CELEBRATING THE NEW YEAR IN PETER THE GREAT’S BOOTS & LOUIS XIV’S DANCING SHOES, WITH SUPPER OF KASHA GURIEVSKAYA, THE STOLEN PUDDING

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

There can be no sating the hatred for Russia and Russians which is visceral for Antony Blinken, the US Secretary of State; and foams at the mouth of Victoria Nuland, the Under Secretary. They are the Blin-Needle gang.  They hate with the dedication and derangement of blood-feuding tribals.  

They can’t be stopped except by force matching their own, and by fear of defeat for themselves. For the defeat of those they recruit to fight for them, they care not a whit.  Likewise, their verbal promises and written agreements.

In this month of December 2021, the thirtieth anniversary of the revolution which replaced the Soviet Union in Moscow with Boris Yeltsin’s government,  that revolution has come to its final end because the Blin-Needle gang have gone too far.  Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov began the month with this categorical – “gone too far”,   The month is ending on President Vladimir Putin’s rhetoricals: “Do they really think we do not see these threats? Or do they think that we will just stand idly watching threats to Russia emerge? This is the problem: we simply have no room to retreat…Is anyone unable to grasp this? This should be clear.”  

That everything is so clear is something to celebrate for the next fortnight of holidays. It’s also necessary to ensure that this very new year will be a less dangerous one for Russia, and Europe too.  Clarity of purpose, energy for action – that’s what the winter holiday is for. To this end, Russians, like the Irish and the British, have long sworn by the restorative energy of porridge for breakfast and pudding for supper. On New Year’s Eve I shall be eating Kasha gurievskaya (lead image, centre).

Guriev’s Pudding is a dessert that has a salutary history. Count Dmitry Guriev (1758-1823) was a court and cabinet factotum for Tsar Alexander I; then his finance minister when cleverer men than he was needed someone else to take the blame for increased taxes. A contemporary wrote of  Guriev that he “was never good or smart; only at that time was he young, fresh, hefty, white and blush.” As you also see (right), a hefty eater. And so Guriev has gone down in Russian history as the man who ate so much pudding his name has stuck to it. For it had happened one St. Petersburg evening that the count was visiting a subordinate for dinner, and when it came to dessert, he asked for second and third helpings. So keen he was, he asked his host for the recipe, but was politely refused. Later, he sent a message to his host’s chef, and paid him to leave his employer and move into Guriev’s kitchen. Russian history doesn’t record the names of the host or the chef – only Guriev, the pudding thief.

Here is how Russians cook Kasha gurievskaya today, and what it will look like on my table on New Year’s Eve.   After that, there will be dancing to the Grande Chaconne.

Years ago, I told the story  of that piece of music, the dance which Louis XIV, the sun king of France and creator of the splendour of Versailles, regarded as his favourite. Its composer was Marin Marais, the son of a shoemaker in a family of roofers. Here’s that story again.

Marin Marais playing the viola da gamba across his knee.  For an introduction to his music and his time, watch the film of 1991, Tous Les Matins du Monde.  

By the time Marais first came to Louis’s notice, more than a decade had passed since the king had decided never again to dance himself in the ballets staged by his court musicians and choreographers. Marais’s dances were therefore written to be played to the king, occasionally to be performed in front of him by professional dancers,  and most often to be played and danced by the music-reading public in their own homes, outside the royal court. Thus, the chaconne is intimate and personal on the one hand, stately and majestic on the other. The combination doesn’t appear again in European music or home entertainment until the waltz of the 19th century. As he sank towards his death, Louis asked more and more for the chaconne to be played to him.

It wasn’t for dancing that Peter the Great had tried for years to be received at Versailles by Louis XIV. But for as long as he lived, the French king rebuffed him. Louis died in 1715, and at the end of 1716 the Regent, who ruled France on behalf of Louis’s six-year old successor Louis XV, reluctantly agreed to Peter’s visit. The reason for the reluctance, explained the Duc de Saint-Simon, the Regent’s private advisor, was that Peter was understood to be seeking a closer alliance with France at the expense of England. The Regent, a weak man under the sway of his pro-English advisors, didn’t want to arouse England’s King George I.

Saint-Simon, who favored a Russian alliance against the English, records in great detail the visit to France of Peter in May and June of 1717. Saint-Simon lacked no sympathy for the tsar, and watched his every move in hope – he wrote much later – that he would “detach us from our servitude to England”. His observations also leave an unvarnished record of Peter’s demeanour. According to Saint-Simon, “everyone marveled at the tsar’s insatiable curiosity about everything that had any bearing on his views of government, commerce, education, police methods, etc.”

As for music, Peter was, unlike Louis, indifferent. He asked the Regent for a mug of beer to keep him going at a performance at the opera; and he left early. According to Saint-Simon, Peter “showed very little interest in objects whose beauty was confined to their value or artistry”. He records that the tsar visited gardens and factories, inspected troops and fortifications, ate a great many dinners, but danced at no balls. The only thing Saint-Simon recorded him as doing with women was an orgy on the evening of May 25. “It did not suit the tsar or his staff to restrain themselves in any way,” it was noted.

Saint-Simon’s story recounts, not only that the tsar brought his own Russian sexual partners in addition to his wife, but he set the former up in the apartment of Louis XIV’s wife, Madame de Maintenon who had moved into a convent after Louis’s death. There Peter insisted on meeting her after he had taken over her bed at Versailles (prequel of a more recent story). Peter’s story is retold here, minus the Russian politics, substance and symbol, of what happened.  Then, as now, the Russian strategy was to detach the French from their alliance with the English.  Peter’s behaviour with Louis’s widow was intended to show publicly that the English alliance was also moribund.  

It was Saint-Simon’s custom to describe physical features as clues to the character of those he observed in his years at the French court. Thus, Peter is reported as displaying “a kind of nervous tic that contorted his entire face and was most alarming; it lasted only a moment, accompanied by a most ferocious stare; then it was gone”. Saint-Simon didn’t report in what circumstances during Peter’s time in Paris the tic appeared. Nor did he speculate about its stimulus. Saint-Simon does report, though, that Peter frequently refused to sleep in the rooms prepared for him, choosing instead camp beds in closets and corridors.

