged in the partition of Czechoslovakia along with Germany. They decided together in advance who would get what Czechoslovak territories. On September 20, 1938, Polish Ambassador to Germany Józef Lipski reported to Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland Józef Beck on the following assurances made by Hitler: "…in case of a conflict between Poland and Czechoslovakia over our interests in Teschen, the Reich would stand by Poland." The Nazi leader even prompted and advised that Poland started to act "only after the Germans occupy the Sudetes."

Poland was aware that without Hitler's support, its annexationist plans were doomed to fail. I would like to quote in this regard a record of the conversation between German Ambassador to Warsaw Hans-Adolf von Moltke and Józef Beck that took place on October 1, 1938, and was focused on the Polish-Czech relations and the position of the Soviet Union in this matter. It says: "Mr. Beck expressed real gratitude for the loyal treatment accorded [to] Polish interests at the Munich conference, as well as the sincerity of relations during the Czech conflict. The attitude of the Führer and Chancellor was fully appreciated by the Government and the public [of Poland]."

The partition of Czechoslovakia was brutal and cynical. Munich destroyed even the formal, fragile guarantees that remained on the continent. It showed that mutual agreements were worthless. It was the Munich Betrayal that served as a "trigger" and made the great war in Europe inevitable.

Today, European politicians, and Polish leaders in particular, wish to sweep the Munich Betrayal under the carpet. Why? The fact that their countries once broke their commitments and supported the Munich Betrayal, with some of them even participating in divvying up the take, is not the only reason. Another is that it is kind of embarrassing to recall that during those dramatic days of 1938, the Soviet Union was the only one to stand up for Czechoslovakia.

The Soviet Union, in accordance with its international obligations, including agreements with France and Czechoslovakia, tried to prevent the tragedy from happening. Meanwhile, Poland, in pursuit of its interests, was doing its utmost to hamper the establishment of a collective security system in Europe.

Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Józef Beck wrote about it directly in his letter of September 19, 1938 to the aforementioned Ambassador Józef Lipski before his meeting with Hitler: "…in the past year, the Polish government rejected four times the proposal to join the international interfering in defense of Czechoslovakia."

Britain, as well as France, which was at the time the main ally of the Czechs and Slovaks, chose to withdraw their guarantees and abandon this Eastern European country to its fate. In so doing, they sought to direct the attention of the Nazis eastward so that Germany and the Soviet Union would inevitably clash and bleed each other white. 

That is the essence of the western policy of appeasement, which was pursued not only towards the Third Reich but also towards other participants of the so-called Anti-Comintern Pact – the fascist Italy and militarist Japan. In the Far East, this policy culminated in the conclusion of the Anglo-Japanese agreement in the summer of 1939, which gave Tokyo a free hand in China. The leading European powers were unwilling to recognize the mortal danger posed by Germany and its allies to the whole world. They were hoping that they themselves would be left untouched by the war.

The Munich Betrayal showed to the Soviet Union that the Western countries would deal with security issues without taking its interests into account. In fact, they could even create an anti-Soviet front, if needed. 

Nevertheless, the Soviet Union did its utmost to use every chance of creating an anti-Hitler coalition. Despite – I will say it again – the double‑dealing on the part of the Western countries. For instance, the intelligence services reported to the Soviet leadership detailed information on the behind-the-scenes contacts between Britain and Germany in the summer of 1939. The important thing is that those contacts were quite active and practically coincided with the tripartite negotiations between France, Great Britain and the USSR, which were, on the contrary, deliberately protracted by the Western partners. In this connection, I will cite a document from the British archives. It contains instructions to the British military mission that came to Moscow in August 1939. It directly states that the delegation was to proceed with negotiations very slowly, and that the Government of the United Kingdom was not ready to assume any obligations spelled out in detail and limiting their freedom of action under any circumstances. I will also note that, unlike the British and French delegations, the Soviet delegation was headed by top commanders of the Red Army, who had the necessary authority to "sign a military convention on the organization of military defense of England, France and the USSR against aggression in Europe."

Poland played its role in the failure of those negotiations as it did not want to have any obligations to the Soviet side. Even under pressure from their Western allies, the Polish leadership rejected the idea of joint action with the Red Army to fight against the Wehrmacht.

It was only when they learned of the arrival of Ribbentrop to Moscow that J. Beck reluctantly and not directly, through French diplomats, notified the Soviet side: "… in the event of joint action against the German aggression, cooperation between Poland and the Soviet Union is not out of the question, in technical circumstances which remain to be agreed." 

At the same time, he explained to his colleagues: "… I agreed to this wording only for the sake of the tactics, and our core position in relation to the Soviet Union is final and remains unchanged."

In these circumstances, the Soviet Union signed the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany. It was practically the last among the European countries to do so. Besides, it was done in the face of a real threat of war on two fronts – with Germany in the west and with Japan in the east, where intense fighting on the Khalkhin Gol River was already underway.

Stalin and his entourage, indeed, deserve many legitimate accusations. We remember the crimes committed by the regime against its own people and the horror of mass repressions. In other words, there are many things the Soviet leaders can be reproached for, but poor understanding of the nature of external threats is not one of them. They saw how attempts were made to leave the Soviet Union alone to deal with Germany and its allies. Bearing in mind this real threat, they sought to buy precious time needed to strengthen the country's defenses.

Nowadays, we hear lots of speculations and accusations against modern Russia in connection with the Non-Aggression Pact signed back then. Yes, Russia is the legal successor state to the USSR, and the Soviet period – with all its triumphs and tragedies – is an inalienable part of our thousand-year-long history. However, let us recall that the Soviet Union gave a legal and moral assessment of the so-called Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. The Supreme Soviet in its resolution of 24 December 1989 officially denounced the secret protocols as "an act of personal power" which in no way reflected "the will of the Soviet people who bear no responsibility for this collusion."

Yet other states have preferred to forget the agreements carrying signatures of the Nazis and Western politicians, not to mention giving legal or political assessments of such cooperation, including the silent acquiescence – or even direct abetment – of some European politicians in the barbarous plans of the Nazis. It will suffice to remember the cynical phrase said by Polish Ambassador to Germany J. Lipski during his conversation with Hitler on 20 September 1938: "…for solving the Jewish problem, we [the Poles] will build in his honor … a splendid monument in Warsaw."

Besides, we do not know if there were any secret "protocols" or annexes to agreements of a number of countries with the Nazis. The only thing that is left to do is to take their word for it. In particular, materials pertaining to the secret Anglo-German talks still have not been declassified. Therefore, we urge all states to step up the process of making their archives public and publishing previously unknown documents of the war and pre-war periods – the way Russia has done it in recent years. In this context, we are ready for broad cooperation and joint research projects engaging historians.

But let us go back to the events immediately preceding the Second World War. It was naïve to believe that Hitler, once done with Czechoslovakia, would not make new territorial claims. This time the claims involved its recent accomplice in the partition of Czechoslovakia – Poland. Here, the legacy of Versailles, particularly the fate of the so-called Danzig Corridor, was yet again used as the pretext. The blame for the tragedy that Poland then suffered lies entirely with the Polish leadership, which had impeded the formation of a military alliance between Britain, France and the Soviet Union and relied on the help from its Western partners, throwing its own people under the steamroller of Hitler's machine of destruction.

The German offensive was mounted in full accordance with the blitzkrieg doctrine. Despite the fierce, heroic resistance of the Polish army, on 8 September 1939 – only a week after the war broke out – the German troops were on the approaches to Warsaw. By 17 September, the military and political leaders of Poland had fled to Romania, abandoning its people, who continued to fight against the invaders.

Poland's hope for help from its Western allies was in vain. After the war against Germany was declared, the French troops advanced only a few tens of kilometers deep into the German territory. All of it looked like a mere demonstration of vigorous action. Moreover, the Anglo-French Supreme War Council, holding its first meeting on 12 September 1939 in the French city of Abbeville, decided to call off the offensive altogether in view of the rapid developments in Poland. That was when the infamous Phony War started. What Britain and France did was a blatant betrayal of their obligations to Poland.

Later, during the Nuremberg trials, German generals explained their quick success in the East.

The former chief of the operations staff of the German armed forces high command, General Alfred Jodl admitted: "… we did not suffer defeat as early as 1939 only because about 110 French and British divisions stationed in the west against 23 German divisions during our war with Poland remained absolutely idle."

I asked for retrieval from the archives of the whole body of materials pertaining to the contacts between the USSR and Germany in the dramatic days of August and September 1939. According to the documents, paragraph 2 of the Secret Protocol to the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 23 August 1939 stated that, in the event of territorial-political reorganization of the districts making up the Polish state, the border of the spheres of interest of the two countries would run "approximately along the Narew, Vistula and San rivers". In other words, the Soviet sphere of influence included not only the territories that were mostly home to Ukrainian and Belarusian population but also the historically Polish lands in the Vistula and Bug interfluve. This fact is known to very few these days.

Similarly, very few know that, immediately following the attack on Poland, in the early days of September 1939 Berlin strongly and repeatedly called on Moscow to join the military action. However, the Soviet leadership ignored those calls and planned to avoid engaging in the dramatic developments as long as possible.

It was only when it became absolutely clear that Great Britain and France were not going to help their ally and the Wehrmacht could swiftly occupy entire Poland and thus appear on the approaches to Minsk that the Soviet Union decided to send in, on the morning of 17 September, Red Army units into the so-called Eastern Borderlines, which nowadays form part of the territories of Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania.

Obviously, there was no alternative. Otherwise, the USSR would face seriously increased risks because – I will say this again – the old Soviet-Polish border ran only within a few tens of kilometers of Minsk. The country would have to enter the inevitable war with the Nazis from very disadvantageous strategic positions, while millions of people of different nationalities, including the Jews living near Brest and Grodno, Przemyśl, Lvov and Wilno, would be left to die at the hands of the Nazis and their local accomplices – anti-Semites and radical nationalists.

The fact that the Soviet Union sought to avoid engaging in the growing conflict for as long as possible and was unwilling to fight side by side with Germany was the reason why the real contact between the Soviet and the German troops occurred much farther east than the borders agreed in the secret protocol. It was not on the Vistula River but closer to the so-called Curzon Line, which back in 1919 was recommended by the Triple Entente as the eastern border of Poland.

