RED HAS TURNED YELLOW – THE GREEK AND CYPRIOT COMMUNISTS ARE FLYING A DIFFERENT FLAG IN THE UKRAINE WAR

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The Ukraine war is splitting the communist parties of Europe between those taking the US side, and those on the Russian side.

In an unusual public criticism of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) and of smaller communist parties in Europe which have endorsed the Greek criticism of Russia for waging an “imperialist” war against the Ukraine, the Russian Communist Party (KPRF) has responded this week with a 3,300-word declaration:  “The military conflict in Ukraine,” the party said, “cannot be described as an imperialist war, as our comrades would argue. It is essentially a national liberation war of the people of Donbass. From Russia’s point of view it is a struggle against an external threat to national security and against Fascism.”

By contrast, the Russian communists have not bothered to send advice, or air public criticism of the Cypriot communists and their party, the Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL). On March 2, AKEL issued a communiqué “condemn[ing] Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Russian troops from Ukrainian territories….[and] stresses that the Russian Federation’s action in recognising the Donetsk and Luhansk regions constitutes a violation of the principle of the territorial integrity of states.”

 To the KPRF in Moscow the Cypriots are below contempt; the Greeks are a fraction above it.

A Greek-Cypriot veteran of Cypriot politics and unaffiliated academic explains: “The Cypriot communists do not allow themselves to suffer for what they profess to believe. Actually, they are a misnomer. They are the American party of the left in Cyprus, just as [President Nikos] Anastasiades is the American party of the right.” As for the Greek left, Alexis Tsipras of Syriza – with 85 seats of the Greek parliament’s 300, the leading party of the opposition – the KKE (with 15 seats), and Yanis Varoufakis of MeRA25 (9 seats), the source adds: “The communists are irrelevant in Europe and in the US, except in the very narrow context of Greek party politics.”

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BRAIN POISONING BY RUSSIAN NERVE AGENT – ALEXEI NAVALNY INFECTS GERMAN CHANCELLERY

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

There is only one certainty (zweifelsfreie Nachweis) in the case of Alexei Navalny and the traces (Spuren) which have been found in his skin, urine and blood, and in a water bottle, by the German Army’s chemical warfare laboratory in Munich.

This certainty is that, in order to believe the German and other government interpretations which have been given of the evidence to date, you have to be suffering from a severe case of brain washing. The lighter the spectrometric mass or weight of the reported Novichok spuren, the heavier the measurable wash on the brain required to believe they are evidence of a Russian state crime.

In political weight, however, Navalny in his present condition is now more valuable outside Russia than he was, or ever could have been, inside Russia when he was in full health. In the politics of next year’s German election, when Chancellor Angela Merkel will not be running, the Navalny case weighs more heavily than the Litvinenko, Magnitsky, MH17, and Skripal cases all rolled into one.  

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CYPRUS PRESIDENT NICOS ANASTASIADES ANNOUNCES TREASON AS STATE POLICY

by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Nothing like this has been said before by a leader of the Hellenes, Greek or Cypriot.

“If we consider a solution through militarisation,” Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades (lead image, right) announced last week. “This will be the end of Cypriot Hellenism, which I do not want.”  What Anastasiades meant was that he does not want Cyprus to defend itself, its land, airspace, territorial waters, and sea lanes,  by military means.

A Cypriot president who swears off military defence “of the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus” is violating his oath of office; he is betraying the Cyprus Constitution.  A veteran of Cypriot presidential politics comments that Anastasiades is making the calculation that his best chance for winning a third term of office is submission to Turkey first, and submission to the US, the European Union, and Israel to limit Turkish military expansion in and around the island.   

This is a strategy of buying time for himself, the source said, and riches for his associates. “He will be very happy to see Cyprus as a satrapy of Turkey provided he and his associates become the sultan’s satraps.” 

