Fear and Loathing in the Arabian Nights, by Pepe Escobar

Source: Sputnik News

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US President Barack Obama landed in Saudi Arabia for a GCC petrodollar summit and to proverbially “reassure Gulf allies” amidst the oiliest of storms.

The Doha summit this past weekend that was supposed to enshrine a cut in oil production by OPEC, in tandem with Russia – it was practically a done deal – ended up literally in the dust.

The City of London – via the FT – wants to convey the impression to global public opinion that it all boiled down to a dispute between Prince Mohammed bin Salman – the conductor of the illegal war on Yemen —  and Saudi Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi. The son of  — ailing — King Salman has been dubbed “the unpredictable new voice of the kingdom’s energy policy.”

A famous 3 am call did take place in Doha on Sunday. The young Salman called the Saudi delegation and told them the deal was off.  Every other energy market player was stunned by the reversion. 

Yet the true story, according to a financial source with very close links to the House of Saud, is that “the United States threatened the Prince that night with the most dire consequences if he did not back down on the oil price freeze.”

So – predictably — this goes way beyond an internal Saudi matter, or the Prince’s “erratic” behavior, even as the House of Saud is indeed racked by multiple instances of fear and paranoia, as I analysed here.

As the source explains, an oil production cut would have “hindered the US goal of bankrupting Russia via an oil price war, which is what this is all about. Even the Prince is not that erratic.”

Iran had made it more than clear that after the lifting of sanctions it does not have any reason to embark on a production cut. On the contrary; oil contributes to 23% of Iran’s GDP. But as far as the House of Saud is concerned – feeling the pain of a budget deficit of $98 billion in 2015 — a moderate cut was feasible, along with most of OPEC and Russia, as Al-Naimi had promised.

Continue reading Fear and Loathing in the Arabian Nights, by Pepe Escobar

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BRICS Under Attack: Western Banks, Governments Launch Full-Spectrum Assault On Russia (Part I), by Eric Draitser

source: MintPress News

Russia is the target of a multi-faceted, asymmetric campaign of destabilization that has employed economic, political, and psychological forms of warfare — each of which has been specifically designed to inflict maximum damage on the Kremlin.

This article is part of a series on Western meddling to foment unrest and destabilize BRICS nations in an effort to ensure the continuation of Western economic and political control over the Global South. The first two parts, focusing on Brazil and South Africa, can be found here and here. Up next: Part II on the assault on Russia, which focuses on the political, psychological and military aspects that run in tandem with the economic war on Moscow.

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U.S. Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles line up by the Trondheim Fjord, Norway, Jan. 9. These vehicles from the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway will support exercise Cold Response 16, scheduled for later this month, with crisis response equipment including M1A1 battle tanks, amphibious assault vehicles, artillery, and logistics equipment drawn from Norwegian caves.
U.S. Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicles line up by the Trondheim Fjord, Norway, Jan. 9. These vehicles from the Marine Corps Prepositioning Program-Norway will support exercise Cold Response 16, scheduled for later this month, with crisis response equipment including M1A1 battle tanks, amphibious assault vehicles, artillery, and logistics equipment drawn from Norwegian caves.

NEW YORK — The U.S.-NATO Empire, with its centers of power in Washington, on Wall Street, and in the city of London, is on the offensive against the BRICS countries. This assault takes many forms, each tailored to its specific target.

The ongoing soft coup in Brazil has recently entered a new stage with the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff of the left-wing Workers’ Party. Simultaneously, the destabilization of the ANC-led government in South Africa continues as political forces align to remove President Jacob Zuma. These two situations illustrate clearly the very potent forms of subversion via Western-funded political formations and movements being employed against Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the bloc of emerging economies also known as BRICS.

However, when it comes to a country as large as Russia, with its vast military capabilities, consolidated and wildly popular political leadership, and growing antagonism toward the West, the tools available to the Empire to undermine and destabilize are in some ways more limited.

