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22 August 2014


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"The two reporters from the Guardian and the Telegraph who earlier reported ... are strangely quiet .... Well, I guess they got their marching orders."

This being the same Guardian and Telegraph that were so outrage that no Bush administration officials resigned in protest over the 2003 invasion of Iraq. My how management has changed its tune.

I saw another article saying the Ukrainians are suffering heavy losses in rebel counter attacks:




Yes -- it would be unseemly if elements of the MSM, especially the newspaper of record, were not singing from the common hymnal. We must await the justifiable and internationally-sanctioned response of the democratically elected leaders of Ukraine. After that, von Moltke's axiom carries the field.

The Twisted Genius


Graham Phillips has reported that the first trucks of the aid convoy are in Lugansk. Graham is a British reporter who was captured by the Ukies in Slavyansk a while back, treated "rather rudely" and banished from the country. He entered Novorossiya rather than Ukraine and has been reporting from there for a while now. Good on him!



Don't know if this will post, as I am at work, and going through a proxy may not pass muster.

The statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation:



The endless delays hampering the initial deliveries of the Russian humanitarian relief aid to southeastern Ukraine have become intolerable.

A lorry convoy with many hundreds of tonnes of humanitarian relief aid, urgently needed by the people in these regions, has been standing idle for a week now on the Russian-Ukrainian border. Over this period, the Russian side has made unprecedented efforts in all areas and at all levels in order to complete the required formalities. We have met all conceivable and inconceivable demands of the Ukrainian side and have submitted to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) exhaustive lists of food, drinking water, medications, essential items and diesel generators due to be delivered to Lugansk, where they are urgently needed by women, children and the elderly. These people are experiencing the horrors of daily artillery attacks and air strikes that have resulted in an increasing number of killed and wounded and destroyed the entire vital infrastructure in the area. Time and again, we met requests to check and recheck the shipment route, to coordinate procedures for the shipment’s delivery, and have signed the required documents with the ICRC. We have provided all essential security guarantees and have ensured similar guarantees on the part of the self-defense forces. These guarantees apply to the Russian convoy as well as other humanitarian relief aid being sent to Lugansk by the Kiev authorities.

At the same time, Kiev has delayed granting its formal consent required by the ICRC for several days, while repeatedly inventing new pretexts and stepping up attacks on Lugansk and Donetsk that involve military aircraft and heavy-duty armored vehicles, targeting residential areas and other civilian facilities. Over the past few days, the Ukrainian side has been launching ballistic missiles, including the deadly Tochka-U missiles, ever more frequently.

On 21 August, the situation appeared to have been resolved when the Ukrainian authorities finally informed the ICRC of their readiness to start clearing humanitarian shipments for prompt delivery to Lugansk. The Ukrainian side officially confirmed its unconditional consent for the convoy to start moving during a phone conversation between the Foreign Affairs Ministers of Russia and Ukraine. On 20 August, customs clearance and border control procedures were launched at the Donetsk checkpoint. On 21 August, however, this process was stopped, with officials citing much more intensive bombardment of Lugansk. In other words, the Ukrainian authorities are bombing the destination and are using this as a pretext to stop the delivery of humanitarian relief aid.

It appears that Kiev has set out to complete its “cleansing” of Lugansk and Donetsk in time for the 24 August Independence Day celebrations. It seems increasingly credible that the incumbent Ukrainian leadership is deliberately delaying the delivery of the humanitarian relief aid until there is nobody left to deliver this aid to. Quite possibly, they hope to achieve this result prior to the planned 26 August meetings in Minsk.

Russia is outraged by the blatant external manipulation of the international experts involved in preparing this operation. An endless succession of contradictory and mutually exclusive signals and messages we have been receiving is a true indication of behind the scenes games for purposes that have nothing to do with accomplishing a set humanitarian objective. Those who are holding the reins and hampering efforts to save human lives, to mitigate the suffering of sick and wounded people neglect the basic principles of society. We have called on the UN Security Council to promptly declare a humanitarian armistice, but these proposals are being invariably blocked by those who pay lip service to universal human values. Last time, this happened on 20 August, when the United States and some Western members of the UNSC declined to issue a statement in support of a ceasefire during the delivery of humanitarian relief aid to Lugansk by Russian and Ukrainian convoys.