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SERVILITY OR SELF-DEFENCE: CYPRUS CAN DEFEND AGAINST THE TURKS WITHOUT AMERICAN PROTECTORATE OR RUSSIAN ADVICE

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Russia has been warning Cyprus (lead image, left) for months to beware the risks and consequences of offering its offshore oil and gas to US companies in exchange for promises of a US military protectorate against Turkish invasion. So far the American response (lead image, centre – Secretary of State Michael Pompeo) has been to require Cyprus to block Russian Navy access to its ports; expel Russian capital from its banks; and put a stop to what Washington calls pro-Russian journalism in the Greek-language press. For details of this scheme, read this

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has denounced the Washington plan as an “artificial choice” and also a “gross violation” of Cyprus’s internal affairs. But so far the Russians have joined the Americans in accepting that what the Turks believe to be theirs is theirs, and that what the Cypriots (and Greeks) regard as theirs is negotiable.

For the first time, however, Cypriot and Greek military officers and experts have joined to plan  Cypriot military tactics against Turkey’s attempt at taking over the Cyprus offshore seabed and at fresh Turkish troop landings on the island. Not since the Cypriots fought a successful guerrilla war against the British for independence in the 1950s, and then in 1974 fought the Turkish invasion of the northern part of the island has a Cypriot military approach appeared.  Self-defence by the Cypriots – without alignment with Americans or Russians, and without backing from Athens — is unprecedented. (more…)

TURKISH DELIGHT AND THE SULTAN’S FINGER – IS THERE A TURKISH LOBBY IN MOSCOW? WHO DOES IT FEED IN THE KREMLIN?

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

If Russian money talks,  there can be no doubt it is telling President Vladimir Putin to give Russia’s relationship with Turkey a priority comparable, almost, with China and India. The  message eliminates Greece from the Kremlin’s consideration; it also diminishes Cyprus.

But does this mean there is a powerful Turkish lobby working inside the Kremlin? Does it mean that Russia’s shift on the economic front towards Turkey is causing a strategic switch, reversing the three-hundred year history of tsarist, imperial and Soviet military and security strategy?  Can the Turkish Air Force ambush of a Russian Su-24 fighter and murder of one of its pilots in November 2015; the assassination by a Turkish policeman of Ambassador Andrei Karlov in December 2016; eighteen months of embargo  on Turkish imports to Russia, December 2015 to June 2017; and the failure of the Idlib pact of September 2018 have all been erased from Russian memory, to be replaced by the trust Russian officials now insist they have towards their Turkish counterparts?

As the Turkish military begin deploying their newly delivered Russian S-400 missile batteries, first around the capital Ankara, and then in southwestern Turkey covering the airspace and territorial waters of Cyprus and Greece, Greek sources believe Russian strategy has broken with Russian memory, and will now side with Turkey in the expansion of its claims to the seabed oil and gas of Cyprus and around the Greek islands of the Aegean.

Eight Russian experts on Turkey, the eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans, employed by Moscow think-tanks, government consultancies, and the press were asked to assess this view, and also to say if they believe there is a Turkish lobby influencing Putin and the Security Council. The questions are so sensitive, however, not one agreed to respond either on or off the record.

“I find it hard to believe that the Russian ‘deep state’ relies on Turkey as a long-term ally”, a  retired Russian official and veteran of many years of policymaking with Greece, Turkey and other Black Sea states, says. “Historical memory is also there — we have many reminders.”

The Russian source adds that the Greek prime ministers have only themselves to blame for Russia’s re-calculation. “In the case of [former prime minister Alexis] Tsipras, it was easy — he was a fake, and many people suspected that from the outset. So why should Russia have tried to strike a deal with a fake that would yield nothing. With or without Russian interaction with Turkey, Tsipras would have acted in exactly same way on practically all issues: Russian-Turkish relations were just his excuse.  Nea Demokratia and the families in the Greek hereditary political establishment, such as Karamanlis or Mitsotakis, might be slightly more reliable partners than the Syriza clowns.”