Indeed, in the context of Russia, the popular mobilization pretext does not apply, and so that weapon in the imperial arsenal is blunted considerably. But there are other, equally potent (and equally dangerous) methods to achieve the desired effect.

Russia is the target of a multi-faceted, asymmetric campaign of destabilization that has employed economic, political, and psychological forms of warfare, each of which has been specifically designed to inflict maximum damage on the Kremlin. While the results of this multi-pronged assault have been mixed, and their ultimate effect being the subject of much debate, Moscow is, without a doubt, ground zero in a global assault against the BRICS nations.

Economic war: Hitting Russia where it’s vulnerable

People walk past a sign indicating the US dollar, top, and euro, bottom, rates of a currency exchange in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Jan. 16, 2009.  Russia's ruble fell to its lowest point in more than a decade against the dollar as the Central Bank continued a policy of controlled devaluation. The decreases marked the 16th devaluation of the ruble since Nov. 11, when the government launched a controlled slide that has seriously depleted its currency reserves.  (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)
People walk past a sign indicating the US dollar, top, and euro, bottom, rates of a currency exchange in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Jan. 16, 2009. Russia’s ruble fell to its lowest point in more than a decade against the dollar as the Central Bank continued a policy of controlled devaluation. The decreases marked the 16th devaluation of the ruble since Nov. 11, when the government launched a controlled slide that has seriously depleted its currency reserves. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)

While Russia is a world class power militarily, it is highly vulnerable economically. For that obvious reason, this area has been a primary focus of the destabilization thrust. Continue reading BRICS Under Attack: Western Banks, Governments Launch Full-Spectrum Assault On Russia (Part I), by Eric Draitser

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Conversation: Opium Wars – A War Nerd Podcast

Source: exiledonline.com

The War Nerd – Gary Brecher – discusses British Imperialism in the context of the Opium Wars and other less often remembered wars.

Click below to listen to a great podcast.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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“Poor” G7 Just Cannot Disarm Yet!, by Andre Vltchek

Source: counterpunch

They met in Hiroshima, Japan, in the first city on Earth that had been subjected to nuclear genocide. They were representing some of the mightiest nations on Earth: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States – the so-called Group of Seven (G7). And at the end of their encounter, they called for “a world without nuclear weapons”.

I am talking about the foreign ministers of seven countries with the largest economies on Earth.

Read carefully the names of these countries, one by one! For decades and centuries, the world has been trembling imagining their armed forces and corporations. Lashes administered by their colonial rulers have scarred entire continents, tens of millions were enslaved, and hundreds of millions killed, billions robbed.

Even now, if we all listen carefully, we can clearly hear the victims screaming, in agony: the native people of Canada and United States, the colonized people of Africa, Asia and the Middle East. For centuries, the entire world has been in shackles, on its knees, humiliated, plundered and destroyed.

G7! How many billions of victims from all corners of the world, made those countries so ‘grand’?

To ensure that the pillage could continue uninterrupted, the West together with those “honorary whites” (a term that the South African apartheid regime invented exclusively for the Japanese people) created several aggressive and belligerent pacts, including NATO, calling them, of course, “defensive” alliances. It came as no surprise: remember that in the lexicon of the Empire of Lies, war is calledpeace, while aggression is always defined as defense. But this I have already described in detail, in my 820-page book “Exposing Lies of the Empire”.

Now foreign policy tsars of the “G7” were standing shoulder to shoulder again, in Hiroshima, of all places, and only a few days after the 71st anniversary of the nuclear blast. Making predictable declarations and self-glorifying speeches.

The weather was good, partly sunny, with excellent visibility. But was the world really able to see through the thick fog of Machiavellian cynicism and lies, dispersed all over the Planet by those grinning rulers of the world?

F15 overflying Kadena air base
F15 overflying Kadena air base

On April 11, 2016, the foreign ministers of the Group of Seven (G7) issued a written declaration on nuclear disarmament:

“We reaffirm our commitment to seeking a safer world for all and to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons in a way that promotes international stability”.

