Foreigners are Fighting on Both Sides in Ukraine. But There’s Little Proof.

Are there Russians fighting on the rebel side? Yes there are, we are also told that there are Serbs, French, Spaniards and so on. How about the other side? Well at least one American has been killed fighting on Kiev’s side and there’s a Swedish sniper. No doubt there are others. Are any of these sent by their governments? I doubt it.

There are persistent rumours that American Blackwater (now re-named Academi) are fighting for Kiev, I have seen claims that there are Polish commandos. The participation of these forces would imply involvement by their governments. But I have seen no evidence. Evidence being documents, a corpse with identification or a prisoner speaking. Believable? Yes, but no evidence. (But stay tuned: the rebels have just captured a lot of documents.)

There are many assertions that Russian soldiers and weaponry – ie serving soldiers sent by and with the approval of Moscow – are fighting in eastern Ukraine. As I have argued here, the evidence presented by NATO is nothing like what real evidence gathered by the all-seeing American intelligence assets would look like. Evidence, so laughably inadequate, in fact, that it’s negative evidence: if this is the best they have, then they obviously have nothing. Again, believable, but no evidence.

We know NATO countries are providing the Kiev forces with “non-lethal equipment” because they say they are. (“Non-lethal equipment”, by the way, is a concept designed to fool the simple-minded. There is no such thing: wars need beans, bullets and bandages; if beans are provided free of charge that leaves more money for bullets). Russia’s aid convey is an example of providing beans, just as the US provision of MREs to the Kiev side is.

From where are the rebels getting their weaponry? Well they capture quite a lot: go to this website and see for yourself (destroyed on left, captured on right). Does Russia provide weapons from its stocks? Believable, but no evidence.

And that is really all that can be said with certainty about both halves of the charge.


Why NATO’s Evidence of a Russian Invasion is Completely Unconvincing

JRL 2014/191/4

Once again the headlines shout that Russia has invaded Ukraine. Once again NATO offers blurry satellite shots from a commercial service for evidence. Here are June’s “invasion” satellite photos. This month’s “invasion” satellite photos are here. Again from a commercial source, Digital Globe. Photo 1: some “Russian” SPGs in Ukraine (everybody uses “Russian” ie Soviet equipment and the rebels have captured quite a lot). Photo 2: Some deployed artillery in Ukraine (ludicrously explained as how “trained military professionals” would deploy it. Hasn’t anyone in NATO HQ realised that the east Ukrainian rebels are pretty competent?) Photo 3: A Russian base with stuff in it and without stuff in it (but aren’t we continually told about the Russian “buildup on the border”, always alarming, always threatening, whatever the numbers: “very, very sizable” in March, 40K in April, 12K in July, 20K in August. One should not be surprised that there’s some variance of equipment at a given base over time). Photo 4 and 5: Some guns in Russia pointing towards Ukraine (where, by the way, as NATO intelligence may know, there is a war going on with occasional firing into Russia. All military are trained to expect the worst.) And, by the way, if Russia did invade, don’t you think it would do it in strength rather than a couple of tanks here and a gun or two there? No wonder the Russians are laughing at this “evidence”; this isn’t evidence of anything except how gullible NATO thinks its taxpayers are.

Its time to consider what real evidence would look like. The United States has spent billions and billions of dollars on intelligence-gathering equipment; and supposedly has more assets than anyone else has ever had or dreamed of having. So, given this vast array of sophisticated devices which, one has to assume, have been watching Ukraine and western Russia for months, what would real evidence of a Russian invasion of Ukraine look like?

We would see a series of photographs, maybe even a continuous moving picture, perhaps backed up by intercepted communications, of Russian equipment forming up in a base. We would follow that column, photo by photo, moving towards Ukraine. We would watch that column, photo by photo, as it crossed the frontier and deployed. We should also have photos of Russian artillery actually firing – after all, the guns they show are right out in the open and artillery doesn’t fire single shots. If the Russians were actually firing across the border regularly, there would be real satellite evidence showing it. That is what real proof would look like and that is what these pathetic efforts are not. Although they are negative evidence: if NATO had real evidence, we’d see it 24/7; this paltry effort demonstrates that it does not.

It’s all reminiscent of the two British reporters who said they saw Russian armour head across the border into Ukraine a couple of weeks ago, My smart phone has a camera and it has GPS too and there’s lots of map software available (I recommend City Maps 2Go, download Rostov Oblast. I’m sure their newspapers would stand the $3 it costs). A real report would have said this is the time, this is where we are, this is what we saw, here’s photos. But oops, whaddaya know! they forgot to take their smart phones with them. Gee, so we have to trust them and take their word for it.


