Tag Archives: Vladimir Putin

It’s not just about the Malaysian flight. #Russians are living in an alternate reality.

The plane crashed in eastern Ukraine, not the “Donetsk People’s Republic.” (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)The plane crashed in eastern Ukraine, not the “Donetsk People’s Republic.” (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

MOSCOW—Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 has already shined a spotlight on the Russian public’s somewhat, um, unique views.

Russian media are running with conspiracy theories: that MH17 was shot down by NATO to spark a conflict with Russia, that MH17 wasn’t full of innocent civilians but week-old corpses, or that MH17 was shot down because it was mistaken for Vladimir Putin’s personal jet (as if anti-aircraft missiles weren’t aimed with radar but with a really large pair of binoculars). The only theory missing is the right one: that Russian-backed separatists accidentally shot down the plane when they mistook it for a Ukrainian military transport.

This may seem like the entertaining sideshow to a tragedy, but actually it’s just a window into a hugely dangerous problem. I recently moved to Moscow, and it’s hard to miss the extent to which Russian society exists in an alternate universe. Even well-educated, sophisticated people who have traveled widely in Europe and North America will frequently voice opinions that, in an American context, would place them alongside people wearing tinfoil hats. Russia is not living in the reality-based community.

One particularly easy and glaring example is Russian TV reporters, filing from Eastern Ukraine, who say they are reporting from the “Lugansk People’s Republic” or the “Donetsk People’s Republic.” Regardless of your views on the worsening civil war in Ukraine, which is not a neat story of black and white or right and wrong, it is obvious that these republics are almost entirely fictitious and that their “territory” is largely confined to a handful of government buildings. Despite their extremely dubious claims to legitimacy, the non-existent states are treated with deadly earnestness by both the state media and large numbers of ordinary Russians. (Ukraine has been a problem for Russian media ever since protests there began at the end of 2013.)

On almost any other issue you can think of, Russian views differ radically from the consensus here in America. Russians have extremely different opinions about the conflict in Syria, viewing the war in that unlucky country not as a brave struggle for freedom but as a chaotic war of all against all. They have different views about the war in Libya, where they see the overthrow of Gaddafi not as a new beginning but as the start of chaos and disorder. They have different views about 9/11, with shockingly large numbers of Russians supporting “alternate” explanations of one of history’s most carefully studied and well-documented terrorist attacks. (I was recently asked what “theory” of the attacks I supported only to be told that it was “my opinion” after I noted that al-Qaeda was clearly and obviously responsible.) Even something as seemingly straightforward and non-political as a meteor strike attracted a range of bizarre theories and pseudo-scientific “explanations” like the onset of an alien invasion or the testing of a new American super weapon. These wacky ideas (“the aliens are attacking Siberia!” “The grand masons are responsible for 9/11!”) would be extremely funny if they didn’t represent such a tragic deficit of reason.

I’ve asked people about these notions. Particularly if they’re a bit bashful about the position they’re about to advocate, Russians will often highlight their country’s long track record of superstition and its history as a rural, peasant society. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard “we’re a superstitious people” as an explanation for some kind of seemingly nonsensical position. In contrast to Western Europe, Russia really did urbanize and become literate much later. This delayed development has left a lasting impression on popular consciousness and public attitudes.

But while there is clearly some truth to the idea that Russia’s unique cultural history renders it susceptible to conspiracies, explanations centered on the “Russian soul” strike me as a cop-out. Far more important than the legacy of peasant life or any kind of natural penchant for mysteriousness and inscrutability is the Soviet legacy of propaganda. The older generations here all grew up in an environment in which the government systematically manipulated information on a scale that is hard to fathom. Although you might expect that this would engender a healthy skepticism, it appears to have created an unhealthy over-reaction. Russians don’t just doubt the “official line.” Several expats here, like me, have observed that they seem to doubt everything.

