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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

In the ancient and current doctrine of the law of culpability for killing, the Latin term mens rea  is required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt,  in parallel with proof of actus reus. In short, the intention in mind to kill (aka motive) must be in combination with the hands-on act of killing itself.

In the public media trial of the Russian military of guilt for the air raid which hit part of the Okhmatdet Children’s Hospital in Kiev on Monday morning, July 8, the US, NATO and Ukrainian charge is that a Russian missile struck the hospital and exploded, killing 27, and injuring 17 out of more than 1,200 patients and staff in the hospital at the time; 4 children have been counted among the dead, 7 among the wounded.  

The Russian military reports for the day, including Colonel Cassad by Boris Rozhin, indicated that the targets of the Russian missile strikes in the Kiev area were military industry plants and,  as part of the electric war,  at least three electric substations in the city grid.   DTEK, the Ukrainian power utility, has acknowledged in several tweets that its power stations had been hit and were being assessed by DTEK engineers for repair.   

Motive and intention to target the Artyom (Artem) military plant in Kiev   is officially acknowledged by  Russian officials. It is the third attack on the site reported by Ukrainian officials.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Maria Zakharova, the Okhmatdet hospital had been struck by a US-made, Norway-supplied NASAMS air defence missile, fired by a Ukrainian battery attempting to protect the Artyom (Artem) plant. “Many eyewitnesses and other sources have already confirmed that a Western-made NASAMS surface-to-air missile hit a building of the Okhmatdet Hospital for Children in Kiev. Officials on Bankovaya Street [Zelensky regime headquarters] immediately started blaming Russia for deliberately killing children. However, no one said that the Artyom Plant is located next to the affected clinic, and that Defense Ministry buildings and military warehouses are also located next door. Certainly, no one said that pro-Bandera supporters are deliberately deploying air defence systems in residential areas, using civilians as a human shield. The Kiev junta has been using purely civilian enterprises for military purposes for a long time, either using them to assemble and repair military equipment or to store Western-made weapons and military equipment.”  

The Russian representative at the United Nations, Vasily Nebenzya, currently rotational president of the UN Security Council, told a special council session that the strike on the hospital had been a Ukrainian one, not a Russian one.     He added:  “The X-101 missile would have done a lot more damage to the building it hit [Min 6:52]…if it had been a Russian missile, there would have been nothing left of the building and the children and most of the adults would have been killed rather than wounded [Min 8:20]” Like Zakharova, Nebenzya identified military industrial targets. The two Russian officials have not identified the electric war targets.

They are not lying; they are telling less than the full truth. When that is understood from all the available evidence, there is no mens rea. No conviction in a western court of law. The prosecution’s case is dismissed.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The latest Russian Defense Ministry daily bulletin was issued on Tuesday afternoon, July 9.  Since then the Pentagon and the White House have been as silent as the tomb.

Make that thirty-five American tombs.

“During the day [July 9],” said the Defense Ministry briefer in Moscow,    “the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation carried out a group strike with high-precision weapons on American HIMARS multiple launch rocket systems prepared for strikes on the territory of Crimea, as well as the venue of an official meeting of the AFU [Armed Forces of the Ukraine] command staff. The objectives of the strike have been achieved. Four US-made HIMARS MLRS launchers were destroyed, as well as up to 35 foreign specialists who serviced them.”

Several hours later, the Pentagon briefer, Major General Pat Ryder, announced “a great kickoff to NATO summit events this week.”  General Ryder wasn’t referring to the largest number of US battlefield deaths ever recorded under hostile Russian fire. He had nothing to say about the Ukraine battlefield action, and the reporters attending failed to ask him about it.

At the White House briefing which followed the Pentagon, the lead announcement was President Joseph Biden’s telephone calls to officials in Texas dealing with Hurricane Beryl; his plan to meet on Thursday with Vladimir Zelensky;  and an assurance that “Russia’s aggression against Ukraine poses a threat to transatlantic security. That’s what it does. And it shows how critical the NATO Alliance is and how important it is to continue to make sure that it is strong, and that’s what the president has been able to do.”  Reporters did not ask about US combat deaths in the Ukraine.