“I think that Greeks are making a mistake. Early or later, Turks will come for their throat – for example, to reclaim the islands adjacent to Turkey, paying no mind to the American bases in Souda, Larissa, etc., because they know that the Americans will not intervene militarily, just as  they didn’t in the past.  It is just a matter of time. A country like Turkey can afford waiting a century or two. The Albanian expansion which the Americans endorse and EU stupidly disregards will improve Turkey’s strategic standing in the Balkans.” (more…)

THE SECOND CYPRUS PARTITION – AMERICAN PROMISES VERSUS TURKISH ARMS VERSUS RUSSIAN MONEY AND MISSILES

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

This week a group of US senators has proposed to leave Turkey in control of the northern part of Cyprus, and force the Greek Cypriots to choose between the US and Russia for the economic and political future  of the south of the island.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee agreed by a large bipartisan majority on June 25 to put into law a new Eastern Mediterranean strategy. If the bill is enacted, Cyprus will be required to decide that in exchange for American protection from Turkish military threats, including Russian-made S-400 missiles to be based in southwestern Turkey,  the Cyprus  Government must not allow Russian naval vessels to dock at Cypriot ports,  and should block all Russian money and investments on the island.  At the same time, Greece has been told the US military intends to expand its occupation of Crete around the Souda Bay base; at Larissa Air Force Base, midway between Athens and Thessaloniki; and at other Greek locations.

The proposed new law is the most comprehensive plan for American military occupation of Cyprus and Greece since the Greek civil war of the 1950s.  The US plan also establishes State Department censorship of the Greek-language media in Cyprus and Greece, and threatens US sanctions against the Orthodox Church bishops of the two countries. (more…)

A NEW HISTORY OF MODERN GREECE REVEALS MISTAKES THE RUSSIANS AND GREEKS HAVE KEPT REPEATING FOR TWO HUNDRED YEARS

By John Helmer, Moscow

By the European standard of destructiveness in war — civil war and invasion — only one country exceeds Russia in the frequency of violence over the past two centuries and in casualties per head of population: this  is Greece. In Europe of today, no country has been as damaged by the serial attacks of the Turks, Germans, British, Americans, and also by the Greeks themselves, as Greece. No European suffers today from more impoverished future prospects than the Greek.

This is the dismal lesson of a new history, just published by a British academic and philhellene, as foreign lovers of Greece have been called since Lord Byron and Victor Hugo.   The history is also a valuable record of the dozens of times   Greeks appealed for Russian aid, and when Russians, having promised to help, turned out to be double-crossers. Indeed, starting from Catherine II in 1770 until Vladimir Putin today, this mistake Greeks (including Cypriots) and Russians make towards each other has been repeated. Re-reading the history may help stop the vicious cycle. So may the extended range of Russian air and sea missiles. (more…)

FOUR NAILS IN THE COFFIN MEAN VICTORY FOR CYPRIOT SOVEREIGNTY, BACKED BY GREEK PRINCIPLE AND RUSSIAN ARMS

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By John Helmer, Moscow

In the dark of Monday night before light broke on Tuesday, Cyprus, the small Mediterranean island invaded and occupied for 42 years  by Turkish troops with US and UK backing,  began a revolution its president, Nicos Anastasiades (lead image, 4),  doesn’t want.

The collapse of negotiations between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities, arranged by United Nations (UN) officials at the Swiss resort of Mont Pèlerin, was confirmed by a UN communique issued at 1:30 in the morning. “They have not been able to achieve the necessary further convergences on criteria for territorial adjustment that would have paved the way for the last phase of the talks,” the bulletin announced.  “The two sides have decided to return to Cyprus and reflect on the way forward.”

“The Americans, the Turks, the European Union, and the British were sure there’s no deal  Anastasiades could not be persuaded to accept,” said a senior Cyprus official,  now retired,  “so long as there’s  a large enough percentage in it for himself. Anastasiades’s weakness is his personal corruption. This time, though, the Turks raised their bid too high. The Americans lost their cards in their election on November 8. The British aren’t players in Europe now. And for the first time there was a display of Greek and Russian power which has changed the game entirely. Greece first, then Russia have cut the legs off the negotiating table – Anastasiades’s legs too.” (more…)

OBITUARY FOR A HOLIDAY

By John Helmer, Moscow

It’s impossible to celebrate independence of oneself. It is possible to take leave of your senses.

