Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ukraine situation ( August 16 , 2014 ) -- As Russia is intertwined within the Ukraine situation , a review of the state of play involves not just the battlefield in South East Ukraine , but also the sanction regimes ( Ukraine / US / EU and Russia ) and the growing backlash / blowback to the West ........ As has been suggested , Malaysia might be the vehicle through which the truth is brought out into the light regardiing the fate of Malysia Flight 17 shot down over ukraine ( see the opinion piece from a Malaysian airline safety engineer ) .....

( hitting the meaty part of the post ... )


The change of the Novorussian leadership

Unlike the previous story, this one is also quite extraordinary, but it comes with plenty of extraordinary evidence: there is no doubt possible about the fact that all the key figures in Novorussia have been replaced.  Strelkov is alive and apparently not under duress.  What could explain this?

As much as I hate baseless speculation, I will say that two theories seem to make sense to me.  I present a summary of both of them here for discussion's sake, and I am at this moment endorsing neither one.

Theory One: a "grand deal" is in the works.

Under this theory, some key individuals in the Kremlin and the Ukie oligarch Rinat Akhmetov are trying to stop the war and hammer out a deal in which Novorussia would remain part of a single Ukrainian state, but with very large autonomy, especially in cultural, linguistic, political and economic terms.  Some speculate that the Ukraine would not join NATO.  This theory is similar to the "secret Putin-Merkel deal" theory also put forward recently.  The strongest argument for this theory is that from the onset of the conflict Moscow's #1 goal has always been a unitary but neutral and stable Ukraine, butnot a russophobic, Fascist or NATO one.  Russia neither wants nor needs the Ukraine or even the Donbass.  What Russia needs is a stable, predictable and safe neighbor on its eastern border.  The biggest problem with this theory is that for the majority of those who took up arms against the Nazi junta nothing short from a complete separation from Kiev is acceptable.  This does not, however, mean that such a solution is also unacceptable to most of the people in Novorussia a majority of whom have not taken up arms.  There is only one actor which has the means to conduct a survey of majority public opinion in this war zone, and that is the Russia state.  Thus, I submit that only the Kremlin knows what a majority of Novorussians want or would settle for.  Finally, let me be clear here.  We are not, repeat, NOT discussing any type of "sellout" or "betrayal" or "backstabbing" of Novorussia by Putin.  Yes, all the Putin-bashers (paid or not) will present that like this, but even a close friend of Strelkov like Pavel Gubarev has unambiguously stated that there was zero chance of that happening.  What we are talking about here is a compromise deal with would probably be acceptable to some parties (most non-fighting Novorussians, the Kremlin, Rinat Akhmetov, the EU) and non-acceptable by others (Kiev, Uncle Sam, most fighting Novorussians).

Theory Two: a "grand counter-attack" is in the works.

Contrary to a lot of comments I have seen posted here over the pas few days, I see exactly zero reasons to believe that the Resistance is about to be crushed.  In fact, from all the reports I have seen, it is the Ukie sides which at tremendous costs has achieved exactly nothing.  Furthermore, the re-taking of Saur Mogila by the Ukie forces might well result in yet another cauldron for them.  Add to this the very persistent rumors and hints by various commanders on the ground that a big counter-offensive is in the works and I get feeling that the Ukies might well have reached a breaking point.  Please be careful to notice that I said that such a hypothesis is consistent with the available data, I did not make a prediction that this will happen.  However, in this hypothesis what happened is that all the key Russians-from-Russia figures have been  replaced by local, Russians-from-Donbass people.  The rationale would be to avoid the impression that "Russian forces are invading the Ukraine" and to show, instead, that "Ukrainian forces are liberating their own land".  The best argument in favor of this hypothesis is that if the Resistance was to go on the offensive it would need a more complex headquarters and that this is why Strelkov was "promoted" to "chief of staff" of the Novorussian military.  The best argument against this hypothesis is that I simply don't see the Resistance which yesterday was only a militia of volunteers become an effective military force capable of operational-level actions.  Now, if there really is nobody between the Ukie troops in the Donbass and Kiev, maybe such a move could be achieved by a constant series of tactical-level engagements, but I just don't see that happening.