As is known, there is hardly any point in using the subjunctive mood when we speak of the past events. I will only say that, in September 1939, the Soviet leadership had an opportunity to move the western borders of the USSR even farther west, all the way to Warsaw, but decided against it.

The Germans suggested formalizing the new status quo. On September 28, 1939 I.Ribbentrop and V.Molotov signed in Moscow the Boundary and Friendship Treaty between Germany and the Soviet Union, as well as the secret protocol on changing the state border, according to which the border was recognized at the demarcation line where the two armies de-facto stood.

In autumn 1939, the Soviet Union, pursuing its strategic military and defensive goals, started the process of the incorporation of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Their accession to the USSR was implemented on a contractual basis, with the consent of the elected authorities. This was in line with international and state law of that time. Besides, in October 1939, the city of Vilna and the surrounding area, which had previously been part of Poland, were returned to Lithuania. The Baltic republics within the USSR preserved their government bodies, language, and had representation in the higher state structures of the Soviet Union.

During all these months there was an ongoing invisible diplomatic and politico-military struggle and intelligence work. Moscow understood that it was facing a fierce and cruel enemy, and that a covert war against Nazism was already going on. And there is no reason to take official statements and formal protocol notes of that time as a proof of ‘friendship' between the USSR and Germany. The Soviet Union had active trade and technical contacts not only with Germany, but with other countries as well. Whereas Hitler tried again and again to draw the Soviet Union into Germany's confrontation with the UK. But the Soviet government stood firm.

The last attempt to persuade the USSR to act together was made by Hitler during the visit of Molotov to Berlin in November 1940. But Molotov accurately followed Stalin's instructions and limited himself to a general discussion of the German idea of the Soviet Union joining the Tripartite Pact signed by Germany, Italy and Japan in September 1940 and directed against the UK and the USA.

No wonder that already on November 17 Molotov gave the following instructions to Soviet plenipotentiary representative in London Ivan Maisky: "For your information…No agreement was signed or was intended to be signed in Berlin. We just exchanged our views in Berlin…and that was all…Apparently, the Germans and the Japanese seem anxious to push us towards the Gulf and India. We declined the discussion of this matter as we consider such advice on the part of Germany to be inappropriate."

And on November 25 the Soviet leadership called it a day altogether by officially putting forward to Berlin the conditions that were unacceptable to the Nazis, including the withdrawal of German troops from Finland, mutual assistance treaty between Bulgaria and the USSR, and a number of others. Thus it deliberately excluded any possibility of joining the Pact. Such position definitely shaped the Fuehrer's intention to unleash a war against the USSR. And already in December, putting aside the warnings of his strategists about the disastrous danger of having a two-front war, Hitler approved the Barbarossa Plan. He did this with the knowledge that the Soviet Union was the major force that opposed him in Europe and that the upcoming battle in the East would decide the outcome of the world war. And he had no doubts as to the swiftness and success of the Moscow campaign.

And here I would like to highlight the following: Western countries, as a matter of fact, agreed at that time with the Soviet actions and recognized the Soviet Union's intention to ensure its national security.

Indeed, back on October 1, 1939 Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty back then, in his speech on the radio said, "Russia has pursued a cold policy of self-interest… But that the Russian armies should stand on this line [the new Western border is meant] was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace."

On October 4, 1939 speaking in the House of Lords British Foreign Secretary Halifax said, "…it should be recalled that the Soviet government's actions were to move the border essentially to the line recommended at the Versailles Conference by Lord Curzon... I only cite historical facts and believe they are indisputable." Prominent British politician and statesman D. Lloyd George emphasized, "The Russian armies occupied the territories that are not Polish and that were forcibly seized by Poland after the First World War ... It would be an act of criminal insanity to put the Russian advancement on a par with the German one."

In informal communications with Soviet plenipotentiary representative Maisky, British diplomats and high-level politicians spoke even more openly. On October 17, 1939 Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs R. A. Butler confided him that the British government circles believed there could be no question of returning Western Ukraine and Belarus to Poland. According to him, if it had been possible to create an ethnographic Poland of a modest size with a guarantee not only of the USSR and Germany, but also of Britain and France, the British government would have considered itself quite satisfied. On October 27, 1939, Chamberlain's senior advisor H.Wilson said that Poland had to be restored as an independent state on its ethnographic basis, but without Western Ukraine and Belarus.

It is worth noting that in the course of these conversations the possibilities for improving British-Soviet relations were also being explored. These contacts to a large extent laid the foundation for future alliance and anti-Hitler coalition. Churchill stood out among other responsible and far-sighted politicians and, despite his infamous dislike for the USSR, had been in favour of cooperating with the Soviets even before.

Back in May 1939, he said in the House of Commons, "We shall be in mortal danger if we fail to create a grand alliance against aggression. The worst folly would be to drive away any natural cooperation with Soviet Russia."

And after the start of hostilities in Europe, at his meeting with Maisky on October 6, 1939 he confided that there were no serious contradictions between the UK and the USSR and, therefore, there was no reason for strained or unsatisfactory relations. He also mentioned that the British government was eager to develop trade relations and willing to discuss any other measures that might improve the relationships.

The Second World War did not happen overnight, nor did it start unexpectedly or all of a sudden. And German aggression against Poland was not out of nowhere. It was the result of a number of tendencies and factors of the world policy of that time. All pre-war events fell into place to form one fatal chain. But, undoubtedly, the main factors that predetermined the greatest tragedy in the history of mankind were state egoism, cowardice, appeasement of the aggressor who was gaining strength, and unwillingness of political elites to search for a compromise.

Therefore, it is unfair to claim that the two-day visit to Moscow of Nazi Foreign Minister Ribbentrop was the main reason for the start of the Second World War. All the leading countries are to a certain extent responsible for its outbreak. Each of them made fatal mistakes, arrogantly believing that they could outsmart others, secure unilateral advantages for themselves or stay away from the impending world catastrophe. And this short-sightedness, the refusal to create a collective security system cost millions of lives and tremendous losses.

Saying this, I by no means intend to take on the role of a judge, to accuse or acquit anyone, let alone initiate a new round of international information confrontation in the historical field that could set countries and peoples at loggerheads. I believe that it is academics with a wide representation of respected scientists from different countries of the world who should search for a balanced assessment of what happened. We all need the truth and objectivity. On my part, I have always encouraged my colleagues to build a calm, open and trust-based dialogue, to look at the common past in a self-critical and unbiased manner. Such an approach will make it possible not to repeat the errors committed back then and to ensure peaceful and successful development for years to come.

However, many of our partners are not yet ready for joint work. On the contrary, pursuing their goals, they increase the number and the scope of information attacks against our country, trying to make us provide excuses and feel guilty, and adopt thoroughly hypocritical and politically motivated declarations. Thus, for example, the resolution on the Importance of European Remembrance for the Future of Europe approved by the European Parliament on 19 September 2019 directly accused the USSR together with the Nazi Germany of unleashing the Second World War. Needless to say, there is no mention of Munich in it whatsoever.

I believe that such ‘paperwork' – for I cannot call this resolution a document – which is clearly intended to provoke a scandal, is fraught with real and dangerous threats. Indeed, it was adopted by a highly respectable institution. And what does that show? Regrettably, this reveals a deliberate policy aimed at destroying the post-war world order whose creation was a matter of honour and responsibility for States a number of representatives of which voted today in favour of this deceitful resolution. Thus, they challenged the conclusions of the Nuremberg Tribunal and the efforts of the international community to create after the victorious 1945 universal international institutions. Let me remind you in this regard that the process of European integration itself leading to the establishment of relevant structures, including the European Parliament, became possible only due to the lessons learnt form the past and its accurate legal and political assessment. And those who deliberately put this consensus into question undermine the foundations of the entire post-war Europe.

Apart from posing a threat to the fundamental principles of the world order, this also raises certain moral and ethical issues. Desecrating and insulting the memory is mean. Meanness can be deliberate, hypocritical and pretty much intentional as in the situation when declarations commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War mention all participants in the anti-Hitler coalition except for the Soviet Union. Meanness can be cowardly as in the situation when monuments erected in honour of those who fought against Nazism are demolished and these shameful acts are justified by the false slogans of the fight against an unwelcome ideology and alleged occupation. Meanness can also be bloody as in the situation when those who come out against neo-Nazis and Bandera's successors are killed and burned. Once again, meanness can have different manifestations, but this does not make it less disgusting.

Neglecting the lessons of history inevitably leads to a harsh payback. We will firmly uphold the truth based on documented historical facts. We will continue to be honest and impartial about the events of World War II. This includes a large-scale project to establish Russia's largest collection of archival records, film and photo materials about the history of World War II and the pre‑war period.

Such work is already underway. Many new, recently discovered or declassified materials were also used in the preparation of this article. In this regard, I can state with all responsibility that there are no archive documents that would confirm the assumption that the USSR intended to start a preventive war against Germany. The Soviet military leadership indeed followed a doctrine according to which, in the event of aggression, the Red Army would promptly confront the enemy, go on the offensive and wage war on enemy territory. However, such strategic plans did not imply any intention to attack Germany first.

Of course, military planning documents, letters of instruction of Soviet and German headquarters are now available to historians. Finally, we know the true course of events. From the perspective of this knowledge, many argue about the actions, mistakes and misjudgment of the country's military and political leadership. In this regard, I will say one thing: along with a huge flow of misinformation of various kinds, Soviet leaders also received true information about the upcoming Nazi aggression. And in the pre-war months, they took steps to improve the combat readiness of the country, including the secret recruitment of a part of those liable for military duty for military training and the redeployment of units and reserves from internal military districts to western borders.

The war did not come as a surprise, people were expecting it, preparing for it. But the Nazi attack was truly unprecedented in terms of its destructive power. On June 22, 1941, the Soviet Union faced the strongest, most mobilized and skilled army in the world with the industrial, economic and military potential of almost all Europe working for it. Not only the Wehrmacht, but also German satellites, military contingents of many other states of the European continent, took part in this deadly invasion.