Russian historians differ on whether Peter’s convulsion was more a fit and a family inheritance, than a spasm first brought on when, as a young boy, Peter witnessed his mother’s family being killed during the rebellion (in his favour) of the streltsy (musketeers). Since Peter’s personal cruelty is notorious – Saint-Simon refers only to his appetite for eating, drinking and women – the tic is usually finessed, if mentioned at all in Russian history, as an indication of the stresses on the tsar’s otherwise noble and humane spirit, struggling to contain the even more barbarous conditions around him.

The Soviets had no reason to gloss over the tic, and in the 1940s black and white film Peter I, based on Alexei Tolstoy’s scenario, the tic was made quite visible. It wasn’t hidden either in the colour productions of the 1980s. You might say that, according to Soviet ideology, the tic was a way of showing the contradiction between Peter’s benevolent goals for Russia and his autocratic cruelties in pursuing them.

When Astolphe de Custine, a Paris aristocrat declassed by the revolutionary guillotine, visited St. Petersburg in 1839, his opinion kept oscillating between “admiration [for] an immense city which has sprung from the sea at the bidding of one man”, and the price that was paid. “A taste for edifices without taste,” he concluded. The difference between Versailles and the Winter Palace (now the Hermitage), he noted, was in the thousands of livelihoods sustained by the construction of the former, and the thousands of lives lost during the building of the latter. “Whilst I, though a Frenchman, see nothing but inhuman ostentation in this achievement,” Custine wrote, “not a single protestation is raised from one end of this immense empire to the other against the orgies of absolute power.”

The idea that nowadays Peter and his city have become the symbol of western values in Russia, modernization, anti-communism, Yeltsinite reform – remember he also used to symbolize resistance to such western values as belonged to Karl XII of Sweden and Adolf Hitler – is reason perhaps for celebrating the autocrat. But after 300 years, the tic, too, persists. To ignore it is to be blind.

About St. Petersburg – today, coincidentally, as old as the Grande Chaconne – Custine expressed high hopes, though not for its buildings, nor for its rulers and their manners. “Elsewhere”, he wrote, “great cities abound with monuments raised in memory of the past. St. Petersburg, in all its magnificence and immensity, is a trophy raised by the Russians to the greatness of the future.”

After talking directly with Tsar Nicholas I and the tsarina at a ball in the Winter Palace, Custine describes the dance that climaxed the evening. It was called, he said, a polonaise. “In the palace hundreds of couples thus follow in procession, proceeding from one immense hall to another, winding through the galleries, crossing the drawing rooms, and traversing the whole building in such order or direction as the caprice of the individual who leads may dictate.” For Custine, this dance was the metaphor for Russia’s future. “It is amusing at first, but for those destined to dance it all their lives it is a species of torture.”

The Polish dance is past fashionable. Here, stepping slowly at first then lively, is the Grande Chaconne for the future.   

GORDIAN KNOT CUT WITH YELTSIN, RUBICON CROSSED WITH EUROPE– THE NEW YEAR IS A NEW WORLD

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Nations don’t agree to the instrument of capitulation to their conquerors without turncoat  Quislings, Lavals, or Sadats to sign.  

It happened in Russia, and for the first time on December 21, 2021, in front of the Stavka  and the assembled officers of the Russian armed forces, President Vladimir Putin said so.

“Do you remember how it happened?” he asked them. “All of you are adults. It happened at a time when Russia’s relations with the United States and main member states of NATO were cloudless, if not completely allied. I have already said this in public and will remind you of this again: American specialists were permanently present at the nuclear arms facilities of the Russian Federation. They went to their office there every day, had desks and an American flag. Wasn’t this enough? What else is required? US advisors worked in the Russian Government, career CIA officers gave their advice. What else did they want?”  

Putin did not have to add the names of the Russians who had signed their answer to that question – whatever you want. Their names are Mikhail Gorbachev; Boris Yeltsin; Yegor Gaidar; Anatoly Chubais; Alexei Kudrin.

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SERGEI AND YULIA SKRIPAL ARE NO MORE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It is now one year and one month since there was a direct contact with Russia proving that either Sergei Skripal or Yulia Skripal, or both, are still alive. That was an hour-long telephone call from Yulia Skripal to her cousin Viktoria Skripal on November 21, 2020.  

There has been no direct evidence from Sergei Skripal himself that he is alive since he telephoned his family home on June 26, 2019.  

Viktoria Skripal told a Moscow press interviewer three months ago that because there was no word from either of them following the death in Yaroslavl of Elena Skripal, Sergei’s mother, on January 7 of this year, she believes they may be dead. “We can assume that they are not alive. Because they knew that their grandmother had died — in any case, we were assured that they had been accurately informed. But there were no condolences, no flowers, none of this from them.”

Reporters from the two Moscow dailies, Moskovsky Komsomlets (MK) and Izvestia, who have been closest to Viktoria, confirm the silence. Alexander Klibanov of MK says he knows of no telephone call or other message from the Skripals this year. “There’s no sign of them,” Nikolai Pozdnyakov of Izvestia adds. He also says there is no definitive proof of their death. “They may be necessary for some new ‘Novichok show’ or something of the sort if the British secret services are going to provide such a thing.”

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SERGEI AND YULIA SKRIPAL ARE NO MORE

By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with

It is now one year and one month since there was a direct contact with Russia proving that either Sergei Skripal or Yulia Skripal, or both, are still alive. That was an hour-long telephone call from Yulia Skripal to her cousin Viktoria Skripal on November 21, 2020.  

There has been no direct evidence from Sergei Skripal himself that he is alive since he telephoned his family home on June 26, 2019.  

Viktoria Skripal told a Moscow press interviewer three months ago that because there was no word from either of them following the death in Yaroslavl of Elena Skripal, Sergei’s mother, on January 7 of this year, she believes they may be dead. “We can assume that they are not alive. Because they knew that their grandmother had died — in any case, we were assured that they had been accurately informed. But there were no condolences, no flowers, none of this from them.”