The New York Times also blacked out the report of the Russian strike on the HIMARS batteries, focusing instead on the Kiev targets of the day, and on claims by anonymous US intelligence and other officials that “Russia is unlikely to make significant territorial gains in Ukraine in the coming months as its poorly trained forces struggle to break through Ukrainian defenses that are now reinforced with Western munitions.”  

“You’d think in an election year,” comments a NATO veteran with Afghanistan war service,  “that dead American ‘specialists’ would be an issue. This tells that they [the Biden Administration] are as committed to ‘victory’, or hiding an American defeat, as their [Trump campaign] opponents are.  They are also loath to get into the role they played in getting things to this point.”

That said, what interpretation can President Vladimir Putin and the Russian General Staff give after the 35 US battlefield deaths have been concealed by US officials? Should Moscow conclude that it is now Washington policy to fight Russia, not just to the last Ukrainian, but to the last American?

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

American, British and Canadian troops in NATO’s forward bases in Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania are being told to prepare for deployment to the Ukraine next year. They are also being warned to expect to fight under heavy Russian artillery, missile, guided bomb, and drone strikes.

This message is also intended to slip into the hands of Russian military intelligence and find its way to the Kremlin. There, Moscow sources believe, the intelligence is interpreted as provocation — part of the US and NATO scheme to escalate NATO attacks in the Black Sea and deep into Russian territory, in order to encourage Russian counter-attacks against NATO targets, triggering thereby Article Five of the NATO Treaty and collective NATO force intervention to follow

Additionally, Russian sources interpret the intelligence as confirming that the US will not allow capitulation and replacement of Vladimir Zelensky and his regime in Kiev — so no denazification, which is one of the two main objectives of the Special Military Operation.  Also, no peace terms will be countenanced short of Russian withdrawal from Crimea and the four regions of Novorossiya, and the military defeat of the Russian Army. So, no demilitarization, the second of Russia’s long-term security objectives.

The immediate General Staff response has been to devise “soft” measures to combat the US, UK and other NATO airborne electronic warfare units which are providing guidance, targeting, launch timing and flight manoeuvre of Storm Shadow and ATACMS missiles, as well as coordination of Ukrainian aerial and naval drone strikes.   The Russian command has also unleashed a new round of missile attacks against Ukrainian airfields – Voznesensk and Mirgorod  –  where the bombers launching long-range Storm Shadow cruise missiles are based, and where the NATO-supplied F-16s are planned for deployment in a few weeks’ time.   

Under growing domestic pressure to counter attacks as damaging to civilians as the Sevastopol beach strike of June 23,   President Vladimir Putin has been making a sequence of statements of calculated ambiguity, if not of strategic deception. One interpretation of this by security analysts in Moscow is that the president is avoiding the provocation trap, creating instead a record of peace terms he is offering, confident they will be dismissed in Kiev, Brussels, London, and Washington. This is to reserve Russian freedom of action for now, reverse the blame later on.   

On Friday, in Putin’s remarks to the press after meeting at the Kremlin with Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orban – currently the rotational president of the European Union Council – Putin repeated his peace terms offer and his expectation of their rejection: “We remain open for a discussion on a political and diplomatic settlement. However, the opposite side only makes clear its reluctance to resolve this issue in this manner. Ukraine’s sponsors continue using this country and its people as a ram, making it a victim in the confrontation with Russia.”   

“We outlined our peace initiative quite recently at my meeting with the senior officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.  We believe that its implementation would make it possible to end hostilities and begin negotiations. Moreover, this should not just be a truce or a temporary ceasefire, nor should it be a pause that the Kiev regime could use to recover its losses, regroup and rearm. Russia advocates a full and final end to the conflict. The conditions for that, as I have already said, are set out in my speech at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are talking about the complete withdrawal of all Ukrainian troops from the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and from the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions. There are other conditions as well.”