День России, Russia Day, for which Russians take off today, is one of those cynical inventions for which Boris Yeltsin was responsible. It was on June 12, 1990, when, manipulating his control of the Russian republic parliament, Yeltsin declared Russia’s sovereignty from the Soviet Union, i.e, the start of his destruction of Mikhail Gorbachev, and almost everything else. A triumph of meretriciousness over sanctimony. In time, the insecurity from which the one seemed to be offering liberation from the other will deserve a different quality of relief – and apter memorial.
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IN SOLIDARITY WITH THE GREEKS – TWO OPTIONS FOR REPAYING THE GERMANS

The Koukidis Option

On April 27, 1941, Konstantinos Koukidis was the Greek Evzone on flag-guard duty at the Acropolis, when the German invaders arrived. When a German officer ordered Koukidis to surrender, give up the Greek flag, and raise the German flag in its place, Koukidis took the Greek flag down, wrapped it around his body, and jumped from the Acropolis rock to his death.

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PUTIN TELLS PAPANDREOU THE BOTTLE IS HALF-FULL — AND THE ALEXANDROUPOLI PIPELINE HALF-EMPTY

By John Helmer in Moscow

Embattled Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou (left image) met in Moscow on Tuesday with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (right image) in hope of reviving Russian plans to deliver a new crude oil pipeline from Burgas, on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, to the Greek terminal of Alexandroupoli, on the Aegean; as well as confirm Gazprom’s future gas delivery plans across Greece.
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WHAT THE LITTLE BIRDIE TOLD NOAH IS A COMMERCIAL SECRET – A NEW BLACK SEA DELUGE WASHES AWAY POLITICAL AND FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY, AND MORE, MUCH MORE

By John Helmer in Moscow

There is no evidence currently available that Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin has anything like the hot-line to God which enabled Noah of biblical fame to master the surge of the Black Sea, and with the help of the birdie — the first spy satellite on record – to make it safely to land.

What is known about Noah’s Black Sea strategy has been the subject of controversy among believers for several thousand years. More interestingly, since 1997, academics have speculated that during the glacial meltdown between about 15,000 BC and 5,000 BC, the Black Sea level dropped below the level of the Aegean and Mediterranean, causing a surge northward through the Bosphorus. The surge, according to one geological report, was a big one – 200 times the volume over Niagara Falls, each day for 300 days.
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PUTIN’S SURPRISE REWARD FOR GREECE, AND OTHER FRIENDS

By John Helmer in Moscow

RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Athens this week – his second in six months, a Russian presidential record – is so unusual, its meaning may not be fully understood. Moreover, few Russians accompanying Putin are able to put into clear perspective the relationship which the president himself is trying to create.

For one thing, by choosing to meet his Greek and Bulgarian counterparts for a second signing ceremony that he could have delegated to a lower level, Putin is putting an end to false hopes that have bedevilled the Burgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline project for the decade that preceded Putin’s direct intervention last year.

The new pipeline is being built because the project supports strategic interests of the Russian state in seeing one of its natural resources safely to market, across friendly territory.

Commercial payoffs there will be. But these are the crumbs that will be divided after the majority shareholders of the project – Russia’s state pipeline company Transneft, and the state oil and gas companies, Rosneft and Gazprom – fix the lion’s share.
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THE MODERN ART OF SAYING ‘OHI-THAT’S GREEK FOR NO GO

Francois, the Duc de la Rochfoucauld, came to his famous book of maxims after a career in regular soldiering, and then in warfare between factions of the French court in the mid-17th century. He lost his home, his health, his love, and his fortune, but not his courage or wits. It is for those that he is remembered. Warring is different from posturing, the duke warned: “We are never so ridiculous through qualities we have, as through those we pretend to have.”

When the Turks kill Greek airmen and spy on Greece’s defences, Greek politicians pretend to peace-making with Turkey, deploying their paper missiles as if Greece’s voters cannot tell the difference between the ones that draw blood, and the ones that draw ridicule. This posturing invites the Turkish general staff to dispatch ever more aircraft to challenge and demoralize Greece’s defenders, in the confidence that the latter, and ) their superiors, have lost the will to fight; or will soon enough.