Reporters from the two Moscow dailies, Moskovsky Komsomlets (MK) and Izvestia, who have been closest to Viktoria, confirm the silence. Alexander Klibanov of MK says he knows of no telephone call or other message from the Skripals this year. “There’s no sign of them,” Nikolai Pozdnyakov of Izvestia adds. He also says there is no definitive proof of their death. “They may be necessary for some new ‘Novichok show’ or something of the sort if the British secret services are going to provide such a thing.”

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RUSSIA’S NON-AGGRESSION PACT IS AN OFFER FOR GERMANY TO REALIZE THE US WON’T NEGOTIATE BECAUSE THE BLIN-NEEDLE GANG WILL FIGHT TO THE LAST GERMAN, THEN RUN AWAY

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

How to stop the US provocations aimed at pushing Russia to go to war in the Ukraine, and at claiming credit for deterring Russian from doing so? Impossible – the US cannot be stopped. But Germany, the country most likely to suffer the direct effects of war in the Ukraine, can stop the American deployment of nuclear-capable weapons on Ukrainian territory.

Will the war start? Silly question – the war won’t start because it has already started, and has been in active use-of-force mode since February 2014 when the US overthrew the Kiev government of President Victor Yanukovich; attempted to take Russian bases in Crimea; and followed in July of that year with the plot to down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and trigger a NATO invasion of the Donbass.

Right now on the Ukraine front, Russia will do nothing new; that’s to say, nothing more than it has already done, and is doing. But if and when Germans agree to the Americans deploying nuclear-capable weapons on Ukrainian territory, as they have already done in Romania, Poland,  and the Black Sea, then the Stavka in Moscow  will do something no western intelligence agency, think-tank, propagandist, and least of all the Japanese mouth organ known as the Financial Times will  have anticipated.  

For the time being, the Russian assessment is that the US will not make war against Russia directly because it is divided between the Americans who are reluctant, of whom President Joseph Biden is one;  CIA director William Burns another;  Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,  two more. Gung-ho by contrast are Secretary of State Antony Blinken (lead image, left) and Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State —  the Blin-Needle* gang who are quite recent Americans; their grandparents were Ukrainians.   The Russian assessment is that their anti-Russian violence is in part the outcome of their relatively recent capture of state position.  For the past three generations, and longer, the Blin-Needle gang has been hating and under-estimating the Russians; they think they have made their successful careers, advancing themselves to the top of the US state, by doing so.

Under-estimating the Russians was a mistake the advancing German army commanders made during the first wave of their invasion eighty years ago. They don’t make the same mistake today.  

The Russian tactic, therefore, is to try publicly differentiating the Blin-Needle gang from Biden, Burns, Austin, and Milley in Washington, and from the new German leadership in Berlin of Olaf Scholz (lead image, right). Their coalition can hold together so long as they can keep their proxies – the Ukrainians, Romanians and Poles – on a short leash. Taken together, or separately, these three national groups present no serious risk of war the Kremlin isn’t confident of managing in the short or medium term.   

The war problem becomes immediate and much more difficult to manage if and when the US moves its own forces with nuclear-capable weapons into firing positions in these front-line states, in the skies above, and on the Black and Baltic Seas.

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SWEETS FOR MY SWEET, SWEETS FOR MY MONEY – RUSSIAN CHOCOLATE DEFENDS ITS MARKET

By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with

If NATO advanced toward the Russian border with the aim of attacking Russia with weapons made of chocolate, the Russian defense and counter-attack strategy, firing Russian-made chocolate, would overwhelm the attackers in the first wave of Russian creme, praline, nuts, waffle,  and soufflé.

That’s because Russians, and not only Russians, think Russian chocolate tastes better, with higher quality of ingredients, more variety, and less synthetics, fats, and sweeteners. In 2001, in the only survey of Russian consumer attitudes towards chocolates, including children, it was discovered that “in the image of domestic chocolate products [there were] in particular, a genuine care for the consumer, sympathy with national traditions and patriotism…. Western chocolate products had associations of vitality, well-being and self-confidence, counterbalanced by greed, artificiality and aggression.”  

The only way NATO chocolate can conquer Russia is by the Fifth Column – that is, the takeover of the domestic market by the NATO brands Nestlé, Mars, Mondelez, and Ferrero. And this is exactly what has happened. In the current Russian chocolate market, these four manufacturers account for 61% of revenues – the money Russians spend on confectionery. Together, the two US groups, Mars and Mondelez, hold a 29% market share; Nestlé of Switzerland, 24%; Ferrero of Italy, 8%.

Russian chocolate experts see the future for Russian chocolate in rapidly increasing exports to new markets like China where chocolate eating is negligible. But they predict little chance the Russian chocolate manufacturers will be able to take domestic market share away from the foreign companies. This is because, under the pressure of falling income during the pandemic, rising inflation, and shrinking profit margins, Russian chocolatiers are replacing their traditional ingredients with cheap substitutes, wiping out the taste difference and advantage over their rivals.

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THE SKELETON UNDER THE VEIL IS FLAT-FOOTED — BRITISH GOVERNMENT’S NOVICHOK OPERATION MOVES INTO NEW COVERUP STAGE

By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with

The British Government announced this week that after cancelling   the coroner’s court inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess from alleged Russian Novichok attack, the public inquiry replacing the inquest will not start for more than a year — until February 2023.

Sturgess died in Salisbury District Hospital on July 8, 2018, four months after Sergei and Yulia Skripal were allegedly attacked by Novichok and recovered in the same hospital. The second coroner appointed to investigate, Baroness Heather Hallett, has already ruled officially, and posted on her inquest website, that “the post mortem indicated the cause of her death was Novichok poisoning.”  The medical evidence has not been  disclosed, tested forensically, or cross-examined according to British coroner’s court standards. Those standards have now been replaced by a more secretive proceeding, called a public inquiry,  in which Hallett will play prosecutor, judge, jury, and also censor.