Seriously? No one around those ministers fell; nobody was seen to be rolling on the floor, shaking from uncontrollable laughter. Obviously, a joke repeated thousands of times loses its luster.

But that was not all. The text of the declaration continued:

“This task is made more complex by the deteriorating security environment in a number of regions, such as Syria and Ukraine, and, in particular by North Korea’s repeated provocations.”

Continue reading “Poor” G7 Just Cannot Disarm Yet!, by Andre Vltchek

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Conversation: Syria in the crosshairs

The geopolitical world in the last few years has been caught up in a whirlwind cycle delivering headline breaking developments at a pace unseen in previous decades.

Below is the current status quo as described brilliantly by Syria’s Dr. Bashar al-Jaafari.

Sometimes, it is hard to follow all the news with so much confusion, back tracks, misinformation, disinformation, out right lies, pseudo intellectuals and so forth.

The war on Syria is a major investment on behalf of the “coalition” – read: NATO-GCC-Israel-ISIS nexus- and it would be silly to think that it will die down just because Russia intervened. There is a renewed round of attacks on Syria both in the media and on the ground.

But the public is wiser after these past 5 years of European terrorism, to borrow from Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, that has devastated the Middle East. Social media plays a vital role with voice’s like Eva Bartlett – who runs the meticulously fact checked blog In Gaza – constantly reminding us of the information war being actively waged.

Activist Mimi Al-Laham’s recent piece highlights the diverse nature of machinations behind the scenes with the latest hostilities most certainly benefiting the war party. But this is just the tip of the iceberg in what looks like a summer offensive – Taleban style – of the NATO led ISIS/Nusra/Al Qaeda complex in the Middle East.

Mohsin Siddiqui

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Oceania Saker.

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Insight from an island far from Donbass

Source: DoniPress

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By David Simpson

Ed note: As a part of the DONi Newsteam coverage of the war in Donbass we are reaching out to persons in Donbass and worldwide to share their views on a wider level. If you have a story or would like to be interviewed in person or by email, contact Dave Simpson at: d.simpson@dnipress.com

In today’s interview we visit with a guest from New Zealand, an exotic Island far away in the South Pacific Ocean. Tate Ulsaker and his family live on a farm with sheep, fruit trees and wooded areas. Not all that different from parts of our area. Interestingly, he and his family know a little about Russia and the Donbass situation.

DONi: Tell us a little about your life in your country. Age? What do you do for a living? Size of family? Pets? Hobbies or interests? What do you think about the country you live in? it’s strengths? weak points?

Tate Ulsaker: Hello Dave, thank you for this opportunity to address the situation in Donbass. It is really great to see other Americans who care about the state of our planet. There are many of us growing in awareness but few of us taking effective steps to do anything about it. The human race owes a big thank you to people like you and many others who risking their reputations and in many cases, also risking their lives to stand against warmongers for the sake of the innocent getting killed. I am happy to provide you with an interview but I am not a hero. I am just more informed than average and have strong feelings about the matter. My name is Tate Ulsaker. I am half a century old. Our family is bilingual Russian/English. I have lived and worked in Russia for 14 years from 1993 to 2007 inclusive. One day in Moscow, my wife and I decided to move to a place where we can truly enjoy the rest of our lives with our children also in mind. After 2 years of investigation, our destination was selected in 2005 – New Zealand. We currently reside on a 10 acre lifestyle farm in Nelson, the sunniest city of New Zealand. I live with my wife and two children and quite often grandparents. We have a dog, a cat, 20-something sheep, 100 fruit trees and a small forest for firewood. In many ways, this existence is idealistic. Compared to our previous life, we relatively stress free, happier and healthier. New Zealand has many strengths and quite minimal weak points relative to other countries. The positives are easy to immediately experience if you visit even for just a short time. The first thing you will notice is that New Zealand has beautiful nature. If you google images, you can see amazing and diverse beauty. And imagine that much of that scenery is not even occupied by people. New Zealand sheep have some of the best views on the planet because there are very few people per square kilometer compared to most countries. We have abundant wildlife, a peaceful society, clean cities, healthy food, lots of arable land per person, lots of fish per person, lots of lamb per person, and much good weather for everyone.The society here is generally open-minded. New Zealanders are generally very self-sufficient. They are a “can do” people. It is easy to find a person who knows about building houses, or building boats, or farming, or fishing, or exporting logs. There is resilience here and a diverse economy that would survive a global economic crash. Some weak points of New Zealand include the cost of living. People who immigrate into this society need to be aware that their income will generally drop and their expenses will generally rise. Also, not everything is clean and green in New Zealand. We have a chemically driven agriculture industry like everyone else, subject to poisonous runoffs. The big orchards are always spraying dangerous chemicals to control pests. But pollution is less. The politics of New Zealand are certainly better than in larger western countries, but many of the same features are here, and in the mainstream media. For example, New Zealand mainstream media is promoting everything that the American media promotes regarding the wars and bailouts and trade agreements. However, since New Zealand society is more awake, the media can’t be so outrageously obvious in their warmongering as they are in the US.