Like many Americans, I used to think that these differences would recede with time, and that, as they traveled the world, got jobs, and got rich, Russians would eventually start to think more and more like us. After Ukraine and the Malaysia Airlines crash, I’m a lot less optimistic. Despite ditching communism and its call to world revolution, Russia appears to becoming more, not less, different from the United States. It doesn’t just have its own system; it now has its own facts.

Mark Adomanis specializes in Russian economics and demographics.

By Mark Adomanis - The Washington Post.

Mr Putin do the right thing and give up the terrorists responsible for Flight #MH17

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Whether President Vladimir Putin is personally responsible for arming the terrorists with ground to air missiles or one of his generals the truth will come out! The world calls on Mr Putin to do the right thing now and either own up or give up ALL the people responsible for shooting down flight MH17, if he doesn’t know then he has the means to find out.

This was not an act of war, it was an act of terrorism plain and simple and no stone should be left unturned, and when they are brought to trial it should be the relatives of the victims who decide their fate.

Statement from the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin #MH17


VLADIMIR PUTIN: In connection with the terrible tragic events that occurred in the skies over the Donets, I would like to say once again how we in Russia relates to events that are taking place in Ukraine.

We have repeatedly called on all warring parties to immediately stop the bloodshed and to sit down at the negotiating table. We can confidently say that if June 28 fighting in eastern Ukraine were not renewed, then this tragedy would not have happened for sure.

However, no one should not have the right to use this tragedy to achieve selfish political objectives. Such events should not divide but unite people. It is necessary that all the people who are responsible for the situation in the region improved their responsibility to their own people and to the peoples of those countries whose representatives have been victims of this disaster.

Everything must be done to ensure the safety of international experts on the scene. Today there are already working representatives of Donbass, Donetsk, representatives of Ministry of Ukraine, experts Malaysia. But this is not enough.

Need to work at the crash site a full team of experts under the auspices of ICAO, the corresponding international commission. We must do everything to ensure its full and absolute security, ensure necessary for its operation humanitarian corridors.

For its part, Russia will do all that we can to the conflict in eastern Ukraine moved from today’s military phase to discuss the negotiating table exclusively peaceful and diplomatic means.

July 21, 2014, 1:40 | Moscow region, Novo-Ogaryovo

Translated via Google, view the original here

Russian President.

Editors Note: Is it more empty promises??? we shall see.

NY Daily News: The games Putin plays #MH17

“The country that denied invading Crimea now says it had nothing to do with the downing of the Malaysian jet” – Michael Weiss

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Evidence that Kremlin-backed separatists in east Ukraine downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 is now so overwhelming as to rule out any other culprit, at least outside the imaginations of conspiracy theorists or professional Kremlin propagandists.

For months, Russian President Vladimir Putin has waged maskirovka warfare in east Ukraine – an old, Soviet-perfected model of destabilizing foreign countries which is characterized by dissimulation, misdirection and plausible deniability, all done with the use of arms-length proxies.

Putin, a former KGB lieutenant colonel, continues to maintain that he has nothing to do with the separatists even as their political leadership has lately visited Moscow begging for more materiel and even opened a satellite office there to coordinate their activities more closely with their master and patron. It also pays to remember that Putin denied invading and annexing Crimea – until he didn’t.

U.S. officials, including one from the Defense Department, have confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that the separatists – many of whom are in fact Russian nationals – downed the commercial airliner over the skies of the separatist-controlled region of Donetsk on July 17 using the Buk anti-aircraft missile system. This is a Soviet-era, vehicle-mounted munition with a range of 46,000 feet. The MH17 was blown apart at an altitude of 33,000 feet.

The separatists, who have previously claimed credit for shooting down Ukrainian military planes and helicopters, said they haven’t got the capability to hit an aircraft at the MH17′s altitude. Except that they admitted, albeit privately and inadvertently, that they’d done just that.