As I said above, I am endorsing neither theory at this point, it is too early to call and there are way too many "unknown unknowns" (to borrow Rumsefeld expression) to make categorical statements.  But I will say that I find the first theory substantially more plausible than the second one.

The half-empty trucks

That is a simple one.  The Russian convoy of trucks is composed of trucks roughly loaded at 50% of max capacity to make sure that no truck stops in route or has any difficulty getting through very bad terrain.  It was planned this way and the Russians announced that on day 1.

A nationalist Maidan against Putin this fall

I am not a big fan of the Dugin-Fedorov-Limonov crowd because they tend to do what I call "headline baiting": they always predict the most extreme events (such as a US nuclear attack on Russia) and they always get the most attention form the general public.  The case in point is this notion of a nationalist backlash against Putin.  First, you will notice that this very idea implies that Putin would betray Russian national interest.  He might do that tomorrow morning.  But as of right now there is absolutely zero evidence for that.  Again, I would never place my faith in the hands of a politicians, and I don't want people to "trust" or, even less so, "believe in" Putin.  But I am saying that the theory that tomorrow morning Putin will "sell out" Novorussia or "betray" the Russian national interests has as much factual or logical basis as the theory that tomorrow Putin will join the Hare-Krishnas: zero.  There is a HUGE difference between "possible" and "probable" or "likely" and while "possible" requires very little, if any, substantiation, it is amateurish and often irresponsible to call "probable" something which is only "possible".  Second, right now Putin's rating is at a stratospheric 87% - higher than ever before - and even his way of dealing with the anti-Russian sanctions has made him more popular than before.  Third, there are many lies and inanities written by the MSM about "Putin the Dictator" but one thing is true: Putin has complete control over the Russian security services and the Russian security services are more powerful now than ever before.  Lastly, how can one seriously think that the Russian people have seen the horrors of the Ukie Maidan only to start one of their own.  This is utter nonsense.  My strictly personal advice would be this: take anything Dugin-Fedorov-Limonov have to say with a couple of cubic meters of salt.

The countdown to Dmitri Orlov's stages 4 and 5

One more thing.  All these topics are just like the proverbial trees hiding the forest.  The real story is that we are living a countdown to a huge explosion in Banderastan.  We all know that the rump-Ukraine is broke, but we forget what that means and what this really means.  Dmitri Orlov, in his absolutely fantastic book "The Five States of Collapse" explains that collapses happen in the following sequence:
Stage 1: Financial collapse. Faith in “business as usual” is lost. The future is no longer assumed to resemble the past in any way that allows risk to be assessed and financial assets to be guaranteed. Financial institutions become insolvent; savings are wiped out and access to capital is lost.
Stage 2: Commercial collapse. Faith that “the market shall provide” is lost. Money is devalued and/or becomes scarce, commodities are hoarded, import and retail chains break down and widespread shortages of survival necessities become the norm.
Stage 3: Political collapse. Faith that “the government will take care of you” is lost. As official attempts to mitigate widespread loss of access to commercial sources of survival necessities fail to make a difference, the political establishment loses legitimacy and relevance.
Stage 4: Social collapse. Faith that “your people will take care of you” is lost, as local social institutions, be they charities or other groups that rush in to fill the power vacuum, run out of resources or fail through internal conflict.
Stage 5: Cultural collapse. Faith in the goodness of humanity is lost. People lose their capacity for “kindness, generosity, consideration, affection, honesty, hospitality, compassion, charity.” Families disband and compete as individuals for scarce resources. The new motto becomes “May you die today so that I can die tomorrow.”
art: Josetxo Ezcurra
By the way, Orlov correctly notes that the collapse of the Soviet Union stopped at Stage 3.  Now think about the rump-Ukraine lead by the Nazi junta in Kiev.  It is already more or less at Stage 3 and the economic collapse has not really made landfall yet!  Sure, the junta's western patrons are keeping the Hrivna artificially high (have you ever seen the currency of a country in the midst of a civil war remain more or less stable?  Of course not! The western banks are buying that useless toilet paper for political reasons!) and fake short term loans can give the illusion that "so far so good", but the reality is catching up really, really fast.  Within the next couple of months Banderastan will full enter Stages 4 and 5 of Orlov's collapse model and then things will get really ugly.  At this point the introduction of some kind of dictatorship is simply inevitable.  Either that, or a "Somalization".  In either case, this is really going to be hell on earth and this is were the real focus should be right now: how to prepare for the absolutely inevitable explosion.

