VE Day – 70 Years On And Europe Is Still Fighting A Tyrant

Today is the 70th anniversary of VE day. Better people went before us and fought for our liberties and freedoms. They fought so that we can live a life that is free and that I could retain the right to write these words without repercussions. Sadly, if I was Russian, then I could very well end up in jail because a repressive dictatorial imp troll, know to the world as Vladimir Putin, has continued to erode the freedoms that generations who have gone before him fought to resurrect.

The image below is of a Ukrainian soldier captured in Shakhtersk, just outside of Donetsk. It won 3rd prize in the POY awards and it serves as a stark reminder that war has once again cast its shadow across Europe.

For most Europeans watching the evening news, it would appear that the war in Eastern Ukraine has finally ended, a result of the diplomatic efforts of Germany’s Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande. That belief however is a fallacy. The war and human tragedy has continued unabated in Ukraine. Families have been torn apart, both literally and ideologically. And all this is happening with the backdrop of Russian ultra-nationalism, what with leather clad bikers making provocative statements by their insistence on driving through Europe to give a two-fingered salute to Germany and Europe, or rhetoric from Putin’s Kremlin that the Soviet army defeated Nazi Germany single-handedly, or the almost hysterical fervour that the Kremlin and their journalistic-apparatchik have attached to the planned parade through Moscow on May 9th.

No doubt Putin will take pride of place upon at the podium on Red Square, atop the tomb of Lenin, and once again bask in the glow of his sycophantic followers – a combination of corrupt Oligarchy and their families, and the ordinary Russian who is either naive and believes every word from the Kremlin media instruments used to fill the airwaves and newspaper columns with lies and propaganda, or who are too lazy to actually to question these lies and stand up to a dictatorship that is hell-bent on returning Russia to an era where its citizens are not to be trusted and who have to be controlled, lest they form their own opinions and become a problem or threat for the regime .

Whilst Russians are slobbering over themselves and their nationalistic pride over the defeat of Nazi Germany, they continue to carry out atrocities on their “so-called” brothers in Ukraine. These orange/black ribbon wearing Russian scum make me sick. As do ordinary Russians who refuse to do anything to remove the monster that is Putin, for fear that they lose everything. God forbid they lose their flash cars, their gold gilded mansions or their ability to vacation in Europe thrice yearly (a region that they enjoy spending time in, but whose values they detest…..odd that).

Unless ordinary Russians stand up to Putin and his dictatorship, then they deserve their lot in life. Thankfully, Ukraine is fighting to resurrect law and order and freedoms of press and free speech. It’ll take a while to mend the many wrongs inflicted during the Soviet era, but they are a resilient nation and are determined to join the reset of civilised Europe.

For all I care, Russia can rot in hell.

Slava Ukraine and I pray for the millions of lost lives who fought for the liberty I enjoy today.

Ukrainian Soldier Shakhtersk - Andrey Stenin

Meanwhile In Russia – Parachute Lands You!

This interesting video shows a Russian paratrooper getting taken for a ride by his round parachute. Unlike “square” parachutes, which have brake lines that can deflate the out cells of the canopy, thus making them controllable, the older “round” parachutes have much less control. When you have a slight gust of wind, you can quite literally, be lifted back into the air and slammed back down again with tremendous force.

When I did my training back in Ireland, even though we jumped with square canopies, we were still taught how to do a PLF, or “Parachute Landing Fall”. Essentially you put your legs together, bend your knees and roll when you land. This was the idea in case you flared the canopy too high and hit the ground harder than planned. With a round canopy, there is no real ability to flare, if at all, and so the PLF is the de-rigour way of landing when jumping under these ‘chutes.

But even though the soldier tries to land, the winds gusting upwards, in what looks a little like a micro-burst, literally lift him up off his feet as it catches the canopy and flies him through the air in an almost Mary Poppins-esque dance through the sky, much to the glee of his fellow soldiers happily chuckling in the background. Even his attempts to try and anchor himself proved fruitless as he was dragged for a few hundred metres through the dirt.