When the public inquiry opens, new papers released in court now reveal, government officials will have designed what they call “a bespoke disclosure strategy” to prevent open cross-examination of witnesses and public analysis of documents, including the ambulance, hospital and post-mortem medical reports. Witnesses and potential whistleblowers, including the three survivors of the alleged Novichok attack – the Skripals and Wiltshire police sergeant Nicholas Bailey – will be excluded as “interested persons” or “core participants” from the ongoing proceeding.  

To preserve their silence, and enforce the silence of others on the Wiltshire county police force and at Salisbury Hospital, special “restriction notices” are being prepared – the court papers disclose — for “a regime of ministerial restriction notices and inquiry restriction orders to allow documents or information to be withheld if it is in the public interest.” Hallett will supervise this secrecy operation to prevent “disclosure or publication of any evidence or documents given, produced or provided to an inquiry.” This gag will “continue in force indefinitely.”  

This week’s court papers also reveal that the official records now under review of the Novichok investigations have “emanated from the Home Office; the Cabinet Office; the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, Public Health England, the Department of Health and Social Care and the Government Office for Science.”   Missing from this list, and thus from the evidence records to be submitted to the public inquiry, are the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), the signals intelligence agency GCHQ, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down.

If Russian military agents had attacked with a Novichok nerve agent, according to the official narrative, these were the front-line agencies in charge.

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THE MH17 TRIAL & THE CASE OF COLONEL SERGEI MUCHKAEV – DUTCH JUDGE STEENHUIS REVEALS NEW DECEIT

By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with

There has never been any possibility that Russian Army Colonel Sergei Muchkaev, commander of the 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of the 20th Guards Army, would respond to allegations by Bellingcat, their NATO sources, and Dutch state prosecutors. No possibility whatsoever.

For more than five years they have been claiming that Muchkaev had given the orders to move a BUK-TELAR missile battery from the brigade base in Kursk across the border into Ukraine in July 2014, and there to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 on July 17 of that year.  

No army in the world, least of all the NATO armies in their war preparations against the Russian Army, would allow a fishing expedition by a secret judge and his military intelligence helpers to interrogate a serving officer for information about the command, control, communications, and operational orders of his unit. But that is exactly what the Dutch judge presiding at the MH17 trial, Hendrik Steenhuis, and the investigating judge assisting him in secret, have been attempting for several months. Last month, on November 2, Steenhuis ordered the trial to be delayed until next February while Muchkaev was pursued by the Dutchmen.   

This past Wednesday, December 8, Steenhuis announced in court what he and his government superiors had been expecting. In a letter apparently dated December 3, the Russian authorities reportedly said they would not allow questioning of Muchkaev. Steenhuis said the Russian letter claimed as its legal authority the European Convention for Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters – a treaty both the Dutch and Russian governments have ratified.

Steenhuis did not quote the Russian government letter. Instead, he claimed he was reporting what he had been told by the secret investigating judge who had received the Russian letter last week.  According to Steenhuis, he was told the Russian Justice Ministry had said that “pursuant to the European Convention for Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters such a request [for Muchkaev to be questioned] can be rejected if the requested party, in this case the Russian Federation, is of the opinion that execution of the request may harm the essential interests of the country.”   — Min 10:38.

Steenhuis went on to claim he had been told by the investigating judge that the letter from Moscow claimed “the questions in the [Dutch] documents [plural] received which were going to be asked of the witness Muchkaev” involved classified military matters, disclosure of which is prohibited by Russian law.  Accordingly, Steenhuis claimed the Russian letter claimed the questioning “may cause damage to state secrets of the Russian Federation, and consequently to essential interests of the Russian Federation. In view of the above” – Steenhuis talking – the Justice Ministry refused to send the Dutch request to a Russian court to order Muchkaev to testify. “This was the reaction of the Russian Federation” – Min 11:19.

But was it? That’s to say, was Steenhuis quoting from the exact words of the Russian letter, and was he quoting all of them?

In his brief announcement, Steenhuis has made it appear the Russia government won’t allow their officer to testify because of a single provision in the Mutual Assistance Convention behind which the Russians are hiding what the Dutch have already accused Muchkaev of doing. Not only has Steenhuis  used the court to announce the innuendo that Muchkaev is guilty of the shoot-down of MH17. Steenhuis has also implied there was only one provision in the Convention identified in the Russian letter, and that’s the guilty secret one.

In fact, the Convention provides several quite different provisions for the Russian refusal – one of which blocks evidence fishing expeditions; another which blocks attempts to pursue politically motivated allegations and show-trial prosecutions; and yet another which exempts serving soldiers.

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GORILLA RADIO PRESENTS THE COLD BUCKET & HOT CLOCK TO STOP UKRAINE WAR PORNO – WHAT THE PUTIN-BIDEN SUMMIT MEANS

By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with

Behind the penetration-proof walls and the top-secret record of what was said, if the small print of their communiqués is the truth, President Joseph Biden has agreed to reduce the risk of US attack on Russia, and President Vladimir Putin to reduce the risk of Russian attack on Ukraine.

“A lot of give and take,” Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan called the exchange in his post-summit briefing for the press.  Reduce instability, increase transparency, de-escalate threat of war – Sullivan added. “The United States and our European allies would engage in a larger discussion that covers strategic issues, including our strategic concerns with Russia and Russia’s strategic concerns. We managed to do this at the height of the Cold War and we developed mechanisms to help reduce instability and increase transparency.”

Russia cannot accept the threat of attack from NATO’s “attempts to develop Ukrainian territory and is building up military potential near our borders,” Putin said, according to the Kremlin report.    “Therefore, Russia is seriously interested in obtaining reliable, legally fixed guarantees that exclude the expansion of NATO in the eastern direction and the deployment of offensive weapons systems [наступательных систем вооружений] in neighbouring states with Russia.”

“You, Americans, are worried about our battalions, on Russian territory, thousands of kilometres from the United States,” Putin said, according to the press briefing by Yury Ushakov, Putin’s  foreign policy advisor and Sullivan’s Kremlin counterpart. “But we are truly concerned about our own security.”  