As for the EU, the Russian sanctions are beginning to bite.  Badly.  Hence more and more EU politicians are frantically trying to climb out of the hole they dug for themselves.  The really weird thing is that Russia has, so far, avoided to enter a recession in spite of the outflow of speculative capital.  Oh sure, eventually, factors such as the recession in the EU, the war in the Ukraine and western sanctions will hurt Russia, but it is quite remarkable so far Russia is doing better than predicted.

Bottom line: very soon the rump-Ukraine will either completely explode or see a new regime, this timeopenly dictatorial.  The EU economies are likely to begin really hurting and the combination of these two phenomena will leave the USA without any viable puppet to use against Russia.  Things might get so ugly that we might even see a moment in which the EU will welcome a Russian intervention in the Ukraine.

That's it for tonight.  Hopefully the very confused and murky situation will become clearer soon at which point I will try to sit down and write a halfway decent SITREP.

Kind regards to all,

Nato-Member Turkey Threatens Western-Owned Banks, Shifts East, Cozies up to Russia

By Don Quijones, freelance writer, translator in Barcelona, Spain. Raging Bull-Shitis his modest attempt to challenge the wishful thinking and scrub away the lathers of soft soap peddled by political and business leaders and their loyal mainstream media. This article is a Wolf Street exclusive.
Since the U.S. and EU began imposing and then widening and tightening sanctions against Russia, some U.S. allies have been getting second thoughts. The latest nation to begin severing ties with the U.S.-dominated Western alliance is arguably the most important yet.
That nation is Turkey, the largest and one of the fastest-growing economies in the Middle East – and most importantly, a long-standing NATO ally. For years Turkey has been slowly drifting away from the West, as its economy and geopolitical influence have grown. It hasn’t helped that its accession to the European Union has been repeatedly blocked by countries such as France and Austria, and is now directly opposed by Angela Merkel.
With recent events in Ukraine and the Middle East sending geopolitical shock waves around the world, Turkey’s Eastward shift appears to be accelerating. In a harbinger of things to come, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s chief economic adviser, Yigit Bulut, announced that Turkey needs to “strengthen control of its banks and limit foreign ownership.
Changing the Rules
“The most important thing is to change the structure and weighting of the Turkish banking sector,” Bulut wrote in his column in Star newspaper. The industry “seems to have been abandoned to the control and mercy of both foreigners and ‘foreigners within,’” he said, adding new bank licenses might be granted in pursuit of those goals.
For the moment, Bulut’s comments are just that: comments. But should the recently re-elected Erdogan government – albeit with Erdogan as president rather than prime minister – actually follow through on Bulut’s threats (hardly out of the question given Bulut’s close ties to the president), it could have serious repercussions for a number of large Western banks.
Since suffering one of its worst ever financial crises in 2001, Turkey has attracted a huge influx of foreign banks on the lookout for cheap acquisitions. They include the British giant HSBC, which acquired mid-sized Demirbank in 2001; the Dutch too-big-to-fail institution ING, which swallowed Oyak Bank whole in 2007; and Italy’s Unicredit, whose joint venture with Koc Holding, a Turkish conglomerate, took over Yapi Kredi, Turkey’s fifth-biggest bank, in 2006.
However, the Western bank that is arguably most exposed to a dramatic change in Turkey’s bank ownership rules is Spanish behemoth BBVA, which in 2011 acquired 25% of Turkey’s biggest listed lender, Turkiye Garanti Bankasi AS (GARAN), from the Turkish group Dogus and General Electric. What’s more, BBVA has – or at least had – plans to take majority control of Garanti in 2016.


