Media disinformation: Russia invades Ukraine. Again. And again. And yet again … using Saddam’s WMD

The Anti-Empire Report #134

By William Blum — Published November 19, 2014

“Russia reinforced what Western and Ukrainian officials described as a stealth invasion on Wednesday [August 27], sending armored troops across the border as it expanded the conflict to a new section of Ukrainian territory. The latest incursion, which Ukraine’s military said included five armored personnel carriers, was at least the third movement of troops and weapons from Russia across the southeast part of the border this week.”

None of the photos accompanying this New York Times story online showed any of these Russian troops or armored vehicles.

“The Obama administration,” the story continued, “has asserted over the past week that the Russians had moved artillery, air-defense systems and armor to help the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk. ‘These incursions indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway’, Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said. At the department’s daily briefing in Washington, Ms. Psaki also criticized what she called the Russian government’s ‘unwillingness to tell the truth’ that its military had sent soldiers as deep as 30 miles inside Ukraine territory.”

Thirty miles inside Ukraine territory and not a single satellite photo, not a camera anywhere around, not even a one-minute video to show for it. “Ms. Psaki apparently [sic] was referring to videos of captured Russian soldiers, distributed by the Ukrainian government.” The Times apparently forgot to inform its readers where they could see these videos.

“The Russian aim, one Western official said, may possibly be to seize an outlet to the sea in the event that Russia tries to establish a separatist enclave in eastern Ukraine.”

This of course hasn’t taken place. So what happened to all these Russian soldiers 30 miles inside Ukraine? What happened to all the armored vehicles, weapons, and equipment?

“The United States has photographs that show the Russian artillery moved into Ukraine, American officials say. One photo dated last Thursday, shown to a New York Times reporter, shows Russian military units moving self-propelled artillery into Ukraine. Another photo, dated Saturday, shows the artillery in firing positions in Ukraine.”

Where are these photographs? And how will we know that these are Russian soldiers? And how will we know that the photos were taken in Ukraine? But most importantly, where are the fucking photographs?

Why am I so cynical? Because the Ukrainian and US governments have been feeding us these scare stories for eight months now, without clear visual or other evidence, often without even common sense. Here are a few of the many other examples, before and after the one above:

  • The Wall Street Journal (March 28) reported: “Russian troops massing near Ukraine are actively concealing their positions and establishing supply lines that could be used in a prolonged deployment, ratcheting up concerns that Moscow is preparing for another [sic] major incursion and not conducting exercises as it claims, US officials said.”
  • “The Ukrainian government charged that the Russian military was not only approaching but had actually crossed the border into rebel-held regions.” (Washington Post, November 7)
  • “U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove told reporters in Bulgaria that NATO had observed Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops enter Ukraine across a completely wide-open border with Russia in the previous two days.” (Washington Post, November 13)
  • “Ukraine accuses Russia of sending more soldiers and weapons to help rebels prepare for a new offensive. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied aiding the separatists.” (Reuters, November 16)

Since the February US-backed coup in Ukraine, the State Department has made one accusation after another about Russian military actions in Eastern Ukraine without presenting any kind of satellite imagery or other visual or documentary evidence; or they present something that’s very unclear and wholly inconclusive, such as unmarked vehicles, or unsourced reports, or citing “social media”; what we’re left with is often no more than just an accusation. The Ukrainian government has matched them.

On top of all this we should keep in mind that if Moscow decided to invade Ukraine they’d certainly provide air cover for their ground forces. There has been no mention of air cover.

This is all reminiscent of the numerous stories in the past three years of “Syrian planes bombing defenseless citizens”. Have you ever seen a photo or video of a Syrian government plane dropping bombs? Or of the bombs exploding? When the source of the story is mentioned, it’s almost invariably the rebels who are fighting against the Syrian government. Then there’s the “chemical weapon” attacks by the same evil Assad government. When a photo or video has accompanied the story I’ve never once seen grieving loved ones or media present; not one person can be seen wearing a gas mask. Is it only children killed or suffering? No rebels? Continue reading

Eyewitness account from Eastern Ukraine: National Guard and Right Sector battalions killing civilians

Posted on, October 28, 2014

Preamble: What follows is a first-hand account of events that took place in the area of the MH17 crash site in August of this year, written by someone who was part of the team of OSCE inspectors and observers. The Slavyangrad team was approached by this individual with a view to publishing their account as they believed that more mainstream news sources would either distort or censor the account. Accordingly, we have made only minor alterations to improve the English and to iron out typographical and/or grammatical errors (the author’s first language is not English). For obvious reasons (evident from the final paragraph of this account) we have substituted a pseudonym for the author’s real name.