We hereby state once again: All the required security guarantees regarding the passage of the humanitarian convoy have been provided. The ICRC has officially recognised these guarantees. The delivery routes are known, and they have been checked by an ICRC mission. The documents have been drawn up. The shipments have long been ready for inspection by Ukrainian border guards and customs officers who have been waiting at the Donetsk checkpoint in the Rostov Region for a week now. The capitals that display heightened concern for the situation in southeastern Ukraine are well aware of this. The endless artificial demands and pretexts have become unconscionable.

It is no longer possible to tolerate this lawlessness, outright lies and inability to reach agreements. All pretexts for delaying the delivery of aid to people in the humanitarian disaster zone have been depleted. The Russian side has decided to act. Our humanitarian relief convoy is setting out towards Lugansk. Naturally, we are ready to allow ICRC officials to escort the convoy and to take part in distributing aid. We hope that representatives of the Russian Red Cross Society will also be able to take part in this mission.

We are warning against any attempts to thwart this purely humanitarian mission which took a long time to prepare in conditions of complete transparency and cooperation with the Ukrainian side and the ICRC. Those who are ready to continue sacrificing human lives to their own ambitions and geopolitical designs and who are rudely trampling on the norms and principles of international humanitarian law will assume complete responsibility for the possible consequences of provocations against the humanitarian relief convoy.

We are once again calling on the Ukrainian leadership, as well as the United States and the European Union, which are exerting their influence on Kiev, to promptly launch negotiations in southeastern Ukraine and start complying with the accords formalised in the 17 April 2014 Geneva Statement by Russia, Ukraine, the United States and the EU on stopping the use of force, mitigating the humanitarian situation and immediately launching nationwide dialogue that would involve all Ukrainian regions.

22 August 2014

Thank you, TTG, for your excellent, thoughtful, and insightful posts on the situation in the Ukraine/Novorossiya.



Thanks for the heads up on Graham Phillips. The Saker has this, the Russian statement on the aid: http://vineyardsaker.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/russian-foreign-ministry-statement-on.html.


How do you know the trucks are carrying humanitarian aid? The ICRC disavowed any involvement in this convoy.
Why are so disrespectful of sovereign Ukrainian territory?
Why are you being Putin's useful idiot?


Dear Pirate Laddie: Re: Von Moltke's axiom, are you referring to the rephrasing of "Best laid plans of mice and men...." by Burns?

TTG: Thanks for continuing to provide insightful thoughts on Ukraine. Saker reported that 1200 volunteers who had completed training in Russia were returning to NovoRussia, while Ukraine is on its third mobilization and out of cash. Seems like time is (as you have noted) on NovoRussia's side (with winter coming and all) due to the assymetry of the battle.



I firmly believe that the US must adhere to the treaty obligations we have with the Ukraine. The Senate hasn't ratified any defense treaty, none has been signed by the President so just what do you think our obligation to Ukraine is? Would that be to the Constitutionally (Ukraine's constitution) elected government or the coup government (which violated said Ukrainian constitution and then promptly rewrote said document). What again is our obligation? To which Ukrainian government would that be?

What obligation does the United States of America have to inspect any truck in the Russian Federation or the Ukraine? Putin's useful idiot? That’s not a very effective method for persuading me to agree with your position.

"How do you know the trucks are carrying humanitarian aid?"

How do you know they don't? Perhaps they have Sadaam's WMD or some yellow cake. They've only been at the border a week. I wonder where the press has been? Or does asking that question make one a useful idiot?


All, This is a report from Lugansk: http://rt.com/news/182088-kiev-delay-humanitarian-aid/.

The Twisted Genius

Charles Bird,

Western reporters as well as ICRC representatives have examined the aid as have Ukrainian customs inspectors and verified it is humanitarian aid. Reporters have questioned why the trucks were only half full at best. This is so they can maneuver on small roads to avoid Ukrainian government shelling. The ICRC is not accompanying the convoy because they do not have assurances from all belligerent parties for safe passage. Ukraine will not guarantee this safe passage and continue to shell Lugansk even as the aid trucks arrive there.

