Where it may have begun —
How it may have been sustained —
Where it may have ended this day —
Related on BackChannels
Where it may have begun —
How it may have been sustained —
Where it may have ended this day —
Related: “The battle for Azov: Round 1 goes to Russia” | Brookings, December 3, 2018 | “Russia confirms signing agreement with Ukraine on fishing in the Sea of Azov” | UAWire, March 4, 2019 — Brookings had recounted the Russian vessel ramming of a Ukrainian fishing boat earlier in 2018, a period in which the Ukrainian fishing fleet on the Sea of Azov had been harassed and run off its own territory.
It remains to be seen whether the treaty will see Ukraine’s Sea of Azov fleet restored to normal operations in frequency, area, and yields.
“Chinese Ship Sinks PH Vessel, Abandons 22 Pinoy Fisherman | ABS-CBN News, 6/12/2019 — ” The Armed Forces’ Western Command said the incident was “far from accidental” and likened it to a “hit and run.”
The above referenced incident also involved a direct ramming but against a target at anchor.
What was its purpose?
BackChannels wonders if the enemies of liberal democracy have not chosen the subtleties of seaborne violence to launch attacks that may be received as ambiguous by the western public. The Bush Administration’s WMD cover, which may have been more true in behind-the-curtains details and regime tendencies than in blatant near-time evidence may have damaged future-claims credibility as regards the authenticity of official narratives in the run-ups to war — or, for this blog, the bridge between less obvious and more obvious war.
Did the clump of snow just happen to fall on one’s shoulders or was it hurled?
Almost by definition, remove events, and especially those at sea, would seem little observed by other than dock and seafaring workers and then, of course, the parties to military listening-watching activities.
China, Russia, and Iran appear to wish for every greater power and control over populations and wealth in the world through the imposition of Draconian laws using Orwellian methods or tools to keep their elites enriched and their subject populations dumb in relation to their grooming at best (and literally so beneath the shadow of the “Islamic Revolution” in Iran) or, at worst, their invisibility (have a look into poverty in the three states operated by wealthy political elites).
Once inured to suffering associated with Russian arms and will, the liberal democracies of the west risk watching the heat rise — or the surroundings change — while being lazed into unconscious acceptance.
Ukraine’s five-year-old “frozen conflict” has not been forgotten by EU / NATO, which methodically if slowly has focused on containing the irritating Bear now pummeling Mariupol and targets north by northwest along a line of embattled territory on the western edge of Donetsk Oblast. In addition to a vigorous round of military exercises conducted by NATO in 2018, typified perhaps by the 31+ nation Trident Juncture 18, the United States has continued training-related deployments to Ukraine in a “train-the-trainers ” effort to improve Ukraine’s defense against greater incursion by Russian forces.
Not to flack the rah-rah: Ukraine has been made to pay a near daily — or daily — price in injury and death for having become a Russian test bed (no different than Syria) for Moscow’s defense technologies and “hybrid warfare”.
Russia’s cynical “Passportization” program appears also under way with the only resistance to it to be found in Ukrainian disinterest.
The Russian propaganda mill plies a familiar routine with web videos: the most recent shelling appears to come from Ukrainian forces without cause (I’ll leave the look-up on such as “Donetsk, fighting” to the reader). However, as displayed on any given LiveUAmap, Russia’s military-integrated activity should seem clear enough.
Primary source for this section:
Drawing from the above source, this is what BackChannels tallies for undeniable Russian military presence in proximity to Ukraine’s border:
500 Tactical Aircraft
Derived from the same source but focusing on what has been observed in relation to Russia’s military presence on the Crimean Peninsula:
Analyst Felix K. Chang’s winter 2019 observation for the Foreign Policy Research Institute:
“Together with two other S-300 air defense batteries nearby, Russian land-based air defenses in the region could simultaneously launch as many as 192 surface-to-air missiles. Interestingly, their crews have been training to counter not only hostile aircraft, but also sea-launched cruise missiles, seemingly in preparation for a NATO intervention. Whatever the case, the airspace above Crimea and Donbas has quickly become among the most well-defended in the world.
For cruising through related offerings on YouTube and elsewhere on the web, the open source seems short of up-to-the-minute Ukrainian war reportage but for the Live UA Map, a conflict pin board, and reporting by Michael MacKay via Twitter and through his column in Radio Lemberg.