Written by “Col. Tulip”
Edited by @GBabeuf & Olga Luzanova

On August 8, we received information that a farmer located in the most southern area of the crash site had reported that he had found materials which he believed had originated from the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. According to the report, the farmer also believed that there might be human remains on his fields and he was asking for instructions on what to do. On Sunday, August 10, we attempted to reach the farmer. For this we had to cross from Ukrainian-held territory into rebel-held territory, crossing the no-man’s-land between the front lines. In reality, this basically means the space between the final road-blocks on the main roads.

Azov Battalion emblem

Azov Battalion emblem

At the last Ukrainian-manned road-block (manned by a volunteer unit wearing the insignia of the Azov Battalion), well within the twenty kilometre perimeter around the crash site, we were prohibited from continuing because there were ongoing military operations in the area ahead of us. In response to our questions about the operations, we were told “none of your business,” and “be glad we let you leave.” We decided to take a detour in order to try our luck at another road-block. At this road-block, in the hands of the regular army, we were simply waved through after having our papers checked. We asked if there were any military operations ongoing in the area ahead of us; the answer was “not that we know of—we have orders to hold our position and only to defend ourselves.”

Knowing that road-blocks are a regular target for both sides, we decided to move on quickly and see how far we would get. Our designated fixer told us that he expected another road-block ahead of us and a few kilometres along the road his suspicion was confirmed: an improvised road-block constructed from burned out cars and felled trees, manned by irregular troops. They seemed very excited, urging us “go back, go back, we are fighting!” One soldier with Azov badges and the black-red Right-Sector identification, seemingly the commander of this group, came over to our car and told us: “You have already been told that there is a military operation going on and that you are not allowed to proceed.” This made it clear to us that while irregular or volunteer units were communicating with each other, they were not communicating with the regular army unit holding the road-block we had previously passed through.

We took this man aside and reminded him of his government’s commitment to ensuring access to the crash site and to maintaining a twenty kilometre cease-fire zone around it. The reply was, to us, shocking: “I don’t take orders from Kiev,” and after this his tone became threatening. We decided to drive back to the army held road-block and ask around there. The commander at the army road-block said he did not know where the “amateurs” (as he referred to the irregulars) had their road-blocks or what they were doing. His exact statement was “I don’t know who gives them orders, we have no communication with them. My orders are to hold this position and to act only to defend ourselves, so that is what we do.” We asked him again if he knew about any ongoing military operation in the area we were attempting to visit, and his reply was very straightforward: “Did your translator misunderstand something? We have orders to hold this position.” His annoyance seemed real—despite lacking any real insight into his actual orders, I believed he was telling the truth.

We decided to leave the area that was visible from the road-block and instead to try to find access by taking back-roads since our fixer was sure he would be able to find a way to bypass the road-blocks and get to the farmer who was awaiting us. Using back-roads and dirt tracks through fields, we were able to bypass the road-blocks of both sides, including those controlled by Ukrainian irregular forces.

Close to the village we met the farmer. While we were introducing ourselves we could hear artillery fire and explosions in the distance, which was a regular occurrence in this area despite the supposed commitment to a cease-fire around the crash site. The farmer, Gennady, explained to us what he had found and that he wanted to make sure he was not disturbing anything, but that he also needed to start preparing for harvesting his crop. When we approached the path into his fields I noticed two candles, some flowers and a cross. Gennady knelt down to take some dirt away and sat there for a moment. Our translator whispered, “he is praying.” When he got up, he said something which apparently touched our translator so much that she at first replied to Gennady in English, “tell him,” before continuing in Russian.