As they say, “In Putin’s Russia, parachute lands you!”

Russian Parachute Fail

Meanwhile In Russia – Darwinism Alive And Well

The Russian propensity to ignore rules, blatantly disregard for anything to do with health and safety, and a DNA that requires every Russian male to jury-rig anything mechanical in an effort to “improve”, in a Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor-esque way means that there is always something to look forward to from the Russian YouTube archives.

Take for example these two idiots, who decided to fiddle around with their Lada (a weekly chore amongst Russians) and install a home-made gas conversion kit. If you ask me, an LNG kit and a Lada are a lethal combination. [Note to American readers, gas in this case is Liquefied Natural Gas, and not Gasoline (Petrol)].

Imagine their surprise (I’m not really surprised at all) when the thing blew-up on them on the Moscow Automobile Ring Road, or MKAD, taking the entire back half of the chassis away with it.

The two would-be mechanics staggered out onto the highway clutching their hands to their heads. Both later told medics they could hear nothing apart from a permanent ringing sound.

Moscow doctor Leo Konovalov, who treated driver Edgar Maslov, 23, and passenger Gabriel Yermolayev, 48, said: “There was a massive pressure wave in the car caused by the exploding gas. If it was strong enough to send a heavy rubber tyre into the air, then you can imagine what it has done to the men’s eardrums. It is too early yet to see if they will ever hear again, but the prognosis is certainly not good.”

On a more positive note, they’re lucky they didn’t kill or injure any other motorists due to the flying shrapnel from their car.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, Darwinism is still very much alive and well in Mother Russia.

Russia Darwinism

Vice News – George Soros on EU vs. Russia

Long a fan of new media upstart, Vice News, since my initial introduction by way of their coverage of the Ukrainian crisis – Maidan, then Russia’s Crimean annexation, and now Russia’s armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine – their no-nonsense grass-roots coverage of events on the ground are a breath of fresh air when compared to the current crop of mainstream media, such as the BBC, CNN, The Guardian, The Independent, etc.

This latest piece, a kind of “talking-heads” segment, is a new segment they have recently rolled out which began with a piece on China’s aspirations, followed by a segment on how ISIS was born from a misguided and maligned form of Hawkish American Imperialism.

In this particular video, George Soros discusses his essay “A New Policy to Rescue Ukraine“, and sagely explains that by offering Ukraine assistance, Europe can foster an open society in Ukraine and protect itself from Russian aggression.

In his essay, which calls on members of the European Union to behave as countries indirectly at war with Russia, Soros calls on the EU to provide Ukraine with $50 billion to defend itself and kick-start political reforms. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s imperial ambition has unintentionally brought into being a new Ukraine that is adamantly opposed to endemic corruption and inefficient government.

With inexperienced EU Foreign Minister, Federica Mogherini, most recent attempt to appease the regime in Moscow and advising a lifting of sanctions by the EU against Russia, it has only further compounded the divisions within the EU on how a continued relationship with Russia some be managed in the future. Mogherini was criticised during the hearings by EU officials during the vetting process prior to her taking up her position as High Representative of Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Indeed, many observers and members of the EU Parliament expressed their concerns over her closeness to Putin and her ability to remain objective and strong in her dealings towards Russia in her current role.

One key question that needs re-asking is, “Is Mogherini fit for purpose?” It is my personal opinion that she should never have been appointed this position in the first place, as her continued dalliances with the kleptocratic regime in Moscow are detrimental to the security of Europe.

Mogherini Putin

Putin Is Not 10 Steps Ahead

I’ve been saying the same thing now for the past few years. Putin and his cronies in the Kremlin know that if they were ever to lose power, then they’d find themselves in a Siberian gulag as quick as you can say “Huilo”.

His fear over Ukrainian’s standing up to a corrupt government is not that he fears the Russian speaking populations rights being trampled, rather, the Ukrainian Russian speakers inspiring their Russian counterparts to also stand up to their corrupt Russian government.