And I don’t trust NATO and its pitiful commercial images, I don’t trust reporters who “forget” to record things and I don’t trust Marie Harf and her “social media and common sense”.

As Paul Craig Roberts puts it: “The latest Washington lie, this one coming from NATO, is that Russia has invaded Ukraine with 1,000 troops and self-propelled artillery. How do we know that this is a lie? Is it because we have heard nothing but lies about Russia from NATO, from US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, from assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland, from Obama and his entire regime of pathological liars, and from the British, German, and French governments along with the BBC and the entirety of the Western media?”

With this record, why would anyone believe a word coming out of Washington or NATO, Western governments or the various Western avatars of Pravda?


THE BATTLEFIELD. The rebels have scored huge gains: more “cauldrons”, re-taken the height of Saur-Mogila and reached the sea. People who don’t think Col Cassad is a good source can stick with the BBC and wonder, while looking at the attached map, how the rebels can be in Novoazovsk; or how the Russian aid convoy got into “surrounded” Lugansk. Rather than admit that it has been robotically re-typing Kiev’s press releases, the Western MSM will shout that the Russians must have invaded but “If Russia was sending its regular troops, we wouldn’t be talking about the battle of Elenovka here. We’d be talking about a battle of Kiev or a possible capture of Lvov”. Kiev isn’t sure what to say: the same official spokesman: Russian invasion? Yes, No; take your pick. The Western MSM is not doing due diligence. How many invasions has it reported? April, June, July. The Russian “buildup on the border”, always alarming, always threatening, whatever the numbers: “very, very sizable” in March, 40K or none in April, 12K in July, 20K in August. They must think we have 20-second attention spans. Two sites to counter the various manifestations of the Western Pravda: the Saker and Cassad.

NOW, SUDDENLY the Germans suggest federalisation, Ashton recommends Kiev get along with Russia, the EU suggests an accommodation with the Customs Union might be possible. Good ideas in March and really good ideas a year ago; but it was all “civilisational choice” then. Kiev is losing on the battlefield, it’s bankrupt, winter is coming, the Europeans don’t want their paid-for gas being siphoned off by Kiev, Russian sanctions are biting.

SPONTANEOUS MAIDAN? It has been revealed that the EU spent €496 million subsiding front groups in Ukraine between 2004 and 2013. Then we have Victoria Nuland’s US$5 billion. Brussels and Washington lit the fuse, the fire is burning. Easy to start; hard to finish.

KEY QUESTIONS. On 21 February there was an agreement; then the snipers. July a ray of hope, then MH17. What’s going to derail it now? Who wants Ukraine to get worse? Will the Europeans be distracted again?

MH17. A report is promised in early September. Is there a secret agreement requiring Kiev’s consent?

DELUSIONS. The West, aided by its synchronised media, gets an idea into its head and can’t get it out again. “Qaddafi is bombing his own people”, so a no-fly zone is the answer; but he wasn’t and it morphed into a full intervention. “The resistance in eastern Ukraine is Russia’s creation”; it isn’t : “Frankly speaking, we cannot discuss any conditions for a ceasefire or possible agreements between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. This is not our business; it is a domestic matter of Ukraine itself.” Poroshenko must talk to the people he’s fighting. And the time for federalisation has passed: “By now so much blood has been spilled and so many people have died for freedom. How can we speak of federalization?”

WHERE DO THE REBELS GET THEIR WEAPONS? A lot is captured. CyberBerkut reports over 200 AFVs and a battalion’s worth of Grads. This site attempts to record them, with photos: it claims 214 armoured vehicles captured and 37 artillery pieces. For the interested, here’s how a “cauldron” (котёл) is formed; Finns would know it as motti.

MINSK. Putin and Poroshenko met. Here’s Putin’s account: EU association will disrupt present trade agreements with Russia and cost everyone something; Kiev has to talk to Donetsk and Lugansk itself. I guess this is Poroshenko’s: Russians invaded, staying at home, must make a plan.

RUSSIA’S “ISOLATION”. Egyptian president visits; military exercises with China and India; the Mistrals will be delivered. To say nothing of all the new rhetoric coming out of Europe. In a surreal development, Washington is apparently trying to get Beijing to sanction Russia!

