CrossTalking with John Varoli, Daniel McAdams, and Marko Gasic.
Ukrainian and Western media outlets have accused Russian troops of killing civilians in Bucha and other towns around Ukraine’s capital, Kiev in the past month. Excerpts of phone calls obtained by RT, however, appear to contradict some of the allegations and seem to paint a different picture of the situation on the ground.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed, on Thursday, that the situation in settlement of Borodyanka is “much more disastrous” than that reported in Bucha, about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles), to the southeast. Moscow has strongly denied the allegations and accused Ukraine, and its Western backers of trying to “frame” its personnel.
RT was unable to independently verify the authenticity of the recordings. In what appears to be an excerpt from a satellite phone call, an alleged reporter identified only as ‘Simon’ tells his colleagues he visited Borodyanka and found that “there’s no bodies in the streets at all,” contrary to what he was led to expect.
The town has been “shelled to pieces,” he outlines, “but there’s no evidence of any rights abuses here at all.” Simon claims that he and his crew interviewed multiple residents who said the Russian troops had been very friendly and gave them food and water and other supplies. “And we got quotes on camera for that,” he adds.
“I don’t know what the prosecutor was talking about, but we have seen nothing like that at all. It’s a completely different picture,” he continues, adding that a French journalist may have seen the body of someone killed by shelling, but “no executions.”
The alleged reporter ends the call by saying he was going back to Bucha, to “try and find some more evidence of extrajudicial killings there, but there’s no sign of any of that here.”
Ukraine accused Russia of murdering over 400 civilians in Bucha before retreating from the town near Kiev last week. The US and its allies have backed Kiev’s claims, citing them as reasons to impose more sanctions against Russia.
Moscow has categorically denied the accusations, saying that Russian troops pulled out of the town on March 30, and that claims of killings appeared only four days later – after Ukrainian security forces and TV cameras arrived in the town.
Another recording obtained by RT seems to depict a conversation between two Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) officials. The SBU is the local successor agency to the Soviet KGB.
They discuss the situation in Kukhari, a town about 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of Bucha, and seem to contradict the prevailing media narrative coming from Kiev and the NATO capitals.
“From March 24 to April 3, after we pushed the ‘orcs’ away from here,” says a person only identified as Sergey Anatolyevich, speaking to someone named Lesogor and using a derogatory Ukrainian term for Russians. “After the unit that pushed them out moved on, the territorial defense came from Malin … and marauded during that time. Looted everything they could. Broke down doors, everything. Safes were opened, cars were stolen. They stuffed the cars with everything worth anything and took it away,” he adds.
“It turns out the ‘Moskals’ took nothing, but ours went in and looted everything,” Sergey Anatolyevich adds, using another derogatory term for Russians. Malin is a nearby town southwest of Kukhari, held by the Ukrainian military.
When Lesogor asks which unit was looting, Sergey Anatolyevich replies that no one really knows. “Some say Volhynian, others say someone else,” he says, referring to a region in western Ukraine.
Moscow attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements signed in 2014, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to regularize the status of the regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two regions by force.The post Phone Call Records Appear to Cast Doubt on Ukrainian Claims of Russian Atrocities first appeared on Dissident Voice.
A US military spokesperson has defended a series of strikes on civilians in Syria, which killed 80 people including women and children, claiming they were in self-defense and that no disciplinary measures were necessary.
The US military found itself at the center of controversy after the New York Times reported that it had covered up a 2019 strike on Syrian civilians which left at least 80 dead. After the report went viral, US officials finally acknowledged the casualties in a statement and claimed that 16 of those killed were allegedly Islamic State fighters and 4 were civilians.
Upon being asked about the other 60 casualties, which apparently included women and children, US Central Command told the New York Times that it “was not clear” whether they were civilians “in part because women and children in the Islamic State sometimes took up arms.”
On Sunday, a US Central Command spokesperson defended the strikes in a statement to the BBC, claiming they were in self-defense. Captain Bill Urban said the military could not “conclusively characterize the status of more than 60 other casualties,” because “multiple armed women and at least one armed child were observed in the video.”
“The exact mixture of armed and unarmed personnel could not be conclusively determined,” Urban argued, hypothesizing however that it was “likely” a majority of the casualties “were also combatants at the time of the strike.”