BackChannels has been seeing the numbers, finding Russian-side videos (in which the fire always comes from Ukraine, not the Russian-backed separatists that provoke it), and finding videos from when the conflict was all bloody new, shocking, and hot. Now it’s still bloody and plenty hot, but it has become a part of the daily fare in the world’s conflict-related horror show.
Perhaps a warning should be issued: once inured to suffering associated with Russian arms and will, the liberal democracies of the west risk watching the heat rise — or the surroundings change — while being lazed into unconscious acceptance.
MacKay’s tweet, much in line with thinking by America’s Democrats and possibly some Republican moderates, begs a few questions about Ukraine’s “frozen conflict” among others: how much “patience” has the west? How much destruction and how many lives lost is acceptable before jawing about Russian barbarism and kleptocracy and posturing about western defense support and strength lose their charm?
Russia has recently claimed victory in Syria. This is what that looks like:
With the winter-is-coming cloud of nuclear warfare hanging over east-west confrontation — and with the incredible billions of dollars laundered out of transnational criminal enterprise spiked into the bloodstreams of states — the way forward for the democratic attenuation of political power and the promotion of faith in rule of law may be difficult to see. While one may hope for hope in that regard, locking related conflicts into one place without limit seems itself dispiriting and on the side of evil.
For how long may Ukraine be expected to endure a Moscow-engineered “status quo”?
And for how long may EU / NATO — already somewhat compromised by Moscow’s use of Islamic Terrorism and Syrian mass migration to induce / “inspire” the western “New Nationalism” — abide Moscow’s favor for Feudal Political Absolutism (worldwide) and its concomitant eroding of the ideals, principles, and values associated with democracy and the still open societies of the west?
Related on BackChannels:
Moscow (CNN)Syria inadvertently shot down a Russian military plane after an Israeli attack on Syrian positions, killing 15 people on board, Moscow said.
The Russian military said Tuesday that the Russian maritime patrol aircraft was shot down by Syrian regime anti-aircraft artillery amid the Israeli attack on Monday, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.
Moscow blamed Israel for putting its aircraft in the line of fire, Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.
While it’s good that the IDF took out advanced weapons manufacturing facilities focused on producing missiles intended to challenge Israel’s existence (from the CNN report: “from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon”), the attack will bring into focus the greater east-west conflict and run-up, perhaps, to greater direct engagement between Russian and Israeli (western-backed) forces.
Here’s the verbatim from earlier comment the editor made on Facebook:
Clearly, “Assad v The Terrorists” has half destroyed Syria (in the years since 2011 — give him a few more years in power, and the state will be gone altogether) but in a surreal fashion clings to the hope of destroying Israel and the Jews. The IDF’s target(s) appears to have been advanced weapons manufacturing facilities from which the output would have been used to challenge Israel.
Medieval Russia has been trying to recover its imperial and imperious attitude in its middle east presence. It may be suggested — at least I will do it — that it may have been shielding the Syrian manufacturing site with the presence of its surveillance aircraft. If true — and we may never know — that would account for Israel short notification to Russian military.
In the larger window: Washington has closed the PLO office serving as a proto-embassay and expelled its representative, a move congruent with the expulsion of Russian spies in the past couple of years. Before that closure, there has been of course the advancing of the U.S. Embassy into Jerusalem, another step forward toward forcing a conclusion to the middle east conflict.
This latest attack may represent further progress against what I have been calling the “phantoms of the Soviet”, i.e.,the continuation of older KGB-managed arrangements in the middle east.
What’s happening between Moscow and Washington and Damascus and Jerusalem is always war, as such may be in the nature of the political lives of nations, but this morning BackChannels feels it is seeing an amplification of conditions. CNN last week reported a build-up in the presence of Russian warships off the Syrian coast (September 13, 2018). About two months ago, the west appears to have evacuated Syrian civilians and White Helmet volunteers into Jordan from Assad’s theater. Clearly, the west has been with the Syrian people — and Syrian Sunni Arabs — against the ravaging sadism of the Assad regime and its chief enablers in Moscow and Tehran.