What Gennady had said was: “I thanked God you are here because they will not attack us now that you are.” What followed was a description, shocking to me, of regular artillery barrages against the villages and settlements in this area. Gennady told us that the villagers say “they are playing tennis, because they play three sets every match to try and kill us.” We had heard about people using the term ‘tennis’ for those actions before, but so far we had thought this meant watching the shells flying over like a tennis ball during a game. Evidently it was not; we were shocked by the cold description. Gennady pointed out some of the sites which he knew to have been hit—all farms, settlements and the two villages in the immediate vicinity. No military emplacements, no military objectives. Continue reading

Air India pilots heard MH17 redirected over “hot” airspace by Ukrainian air traffic controller

Times of India:

Air India flight was 90 seconds away when missile struck Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17

Manju VManju V,TNN | Jul 20, 2014, 01.40 AM IST

Note: see website for  chart “How Direct Routing Proved Fatal”

MUMBAI: The ministry of civil aviation’s claim that there was no Air India flight near the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 when it was shot down over Ukraine on Thursday appears misleading.

An Air India Dreamliner flight going from Delhi to Birmingham was in fact less than 25km away from the Malaysian aircraft, a distance covered by a Dreamliner or Boeing 777 in about 90 seconds, when the latter was hit. Because of this closeness, the Dnipropetrovsk (local Ukrainian) air traffic controller asked the AI pilots to try and establish contact with pilots of the Malaysian aircraft who had stopped responding to its calls.

Minutes before the crash caused by a missile strike, the AI pilots had also heard the controller give the Malaysian aircraft MH17 what is called “a direct routing”. This permits an aircraft to fly straight, instead of tracking the regular route which is generally a zig-zag track that goes from one ground-based navigation aid or way point to another. “Direct routing saves fuel and time and is preferred by pilots. In this case, it proved fatal,” said an airline source. “The AI Dreamliner was less than 25km away from the Malaysian aircraft when the latter was hit by a missile. When the pilots learnt the cause of the crash later, they were stunned. It’s like the person standing next to you has been hit by a sniper bullet,” said the source. An Air India Boeing 787 Dreamliner. (TOI file photo)

As instructed by the controller, the AI pilots tried to contact the Boeing 777 after its transponder display went off the radar. The message they sent was: “Malaysian 17, this is Air India 113. How do you read?” There was, of course, no response.

Soon after the tragedy, the media picked up data from flightradar24, a live flight tracker website which showed the AI aircraft in the vicinity. But the next day, on Friday, the civil aviation ministry issued a statement that “there was no Air India flight near the ill-fated Malaysian plane at the time of the incident”.

The Ukrainian airspace is divided into five flight information regions: Kiev, Lviv, Dnipropetrovsk, Odessa and Simferopol. MH17 was in the Dnipropetrovsk airspace flying an east-bound track on 33,000feet and the AI Delhi-Birmingham flight was on a west-bound route and had entered Ukraine after crossing Russia when the AI pilots heard the Dnipropetrovsk controller give the Malaysian aircraft a direct routing.

Barely minutes later, the AI pilots heard the controller trying to establish contact with the Malaysian aircraft. When no response came from the Malaysian crew, the controller asked the AI pilots to try. It is standard practice for air traffic controllers to ask pilots of aircraft in the vicinity to get in touch with pilots who have stopped responding. A part of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that crashed after being hit by a missile in eastern Ukraine. (Reuters photo)

In order to communicate, pilots and controllers tune in to one particular radio frequency, and all the conversation that takes place on that wavelength can be heard by all the aircraft who are tuned in to this frequency. So the pilots can hear each other as well as the instructions given by the controller to all the aircraft in a particular flight information region.

Other than this particular radio frequency on which pilots can communicate with controllers and other pilots, there is another radio set in the cockpit which is always tuned to 121.5MHz, known as the emergency frequency.

The pilots would try to contact the non-responding crew on this frequency too, but more importantly, it is on this frequency that they would get to hear the signature distress beep tone emitted by an emergency locator transmitter of an aircraft soon after it has crashed.

Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov’s official statement, Kremlin, Moscow : “They try to show to the whole world that we are responsible for the crash. It is very strange that without any evidence our colleagues from western media would like to find somebody who is responsible for the crash,” Antonov said. “It seems to me that this is part of information warfare which has been started against the Russian Federation and federation armed forces.” “As for me, I don’t want to use this opportunity to blame anybody. I would just like to raise few questions for my colleagues from the armed forces of Ukraine,” Antonov said. “I hope they try to answer the questions, it will be a good opportunity for us to realize where we are, whether there is a possibility for us to restart cooperation and to find who is really responsible for the tragedy.” “Answers for these questions could help us find an opportunity to prevent such tragedies in the future,” the Deputy Defense Minister said.