In Episode 144 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes Putin's annexation of Ukraine's Donbas region not only came on exactly the same day as the 1938 Munich Agreement, which approved Hitler's annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland—it was also the same day that Putin launched two of his previous criminal military adventures. On Sept. 30, 1999, Russian tanks rolled into Chechnya, marking the start of the Second Chechen War, with massive aerial bombardment of the region's capital city of Grozny. On Sept. 30, 2015, Russia began air-strikes in Syria, marking the start of a massive military intervention on behalf of the Bashar Assad dictatorship, in which the city of Aleppo would be virtually destroyed by bombardment. And in Putin's new war of aggression in Ukraine, the Azov seaport of Mariupol has been similarly nearly obliterated. A review of this history reveals Vladimir Putin as a serial city-destroyer, who must be deposed and put on trial for his crimes against humanity. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
In Episode 143 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the all too telling irony that Putin's annexation of Ukraine's Donbas region came on exactly the same day as the 1938 Munich Agreement, which approved Hitler's annexation of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland region. Russian annexation of the Donbas was preceded by that of Crimea, just as the Nazi annexation of Sudetenland was preceded by that of Austria. This is the same pattern of escalation toward world war—only this time Putin's overt nuclear threats make the stakes even higher. Signs of hope include the anti-draft uprising in Russia and mass exodus of Russian youth, which undermine Putin's war effort and threaten his very regime. War Resisters International has issued a petition demanding that European states offer asylum to all Russian deserters and conscientious objectors to military service. Alas, much of the Western "left" continues to cover up for Putin's criminal aggression. Dissident websites such as CounterVortex and Balkan Witness debunk the Russian war propaganda being recycled by Putin's internet partisans on the pro-fascist pseudo-left.
Following last week's discovery of mass graves containing some 450 bodies in the Ukrainian town of Izium, the European Council presidency has issued a call for "the speedy establishment of a special international tribunal that will prosecute the crime of aggression." Foreign Affairs Minister Jan Lipvasky of the Czech Republic, which currently holds the Council's rotating presidency, wrote on Twitter Sept. 18: "Russia left behind mass graves of hundreds of shot and tortured people in the Izium area. In the 21st century, such attacks against the civilian population are unthinkable and abhorrent. We must not overlook it. We stand for the punishment of all war criminals."
Russian energy giant Gazprom cut off the flow of natural gas to Germany and other European markets via the Nord Stream pipeline on Aug. 31, calling it a three-day shut-down for maintenance purposes. But Western governments charge that Russia is "weaponizing" gas supplies amid the Ukraine war. (EuroNews) Days earlier, Germany's government broached allowing the blocked Nord Stream 2 pipeline to begin pumping Russian gas. Wolfgang Kubicki, vice president of the Bundestag, said the move is necessary so "people do not have to freeze in winter and that our industry does not suffer serious damage." His comment prompted a harsh response from Kyiv, where Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that "addiction to Russian gas kills." (Politico)
The government of Poland announced Feb. 4 that it has agreed to pay compensation in a dispute over the Turów open-pit lignite mine that lies close to the border with the Czech Republic. In return, Prague has withdrawn its complaint at the Court of Justice of the European Union. The dispute concerns the complaints of local farmers on the Czech side of the border that their water sources are going dry due to the mine's operations. The Turów Brown Coal Mine, owned by Poland's parastatal power company PGE, must pump water from the pit into the Lusatian Neisse River, draining the local aquifer. The mine has been expanding closer to the border, further enflaming the fears of the Czech farmers. The deal was protested by Greenpeace for failing to provide sufficient guarantees for protection of the watershed. (EuroNews, Jurist, Expats.cz, BBC News, EUReporter)
As nations across the globe remain under lockdown, more sweeping powers are being assumed by governments in the name of containing the COVID-19 pandemic. Facing demands for relief from poor barrios running out of resources under his lockdown orders, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to shoot protesters in the streets. Particularly naming the popular organization Kadamay as planning protests, Duterte said April 1: "Remember, you leftists: You are not the government. Do not go around causing trouble and riots because I will order you detained until this COVID [outbreak ends]. I will not hesitate. My orders are to the police and military...that if there is trouble... shoot them dead. Do you understand? Dead. Instead of causing trouble, I'll send you to the grave." (Rappler)
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled April 2 that Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic failed to uphold their obligations regarding refugee quotas as required by law. The countries could face financial penalties for their actions. In 2015 EU leaders established a refugee relocation program in response to the large numbers of asylum-seekers from war-torn Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. EU countries were supposed to apportion a share of asylum-seekers among those that arrived in Greece and Italy. Poland and the Czech Republic, according to the ECJ, "failed to fulfill their obligations under European Union law" by not accepting the number of refugees they had promised.
The secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization executive committee, Saeb Erekat, issued a statement rejecting the US-led conference that opens today in Warsaw, ostensibly aimed at brokering Middle East peace. Said Erekat: "Today we face a reality whereby the US Trump administration, in cooperation with the Polish government, is pushing yet a new initiative to annihilate the Palestinian national project." (Ma'an) The meeting was first announced last month by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after his anti-Iran speech in Cairo, and is widely perceived as an effort to rally world powers behind Washington's drive against Tehran. Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner is to be among the speakers. Poland has been making some efforts to resist turning the conference into a propagandistic anti-Iran meeting, underscoring its commitment to the nuclear deal that the US has now disavowed. But as Warsaw's former ambassador to Afghanistan Piotr Lukasiewicz told Al Jazeera: "[Poland] has lost control over the general message of the conference to the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia." The notable absentees from the summit are meanwhile convening their own meeting in the Russian ski resort of Sochi. The rival summit is bringing together Vladimir Putin, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iran's Hassan Rouhani, officiallty to discuss the situation in Syria and the pending withdrawal of US troops there. (EuroNews)