Orchids and other flowers at the botanical gardens at Kew, LondonRead the rest of this entry »
Springtime in LondonApril 13, 2023
The Nord Stream pipeline explosions: challenging false narrativesFebruary 16, 2023
By Simon Pirani
The claim that the Nord Stream gas pipeline was blown up by US special forces, made last week by the investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, is being used to reinforce false narratives about Russia’s culpability for the war in Ukraine.
On 26 September last year, explosions damaged three of Nord Stream’s four pipelines, which run under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany, and sent a large cloud of methane into the atmosphere. Russia has blamed the US; western media suspected Russia itself of sabotage.
Russian gas had been carried to Germany through the first pair of pipelines, Nord Stream 1, from 2012 until three weeks before the explosions.
Construction of the second pair of pipelines, Nord Stream 2, was completed in 2021, but authorisation to use them was denied by Germany on 22 February last year, in response to Russia’s preparations to invade Ukraine.
In the seven months between then and the explosions, the western powers piled sanctions on Russia in response to the invasion. The Kremlin retaliated by ordering Gazprom, the state-controlled gas holding company, to reduce gas exports to Europe, and effectively wreck a business it had spent more than thirty years building up.
I do not know who blew up the pipelines. But here I will show that (i) Hersh’s claims about the effect and purpose of the sabotage are factually incorrect, (ii) his account of the build-up to the explosion misses out huge chunks of the story and is grossly misleading, and (iii) his explanation for US motivation is flawed, and his failure to examine Russian motivation is one-sided.
The effect and purpose of the sabotage
Hersh suggests that the Nord Stream pipelines provided Germany with cheap Russian gas that it could not have got otherwise, and that, by blowing them up, the US cut off Russia from an important source of income for the gas.Read the rest of this entry »
A message from Dnipro: track down the war criminalsJanuary 17, 2023
These facebook posts by ANATOLY DUBOVIK in Dnipro are translated and reproduced here with his permission
From Monday. Official information on the morning of 16 January on the results of the Russian nazis’ destruction of a residential apartment block in Dnipro: 35 dead, 75 wounded, 39 rescued. Another 35 have not yet been found – so the death toll could be doubled.
Rescue work continues.
Among the dead is a well known person: Mikhail Korenovsky, the veteran Ukrainian boxing trainer and trainer of the Dnepropetrovsk regional team. His wife and two children were away from home at the time of the blast, and survived.
People are saying that in this photograph is the remains of the Korenovskys’ flat. Whether it is or not, the photo will go down in history.
From Saturday. Now, at 19.50, rescue teams and people from the area are working at the destroyed building, dismantling the ruins, dragging out the dead, wounded and survivors. Officially at 18.0 they announced there were five dead and 39 in hospital. Those are the living and the dead that they were able to pull out. Among the wounded are seven children, including a three year old. Cries can be heard from the ruins: there are people in there. And it will be minus four degrees tonight.Read the rest of this entry »
Ukraine: bogus ‘anti-imperialism’ serves the KremlinSeptember 28, 2022
I gave a talk at an on-line event on the war in Ukraine, arranged by the Future of the Left group on Monday. The meeting was shorter than planned, due to technical problems. Only two of the advertised speakers made it: Richard Sakwa, emeritus professor of Russian and European politics at Kent university, and me. Sakwa focused on the western powers’ failure to uphold principles of sovereign internationalism in the post-cold-war period, and concluded by opposing military aid to Ukraine. Against that, I put the case for supporting Ukrainian resistance as a matter of internationalist principle. I said that I think such discussions should continue. Here’s a recording of the session. Simon Pirani.
Here is a text, based on my talk. It is aimed mainly at the bogus “anti imperialism” widespread in the left, and among Future of the Left’s supporters, rather than at anything Sakwa said.
Thanks for inviting me to join the panel. It’s worth reflecting on what good panels like this, or gatherings like this, can possibly do. As a socialist, I believe that effective change is caused by the labour movement and social movements acting independently of the state. So I will say what I think the labour movement could or should do, and what people here could or should do, rather than declaiming principles with no reference to implementation.
My main point is that we should build solidarity with Ukrainian resistance to Russian aggression. That is rejected by some people in the labour movement, and I think we have to find ways of discussing these differences on life and death issues.