There was a time, almost twenty years ago, when the Turks learned differently, and stayed out of the Aegean for a long time afterwards.

For George Papandreou, the Pasok (Greek socialist party) leader whose idea it was in 1999 to pursue rapprochement with the enemy, his ‘forgetfulness of the lesson his father taught Ankara is even more ridiculous than his call following the May 23 clash near Karpathos.

In that incident, a Turkish spy plane and its escorts were intercepted by a Greek fighter. In circumstances that are not clear, there was an aerial collision, which downed Turkish and Greek fighter planes, and killed the Greek pilot. Papandreou said afterwards that “Turkey must operate “within the framework of good neighbourly relations”. George is not the man his father was, and so his ‘must’ has all the battle force of a drum-boy, compared to an artilleryman. In recent years, there have been dozens of Turkish incursions each year, and more than a dozen Greek pilots have been killed trying to intercept them. And yet it was in 1987 that George’s father, Andreas Papandreou, demonstrated how to win a war with the Turks without sounding either a drum or a cannon, without firing a single shot, or losing a single life. His victory in the Aegean War of that year ought to be a lesson for Greeks today.

What happened was that then, as now, the Turkish military and government in Ankara made all sorts of claims to the Aegean that defied international pacts, air, maritime, and territorial rules, navigation protocols, and the like. In their challenges to Greek sovereignty, it was understood in Athens that the Turks were encouraged by the Reagan Administration in Washington, with one special objective: the Americans had been trying for years to topple Prime Minister Papandreou. They thought that if he were humiliated by a show of Turkish power in the Aegean, and didn’t dare to fight it, he would discredit himself in front of the Greek electorate, and be voted out of office.

Andreas believed that Turkish incursions in the Aegean could be repelled, but only by a show of such force as to demonstrate to Ankara and Washington that, outnumbered and outgunned though the Greeks might be, they would exact such a price in blood that the outcome of the conflict could not be predicted confidently by Greece’s enemies. Accordingly, in secret, Andreas devised his plan of preemptive war. When the Turks dispatched a geological survey vessel into the Aegean to survey the seabed, the Greek seabed, for oil – despite dozens of prior warnings – Andreas moved swiftly. Fighter-bombers were rolled out of their revetments to takeoff position, fully armed, on three-minute warning. Greek tanks started to roll towards the Turkish border. The electricity supply to American intelligence posts in Greece was cut off. And, the biggest surprise of all, Todor Zhivkov, then the ruler of Communist Bulgaria, and member of the Warsaw Pact, started moving his armour and troops towards his frontier with Turkey, according to a personal agreement with Andreas. Never in the short, discreditable history of confrontation between NATO and the Warsaw Pact had two armies of each allied themselves in a common military enterprise. It was a show that multiplied more force than the Turks or the Americans had imagined possible on four fronts. The survey vessel was ordered to turn about, and the Turkish prime minister was flown to Houston for emergency cardiological care.

It was Andreas’s strategy that won that war, and for the two years in which he remained in power, the Turks did not dare to challenge him militarily. The strategy was simple – Andreas believed that the only method that would persuade the Turks to stop their military adventuring against Greece is fear of force. To make that fear palpable, he thought it was also necessary to persuade their masters in Washington that Greeks can say “ohi”, and will kill and die, again, if they must. The last and most famous time a Greek prime minister said “ohi” was when Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator, demanded that Athens allow his troops to occupy the country. In the alpine war which followed, the Italians were defeated, and had to call Hitler for rescue; the Germans then occupied Greece for the remainder of World War II.

Today Andreas’s son pretends that the Turks can be dissuaded from attacking Greece if they are offered the reward of accession to the European Union. President Karolos Papoulias, for whom the lesson of 1987 ought to be equally familiar, pontificated after the May 23 fight that “good neighbourly relations are not just a rhetorical turn of phrase or declaration of intent, but concrete acts.” He too imagines that Greece holds the key to accession. In fact, it has been the voters of France and the Netherlands who said “ohi”, before the Greeks dared by rejecting ratification of the proposed amendments to the EU Constitution. If Turkey is to listen seriously to the President of Greece or the Pasok leader, let them learn that after saying “ohi”, Greeks are ready to kill and to die.