Putin is not alone in the war staff – the Stavka  – in suspecting provocation by the Americans and British while they prepare for escalation to direct war. Too, the Stavka recognizes this was Stalin’s problem interpreting intelligence from Tokyo and Berlin, especially Richard Sorge’s cables from December 1940 through the early days of June 1941,    warning of Hitler’s preparations to invade across the Soviet border.

Moscow sources are sure that avoiding Stalin’s catastrophic misjudgement of Hitler’s timing is a priority of Putin’s and of the General Staff’s.  Misjudging the timing of the US coup in Kiev of February 21, 2014, almost cost the loss of Sevastopol and Crimea; misjudging the readiness of Ukrainian forces at Hostemel on February 24, 2022,  cost the lives of at least 300 Russian paratroopers, failed at triggering regime change in Kiev, and doomed the peace negotiations in Istanbul of March 30.  

“We told you so” is not a refrain the Kremlin is hearing now from the General Staff for the first time.   

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

In ancient rhetoric classes, and ever since, it has been taught that combining two negatives in a sentence produces a positive, albeit a version of the truth which has been made ambiguous enough to allow its opposite, a lie.   

So when President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman issues two negatives on two succeeding days in answer to a question about Donald Trump’s plan for ending the war in the Ukraine, the positive truth is the one which the Russian oligarchs, the Central Bank, state officials with family links to the US, and leftovers of the Yeltsin administration are pressing Putin to accept. He is telling them he may do what they ask.

Against them stand the General Staff. Also,  Russian public opinion. Putin is telling them he may do what they ask.

This is what forked tongues are for saying.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Since the lethal Sevastopol beach attack on June 23 triggered open criticism of President Vladimir Putin’s military inhibitions,  there has been a Russian counter to the operation of US Air Force (USAF) drones which direct the missile strikes from international airspace over the Black Sea.  

The June 23 missile salvo used US-made and US-crewed ATACMS missiles.

The US Secretary of Defense, General Lloyd Austin, then spoke by telephone on June 25 with his Russian counterpart, Defense Minister Andrei Belousov – their first conversation since Belousov replaced Sergei Shoigu in May. In the Pentagon briefing, nothing was admitted except that it had been the Pentagon which initiated the call, not the Russian side.  

What happened next was that the Defense Ministry announced Belousov had noted “the increased intensity of flights of strategic unmanned aerial vehicles of the United States over the Black Sea” and “instructed the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to take measures of prompt response to provocations”. The Russian Air Force began to attack the US Air Force Global Hawk ((Northrop Grumman RQ-4B) drones in a new way (lead image, right).

Their operation was transferred from Sigonella in Italy to the Kogălniceanu Air Base near Constanta in Romania. The electronic warfare operation to guide Ukrainian missile attacks on Crimea was transferred from drones to manned aircraft, and from the US Air Force (USAF) to the Royal Air Force (RAF). British-made Storm Shadow missiles, fired by Ukrainian aircraft, then replaced the ATACMS, and new attacks begun on Sevastopol.

The Russian reaction has been to destroy the Ukrainian airfields from which these launches began and the aircraft which fired them.  On July 2, the Russian Defense Ministry reported, “as a result of a group strike with precision weapons on an airfield, five Su-27 aircraft of the enemy air force were destroyed and two were damaged. Two more Ukrainian aircraft, MiG-29 and Su-27,  were shot down by Russian air defence.”  The airfield targeted was Mirgorod, near Poltava in the northeast. 

Air evacuation of US ground casualties from the Nikolaev area of the ATACMS launches has been reported by Russian military bloggers through the Polish border hub of Rzeszów.

This is how the war between the US, UK and Russia is being fought.  The two leading military bloggers, Boris Rozhin of Colonel Cassad and Mikhail Zvinchuk of Rybar, remain skeptical. “There is every awareness [of the Black Sea drone problem] in the decision-making centers. But after all the crossings of the red lines and despite the threatening statements to shoot down the American RQ-4, no one has done so.”  

