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By John Helmer, Moscow & Stanislas Balcerac, Warsaw

In almost a thousand years of military history, the proverb has been a reminder that an apparently tiny omission or detail overlooked on the battlefield can have ruinous consequences for the kingdom. “For want of a nail”, the saying goes, “the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost.” Until the end: “For want of a message the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost. And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.”  

The story of the Polish, Czech and Slovenian prime ministers who messaged that they had travelled to Kiev last Tuesday to meet Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky is one of these proverbials – it is missing the details which prove the meeting took place in Kiev, where they claim they went, and not in Przemysl, Poland, where the details prove they were.

In response to the first report  revealing this evidence, the Slovenian prime minister Janez Jansa told Slovenian state television RTV he had met with Zelensky on the “first floor of the presidential palace, not in the basement, but under strict security measures.”  He added that Kiev was not surrounded despite the Russian forces attacking from both the west and the east, air raid alarms, and citywide curfew after dark.

Jansa faces a national election on April 24, and over the past month he has lost his lead in the polls.   He had announced he would visit Kiev on February 24, but that visit was cancelled on March 1 because it was judged to be dangerously unsafe.     In the interval, Jansa’s SDS party dropped another two points in the election polls to the rising new opposition party, the Freedom Movement (GS).  According to N1 Info, a Balkan news platform affiliated with CNN, Jansa’s “advisers…had been in the Ukrainian capital city to prepare a meeting of PM Janez Jansa with the Ukrainian top officials, which was due to have been held on 24 February, and was cancelled [on March 1] due to the start of Russia’s invasion.”

Jansa was asked directly on Saturday to “clarify why you judged you must cancel your planned trip to Kiev on March 1 because of the security risks at the time, but judged the security risks to be less in order for you to proceed to Kiev on March 15? What lessened the security risks to you and your delegation in the interval?”  Jansa was also asked to explain “since the Slovenian Embassy in Kiev was closed and evacuated on March 15, where did you spend the evening of March 15, before your return to Poland? With whom did you have dinner that evening?”

Jansa has refused to answer. His spokesman Uros Urbanija has accused journalists asking the questions of working for the political opposition.

On March 18  Jansa also posted a tweet – retweeted by Urbanija  —  making it appear to be the view out the train window at Ukrainian wheatfields, taken by Jansa on his trip into Kiev on March 15.

Source: https://twitter.com/UrosUrbanija

The Ukrainian government railways director, Oleksandr Kamyshin, has told the press the disregard for security by the prime ministers while they were on the train was “naive. I was concerned about the secrecy of the trip, so I was surprised to see a post online that they were on their way to Kyiv.”   

A Polish government media agency issued the statement: “There is no reason to doubt that the meeting of the international delegation with President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Prime Minister of Ukraine took place in war-torn Kiev.”

This was included in a Polish government report which has been issued to respond to the growing disbelief in Warsaw. The report was produced by #FakeHunter; this describes itself  as “a social project to verify content published on the Internet, launched by the Polish Press Agency together with GovTech Polska, whose aim is to expose false news regarding the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”  

In its detailed report on the purported train trip led by Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki and deputy prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski,   the government revealed “the secret mission of the Prime Ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia in Ukraine lasted more than a day. The prime ministers spent more than 20 hours on a special train. The talks with the Ukrainian side lasted an hour and a half.”

Source: https://fakehunter.pap.pl/

“Special security measures were in place, which is why the Chancellery of the Prime Minister [Morawiecki] did not provide exact times of travel by train and did not inform about the exact route. The fact that on March 15 in the morning a special train set off for Kiev was announced on the same day several minutes after 9 a.m. by the head of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister Michał Dworczyk. He stated that the train had crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border about an hour earlier [0800 March 15]. As the journalists established, the delegation set off from Przemysl, so in a straight line to Kiev [they] had to cover about 650 km.  [The officials] traveled on a special train made available by the Ukrainian railway. Around noon, the train passed Lviv [standard train journey time is two hours], which was reported on Twitter by Michał Dworczyk. At that time, an anti-aircraft alarm was in force in the city, which forced the train to stop. As reported by the Ukrainian news agency, the alarm sirens were turned on at 11.39 local time. The alarm was cancelled at 12.44 p.m. There were several such stops on the way forced by safety reasons. The journey to Kiev took about 10 hours.”

“A few minutes after 6 p.m., Prime Minister Morawiecki announced on Facebook that the delegation had safely reached the Ukrainian capital. Immediately after arriving in Kiev, the prime ministers went to the place where Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was staying to meet with him and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. For security reasons, it was not revealed at what exact time the talks began. It is only known that the meeting lasted an hour and a half. The Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Kiev, Bartosz Cichocki, was already present on the spot. In the capital of Ukraine, a curfew was already underway. Immediately after the end of the talks, the prime ministers immediately went to the train and set off on their return journey, which also lasted about 10 hours.”