US Foreign Policy: The Great Uniter
All of which goes to show just how effective U.S. foreign policy can be at bringing other nations together – albeit in mutual opposition to the U.S. In the case of Turkey, one of the main motivations behind distancing itself from the West and cozying up to BRICs nations like Russia are government fears over the prospect of multibillion-dollar SEC fines against its state-owned banks for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and “financing terrorism.” Don Quijones. An exclusive for Wolf Street.
“The glue of the sanctions is starting to dry,” mused Sergio Trigo Paz, head of emerging market fixed income at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. That was in May. Now the glue had dried. Read…. Sanctions Are Eating their Lunch: Russian CEOs Beg for Bailouts, German Economy Swoons

Sanctions Are Eating their Lunch: Russian CEO Begs for Bailout, German Economy Swoons

“The glue of the sanctions is starting to dry,” mused Sergio Trigo Paz, head of emerging market fixed income at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager. Investors fret that holders of Russian corporate bonds might not receive interest payments because a “blocked person” has a large stake in the company, he said. “All transactions could start to freeze.”
That was in mid-May. Now, the glue has dried: Igor Sechin, CEO of Russian oil company Rosneft and a major shareholder, whose name graces the “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List,” is begging the Russian government for a $41.6 billion bailout in response to the sanctions.
The company has net debt of $44.5 billion, the hangover from its $54 billion acquisition of TNK-BP last year. But the US sanctions ban loans to Rosneft with maturities over 90 days, and EU countries are sticking to these sanctions as well. So dealing with this debt and paying dividends is going to be tough.
And the advance payments from China from the Holy-Grail gas deal that analysts had seen washing over Rosneft? $63 billion between 2014 and 2018, according to Raiffeisenbank’s energy specialist in Moscow, Andrey Polishchuk, who didn’t think Rosneft would have any problems paying its debts and dividends “until 2019.” A hype-ventilating analyst’s pipedream for now.
But Russia’s National Wealth Fund, where the bailout money is supposed to come from, already doled out much of its $86 billion for other projects and cannot fund the bailout, according to the Vedomosti newspaper (picked up by Reuters). The paper cited government sources and a letter from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that asked officials to analyze the request, which one of the unnamed officials called “horrible.”
Thus, the sanctions are beginning to wreak havoc. Everywhere. German industrialists and exporters have long complained about them. CEOs step up to the microphone on a near daily basis and, after pronouncing the requisite pledge to submit to the “primacy of politics,” slam the sanctions and the impact they have on their companies. They’ve been doing this for months, trying to jawbone the German government into compliance with their needs.
Now the official results are in. And they’re ugly.