The most serious military defeats in 1941 brought the country to the brink of catastrophe. Combat power and control had to be restored by extreme means, nation-wide mobilization and intensification of all efforts of the state and the people. In summer 1941, millions of citizens, hundreds of factories and industries began to be evacuated under enemy fire to the east of the country. The manufacture of weapons and munition, that had started to be supplied to the front already in the first military winter, was launched in the shortest possible time, and by 1943, the rates of military production of Germany and its allies were exceeded. Within six months, the Soviet people did something that seemed impossible. Both on the front lines and the home front. It is still hard to realize, understand and imagine what incredible efforts, courage, dedication these greatest achievements were worth.

The tremendous power of Soviet society, united by the desire to protect their native land, rose against the powerful, armed to the teeth, cold-blooded Nazi invading machine. It stood up to take revenge on the enemy, who had broken, trampled peaceful life, people's plans and hopes.

Of course, fear, confusion and desperation were taking over some people during this terrible and bloody war. There were betrayal and desertion. The harsh split caused by the revolution and the Civil War, nihilism, mockery of national history, traditions and faith that the Bolsheviks tried to impose, especially in the first years after coming to power – all of this had its impact. But the general attitude of the absolute majority of Soviet citizens and our compatriots who found themselves abroad was different – to save and protect the Motherland. It was a real and irrepressible impulse. People were looking for support in true patriotic values.

The Nazi "strategists" were convinced that a huge multinational state could easily be brought to heel. They thought that the sudden outbreak of the war, its mercilessness and unbearable hardships would inevitably exacerbate inter-ethnic relations. And that the country could be split into pieces.

Hitler clearly stated: "Our policy towards the peoples living in the vastness of Russia should be to promote any form of disagreement and division".

But from the very first days, it was clear that the Nazi plan had failed. The Brest Fortress was protected to the last drop of blood by its defenders of more than 30 ethnicities. Throughout the war, the feat of the Soviet people knew no national boundaries – both in large-scale decisive battles and in the protection of every foothold, every meter of native land. 

The Volga region and the Urals, Siberia and the Far East, the republics of Central Asia and Transcaucasia became home to millions of evacuees. Their residents shared everything they had and provided all the support they could. Friendship of peoples and mutual help became a real indestructible fortress for the enemy.

The Soviet Union and the Red Army, no matter what anyone is trying to prove today, made the main and crucial contribution to the defeat of Nazism. These were heroes who fought to the end surrounded by the enemy at  Bialystok and Mogilev, Uman and Kiev, Vyazma and Kharkiv. They launched attacks near Moscow and Stalingrad, Sevastopol and Odessa, Kursk and Smolensk. They liberated Warsaw, Belgrade, Vienna and Prague. They stormed Koenigsberg and Berlin.

We contend for genuine, unvarnished, or whitewashed truth about war. This national, human truth, which is hard, bitter and merciless, has been handed down to us by writers and poets who walked through fire and hell of front trials. For my generation, as well as for others, their honest and deep stories, novels, piercing trench prose and poems have left their mark in my soul forever. Honoring veterans who did everything they could for the Victory and remembering those who died on the battlefield has become our moral duty.

And today, the simple and great in its essence lines of Alexander Tvardovsky's poem "I was killed near Rzhev ..." dedicated to the participants of the bloody and brutal battle of the Great Patriotic War in the center of the Soviet-German front line are astonishing. Only in the battles for Rzhev and the Rzhevsky Salient from October 1941 to March 1943, the Red Army lost 1,154, 698 people, including wounded and missing. For the first time, I call out these terrible, tragic and far from complete figures collected from archive sources. I do it to honor the memory of the feat of known and nameless heroes, who for various reasons were undeservingly, and unfairly little talked about or not mentioned at all in the post-war years.

Let me cite you another document. This is a report of February 1954 on reparation from Germany by the Allied Commission on Reparations headed by Ivan Maisky. The Commission's task was to define a formula according to which defeated Germany would have to pay for the damages sustained by the victor powers.

The Commission concluded that "the number of soldier-days spent by Germany on the Soviet front is at least 10 times higher than on all other allied fronts. The Soviet front also had to handle four-fifths of German tanks and about two-thirds of German aircraft."

On the whole, the USSR accounted for about 75 percent of all military efforts undertaken by the anti-Hitler coalition. During the war period, the Red Army "ground up" 626 divisions of the Axis states, of which 508 were German.

On April 28, 1942, Franklin D. Roosevelt said in his address to the American nation: "These Russian forces have destroyed and are destroying more armed power of our enemies – troops, planes, tanks, and guns – than all the other United Nations put together". Winston Churchill in his message to Joseph Stalin of September 27, 1944, wrote "that it is the Russian army that tore the guts out of the German military machine…".

Such an assessment has resonated throughout the world. Because these words are the great truth, which no one doubted then. Almost 27 million Soviet citizens lost their lives on the fronts, in German prisons, starved to death and were bombed, died in ghettos and furnaces of the Nazi death camps. The USSR lost one in seven of its citizens, the UK lost one in 127, and the USA lost one in 320. Unfortunately, this figure of the Soviet Union's hardest and grievous losses is not exhaustive. The painstaking work should be continued to restore the names and fates of all who have perished – Red Army soldiers, partisans, underground fighters, prisoners of war and concentration camps, and civilians killed by the death squads. It is our duty. And here, members of the search movement, military‑patriotic and volunteer associations, such projects as the electronic database "Pamyat Naroda", which contains archival documents, play a special role. And, surely, close international cooperation is needed in such a common humanitarian task.

The efforts of all countries and peoples who fought against a common enemy resulted in victory. The British army protected its homeland from invasion, fought the Nazis and their satellites in the Mediterranean and North Africa. American and British troops liberated Italy and opened the Second Front. The US dealt powerful and crushing strikes against the aggressor in the Pacific Ocean. We remember the tremendous sacrifices made by the Chinese people and their great role in defeating Japanese militarists. Let us not forget the fighters of Fighting France, who did not fall for the shameful capitulation and continued to fight against the Nazis.

We will also always be grateful for the assistance rendered by the Allies in providing the Red Army with ammunition, raw materials, food and equipment. And that help was significant – about 7 percent of the total military production of the Soviet Union.

The core of the anti-Hitler coalition began to take shape immediately after the attack on the Soviet Union where the United States and Britain unconditionally supported it in the fight against Hitler's Germany. At the Tehran conference in 1943, Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill formed an alliance of great powers, agreed to elaborate coalition diplomacy and a joint strategy in the fight against a common deadly threat. The leaders of the Big Three had a clear understanding that the unification of industrial, resource and military capabilities of the USSR, the United States and the UK will give unchallenged supremacy over the enemy.

The Soviet Union fully fulfilled its obligations to its allies and always offered a helping hand. Thus, the Red Army supported the landing of the Anglo-American troops in Normandy by carrying out a large-scale Operation Bagration in Belarus. In January 1945, having broken through to the Oder River, it put an end to the last powerful offensive of the Wehrmacht on the Western Front in the Ardennes. Three months after the victory over Germany, the USSR, in full accordance with the Yalta agreements, declared war on Japan and defeated the million-strong Kwantung Army.

Back in July 1941, the Soviet leadership declared that the purpose of the War against fascist oppressors was not only the elimination of the threat looming over our country, but also help for all the peoples of Europe suffering under the yoke of German fascism. By the middle of 1944, the enemy was expelled from virtually all of the Soviet territory. However, the enemy had to be finished off in its lair. And so the Red Army started its liberation mission in Europe. It saved entire nations from destruction and enslavement, and from the horror of the Holocaust. They were saved at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives of Soviet soldiers.

It is also important not to forget about the enormous material assistance that the USSR provided to the liberated countries in eliminating the threat of hunger and in rebuilding their economies and infrastructure. That was being done at the time when ashes stretched for thousands of miles all the way from Brest to Moscow and the Volga. For instance, in May 1945, the Austrian government asked the USSR to provide assistance with food, as it "had no idea how to feed its population in the next seven weeks before the new harvest." The state chancellor of the provisional government of the Austrian Republic Karl Renner described the consent of the Soviet leadership to send food as a saving act that the Austrians would never forget.

The Allies jointly established the International Military Tribunal to punish Nazi political and war criminals. Its decisions contained a clear legal qualification of crimes against humanity, such as genocide, ethnic and religious cleansing, anti-Semitism and xenophobia. Directly and unambiguously, the Nuremberg Tribunal also condemned the accomplices of the Nazis, collaborators of various kinds.

This shameful phenomenon manifested itself in all European countries. Such figures as Pétain, Quisling, Vlasov, Bandera, their henchmen and followers – though they were disguised as fighters for national independence or freedom from communism – are traitors and slaughterers. In inhumanity, they often exceeded their masters. In their desire to serve, as part of special punitive groups they willingly executed the most inhuman orders. They were responsible for such bloody events as the shootings of Babi Yar, the Volhynia massacre, burnt Khatyn, acts of destruction of Jews in Lithuania and Latvia. 

Today as well, our position remains unchanged – there can be no excuse for the criminal acts of Nazi collaborators, there is no statute of limitations for them. It is therefore bewildering that in certain countries those who are smirched with cooperation with the Nazis are suddenly equated with the Second World War veterans. I believe that it is unacceptable to equate liberators with occupants. And I can only regard the glorification of Nazi collaborators as a betrayal of the memory of our fathers and grandfathers. A betrayal of the ideals that united peoples in the fight against Nazism. 

At that time, the leaders of the USSR, the United States, and the UK faced, without exaggeration, a historic task. Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill represented the countries with different ideologies, state aspirations, interests, cultures, but demonstrated great political will, rose above the contradictions and preferences and put the true interests of peace at the forefront. As a result, they were able to come to an agreement and achieve a solution from which all of humanity has benefited.

The victorious powers left us a system that has become the quintessence of the intellectual and political quest of several centuries. A series of conferences – Tehran, Yalta, San Francisco and Potsdam – laid the foundation of a world that for 75 years had no global war, despite the sharpest contradictions.