DONi: How did you first learn about the situation in Donbass? How do you get your news about Donbass? What opinions do you have about the conflict?

Continue reading Insight from an island far from Donbass

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LEBANON – NOW IT IS BEING FORCED TO COLLAPSE, Andre Vltchek

Abbreviated version originally published by RT

Lebanese army ready to defend Tripoli

Lebanon cannot stand on its feet, anymore. It is overwhelmed, frightened and broke.

It stands on the frontline, facing the ISIS in the east and north, a hostile Israel in the south and the deep blue sea to the west. 1.5 million (mostly Syrian) refugees are dispersed all over its tiny territory. Its economy is collapsing and infrastructure crumbling. The ISIS is right at the border with Syria, literally next door, or even with one foot inside Lebanon, periodically invading, and setting up countless “dormant cells” in all Lebanese cities and all over its countryside. Hezbollah is fighting the ISIS, but the West and Saudi Arabia apparently consider Hezbollah, not the ISIS, to be the major menace to their geopolitical interests. The Lebanese army is relatively well-trained but badly armed, and like the entire country, it is notoriously cash-strapped.

These days, on the streets of Beirut, one can often hear: “Just a little bit more; one more push, and the entire country will collapse, go up in smoke.”

Is this what the West and its regional allies really want?

Top foreign dignitaries, one after another, are now paying visits to Lebanon: the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini. All the foreign visitors are predictably and abstractly expressing “deep concern” about the proximity of the ISIS, and about the fate of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees now living in the Lebanese territory. “The war in the neighboring Syria is having deep impact on tiny Lebanon”, they all admit.

Who triggered this war is never addressed.

And not much gets resolved. Only very few concrete promises are being made. And what is promised is not being delivered.

One of my sources that attended the closed-door meeting of Ban Ki-moon, Jim Yong Kim and the heads of the U.N. agencies in Beirut, commented: “almost nothing new, concrete or inspiring was discussed there.”

Once lavish downtown of Beirut - now ready for war

The so-called international community is showing very little desire to rescue Lebanon from its deep and ongoing crises. In fact, several countries and organizations are constantly at Lebanon’s throat, accusing it of ‘human rights violations’ and of having a weak and ineffective government. What seems to irritate them the most though, is that Hezbollah (an organization that is placed by many Western countries and their allies in the Arab world on the “terrorist list”) is at least to some extent allowed to participate in running the country.

But Hezbollah appears to be the only military force capable of effectively fighting against the ISIS – in the northeast of the country, on the border with Syria, and elsewhere. It is also the only organization providing a reliable social safety-net to those hundreds of thousands of poor Lebanese citizens. In this nation deeply divided along the sectarian lines, it extends its hand to the ‘others’, forging coalitions with both Muslim and Christian parties and movements.