This morning, one of BackChannels contacts said in a brief audio exchange, “The Syrian people are closer to the west anyway. They would rather have Israel prevail in Syria rather than Assad and Iran.”
BackChannels doubts that Vladimir Putin, whose forces have bombed so many Syrian hospitals and abetted so much horror, pain, and sorrow visited on the children of Syria — adults and children — that the west would have him were he to somehow pivot westward. Again, he has engaged in or produced active — blood soaking — conflicts in Syria and Crimea and appears to be surrounded in the chaos and horror he himself may have wanted as the “Phantom of the Soviet”.
Also from the awesome conversation:
The timing of this news is propitious, for today marks the evening start of Yom Kippur. The Jewish high holy days remain ever the target dates for anti-Semitic aggressors, essentially pulling the IDF and their support out of the synagogues and away from family on the most cherished and respected of religious observances.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed Tuesday that Israel did not shoot down a Russian military reconnaissance plane with 15 people on board, saying the downing of the plane by Syrian air defenses was a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”
Related comment from The Still Awesome Conversation:
Putin knows that to hold Russia’s place and avoid further ruin, he has to make Russia THE responsible actor in a different kind of competition with the west. In the TI piece, he may have signaled a small shift toward the west. No one knows, but now he has as much as said that he’s not going to act — at least not rashly — for Assad and Khamenei. He’s not going to play Erdogan demanding an apology from Israel for the Mavi Marmara incident — and, in retrospect, what a hideous thing that apology was!
But Konashenkov on Sunday accused Israel of using the hotline to mislead Russia about its plans. He said the Russians were unable to get the Il-20 to a safe place because an Israeli duty officer had misled them, telling them of an Israeli operation in northern Syria while the jets were actually in Latakia, in the country’s west.
Konashenkov said an Israeli fighter jet flying over Syria’s Mediterranean coast shortly before the downing deliberately used the Russian plane as a shield, reflecting “either lack of professionalism or criminal negligence.”
Captured from Google Maps.
Estonia, a country in Northern Europe, borders the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland. Including more than 1,500 islands, its diverse terrain spans rocky beaches, old-growth forest and many lakes. Formerly part of the Soviet Union, it’s dotted with castles, churches and hilltop fortresses. The capital, Tallinn, is known for its preserved Old Town, museums and the 314m-high Tallinn TV Tower, which has an observation deck. Capital:Tallinn; Population:1.325 million (2013); President:Kersti Kaljulaid; Sources include:World Bank.
As “Moscow” — President Putin; the New Security State; the revanchist ultra-nationalist neo-imperial combine — continues to develop as a belligerent with obvious “credits”, so far, in Syria and Ukraine, the former and now free members of the Soviet Union have been rightly sensitive to the many returns of the KGB mob.
Two items from the former Soviet state caught BackChannels attention this morning:
The Russian Federation’s diplomat, who was caught by the police in a brothel behaving curiously served in Estonia temporarily, which means that the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had not been informed of his presence. In connection with the increasing intensity of Russia’s intelligence activities the number of temporary diplomats in the European Union countries has gone up as well.
The “temporary diplomatic official” had been in-country with the barest minimum of Estonian awareness (and without diplomatic immunity). Värk Joosep’s reporting suggests there have been many such temporary figures in Estonia over the past two years.
A meeting between a member of US president-elect Donald Trump’s close circle and a pro-Putin member of the Russian State Duma in a Eastern European country was picked up by the Estonian Information Board, Newsweek wrote yesterday, based on information from several people with ties to the agency.
Related in Newsweek, possibly European edition, and as relayed by Estonian Public Broadcasting: “Newsweek: Estonian foreign intelligence eavesdropped on Russian official meeting Trump associate.” Estonian Public Broadcasting, January 11, 2017.
Of course the world is at war every day, but some days — and some places — are more quiet than others. Here on the cusp of an American Presidential Inauguration, these just beneath -the-radar activities tell a story about activity that add to what the world has seen put on display by Moscow, primarily, so BackChannels believes, in Syria and Ukraine.
The Newsweek category for Estonia relates well to the above and in this screen capture (made 1/16/2017/0930-EST) revealing:
It would appear “The Bear” has been acting aggressively and Estonia has been standing up for itself with confidence in the NATO arrangement.