STIRRINGS. Pravy Sektor’s head issued an ultimatum to make certain changes, threatening to march on Kiev. He withdrew the threat the next day, claiming sufficient compliance. An economics minister resigned as did the the head of the anti-corruption effort. A field commander has called the high command incompetent or traitors. Protesters in Kiev today demand resignations of Poroshenko and defence minister. Poroshenko dissolved parliament: “Dozens of these so-called ‘people’s deputies’ form the fifth column.”

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Ottawa, Canada (

Credibility, Then and Now

A few weeks ago, one half of the rebarbative US State Department spokesteam said “I would also say that these aren’t competing narratives from two equally credible sources here.” She meant of course, that the US, in the person of Secretary of State John Kerry, was “credible” and Russia was not.

Well, let’s see.

So we now learn that the Kosovo Liberation Organisation, that NATO put into power, was a pretty nasty piece of work. (“unlawful killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, illegal detentions in camps in Kosovo and Albania, sexual violence, other forms of inhumane treatment, forced displacements of individuals from their homes and communities, and desecration and destruction of churches and other religious sites. This effectively resulted in the ethnic cleansing of large portions of the Serb and Roma populations from those areas in Kosovo south of the Ibar River, with the exception of a few scattered minority enclaves. Additionally, we have found that certain elements of the KLA engaged in a sustained campaign of violence and intimidation through 1998 and 1999 directed at Kosovo Albanian political opponents, which also included acts of extrajudicial killings, illegal detentions, and inhumane treatment. We believe that the evidence is compelling that these crimes were not the acts of rogue individuals acting on their own accord, but rather that they were conducted in an organized fashion and were sanctioned by certain individuals in the top levels of the KLA leadership.).

Here’s John Kerry at the time: “We must not allow Slobodan Milosevic’s ‘ethnic cleansing’ to undermine our hard-fought peace or spill over into neighboring countries, precipitating the further destabilization of the region.” Note the phrase “ethnic cleansing” in each.

Qaddafi wasn’t “bombing his open people” (“Muammar al-Qaddafi did not target civilians or resort to indiscriminate force.”).

Here’s John Kerry at the time: “The military intervention in Libya sends a critical signal to other leaders in the region: They cannot automatically assume they can resort to large-scale violence to put down legitimate demands for reform without consequences.”

Assad wasn’t gassing his people a year ago. (UN report. Lloyd and Postel conclude US government explanation cannot possibly be true because one of the two rockets cited as having been fired from government position did not have the necessary range. Summary of data by Seymour Hersh. Most likely a “false flag” attack designed to invite US intervention; but even if not, very little to base a case for war on).

Here’s John Kerry at the time: “In some of the most aggressive language used yet by the administration, Mr. Kerry accused the Syrian government of the ‘indiscriminate slaughter of civilians’ and of cynical efforts to cover up its responsibility for a ‘cowardly crime’”.

But we’re supposed to believe John Kerry’s “credible” about Ukraine?

Isn’t there some Latin tag that goes something like falsus in omnibus, veritas in unum? Or have I got that the wrong way round?


MH17. Still nothing from Washington to respond to the Russian briefing 17 days ago. I remind you of the central points because I’ll bet your local media outlet hasn’t: 1. Nearby Ukrainian fighter plane. 2. Ukrainian Buk system in range. 3. The film supposedly showing a Russian Buk TELAR being taken back to Russia is a fake. 4. The US was watching. But maybe there was a reaction: unnamed intelligence people said “we don’t know a name, we don’t know a rank and we’re not even 100 percent sure of a nationality”. Therefore there is only one conclusion that a rational person can come to: the White House and State Department do not have the evidence to back up what they are saying. The “black boxes” arrived in the UK and a spokesman from the Department of Transport said it should take about 2 days to download and decipher their information. That was 2 weeks ago. So who did shoot it down? I don’t know, but here’s some things to read. Ukrainian Buk; not possible from the rebel position at Snizhne. Ukrainian Buk but fired by “rogue elements” without Kiev’s knowledge. A Ukrainian fighter plane. Ukrainian Buk, but maybe an accident (it’s happened before). If you don’t like these alternative sources, see the officials. (Watch the whole video, Dear Reader, if you haven’t seen the State Department spokesteam in action before. Then you can wonder whether she briefs Obama. See below).