Why so much fuss over Hezbollah?

Continue reading LEBANON – NOW IT IS BEING FORCED TO COLLAPSE, Andre Vltchek

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The “Gig Economy”; Another Vicious Attack on Ordinary Working Slobs, by Mike Whitney

Source: counterpunch

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“Contrary to the rising-tide hypothesis, the rising tide has only lifted the large yachts, while many of the smaller boats have been dashed on the rocks.” Joseph Stiglitz, economist

American plutocrats and their political lackeys in congress have implemented a plan that’s putting pressure on wages and further decimating the already-battered middle class. By sustaining high levels of unemployment over a long period of time, US elites have “restructured the labor force”, which is a pretentious-sounding expression that means they’ve created a permanent underclass that’s willing to slave-away at demeaning, part-time jobs for mere peanuts without uttering a peep of protest. This metamorphosis of the workforce has taken place mostly in the shadows, concealed behind a thick fog of state propaganda touting the fictitious “recovery”, a recovery in which long-term jobless workers have abandoned all hope of finding gainful full-time employment and resigned themselves to a lifetime of scrambling from one odious task to the next just keep a roof over their heads and the wolves away from the door.

After eight years of applying this coercive ‘starvation strategy’, the plutocrat’s ‘grand plan’ is finally coming into focus. According to economists Lawrence F. Katz and Alan B. Krueger’s new paper titled “The Rise and Nature of Alternative Work Arrangements in the United States, 1995-2015″:

“All of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work arrangements.”

“Alternative work arrangements”? You mean there’s been zero growth in ordinary 9 to 5, 40-hour-per-week jobs in the last 10 freaking years???

Indeed, that’s exactly what it means. It also means that Obama’s relentless crowing about the phantom “recovery” is mostly bunkum. There is no recovery. It’s an invention built on the ruined lives of people who have been forced to take all-manner of servile, low-paying, part-time, service-sector jobs just to keep food on the table. That’s Obama’s glorious recovery in a nutshell. Here’s more from the World Socialist web Site:

“All US job growth for the last decade came in “alternative work arrangements”—people working as independent contractors, temps, through contract agencies or on-call—according to a study published Tuesday by Princeton University and the RAND Corporation…

The actual number of contingent full-time workers rose from 14.2 million in February 2005 to 23.6 million in November 2015, an increase of 9.4 million. Since total US employment rose by 9.1 million during this period, the number of workers in conventional, full-time positions actually dropped by nearly 400,000.” (Temps and contractors accounted for all US job growth since 2005, World Socialist Web Site)

Repeat: “The number of workers in conventional, full-time positions actually dropped by nearly 400,000.”

Great. So we’re actually going backwards, is that what they’re trying to say?

Continue reading The “Gig Economy”; Another Vicious Attack on Ordinary Working Slobs, by Mike Whitney

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Conversation: The Assassin’s Veto: Blasphemy & Charlie Hebdo, by Myra MacDonald

Source: War on the Rocks

The murder of Asad Shah, a Muslim shopkeeper in Glasgow, and the perverse reaction to a Charlie Hebdo editorial show us how warped our senses have become.

When an editorial dismisses as “xenophobes” those who blame terrorism on immigration, and is then taken as conclusive proof of racism, you know something has gone terribly wrong. Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine whose offices were attacked last year by gunmen offended by its cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, has once again been denounced for “Islamophobia” and racism. The alleged offense came in an editorial that challenged the role of religion in society, and that is assumed by its critics to say that all Muslims are complicit in terrorism. Nowhere in the French original by the cartoonist Laurent “Riss” Sourisseau, nor in its rather more awkward English translation, does it say that. Rather, it is an anguished defense of French secularism, tinged by bitterness in a man who was shot in the shoulder while watching his colleagues die. Far from attacking all Muslims — an assertion that assumes all Muslims are the same — it takes aim at the growing power of religious conservativism. It calls out society’s failure to question this for fear of being branded an “Islamophobe.” It blames our silence for creating an atmosphere of fear without which terrorism cannot succeed. That silence has left the field open to the far right and produced a fractured, anxious society more inclined to react emotionally than rationally to acts of terrorism. Unwittingly proving the point made in the editorial, Charlie Hebdo’s critics have loudly condemned it for “Islamophobia” and racism, silencing the issues it raised with a willful or ignorant distortion of what it said. It is a grotesque parody that could be ignored if the stakes were not so high.