The Mystery of the Malaysian Airlines Crash Over Ukraine

Thursday, 14 August 2014 00:00By Zhuge Li, Truthout | Op-Ed
2014 814 mal fwVillagers view the crash site of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 at dusk near Grabovo, Ukraine, July 24, 2014. (Photo: Mauricio Lima / The New York Times)
What is known and what remains to be proven or investigated in the mystery of the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur? Who has benefited from the air tragedy? A Malaysian airline safety engineer considers the facts.
The Malaysian Federation has suffered two air tragedies this year, one after the other. Malaysians are still dealing with their grief over the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March. Now, another catastrophe has occurred. On July 17, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed in far away eastern Ukraine, where combat between rebels and government forces began so tragically several months ago.
According to the most publicized version, the MH17 Boeing­ 777 was shot down by a ground-to-air missile launched from a battery of the SA-11 Buk anti-aircraft system, known as the "Gadfly" by NATO. Of note is that the plane was flying several hundred kilometers north of its normal course that day for reasons still unexplained, and it left its assigned air corridor that day not long before the crash.
The political leaders of our country Malaysia have called for an objective investigation of the tragedy. International teams of investigators are working at the crash site. We need to be patient and wait for the results of all tests and examinations. Unfortunately, several countries issued swift accusations that may impede an objective inquiry.
According to US and European leaders, Moscow as well as pro-Russian rebels are to blame. "It is not an incident, not a disaster, but an act of terrorism," Ukrainian President Poroshenko boldly stated just two hours after the tragedy. For their part, pro-Russian rebels have no doubt that the Ukrainian armed forces were involved.
As for me, I would like to analyze the situation objectively, look into the facts and evaluate arguments presented by the sides.
US and EU Arguments
US Secretary of State John Kerry said on July 20 that the United States had irrefutable evidence that the Malaysian Boeing was shot down by the Buk missile system provided to the Ukrainian rebels by the Russian Federation. It's rather strange that the head of US foreign policy relied on data published in social networks whereas the United States has the most powerful intelligence agencies in the world.
The US administration held a special briefing on that date. US intelligence representatives (whose names were concealed!) claimed that the airliner had been "mistakenly" shot down by rebels who apparently had mistaken it for a military aircraft. At the same time, they presented no technical information to reinforce such a conclusion. Intelligence officials admitted that their conclusions were based on radio interceptions by the Ukrainian military and photos posted in different social networks.
That's even more amusing, given that American satellites as well Russian ones were over the territory of Ukraine at the very moment of the crash. The Russian Department of Defense suggested that the Americans should publish pictures taken by those satellites, but the request went unheeded.
Contrary to the US administration's public statements blaming Russia and pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine, a number of American intelligence analysts suggested that the responsibility for the disaster lies mostly on the Ukrainian side. They insist Washington lacks the facts proving that Russia provided the rebels with the Buk air defense system.
The Ukrainian Argument
Ukrainian officials have also actively commented on the catastrophe, first blaming the rebels, then Russia, then both. The Ukrainian side released to the internet and social networks a number of materials ostensibly proving the guilt of pro-Russian militias.
Within two hours after the passenger aircraft was downed, an audio record of alleged discussion among rebels about the crash was posted to the web. However, technical analysis experts found evident signs of audio cutting and audio layout in it. In addition, there was no evidence provided that voices on the record belonged to rebels. In this regard, many internet users agreed that these materials could have been prepared by the Ukrainian side.
Also, authorities in Kiev distributed via social networks a video allegedly showing a Buk launcher being transported from the crash area back to Russia. However,experts proved that the number 312 launcher was seen in a convoy of Ukrainian armored vehicles in March 2014. What's more, the city of Krasnoarmeysk is pictured in the video and it has been under the control of Ukrainian forces since May 11.
Ukraine also published photos displaying the anti-aircraft missile system in question located on territory the rebels' control. The Ukrainian officials argued that the pictures were taken by their own satellites. However, as described earlier, only American and Russian satellites were over Ukrainian territory at the time of the crash. Incorrect date, time and location of shadows from objects as well as the lack of cloud cover registered that day also proved that those photos were fake.
It is very surprising that Ukraine has yet to release a recording of the communications between the MH17 crew and a Ukrainian air controller who "accompanied" the aircraft up to the tragedy. This naturally casts suspicions that the Ukrainian authorities are trying to conceal some facts.
Ukrainian attempts to destroy evidence at the crash site testify to the same thing. Since MH17 was downed, Ukrainian troops continued military operations in and around the crash site, including shelling areas where debris lay. This in spite of the fact there was no military infrastructure or rebel roadblocks in the area.
Then there is the strange fact that international inspectors were prevented from accessing the crash site for four consecutive days, July 27 to 30. Ukraine officials said that military operations by rebel fighters were responsible. But it was Ukraine that refused to call a ceasefire in the area, and The New York Times described the arrival, finally, of inspectors on July 31 in these words: "Ukrainian officials said they had suspended offensive operations against the rebels to allow the monitors to reach the site safely. Commanders at Ukrainian military positions near the site confirmed that they had been ordered to halt their advance."
New York Times journalist Sabrina Tavernise, who reported from the region of the crash in the hours and days following, told a television interviewer on July 29 that rebel fighters were not blocking access to the site and that the barriers beginning on July 27 were created by Ukraine forces. What were Ukrainian officials doing at the site during this time?
The Russian Argument
Russia rejects all accusations that it had a hand in the downing of MH17. During a news briefing on July 21, the Russian Department of Defense presented its air traffic control data on the crash. According to the data, the airplane deviated from its assigned route of that day for 14 kilometers over the area of armed conflict.
The Russian Defense Department detected a Ukrainian Air Force aircraft, presumably an Su-25, at a distance of three to five kilometers from the Boeing.
In addition, the Russian military made public satellite images depicting the Ukrainian air defense units located close to the crash area. So it's clear that the route of MH17 was within the range of Ukrainian anti-aircraft systems.