Historical revisionism, the manifestations of which we now observe in the West, and primarily with regard to the subject of the Second World War and its outcome, is dangerous because it grossly and cynically distorts the understanding of the principles of peaceful development, laid down at the Yalta and San Francisco conferences in 1945. The major historic achievement of Yalta and other decisions of that time is the agreement to create a mechanism that would allow the leading powers to remain within the framework of diplomacy in resolving their differences.

The twentieth century brought large-scale and comprehensive global conflicts, and in 1945 the nuclear weapons capable of physically destroying the Earth also entered the scene. In other words, the settlement of disputes by force has become prohibitively dangerous. And the victors in the Second World War understood that. They understood and were aware of their own responsibility towards humanity.

The cautionary tale of the League of Nations was taken into account in 1945. The structure of the UN Security Council was developed in a way to make peace guarantees as concrete and effective as possible. That is how the institution of the permanent members of the Security Council and the right of the veto as their privilege and responsibility came into being.

What is veto power in the UN Security Council? To put it bluntly, it is the only reasonable alternative to a direct confrontation between major countries. It is a statement by one of the five powers that a decision is unacceptable to it and is contrary to its interests and its ideas about the right approach. And other countries, even if they do not agree, take this position for granted, abandoning any attempts to realize their unilateral efforts. So, in one way or another, it is necessary to seek compromises.

A new global confrontation started almost immediately after the end of the Second World War and was at times very fierce. And the fact that the Cold War did not grow into the Third World War has become a clear testimony of the effectiveness of the agreements concluded by the Big Three. The rules of conduct agreed upon during the creation of the United Nations made it possible to further minimize risks and keep confrontation under control.

Of course, we can see that the UN system currently experiences certain tension in its work and is not as effective as it could be. But the UN still performs its primary function. The principles of the UN Security Council are a unique mechanism for preventing a major war or global conflict.

The calls that have been made quite often in recent years to abolish the veto power, to deny special opportunities to permanent members of the Security Council are actually irresponsible. After all, if that happens, the United Nations would in essence become the League of Nations – a meeting for empty talk without any leverage on the world processes. How it ended is well known. That is why the victorious powers approached the formation of the new system of the world order with utmost seriousness seeking to avoid repetition of the mistakes of their predecessors.

The creation of the modern system of international relations is one of the major outcomes of the Second World War. Even the most insurmountable contradictions – geopolitical, ideological, economic – do not prevent us from finding forms of peaceful coexistence and interaction, if there is the desire and will to do so. Today the world is going through quite a turbulent time. Everything is changing, from the global balance of power and influence to the social, economic and technological foundations of societies, nations and even continents. In the past epochs, shifts of such magnitude have almost never happened without major military conflicts. Without a power struggle to build a new global hierarchy. Thanks to the wisdom and farsightedness of the political figures of the Allied Powers, it was possible to create a system that has restrained from extreme manifestations of such objective competition, historically inherent in the world development.

It is a duty of ours – all those who take political responsibility and primarily representatives of the victorious powers in the Second World War – to guarantee that this system is maintained and improved. Today, as in 1945, it is important to demonstrate political will and discuss the future together. Our colleagues – Mr. Xi Jinping, Mr. Macron, Mr. Trump and Mr. Johnson – supported the Russian initiative to hold a meeting of the leaders of the five nuclear-weapon States, permanent members of the Security Council. We thank them for this and hope that such a face-to-face meeting could take place as soon as possible. 

What is our vision of the agenda for the upcoming summit? First of all, in our opinion, it would be useful to discuss steps to develop collective principles in world affairs. To speak frankly about the issues of preserving peace, strengthening global and regional security, strategic arms control, as well as joint efforts in countering terrorism, extremism and other major challenges and threats.

A special item on the agenda of the meeting is the situation in the global economy. And above all, overcoming the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Our countries are taking unprecedented measures to protect the health and lives of people and to support citizens who have found themselves in difficult living situations. Our ability to work together and in concert, as real partners, will show how severe the impact of the pandemic will be, and how quickly the global economy will emerge from the recession. Moreover, it is unacceptable to turn the economy into an instrument of pressure and confrontation. Popular issues include environmental protection and combating climate change, as well as ensuring the security of the global information space.

The agenda proposed by Russia for the upcoming summit of the Five is extremely important and relevant both for our countries and for the entire world. And we have specific ideas and initiatives on all the items.

There can be no doubt that the summit of Russia, China, France, the United States, and the UK can play an important role in finding common answers to modern challenges and threats, and will demonstrate a common commitment to the spirit of alliance, to those high humanist ideals and values for which our fathers and grandfathers were fighting shoulder to shoulder.

Drawing on a shared historical memory, we can trust each other and must do so. That will serve as a solid basis for successful negotiations and concerted action for the sake of enhancing the stability and security on the planet and for the sake of prosperity and well-being of all States. Without exaggeration, it is our common duty and responsibility towards the entire world, towards the present and future generations.

This article was originally published in The National Interest magazine.

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the guardian is (politely) all at sea once more...

Under Boris Johnson, Putin and Trump the world has uncanny parallels to 1945

Russia on the offensive, Brexit Britain stands alone, and US disdain for European allies recalls its naivety with Stalin

Victory in Europe was made possible by a remarkable military collaboration between the main anti-Axis powers – the US, Russia and Britain. But the three-way relationship, between Franklin D Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin and Winston Churchill, was never easy, and it set a pattern of national rivalry, suspicion, fear and distrust that persists to this day.

A row over a top-secret message, known as SCAF-252, sent to Stalin in late March 1945 by Gen Dwight Eisenhower, the supreme allied commander, shows how fraught the relationship could be. In it, Eisenhower detailed his plans for the final defeat of Nazi Germany – but omitted to first consult or inform his British allies.

Stalin was determined the Red Army would be the first to get to Berlin and topple Adolf Hitler, attaching great symbolic importance to capturing the capital of the Third Reich and its implications for the future European order. Churchill took a similar view, but Eisenhower and a distracted, ailing FDR were not thinking politically.


And concerning relations with Russia, British and US policy became largely indistinguishable during the cold war. Stalin’s fear in 1945 that western powers would cut a “secret deal” and unite to oppose the Soviet Union came true, exemplified in later years by a Nato alliance that included West Germany.

Today’s world bears some uncanny similarities to the world of 1945. Post-Soviet Russia under Vladimir Putin is again on the offensive, employing asymmetrical means such as info-wars and cyberhacks instead of armoured divisions to project its influence across Europe.

Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit Britain, having rejected the concept of a common European home, stands alone in ways not seen since 1940. Brexiters’ calls for a stronger US security, economic and trade relationship, to offset the EU rupture, are the modern-day equivalent of Churchill’s desperate “darkest hour” appeals for Roosevelt’s help.

As for the US, Donald Trump’s collusion with Putin’s Russia, and disdain for America’s European allies, is reminiscent of Roosevelt’s and Eisenhower’s naivety in 1945. Not for nothing is Stalin one of Putin’s great heroes.

The Guardian is having a wank with this article… Oh! Now I know why, it was written by ...
Now for a bit more serious analysis...

Unconditional Surrender: Why the West Can’t Forgive the Red Army’s Capture of Berlin

16 апреля 1945 года советские войска начали наступление на столицу нацистской Германии. Красная армия проводила операцию без участия англо-американских войск, что вызвало негодование со стороны командования союзников. После окончания войны западные политики и историки будут обвинять Иосифа Сталина в обмане: советский лидер якобы нарушил союзнические обязательства, не раскрыв истинных планов штурма Берлина. В чём полуправда Запада и чем были обоснованы действия Москвы — в материале RT.

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard01:24:09


On April 16th, 1945, Soviet troops began their offensive on the capital of Nazi Germany. The Red Army conducted an operation without the participation of Anglo-American troops, which aroused indignation from the command of allies. After the end of war western politicians and historians will accuse Josef Stalin of deception: the Soviet leader allegedly violated allied obligations, without having revealed the true plans for the storm of Berlin. What the half-truth of the West is and what made the actions of Moscow justified is in the material of RT.

Stalin to Eisenhower

The accusations of the West are based on Josef Stalin’s response to the telegram of the Supreme Commander of the expeditionary forces in Europe Dwight Eisenhower, which was sent on March 28th, 1945 (code number SCAF-252). In it the American General asked the Soviet leader to specify tasks for a further offensive.

On April 1st, 1945 Eisenhower received the answer. Stalin agreed with the opinion of the General, who proposed to split the German forces and to unit on the line Erfurt — Leipzig — Dresden (to the south of Berlin – approximately 200 km).

“Berlin lost its former strategic importance, that’s why Soviet high-command thinks to allocate minor forces towards Berlin,” wrote Stalin. Also the leader of the USSR reported that the Red Army plans to strike the main blow to nazis in the second half of May.

On April 2nd Stalin signed the directive on the Berlin offensive operation. The date of the storm was appointed April 16th. It was entrusted to the 1st Belarusian, 2nd Belarusian, and 1st Ukrainian fronts under the leadership of the well-known commander Georgy Zhukov to crush the Nazi den.

In their own interests

Historians argue about how the actions of Stalin can be characterized. The opinion is expressed that the commander-in-chief of the Armed forces of the USSR intentionally misinformed their American colleague. Russia prefers to speak about military ruse, while in the West Stalin’s behavior is regarded as deception.

In order to understand what guided the Soviet leader, lets address the context of the 70-year-old events. The more they approached Berlin the more political contradictions accrued between allies, and the Soviet command had the basis not to trust Eisenhower and the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Moscow couldn’t forget the overdue opening of the Second front, which cost the lives of millions of Soviet soldiers and ordinary citizens. Anglo-American troops appeared in Europe only in June, 1944, at the disembarkation in Normandy, three years later after the beginning of the war.

At that time the advanced units of the Red Army already conducted battles for East European cities. Washington and London understood that further delay is fraught with “communist occupation” of the biggest remaining part of the European continent.

Since 1941 the USSR asked to open the Second front, but for allies it was unprofitable to carry out an overland invasion into Europe when Germany was at its peak of military power and could give a worthy repulse to the Anglo-Saxons.

The US and Great Britain concentrated on the fight against Nazis on maritime open spaces and in North Africa, and in passing convincing Moscow that it is indeed the promised Second front.