Putin is repeating what Sullivan and Ushakov call the “strategic concerns”  — the cross-hairs warning of May 2016; the 12-minute red line warning of February 2019; and last week’s 5-minute warning of hypersonic weapon response.  This time there’s reason to believe Putin and Biden have agreed on a sequence of reciprocal moves to test the give and the take at the strategic level, though not at the level of the fighting on the Ukraine front.  For the moment, these moves are semi-secret. If they don’t materialise between now and Christmas, then the promise, as Ushakov calls them of their teams and representatives “to enter into contact soon about these sensitive questions” will come to nothing.

There’s also reason to expect the last people to accept this will be the managers and journalists of the mainstream Anglo-American media and the schemers of Vladimir Zelensky’s (lead image, left) regime in Kiev. The propaganda war will continue without let-up; so will the shelling of the Donbass.  

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A NEW RUSSIAGATE COMPENDIUM TURNS OUT TO BE A CAT IN A SAKWA

By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with

About the Russiagate operation that continues in the US, Richard Sakwa (lead image), a professor at the University of Kent, has gotten one thing right and one thing wrong. The wrong turns out to be the same thing as the right.

Russiagate, he says, defining that as the narrative of Russian interference in US politics in support of Donald Trump, “is one of the most mystifying yet consequential events of our time.” At the same time, Russiagate is a propaganda and deception operation aimed at achieving the political interests of the Democratic Party, their candidates and supporters. “What if Russian actions during the 2016 were minimal and defensive, and there was no grand plot”, Sakwa asks rhetorically, not quite agreeing to answer for himself. “In that case the endless years of the Russiagate scandal, in which every scrap of evidence was portrayed as the ‘smoking gun’ before being  discredited” turn out to be “deception.. defined as the deliberate attempt on the part of leaders to mislead the public about the thrust of official thinking…  Such deceptions are now routine in US politics.”

A deception cannot be either mystifying or consequential if it’s routine. But if the Russiagate operation is routine, then the truth of the  narrative doesn’t stop the repetition, and the falsehood doesn’t matter to the public. Accordingly, the New York Times insists it will continue reporting under its headline of last week: “Why the Discredited Dossier Does Not Undercut the Russia Investigation?”.

The newspaper knows this is a successful money-making formula; indeed, it admits it is making more revenue than ever, and more profit too. “This was our best third-quarter performance in both News and total net subscription additions since the launch of the digital pay model more than a decade ago,” the company’s chief executive announced on November 1;  “and, outside of 2020, our best quarter ever for digital subscription additions.”  With 90% of the New York Times’ subscriptions now digital, the management is convinced that fake news is profitable – that clickbait works.  New York Times reporters won’t retract or apologize for lying when the lies generate bigger dividends for the shareholders, bigger bonuses for management and reporters.

Nothing new about this. What is  new is the behaviour of the alternative  media in marketing their truth of the Russiagate story.  Sakwa has made his book out of balancing what the mainstream media fakers have reported and what the alt-media reporters have to report of the truth. The audience measures, subscription numbers, and balance-sheets of the alt-media are more secret than publicly owned media companies but the marketing tactics are the same – they report the truths which make the mainstream media out to be liars; they repeat this over and over for clickbait effect.

Sakwa hasn’t interviewed a direct source for anything in his book. He appears not to know US government officials or Russian government officials, lawyers or detectives.  He acknowledges his limitation with this excuse — “the fundamental methodological problem [is] that we still do not know what really happened. Much of the relevant material remains classified.” So his book is composed of secondary-source quotes from one side or another – from liars and truth-tellers carefully balanced.

But what’s the point of Sakwa’s balance?  Do lies get less false by balancing them against the truth? Does the truth get weaker or stronger by balancing them with lies? Is the reader to be persuaded arithmetically – by the number of secondary views cited on one side or the other of the veracity line?

The answer, yes or no, to these questions is so obvious, it should be reckoned silly to ask them. But why is Sakwa selling his 555-page book for the premium price of $120; or to be less capitalistic, why should a reader pay? That’s a rhetorical question.

So why read on? To see the paradox Sakwa seems not to have spotted.  

On the one hand, as Sakwa did notice in passing, American voters don’t think the Russiagate story, or in fact anything to do with Russia, is of any importance to the way they have recently voted or will vote at presidential or congressional elections.    On the other hand, as the balance-sheet of the New York Times proves every quarter, the voters who read such newspapers will keep paying to be persuaded or deceived – and then disregard the Russian material when they vote.

Put these two parts of the paradox together, et voila! the conclusion is that Russiagate has proved to be a commercially profitable plot of the media, alt-media no less than mainstream media,  which has satisfied no one and stopped nothing from being repeated over and over.   

That’s also definition of the money shot in pornography. By that standard, Russiagate turns out to be the longest wank in American history (Sakwa’s too).

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JAMES THURBER, A RED-BLOODED AMERICAN, HAD THIS WARNING FOR WARMAKERS LIKE THE BLIN-NOODLE GANG

By John Helmer, Moscow   @bears_with

Once upon a time, before the Blin-Noodle gang had been born; when their grandparents were still Ukrainians; and before the gang was pushing its protégés to make war on Russia from behind a shield of civilians in Donetsk and Lugansk, there was an American humourist named James Thurber. He was the 20th century successor to the other American humourist Mark Twain. There is no one to succeed those two Americans in our time.

Thurber told a story about provocations, false warnings, and what these days is called the RED LINE. Thurber’s moral was: “Get it right or let it alone. The conclusion you jump to may be your own.”

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DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, SANCTIONS ARE SOONER — HOW ALROSA AND THE BELGIANS ARE LEARNING TO FIGHT AND TO FEINT

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Belgians like to speak of themselves as the victims when the great powers of Europe go to war. They were when the Germans invaded in 1914 and 1940.