It is also highly likely that there were additional civilians killed by these two strikes
Despite acknowledging that the strikes killed civilians, including women and children, Urban claimed their investigation concluded the strikes “were legitimate self-defence strikes” and that “no disciplinary actions were warranted.”
According to the New York Times’ report, even US military officers were shocked and disturbed by the strikes, which they observed live from a drone camera feed, and some questioned whether the incident could be considered a war crime. The entire incident, however, was reportedly soon covered up and reports of the casualties were classified.The post US Military Defends Strikes on “Armed” Women and Children first appeared on Dissident Voice.
We speak to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer on the trial of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. He discusses his assessment that Julian Assange has been psychologically tortured by UK authorities, why it has become harder for the UK courts to refuse the US extradition request, the parallels between the video of the murder of George Floyd and Julian Assange’s revelations and what Julian Assange’s persecution means for the average citizen’s rights.The post US Extradition: “If Julian Assange Dies, He Would Have Been Tortured to Death!” — Nils Melzer first appeared on Dissident Voice.
Chris Hedges talks to documentary filmmaker and investigative journalist John Pilger about the upcoming appeals hearing in London for the Julian Assange case.
On Sept. 26, Yahoo! News published “Kidnapping, assassination and a London shoot-out: Inside the CIA’s secret war plans against WikiLeaks.” The article detailed discussions within the CIA to kidnap or assassinate Julian Assange. The revelations came a month before a hearing in Britain’s High Court that will see the U.S. government appeal a decision that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange cannot be sent to the United States to face espionage charges. These revelations also coincided with the arrest of an Icelandic man who played a major role in the FBI’s case against Assange and who has now admitted he lied in his testimony about Assange to U.S. federal investigators. The most recent revelations, coupled with the numerous legal anomalies of the Assange case, including leaks that show that the Spanish security firm at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London where Assange sought refuge for seven years, turned over recordings of his meetings with his lawyers to the CIA, amply illustrate that the judicial pantomime carried out against Assange is a political persecution led by the U.S. government and the CIA because of embarrassing and damaging revelations about the inner workings of the US military, intelligence agencies and the political class repeatedly exposed by Assange and WikiLeaks. The goal of the U.S. government is to shut down WikiLeaks, and organizations like WikiLeaks, and to make an example of Assange, who if he is extradited to the United States faces 175 years in prison, to dissuade others who might consider replicating his courageous reporting. The upcoming appeals hearing is on October 27 and 28 at Britain’s High Court, London.The post The Julian Assange Case first appeared on Dissident Voice.
The US is playing a dangerous game of putting a public face on a policy of defending Taiwan from China, for which it has zero capability to implement.
Following a recent escalation of tensions between Beijing and Taipei, Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed on Saturday to pursue “reunification” with Taiwan by peaceful means and warned foreign nations about meddling in the issue.
For the past several years, the air force of the People’s Republic of China has been flying sorties into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone, or ADIZ, as a means of sending a signal to Taipei that China does not recognize its claims of independence and, as such, any notion of an ADIZ is null and void. These incidents, which have been escalating over the years, recently reached a crescendo: China, according to Taipei, flew 38 aircraft in two waves into Taiwan’s ADIZ on October 1, 39 more on October 2 (also in two waves), and 16 the following day.
In response, the US State Department spokesman Ned Price issued a statement.
The United States is very concerned by the People’s Republic of China’s provocative military activity near Taiwan, which is destabilizing, risks miscalculations, and undermines regional peace and stability. We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure and coercion against Taiwan.
China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying replied
Taiwan belongs to China and the US is in no position to make irresponsible remarks. The relevant remarks by the US side seriously violate the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiqués and send an extremely wrong and irresponsible signal.
On October 4, Taipei said that China sent its largest wave of aircraft yet into Taiwan’s ADIZ, some 56 in total, including 36 J-16 and Su-30 fighter jets, 12 nuclear-capable H-6 bombers, 2 Y-8 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft and two KJ-500 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.
Alarmed by these developments, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen declared that
Taiwan does not seek military confrontation. It hopes for a peaceful, stable, predictable, and mutually beneficial coexistence with its neighbors. But Taiwan will also do whatever it takes to defend its freedom and democratic way of life.
‘Whatever it takes’, however, is an infinite concept backed up by the finite reality that Taiwan has a military of about 165,000 active-duty troops and about 1.6 million reserve soldiers which has been equipped with billions of dollars of advanced American-made military equipment.