Such behavior corresponded to the national interests of the USSR’s allies. Washington and London protected human and material resources, fought where the Germans were weaker, and misinformed the Soviet Union about their real intentions.

In the spring of 1945 Great Britain and the US responded to an appeal of the Nazi leadership about negotiating the conclusion of a separate peace treaty. At the same time allies developed an operation code-named “Unthinkable”, which assumed a plan of action in the event of war against the USSR.

Washington and London planned to throw against the Red Army 10 German divisions, and that’s why they weren’t interested in the full defeat of the German military machine. The aim of operation “Unthinkable” was preventing Soviet troops from penetrating into Western Europe, and also their forced expulsion from Poland.

Winston Churchill was the main “hawk” in the Anglo-American tandem. It is precisely he who gave the order to prepare “Unthinkable”. On March 31st, 1945, the British Prime Minister urged Eisenhower not to trust Stalin, irrespective of his answer, and to unravel an offensive on Berlin.

“I personally don’t think that Berlin already lost its military, or more so political value. <…> That’s why I, to a much bigger degree, would prefer to stick to that plan on the basis of which we crossed Rhine, namely — so that the 9th American army together with the 21st army group advanced up the Elbe and further up to Berlin,” wrote Churchill.

A springboard for an offensive

Berlin indeed had important strategic and political importance. The State that seized the capital of the Nazi regime could by right consider itself as the main winner of World War II, who not only won their laurels, but also destroyed the largest grouping of the enemy.

The Soviet Union, which lost 27 million citizens, was decisively much more resolute than its allies. On November 6th, 1944, speaking on the occasion of the anniversary of the October revolution, Stalin ended his speech with the phrase: “We will finish off the enemy, the fascist beast, in its own den, we will establish our Victory Banner over Berlin!”

The springboard for the storming of Nazi Germany was prepared as a result of the success of Vistula–Oder strategic operation (January 12th — on February 3rd, 1945). The Red Army liberated Poland and exited to the left coast of the Oder, less than 100 km remained until Berlin.

In 1964 the former commander of the 8th Guard army (the 1st Belarusian front) Marshal Vasily Chuykov stated on the pages of the Oktyabr journal the opinion that Soviet troops could take Berlin at the end of February, 1945. Georgy Zhukov in rather sharp form disproved of Chuykov’s statement.

Modern historians and military analysts are completely in solidarity with Zhukov’s opinion. 600,000 Soviet soldiers were killed in the battles for Poland. The Red Army needed to strengthen the flanks in order not to fall under the counterblow of the nazis. That’s why in March Soviet troops began the offensives in Czechoslovakia, Silesia, and East Prussia.

Allies in the first month of spring conducted the Maas-Rhine and Ruhr operations, having destroyed a large grouping of the enemy on the Western front. By the end of March Anglo-Saxons, as well as the Soviet troops, were tens of kilometers from Berlin. Probably, in order to understand the further plans of Moscow Eisenhower decided to send to Stalin this same SCAF-252 telegram.

For a number of reasons Eisenhower strongly doubted the need for an offensive on Berlin in April, 1945. More than 200 divisions and brigades were concentrated near the German capital. The city was fortified very well, the battles had to be conducted house-to-house.

In his memoirs General Omar Bradley estimated the probable losses in the event of storming Berlin at 100,000 people. For the US this was an excessive price for triumph. For all of World War II more than 400,000 Americans were killed, from them about 200,000 — in Europe.

The plan of Eisenhower offered to Stalin assumed a partition of Northern and Southern Germany. The Americans were noticeably very cautious because of the successful counterblows of the Nazis during the Ardennes operation in the southwest of Belgium (December 16th, 1944 — the end of January, 1945).

The head researcher of the scientific research institute of the Military academy of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia Colonel Miroslav Morozov believes that US intelligence overestimated the possibilities of the Nazis. The unwillingness to get in the meat grinder forced allied troops to think over plans for an offensive carefully.

At the beginning of April, 1945, Bradley stated to American journalists that war with Germany will finally come to an end only in the spring of 1946. However, it isn’t excluded that the words of the General also were military ruse with the purpose of misinforming the Soviet command.

Justified measures

Contrary to the careful American Generals, Churchill predicted the partition of Europe with the crash of the last centers of resistance of the Nazis. In his opinion, it was impermissible to put in the hands of Soviet propaganda such a trump as the liberation of the capital of Germany.

Churchill didn’t manage to over-persuade Eisenhower, but on the informational front the West, nevertheless, achieved the desired effect. According to modern opinion polls, only 10-13% of the inhabitants of Western and Central Europe consider that the main contribution to the defeat of Nazism was made the USSR. 70 years ago such a point of view was shared by more than a half of Europeans.

The offense of the West taken from Stalin’s “deception” was reflected in the affirmation that the Red Army took Berlin in a way that was ruthless in relation to the civilian population. In particular, it was said that during artillery preparation and bombing many civilians died, and that these losses allegedly could have been avoided.

The half-truth of the West consists in the fact that no building was left intact after the Red Army’s shelling of the capital of Germany. However the Soviet command was compelled to raze the city to the ground.

All of Berlin represented one big fortified area. Nearly on every street there were several weapon emplacements of the enemy, fortified by concrete blocks. The city was entangled by a network of underground communications, which allowed to transfer troops and to take cover from shelling. To enter Berlin without the most powerful artillery preparation would be madness.

Besides this, Hitler’s Generals mobilized all who could hold a rifle in their hands, including children and the elderly. The population was made to hope for a quick separate peace treaty with the Anglo-Saxons, and urged to show maximum resistance to communists.

From April 16th to April 24th the Red Army surrounded the main grouping of the Wehrmacht, having excluded the possibility of their breakthrough to Berlin. The circle around the capital of Germany was closed on April 25th. Soviet troops faced resistance from a garrison of 200,000 people. The density of the defense of Berlin was strengthening in the process of advancing to the center. Thus, fights for the Reichstag, on which the Victory Banner was planted, lasted two days.

From April 16th to May 8th 78,000 Soviet soldiers died (as a reminder, Bradley estimated the potential losses during the storm of Berlin at 100,000 people). The Nazis lost 395,000 people. The USSR paid an expensive price for the liberation of Berlin. However, judging by the ratio of losses, all measures taken by the Soviet command were justified.

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Gus note: In other analysis, Stalin realised the West (in the message from Dwight Eisenhower) had been sent to deceive him and other indications were telling Stalin that the Americans wanted to capture Berlin before the Russians...

In regard to the present situation Simon is totally at sea... Under Boris Johnson, Putin and Trump, the world has no parallels to 1945... 
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the main victors...






The Russian people have every right to proudly proclaim victory over Nazi Germany and fascism in Europe. Every year, celebrations of Victory Day remain as vibrant as ever. And for good reason. 

This weekend marks the 76th anniversary of the Nazi defeat on May 9, 1945. Victory parades are held all across Russia with the most splendid display of honor in Moscow’s Red Square. 

What is rather telling is how commemorations in the United States and Britain have become relatively dimmed over time. Every year there seems to be less importance given to the anniversary. Why is that? In Western news media, there are even reminder articles about the history of Victory Day and why events are held to mark the occasion. 

The contrast with the vibrant and dedicated celebrations in Russia is down to one main fact: it was the Russian people and the Soviet Red Army that were the main victors over the Nazi regime. It is crucial to reiterate that and to never lose sight of the historical truth because Western politicians and media would have us believe otherwise. 

The Soviet Union’s allies during World War II, the US and Britain, played a role in defeating Nazi Germany, but that role was secondary in the achievement. Put in another way: essentially, the defeat of the Third Reich would not have happened without the Red Army hammering the eastern front all the way to Hitler’s Berlin bunker. Whereas the Western allies were more auxiliary in the victory.

It was the Hammer and Sickle that flew over the smoldering Reich Chancellery not the Stars and Stripes nor the Union Jack. 




In short, it was the Soviet people who liberated Europe from Nazi tyranny and fascism. It was the Soviet people who largely brought an end to the infernal death camps. 


In spite of that glorious fact, the American and British political establishments have the arrogant audacity to claim that they were the liberating heroes. Based on this distortion of history, these Western powers claim a false moral authority. 


We saw this arrogance displayed this week in London at the so-called G7 summit. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his British counterpart Dominic Raab declared that their countries had established the rules-based international order that followed WWII. As always, the Americans and British imply that they are the moral superiors, which is derived from their false belief or delusion about their role in defeating Nazi Germany. 

What is even more reprehensible, the US and Britain use this historical fraud to disparage and demonize Russia. They accuse Russia of “aggression” and other malign conduct when in fact no other two countries have waged as many wars and killed as many people in the 76 years following WWII. 

Indeed, it can be argued that the American and British-led NATO military alliance is posing an existential threat to Russia by encircling its borders with increasing forces. Ironically, the last time such a threat was manifest was when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941. 

There are other reasons why Russia’s commemorations of Victory Day are far more important to its people than in the West. The war destroyed the lives of many more Russians – nearly 27 million – and therefore the memory of families and the sacrifices of their loved ones is that much stronger. Each year, there are fewer and fewer war veterans alive to commemorate the anniversary, but in Russia, millions of families carry on the memory with heartfelt devotion. The incomparable suffering of the Russian people is testimony to the fact that they bore the burden of defeating Nazi Germany and liberating Europe from fascism. 

The test of time shows clearly who were the primary victors in the worst war that the world has ever seen. 

The leaders of nations that claim otherwise are imposters and frauds. Their dimming victory parades over time evince their hijacking of history and the hollowness of their presumed role of “liberators” and champions of “international order” and “virtuous values”. Most damningly, these same people are capable of starting another world war from their arrogant delusions of superiority over Russia. 

Which raises disturbing questions about the history of postwar fascism


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FREE ASSANGE TODAY !!!!!!!!!!!!!



preparing war for the hamburgers...


In the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation for the past 80 years, it has been widely assumed that France, a nation that was occupied and fought in World War II on the side of the anti-Hitler coalition, was an ally of Russia. And it was supported by plenty of evidence: a large proportion of the French did indeed go into hiding at that time, forming the French resistance, some of whom took part in battles on the Eastern Front among the Soviets, in particular in the French fighter aviation regiment Normandie-Niemen.