But since 2014 when the Belgian government has been repeating it is gung-ho for the war with Russia, there has been no Russian attack, no occupation.  Instead, there has been the amicable Russia-Belgium diamond trade worth more than $30 billion in annual exports and imports, supplied by the Russian state diamond company Alrosa.

If Belgian officials cut that trade off by agreeing to the European Union (EU) sanctions banning Russian diamond imports, as proposed by other EU states, that would  liquidate ten thousand diamond polishing and related jobs concentrated in Antwerp, and destroy the country’s fifth largest export business forever. Alrosa would move its diamonds to Dubai, killing Antwerp as a diamond trading and cutting centre, just as Amsterdam as a diamond centre was killed by the German occupation of 1940.  Antwerp took advantage of Amsterdam’s misfortune in 1946.   Dubai will now do the same.

This is what Belgian government and diamond industry officials mean when they say they favour the toughest possible sanctions on Russian gas exports to Europe  – but no sanctions on Russian diamonds. This is what Prime Minister Alexander De Croo meant when he told an Antwerp conference of diamantaires on September 14: “Sanctions should focus more on the aggressor than ourselves.”   

Earlier, reacting to an attack on the diamond trade with Russia by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky in a speech to the Belgian parliament, the spokesman for the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) said: “Not only are thousands of jobs in Antwerp at stake in the short term, but this decision will inevitably lead to a worldwide shift in the diamond trade in the long term. As long as international policy-makers worldwide do not adopt a unanimous position to sanction Russian diamonds in their entirety, Antwerp will be the only place that will bear the consequences of an EU sanction.”  

By “worldwide shift” he meant Dubai.

De Croo has camouflaged Belgium’s resistance by repeating he will not veto a Russian diamond ban if there is “overwhelming support” for it in the EU. So a majority of the EU states have continued pressing; they are led by Poland. In March of this year, De Croo announced: “I would like to officially state that our country has never hindered any measures regarding diamonds. Our country did not interfere in this issue.”  In private, however, De Croo has been casting Belgium’s veto.  

The Poles have been attacking De Croo,  pressing the case for an EU  ban on Russian diamond imports as payback for De Croo’s insistence on imposing EU budget sanctions against the Warsaw government last year.  De Croo is also refusing to accept Ukraine’s demand for accelerated membership of the EU and of NATO, and for fresh EU funding to pay Kiev’s war-fighting bills.   

Instead, he has just announced €8 million in non-lethal aid to Kiev. “Ukraine can keep on counting on Belgium,” De Croo declared. “More than words, there are actions. Once again, Belgium is responding to concrete needs and will be providing essential equipment to Ukraine in the coming weeks.”  The equipment is first-aid kits and pharmaceuticals produced by Belgian companies.

This week the secret Belgian veto campaign appears to have succeeded. The new draft of the eighth round of EU sanctions includes dental floss and deodorants; it leaves out diamonds.    This omission is expected to be confirmed publicly on Friday of this week at the EU summit meeting in Prague.    

 “At the moment, diamonds are not included on the agenda for the next round of sanctions,” announced Tom Neys, the AWDC spokesman. “But things change quickly. [On] Friday [October 7] they will finalize discussions, and the EU [leaders decide] on October 6 and 7. The fact that sanctions also create other ethical problems, and that these sanctions will have no effect in Russia, are probably important elements in these debates. Now is the time to focus on international solutions.”  

By “international solutions” the Belgians mean keeping Dubai from taking over Antwerp’s diamond business.

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WAITING FOR NUCLEAR WAR IN WASHINGTON, COCKAHOOP IN WARSAW, THE GERMANS RUN FOR THE BUNKER, AGAIN — GORILLA RADIO REVEALS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Timing is everything when you are telling jokes on stage; summing up for the jury in a murder trial; or when you are a general preparing to send your army over the top. Knock the comedian, lawyer, or general off his timing, and the laugh, the verdict, and the casualties will go against him.

John Mortimer, a London barrister and author of the Rumpole of the Bailey television show,  once told the story of a friend who was coming to the end of his final jury address when he saw the judge writing a note and handing it to the usher. When it was passed to the lawyer as he was speaking, he glanced down to read: “Dear Jim, I thought you’d like to know that your flies are open and I can see your cock.”

Cocks which show or crow – like boys crying wolf – don’t comprehend the risks they create for themselves, and others. This is how it is in Berlin for Olaf Scholz and in Washington for Joseph Biden right now. They can afford to be impervious to the derision they are drawing in Warsaw; not so to the reaction to their antics in Moscow.

In this broadcast by Chris Cook, Gorilla Radio blows the final whistle before we all go over the top (Germans first, then the Poles). Even former Secretary of State John Kerry, career liar that he’s been, is revealed to be blowing on the same whistle this time round.

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THE OCTOBER SURPRISE — ASK NOT WHAT THE KREMLIN WILL DO, BUT WHAT THE US WILL DO NEXT

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The official Russian reaction to the Nord Stream attack is to identify it as a US military operation, and to wait for an investigation to produce the evidence. That means wait, delay. No retaliation.

“How will we respond?”  Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday in the most detailed briefing so far from Moscow.    “We will respond with an investigation. This is a must, and our law-enforcement bodies have already launched it. This [the gas pipelines] is our property, resources, and infrastructure.”

“I would like to believe that the international investigation of what happened on the gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea will be objective… We will seek to conduct an honest and objective investigation… I hope that someone in the United States, or maybe someone in Europe — although, unfortunately, Europe in this case can no longer be counted on — someone from the independent investigators will have the desire to clarify the involvement of the United States, the special services and all other bodies in what happened on 25-27 September of this year in the Baltic Sea.”

This means that the Russian Government is waiting, delaying. There will be no retaliation for the time being.  

The reason is that Russian officials suspect the Biden Administration of preparing an October Surprise just ahead of Election Day, November 8: an attack on domestic US infrastructure – the electricity grids, for example – which will be reported as the Russian retaliation that won’t be.

The Nord Stream attacks were a military operation of the US, Poland, Denmark, and Sweden, with additional NATO air surveillance support from bases in Italy.  Politically, they were an attack on Germany, but the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has yet to say publicly what he knew in advance, what he knows now.