Grim though that prescription is, Greeks don’t have the soft choices which the current government in Athens or its Pasok predecessor have offered them. But perhaps a strategic shift is coming, which may once again enable Greece and Cyprus to regain leverage against the Turkish alliance.

Russia has begun to signal that it may soon be ready to deploy a fleet at a new naval base to be constructed at Tartus, on the Mediterranean shore in Syria. Dredging at the port has already commenced, along with a range of dual-purpose developments along the coast to Latakia. Naturally, the return of a powerful Russian naval squadron to the o Mediterranean is intended for cooperative anti-terrorism operations with the NATO powers. Should the naval base eventuate, it would cast a protective shadow, though no longer a red shadow, over Syria, and possibly even Lebanon. On June 7, the Defence Ministry denied it intends to build up Tartus as a naval base. It did not deny that the Russian Navy will return to the Mediterranean, or that Tartus will serve as a supply point.

The return of Russian military power to the Mediterranean is also a return to the balance of power conditions in the region which, not only in the 20th century but earlier, have deterred Turkish expansionism, and sustained Greek freedom. Of course, Greece cannot make the mistake of counting on Russia to defend her from Turkish tactics; the Cretans learned that lesson almost three centuries ago. But the Greeks can count on the Russians to deter the Turks, and also the Americans. It is new world beckoning, but it is also an old one – one which the brief alliance between Andreas Papandreou and Todor Zhivkov foreshadowed in 1987.

* John Helmer, The Russia Journal columnist, was an advisor to Prime Minister Papandreou between 1982 and 1989, and participated in the planning for the Aegean events of 1987.

THE MODERN MILITARY ART OF SAYING ‘OCHI’

By John Helmer in Moscow

Francois, the Duc de la Rochfoucauld, came to his famous book of maxims after a career in regular soldiering, and then in warfare between factions of the French court in the mid-17th century. He lost his home, his health, his love, and his fortune, but not his courage or wits. It is for those that he is remembered. Warring is different from posturing, the duke warned: “We are never so ridiculous through qualities we have, as through those we pretend to have.”

When the Turks kill Greek airmen and spy on Greece’s defences, Greek politicians pretend to peace-making with Turkey, deploying their paper missiles as if Greece’s voters cannot tell the difference between the ones that draw blood, and the ones that draw ridicule. This posturing invites the Turkish general staff to dispatch ever more aircraft to challenge and demoralize Greece’s defenders, in the confidence that the latter, and their superiors, have lost the will to fight; or will soon enough.
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THE FAUCET AND THE BIG BANG IN GREEK BID TO BOOST RUSSIA TIES

When Russia’s leadership thinks seriously, strategically, about Greece, not very much comes to mind, except a faucet. To the Russians, Greece is the tap at the Mediterranean end of a Russian oil pipeline. For President Vladimir Putin and his Security Council, it is far better for Russian economic and regional security, if that tap is turned by Greek hands, not Turkish ones.

This is the big difference between Putin and his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin; and between the current Russian prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, and former prime minister Victor Chernomyrdin.

Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin were silently persuaded and (according to some evidence) bribed to support the Turkish oil pipeline, and drag their feet on implementing the Greek alternative. During President Costis Stephanopoulos’ recent visit to Moscow, the Russians made clear they think differently. They are now impatient to make the technical decisions, build the pipeline and open the tap. (more…)

CROSS & DOUBLE-CROSS

Until the thunder strikes, the Russian saying goes, the peasant won’t cross himself.

Neither cross nor double-cross is what the Russian government claims it did when the Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan, most recently flew from Athens to Russia, then back to Athens, and then towards Minsk, only to be turned back.