The Russian side also refers to the statements of Ukrainian officials. Thus, according to media reports, Prosecutor-General Vitaly Yarema of Ukraine told Ukraine media on July 18 that the rebels possessed neither Buk nor S-300 air defense systems.
At the same time, the Ukrainian anti-aircraft missiles were present in the area of conflict shortly before the aircraft's downing. For what purpose? Rebels have never possessed any aviation units.
Russia accuses Ukraine and its supporters of failing to adhere to UN Security Council Resolution 2166, which was adopted unanimously on July 21. It calls for a cessation of military and all other activity that would impede the international investigation of the crash or disturb the wreckage of the plane and the bodies of those who lost their lives. Ukraine resumed military operations within days of the adoption of the resolution.
In August, Russia sought a new resolution from the Security Council to prohibit any activity that would "violate the integrity" of the crash site. Its proposed resolution was blocked when some countries, including the United States, sought to add inappropriate clauses, such as condemning the actions of rebel forces.
My Opinion
According to Ukraine, rebels possessed one Buk launcher capable of shooting down airplanes, even at the height of 10,000 meters. As for the Buk anti-aircraft system, it is quite a complicated system. When fully installed, the system consists of four vehicles. It's hard to imagine how the launcher could "accidentally" lock onto a Boeing 777 passenger aircraft and shoot it down without guidance and targeting stations present and operational.
A friend of mine, an air defense officer, told me an interesting thing. The Buk launcher hitting range is about 30 to 40 kilometers. Militaries always use several missile launchers to destroy air targets, as at a high altitude and speed (about 900 kilometers per hour), an aircraft stays in the hitting area of one launcher for four to six minutes only.
I can't imagine how untrained personnel could lock onto a target and hit it. It is known that most of the rebels are workers - miners, metal workers, etc. They are unlikely to have the necessary skills to manage a complex weapons system requiring special education and training.
At the same time, we are aware that Ukrainian military personnel do have the required skills. In 2001, Ukraine had the sad experience of shooting down a civilian aircraft by mistake. Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 from Israel to Russia was shot down over the Black Sea by a Ukrainian ground-to-air missile on October 4 of that year.
Furthermore, Ukrainian air defense experts may have been directly involved in shooting at Russian military aircraft in the skies over Georgia in August 2008. The Ukraine government of the time supported Georgia in its brief war with Russia that month. That decision came under sharp, critical review in Ukraine afterward.
We know that Russian satellite images show a Ukrainian Buk system positioned near the MH17 crash site, and Ukraine officials did not refute that.
In my opinion, a key question to ask about the plane disaster is who stands to gain by it? It is obvious that the crash brought huge benefits to one side of the conflict - the Ukrainian side. It is seeking international support to reverse an unfavorable military situation in the Donbas region of southeast Ukraine. Let us recall that the United States was able to persuade its European allies to introduce new sanctions against Russia only after the disaster occurred.
All this said, I do not wish to draw premature conclusions. I repeat, once again, we must wait for the outcome of the international investigation and resist the pressure to jump to hasty or biased conclusions.

The leaders of Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic feel Western sanctions against Russia have gone a little too far. These people know the Soviet system better than anybody in the world outside Russia itself, and they recognize that sanctions are not going to work.
Today, Hungarian Prime minister Viktor Orban likened the sanctions to "shooting oneself in the foot." The sanctions policy, he said, "causes more harm to us than to Russia."
Orban's Slovak counterpart Robert Fico voiced similar sentiments. "Why should we jeopardize the EU economy?" he asked. "Who profits from the EU economy declining, Russia's economy having troubles and Ukraine economically on its knees?"
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, too, recently expressed his dismay. "Neither for the European Union nor for Russia is it favorable to get into a drawn-out trade war and for some new economic and political Iron Curtain to appear on Ukraine's eastern border," he said.

Did Ukraine Attack Its Own Tanks? White House "Can't Confirm Russian Convoy Was Destroyed By Kiev"