Go back to the January 2015 attacks in Paris by Islamist gunmen in which 12 people died at the Charlie Hebdo offices and another five were killed in related shootings. The Charlie Hebdo staff were not killed for racism. They were murdered for the assumed crime of blasphemy. Before the attacks, Charlie Hebdo was a niche magazine catering to a certain section of the French left, lampooning the government and the far right, mocking all sources of power including religion, and championing the cause of anti-racism. Of course, those with deeply held religious views would have found some of their cartoons offensive. But they had the choice not to see them. To read Charlie Hebdo, you had to go out of your way to buy the magazine. The cartoons were not plastered on billboards across Paris. Nor, as sometimes erroneously assumed, was the publication popular with the anti-immigrant right. On the contrary, the right is one of its main targets. That critics, especially in the English-speaking world, have so conclusively convicted Charlie Hebdofor racism (in doing so, heaping ire on journalists who are already facing death threats) tells you little about the magazine itself. It does, however, tell you much about the insidious of power of the very notion of blasphemy. Rather than confront the fact that the Charlie Hebdo staff were massacred for blasphemy, the magazine has been tried and convicted for a different crime — that of racism. Such is the transformation of their role as victims of a crime to victimizers, that the latest denunciation in Vice Magazine said they had become “smug satirists” who, among others, are “terrorizing” Muslims across Europe. (Muslims are rightly worried about an increase in anti-Muslim bigotry; but the arrow directed at Charlie Hebdo is shot from a different bow.)

Continue reading Conversation: The Assassin’s Veto: Blasphemy & Charlie Hebdo, by Myra MacDonald

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BBC – Britain’s Anti-Russian Ministry of Disinformation, by Graham Phillips

Source: The Truth Speaker

As most anyone in the UK, from the UK, I grew up watching the BBC. Blue Peter, Friday Film Specials, and news – John Craven. Going on to a lifetime of watching the BBC. I still watch news on the BBC, but in a different way now. I actually now feel involuntary twitches of disgust every time I watch a piece on BBC news.

Before, I’d watch BBC News as kind of an extended family member – the logo, the studio, all familiar like a father figure. But now, it’s like you’re one ofJohn Darwin’s children, discovering that your father has lied to you, likely lied to you all his life. I can say this, having covered events myself in Crimea, Donbass, seeing first hand how things were, and then how the BBC made them out to be.

The BBC lie. They twist, contort, distort. And a particular bias of the BBC in recent times, has been a strident anti-Russian polemic which seems to effortlessly correspond with the UK government’s own. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has stated many times how he views Crimea’s 2014 reunification with Russia as ‘annexation’, ‘under the barrel of a Kalashnikov’etc. Who did the BBC send to cover Crimea, only Daniel Sandford (who duly came up with all the ‘annexation’ stuff on demand), a man who makes no secret of detesting Russia. A long journey through Sandford’s tweets would be to try to find something positive about the country. A rather shorter one, to find the countless negatives Sandord passes on, despite not evening being Moscow correspondent anymore –

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Sandford also covered Euromaidan, and what was the BBC’s position on that? Blanket support at the time, only a year later getting round to admittingthat things perhaps hadn’t been as they first portrayed them. But, by that time, protest had long turned into war in Donbass, as a result of the government Euromaidan put in power in Ukraine. What was the BBC’s take on that? The same as the UK government’s, against the Donbass uprising.

Continue reading BBC – Britain’s Anti-Russian Ministry of Disinformation, by Graham Phillips

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