YUKOS. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague decided that Russia should pay US$50 billion to former Yukos oil company shareholders. Pretty questionable decision says this man and I agree: for one thing, it would seem to contradict this earlier European verdict. Get ready for another juridical farce: Pussy Riot want €250,000.

SANCTIONS. Are starting to bite. In Europe that is. It’s not that Russia is such a huge market; the important point is that it’s one of the few the EU has that is growing and that’s why investor morale has taken a big dive. Russia has retaliated with a ban of food imports from sanctioners. €12 billion, 1.2 billion USD, 500 million CAD. Rather a clever move, actually – a boost to Russian agriculture and to BRICS exporters; I suspect that, at the end, we will have lost the market for good.

SYRIA. The OPCW reports that almost a third of CW removed earlier from Syria has been destroyed. Remember last August’s headlines?

THE US DOLLAR. “Russia Sanctions Accelerate Risk to Dollar Dominance” say Bloomberg. Russia and India bypass dollar. Likewise Russia and Iran.

RUSSIAN ISOLATION. India says no change in relationship with Russia and maybe more connections coming. China wants closer ties. Things are developing so quickly here that it’s hard to keep up.

THE UNCERTAINTY OF FORMER CERTAINTIES. An investigation group finds evidence of serious war crimes by the Kosovo Liberation Army. Georgia has filed criminal charges against Saakashvili.

UNPREPARED. A British parliamentary committee says that NATO is not prepared for a Russian attack against a member. The world’s largest alliance can’t deal with a attack by a “gas station” that “makes nothing”? NATO outspends Russia 11 to one and has 4 times as many soldiers. Common sense has just gone out the window, hasn’t it? More craziness “How to Solve the Putin Problem”.

OBAMA INTERVIEW. Stunningly ignorant and arrogant: everything he said about Russia is wrong and he managed to patronise China as well. Here are two take-aparts of his 100% wrong statements on Russia.

DESPICABLE BEHAVIOUR. Dutch PM then, “shocked by disrespectful behaviour”; Dutch PM now: “more was done after the disaster than we thought”. Can we expect an apology?

UKRAINE. The revolution continues: Communist party (32 seats in 2012) outlawed. Government falls. Poroshenko says the Rada is infiltrated with fifth columnists. Reports of resistance in the west to conscription. 400 soldiers crossed into Russia to surrender; rumours of more coming. Atrocities in the east, stagnation and corruption in Kiev. No hot water in Kiev. Burning tires in the Maidan again. No money. High casualties. Victory is near, but the supply people have just been fired. Nearly three-quarters of a million have fled to Russia. For contrast, here’s the news one year ago today.

© Patrick Armstrong Analysis, Ottawa, Canada (

Deadly Quotation Part 2



A number of people have challenged my (and the official Kremlin translators’) choice of “a major” for “krupneyshey” in Putin’s famous sentence “Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century.” I stand by what I said: he did not say that there was no worse geopolitical disaster in the century. Neither did he mean that he wanted the empire back.

1. Meaning of the word “krupneyshey”. I take my authority from Pekhlivanova and Lebedeva: “Russian Grammar in Illustrations”; Moscow 1994; p 161. Here it is stated “To say that an object possesses some quality in extraordinary degree, without comparing it to other objects, the Russian uses a special adjectival form ending in -eyshiy (or -ayshiy, after zh, ch, sh, shch). A footnote tells us “These forms are used more frequently in bookish speech”.

To express the meaning “the object possesses the quality in the highest degree as compared to other objects” the modifier samyy is used.

A photograph of that page of the book is below

English does not have such an adjectival form: it has the quality (big) the comparative (bigger) the superlative (biggest). I would therefore suggest that the really correct translation would have been “one of the bigger” or even “one of the biggest”. But, according to my source, it would be absolutely wrong to call it the “biggest/largest/maximal” (which means number one, none bigger).

2. There is the argument from common sense: no Russian would ever say that any “geopolitical disaster” was bigger than the Second World War. His tongue couldn’t even form the syllables.

3. One must assume that Putin chooses his words carefully and knows what they mean especially in a formal speech like his address to the Federal Assembly in 2005 from which the sentence is taken.

4. One must assume that the Kremlin English translators know what they are doing. They chose the word “a major” for “krupneyshey”. By the way, I read the speech when it was given and downloaded the text in Russian and English at the time. There has been no change since. (It occurs to me, given that, in Latin, “maior” is the comparative of “magnus” – big, or great – the translators by that word choice might have been trying to suggest some quality that was on the high side of the scale without being “maximus”; in short “krupneyshey”; not just big but bigger than most? The comparative meaning of “major” seems to be hard-wired: can you even say “more major” or “most major” in English without sounding illiterate?)