Tyler Durden's picture

While today's trading session was marked by news which at first blush correlated with what may be the 2014 equivalent of the Archduke Ferdinand shooting, in retrospect the newsflow made painfully little sense. Let's recap:
  1. Yesterday afternoon, two UK reporters working for the Guardian and Telegraph, supposedly located by the border in east Ukraine, reported that they were "eyewitnesses" as a convoy of military trucks crossed the Russian border into the breakaway Donetsk republic, aka Ukraine. While there have been photos of the military trucks that have accompanied the Russian humantiarian convoy on Russian territory, there has so far been no proof, aside from said eyewitness reports, confirming Russian military vehicles entered or were in Ukraine.
  2. This morning Ukraine military’s spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, shocked the world when newswires reported that Ukraine forces had attacked an armed convoy from Russia, and "destroyed" a part of it. This was subsequently reiterated by the president of Ukraine himself who said that "the given information was trustworthy and confirmed because the majority of that machines had been eliminated by the Ukrainian artillery at night", and by the secretary-general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who said that the alliance had detected an “incursion” of vehicles from Russia last night, adding that “what we have seen last night is the continuation of what we have seen for some time." Alas, as in the case above, just more verbal reports, with zero actual evidence.
  3. Shortly thereafter, Russia responded when the Russian defense ministry said that there was no Russian military column that crossed into Eastern Ukraine, and that the above reports are based on "some fantasies."
This is where the breakdown of logic occurs, because for Russia to make such a formal statement it clearly implies that Russia believes there is no evidence of destruction of a Russian convoy in Ukraine territory, something which obviously would exist if indeed as Ukraine's president had claimed, the "majority of the machines had been eliminated."
If true, it also implies that either Ukraine had fabricated the entire story, and certainly the part about the destruction of the convoy and by extension that Russians had ever entered into East Ukraine. Furthermore, that would also suggest that the reports of the British reporters were also a fabrication.
Unless, of course, there is evidence, in which case the credibility of the both the Guardian and Telegraph reporters can be preserved, Ukraine can not be accused of fabricating a story to suit what some may say its own warmongering ambitions, and the onus is on Russia to explain why it lied about there being no invasion.
More to the point, the onus is on Ukraine to present some evidence, in fact any evidence, of a destroyed Russian military convoy instead of merely building upon a story conceived by the two UK media outlets, because if Ukraine indeed has no evidence, then its story falls apart and what's worse, the credibility and reputation of its government, of NATO and certainly of the UK press would be in tatters.
So what other possibility is there? Well, one that is all too unpalatable for Ukraine, namely that in its excitement to blow something up, it may have well destroyed some of its own military vehicles. A possible lead to such a turn of events comes from this Interfax report citing the leadership of the breakaway Donetsk People's Republic.
The leadership of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic has dismissed the Ukrainian government's statement on destroying a convoy of what appeared to be Russian armored vehicles in eastern Ukraine.

"We haven't received any armored vehicles from Russia. No Russian units, including Russian armored vehicles, have crossed the border. Hence, no Russian armored vehicles could have been destroyed," DPR First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Purgin told Interfax on Friday evening.

Purgin claimed that, on the contrary, the militias destroyed about 100 Ukrainian armored vehicles.

"A lot of Ukrainian armored vehicles were destroyed today, 7 at one place, 12 at another. And the same all over the DPR territory. A total of about 100 of them," Purgin said.
The implication is clear: while 100 or so Ukraine armored vehicles may or may not have been destroyed, one wonders if indeed the Ukraine army was responsible in "aiding" the separatists with what would appear to be a friendly-fire incident?
But perhaps the most damning evidence comes from none other than the White House itself, which according to CNN just admitted that while it accuses Moscow of "incursionsit can't confirm the convoy was destroyed by Kiev
Perhaps for the simplest reason that there is no evidence to help with the confirmation process?
Which is rather unpleasant, because as explained above, without confirmation of a destroyed convoy, the whole story falls apart as merely yet another unprecedented warmongering fabrication, one involving not only the Kiev regime, but NATO and the UK press as well!
What is worse, is that if indeed the specter arises that Ukraine is lying about an event that nearly gave the market a heart attack on the belief that a new international war involving Russia may be about to break out, was Ukraine also lying about flight MH-17. And else may the Kiev regime been lying about?

Saturday, August 16

11:45 GMT:
Kiev is trying to review the agreements on Russian humanitarian aid to the eastern regions of Ukraine, Russia’s Foreign Ministry stated.
“We categorically deny the ill-meaning manipulation of facts that has been recently done by representatives of some Ukraine’s government bodies. In particular, according to media reports, the representatives of the Ukraine’s Security Council state that the Russian side refused to deliver the humanitarian aid via the border posts controlled by Ukraine. Wild guesses circulate that we allegedly didn’t provide the information on the contents of the humanitarian aid. Both allegations are contrary to the facts,” the Foreign Ministry’s statement said.
10:39 GMT:
The International Committee of the Red Cross is ready to take the Russian humanitarian aid column under its jurisdiction, should Russia and Ukraine agree on the matter, official representative of the ICRC Galina Balzamova told journalists.
“We need an agreement between the two sides – the Russian and the Ukrainian – to do that. Currently, as we know, there is no such agreement,” she said.
09:53 GMT:
Dozens of protesters gathered at Saint-Michel place in Paris on Friday to express their solidarity with Donbass residents, and to denounce Kiev's ongoing military offensive in the region, Ruptly reports.