I am ambivalent to sovereign Ukrainian territory. I certainly don't consider the borders sacred for all time. I have absolutely no respect for the Banderista scum running the junta in Kiev. They are soiling the reputation of all Ukrainians. What I write may be useful to Putin, but I seriously doubt he reads it or pays me any mind. Call me an idiot again and this will be your first and last comment here.

nick b


Are the Guardian and Telegraph reporters you refer to Alec Luhn and Tom Parfitt? They and Andrew Roth of NYT all seem to be actively tweeting this story.

The Twisted Genius

nick b,

The two I was referring to are Roland Oliphant and Shaun Walker. Their last tweets deal with tomatoes growing in the Maidan and the closing of McDonalds in Moscow. Maybe they're in transit somewhere.




 Ishmael Zechariah


Your comments deserve an appropriate paraphrasing of the famous (leaked) quote of Ms. Nudelman.

Ishmael Zechariah


Charles Bird,
the joke would be very much on Russia if any of the trucks carried arms. The Russians support the rebels in more discrete ways which work reasonably well, apparently. There is no need to make up something so obvious, and then cheat.

The Russians aren't idiots. Why should they open themselves up to the compulsory liars in Kiev by doing something so risky?

If Russia was caught cheating (which I don't think he is) the Ukies and the US would megaphone it to the world immediately. No way they are going to allow that.

The suggestion that Russia is cheating is being made even more implausible since there is no need for them to cheat and take that risk: Russia is getting just what they want by simply delivering humanitarian goods.

If the Ukies shell a humanitarian truck, well, they get the bad press for it, which is all the better for Russia. If they don't, all the better for the people of Lugansk, and Russia, and the Ukies get the bad press anyway for not doing anything for the people of Lugansk.

The very point of the relief maneuvre is IMO to call the Ukies out for how little they care about East Ukrainians, to tell the East Ukrainians that Russia does care for them and does actually help them and to seize the initiative PR wise and militarily from the Ukies (who can't fight near the convoy without risk of hitting it).

Granted, of course there is bluff, double bluff and triple bluff - and plain credulous folks who are willing to read the worst, however implausible and unreasonable, into the moves and motives of designated villains like Putin, with the idea apparently being that since Putin is a thug, he must be cheating, somehow.

If that's what you think it is nonsense. The world is rather more complex than that.

It's just as with Saddam Hussein, who insisted (truthfully) that he didn't have WMD. The US then told everybody that because he is a thug he was lying because he was a thug.

The same flawed reasoning is IMO on display in your comment. That is my impression at least. I may be mistaken.

Naturally, an less good natured person could go on and ask in light of this who's gullible sucker you are but such words are not spoken in polite company, and far be it from me to utter them.

alba etie

Ishamel Zechariah
Does the current Turkish government takes sides in the current Ukraine /Russian dust up ?


Charles Bird,

If you were to closely read the BBC article to which you linked, you might see a couple of things. Yes, this sentence was in the article:

"The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it was not part of the convoy "in any way"."

But later on in that same BBC article, this EXPLANATION of why they are not riding along on the convoy also appeared:

"Citing "heavy shelling overnight" in Luhansk, an ICRC spokesperson in Moscow said it had concluded that it had not "received the necessary security guarantees from the fighting parties to allow us to escort the convoy at this time"."

So, perhaps it is because the Ukrainians, for very obvious reasons, are fiddle-f*cking around guaranteeing safe passage for the relief to be delivered? This refusal to provide those "necessary security guarantees from the fighting parties to allow us to escort the convoy at this time" is - BY THEIR OWN ACCOUNT - what underlies the ICRC's absence from the convoy, and NOT some categorical dislike on their part for the relief going through.

Ukrainian games in the face of the humanitarian crisis that their shelling and aerial bombardment - degrading infrastructures for the provision of power and clean water, and slaughtering and maiming civilian populations - is what is causing the ICRC to back off. Obviously, it is a necessity for the ICRC to appear neutral; but just as obviously, given those security assurances, they would be on board with the relief mission.

So, are you for Ukrainian obfuscation in the face of the crying need for help? Not to be a jerk, but you did start this, whose useful idiot would that make you, I might justifiably ask?