5. The context makes it quite clear that Putin is not talking about loss of empire or anything like that. Here is the text around the famous sentence:

I consider the development of Russia as a free and democratic state to be our main political and ideological goal. We use these words fairly frequently, but rarely care to reveal how the deeper meaning of such values as freedom and democracy, justice and legality is translated into life.

Meanwhile, there is a need for such an analysis. The objectively difficult processes going on in Russia are increasingly becoming the subject of heated ideological discussions. And they are all connected with talk about freedom and democracy. Sometimes you can hear that since the Russian people have been silent for centuries, they are not used to or do not need freedom. And for that reason, it is claimed our citizens need constant supervision.

I would like to bring those who think this way back to reality, to the facts. To do so, I will recall once more Russia’s most recent history.

Above all, we should acknowledge that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the century. As for the Russian nation, it became a genuine drama. Tens of millions of our co-citizens and compatriots found themselves outside Russian territory. Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself.

Individual savings were depreciated, and old ideals destroyed. Many institutions were disbanded or reformed carelessly. Terrorist intervention and the Khasavyurt capitulation that followed damaged the country’s integrity. Oligarchic groups – possessing absolute control over information channels – served exclusively their own corporate interests. Mass poverty began to be seen as the norm. And all this was happening against the backdrop of a dramatic economic downturn, unstable finances, and the paralysis of the social sphere.

Many thought or seemed to think at the time that our young democracy was not a continuation of Russian statehood, but its ultimate collapse, the prolonged agony of the Soviet system.

But they were mistaken.

That was precisely the period when the significant developments took place in Russia. Our society was generating not only the energy of self-preservation, but also the will for a new and free life. In those difficult years, the people of Russia had to both uphold their state sovereignty and make an unerring choice in selecting a new vector of development in the thousand years of their history. They had to accomplish the most difficult task: how to safeguard their own values, not to squander undeniable achievements, and confirm the viability of Russian democracy. We had to find our own path in order to build a democratic, free and just society and state.

When speaking of justice, I am not of course referring to the notorious “take away and divide by all” formula, but extensive and equal opportunities for everybody to develop. Success for everyone. A better life for all.

In the ultimate analysis, by affirming these principles, we should become a free society of free people. But in this context it would be appropriate to remember how Russian society formed an aspiration for freedom and justice, how this aspiration matured in the public mind.

Above all else Russia was, is and will, of course, be a major European power. Achieved through much suffering by European culture, the ideals of freedom, human rights, justice and democracy have for many centuries been our society’s determining values.

It is bordering on dishonesty, to take that one sentence out of that context and use it as the capstone of an accusation that Putin wants to get the USSR back. It obvious that he is saying the Russian people are not doomed to become slaves or failures, they have come through this disaster and will grow again; freedom and democracy are possible for them. Ex tenebris lux.

Text of the speech in Russian ( in English (

6. More quotations.

Speaking of freedom and democracy, if one must quote Putin, why not this one? “History proves all dictatorships, all authoritarian forms of government are transient. Only democratic systems are intransient.” (“Russia at the turn of the millennium” 1999). Interesting point, isn’t it? Democracies will outlive dictatorships, no matter how tough the former appear at the beginning.

What’s he mean by “democracy”? “Authoritarianism is complete disregard for the law. Democracy is the observance of the law.” (Interview with reporters, 24 Dec 2000). Depends on the laws, of course, but not a silly or trivial statement, is it?

Or, if we want his opinion on the USSR, how about this one? “In the Soviet Union, for many decades, we lived under the motto, we need to think about the future generation. But we never thought about the existing, current, present generations. And at the end of the day, we have destroyed the country, not thinking about the people living today.” (Putin, press conference in Washington, 16 Sept 2005, White House website). The failure of the USSR was built-in from the start.

I could go on – I have a file of quotations collected over the years – Putin has said a lot about a lot of things. Almost all of it carefully considered and embedded in a deep and broad context. But I’ll stop at one more:

“Our goals are very clear. We want high living standards and a safe, free and comfortable life. We want a mature democracy and a developed civil society. We want to strengthen Russia’s place in the world. But our main goal, I repeat, is to bring about a noticeable rise in our people’s prosperity.” (Address to the Federal Assembly, 26 May 2004”.