European Theater

Russia suspends compliance with New START

Russia officially informed the US on Aug. 8 that it is "temporarily" suspending on-site inspections of its strategic nuclear weapons, a condition of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). Moscow accused Washington of seeking "to create unilateral advantages" and deprive Russia of "the right to carry out inspections on American soil" through the closure of air space to Russian planes and visa restrictions on Russian officials. The suspension comes a week after President Joe Biden said he was ready to work on a new nuclear arms deal with Vladimir Putin. New START, set to expire in 2026, is the last remaining arms pact between the US and Russia. The 2010 agreement limits the US and Russia to 1,550 deployed long-range nuclear missiles each. (BBC News, Al Jazeera)

UN: 'real risk of nuclear disaster' in Ukraine

The UN nuclear chief warned Aug. 3 that the situation at Europe's largest nuclear power plant "is completely out of control," and issued an urgent call for Russian occupation forces to immediately allow experts to visit the sprawling Zaporizhzhia complex. Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told the Associated Press: "Every principle of nuclear safety has been violated... What is at stake is extremely serious and extremely grave and dangerous." The six-reactor Zaporizhzhia plant has been under Russian military control since early March, although it is still being operated by Ukrainian engineers.

Podcast: the Spanish Revolution revisited

In Episode 132 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg expounds on the legacy of anarchist heroism in the Spanish Civil War and Spanish Revolution, which both began on July 19, 1936. Interestingly, that same date also marks the victory of the Nicaraguan Revolution in 1979 and the beginning of the Rojava Revolution in Syria in 2012. There was an anarchist element to all these revolutions—but it was strongest by far in Spain. The betrayal of the Spanish anarchists holds lessons for these later struggles, as a counter-revolutionary dictatorship is established in Nicaragua, and the Kurdish revolutionaries of Rojava face growing contradictions in the context of Syria's ongoing civil war. 

European Commission sues Hungary over civil rights

The European Commission on July 15 announced that it will sue Hungary in the EU's Court of Justice over an anti-LGBT law and Hungary's refusal to allow a dissident radio station to broadcast. Hungary adopted a law in June 2021 that prevents companies from featuring LGBTQ couples in educational or advertising content intended for children. The legislation was swiftly condemned by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who later initiated infringement proceedings against Hungary. The Commission's case also concerns Hungary's refusal to renew broadcaster Klubradio's license, taking them off the air. Infringement proceedings were also launched against Hungary in that matter. The Commission charges that "the decisions of the Hungarian Media Council to refuse renewal of Klubradio's rights were disproportionate and non-transparent and thus in breach of EU law." Klubradio is highly critical of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government. Hungary is being sued on the basis of violating the EU's Audiovisual Media Services Directive, e-Commerce Directive and the Charter of Fundamental Rights

Russia detains anti-war opposition activist

Russia's Basmanny District Court of Moscow on July 13 ordered the arrest of opposition politician Ilya Yashin over allegations that he willfully spread "false information" about the Russian military—a charge Yashin denies and human rights organizations call politically motivated. Yashin faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted and will be kept in detention for two months while he awaits trial. A lawyer for Yashin told state news agency TASS that the charge stems from an April 7 Youtube stream in which Yashin discussed Russian forces killing civilians in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, a claim that Russia denies.

Podcast: Tolstoy would shit

In Episode 132 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that deputy Duma speaker Pyotr Tolstoy, one of the most bellicose supporters of Putin's Ukraine war, is a direct descendent of Leo Tolstoy—and recently invoked his great-great-grandfather's "slaughter" of British and French troops during the Crimean War as a warning to the West. This is, of course, an utterly perverse irony given that the literary giant's anarcho-pacifist beliefs were antithetical to everything that his descendant Pyotr stands for. Indeed, it was Leo Tolstoy's experiences in the Crimean War that turned him into a committed pacifist. His final novel, Hadji Murat, vivdly depicts the brutality of Russia's counterinsurgency campaign in Chechnya in the 1850s—a history that repeated itself in Chechnya in the 1990s. This is bitterly recalled by the Chechen volunteers fighting for Ukraine, where this history is now repeating itself yet again. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

North Korea recognizes Donetsk and Luhansk 'republics'

North Korea's government on July 13 recognized two breakaway states claiming independence from internationally-recognized Ukrainian territory. North Korea is the third country to recognize the "Donetsk People's Republic" and "Luhansk People's Republic," after Russia and Syria. On Feb. 22, two days before Russia invaded Ukraine, Moscow recognized the Donetsk and Luhansk "republics," and moved troops to the regions. In controversial 2014 referenda held by rebel authorities, close to 90% of Donetsk voters and 96% of Luhansk voters opted for independence.

Against pseudo-left disinformation on Ukraine

In Episode 131 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg calls out the ironically named Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) for openly spreading Russian disinformation. FAIR serially portrays the 2014 Maidan Revolution as a US-instrumented, Nazi-tainted, unconstitutional "coup." FAIR commentators Luca Goldmansour, Gregory Shupak and Bryce Greene are all guilty of this. They do not bother to consult voices of Ukrainian civil society—academics, media watchdogs and human rights groups—that refute this notion. Glomming onto the notorious Nuland phone call to dismiss a grassroots pro-democracy uprising as a Washington "regime change" intrigue reveals chauvinistic contempt for the Ukrainians. And hyping the supposed "Nazi" threat in Ukraine (while ignoring the Nazi-nostalgist and neo-fascist elements on the Russian side) abets Putin's ultra-cynical propaganda stratagem of fascist pseudo-anti-fascism. Rather than calling out Fox News for its propaganda service to Putin, FAIR instead joins them. How did a supposed progressive media watchdog become a de facto arm of Kremlin war propaganda? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.

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