Who then knows what will come next except that there is now war in Europe, outside the Ukraine. Will the October Surprise begin war inside the United States?

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AFTERSHOCK OF NORD STREAM EXPLOSIONS RUMBLES WARSAW — POLISH POLITICIANS GO “NUTTERS”

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Polish government in Warsaw, facing re-election in less than a year, wants all the credit from Washington for their joint operation to sabotage the Nord Stream gas pipelines on the Baltic seabed.

It also wants to intimidate the German chancellor in Berlin, and deter both American and German officials from plotting a takeover by the Polish opposition party, Civic Platform, next year.

Blaming the Russians for the attack is their cover story. Attacking anyone who doesn’t believe it, including Poles and Germans, Warsaw officials and their supporting media claim they are dupes or agents of Russian disinformation.

Their rivals, Civic Platform (PO) politicians trailing the PiS in the polls by seven percentage points,   want Polish voters to think that no credit for the Nord Stream attack should be earned by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party. They also want to divert  the Russian counter-attack from Warsaw to Washington.

“Thank you USA” was the first Polish political declaration tweeted hours after the blasts by Radoslaw Sikorski (lead image, left), the PO’s former defence and foreign minister, now a European Parliament deputy. In support and justification,  his old friend and PO ministerial colleague, Roman Giertych, warned Sikorski’s critics: “Would you nutters prefer that the Russians find us guilty?”

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THE BORNHOLM BLOW-UP REPEATS THE BORNHOLM BASH — POLAND ATTACKS GERMANY AND BLAMES RUSSIA

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The military operation on Monday night which fired munitions to blow holes in the Nord Stream I and Nord Stream II pipelines on the Baltic Sea floor, near Bornholm Island,  was executed by the Polish Navy and special forces.

It was aided by the Danish and Swedish military; planned and coordinated with US intelligence and technical support; and approved by the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

The operation is a repeat of the Bornholm Bash operation of April 2021, which attempted to sabotage Russian vessels laying the gas pipes, but ended in ignominious retreat by the Polish forces. That was a direct attack on Russia. This time the attack is targeting the Germans, especially the business and union lobby and the East German voters, with a scheme to blame Moscow for the troubles they already have — and their troubles to come with winter.

Morawiecki is bluffing. “It is a very strange coincidence,” he has announced, “that on the same day that the Baltic Gas Pipeline  opens, someone is most likely committing an act of sabotage. This shows what means the Russians can resort to in order to destabilize Europe. They are to blame for the very high gas prices”.   The truth bubbling up from the seabed at Bornholm is the opposite of what Morawiecki says.

But the political value to Morawiecki, already running for the Polish election in eleven months’ time, is his government’s claim to have solved all of Poland’s needs for gas and electricity through the winter — when he knows that won’t come true.  

Inaugurating the 21-year old Baltic Pipe project from the Norwegian and Danish gas networks, Morawiecki announced: “This gas pipeline is the end of the era of dependence on Russian gas. It is also a gas pipeline of security, sovereignty and freedom not only for Polish, but in the future, also for others…[Opposition Civic Platform leader Donald] Tusk’s government preferred Russian gas. They wanted to conclude a deal with the Russians even by 2045…thanks to the Baltic Pipe, extraction from Polish deposits,  LNG supply from the USA and Qatar, as well as interconnection with its neighbours, Poland is now secured in terms of gas supplies.”

Civic Platform’s former defence and foreign minister Radek Sikorski also celebrated the Bornholm Blow-up. “As we say in Polish, a small thing, but so much joy”.  “Thank you USA,” Sikorski added,   diverting the credit for the operation, away from domestic rival Morawiecki to President Joseph Biden; he had publicly threatened to sabotage the line in February.  Biden’s ambassador in Warsaw is also backing Sikorski’s Civic Platform party to replace  Morawiecki next year.  

The attack not only escalates the Polish election campaign. It also continues the Morawiecki government’s plan to attack Germany, first by reviving the reparations claim for the invasion and occupation of 1939-45;  and second, by targeting alleged German complicity, corruption,  and appeasement in the Russian scheme to rule Europe at Poland’s expense. .

“The appeasement policy towards Putin”, announced PISM, the official government think tank in Warsaw in June,  “is part of an American attempt to free itself from its obligations of maintaining peace in Europe. The bargain is that Americans will allow Putin to finish building the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in exchange for Putin’s commitment not use it to blackmail Eastern Europe. Sounds convincing? Sounds like something you heard before? It’s not without reason that Winston Churchill commented on the American decision-making process: ‘Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.’ However, by pursuing such a policy now, the Biden administration takes even more responsibility for the security of Europe, including Ukraine, which is the stake for subsequent American mistakes.”

“Where does this place Poland? Almost 18 years ago the Federal Republic of Germany, our European ally, decided to prioritize its own business interests with Putin’s Russia over solidarity and cooperation with allies in Central Europe. It was a wrong decision to make and all Polish governments – regardless of political differences – communicated this clearly and forcefully to Berlin. But since Putin succeeded in corrupting the German elite and already decided to pay the price of infamy, ignoring the Polish objections was the only strategy Germany was left with.”

The explosions at Bornholm are the new Polish strike for war in Europe against Chancellor Olaf Scholz. So far the Chancellery in Berlin is silent, tellingly.

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LEMONS, MIMOSAS, AND STALIN’S SHOVEL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The only Russian leader in a thousand years who was a genuine gardener and who allowed himself to be recorded with a shovel in his hand was Joseph Stalin (lead image, mid-1930s). Compared to Stalin, the honouring of the new British king Charles III as a gardener pales into imitativeness and pretension.   

Stalin cultivated lemon trees and flowering mimosas at his Gagra dacha  by the Black Sea in Abkhazia.  Growing mimosas (acacias) is tricky. No plantsman serving the monarchs in London or at Versailles has made a go of it in four hundred years. Even in the most favourable climates, mimosas – there are almost six hundred varieties of them — are short-lived. They can revive after bushfires; they can go into sudden death for no apparent reason. Russians know nothing of this – they love them for their blossom and scent, and give bouquets of them to celebrate the arrival of spring.