According to the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service Vladimir Putin, the question of admitting Ocalan to Russia, or refusing him, was never directly considered by the President nor the Prime Minister of Russia. They, Putin seemed to be saying, have no responsibility for what has happened to Ocalan. (more…)

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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THE RUSSIAN SITUATION COMEDY IS NO LYING MATTER – THE JOKE IS ON THE OFFICE OF FOREIGN ASSETS CONTROL

By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

Never mind that King Solomon said proverbially three thousand years ago, “a merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”  

With seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, Solomon realized he was the inventor of the situation comedy. If not for the sitcom as his medicine, the bodily and psychological stress Old Solly had to endure in the bedroom would have killed him long before he made it to his death bed at eighty years of age,  after ruling his kingdom for forty of them.

After the British sitcom died in the 1990s, the subsequent stress has not only killed very large numbers of ordinary people. It has culminated today in a system of rule according to which a comic king in Buckingham Palace must now manage the first prime minister in Westminster  history to be her own joke.

Even the Norwegians, the unfunniest people in Europe, have acknowledged that the only way to attract the British as tourists, was to pay John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to make them laugh at Norway itself.   This has been a bigger success for the locals than for the visitors, boosting the fjord boatman’s life expectancy several years ahead of the British tourist’s.  

In fact, Norwegian scientists studying a sample of 54,000 of their countrymen have proved that spending the state budget on public health and social welfare will only work effectively if the population is laughing all the way to the grave. “The cognitive component of the sense of humour is positively associated with survival from mortality related to CVD [cardio-vascular disease] and infections in women and with infection-related mortality in men” – Norwegian doctors reported in 2016. Never mind the Viking English:  the Norwegian point is the same as Solomon’s that “a sense of humour is a health-protecting cognitive coping resource” – especially if you’ve got cancer.  

The Russians understand this better than the Norwegians or the British.  Laughter is an antidote to the war propaganda coming from abroad, as Lexus and Vovan have been demonstrating.   The Russian sitcom is also surviving in its classic form to match the best of the British sitcoms, all now dead – Fawlty Towers (d. 1975), Black Adder (d. 1989), You Rang M’Lord? (d. 1988), Jeeves and Wooster (d. 1990), Oh Dr Beeching! (d.1995), and Thin Blue Line (d. 1996).

The Russian situation comedies, alive and well on TV screens and internet streaming devices across the country, are also increasingly profitable business for their production and broadcast companies – not despite the war but because of it. This has transformed the Russian media industry’s calculation of profitability by removing US and European-made films and television series, as well as advertising revenues from Nestlé, PepsiCo, Mars, and Bayer. In their place powerful  Russian video-on-demand (VOD) streaming platform companies like Yandex (KinoPoisk), MTS (Kion),  Mail.ru (VK), and Ivi (Leonid Boguslavsky, ProfMedia, Baring Vostok)  are now intensifying the competition for audience with traditional television channels and film studios for domestic audiences.  The revenue base of the VOD platforms is less vulnerable to advertisers, more dependent on telecommunications subscriptions.

Russian script writers, cameramen, actors, designers, and directors are now in shorter supply than ever before, and earning more money.  “It’s the Russian New Wave,” claims Olga Filipuk, head of media content for Yandex, the powerful leader of the new film production platforms; its  controlling shareholder and chief executive were sanctioned last year.  

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RUSSIAN AVIATION INDUSTRY CORRECTS YELTSIN YAW – BOEING, AIRBUS DITCHED



By Olga Samofalova, translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

It was the American humourist Mark Twain who didn’t die in 1897 when it was reported that he had. Twain had thirteen more lively years to go.

The death of the Russian aerospace and aviation industry in the present war is proving to be an even greater exaggeration – and the life to come will be much longer. From the Russian point of view, the death which the sanctions have inflicted is that of the US, European and British offensive against the Soviet-era industry which President Boris Yeltsin (lead image, left) and his advisers encouraged from 1991.

Since 2014, when the sanctions war began, the question of what Moscow would do when the supply of original aircraft components was first threatened, then prohibited, has been answered. The answer began at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1947 when the first  Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) or Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) was issued by Washington officials for aircraft parts or components meeting the airworthiness standards but manufactured by sources which were not the original suppliers.   