Protesters waved the Russian flag and held signs reading "Stop genocide in Ukraine" and"Genocide in progress, silence. Gaza, Donbass, same fight."

Today's protest comes amid efforts by Russia to deliver humanitarian aid to east Ukraine, under the auspices of the ICRC. A convoy of 280 trucks carrying medical supplies, food, power generators and sleeping bags among other supplies, left Alabino on Tuesday, August 12 for east Ukraine but is still awaiting approval from Kiev before crossing into Ukraine.
08:32 GMT:
Lugansk has been in a critical situation for two weeks, with no electricity, water or communications, the city council said.
Intensive shelling has taken place overnight, with several fires started, including at a local supermarket, residents said.
Only essential food is on sale.
Medical supplies and fuel aren’t being delivered to the city.
Banks are closed, and pensions and salaries are not being paid.
07:30 GMT:
Ukrainian prosecutors have launched over 480 cases into the defection of military personnel since the start of Kiev’s military operation in the east of the country, said Pavel Bogutsky, the Southern Region prosecutor in charge of military cases, Interfax news agency reported.
“The investigation into 145 criminal offences has been completed, and the indictments have been sent to court,” he said during a meeting of top military personnel on Friday. “Over half of these indictments concern people who deserted, refused to carry out their military duties and disobeyed orders.”
Over 30 people have received actual sentences so far, he said. Seven hundred military personnel were cleared of any wrongdoing, he added.
06:59 GMT:
Watch RT's Maria Finoshina's report from the Russian-Ukrainian border, where the humanitarian convoy is now stationed.
06:58 GMT:
Non-stop artillery strikes hit Donetsk overnight, local residents said, Interfax news agency reported.
Some of the missiles hit residential buildings, but the mayor’s office said it doesn’t have any information on casualties.
The situation remains tense in the city.
03:58 GMT:
A nationwide search is now on in Ukraine for Russian photojournalist Andrey Stenin who has been missing since August 5th, adviser to the Ministry of Internal Affairs Anton Gerashchenko told “112" TV channel, hoping that the journalist was "captured" by the anti-Kiev forces.
"Andrey Stenin was placed on the missing list, because there is an appeal by relevant authorities, where he worked," said Gerashchenko, while repeatedly mistakenly calling him Senchin, and expressing hope that he is a prisoner of the militia, and that “one day he'll be found.”
Last week Gerashchenko in an interview to the Latvian radio Baltkom, said that the Ukrainian security services arrested the photojournalist who is suspected of "aiding and abetting terrorists."Gerashchenko later stated that he was "misunderstood", adding that he just "assumed" that Stenin was detained, but never had accurate information on this matter.
02:01 GMT:
Anti-Kiev forces have announced they captured an enemy reconnaissance unit near Lugansk, tasked with attacking the Russian humanitarian convoy.
According to anti-Kiev forces, tree men were detained on Chevrolet Niva, in the trunk of which militia found “three grenade launchers and eight cartridges for them, seven anti-tank mines, small arms and a metal box for storage of ammunition." The weapons were hidden in pasta bags, the headquarters of self-defense forces told Itar-Tass.
At the same time saboteurs were reportedly ordered not to destroy the convoy but only get the column to turn back to the Russian border and not deliver food to the struggling residents.
01:13 GMT:
Canada has sent a final batch of military equipment to Ukraine, the government there announced.
The third shipment provides “non-kinetic military equipment to Ukraine to assist in their efforts to secure and protect their eastern border,” the statement read
Overall Canada’s contribution of up to $5 million includes “a range of targeted protection, medical and logistical equipment, such as helmets, ballistic eyewear, protective vests, first aid kits, tents and sleeping bags.”