Stalin didn’t attempt the near-impossible, to grow lemons and other fruit in the Moscow climate. That was the sort of thing which the Kremlin noblemen did to impress the tsar and compete in conspicuous affluence with each other. At Kuskovo, now in the eastern district of Moscow, Count Pyotr Sheremetyev built a heated orangerie between 1761 and 1762, where he protected his lemons, pomegranates, peaches, olives, and almonds, baskets of which he would present in mid-winter to the Empress Catherine the Great and many others. The spade work was done by serfs. Sheremetyev beat the French king Louis XIV to the punch – his first orangerie at Versailles wasn’t built until 1763.

Stalin also had a dacha at Kuskovo. But he cultivated his lemons and mimosas seventeen hundred  kilometres to the south where they reminded him of home in Georgia. Doing his own spade work wasn’t Stalin showing off, as Charles III does in his gardens, like Louis XIV before him. Stalin’s spade work was what he had done in his youth. It also illustrated his message – “I’m showing you how to work”, he would tell visitors surprised to see him with the shovel.  As to his mimosas, Stalin’s Abkhazian confidante, Akaki Mgeladze, claimed in his memoirs that Stalin intended them as another lesson. “How Muscovites love mimosas, they stand in queues for them” he reportedly told him.  “Think how to grow more to make the Muscovites happy!”

In the new war with the US and its allies in Europe, Stalin’s lessons of the shovel and the mimosas are being re-learned in conditions which Stalin never knew – how to fight the war for survival and at the same time keep everyone happy with flowers on the dining table.

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AND THEN THERE WERE NONE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Agatha Christie’s whodunit entitled And Then There Were None – the concluding words of the children’s counting rhyme — is reputed to be the world’s best-selling mystery story.    

There’s no mystery now about the war of Europe and North America against Russia; it is the continuation of Germany’s war of 1939-45 and the war aims of the General Staff in Washington since 1943. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu (left) and President Vladimir Putin (right) both said it plainly enough this week.

There is also no mystery in the decision-making in Moscow of the President and the Defense Minister, the General Staff, and the others; it is the continuation of the Stavka of 1941-45.  

Just because there is no mystery about this, it doesn’t follow that it should be reported publicly, debated in the State Duma, speculated and advertised by bloggers, podcasters, and twitterers.  In war what should not be said cannot be said. When the war ends, then there will be none.  

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RUSSIANS RAISE THEIR GLASSES – THE TOAST IS TO BEATING THE BLOCKADE OF MOSCOW



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Alas and alack for the Berlin Blockade of 1948-49 (Berliner Luftbrücke): those were the days when the Germans waved their salutes against the unification of Germany demilitarised and denazified; and cheered instead for their alliance with the US and British armies to fight another seventy years of war in order to achieve what they and Adolf Hitler hadn’t managed, but which they now hope to achieve under  Olaf Scholtz — the defeat of the Russian Army and the destruction of Russia.

How little the Germans have changed.

But alas and alack — the Blockade now is the one they and the NATO armies aim to enforce against Russia. “We are drawing up a new National Security Strategy,” according to Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock. “We are taking even the most severe scenarios seriously.”  By severe Baerbock means nuclear. The new German generation — she has also declared “now these grandparents, mothers, fathers and their children sit at the kitchen table and discuss rearmament.”  

So, for Russia to survive the continuation of this war, the Germans and their army must be fought and defeated again. That’s the toast of Russian people as they salute the intrepid flyers who are beating the Moscow Blockade.  

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THE INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY GOES TO WAR — GORILLA RADIO GOES NUCLEAR

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Last week the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors voted to go to war with Russia by a vote of 26 member countries against 9.

China, Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Senegal and South Africa voted against war with Russia.  

The IAEA Secretary-General Rafael Grossi (lead image, left) has refused to tell the press whether a simple majority of votes (18) or a super-majority of two-thirds (23) was required by the agency charter for the vote; he also wouldn’t say which countries voted for or against. The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres then covered up for what had happened by telling the press: “I believe that [IAEA’s] independence that exists and must be preserved is essential. The IAEA cannot be the instrument of parties against other parties.” The IAEA vote for war made a liar of Guterres.

In the IAEA’s 65-year history, Resolution Number 58, the war vote of September 15, 2022,  is the first time the agency has taken one side in a war between member countries when nuclear reactors have either been attacked or threatened with attack. It is also the first time the IAEA has attacked one of its member states, Russia, when its military were attempting to protect and secure a nuclear reactor from attack by another member state, the Ukraine, and its war allies, the US, NATO and the European Union states. The vote followed the first-ever IAEA inspection of a nuclear reactor while it was under active artillery fire and troop assault.

There is a first time for everything but this is the end of the IAEA. On to the scrap heap of good intentions and international treaties, the IAEA is following the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), and the UN Secretary-General himself.  Listen to this discussion of the past history when the IAEA responded quite differently following the Iranian and Israeli air-bombing attacks on the Iraqi nuclear reactor known as Osirak, and later, the attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons sites.

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INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY TAKES UKRAINE SIDE IN WAR IN SEPTEMBER 15 VOTE, MAKING UN SECRETARY-GENERAL GUTERRES EITHER A LIAR OR A FOOL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) decided this week to take the side of Ukraine in the current war; blame Russia for the shelling of the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP); and issue a demand for Russia to surrender the plant to the Kiev regime “to regain full control over all nuclear facilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, including the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant.”      

This is the most dramatic shift by the United Nations (UN) nuclear power regulator in the 65-year history of the organisation based in Vienna.

The terms of the IAEA Resolution Number 58, which were proposed early this week by the Polish and Canadian governors on the agency board, were known in advance by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres when he spoke by telephone with President Vladimir Putin in the late afternoon of September 14, before the vote was taken. Guterres did not reveal what he already knew would be the IAEA action the next day.  

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