It is a remarkable fact that four French pilots of the Normandie-Niemen squadron received the highest decoration of the USSR — the Hero of the Soviet Union —and among them, in particular, the representative of the French aristocracy Roland Paulze d’Ivoy de La Poype.

Although, even back then given Germany’s occupation of Northern France since 1940 and the establishment of the Vichy regime in the south, London and Washington were already planning to classify France as one of the territories subject to occupation after World War II, sharing the same boots as Germany.

Only the steadfast position of Moscow saved France from the occupation regime at that time, which, at the insistence of the Soviet leadership, was included in the anti-Hitler camp, followed by the allocation to France of a special French zone of occupation in Germany. To the credit of former French President Charles de Gaulle, he remembered this and treated French-Russian relations with special care.

Even today, Russia continues to treat France and the French with special respect, trying to avoid recalling the fact that before May 1945, a certain number of Frenchmen volunteered under the banners of dozens of units and formations of the armed forces and auxiliary organizations of the Third Reich. There were dozens of thousands of such French volunteers, and as a result, French people made up the largest number of Western European citizens who fought on the side of Germany in World War II.

Nevertheless, times change, and so do politicians and historians; they attempt to make adjustments to history that would benefit a certain part of today’s Western political elite, to replace yesterday’s military partners with today’s adversaries.

On May 9, as well as on other days, the French Air Force conducted nearly regular provocative reconnaissance flights in the Black Sea, and Russian Su-27 fighters of the air defense forces of the Southern Military District on duty had to take off in order to intercept them. On May 11 Russian Su-30 fighters were again forced to intercept two Dassault Mirage 2000 fighters and a French Air Force tanker approaching the Russian border over the Black Sea in order to prevent them from violating the Russian state border.

As noted even by Forbes, French high-tech surveillance fighters have become actively involved in checking the defense of Russia, carrying out secret reconnaissance operations against Russia. American experts noted that along with the usual air-to-air missiles, the French Mirages were equipped with thin capsules with sensitive electronic sensors on their undersides, designed to detect enemy radars and to work out a map of the Russian defense.

However, it is worth pointing out that such “test reconnaissance operations” usually are conducted on the eve of an armed conflict, which Washington has recently been actively pushing its weak-willed satellites to.

But it turns out that this US venture is now increasingly being joined by France, all in gratitude for Moscow’s efforts during World War II?

And in this regard, it is remarkable that on the eve of the May 9, the day celebrating the end of World War II, the former allies of Moscow in the anti-Hitler coalition made a march to the Russian borders. Just a few dozen kilometers from Russia’s western borders, they launched the largest NATO military exercise in the last quarter century, DEFENDER-Europe 21. And what do you know, France was at the forefront of this whole process! Joint exercises of Estonian, British and French units are taking place at the Estonian Defense Forces Central Range. In particular, the French troops were practicing ground movement with both light and heavy tanks.

The blatant anti-Russian orientation of these exercises is not even concealed today. Ukraine’s representative to the Trilateral Contact Group on Donbass, Oleksiy Arestovich, in particular, officially stated that the DEFENDER-Europe 21 exercise will practice “war with Russia.”

In this regard, one cannot help but recall how on June 22, 1941, on the first day of the German attack on the USSR, the leader of the French fascist party PPF (Parti Populaire Français), Jacques Doriot, announced the creation of the “Legion of French Volunteers Against Bolshevism” (LVF) for the war against the USSR and Ribbentrop approved this idea in his July 5 telegram No. 3555. In July 1941, the LVF Central Committee had already recruited more than 13,000 volunteers under the wing of this formation. There are no exact figures on how many Frenchmen fought against the USSR on the Eastern Front, except for data on French prisoners of war: there were 23,136 French citizens in Soviet captivity…

But fortunately, there are still some sensible politicians and soldiers in France! It was they, along with senior retired French officers, who a year ago expressed concern about the country’s participation in the NATO Defender 2020 exercise and suggested abandoning it in order to begin a strategic dialogue with Moscow. The organization of retired French officers (Cercle de Réflexions Interarmées, CRI) published its call in the under the heading: “We have to free ourselves from the American grip and become closer to Moscow.” “To organize NATO maneuvers in the 21st century under Moscow’s nose, more than 30 years after the collapse of the USSR, as if the Warsaw Pact still exists, is a clear political mistake bordering on irresponsible provocation,” the French officers wrote. They warn that participation in an exercise that practiced a tactical nuclear strike against Russia indicates “a serious loss of French strategic independence” because “it is in total contradiction with the French doctrine of deterrence, which rejects any nuclear attack.” The authors call on France to return to the legacy of De Gaulle, “who did not forget that in 1944 Roosevelt intended to place France under American administrative supervision.”



Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.



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simon says… bulllshit…...

REPEAT: the guardian is (politely) all at sea once more...



Under Boris Johnson, Putin and Trump the world has uncanny parallels to 1945


Russia on the offensive, Brexit Britain stands alone, and US disdain for European allies recalls its naivety with Stalin


The Guardian is having a wank with this article… Oh! Now I know why, it was written by Simon Tisdall...




Yes, the amazing Guardian, that Nazi rag in sheep clothing disguise, is at it again....




Readers of Guardian Australia will have been startled over recent weeks by repeated calls in its columns for all-out war between Nato and Russia. These are the handiwork of Simon Tisdall, until recently the paper’s International Editor. Just a fortnight ago he urged “using Nato’s overwhelming power to decisively turn the military tide” – the latest of five separate occasions on which he has made the same argument.

In none of these jeremiads does Tisdall explain how such a response would avoid escalation into a nuclear holocaust. And indeed, Guardian editors seem blithely unconcerned by such possibilities – handing over space on their pages without requiring him to spell out the implications of his proposed policy shift.

Excessive and bizarre as such bellicosity may seem, it fits with the way Australian journalism has generally reported the crisis. Media effects can be divided between agenda-setting (what to think about) and framing – how we think about it. Ukraine now has been relegated to the inside pages, but while it was accorded a position of prominence in the news, it was typically presented in simplistic black-and-white terms.

The communications scholar, Robert Entman, identified the most important aspects of framing as “moral evaluation, problem definition, causal interpretation and treatment recommendation”. If the ‘problem’ is defined solely as the behaviour of one party to a conflict, then the ‘treatment’ is to do something to them. That appears logical, inevitable and desirable.

These general framing categories are further developed in the Peace Journalism model. The mainstream of reporting about conflict is, generally, War Journalism – not merely the reporting of war, but representing it in such a way as to render us cognitively primed for further violence. Peace Journalism is devised a remedial strategy.

So, in War Journalism, the causes of conflict (and, therefore, exits from it) are located entirely in the arena: in the present and near future, in the place where armed hostilities are occurring. It presents just two aggregated parties, contesting the single goal of victory. Whereas Peace Journalism seeks and reports causes of the conflict anywhere, across a broader conflict formation, taking into account the actions and interests of many parties, over a longer timescale. And it uses these as clues for how the violence could be ended.

A minimum standard for competent journalism, capable of serving the Australian public, should be to draw to our attention (to “make salient”, in Entman’s terms) not just the shocking sequence of recent events, but key aspects of the process that led up to them.

Nato through the Cold War was ‘purely defensive’, prohibited from acting as an alliance except on the territory of member countries. That changed with Operation Allied Force, directed at Russia’s Slav brothers, the Serbs, in the Kosovo crisis of 1999. The new rule was then used to enable Nato to deploy as the lead agency in ISAF, the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan – a praetorian state, from Moscow’s perspective.

That came after Europe in the 1990s enjoyed the benefits of a peace dividend from the fall of the Soviet Union. Before long, however, US arms manufacturers set to work on pushing for Nato’s eastward expansion, despite promises to the contrary by western leaders including Francois Mitterand, Hans-Dietrich Genscher and James Baker. Under heavy lobbying pressure, the US Congress in 1996 agreed to establish a multi-billion-dollar fund to allow the Pentagon (aka taxpayers) to guarantee loans for ‘defence’ exports to enable cash-strapped new members Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic to bring their militaries up to standard. Russia, in its moment of weakness, was rapidly encircled by hostile forces.

So there are reasons for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. It should not be excused or justified – but it must be understood and explained, and here the public should be able to rely on media reporting to remind us of these important antecedents. Instead, if the reasons for someone’s actions in conflict remain hidden, they appear unreasonable. It therefore feels futile to reason (negotiate) with them – leaving the use of force as the only remaining recourse. Hence the Tisdall take.

What are journalists to do, then, when their usual sources speak either in one voice, or not at all? Russian ambassador Alexey Pavlovsky appeared on ABC Radio National Breakfast on July 7, to be interviewed by Hamish Macdonald. After some initial sparring, over whether the “special military operation” should instead be called a war, or an invasion, the presenter told him: “You’re welcome to express your view, but if you make things up, you’ll be challenged”.

Fair enough – how we long for journalists in public service media to give us the unvarnished facts, even (or especially) when inexpedient to powerful vested interests. Instead, controversial topics tend to be placed on a see-saw, with every story reported in the same format: “On-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand-in-the-end-only-time-will-tell”. I know it well from spending most of my own journalistic career in the BBC. So we have had to endure the false equivalence accorded, down the years, to evidence-averse drivel from climate science-denying fossil fuel industry flacks, Brexit zealots, Zionist apologists and many more.

One of the most oft-cited pieces of journalism research is W Lance Bennett’s “indexing model”, which predicts the extent of disagreement in news reporting as being closely tied to the degree of elite discord. If there’s any suggestion that someone, somewhere, on the government or opposition benches may purport to take issue with a statement of fact (especially if it overlaps with the preoccupations of, say, wealthy industries or the Murdoch press), then the hard-wired instinct of ABC journalists will be to disguise it, instead, as a point of view, requiring to be balanced against another. For Macdonald on this occasion to ignore such a recourse testifies to the depth of elite consensus over Ukraine.

It is, then, to alternative media that we must turn, to enable us to peer round the edges of this consensus and to disinter some of the reasons for the conflict and the actions of parties both directly and indirectly involved.