Character of the Russian war
Russia is a weakened empire desperately trying to restore its imperial status. It emerged from the break-up of the Soviet Union as an economically subordinate power, supplying the world capitalist economy with raw materials and pumping oligarchs’ wealth into the world financial system. Under Putin, since 2000, it has sought to make up for economic weakness by military means.
In the second Chechen war, Russia pulverised Chechnya and its population, rather than allow aspirations for national autonomy or independence to take root. Russia invaded Georgia in 2008, and intervened in Syria in 2015, to support a dictator who drowned citizens in blood rather than allow them any democratic freedoms.Read the rest of this entry »
Russian soldiers killed that family, just … becauseApril 7, 2022
By ANATOLY DUBOVIK in Dnipro, eastern Ukraine
On social media people are arguing about the reasons for the massacres at Bucha, Irpen and other places in Kyiv region. They are not asking why, so much as “for what reason”, with what aim? I have my opinion, as follows.
At the beginning of March, I heard a woman, who had been able to get out of occupied Melitopol with her family, talk about it. I’ll tell the story, as I remember it – so it’s not a documented record, of course, but my re-telling, albeit directly from the witness. As far as I understood, she lived somewhere in the suburbs of the city, in a private house.
The Russian army arrived in Melitopol on 26 February. There was no battle for the city. For several days we sat at home and watched an endless stream of Russian military vehicles. It was too frightening to go out – and there was no reason to: the Russians had looted all the shops on the first day.
And then [so, on 1 or 2 March, AD] our neighbours for some reason set out for their allotment, to plant something. One of the military vehicles stopped. Two Russian soldiers got out and killed the whole family, our neighbours. Husband, wife and two children. Then the soldiers got back into their vehicle and left.
After this we had no doubt. We collected all the things we could, and half an hour later left the city in our car. It took 24 hours to get to Zaporozhya [it is a 133 kilometre journey, AD]. There were Russian checkpoints all along the way. We were constantly stopped, they examined the car, and searched us. But all the same, we made it.
What are the explanations? Why, for what reason, was that family killed?
This was right at the start. The Russians who killed that family had only been on Ukrainian territory for a day or two. Melitopol was already in the rear, from their standpoint. So it’s highly unlikely that these soldiers had been in a firefight or lost close colleagues. Furthermore, there was practically no battle for Melitopol: the Ukrainian army had left the city. So it was not revenge.
And it did not seem like they were carrying out orders, either. In the case of an order to “kill civilians”, even “under such-and-such circumstances”, things would not have been limited to killing one family, who happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. This was not carrying out an order; it was the “living creativity of the Russian masses”.
The murdered parents, of course, could have had pro-Ukrainian views. Or they could even have been signed up to a territorial defence unit. But none of this was known to the Russians who shot them. It was not even known to their neighbours. What’s more: underaged children, murdered together with their parents, could not possibly have been in a territorial defence unit.
Moreover, this was not the result of a breach of curfew rules or anything of that kind. These people were literally in front of their home, in their own country, in broad daylight, no kind of threat to anyone at all.
But they were killed.
Isn’t it really obvious, that these murders had no purpose whatever? That the Russians killed that family not “for a reason”, but just … because.Read the rest of this entry »
UK trade unions make ‘solidarity with Ukraine’ callApril 7, 2022
UK trade unions will demonstrate in London on Saturday, calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine.
“We send solidarity to the trade unionists of Ukraine who have been engaged in humanitarian assistance and resistance to the invasion”, the organisers say. “We will support in whatever way we can the brave people demonstrating in Russia for an end to the war.
“We call on the UK government to welcome refugees seeking to come to the UK without imposing any restrictions.”
The demonstration, which assembles at Parliament Square in London at 12.0 noon, is backed by the GMB general union, one of the UK’s largest, as well as unions representing civil servants (PCS), rail workers (ASLEF), communication workers (CWU), bakers and food workers (BFAWU) and mine workers (NUM).
The three main Ukrainian union federations, and two rail workers’ unions, have also declared support for the event.
The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine has appealed to trades unionists internationally to call on governments to send military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
“The bombing of hospitals and homes, executions, atrocities and rapes are part of Russian inhumane tactics”, Mykhailo Volynets, the confederation’s chair, wrote. “Russian forces continue to purposefully destroy the people of Ukraine and do not stop even at the time of the negotiation talks.Read the rest of this entry »