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By John Helmer, Moscow

Please recognize, if not in yourselves then in others, that there is pleasure in hating.

“The pleasure of hating”,  William Hazlitt, an English writer  of two hundred years ago*, compared this to what the British Prime Minister of today calls a novichok – “a poisonous mineral, [which] eats into the heart of religion, and turns it to rankling spleen and bigotry; it makes patriotism an excuse for carrying fire, pestilence, and famine into other lands: it leaves to virtue nothing but the spirit of censoriousness, and a narrow, jealous, inquisitorial watchfulness over the actions and motives of others.”

If not stopped in politics,   this pleasure of hating leads with certainty to violence and war.  The pleasure of hating Russia and Russians is what today is driving the United States to putting all of Europe in war.

Ten days ago, in the Kremlin’s situation room in Moscow, twelve hours of warnings were issued to the Ukrainians in their situation room in Kiev, connected live to NATO headquarters in Brussels, to pull back an armed naval operation between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, in the Kerch Strait. The warnings were ignored.  Over the bow  shots were fired; the Ukrainians decided to ignore them. Lethal shots were fired, wounding three, and the Ukrainians surrendered. They are now in prison in Simferopol.

Marine traffic in the Kerch Strait, November 28, 2018. Source: https://www.polygraph.info/

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maria Zakharova explained on Thursday: “First, there are not only rank-and-file soldiers, but also members of the security service. Second, an investigation is underway. From the public rhetoric that we are now witnessing, they were clearly acting upon an order, which was part of a pre-planned provocation. President Putin said that it was imperative to establish all the details. An investigation is underway.”

Left: The Ukrainian Navy’s Nikopol gunboat (P176) and support tug Yany Kapu (A947) under arrest in Simferopol harbour on November 26; centre, one of the 24 Ukrainian crew members entering Simferopol court on November 27; right, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland endorsing the Ukrainian war operation in a press statement on November 30. 

“I also want to draw your attention, “ Zakharova added, “to the history of incidents similar to the [November 26 one in] Kerch Strait. There are hundreds or even thousands of them. You are well aware of how they are usually resolved. No one spends hours asking the perpetrator to stop acting crazy and beg for recognition signals to be given. Nobody spends hours in an attempt to stop the provocative actions…Every other country… knows what the protection of the state border is all about. Check the history, including the latest, and look at how countries carry out the legitimate activities to protect their state borders. No country would be too soft in such circumstances. Moreover, no country would even try to stop this madness by putting its own citizens at risk for so much time.”

The Ukrainian leadership, starting with President Petro Poroshenko, has publicly described the capture and imprisonment of the 22 Ukrainian Navy and 2 Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) agents.   “They are not criminals, as Putin wants to show, they are prisoners of war.” The Ukrainian who is foreign minister of Canada, Chrystia Freeland, has added  her “condemn[nation of] this Russian aggression…in calling for the release of those 24 sailors who are prisoners of war.” Volodymyr Omelyan, the minister in Kiev responsible for infrastructure and seaports, announced at  Mariupol port that  it is important to remind Ukrainians and the world that Russia was “waging war” against his country.  

A Canadian lawyer on war crimes, Christopher Black, responds that either the Ukrainians are prisoners of war, or they are terrorists.  “No state of war exists. Russia is treating this as a criminal matter. For Ukraine to say they are POWS would mean [Poroshenko] would have to admit his men attacked Russia and were captured. That puts him at fault.”

The Russian military response, and President Vladimir Putin’s delay in announcing his assessment,  can be understood in the sequence of details reported here.

If the Ukrainian version of war with Russia is to be believed, then the engagement of Russian force with Ukrainian force was warfare – in which the Ukrainians were defeated  and taken prisoner. This eliminates the claim which the Anglo-American media are broadcasting that there was  an illegal Russian attack on the Law of the Sea rule allowing vessels to proceed in “innocent passage”.  If on the other hand, there were grounds for the Russian side to suspect a terrorist operation under way against the Crimean Bridge, then that too cannot be called “innocent passage”.

For more lawyering on what these terms mean, and how they might apply to the Kerch Strait incident of November 26, read this.  For example: “Each coastal state maintains its own interpretation as to whether specific vessels in its territorial sea may be prejudicial to its peace, good order or security. At present, no global standard is defined regarding the carriage of arms, armed personnel, personnel in fire positions, and other relevant conditions, resulting in a complex legal gray area.”

Viewed by the Russians, the Kerch Strait incident is one of the fresh assaults being prepared by the US along all of Russia’s frontiers, and within missile-shooting distance of Russia’s nuclear-armed defences and command bunkers. The new attack platforms include Poland, Romania, several Balkan states, Cyprus and Greece.  A fresh attempt by the US to establish a new military base in Cyprus has just been reported.    

Yesterday Zakharova issued a warning against turning Cyprus into a nuclear-armed American attack weapon.  “A number of sources have reported that the US is proactively exploring a military build-up in Cyprus, making little secret of the fact that this effort is designed to counter Russia’s growing influence in the region in light of the progress in the Syrian operation by the Russian Aerospace Forces. Specifically, a delegation of US experts has recently inspected military and strategic sites on the island with a view to setting up a forward deployment base for the US Armed Forces. Washington is actively discussing with Nicosia ways to expand military-technical cooperation.”

“Russia has pointed out to the leadership of the Republic of Cyprus on numerous occasions that further efforts to militarise the island and draw it into US and NATO plans for the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East regions would inevitably lead to dangerous destabilisation effects for Cyprus itself. Moscow cannot turn a blind eye to the anti-Russia nature of these plans and, should they materialise, will be forced to take retaliatory action.”

The reason for the rising hostility between Russia and Greece is the return of the Greek Government to the secret provisions of agreements with the US allowing the stationing of US nuclear-armed on missiles on sea and land around Greece, especially the Cretan base complex around Souda Bay. Russia has yet to issue a formal warning about these new threats, which were neutralized by Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou in the 1980s. For the NATO version of the shift in Greek policy, read this.

The new US basing plans involve what the Russian General Staff and Putin have already called cross-hair threats to Russia’s defences. They are also violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987. The US accuses Russia of violating the treaty; Russia charges the US with violations. A US Congressional Research Service comparison of the US and Russian positions can be read here.   For what Russian commanders mean by the retaliatory targeting called cross-hairs, click

The Russian General Staff Chief, Gen. Valery Gerasimov (right), reiterated  the cross-hairs warning on Wednesday  in a meeting with foreign military attachés in Moscow. “If the US withdraws from the  intermediate-range missile Treaty (INF), the countries that have deployed American missile systems on their territory will become targets for Russia…Given that there are official representatives of foreign military agencies in the hall, I would like to convey through you to your leaders that if the INF Treaty is destroyed, it will not remain without an answer from our side.”

For the discussion with Chris Cook, listen to today’s Gorilla Radio broadcast from Victoria, British Columbia, between  Minute 00:00 and 26:53.

Gorilla Radio is broadcast every Thursday by Chris Cook on CFUV 101.9 FM from the University of Victoria.  The radio station can be heard here.  The Gorilla Radio transcripts are also published by the Pacific Free Press and on the blog. For Chris Cook’s broadcast archive, click to open


[*] For the full text of Hazlitt’s essay of 1826, click to read.  Hazlitt started with a spider running along the mat at his feet. “A child, a woman, a clown or a moralist a century ago, would have crushed the little reptile to death… I bear the creature no illwill , but I still hate the very sight of it. The spirit of malevolence  survives the practical exertion of it… we give up the brute violence but cannot part with the essence or principle of hostility.

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