“‘The delegations of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic returned safely to our country after their visit to Kiev,’ government spokesman Piotr Müller said on March 16 after 10 a.m. Thus, the peaceful mission of the prime ministers lasted a little more than a day. During this time, the delegation spent about 20 hours on the train, covering a route of about 1300 km and stopping several times along the way due to anti-aircraft alarms. This is not surprising, given that the same route (Przemyśl-Kiev and Kiev-Przemysl) was covered by the international train that PKP Intercity launched in 2016 in both directions in about 15 hours. There is no reason to doubt that the meeting of the international delegation with President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Prime Minister of Ukraine took place in war-torn Kiev. Photos from the delegation’s visit to the capital of Ukraine were shown by TVP Info. The findings of the meeting were also reported on social media by correspondents from Polish [sources] present on the spot”.  

The international media have revealed much less. Reuters reported the train had been a “special” one.  Reuters also confirmed “a social media post on Wednesday showed Fiala in a flak jacket and helmet, looking at a mobile phone and standing between two beds in a narrow, rudimentary sleeping compartment. It was not clear whether Russia knew of the visit.”

The frequent use by the Polish, Czech and Slovenian officials of their mobile telephones and computers belies they were following the electronic security measures which are routinely required to prevent detection of their location.

Left to right: Polish prime minister Morawiecki; Slovenian prime minister Jansa; Czech prime minister Fiala – from official photographs on board the train while purportedly travelling on Ukrainian territory during daylight on March 15. For more photographs, see the second report.  In the Slovenian media,  opposition politicians who suspect Jansa of a PR stunt noted that “in addition to the invisible ink on a sheet of paper, Janša also used a cell phone while travelling to Ukraine, thus accurately and constantly revealing the location of the train's movements. Tweeting for domestic needs took precedence over security.”  

Top secret Slovenia document security – Prime Minister Jansa reading a paper covered in invisible ink while Polish prime minister Morawiecki alerts Russian electronic intelligence to their location, rate of movement, and other details. On right, Czech prime minister Fiala has opened the red coded security file which was moved up and down the table for different official photographs.  

The Polish prime minister’s spokesman, Piotr Muller, also breached the same “special security measures” by posting this tweet on March 15 at 23:58, when the official narrative claims the train was on its return to Poland, with ten hours left to travel.

Photo analysis experts have been asked to compare published pictures of the “situation room” in which the meeting purportedly took place with Zelensky in Kiev with pictures published last year; with wall and door layout evidence; and the single view from the outside the room looking through its only door. That view is inconsistent with the interior photographs showing the black videoscreen case panels and the coloured images on display.

The room interior reported on April 7, 2018, with Petro Poroshenko, then Ukrainian president, in the chair; no videoscreens on the walls; door at left of head of table. Source: https://rubryka.com/

The room interior on December 24, 2021, in panorama and closeup,  showing videoscreens on side walls; same flags and insignia as in 2018 at head of table; the same door is shown at top left. Source: http://johnhelmer.net/

The room interior on March 15, 2022, showing head of table vacant, Zelensky on right; same insignia on wall and one flag; door location is not revealed. Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com  
The newspaper attributes its image to “Screen capture: Facebook”. This refers to the Ukrainian presidential press office.

The room interior on March 15, 2022, showing videoscreems on side wall and foot of table, with door located to right.

The room exterior on March 15, 2022, showing behind the row of officials at their press briefing a half-opened door, with a view into the interior. This was quickly corrected and the door shut, so that most photographs of the briefing have showed the door closed. Source: https://www.dw.com/pl/

One of the photo analyst sources comments that on the evidence available, the Ukrainian government’s photographs have not been created by montage or by photo manipulation. Instead, the source is “sure it is an accurate mock-up room and that Zelensky is in Poland.”

Another form of analysis performed has identified a list of what is missing from the photographic record, but which ought to have been visible if the Polish, Czech and Slovenian prime ministers travelled to Kiev and met Zelensky as they claim to have done. For example, from the Ukrainian, Polish, Czech and Slovenian media publications, there is no exterior record of the delegation in Kiev; their arrival or departure from the Kiev railway station; or their arrival and departure from the presidential office building.  No Polish, Czech or Slovenian bodyguards or armed soldiers have been recorded as accompanying the delegation on their train, as they embarked or disembarked in the Ukraine.

Also, there is no record of the personal baggage of the officials at their arrival at Przemysl and departure from the railway station by limousine. For the 24 hours which the Polish government now admits the delegation spent on their Zelensky expedition, they did not change their clothes.

Deputy Prime Minister Kaczynski, who is credited in Warsaw with the plan to show solidarity with Zelensky, did not plan on needing to brush his teeth so he didn’t pack his toothbrush.

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