Such media differ in their avowedly teleological ethical stance. To take two examples – Pearls and Irritations itself is committed to “peace with justice”; Green Left Weekly is affiliated with the Socialist Alliance political grouping. Whereas traditional media tend more to the deontological, or ethic of duty, encapsulated by New York Times founder Adolph S Ochs: “report without fear or favour”.

But it is for their old-fashioned journalistic standards that we should prize these independent outlets in the present conjuncture. These include diversity of sourcing and diversity of perspectives. GLW Europe Correspondent Dick Nichols reported on dissent within Russia, as soldiers sent into harm’s way tended to be drawn disproportionately from ethnic minorities. He quoted Leonid Vasyukevich, MP for the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) in the far-eastern territory of Primorye, who read a declaration in the regional parliament on May 27, which ended: “We demand the immediate withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine”. Would the affair end up, Nichols speculated, being seen as “Putin’s Vietnam”?

In a later dispatch, he quoted a range of views from Spanish, Swedish and Finnish political parties following the Nato summit in Madrid, which was invariably written up in corporate media as a “triumph”. Most telling was the Podemos MP, Gerardo Pisarello, who attacked the “warmongering zeal” on display, and restored to our mental map the self-seeking priorities of parties to the conflict across a broader formation, far away from the arena of hostilities. “This summit was basically organised to reinforce the strategic priorities of the US, which are not Ukraine, not Europe, but above all weakening China”.

One of the points Ambassador Pavlovsky made in his interview on RN Breakfast was that the agenda of the US and allies makes them less keen on reaching agreement than Ukrainians themselves: “When Ukraine released a document undertaking not to join Nato, not to host military bases on their territory, Boris Johnson the next day said Ukraine should not be in a rush to sign an agreement, and increased the supply of weapons”.

Pearls and Irritations distinguished itself as the only Australian media to report on the peace initiative by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, which argued that: “Grim realities of ongoing battle, with neither side likely to win a decisive military victory, should push both to the negotiating table”. It drew attention to the availability of peace plans, including from Italy, comprising four points:

  1. A ceasefire;
  2. Ukraine’s neutrality;
  3. Ongoing negotiations over Crimea and Donbas; and
  4. Multilateral negotiations within the OSCE and between Russia and NATO on regional security arrangements.

There are, in short, well-attested calls for peace and ways to work towards it, both within Russia and outside. Peace Journalism should continue to push for them to be followed up, along with other appeals from civil society such as the call from Russia’s own human rights groups for the UN to appoint a special rapporteur on the crackdown now underway.

Long experience from a range of conflicts strongly suggests that such small beginnings are the first resources for making and – in time – building peace. Once media have drawn them to our attention, the challenge is to keep them in view, reach out to them, connect and support them. Only then will the momentum tilt away from violence and towards agreement.










Though it is a difficult process....


See Ireland and England. See Serbia and Croatia.... et cetera......




FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW............................

erasing history....

By Patrick Lawrence / Original to ScheerPost

A recent  report by the German news agency DPA has had me thinking ever since about various small, inconsequential matters: war, nationalism, identity, history, memory. It seems the people who manage the German gravesites of those who fell fighting the German army during World War II propose to draw distinctions among the Red Army’s dead buried in German cemeteries. They will no longer be designated simply “Soviet” or “Russian,” as has been the practice until now. If a Red Army soldier came from Ukraine—which was a Soviet republic during World War II and for 46 years afterward—they will now be written into the record as “Ukrainian.” 

“We’re starting to differentiate,” Christian Lübcke, who directs the Hamburg chapter of the German War Graves Commission, said in an interview the DPA published November 14.

Let me try to get this straight. Red Army soldiers who fought the Third Reich as Soviet citizens are to be retroactively assigned an imagined nationality if they came from the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic? How does that work?

No one other than the German wire service and RT, the Russian equivalent of the BBC, appears to have covered the story. Maybe most media judged it of little consequence. Or maybe a development such as this, discriminating among the bones of soldiers and prisoners of war 75 years dead on the basis of a distinction that did not exist until 1991, came over in most newsrooms as too preposterous, too embarrassing, to write about.

In explaining himself, Lübcke cited the war in Ukraine and a Russian civil society group, the Immortal Regiment, that honors the Red Army soldiers who died in the Great Patriotic War, as Russians call World War II. The Soviet Union’s sacrifices as it defeated the Nazi regime–more than 20 million perished–are, of course, a big deal for Russians every Victory Day, May 9. But Lübcke objects that the Immortal Regiment, when honoring Soviet graves at one of Hamburg’s cemeteries, exhibits “nationalistic and partly historical revisionist undertones”—a strange thought, as I will consider shortly.

The numbers involved are not large. Red Army soldiers who died in battle or in Nazi POW camps come to roughly 1,400 out of 62,000 war dead in Hamburg’s various cemeteries. Their graves were all marked Soviet or Russian when they were buried—properly enough, given that is what they were. I cannot quite tell from the German reporting what Lübcke now has in mind–whether he proposes to alter cemetery documents or to alter the documents and chisel new gravestones. But it is clear he intends to impose a falsified past  on those Soviet fallen who came from the Ukrainian republic. He also wants to go national with his idea.

Preposterous, yes, and embarrassing, yes again. But this is why it is also extremely important to consider what causes an organization dedicated to honoring war dead to think it is right to impose an ahistorical distinction between some sacrificed lives and other sacrificed lives when they fought side by side in the same army to defeat their common enemy. What sentiments, what political forces, what propaganda project, animate this stunningly disrespectful proposal? What ideological drive causes Christian Lübcke to pimp dead soldiers who, were they alive, would have no idea of the point he wishes to make?

I recall posing similar questions back in June 2015, when John Kerry and other Allied leaders joined veterans from their armies on the Normandy beaches to mark the 70th anniversary of D–Day and the impending Nazi defeat. Obama’s secretary of state thought nothing of speechifying grandly about the heroes of the war while pointedly excluding the Russians from the ceremonies. Kerry et al. had by then refused to attend the May 9 events in Moscow marking the same anniversary. Considering the very essential role and exceptional sacrifices the Red Army made to the Allied cause, this seemed to me a bottomlessly shameful thing to do.

All that was a year after the U.S.–cultivated coup in Ukraine, we should note—a year into Washington’s strategy of using the regime it installed in Kyiv as the front edge of its campaign to threaten the Russian Federation up to its western frontier.

By then I had heard the old Soviet joke many times, as some readers may have. The future is set, Soviet citizens used to say. It is the past that is always uncertain. This was a reference to all the airbrushing of photographs, the rewriting of texts, and the corrupting of archives that went on during the Stalin years.

Taking my date from the exclusion of Russian veterans and officials from the Normandy ceremonies, we have watched these past seven years as the West has become more and more Soviet in its disrespect and abuse of the past. Since the Russian intervention in Ukraine last February, this kind of inexcusable conduct has been rampant—made all the worse as Western leaders and institutions indulge in it with no compunction, no conscience, and certainly no embarrassment. It is as if human history and the historian’s discipline are deserving of no common respect and so are available as an instrument to revile others, or airbrush them out of the picture.

Last summer Latvia demolished the largest Soviet-era monument in Riga, the capital, commemorating the victory over Nazism—this as the Russian-speaking minority had to stand by and watch. Estonia soon followed suit, an exercise in its case involving hundreds of statues and other sorts of memorials. Kaja Kallas, the Estonian prime minister, explained it this way: “It is clear that Russian aggression in Ukraine has torn open wounds in our society that these communist monuments remind us of, and therefore their removal from public space is necessary to avoid additional tensions.”

I have no clue what Kallas meant with these remarks. They appear simply to reflect muddled thinking, or none. No clear thought, no clear language, I always say. So we have Christian Lübcke explaining that his obviously nationalist and historically revisionist desire to vandalize history by falsifying records and–again, I cannot tell–chiseling new gravestones is to be done in the name of opposing nationalism and historical revisionism. We have Kaja Kallas ripping wounds into the Latvian body politic in the name of salving wounds.

To state the obvious, we have to look further than Christian Lübcke, Kaja Kallas, and other such officials overseeing these projects to understand their point. And so I return to those stray thoughts I mentioned earlier, having to do with nationalism, identity, history, and memory.

Ernest Renan, the French historian, biblical scholar, philosopher, philologist, critic, and so on—people did a lot of different things before our civilization packed knowledge into silos—delivered a lecture at the Sorbonne in 1882 that has come down to us and is still quoted from time to time. He called it Qu’est-ce que une nation?—“What Is a Nation?” Among its notable passages is this:

“Forgetting, I would even say historical error, is an essential factor in the creation of a nation…The essence of a nation is that all of its individual members have a great deal in common and also that they have forgotten many things.”

Renan had particular reasons for advancing these surprisingly forthright thoughts. By the 1880s, France was busily making itself a modern nation. Its regional identities and dialects—Brittany and Breton, Alsace and Alcacien, Occitanie and Languedoc, and so on—were pre-modern impediments to the project. They had to be subdued and over time removed from the national discourse, as if they were undesirable statues.

I have always found Renan’s thoughts on nationality disagreeable and diabolically true all at once. It leads us to the essential point of all the official erasures and disfigurements I have mentioned and the many more I have not. It is that histories are very often destroyed in the creation of nations and identities.

What was the point of all the old airbrushing and erasing of the Soviet Union, especially, but I gather not only, during the Stalin years? It was to construct a national story with very clean, easy-to-read lines having to do with an imaginary version of socialist harmony with which Soviet citizens could identify.

What were Kerry and the other Western leaders present in Normandy seven years ago—French, British, German, Polish, and so on—trying to accomplish? They proposed to give their peoples a version of World War II that was compelling, inspiring of national pride, and—greatly above all—devoid of the true past, the past wherein Russia and Russians were decisively present.

This is the West’s shared project now, one that rests to an unfortunate extent on forgetting. I take some comfort from the voice of Katharina Fegebank, Hamburg’s deputy mayor, who spoke on Volkstrauertag, Germany’s day of national mourning, which fell this year on November 13:

“It is our task today and every day to think of these and millions of people who have fallen victim to war and violence. We stand together here to stand up for peace and freedom, against racism, anti-Semitism and exclusion.” 