China has been quicker to implement this practice; Chinese state and commercial enterprises have been producing PMA components for Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the Chinese airline fleets for many years.  The Russian Transport Ministry has followed suit; in its certification process and airworthiness regulations it has used the abbreviation RMA, Cyrillic for PMA. This process has been accelerating as the sanctions war has escalated.

So has the Russian process of replacing foreign imports entirely.

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FOR WANT OF A NAIL THE KINGDOM WAS LOST – ENGLISH PATHOLOGIST GUY RUTTY FACES CHALLENGE TO THE RELIABILITY OF HIS NOVICHOK EVIDENCE



By John Helmer, Moscow
  @bears_with

The weakest link in the British government’s four-year long story of Russian Novichok assassination operations in the UK – prelude to the current war – is an English medical expert by the name of Guy Rutty (lead image, standing).

A government-appointed pathologist advising the Home Office, police, and county coroners, Rutty is the head of the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit in Leicester,  he is the author of a post-mortem report, dated November 29, 2018,  claiming that the only fatality in the history of the Novichok nerve agent (lead image, document), Dawn Sturgess, had died of Novichok poisoning on July 8, 2018. Rutty’s finding was added four months after initial post-mortem results and a coroner’s cremation certificate stopped short of confirming that Novichok had been the cause of her death.

Rutty’s Novichok finding was a state secret for more than two years. It was revealed publicly   by the second government coroner to investigate Sturgess’s death, Dame Heather Hallett, at a public hearing in London on March 30, 2021. In written evidence it was reported that “on 17th July 2018, Professor Guy Rutty MBE, a Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist conducted an independent post-mortem examination. He was accompanied by Dr Phillip Lumb, also an independent Home Office Registered Forensic Pathologist. Professor Rutty’s Post-Mortem Report of 29th November 2018 records the cause of death as Ia Post cardiac arrest hypoxic brain injury and intracerebral haemorrhage; Ib Novichok toxicity.”  

Hallett, Rutty, Lumb, and others engaged by the government to work on the Novichok case have refused to answer questions about the post-mortem investigations which followed immediately after Sturgess’s death was reported at Salisbury District Hospital; and a cause of death report signed by the Wiltshire Country coroner David Ridley, when Sturgess’s body was released to her family for funeral and cremation on July 30, 2018.  

After another three years, Ridley was replaced as coroner in the case by Hallett in March 2021. Hallett was replaced by Lord Anthony Hughes (lead image, sitting) in March 2022.

The cause-of-death documents remain state secrets. “As you have no formal role in the inquest proceedings,” Hallett’s and Rutty’s spokesman Martin Smith said on May 17, 2021, “it would not be appropriate to provide you with the information that you have requested.” 

Since then official leaks have revealed that Rutty had been despatched by the Home Office in London to take charge of the Sturgess post-mortem, and Lumb ordered not to undertake an autopsy or draw conclusions on the cause of Sturgess’s death until Rutty arrived. Why? The sources are not saying whether the two forensic professors differed in their interpretation of the evidence; and if so, whether the published excerpt of Rutty’s report of Novichok poisoning is the full story.   

New developments in the official investigation of Sturgess’s death, now directed by Hughes, have removed the state secrecy cover for Rutty, Lumb, and other medical specialists who attended the post-mortem on July 17, 2018. The appointment by Hughes of a London lawyer, Adam Chapman, to represent Sergei and Yulia Skripal, opens these post-mortem documents to the Skripals, along with the cremation certificate, and related hospital, ambulance and laboratory records. Chapman’s role is “appropriate” – Smith’s term – for the Skripals to cross-examine Rutty and Lumb and add independent expert evidence.

Hughes’s appointment of another lawyer, Emilie Pottle (lead image, top left), to act on behalf of the three Russian military officers accused of the Novichok attack exposes this evidence to testing at the same forensic standard. According to Hughes,  it is Pottle’s “responsibility for ensuring that the inquiry takes all reasonable steps to test the  evidence connecting those Russian nationals to Ms Sturgess’s death.” Pottle’s responsibility is to  cross-examine Rutty and Lumb.

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