The method behind Putin’s madness is to destabilise Ukraine, politically and economically. His aim has always been to prevent Ukraine from ever joing the NATO alliance. That’s the reason he tried to poison the ex-President Yushchenko when Yanukovich ran against him the first time, and the reason why he threw millions of dollars into the electoral war-chest of Yanukovich and his “Party of the Regions” during the second presidential election.

Now the two regions of Donetsk and Lugansk are in turmoil. And the main benefit he hopes to gain from this is that Ukraine, as a nation, can not request NATO membership, because in theory the decision requires a referendum for the Ukrainian people to decide.

This option though is likely to backfire for two reasons. One, the younger population in Ukraine outnumbers the conservative and Soviet-nostalgic older population. Two, most of the predominantly Russian speaking regions, such as Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk and liberated towns in Donetsk and Lugansk have seen a resurgence of Ukrainian nationalism and anti-Russian sentiment.

The economic destruction of Ukraine’s industrial heartland will have long-lasting affects on Ukraine’s economy, well into the next decade. It’s also not helped by the fact that the Russian army, under the guise of a Humanitarian Aid convoy went in and stripped several high-tech companies of their inventory, machinery and equipment with the intention of re-tooling and starting up somewhere in Siberia. These companies are defensively strategic for Russia. They made radar equipment, spares for tanks and helicopters that are either not made at all, or in far fewer quantities in Russia itself and which ere at risk of being cut-off fro supply by Ukraine completely as a result of Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine. So Russia benefits from stealing what she wants, and from the knowledge that it has crippled Ukraine’s economy and also helped further destabilise the Ukrainian government because of the growing unemployment in the region.

But it all went tits-up for Putin during late-July, early-August. The simple fact of the matter is that despite providing arms and weapons to a group of thugs and alcoholics, in an effort to try and stir things up in Eastern Ukraine, under the guise that he’s protecting “ethnic Russian’s”, this group of thugs were being hammered by the Ukrainian Army, who had begun to get the upper-hand. They went on the run, and were almost encircled in both Donetsk and Lugansk. So Putin panicked and he had to send in the professionals. The 9th motor-rifle brigade from Nizhny Novgorod was one of the two Russian units that encircled his the Ukrainian volunteer force, the Donbass battalion, at Ilovaysk. The Chechen 8th motor-rifle brigade was the other.

Video evidence of a huge Russian armoured division, deep inside Ukraine, was posted on YouTube earlier this week, along with satellite imagery from NATO, all point to clear evidence of Russian troops invading Ukraine along her Eastern borders.

The Kremlin continue to deny the presence of Russian troops or of any mechanised equipment ever entering Ukraine. These denials even came when reports Roland Oliphant and Shaun Walker, of the Independent and Guardian respectively, witnessed and reported on Russian troops crossing the border into Ukraine through a gap in the wire fence that marked the two borders.

And even more incredulous is Putin’s seven point plan for peace in Ukraine, which he conveniently broadcast after he wrote it on the back of an envelope during his flight to Mongolia earlier this week, but which he says doesn’t concern Russia directly because they are “not directly involved in the conflict”. Interesting historical point – he used the same seven points with the Georgian government during their brief war in 2008!

The problem Ukraine, and the rest of Europe for that matter, face today is that despite what many people think, Putin is not the great strategist he’d like you to believe. He failed in his meddling with Ukraine once before. He has consistently underestimated the resolve and the desire ordinary Ukrainians have for their country to be free of cronyism and the autocratic rule of a despot that Russian’s seem quite happy to endure. But he has no back-up plan. His KGB mind thinks in one way only. He has already annexed a large portion of Ukraine and tripled the number of troops stationed in Crimea. He has covertly/(overtly) positioned troops in Eastern Ukraine and he has 25,000 fully armed and supplied troops in Transdniestria. If you include pro-Kremlin Belarus bordering Ukraine’s North, then you can consider Ukraine effectively surrounded on all sides.

