What is happening now in Mariupol - where we are told Russia has "obliterated the city" on the same day that 100,000 Russians pack the Moscow stadium to hear and see their President speak - can only be compared with what "happened" to Mosul at the hands of the US military machine.
Mosul was "occupied by ISIS" for three years, after moving in there with little resistance in June 2014, just three months after the reunification of Crimea with Russia, celebrated today. Whatever the crimes of these salafists and takfiris during those years, the city with its 1000 year old mosque and minaret remained relatively unharmed. But three years later it lay in ruins, with the old city almost obliterated by thousands of tonnes of US coalition bombs in the biggest military operation since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Despite the destruction, which included thousands of trapped civilians used as human shields, the supposed target of the Battle of Mosul - the Islamic State - survived more or less unscathed, retreating over the border into Syria, apparently with the assistance of some Western allies and at the insistence of others - notably Saudi Arabia. Mosul was a Sunni city, and now threatened by sectarian blood-letting from the Shia militias or PMUs. Some of the escaping IS terrorists went to Raqqa, providing the pretext for the US bombing campaign there a little later, followed by the "assisted relocation" of thousands of the fighters to Deir Al Zour and on to the Iraqi border at Al Bukamal where the Syrian Arab Army took up the fight again.
Now five years on, little if any reconstruction has been done in Mosul on the West side of the Tigris, nor for that matter in Raqqa, which was similarly obliterated by US bombing despite minimal justification or evidence of armed resistance.
In one of the most bizarre events of this full-spectrum cyber-offensive from Western media, Al Jazeera brought us a story from those ruins of Mosul's old city.
Musical performances from challenging locations have been a popular feature of "Ukraine's fight for freedom" - or however their war on Russia is construed, but are so contrived as to lack any meaning. Reminders of the lone pianist in the Warsaw ghetto, and everything that represents are surely in the subliminal context of these media plays.
Not so one particular such musical performance, given by Canadian Ukrainian concert pianist Valentina Lisitsa to an entranced audience in Donetsk in June 2015, when the worst part of their war for survival against the Ukrainian army had been won. Lisitsa was a child of Donbas and a patriot, but for her support of the Russian speaking Ukrainians in Canada had been banned from performing in Toronto several months earlier. She was outspoken about the CIA-backed coup in Kiev and the ultra-right and neo-Nazi elements in the government.
Looking up this classic performance again, and in the current heroic struggle against Nazism in Ukraine, I found it very moving:
It is illuminating to see what genuine compassion and empathy looks like in this world where the forced and fake versions are thrown at us every day. Never before have so many interviews been conducted with frightened people who have heard about death and destruction but rarely seen any, and broadcast to spread fear and hate around the world to an audience even more isolated from the reality. The consequences of this hate campaign directed against Vladimir Putin but effectively against all the Russians who support him - reportedly now up to over 70% of the population - is seen in the most sordid and deluded blackening of everything and everybody Russian. Already there were moves to stop the reading of Dostoevsky in schools, and the performing of Russian music by orchestras. Renowned conductor Valery Gergiev was forced to resign his position with the Munich Philarmonic and subsequently has been deplatformed all over Europe until he "denounces" Putin. Apparently Russians are still acceptable in European society if they perform this act of patriotic suicide - though no longer in Russia.
But there are only two choices here, and denouncing "Putin's Russia" means fully accepting NATO's Russia and the Empire of Lies that supports it. These new reformed Russians must come to accept that their military takes pleasure in bombing cities into submission, even if it means burying their own citizens alive, while the armies of NATO countries try to defend their own citizens as well as those in countries where they are forced to intervene - and so on. It would be tedious to list the many things such converts to the Imperial faith must learn and understand.
Instead we could consider just one small thing that happened this week, and how we might see it as part of the Ukrainian struggle against Russian tyranny. Ukrainian forces fired a Tochta missile with cluster munitions into the heart of Donetsk in daytime, killing 20 and seriously injuring 36 more people - undeniably a war crime.
While it may not be quite clear what has actually happened in cities like Mariupol and Kharkiv, it is abundantly clear what happened to Donetsk over the last eight years, as recorded by various monitoring authorities and UN agencies. This weeks lethal missile strikes are just the latest in a string of atrocities, mostly carried out by the Azov battalion and other pathologically anti-Russian extreme nationalist groups.
These crimes were directly incited by the government in Kiev when it started the so called "Anti Terrorist Operation" against the two provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk, as they refused to comply with the racist orders of the CIA-backed Kiev regime. A couple of fair minded individuals in the UK took exception to their local bus company's Stand with Ukraine, submitting a letter of protest, which I think merits copying:
My wife and I were disgusted at the appearance of war propaganda notices on your buses in the High Peak on the 199 and 61 services we used on Tuesday 15th. Your business is the provision of public transport, not trumpeting your support for one side in an armed conflict between strangers taking place thousands of miles away.
If you had lost members of your family in the war against Nazism you would not be so eager to ‘stand with’ people whose government and armed forces include some who openly declare their admiration for the actions and policies of the Third Reich and whose actual and spiritual ancestors were happy to participate in some of the worst atrocities of the second world war against Jews, Poles as well as, of course, Russians.
These murderous thugs’ killing and besieging of the ethnic Russians of the Donbass ever since the overthrow of the elected government in 2014 has been condemned by the UN. Last year, for instance, the 32nd report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) updated its chronicle of Ukrainian human right violations against civilians in the Donbass region, directly implicating the Ukrainian army, the National Guard, the Security Service of Ukraine, Far-Right militias and other power structures.
According to the UN High Commissioner, when compared to the previous period, there was a 51% increase in Donbass casualties between February 1 and July 31 2021, accounting for 62 killed and wounded civilians. 81% of civilian deaths were the result of Ukrainian shelling and more than 80% of hits during the reporting period led to destruction. Among the victims were young children. The number of ceasefire violations from February 1 to July 31 increased by 369%. With these harrowing figures, there have been at least 3,390 confirmed civilian deaths since April 14, 2014.
With Ukrainian General Oleksandr Pavlyuk admitting that the military intentionally shelled civilian infrastructure in Donbass, thus violating the Minsk agreements, there is good reason to believe that the UN overall casualty figure of about 7,000 is grossly underestimated as not all civilian casualties are reported. For example, in the 2014-2015 winter season, many lonely old people died in the remote settlements of Donbass. There were also cases of starvation and suicide in large cities.
Part of the reason for many unaccounted deaths is because Ukraine stopped paying pensions, froze bank cards and imposed a humanitarian blockade against Donbass. UN estimates do not highlight these civilian losses due to the inability of being able to account for a huge region that faces constant population displacement. There is also the concealment of statistics by military and civilian authorities on both sides of the front. Therefore, there are many deaths that remain unaccounted for.
As for shelling, for the period from February 1 to July 31, the UN mission recorded an 81% increase of incidents by Kiev’s forces against Donbass. The Ukrainian military targeted power supply facilities, educational institutions, water supply and sanitation facilities, gas supply infrastructures and hospitals.
But you think you know better than the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: your company’s policy is to tell the world that it supports ‘Ukraine’. Useful idiots hardly covers it. Please reconsider and remove these supposedly fashionable but actually inappropriate and embarrassing virtue signals from your buses.
"Useful idiots hardly covers it" is an understatement when the consequence of their idiocy will be the deaths and dislocation of millions, in whatever is to come.
DM March 20th 2022