Will the Katharina Fegebanks of our time prevail against the forgetting that is effectively being forced upon us, we of the West? This is our question, and I would rather not answer it just now.

In Ernest Renan’s day, a Breton or a speaker of Languedoc was supposed to become no longer a Breton or an Occitanie but a Frenchman or Frenchwoman. This project, which was in some respects forced, was a very long one and was at times bitter and bitterly resisted. In 1975 a writer and actor named Pierre–Jacques Hélias published a very fine memoir about the Breton identity, Le cheval d’orgueil, in English The Horse of Pride. It is filled with affectionate sentiment for a world that had been but was, by then, no more. Hélias wrote as a Frenchman, in French: This was in its way the unwritten coda to his story, if I read the book correctly.

The forgetting of our time is of a different order, it seems to me. It is much more insidious. The objective is to create a new consciousness, as it was in Renan’s time, but in our 21st century case this is to be done by way of a radical narrowing of our minds, a radical impoverishment of thought in the name of a neoliberal hegemony, in this way a radical stripping away of possibilities, a radical confinement within the walls of another bifurcated world order wherein neither side can see over these walls into the other side. In this world, if we collectively accept it without resistance, the future will be set and the past always uncertain.










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fighting using privateers....

By Andrea Mazzarino / TomDispatch

The way mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin and his private army have been waging a significant part of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has been well covered in the American media, not least of all because his firm, the Wagner Group, draws most of its men from Russia’s prison system. Wagner offers “freedom” from Putin’s labor camps only to send those released convicts to the front lines of the conflict, often on brutal suicide missions.

At least the Russian president and his state-run media make no secret of his regime’s alliance with Wagner. The American government, on the other hand, seldom acknowledges its own version of the privatization of war — the tens of thousands of private security contractors it’s used in its misguided war on terror, involving military and intelligence operations in a staggering 85 countries.

At least as far back as the Civil War through World Wars I and II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and the first Gulf War, “contractors,” as we like to call them, have long been with us. Only recently, however, have they begun playing such a large role in our wars, with an estimated 10% to 20% of them directly involved in combat and intelligence operations.

Contractors have both committed horrific abuses and acted bravely under fire (because they have all too often been under fire). From torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq to interrogations at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, from employees of the private security firm Blackwater indiscriminately firing on unarmed Iraqi civilians to contractors defending a U.S. base under attack in Afghanistan, they have been an essential part of the war on terror. And yes, they both killed Afghans and helped some who had worked as support contractors escape from Taliban rule.

The involvement of private companies has allowed Washington to continue to conduct its operations around the globe, even if many Americans think that our war on terror in AfghanistanIraq, and elsewhere has ended. I tried looking for any kind of a survey of how many of us realize that it continues in Iraq and elsewhere, but all I could find was pollster Nate Silver’s analysis of “lessons learned” from that global conflict, as if it were part of our history. And unless respondents were caring for a combat-wounded veteran, they tended not to look unfavorably on sending our troops into battle in distant lands — so scratch that as a lesson learned from our forever wars. 

None of this surprises me. American troops are no longer getting killed in significant numbers, nor are as many crowding the waitlists at backlogged Veterans Affairs hospitals as would be the case if those troops had been the only ones doing the fighting.

At points during this century’s war on terror, in fact, the U.S. used more civilian contractors in its ongoing wars than uniformed military personnel. In fact, as of 2019, according to Brown University’s Costs of War Project, which I co-founded, there were 50% more contractors than troops in the U.S. Central Command region that includes Afghanistan, Iraq, and 18 other countries in the Middle East, as well as Central and South Asia. As recently as December 2022, the Pentagon had about 22,000 contractors deployed throughout that region, with nearly 8,000 concentrated in Iraq and Syria. To be sure, most of those workers were unarmed and providing food service, communications aid, and the like. Even more tellingly, roughly two thirds of them were citizens of other countries, particularly lower-income ones.

In 2020, retired Army Officer Danny Sjursen offered an interesting explanation for how the war on terror was then becoming ever more privatized: the Covid-19 pandemic had changed the Pentagon’s war-making strategy as the public began to question how much money and how many lives were being expended on war abroad rather than healthcare at home. As a result, Sjursen argued, the U.S. had begun deploying ever more contractors, remote drones, CIA paramilitaries, and (often abusive) local forces in that war on terror while U.S. troops were redeployed to Europe and the Pacific to contain a resurgent Russia and China. In other words, during the pandemic, Washington placed ever more dirty work in corporate and foreign hands.

(Not) Counting Contractors

It’s been a challenge to write about private security contractors because our government does anything but a good job of counting them. Though the Defense Department keeps quarterly records of how many civilian contractors it employs and where, they exclude employees contracted with the Central Intelligence Agency or the State Department.

When Costs of War first tried to count contractor deaths by searching official government sources, we came up short. The spouse of a gravely wounded armed contractor directed me to her blog, where she had started to compile a list of just such deaths based on daily Google searches, even as she worked hard caring for her spouse and managing his disability paperwork. She and I eventually lost touch and it appears that she stopped compiling such numbers long ago. Still, we at the project took a page from her book, while adding reported war deaths among foreign nationals working for the Pentagon to our formula. Costs of War researchers then estimated that 8,000 contractors had been killed in our wars in the Middle East as of 2019, or about 1,000 more than the U.S. troops who died during the same period.

Social scientists Ori Swed and Thomas Crosbie have tried to extrapolate from reported contractor deaths in order to paint a picture of who they were while still alive. They believe that most of them were white veterans in their forties; many were former Special Forces operatives and a number of former officers with college degrees).

Limited Choices for Veterans

How do people of relative racial, economic, and gendered privilege end up in positions that, while well-paid, are even more precarious than being in the armed forces? As a therapist serving military families and as a military spouse, I would say that the path to security contracting reflects a deep cultural divide in our society between military and civilian life. Although veteran unemployment rates are marginally lower than those in the civilian population, many of them tend to seek out what they know best and that means military training, staffing, weapons production — and, for some, combat.

I recently spoke with one Marine infantry veteran who had completed four combat tours. He told me that, after leaving the service, he lacked a community that understood what he had been through. He sought to avoid social isolation by getting a government job. However, after applying for several in law enforcement agencies, he “failed” lie detector tests (owing to the common stress reactions of war-traumatized veterans). Having accidentally stumbled on a veteran-support nonprofit group, he ultimately found connections that led him to decide to return to school and retrain in a new profession. But, as he pointed out, “many of my other friends from the Marines numbed their pain with drugs or by going back to war as security contractors.”

Not everyone views contracting as a strategy of last resort. Still, I find it revealing of the limited sense of possibility such veterans experience that the top five companies employing them are large corporations servicing the Department of Defense through activities like information technology support, weapons production, or offers of personnel, both armed and not.

The Corporate Wounded

And keep in mind that such jobs are anything but easy. Many veterans find themselves facing yet more of the same — quick, successive combat deployments as contractors.

Anyone in this era of insurance mega-corporations who has ever had to battle for coverage is aware that doing so isn’t easy. Private insurers can maximize their profits by holding onto premium payments as long as possible while denying covered services.

A federal law called the Defense Base Act (1941) (DBA) requires that corporations fund workers’ compensation claims for their employees laboring under U.S. contracts, regardless of their nationalities, with the taxpayer footing the bill. The program grew exponentially after the start of the war on terror, but insurance companies have not consistently met their obligations under the law. In 2008, a joint investigation by the Los Angeles Times and ProPublica found that insurers like Chicago-based CAN Financial Corps were earning up to 50% profits on some of their war-zone policies, while many employees of contractors lacked adequate care and compensation for their injuries.

Even after Congress called on the Pentagon and the Department of Labor to better enforce the DBA in 2011, some companies continued to operate with impunity visàvis their own workers, sometimes even failing to purchase insurance for them or refusing to help them file claims as required by law.  While insurance companies made tens of millions of dollars in profits during the second decade of the war on terror, between 2009 and 2021, the Department of Labor fined insurers of those contracting corporations a total of only $3,250 for failing to report DBA claims. 

Privatizing Foreign Policy

At its core, the war on terror sought to create an image of the U.S. abroad as a beacon of democracy and the rule of law. Yet there is probably no better evidence of how poorly this worked in practice at home and abroad than the little noted (mis)use of security contractors. Without their ever truly being seen, they prolonged that global set of conflicts, inflicting damage on other societies and being damaged themselves in America’s name. Last month, the Costs of War Project reported that the U.S. is now using subcontractors Bancroft Global Development and Pacific Architects and Engineers to train the Somali National Army in its counterterrorism efforts. Meanwhile, the U.S. intervention there has only helped precipitate a further rise in terrorist attacks in the region.

The global presence created by such contractors also manifests itself in how we respond to threats to their lives. In March 2023, a self-destructing drone exploded at a U.S. maintenance facility on a coalition base in northeastern Syria, killing a contractor employed by the Pentagon and injuring another, while wounding five American soldiers. After that drone was found to be of Iranian origin, President Biden ordered an air strike on facilities in Syria used by Iranian-allied forces. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated, “No group will strike our troops with impunity.” While he later expressed condolences to the family of the contractor who was the only one killed in that attack, his statement could have more explicitly acknowledged that contractors are even more numerous than troops among the dead from our forever wars.

In late December 2019, a contractor working as an interpreter on a U.S. military base in Iraq was killed by rockets fired by an Iranian-backed militia. Shortly afterward, then-President Trump ordered an air strike that killed the commander of an elite Iranian military unit, sparking concern about a dangerous escalation with that country. Trump later tweeted, “Iran killed an American contractor, wounding many. We strongly responded, and always will.”

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Trump’s tweet was more honest than Austin’s official statement: such contractors are now an essential part of America’s increasingly privatized wars and will continue to be so, in seemingly ever greater numbers. Even though retaliating for attacks on their lives has little to do with effective counterterrorism (as the Costs of War Project has long made clear), bearing witness to war casualties in all their grim diversity is the least the rest of us can do as American citizens. Because how can we know whether — and for whom — our shadowy, shape-shifting wars “work” if we continue to let our leaders wage an increasingly privatized version of them in ways meant to obscure our view of the carnage they’ve caused?









of hearts and minds...



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