And as the video above rightly points out, Putin has really no-where to go. If he cannot persuade Ukraine to agree to his guileless terms for a ceasefire, and the US/EU continue tightening the screws with further sanctions, then it’s quite conceivable that Putin will make true on his promise and roll the tanks in from Russia in an effort to squash Ukraine completely.

It’s conceivable because thus far the EU/US/NATO trifecta have openly said that they cannot stomach or afford a full-scale war on European soil, despite what all the talking heads have said when standing side-by-side with Poroshenko avowing solidarity with Ukraine and her people. And Putin know’s this. So his machismo is further encouraged to push and see how far he can go, how “flexible” Europe is, just so long as the gas isn’t shut-off.

And there’s the rub. To use that off quoted line from ‘Game of Thrones’, “Winter is coming”. Ukraine’s coal-mines are defunct, her nuclear power stations provide only about 40% of her electricity needs, the rest is from coal burning power stations, and the Russians are threatening to cut-off her gas again. Poroshenko has done well to reclaim Ukraine’s eastern lands and kick out the Russian scum. But Putin has countered and brought in the big guns, whilst the EU/US have still not agreed to supplying Ukraine with lethal aid or updated weapons.

It’s unclear what, if anything, the ceasefire talks in Minsk will bring. If Poroshenko DOES agree to it, then I am predicting that he won’t remain in office for very long. Ukrainians will hang him from the highest tree in Kiev for selling-out Ukraine and for the wasted lives of Ukranian men and women who have fought so valiantly for Ukraine’s sovereignty and freedom. But one thing that IS for sure is that whatever the outcome, Putin will have a stranglehold on Ukraine for some time to come, be it in a drawn-out stagnant conflict within Ukraine’s eastern borders, or with having Poroshenko (or his replacement) if they agree to this fallacy of a ceasefire in the coming days.

NATO satellite images Urkaine

MH17 Missile Launch Site Located

Scorched earth - (Pic. Christopher Miller The Telegraph)

Scorched earth – (Pic. Christopher Miller The Telegraph)

MH17 artifact - (Pic. Christopher Miller - The Telegraph)

MH17 artifact – (Pic. Christopher Miller – The Telegraph)

Ukrainian blogger djp3tros has managed to find, with the help of The Telegraph’s journalist Roland Oliphant, the launch site of the missile that took down flight MH17 last week.

Through the cunning use of photo’s, satellite imagery and Google Earth and some very deft detective work, he was able to locate a plausible site for the launch. Reading his original blog article, it might come across as a lot of conjecture and what-if’s, even though it is well thought-out and supported by triangulating the satellite imagery with the photo’s published.

But that’s where Roland comes in. He took the info djp3tros’ wrote and went to scour the area for himself. There, he discovered blackened scorched earth and some artifacts that look like remnants of a military system, which need to be further identified and confirmed by experts.

It is unclear yet if the site location has been given to the OSCE, who could perform soil sample tests to chemical make-up of the soil and see if has trace amounts from the rocket fuel that would have been come from the exhaust of the missile.

Detective work done by djp3tros

Detective work done by djp3tros

MH17 BYK trail

Emotional Speech from NL Foreign Minister

Frans Timmermans UN Security CouncilThe Dutch Foreign Minister, Mr. Frans Timmermans, addressed the United Nations Security Council, and gave an emotional and embittered speech denouncing the treatment of the remains of the victims in the downing of flight MH17 and the political gamesmanship undertaken by the Kremlin and pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine, who almost a week since the disaster have still not handed the remains over to Dutch investigators for repatriation to the Netherlands and beyond.

It speaks volumes that the Minister, usually a master of understatement and diplomacy, broke with protocol and gave such an emotionally charged and moving speech to the UN. It’s fair to say that the tone of his speech mirrors that of many of my own Dutch friends and colleagues. Their anger at the images of bodies being ransacked for valuables and the crash site being trampled on, whilst their own investigators and members of the OSCE are bared from entering and can only look on, is palpable.