The Russians are clearly through with being gamed by "impartial" NGOs. That dog will no longer hunt; the Russians have seen quite enough by now to guarantee that. Such NGOs, whether creations of Western power structures out of the whole cloth, or whether merely beholden in crucial ways to those power structures, have been employed as tools of aggression against Russian national sovereignty and their interests that append thereto.

The glove has now been laid; whether those NON-Governmental Organizations are really as their self-characterization portrays - i.e., non-governmental and independent - or they are not. How they disport themselves in practice will be the deciding factor in the court of world opinion. They should have a care about this if they wish to be seen as other than catspaws for unseen forces.


charles Bird

you must stop concealing your IP location and say whom you are addressing or I will deleted your comments. pl

David Habakkuk


I was going to post a response to 'Charles Bird', but your analysis, which is much better than mine would have been, has saved me the trouble.

It does however give me an occasion to comment on what seems to me a fundamental problem.

In an article about Syria a couple of months ago, the chief foreign affairs commentator of the 'Financial Times', Gideon Rachman, wrote that 'the west’s instinctive reaction when an international crisis breaks out is to ask two questions: what should we do; and who are the good guys?'

(See http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ecbc5ae0-f536-11e3-afd3-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3B6iXvaWb .)

That a journalist of such prominence could be writing like this, a decade after it should have been clear to anyone with a modicum of intelligence that this kind of analysis had caused a catastrophic misreading of the situation in Iraq, in itself requires explanation.

Whatever the explanation, however, the fact of the matter is that this kind of infantile analysis continues to shape Western responses to events in the post-Soviet space, just as much as in the Middle East.

The kind of considerations you adduce are premised upon the assumption that Putin is a reasonably 'rational actor' – and indeed, there is an irony, in that he seems to me much closer to being a 'rational actor' than very many others in the crucible of insanity which Ukraine has become.

What 'Charles Bird' articulates is the familiar Western view of Putin, and the Ukrainian insurgents, as 'cardboard cutout' villains.

This view leads quite logically to the conclusion that it is not necessary to pay attention to anything that either the Russian authorities or the insurgents say. (After all, the words of the wicked are only intended to deceive, and to seduce, and the man of virtue -- like 'Charles Bird' -- has to avoid listening to them, in order not to be deceived or seduced.)

And so we end up with a kind of black comedy. I can say from experience that, if TTG had the temerity to post the kind of observations he has made over the past few months on SST in comments on articles in the 'Financial Times', the suggestion that he was a 'useful idiot' of Putin would have been one of the milder of the accusations made.

The main thrust of these would have been that he only wrote what he did because he had been paid by the Russian authorities to do so.

The FT says that it moderates comments. Only the most marginal attempts have been made by the paper to control this kind of vulgar abuse, which has also been practised by Rachman himself.

 Ishmael Zechariah

Alba Etie,

Let us not divert this thread. I will try to write a summary about Turkey in a few days if I can bring myself to let go of holding my nose to type about her.

Ishmael Zechariah


This entire situation reminds me of a probably apocryphal quote of Putin regarding playing chess with Obama is like playing chess with a pigeon – he knocks over all the pieces, craps all over the board and then struts around like he won the game.



NYT is reporting that Russian Artillery Units have moved across the Border.


The western media has been taking Ukraine propaganda at face value but I wouldn’t discount Russian direct fire to stop Ukraine attacks when within the firing range from the border. Even with real time surveillance to identify Ukrainian positions, I can’t imagine not also sending tanks and troops along to protect the artillery.

Vladimir Putin will not last long if Donetsk and Luhansk fall. There will be pressure for Russian Close Air Support. Will NATO declare a No Fly Zone? This will start to escalate fast and furious now and I am not sure of the sanity of the Western Leaders that got this started in the first place.

Margaret Steinfels

All: FYI: "Russia Moves Artillery Units Into Ukraine, NATO Says": Yes it's the NYTimes with Michael Gordon reporting on a NATO statement!

Could it be true?




Michael Gordon has always been a tool of the neocons and remains that. pl

ex-PFC Chuck

More from the Saker: "The significance of the Russian decision to move the humanitarian convoy into Novorussia"


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