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

If you think that Popeye beat Bluto because he ate spinach, this US presidential cartoon, I mean  debate, was for you.

That President Joseph Biden, handicapped as he was by Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy body dementia, won the 90-minute television fight with Donald Trump seems so obvious to Russians, they express surprise at  the near-unanimity in the US that the opposite was the outcome.  

While the Russian state propaganda organs are repeating the “Joe Must Go” line — the US-funded Russian opposition media also   — military and intelligence analysts in Moscow are concluding that Biden and Trump proved they are equally dangerous for Russia, but that Trump is now the candidate for much bigger wars in the Middle East and against China. Replacing Biden, Russian sources believe, is now an operation of the Zionist and Taiwan lobbies in Washington.

“The Democratic party elites started to think of ways to get Biden out of the way,” according to one Moscow source. “so sending him into a long debate, so early in the campaign, was exactly meant to achieve this – he will look bad but there is enough time to replace him.  Republicans have always been this racist but Trump says it more plainly.  Biden has always been a wolf in sheep’s clothing but he can no longer find new words to keep up the charade. What is there to see? America has never been weaker. The important thing to see here [Moscow] is the reluctance to drive American imperial power off the cliff.” 

“Despite Biden’s obvious handicap, I thought he won,” adds a second source. “Biden telling Trump ‘you have the morals of an alley cat’, won it as far as I’m concerned. He also called Trump out on the racism and fascism, something Trump had no answer for except to double down. Didn’t anyone notice Trump’s compulsive repetitiveness? He repeated the same lies and aspersions over and over again. He’s more lucid than Biden, but not by much. He’s an ageing, narcissistic, racist crook.”

The Russian sources also believe that support for Trump in Moscow is an oligarch operation with a similar fondness for Israel. That has been the line of Roman Abramovich since his abortive attempts to save himself from sanctions and defeat the Russian Army failed at the beginning of the Special Military Operation in March and April 2022.   

“I believe,” said one source, “ ‘Joe must go’ because he expressed some trepidation regarding Israel. He was set up — the guns were loaded and cocked before the debate even started.”

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

Buried in the small print and legalese of the new European Union (EU) sanctions announced on June 24 is the re-establishment of the old European and American empires’ operation of privateering. That’s piracy on the high seas licensed by the monarch or the head of state on condition that the proceeds are shared with court and state officials.

In short, state war for private profit — grand larceny by the Great Powers if they can get away with it.

To make sure of that, the EU has issued “Council Decision (CSFP) 2024/1738”  which allows the thieving to be done in secret. In Article 1 of Monday’s document, the EU authorizes “the release of certain frozen funds [Russian], after having determined that the transfer of such funds is: (a) between two natural or legal persons, entities or bodies that are not listed in the Annex to this Decision”. That’s the stealing.  

And here is the cover-up: Article 4a is amended to read that the operation: “shall be subject to professional secrecy and shall enjoy the protection afforded by the rules applicable to the Union institutions. That protection shall apply to the proposals from the High Representative for the amendment of this Decision and to any preparatory documents related to them.”

This is the EU summary version of the new sanctions package.  Note that it disguises the privateering provisions as “specific initiatives to protect EU operators from expropriation and to respond to other illegitimate actions of the Russian state, including the theft of intellectual property.”

An EU press release is also camouflage, describing the purpose of the new measures “to allow EU operators to claim compensation from damages caused by Russian companies due to sanctions implementation and expropriation. It also creates the instrument to draw up a list of company subject to a transaction ban for meddling with arbitration and court competence.”  

The reaction in Moscow will be a counterattack on EU corporate and individual assets within Russian reach. This is spelled out in a report by Kommersant, the Moscow business newspaper, published on Monday. Read the verbatim piece translated into English here.   There is no reporter byline; illustrations have been added.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, MI6) continues to celebrate itself as the master of deception operations, at least when it comes to fooling their own population and their US allies. Successful deception is the principal weapon London contributes in its special relationship with the US, since in money, men, weapons, and military technology it lags far behind.