While Taiwan’s military may look good on paper, it is ill-prepared for the realities of the kind of full-scale combat that will be directed at them if China ever decides to go through with an invasion. As the world learned in Afghanistan, impressive numbers on paper do not automatically translate into an impressive fighting force on the ground. And China would be delivering violence on a scale several orders of magnitude above what the Taliban could ever contemplate.
If China ever decided to invade Taiwan, the working assumption would be that it had conducted an extensive intelligence-based assessment of its chances of victory, which would have to be near-certain in order for China to undertake an action that would bring with it the condemnation of much of the world. China would have located with pin-point precision the garrisons and deployment locations of every major Taiwanese ground combat unit. It would have done the same with every combat-capable aircraft in the Taiwanese inventory. And it would have identified the logistics bases used by Taiwan to sustain its frontline combat forces. All of these would be subjected to extensive pre-assault bombardment by the Chinese air and ballistic missile forces.
Any surviving Taiwanese units would then be faced with the daunting task of repelling a massive invasion which would likely comprise a combination of amphibious and air assault forces. Assuming enough units survived the pre-assault bombardment to put up a competent defense, they would rapidly run through their on-hand stocks of ammunition, fuel, and food. Units that were cut off from resupply would begin to surrender, and the notion of surrender would become contagious. Pockets of die-hard defenders could survive to fight on for a period, but the reality is that Taiwan would fall in less than a week.
Much has been made about the US ability to come to Taiwan’s defense. While the US may have made great waves sailing its navy through the Taiwan Strait, such a maneuver would be suicidal in a time of conflict. The US Navy would be relegated to standing by far to the east of Taiwan, out of the range of China’s deadly ballistic missile capability, launching aircraft which would have limited combat capability given fuel and weight limitations. The same holds true for the US Air Force. The fact is, any aircraft the US dispatched to defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion would be rapidly attritted, with no replacements available in a time frame that could change the course of the battle on the ground in Taiwan.
Much has been made about media reports concerning the presence of US forces in Taiwan for the purpose of training the Taiwan military. These forces are not part of any formal alliance or defense pact, but rather part of what is known as “foreign internal defense” training missions, in this case involving a few dozen US Special Forces and US Marines doing small-unit training. This is not the kind of large-scale operational training undertaken by formal alliances such as NATO, where interoperability is essential for any joint combat operations.
The best the US could hope to do when it comes to defending Taiwan would be to modify existing warplanes for the reinforcement of South Korea. This war plan, known as OPLAN-5027, has a subsection known as a Time-Phased Deployment List, or TPFDL, which has identified the forces and equipment necessary to reinforce South Korea in time of war. At one time, the TPFDL had earmarked 690,000 troops, 160 Navy ships, and 1,600 aircraft for deployment from the US to South Korea within 90 days of a war breaking out on the Korean peninsula.
Two things come to mind—by the time the US cavalry was ready to arrive in Taiwan, they would be about 83 days too late. And, more importantly, China would have consolidated its hold on Taiwan making any US effort to retake it suicidal. OPLAN-5027 envisions US forces flowing into South Korean ports that are controlled by the South Korean government. It is not an amphibious assault plan, and any effort to transform it into one would fail.
This is the reality-based state of play today when it comes to the defense of Taiwan by the US. The only alteration that could be made would be for the US to use nuclear weapons in defense of Taiwan. This, of course, would trigger a general nuclear war with China, and the US is not prepared to commit national suicide for a nation it doesn’t even have a formal defensive pact with.
Ned Price might want to keep all of this in mind the next time he approaches the microphone to speak about defending Taiwan. He and the rest of the US government are writing checks with their mouths neither Taiwan nor the US military can cash. A better course of action would be to work with China and Taiwan toward the goal of peaceful unification which preserves intact the democratic system of government that exists in Taiwan.The post The US Cannot Defend Taiwan, and China Knows It first appeared on Dissident Voice.
The BBC has admitted that a documentary on an alleged chemical attack in Syria in 2018 contained serious inaccuracies, suggesting that an informant known as ‘Alex’, who claimed the 2018 chemical weapons attack on Douma was staged, may have been motivated by financial reward.The post BBC Admits Its Douma Chemical Attack Report Did Not Meet Own Accuracy Standards first appeared on Dissident Voice.