The Ukrainian Security Service, or SBU, has leaked a series of what it alleges are intercepted phone conversations from the separatist camp. In one, recorded in the aftermath of the tragedy, a separatist commander named Igor Bezler (or “Bes,” meaning “Demon”) tells Colonel Vasyl Geranin, a man whom the SBU says is an officer of Russia’s military intelligence agency, or GRU: “Just now a plane was hit and destroyed by the Minera Group,” referring to a rebel unit.

A week ago, Bezler admitted in a recorded “press conference” held in Donetsk that separatists had received tanks and armored vehicles from Russia for the purpose of defending Slavyansk, a city that recently was retaken by Ukraine’s military.

Western intelligence officials have told the Financial Times that they have judged the SBU intercepts to be genuine.

Defense experts say that there is no way ragtag insurgents could operate a surface-to-air missile as sophisticated as the Buk. But the rebels are not quite ragtag insurgents.

Their self-proclaimed military commander is a man named Col. Igor Strelkov (also known as Girkin). According to the European Union, which sanctioned him in April, Strelkov is also an officer of the GRU. This means that the entire anti-Kiev insurgency is not just pro-Russian in orientation but overseen and led by an outed Russian spy.

This is a crucial fact that has been obscured in much of the recent media coverage of the war for east Ukraine and just who’s involved in waging it. Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said yesterday: “Russia can end this war.” What she meant was, the separatists are a wholly owned, if not quite wholly operated, subsidiary of the Russian government.  Continue reading

Flight MH17 crash: pro-Russia rebels deny access to disaster site

The disaster in the Ukraine has made it clear beyond all doubt that we are not dealing with a bilateral conflict, but a serious threat to the peace all across Europe.

The MH17 crash site is controlled by armed pro-Russia militia, who are carefully supervising access to journalists and investigators. Photograph: Robert Ghement/EPAThe MH17 crash site is controlled by armed pro-Russia militia, who are carefully supervising access to journalists and investigators. Photograph: Robert Ghement/EPA

Hopes for a proper investigation into the apparent shooting down of Malaysia Airlines MH17 – or even for some dignity in death for its 298 victims – faded on Saturday as chaos took hold at the disaster site in eastern Ukraine.

A small team of monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe were able to gain limited access to the site, but only under careful supervision by armed separatists. Journalists and local residents continued to roam the area of Thursday’s crash, while “experts” of unknown provenance moved bodies decomposing in the baking heat from fields to the roadside and used bags to collect body parts. A spokesman for the OSCE, Michael Bociurkiw, said: “Some of the body bags are open and the damage to the corpses is very, very bad – it is very difficult to look at.”

It was a horrific scene and came despite huge pressure on Moscow to force the rebels to allow proper access to the crash site, including a call from David Cameron for the EU to rethink its attitude to Russia. But as politicians and newspapers across the world lay blame for Thursday’s tragedy at the door of pro-Russia separatists and Vladimir Putin personally, the Kremlin has remained defiant.

Putin has said Ukraine is to blame, and Russia’s defence ministry issued a list of 10 questions for Kiev on Saturday, insinuating that it was a Ukrainian missile that downed the plane, while the self-declared prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Borodai, told Russian television that the entire event had been a setup by Ukrainian authorities. “[Ukrainian president] Poroshenko promised a ‘surprise’ for the rebels. I think this is the surprise he was talking about – a plane full of civilians shot down,” said Borodai. However, a senior Ukrainian security official claimed on Saturday that Kiev had evidence the missile was fired from separatist territory and had been fired by Russian specialists who had crossed the border with the equipment.

The Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, told a German newspaper that the missile required “very professional staff” and “could not be operated by drunken gorillas”, suggesting that the separatists had outside help from Russia. When asked about the growing circumstantial evidence that the separatists shot down the jet in error, thinking it to be a Ukrainian airforce plane, Borodai said: “It’s a lie and I hope it will be proved as a lie by experts, including international experts who have already arrived on our territory.” Continue reading