Fooling the enemy, however, is not something Perfidious Albion is good at.

The last time the British succeeded was Operation Mincemeat in 1943 when the corpse of a Welsh tramp suicide, dressed up to look like a courier of secret military plans, was floated on to a Spanish beach for the purpose of fooling Adolf Hitler and the German High Command on when and where the Allies planned to launch their D-Day offensive in Europe. The operation appears to have succeeded in deceiving the Germans; that’s the version the British keep repeating.  

In 2018 the British tried again with a fresh deception operation, also with a corpse,  to convince themselves and the world that the Russian military, ordered by the Kremlin, had attacked on British soil with a nerve agent weapon, first targeting Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia; then as collateral damage a county policeman; and finally, after four months had elapsed,  a woman who had accidentally sprayed herself with the nerve agent which had been found abandoned in a dumpster, disguised as a perfume atomiser. The cause of death of Dawn Sturgess, the last and only fatal victim of the alleged Russian attack, is still being investigated in secret, ahead of a public inquiry due to commence in London in October.  

This is the Novichok deception operation, the first British success in the 81 years since Operation Mincemeat. Except that the new operation didn’t deceive the Russians like the old one had the Germans.  

Instead, it has become the justification for the British Government going to war against Russia for reasons which no vote of parliament, no media investigation, and no public opinion poll has disputed over six years. The deception of themselves has been the powerful result of the Skripal case.

Listen to Chris Cook of Gorilla Radio lead the discussion of how and why the Skripal case has been, and is still,  more persuasive politically and militarily than the case of Julian Assange. Unlike Sergei Skripal, Assange has survived years of British imprisonment; and unlike Yulia Skripal, he is now a free man.  As the broadcast was going to air, the news broke that Assange had been released from  Belmarsh prison in a plea bargain between the British, US and Australian governments.  

Also breaking news during the broadcast was the claim that the Russian Air Force had shot down a US Air Force drone off the Crimean shore in Black Sea airspace. There is no confirmation of the claim, which first surfaced in the Russian military blogs.   They have been calling for this strike in retaliation for the Sevastopol missile attack on Sunday. Read the lead to that story here.  

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

The Ukrainian missile attacks on Sevastopol on Sunday afternoon – five US ATACMS missiles with cluster-bomb warheads – have drawn the most explicit reaction yet from Russia’s independent military bloggers, followed in four hours by an official communiqué from the Defense Ministry.  The Kremlin communiqué which followed the Defense Ministry an hour later as Sunday evening came on, was not the same.

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by John Helmer, Moscow 
  @bears_with

A new lawyer appeared in a London court on Friday claiming to represent Sergei (lead image, left)  and Yulia Skripal. Jack Holborn, a barrister specializing in what he calls human rights,  told Lord Anthony Hughes, who is conducting a public inquiry into the alleged Novichok death of Dawn Sturgess in 2018, that the Skripals should not be called to give evidence or testify in the case.  

Holborn claimed the Skripals are fearful for their security. “No security measures are perfect”, he said.  

Holborn has not been in contact with the Skripals, however. He refuses to answer questions put to him on what visual contact or other communications he has had with either Sergei or Yulia Skripal.

Instead, he was told what to say at the hearing by the law firm of Kingsley Napley which the British government is paying to show that the Skripals are participating in the Novichok case.

The spokesman for Hughes and the inquiry was asked to explain Holborn’s presence in court for the first time on Friday. She was also asked what authority the Skripals had given Holborn to represent them. The spokesman answered: “Kingsley Napley has been designated as the recognised legal representative of the Skripals under r[ule] 6 of the Inquiry Rules 2006.  By rule 8, the recognised legal representative may appoint a team to  assist them and Kingsley Napley have accordingly instructed counsel to appear on their clients’ behalf.”

In other words, there has been no contact between the lawyers who say they represent the Skripals, and the Skripals themselves. The judge and government are refusing to give evidence that Sergei Skripal is alive,  and that Yulia Skripal is not in prison.

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